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Ghosts of Tomorrow

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When the world begins to rush back in after decades of darkness, it is bright; far too bright. The sound pierces him and he wants it to go away, he wants to keep sleeping forever, but then.

 

…Open your eyes…

 

A gentle feminine voice whispers; it sounds familiar, has he heard it somewhere before? Open your eyes it says again, louder and clearer. The light gets brighter, so, so bright, and then: Wake up, Link… Is that his name? It sounds like it should be. He opens his eyes and there is blue, blue and darkness, and he feels water draining around him. He lays there for a moment more, but eventually, he cannot deny it any longer: he has to get up.

 

He couldn’t have prepared himself for what was waiting if he’d tried.

 

*

 

His memories are gone, says the King. His memories are gone and he is dreadfully alone, save for the voice the King calls Zelda. My dear Zelda, the King says, with so much pain in his voice that Link can’t help but wonder. And the courageous knight who protected her right up until the very end… That knight was none other than you, Link. Was he? He can’t recall. You were taken to the shrine of resurrection the King explains, as if Link is important, was so important he was the one chosen to be saved above all. He doesn’t feel particularly special, standing there in a threadbare outfit with a rusty sword strapped to his back and an empty quiver, talking to ghosts. Zelda had called him their final hope, and he fears that this is all a mistake, that he won’t be able to do what they ask. Then the King is gone, giving him little more than a village to find and a road, and once again he is alone. Alone, with nothing more than a pot lid to protect him.

 

It could be worse, he supposes. He could have also forgotten how to hold a sword.

 

*

 

He finds a note and a chest in the King’s cottage, with an outfit that will better keep him warm. It is a fatherly gesture, be sure to bundle up, don’t leave it to chance, and it occurs to him that all ghosts stay in this world for a reason.

 

*

 

Perhaps he was afraid of heights, one hundred years ago, he thinks as he paraglides down from a fall that would have killed him.

 

*

 

The King did not ask him to speak, but Impa does. She asks if he remembers her, and he has to say no because he doesn’t, he doesn’t remember anything besides the basics and how to fight, it seems. It’s hard to speak, harder than he was expecting, his voice rough from disuse. The shrine was supposed to heal him, but it seems to have missed this part, perhaps he’d been silent in his past life? He remembers how to say words, but he also remembers how to speak with his hands, though he doesn’t remember what either language is called. He chooses to use his voice like many of the people he meets, however; he is not bound to his past ways and this small rebellion feels like a victory, like the reason he had stopped talking was a shackle rather than a choice. He does not remember the reason now, however, so it cannot chain him.

 

The elderly woman tells him to find the Divine Beasts, that they will help him on his way, will help him stop Ganon. The champions who piloted them are dead now, and Link feels a stab of misery for reasons he will not come to understand for a long while. First, however, he must find another village. Another pilgrimage, another road with vague directions, though now he knows what Ganon is and the prophecy (for all the good it will do him).

 

At least he’ll be better prepared, he thinks as he bolts for the clothing shop, only to groan when it is nothing he can afford; it’s too bad burnt apples don’t sell for more these days.

 

*

 

He stays at the inn for the night, and when he sleeps he dreams. He dreams of five friends, each special in their own way, but he cannot see any of their faces. Memories pass like lightning, a frog, a healing touch, a princess next to a queen, a backslap filled with pain, an endearing bravado. His thoughts linger on the last one, the brightest, shining as if to say look at me, I’m important, but it doesn’t matter in the end; he remembers none of them when he wakes.

 

He feels empty afterward, like he was given something precious only to have it snatched away again. He decides he will not sleep unless it is absolutely necessary.

 

*

 

The Great Fairy is beautiful, and he knows she and her sisters will be very helpful along the road, but he feels nothing when she blows him kisses.

 

*

 

Purah unlocks pictures, places he must go to get his memories back, and he sets off immediately for the familiar one of the East Gate.

 

He wishes he hadn’t.

 

*

 

But he did, and he can now see all their faces clear as day and remembers their names. The princess, Zelda, he reminds himself, is devastated, but Urbosa is quick to comfort her, Mipha not far behind, both giving love and support in different ways. But then it is too late, and the beginning of the end. He watches Revali fly into the air, hears Daruk talk as if they are going to win, as if it is not the last time they will be alive together. He tries to tell them to run, tell them not to get into the Divine Beasts, but his mouth refuses to say the words, and the memory eventually fades to static.

 

He cries, afterward, and this time he knows why.

 

*

 

He has to sleep again, eventually, and the memories come just as fast, pounding like a storm, and they hurt, hurt, hurt.

 

When he wakes, he remembers a soft touch, a quiet complaint about his messy hair, but the rest leaves him.

 

*

 

He is exploring wetlands, curious as ever, lost in a world of adventure where Ganon does not exist and the world is okay, when a strange creature calls out to him. He readies his sword, no longer a rusty one thank the Goddess, but the creature seems friendly, and on closer inspection seems similar to Mipha.

 

He’s asked to go to a bridge, where a prince is waiting for him, in need of a hylian. His curiosity gets the best of him, and he sets off.

 

(He runs into a woman who complains about a creepy zora asking any hylian who comes by what their name is and complimenting them profusely, and decides to take a detour for a few more shrines; just in case.)

 

*

 

You’re a hylian, aren’t you? I was hoping perhaps you’d have a moment to talk. He has a bad feeling about this.

 

*

 

The prince leaves him reeling, he doesn’t think he’s gotten that many compliments in his entire life, memories or not. It makes him suspicious, but as over the top the prince is Sidon doesn’t seem to mean any harm, and his request for help does match up rather nicely with Link’s overall goal. He agrees to help and follows, not expecting anything near what he finds.

 

He’s gotten used to surprises, however, so it doesn’t jostle him as much as it probably should.

 

*

 

He instantly feels guilty wearing the zora armor. He has no memories of having feelings for Mipha, though the way she had looked at him makes it clear where she stood (not to mention, of course, the husband armor). Wearing it feels like he’s taking advantage of her feelings somehow, but he thinks (hopes) people have done worse things to save the world.

 

*

 

If he ever has to fight a lynel again, it will be too soon.

 

*

Sidon tells Link to ride on his back while they try to get into Ruta, and Link is surprised after doing this for so long on his own someone is willing to help; perhaps there is more to Sidon than he initially thought (or, perhaps, the living can actually help, unlike the dead, so they do).

 

They circle the machine, trailed by ice the beast creates, and finally, he is allowed inside. A gentle voice talks to him, Mipha’s voice, telling him what he needs to do and that she has faith in him. Her voice is so familiar, like he’s been hearing it all his life.

 

But he doesn’t remember.

 

*

 

This is the monster that took over Ruta, the monster that killed Mipha, and it will pay.

 

(It hurts that he lives to see the monster’s end when she hadn’t, a close friend his past self could have defended but didn’t, could have saved but didn’t. He’s coming to hate his former self, whoever he was.)

 

*

 

Mipha gives him her healing because it would be wasted on me, and oh, doesn’t that sting.

 

The King gives him Mipha’s weapon, implores him to use it, then asks him afterward: was she really…?

 

“I met her ghost.” Link responds, and the King’s face falls.

 

“Never forget her.” The King begs him, and Link cannot say I barely remember her as it is, so he agrees.

 

*

 

He sleeps at the inn that night, and that's when it begins. Instead of a whirlwind of memories, sharp and painful and fleeting, there is only one. A boy, following at his father’s hip as he strides dutifully into a world of swirling blues and arches.

 

“I wish to speak to the King.” The boy’s father says. Then, when the guard looks down at the boy suspiciously, adds, “This is my son, he’s training to be a knight as I am.” The guard nods at lets them both pass, but her eyes linger on him when he glances over his shoulder at her.

 

When the boy turns back around, sitting on a throne is the largest living being he’s ever seen, who greets them warmly.

 

“It is good to see you again, Sir Knight!” The creature booms, “To what do I owe the pleasure?” He then seems to notice the boy, and his voice takes on a softer tone, “And who might this be?”

 

“Business, I’m afraid.” The boy’s father responds. “An urgent message from my King, he sent me to ensure it reached you. And this is my son, Link,” He gives the boy a gentle push from out behind him, where the boy had shuffled in his shyness. “He began his training to be a knight,” He says proudly, “I thought he might enjoy visiting other kingdoms.”

 

“Ah,” says the creature in the chair, “I see. Well, in that case perhaps he would enjoy meeting a princess of another kingdom? She is about his age.” He motions to a green creature, much smaller than him, and the creature shakes his head as if in disapproval but goes anyway. He comes back soon after with a much smaller creature trailing behind him, and the boy steps behind his father out of shyness once more. “This is my daughter Mipha. Mipha, this is Link, the son of a dear friend of ours.”

 

“Pleased to meet you,” Mipha says politely, but the boy just nods in return, face red. When he makes no motion to reply, she tries again. “Perhaps you would enjoy visiting the gardens with me?” He glances at her shyly, but nods again, and comes out from hiding to follow her. He hears his father’s voice as he begins to talk to the King about the contents of the message, but the sound quickly fades over the rushing of the water.

 

She shows him flowers and plants of all different colors, explaining their uses with the knowledge only a royal education can give, and he finds himself relaxing in her presence. The memory begins to fade as he hears his father’s voice calling him, echoing in his brain.

 

He wakes abruptly to Sidon’s face bright in front of his own, insisting he be given a royal tour as a thank you before he leaves, but all he can think about it the boy, shy and unaware of what his future holds.

 

*

 

He goes to sleep at a stable a few nights later, though he isn’t tired enough to really need it. He has questions, and he hopes his dreams will answer them.

 

*

 

“I was only trying to help.” Is the first thing he hears, and he is sitting on Ruta’s trunk like in the memory unlocked by the statue. He turns and sees Mipha next to him, staring at him in worry, and thinks oh, another one. He waits to see how the old Link will respond, what this memory holds, but nothing comes out. “Link?” She asks worriedly, and finally, finally, he is allowed to do more than watch.

 

“Is this another memory?” He asks, surprised when she reacts by blinking in surprise, then laughing.

 

“No, it’s not. I can’t talk to you during the day, but it seems I’m able to while you sleep.” She explains, “We’re connected, now that I’ve given you my power.” He doesn’t respond, too shocked to formulate words, so she continues, “I tried to stimulate your memories by thinking about my own, did it work? I was aiming for the first time we met.” She smiles kindly, gently, and he nods because he can’t do much else. Questions are bubbling up, so many they’re practically choking him, but he blurts out the one that has been weighing on him for so long before he can stop himself.

 

“Did I love you?” He winces internally, it was not the first question he had wanted to ask, nor one he was even planning on asking in the first place, but his conversations with the zora royalty have left him shaken. His real question, he supposes, is did I leave you behind? She falls silent, her hands clenching into fists in her lap, before she takes a breath.

 

“Yes,” she says finally, “but not as I loved you.” Her smile is teary, and he almost regrets asking, but not quite.

 

“Can you show me more memories?” He asks instead of an apology, because she deserves a sincere one he cannot give, and she nods.

 

“Of course.” She replies, and the memories start anew.

 

*

 

This time she shows him a memory of them practicing together. Mipha is teaching him how to further his spear training, ever patient with his mistakes, when a young Sidon comes and begs to join. He is so small in this memory, nothing like the towering being who had jumped so gracefully down from a bridge to greet him, and he finds himself endeared. Mipha smiles and laughs, before nodding.

 

“Of course, Sidon! Here’s a spear for you.” She goes over to the armory and comes back with a smaller spear designed for children, but he only pouts.

 

“I want to use a real one, like you!” He says, racing over to grab her spare which lies just outside the training space.

 

“Sidon, don’t-” She begins, but he’s already trying to pick it up, hefting it over his shoulder before it tips his weight forward and he falls flat on the ground. Mipha rushes over when he begins to sniffle, and Link follows closely behind. The memory fades to static as Mipha heals a scrape on Sidon’s knee and Link makes funny faces in an attempt to get him to stop crying.

 

*

 

They are not always successful in unlocking his memories, and after a while they discover that the more personal and important the memory, the more difficult it is to untangle.

 

It figures, he thinks, that the memories which made him who he was are the ones that remain stubbornly out of his reach.

 

*

He plays adventurer some more for a few blood moons, sleeping every night so Mipha can unlock more of his memories. It is strange, to see the before, before he awoke to a voice and a bright light. It feels as though this person was him but not him, some of his memories warring with whom he has come to be on his travels. The past him was quiet, far too quiet, different from the new him, who speaks to any traveler he comes upon. He also sees the memory of an angry princess, who insisted he cease following her; an order he completely ignored, loyally following the King’s orders to the end. The new him is not particularly loyal, he thinks, he’s not really doing this to save Zelda or even the kingdom. He’s doing this because ghosts have asked him to, and with a mind full of static, there were few other options but to follow.

 

Perhaps he’s doing this to find someone, or to be someone, or to understand what, or whom, he left behind.

 

Maybe for all of the above.

 

*

 

“You should go to Rito Village next,” Mipha says one night in his dreams, when they are simply talking instead of untangling memories. Her eyes don’t quite meet his, however, as though the words are forced. “I think what you find there will be… important.”

 

“Why?” He asks; he had been planning on going to Death Mountain next, closest as it was.

 

“It would be… better if you saw it yourself.” She manages finally, staring at her hands clenched together in her lap. She has never hesitated with information before, something he has been rather relieved about. Your mind was still fragile the King had said she thought it best not to overwhelm you the old woman had said. You wish me to defeat an ancient evil you yourselves could not, yet claim me too fragile for my own past he had thought, not said. But not so with Mipha, at least not until now.

 

“You shouldn’t tell me, or you don’t want to tell me?” He sees right through her, and she gives no response.

 

*

 

The ground rumbles as Medoh shrieks above him. Hello again, he thinks, do you remember me?

 

*

 

The Rito live up high, a swirling spire up a large rock whose weight placement defies gravity. It is cold all around them, and the warm doublet the King had left for him is quickly not enough; he is forced to buy the warm clothes the Rito offer. He cannot afford all three, however, so he only buys the outfit and shoes.

 

He feels wrong buying the headdress anyway, though he cannot place why. Another memory lost to time, he supposes.

 

*

 

The elder smiles bright and cannot tell who he really is like the zora king could. He explains what has happened, and though Link already knows he listens politely. It just woke up, it’s out of control, we need help. The same story, with altered details, through different lips.

 

That is all his journey seems to be, so far.

 

*

 

“It is named after the champion,” she says, and he looks down; a piece clicks into place.

 

*

 

“It is considered to be quite the masterpiece of aerial techniques, even among the Rito.” Revali says as he flexes, “With proper utilization of my superior skills I see no reason why we couldn’t easily dispense with Ganon.” He is showing off, Link realizes, though for what reason is lost on him. He also seems to be attempting to reassure, as if he thinks Link might be frightened. “Let’s not forget I am the most skilled archer of all the Rito.” Now he’s just being over the top, Link thinks, but because it is the old Link, the dead Link, he says nothing. “Yet despite these truths, it seems I have been tapped to merely assist you.” And oh, this is where he is going; so much for the reassurance. “Unless… you think you can prove me wrong? Maybe we should just settle this one on one.” He gets up in Link’s face, I’ve told you what I can do, now let me prove it, Revali says but doesn’t say, and Link debates taking him up on that offer, until. “Oh, you must pardon me. I forgot you have no way of making it up to that divine beast on your own!” Mocking, then he takes off in an extravagant rush of air, one last presentation of his skill.

 

Coward. Is the last thing the old Link thinks before the memory fades, but the new Link thinks it was ridiculously bold.

 

*

 

He goes and meets Teba, who is understandably skeptical about his resolve. I am too, he thinks, but saying so will do him no favors. Teba’s determination to the point of recklessness is surprising (and oh so familiar, perhaps), anger at what the beast had done obvious. When Link asks him why he is so eager to kill the beast, enough so that he is willing to do it alone if need be, Teba looks to the side and is quiet for a moment.

 

“It hurt Harth.” Is his only response, fists clenched at his side, but it is all that needs to be said.

 

Love that was not meant to be follows Link wherever he goes, it would seem.

 

*

 

He sleeps the night before they fly to Medoh, and Mipha confronts him immediately.

 

“What happened? Did you remember anything?” She demands, an out of place display of intimidation and all the more terrifying for it.

 

“I remember him talking to me on the landing. He showed off a bunch then said he should be the champion, then left.” Link summarizes, and Mipha relaxes with a snort.

 

“Sounds like Revali.” She mutters, looking to the side then back to him, “Nothing else?” He thinks about it for a moment.

 

“I was buying warmer clothes, but I couldn’t buy the headdress. It felt… weird, and important; I think it was because of a memory, but I didn’t actually remember anything.” He adds eventually and looks up at her when she doesn’t respond. She is studying him, almost as if to gauge whether or not he’s telling her the truth, before she sighs.

 

“Okay, tell me if you remember anything else.” Is what she eventually settles on, and he nods; That is easy enough.

 

*

 

He flies with Teba over Medoh, shooting its cannons one by one, and hopes Revali won’t be too angry about it; he seems like the type.

 

*

 

“Well now, I’ve seen that face before… “ Says a voice that is infinitely more fond than in his previous memory. “I had a feeling you would show up eventually. But making me wait 100 years is a bit… indulgent.” A gentle but firm scolding, and the ending trails off in sadness, another story that has no doubt been lost in his memories.

 

*

 

The puzzles are not as hard as Ruta, thank the Goddess, and Revali gives teasing encouragement throughout. He is as kind as Mipha, in his own way.

 

*

 

But only because I was winging it, he says, and Link wants to laugh and cry at the same time.

 

*

 

The beast dies quicker than Ruta’s, and he wonders where the vicious streak that took over him at the sight of it came from.

 

*

 

“Who would’ve thought?” His voice is soft, and the only reason Link doesn’t start to cry is because he knows all four of these ghosts will visit him when he sleeps, that they aren’t dead yet. “I do suppose you’ve proven your value as a warrior.”

 

Link can tell his heart isn’t in it, and he wonders if he ever proved himself in the past, if they ever settled it one on one like Revali had challenged. “A warrior worthy of my unique ability.” He says as he gives Link the ability to fly, gives Link the thing he had mocked Link for not having, the thing he had been so proud of.

 

“Feel free to thank me now.” He says, clearly waiting for something. Link doesn’t know what, however, does all such a proud warrior want is a thank you? Revali’s face falls when Link says nothing, and he turns to face away from Link. “Or… nevermind, just go.” He says but then turns back to face him once again, like he does not want to end on such a note.

 

“Your job is far from finished, you know.” And it could mean a million things, but he does not elaborate. “The Princess has been waiting an awfully long time.” He hears Revali murmur as he is enveloped in light.

 

Link somehow gets the feeling he was not referring to the princess at all.

 

*

 

The elder gifts him Revali’s bow, and its weight feels familiar in his hands. He tests it out, using it to take down a pesky nest of monsters who had given him trouble. It doesn’t miss a single shot, despite his usually shaky aim. He stares down at it afterward, surprised.

 

Have we met before? He thinks.

 

It offers no answers, of course, and he adds it to the list of people and things which stubbornly refuse to help him.

 

*

 

Link sleeps after defeating Windblight Ganon and dreams of looking down on the world as it is greeted by the sun. He sits atop Medoh, feet dangling over the edge, nestled in a warm outfit which keeps out the chill that nips his nose and cheeks red. He looks down to see he is wrapped in a scarf, the same gentle blue as the tunic he was given to show his status as champion. He is also wearing a headdress, he realizes, not unlike the one he had found at the shop. He takes it off to examine it, noting that it is almost identical, save for that the feather woven expertly in is bluish-grey instead of white, and the copious amount of gems that adorn it along with the ruby. He wonders if this is a memory, but the thought is soon proven false.

 

“So,” A voice says from behind him, “Looks like we don’t have to say goodbye quite yet.” He turns to see Revali walk up, no longer a ghostly green, but as bright and full of life as in the memory from the landing. He sits beside Link and gives him a small smile, taking the headdress from his hands and placing it on his head once more. He turns Link’s head to the side gently to get a better view of the headdress and checks to make sure the clip and feather are in place. It is strange, and intimate, and so, so unlike the Revali of Link’s (precious few) memories.

 

“This is a dream, it won’t break.” He blurts out to fill the silence, which is heavy with something Link doesn’t quite understand.

 

“Please,” Revali scoffs, “you could break anything, dream or no. You’re so reckless I find myself almost impressed.” He chides but ceases his inspection. He does not move away, however, and Link is getting dizzy. “It is good to finally see you again.” He murmurs, eyes warm, gently touching Link’s cheek, and his feathers are so, so soft. Link did not realize how starved for touch he was until it is finally being lavished upon him.

 

“You’ll help me too then?” He pleads, meeting Revali’s eyes, and he seems surprised. “What?” Link asks, curious.

 

“I… have never heard you speak more than one sentence at a time before,” Revali admits, and Link snorts.

 

“Sometimes people change when they lose all their memories.” He says in way of explanation, not intending it to sound as bitter as it does.

 

But then Revali freezes, and Link feels an acute loss when he quickly withdraws his wing. “What?” Revali asks, his feathers puffing up.

 

“The shrine of resurrection took away all my memories,” Link sighs, looking down on the small world below as it glides by slowly, uncaring of what is happening above. “Mipha has been triggering some memories in my dreams, and I was hoping you could too? We didn’t know each other as long, I don’t think, but I’m sure we have some.” He looks up at Revali hopefully, but all emotions have vanished from his features.

 

“You… don’t remember me at all?” He asks, searching Link’s eyes, and he sounds almost desperate.

 

“I have a few memories,” Link says quickly, “I remember when you challenged me about being the champion on the Rito Village landing, and I,” He pauses, looking down, “I remember all of us together when Ganon awoke, up until Zelda asked to help us. That-that’s it so far, though.” Link gets increasingly nervous when Revali doesn’t respond.

 

“You don’t have to do it all the time, just whenever you want. Mipha says the more personal memories are harder to unlock, and we haven’t had any luck so far, but that shouldn’t be a problem for us, right?” In truth he doesn’t know, doesn’t know what role this rito played in his past life, but Revali certainly didn’t seem too fond of him in the few memories he has. The last sentence is what gets him to respond.

 

“Right,” Revali says, his voice hollow, and then the sneer Link remembers so well is back in place. “Does the princess really believe a boy who cannot even remember what and who is important to him will be able to defeat a monster like Ganon? When he couldn’t even do it with his memories? I recommend you find someone who is actually capable and get them to do it.” His words are clearly intended to cut, and they do. Because that is simply the truth, isn’t it? He could not do it with years of loyalty and experience to guide him, with four living and breathing champions at his side, and now they want him to with nothing but ghosts and puzzle pieces that don’t fit, all mashed together in his brain. “You’re just going to get killed, and then what? All of Hyrule is as good as dead.”

 

“Maybe you’re right.” He acquiesces, giving Revali a weak smile even as tears begin to gather in his eyes without his permission. Revali seems to freeze when he sees this, his sneer faltering, and he looks away.

 

“Of course I am,” Revali snaps, though he can no longer meet Link’s eyes. The dream begins to fade around them, and Revali gains the green glow once more, flames dancing around him. “Just don’t get yourself killed.”

 

“What, like you?” Link yells at his fleeing back, but the dream ends before he can hear a response, and he is alone in the darkness once more.

Chapter Text

Revali does not visit him in his next few dreams after that, which doesn’t surprise him. Neither does Mipha however, which does. The loneliness sinks its teeth back into him once more, vicious and relentless, and he wonders if the world really does expect him to do this alone.

 

*

 

He climbs, and glides, and runs, and walks, and fights, and fights, and fights. He does not sleep, however; the darkness is far too painful.

 

*

 

He finds another memory, hidden next to a statue of a horse. Your advice was quite helpful, thank you. She says.

 

Oh, he thinks, I’d forgotten about you.

 

*

 

He sleeps finally, one day, when he cannot bear to walk another step, curled up by a fire on the side of Mount Lanayru. It is cold, and not the place he would have chosen for a night’s sleep. He is huddled in a cave, however, and between the fire, his snowquill armor, and the flameblade he clutches tight to his chest, he manages.

 

Mipha’s ghost consumes his mind as soon as he falls asleep, frowning sternly at him. She has apparently decided they will be in a hot spring this dream, despite the fact dreams cannot heal. It is quite large, the stones surrounding them different colors of red, and he wonders if a memory is tied to this place. Probably, they seem to be scattered everywhere.

 

“It’s not healthy for hylians to go without sleep for so long!” She scolds, ever the healer, “Why on earth would you not want to sleep, anyway? I thought you and Revali would want to…” She trails off, “Catch up.” She manages finally, wincing like the statement had pained her. She crosses her arms, frowning at him, “I left you alone for a few nights so you could do just that, not to mention I was the one who told you to go to Rito Village, and you thank me by not letting me see you?” She’s working herself up as she talks, and he tries to intervene before she gets even more upset.

 

“I’m sorry, but neither of you were visiting me and I-I don’t like dreaming alone.” He’s relieved the reason she stopped appearing wasn’t that she didn’t want to see him anymore, but she has definitely misunderstood something. “Revali visited me once, then when I told him I lost my memories he just said,” He swallows, not wanting to repeat the words that have haunted him since that night, “He said that someone who can’t remember anything can’t be expected to win and that I should find a new champion. Then he just- left.” He trails off lamely, looking away, and she stares at him in shock.

 

“He- hasn’t visited you since?” She asks incredulously, staring wide-eyed at him. When he just shakes his head her eyes narrow, and she hisses out a series of words in a language he does not know (or, perhaps, just does not remember), but sound very much like expletives. “How could he?” She seems enraged for his sake, as if Revali has seriously wronged him. “He-he was- and he didn’t even- why that little-!” He cannot follow her train of thought, and his confusion must show because she stops and takes deep breaths. “Revali holds an important piece of your memory,” She manages to explain, once she has calmed herself enough, “The fact he is purposely withholding it is rude and inconsiderate and-and-!” She trails off sputtering again, “And I see no reason on this earth or beyond why he wouldn’t willingly share it with you!”

 

“It’s been difficult to unlock my memories with just me and you, and that’s been the easy ones. Maybe he just doesn’t want to waste that kind of time?” Link offers, but instead of appeasing her this only seems to make her more upset.

 

“That is absolutely no excuse-” She snaps, then forces herself to take deep breaths again. “Did he-Did he say anything to you before you told him you had lost your memory?” She asks finally, and he blushes to his ears. The deeply intimate moment had thrown him off, and he has not been able to figure out its meaning yet. Were they closer than he had initially thought? It’s certainly possible. If they were close, it would make sense he would want to touch Link to reaffirm his existence, after 100 years without seeing him. Link is still embarrassed by it, however (he is more embarrassed by his reaction to it, truth be told); he is not used to any kind of affection.

 

“Just that he was glad to see me again.” He hedges, “And that I was reckless.” He does not mention the closeness because he figures she doesn’t need to know about that. She gives him a look he cannot decipher, before sighing.

 

“He’s always been rather… emotionally stunted,” she admits, “He’s probably upset you don’t remember him.” She pauses for a moment, then, “It’s no excuse, but it explains it, at least. I would make him talk to you, but I cannot interact with him, it would seem. I can try and help you regain the memories you share with him, but I doubt I’ll be able to do anything. I’m not part of most of them, and some of them I imagine are rather… personal, so they’d be difficult to unlock anyway. It would seem,” she finishes, “That you will have to untangle them yourself. I’m truly sorry.” She looks sorry, too, and he doesn’t know how to comfort her.

 

“It’s okay, what you’re already doing is more than enough.” Is what he settles on, though it only seems to make her feel marginally better.

 

“Trying exploring around Rito Village, or the flight range, or even as close to Medoh as you can get, that might help shake some of them loose.” She advises, and he nods.

 

“I don’t suppose you have any more you’d like to show me?” He asks eventually, and she smiles.

 

He hopes Revali’s memories are as warm as Mipha’s.

 

*

 

He returns to Rito Village and explores every nook and cranny, even going as far as smashing a few pots when no one was looking, but nothing seems to work. He wants to cry tears of frustration, being so close and still not able to get what he needs, but if he cried every time he felt lost and alone he would have no time to save the world.

 

*

 

He travels, solving more shrines and helping more people. They always smile when he helps them, thanking him profusely, and while the rewards are nice he finds he’d help them even without rupees waiting at the end.

 

Perhaps he has the kindlings of a champion inside him after all.

 

*

 

He takes a detour and gets lost in foggy woods. When he finally finds his way through, the master sword is there waiting for him.

 

He pulls and he pulls and he pulls, but it refuses to budge. Eventually he lets go, exhausted.

 

So much for being a champion, he thinks bitterly.

 

*

 

He reaches Goron city, head spinning and knees weak from the heat, and has to continuously remind himself it will be worth it in the long run.

 

*

 

He has just saved Yunobo from death by suffocation when he faints from the heat. Yunobo takes him to the inn and as soon as he wakes up he immediately teleports back to the cool winds of Rito Village.

 

Ganon can wait, burning to death is high on the list of ways he doesn’t want to die.

 

*

 

He heads to the flight range, relishing the familiarity and relief of the cold air. He only wears one piece of the snowquill armor, despite the cold probably calling for at least two, allowing the chill to sweep over him after far too long of being a hair’s breadth away from death by fire. He has always had a higher tolerance for the cold anyway, for some reason. When he gets there he finds both Teba and Harth practicing together, and they stop to greet him.

 

“Do you need another bow?” Harth asks, “I apologize if you couldn’t find me, my injury finally healed and I wanted to spend some time practicing again.” He seems concerned, and Link shakes his head.

 

“No that’s not it, I-” He is about to lie, tell them something about wanting to practice too, when he realizes unlocking his memories may be easier with a rito on his side. “I, I was hoping I could talk to Teba, actually. Alone.” He adds, and they both look at him in surprise.

 

“Of course,” Teba says eventually, “Give me a moment.” He packs away his bow, and Link catches Harth glaring at him suspiciously from the corner of his eye. “I have a good place.” Teba says once he is ready, “You can get on my back and I’ll take you there.”

 

“If you need anything just give the signal,” Harth says to Teba softly, though clearly wanting Link to hear, “I’ll come right away.”

 

“We’ll be fine,” Teba chuckles, “It’s just the usual place. No monsters, don’t worry.” Harth gives Link one more meaningful look as he gets on Teba’s back, and Link wonders how their love story ended so badly.

 

*

 

When they land there are on a snowy mountain top, and sure enough there is no one in sight. A single tree stands, a strange rope tied around it, and Teba leans on it to look at Link curiously.

 

“What was it you needed?” He asks, tilting his head, arms crossed, and he reminds Link of someone. Link takes a deep breath and steels himself.

 

“This is going to be difficult to believe, but I really need someone’s help so please just listen,” Is what he starts with; Not the best but it will have to do.

 

And so he explains.

 

*

 

Teba is looking at him in shock, and for a long moment, Link thinks he is just going to get up and fly away.

 

“Do you have any proof you are who you say you are?” He asks skeptically, and Link gives him credit for not just laughing in his face. He takes out his sheikah slate, showing it to Teba, and explains what it is. “I’ve never seen anything like it,” Teba admits, though he does not look fully convinced and Link can’t really blame him. He does not have the master sword yet, so he cannot show that, and there isn’t much more he has to offer.

 

“I turned Medoh good again, didn’t I?” He offers a bit desperately, “Please, I really need help.” Teba examines him for a while, then sighs.

 

“Alright,” He says finally, “I’ll trust you since you did help get rid of the threat Medoh posed, but don’t think I won’t stick a few arrows in you if I find out you’re lying.” Link nods eagerly, relieved beyond measure, then realizes he has no idea what else to do; truth be told he didn’t think he’d make it this far.

 

“I’m kind of at a loss, to be honest, so help would be appreciated.” Link admits, and Teba thinks for a second.

 

“My father used to say that Revali and the hylian champion would go out to the flight range often.” He offers, and Link thinks on it for a moment. “You say you have regained memories just from seeing places, but it’s possible you might have to mimic more than just the location to recall one. My father said they could often be heard training there, perhaps if you try doing that again? Maybe with a rito bow this time?” He had used a weaker one he’d snagged off an enemy to do the challenge Teba had given him, so he supposes it’s worth a shot to do it again with a rito bow; it’s not like he has any better ideas.

 

*

 

Harth is gone when they get back to the flight range, and Link picks up the spare swallow bow to try again.

 

They try with the swallow bow, the falcon bow, they even try the great eagle bow Harth had given Teba as a gift; none work. His shoulders sag in disappointment, and Teba sighs.

 

“Nothing, huh? Guess I was wrong about-” and then Link remembers. The familiar weight, the ease with which he wielded it. He runs over to his pack and grabs Revali’s bow; he has not used it since for fear of it breaking, but maybe a memory won’t be triggered by just any bow. Maybe-

 

“Is that Revali’s bow? The elder actually gave it to you?” Teba asks incredulously, then- “you cannot tell me you’re going to waste some of its shots to-” But he is and does and just like that, when the first arrow thunks against the target, the memory hits him like a punch to the gut.

 

*

 

It is sunny and cold and the world is brighter than before, and he can feel an elixir thrumming through his veins which keeps the chill at bay. He is holding a bow and aiming at the targets, Revali’s bow, the new Link realizes, though the old Link does not seem particularly impressed. He’s in the air, but time does not feel as though it slows down as the new Link is used to. He lets the arrows fly and while none hit the bullseye, most make the target, and the old Link seems rather pleased with that, until-

 

“No, no, no, you’re doing it all wrong! You have to get the form exact if you want the maneuver to work, and your flying is atrocious! Who taught you how to use that paraglider?” And there’s Revali, flying right above him, and the new Link thinks: I finally did something right, I unlocked a memory. The old Link just feels annoyance bubble up inside him. “Come back to the deck, I’ll show you again.” The old Link flies back and gets into the same position, and the new Link knows exactly what he’s doing wrong.

 

Suddenly there is a warm body touching his back, blue wings around him correcting his stance and the placement of his hands. “There, now try again.” The tone of voice is patronizing, and the old Link seems ready to throw the bow into the ravine but does as Revali says. He flies into the air, trying to keep the corrections Revali gave in mind. He aims, and times seems to slow down for a moment; the arrow hits the bullseye. He turns to grin and Revali and realizes Revali is smiling softly, almost proudly, at him from the deck. When Revali sees he’s been caught he quickly stops and looks away. “Better.” He grunts out, crossing his arms, and Link just laughs.

 

*

 

The memory ends and Link realizes he is falling; he must have let go of his paraglider when the memory hit. He quickly takes it back out, floating upwards in the draft, and nearly knocks into Teba who has flown over to him.

 

“You started falling, are you okay?” Teba asks, a bit frantic, and Link just nods. He angles over and lands on the deck, grabbing the railing for support. Teba lands next to him and when he looks up Teba’s eyes grow round in surprise. “Are-are you crying?” He asks, shocked. Link reaches up to his face and his hand comes back wet. Oh. He thinks. “Link, are you okay? Did you trigger a bad memory?” Teba hovers nervously, clearly unsure what to do, but Link does not have it in himself to reassure him. No other memory has made him quite this exhausted, though this memory did not seem particularly special. Why had he had such a strong reaction? Maybe Mipha would know? “Link?” Teba asks, for what could be the hundredth time for all Link knows, and Link waves him off.

 

“I’m fine.” He says finally, “It was just a shock. I need to sleep, thanks for your help.” Teba seems at a loss for words, and Link leaves before he can gather himself.

 

Revali taught me how to use that aerial maneuver. The revelation leaves him shaken.

 

*

 

The best archer in all the Rito taught me how to practically stop time in the air and my aim is still terrible. He thinks somewhat hysterically as he teleports to the shrine by his house.

 

(He can’t tell if that reflects poorly on him or his teacher.)

 

*

 

He hangs Revali’s bow up in his house, refusing to use it again. He does the same for Mipha’s spear, though it is more of an afterthought.

 

*

 

He collapses in his bed from exhaustion, passing out as soon as his head hits the pillow. Mipha joins him in his dreams, taking him up to Shatterback Point this time, long before the lynel had made its home there. It is perfect, not too hot or cold, the sunrise peeking over the horizon. They sit hovering over the edge, and he wonders briefly what would happen if he jumped; it’s a dream, after all.

 

“How is everything?” She asks, “Do you want me to try and help unlock some more of your memories?”

 

“I managed to get one,” He says, “A memory.” She looks at him expectantly. “Turns out Revali taught me how to do the aerial maneuver where time almost slows for a moment.” He’s silent for a second, “My aim still sucks though.”

 

“Yes, he used to like to say that he’d had to teach The One Who Seals The Darkness how to use a bow practically from scratch, you were so bad at it. You two spent quite a lot of time at the flight range.” She gives a soft laugh at the memory, “If any of the other ritos tried to insult your archery, however, he’d give them a good scolding.” Link does not know what to do with this information, so he just stays quiet. “I think he was quite proud of how far you’d come, even if you weren’t perfect.” She adds, and he finally finds his voice.

 

“Why would he help me? I didn’t get the sense he was willing to give away free lessons to whoever asked.” He questions, and Mipha hesitates.

 

“I think he did not like the thought of you facing Calamity Ganon with such poor bowmanship.” She says finally, and oh, right. It wouldn’t do for the champion chosen by the master sword to die because he couldn’t aim well.

 

“Didn’t help me in the end.” He mutters, looking away, “I still lost.”

 

“But you lived, didn’t you?” She replies with a sad smile.

 

Unfortunately.  Link thinks but doesn’t say.

Chapter Text

He travels back to Goron City, because he cannot hold it off forever, purchasing the full set of armor and upgrading it so he becomes immune to burning. He probably should have apologized to Teba before he left, but he figures there will be time for that later. Rudania continues to screech and make a general fuss as he and Yunobo continue up the mountain, and he pities Yunobo every time he has to get into a cannon. Yunobo did not ask for this job, he was forced to do it because of a gift he was born with, so out of his control. He could be resentful of it, could complain and hate the Goddess for giving him this burden, but he doesn’t. He is clearly afraid, and every time he falls back from hitting Rudania he looks ready to keel over, but he does it anyway. He does it anyway, and he doesn’t complain, and he doesn’t blame his ancestors, and he doesn’t drag his feet. Bravery comes in all forms, Link realizes.

 

(He will ask Yunobo later how he does it, how he shoulders such a burden when he clearly is not cut out for it nor wants it, and Yunobo will think for a second. “I used to hate it, and wish I didn’t have it,” He will admit eventually, “But then I stopped thinking of it as a burden, and started thinking of it as a gift. It’s precious, I can do something no one else can. I can make a difference, even if I’m not the ideal person for it. I can help people, and that… that is one of the greatest gifts of all.” He will finish, and Link will think about this response for a long, long time.)

 

*

 

Daruk’s voice is loud and joyful, despite everything, and Link’s back aches just from hearing it.

 

*

 

Fireblight Ganon is difficult to figure out at first, but he eventually finds its weakness. The bombs do the trick, and before he knows it the monster is dead and Rudania is free of Ganon’s grasp.

 

*

 

Daruk apologizes, and Link cannot understand for the life of him why.

 

*

 

Rudania joins the other two guardians taking aim at Hyrule Castle, and Yunobo stops him to excitedly explain how he saw his ancestor atop the divine beast. Link smiles and nods, and neither confirms nor denies whether or not Daruk was there, since he is not sure which answer is best.

 

*

 

The boss tells him thanks, and that he’s always welcome, and Link smiles and agrees politely before teleporting away.

 

Ganon himself could not get Link to return to that fiery hell.

 

*

 

Daruk visits him in his dreams, taking them to the edge of Death Mountain where it is warm but not unbearably so. Link only has to wear his champion’s outfit, instead of the metal horror that was the flamebreaker armor.

 

“Well kid, all things considered, you’ve done a helluva job so far.” He grins and gives Link a slap on the back, and Link has never been more relieved that he cannot feel physical pain in dreams. “I’m hurt that I was third though! You got bird boy before me? I’m offended!” He doesn’t sound offended, however, so his words aren’t particularly effective. “Guess it’s to be expected, what with the way you two were back then. How’s the ol’ bird brain doing anyway? I imagine he’s been visiting you a lot?” He gives Link a wink and a nudge.

 

“No, actually. It's-well, it's a long story. I lost all my memories,” He begins the story again like clockwork: waking up, the King, the pictures, Mipha’s help, “But when Revali found out I lost my memory he just- left. He hasn’t visited me since.” Daruk stares at him, shocked, before frowning.

 

“You finally start talking again like he always wanted and he just stops seeing you? So what if you lost your memories? Sounds like all you need is a good whack to the head!” He grabs Link and gives him a noogie, laughing while Link struggles. “Guess that means I can help with some of your memories too, eh? Well if Revali won’t do it, I think I have a few I can share!” He grins devilishly, and Link fears for his sanity.

 

He is about to say a more dignified version of please do not, you terrify me, when the dream world fades out again.

 

*

 

He is in a home at the edge of Rito Village, larger than the ones he’s seen in it on his journey, though still fairly small. It is covered wall to wall in rare bows, and the shelves are lined with various trinkets. He is also wearing the same headdress, despite the fact the temperature is far from cold, and new Link wonders if it has another purpose. The old Link is interested in none of this, however, instead focused on everyone else in the house. The other four champions are there, smiling and laughing, and the conversation comes into focus.

 

“He’s finally mastered the technique, though he certainly took his time along the way.” Revali is saying, grinning proudly, and the new Link realizes he’s talking about the aerial technique of the last memory he untangled.

 

“I’ll bet he’s even better than you now!” Urbosa says, laughing, and Revali waves her off.

 

“He’ll never be as good as me, no one will, but he’s certainly giving the other archers of the village a run for their money!” Revali says, and the old Link rolls his eyes but doesn’t comment.

 

“Oh yeah?” Daruk challenges, “Prove it!” He and Urbosa laugh together, while Mipha hides a delicate giggle behind her hand, and Revali’s feathers ruffle up in indignation.

 

"I don't need to prove it!" Revali protests.

 

"What's the matter bird boy? Afraid you'll get your feathery ass handed to you by a hylian?" Daruk taunts with a grin.

 

“Of course not!" Revali sputters.

 

"Looks scared to me!" Urbosa says, grinning.

 

"You really want me to prove it? Fine! Come on then, let’s go to the flight range!” Revali snaps, and rather than the annoyance the new Link is expecting the old Link feels only fondness.

 

“You’re on.” Link signs, standing up, and Daruk rubs his hands together.

 

“Place your bets now ladies, who will it be?” He turns to Mipha and Urbosa.

 

“Link.” Urbosa laughs at the same time Mipha says:

 

“I think it will be Link.” This only serves to agitate Revali further, and Link wonders if he genuinely cannot tell that they are just teasing him. The old Link says nothing, though.

 

“The one who hits the most targets in 30 seconds wins,” Revali says quickly once they’ve entered the range, and Link gives him a nod. “You go first, oh One Who Seals The Darkness.” Revali offers, handing Link his bow, which he keeps on him at all times. Link takes it and nods, turning to get a good look at all the locations.

 

“Giving him the bow off your back, how adorable!” Daruk teases, and Urbosa snorts.

 

“Shut up!” Revali snaps, “This way I know he won’t cheat.” We’ll see about that the old Link thinks, though the new Link isn’t clear on why.

 

“Ready, set, GO!” Urbosa yells, and Link takes off with his paraglider, shooting as many as he can. The targets glow bright, and using the trick Revali has taught him he gets 18, much to his joy. He lands back on the platform, grinning with pride, and hears Mipha’s clapping; even Revali seems impressed.

 

“Not bad,” Revali admits, “But I can most certainly do better.” Link hands him the bow and watches as he flies into the air on Urbosa’s yell.

 

He’s at 16 targets with 8 seconds left when Link does it. He makes a noise the new Link has never heard before, some kind of mix between a coo and a chirp. Revali squawks loudly when he hears it, whipping around to look at Link, and the bow slips from his grasp, falling into the ravine. He looks down at it as it plummets to the ground and curses, diving after it, but it’s too late.

 

“TIME!” Urbosa manages to call before she can no longer hold in her laughter, then proceeds to grab the railing for support as she laughs so hard she snorts. Daruk is practically roaring with laughter, already on the ground, and Mipha is blushing bright red and attempting to hide her giggles behind her hand. Revali soars back up, a ball of embarrassed rage.

 

“You- you-!” He sputters, but he cannot seem to form coherent words.

 

“Me?” The old Link grins mischievously.

 

“You can’t just-that was cheating! Don’t do that again!” Revali finally chokes out, and Link’s grin only widens.

 

“Don’t do what, this?” He signs, then makes the noise again, and Urbosa collapses beside Daruk, no longer able to support herself in her wheezing. Revali can only sputter more, and the memory begins to fade out as Mipha says through her giggles:

 

“It might be best to stop, he looks like he might hyperventilate… “

 

*

 

Daruk is laughing uproariously beside him when the memory ends, and Link thinks he probably missed the punchline of the joke.

 

“I… cheated?” He clarifies, confused. Daruk wheezes and nods.

 

“That memory gets me every time. You were one wicked little hylian, I’ll give you that.” He says once he’s finally calmed down.

 

“What did I say that made him so flustered?” Link asks, eyebrows furrowing.

 

“You really don’t know what that sound was?” Daruk asks surprised, and annoyance bubbles up in Link.

 

“I said I lost all my memories, didn’t I? Are you really that shocked?” He snaps, a little mean but he figures Daruk deserves it.

 

“Of course little man, sorry about that.” Daruk gives his hair a ruffle in apology, which doesn’t make him feel much better, then elaborates, “It’s a rito mating call. I don't want to know how you managed to get the sound down so well, but you did!” He laughs like it’s hilarious, but Link just thinks it’s immature. The old Link made sex noises to win a tiny contest like that? Ridiculous.

 

(He knows, deep down, that he would have probably done the same thing, however; he might be more like his old self than he initially thought.)

 

*

 

Link steels himself, then teleports back to the forest to try again for the master sword. He grasps the hilt, holding his breath, while the Great Deku Tree watches in eternal patience. He begins to pull and can feel the sword draining him of his very being, wincing as it chips away at his life force. This time, however, he can feel it is not only testing his life force but his mind itself. I am ready. He thinks, please lend me your aid.

 

The sword, to his eternal relief, deems him enough.

 

*

 

He goes back to Rito Village to apologize to Teba and explain himself, and finds him at the flight range with his son.

 

“I-” He struggles to make the words out, “You know how I did that neat trick when you had me shoot the targets?” Teba nods. “I think-I think Revali was the one to teach it to me.” He stammers out, strangely self-conscious about it, and Teba stares at him in surprise.

 

“That… makes a lot of sense, actually.” Teba says eventually, “I’ve never seen anything like it before, and it is a skill fit for a great warrior such as Revali.”

 

“And I can prove I’m the champion,” Link continues, unsheathing the master sword, which Teba… does not look as surprised to see as Link was expecting.

 

“I figured.” He says with a chuckle, but their conversation is cut off.

 

“Are you Link?” Link turns to see Tulin staring up at him wide-eyed, and Link chuckles and crouches down to his level.

 

“I am.” He says with a smile, and Tulin bounces excitedly.

 

“Dad says you’re a great warrior! And that you helped stop the beast in the sky! Can you show me?” He pleads, and Link has always had a weakness for children. He finishes the boy’s challenge with 16 targets; it’s not 18, but it’s not too far behind. Tulin seems quite impressed, and gives him an amount of rupees such a young child should not be in possession of, but it’s not his place to judge.

 

“If you ever need help you know where to find me,” Teba says, and it’s nice to have such kind friends scattered throughout the world.

 

*

 

Link travels across Hyrule again, completing as many shrines as possible and helping everyone he meets, no matter how big or small their problem.

 

I can help people and that… that is one of the greatest gifts of all. The words echo in his head like a mantra, and he thinks Yunobo is quite possibly the wisest person he has met so far.

 

Chapter Text

 

 

Mipha and Daruk continue to visit him in his dreams, helping him untangle as many memories as they can. Revali does not show his face even once.

 

*

 

When he gets to Gerudo Town and gets thrown out, he cannot believe his bad luck. It’s not my fault I’m a man he thinks bitterly, but bitter thoughts have never solved anything, so instead he plans.

 

*

 

He knows he looks gorgeous in the outfit, which only makes his desire to go hide in a hole stronger.

 

*

 

The queen of the Gerudo is 13 years old, and had to take the title before she was ready because her parents were taken from this world too soon. Link feels nothing but empathy.

 

*

 

He watches the memory of Zelda, curled up on Urbosa’s lap, fast asleep. Urbosa smiles down at her gently, and Link hopes against hope it is because they were only close friends.

 

The princess has lost so much, will have to bear so great a burden, losing her love as well could be enough to break her.

 

*

 

Riding sand seals is infinitely more enjoyable when you are not being shot at by a giant camel.

 

*

 

Urbosa gives him gentle nudges throughout his time deciphering the puzzles, her voice booming and bright. He has heard of her skills as a warrior, and she has the confidence to match, and Link fears the beast who managed to slay her.

 

*

 

Thunderblight Ganon is the worst one of all, and all his metal weapons are too dangerous to wield. He is nearly killed several times, surviving by the skin of his teeth, but his desire for vengeance wins out in the end.

 

*

 

This is how things had to happen. She says, like their deaths were inevitable, like he couldn’t have stopped them if he’d tried. No one need carry blame. She is not talking to him, at least not directly, but she chips at his guilt nonetheless. No one need carry blame. No one. No one. This is how things had to happen. Had to. They echo in his head and for the first time since his journey began, it occurs to him that maybe he could not have saved them. Maybe he had done all he could, and the Goddess had decided this was how fate had to play out. Maybe it is not his fault. Maybe. Maybe. Maybe.

 

*

 

And let her know… I couldn’t be more proud of her.

 

Oh, Link thinks, his fears confirmed.

 

*

 

They are ready now, all they are waiting for is him. He is not ready however, there are still too many questions he needs answered.

 

*

 

“Let me guess,” Urbosa says in his dreams that night, her heels clicking to a stop behind him. They sit in the palace, looking out over the sands, the same place where Link had given Riju her lost artifact back. Link does not have to pretend to be a girl in this place (thank the Goddess), instead just wearing the voe armor. “You lost your memory.” She sits beside him and he turns to look at her, surprised.

 

“How did you… ?” He asks, and she laughs.

 

“Zelda told me that might be a side effect of the shrine,” She explains, “And the way you looked at me like you’d never seen me before tipped me off that it might not just have been her speculation.”

 

“I've seen you before.” He mutters to himself, embarrassed.

 

“Memories can never compare to the real thing.” She says, her eyes sparkling, and Link thinks it is probably a bad idea to fight with her over minor details. “Have the others been helping you get your memories back as well?” She asks, glancing down at him.

 

“Revali hasn’t. When he learned I lost my memory he just… left, and I haven’t seen him since.” Link admits, expecting outrage from Urbosa too, but she just stares, then throws her head back in a hearty laugh.

 

“That proud bird, fleeing from something like this!” She chortles, and Link doesn’t know quite what to make of this woman. When she sees he is at a loss her laughter stops and she gives him a more gentle smile. “It is not your fault, Link. When he is hurt he lashes out then retreats, and you forgetting him certainly hurt.” She puts a reassuring hand on his shoulder, and he sighs in frustration.

 

“But why did that hurt him? From the memories I’ve recovered, it seems like we were rivals at best, enemies at worst!” He looks to her, begging for answers, and she hums for a moment.

 

“The princess said doing similar actions can trigger lost memories; see if you can get a rito to braid your hair. Tell me once you’ve managed that, then I’ll show you a memory of my own.” She gives him a pat on the back, her smile never fading, and the dream ripples to an end.

 

*

 

Teba drops his bow into the flight range’s ravine when Link asks him to braid his hair, and he still hasn’t recovered from the shock when the sounds of it splintering to pieces are heard. Harth, on the other hand, puffs up is feathers in indignation.

 

“How dare you ask something like that!” Harth hisses, “Do you hylians have no shame?” Link realizes this might have been a bad idea. “Did you really think-”

 

“There’s no need to get angry, Harth,” Teba cuts him off, “He probably just didn’t know what he was asking.” He turns to Link. “Braiding someone’s feathers, or hair on you hylians, is a rather… intimate act. It is not performed between anyone but loved ones and very close friends.” He explains; Link’s head is spinning.

 

“I… didn’t know.” He manages eventually, “I’m sorry.” Harth huffs, but he seems mollified enough, and Teba just looks at him for a very long time.

 

“Has another rito ever done that for you in the past?” He asks carefully, and Harth snorts from behind him. Teba is putting some pieces together, possibly ones Link himself has not yet, but Link just shrugs. “If one had, that would mean they were very close to you. Very close.” And oh, Link sees where this is going. If this is Urbosa’s hint, then it’s possible they were close friends after all.

 

“Okay. I didn’t mean to make you uncomfortable.” Link replies, already thinking of alternative ways he could do this; maybe braiding his own hair? The Rito seem to do it with feathers though, would it be too personal to ask Teba to give him a few? Probably.

 

“No, no, it’s alright. You’ll have to give me a moment to gather supplies, however. And the flight range probably isn’t a good place to do it.” Teba says, and Link hears Harth squawk.

 

“You’re not actually going to do it, are you?!” He asks incredulously, staring at Teba, who just shrugs.

 

“We have fought in battle together, that does make him a close friend. Besides, I owe him for helping me stop Medoh.” He packs his bow away while Harth stands there stupefied, and Link almost tells Teba not to, from the way Harth is reacting; almost. From Harth’s shocked stare Link can tell he is most definitely overstepping bounds, but he is desperate to recover any memories he can, and this may be the only way.

 

“But you can't just-” Harth stops himself, then glares daggers at Link. Link takes a page out of the old Link's book and says nothing.

 

*

 

Teba takes him to a quiet spot across from the village, away from prying eyes, and begins to take out supplies. The cliffside they are on blocks out the wind thankfully, which will make Teba’s job easier.

 

“The only two outcome of this,” Teba begins, “Is either Revali didn’t do this for you, and I am essentially committing adultery for no reason, or he did do this for you, which raises a ridiculous amount of questions.” He takes out Link’s ponytail, handing it to him, and begins to comb his hair out.

 

“I thought you said it was done between close friends?” Link asks, confused.

 

“Yes, but we are not close friends. One battle is not enough to allow such personal activities; I only hope Harth does not tell Saki. Who gave you such an idea anyway?” Teba asks.

 

“One of the other champions suggested I try this,” He admits, “Urbosa seemed confident it would trigger a memory. I guess we really were good friends after all.”

 

Teba gives a noncommittal hum, then clicks his tongue in annoyance when the comb meets several snags, “Your hair is ridiculously messy, even for a hylian, do you never-” And that is all it takes.

 

*

 

“Don’t you ever groom yourself?” Revali is muttering as he combs through Link’s hair. They are in the same house as the previous memory, Link sitting on a stool while Revali stands behind him. Link winces as Revali tugs hard on a knot, turning around to sign be gentler! Revali just snorts and continues at the same strength. “It is your fault for not taking better care of yourself. Honestly, do you really expect to beat Ganon if there are birds nesting in your hair?”

 

“What, birds like you?” He signs, and gets a particularly hard tug for it.

 

“I’ll have you know I’m not a bird, but a proud member of the Rito,” Revali sniffs, and Link laughs.

 

“Could’ve fooled me.” He signs, and earns another tug. They sit in comfortable silence for a while after this, and once the tangles are out Revali’s ministrations become methodical and soothing, and Link almost nods off several times; he can understand why the Rito find this so personal.

 

“Don’t fall asleep on me,” Revali chuckles, giving Link’s back a nudge, “only hatchlings fall asleep when having their braids done.”

 

“Can’t help it.” Link signs, though it is sloppy and he is unsure if Revali can understand.

 

“Let me guess,” Revali mutters, “Our dear princess works you day and night with her frivolous trips all across the land, forcing you to keep watch overnight while she sleeps peacefully by the fire, and now you are exhausted.” His voice has taken a vicious tone, and Link looks up at him. “Don’t move your head.” Revali chides.

 

“You need to stop insulting the Princess.” Link insists though he knows it will have no effect on someone as stubborn as Revali.

 

“She is not my Princess.” He replies, conveniently ignoring that she is technically the princess of all of Hyrule, and Link rolls his eyes.

 

“She is mine, though,” Link signs, then plays his trump card, “Do it for me?” It takes all of three seconds for Revali to give a resigned sigh.

 

“I just don’t see how she expects you to defeat Ganon while you are too tired to even lift that oh-so-special sword.” He grumbles, reaching behind himself for what Link assumes to be beads and a feather.

 

“That counts.” Link signs, but Revali makes no indication he has seen.

 

“There,” Revali says rather proudly, “Finished.” Link reaches his hand up to feel the braid, brushing over the bead and soft feather at the end. The braid is short, despite Link growing his hair out specifically for this reason, but it is long enough. “You can’t see it, of course, being on the back of your head as it is, but I can assure you it is perfect. The best I’ve ever done, quite possibly. The best ever done, quite possibly.” Revali is bragging excessively, which means he’s nervous. Link turns and gives him a smile, before getting up and walking over to his sword and shield, which he had left by the entrance when he arrived.

 

“What, you’re just leaving?” Revali asks, and Link takes (perhaps cruel) delight in making such a proud rito so nervous. He only grabs his shield, however, shined so well he can see his own reflection in it, and turns his head to look. His eyes widen at what he sees.

 

The braid is expertly done, woven in a complex design Link has never seen before, tied at the end with a purple bead. There are several streaks of blue throughout the braid, and Link realizes a little breathlessly Revali has woven his own feathers into the design. A single blue feather also hangs off the end, attached to the bead.

 

Revali seems to have realized what Link is doing, and gives as a nervous “What do you think?”

 

Link turns and gives him a beaming smile.

 

“I love it.” He says, his voice always a little scratchy from disuse, but still understandable. Revali’s confidence seems to rush back, and Link watches as his feathers ruffle with pride.

 

“Of course you do, I made it after all.” He says, as if he wasn’t asking for Link’s opinion a little desperately only seconds ago. The memory fades as Link begins to stride up to Revali, laughter bubbling in his chest.

 

*

 

Link comes back to himself, and this time Teba is not calling his name, only waiting patiently.

 

“A memory?” He asks, and Link nods numbly. “If I may ask,” He sounds hesitant, which doesn’t bode well, “What color was the bead the champion placed in your hair?” Link isn’t sure why that would matter, but he gives the information anyway. “Purple… you say.” Teba’s face is one of someone whose world has been turned on its axis.

 

“Is that… bad?” He asks nervously, wondering if Revali had secretly put an ‘I hate you’ bead in Link’s hair.

 

“It… changes things,” Teba says finally, “It would seem the stories the Rito passed down over the ages of our champion leave out an… important detail.”

 

“Being friends with me isn’t that important of a detail.” Link replies, glancing back at him.

 

“Friends, right,” Teba mutters, before glancing at the setting sun. “I need to get back home soon. Do you need me to take you back to the village, or can you find your way from here?” He asks, packing his tools back up.

 

“I’ll be fine, thank you for all your help.” Link says, and very much means it. Teba nods and gets up.

 

“Goodbye for now, then.” He says, before taking off, and Link realizes that considering he will be entering Hyrule Castle soon, it may be goodbye forever.

 

*

 

Urbosa joins him again in his dreams, taking him to the same spot she had before, and gives him a mischievous smile.

 

“So, did my advice help at all?” She asks, and Link glares because she knew.

 

“I almost got an arrow to the face for asking for something like that,” He snaps, and she laughs.

 

“That’s a no then?” She chuckles, “I figured as much.”

 

“No, no he did. I just think I mortally offended his best friend.” Link replies, and Urbosa looks surprised.

 

“You actually managed to get a rito to braid your hair?” She asks, before laughing. “Well, I suppose I should’ve expected as much from you, you always did find a way.” She says, a bit like a proud mother, “Did you remember anything?”

 

“Revali braided my hair before, at least once,” Link confirms, and Urbosa frowns when he says nothing more.

 

“Do you remember why?” She asks.

 

“Teba says the Rito would do it for loved ones or close friends, so I assume were really were friends, even if my few memories say otherwise.” Link replies, and looks up to see Urbosa giving him a flat look. She says nothing, however, so he eventually pushes, “You said you’d help me unlock some memories?” She sighs but nods, then gives him a smile as the dream begins to ripple.

 

*

 

He, Urbosa, and Zelda are camped out on the shrine on Satori Mountain, watching the sunset.

 

“It’s said a very rare being lives here, though there have been no scientific records of it. They call it the ‘Lord of the Mountain’ and say it can only be found on this mountain, and only at night!” The princess is in the bright and bubbly mindset of whenever she goes on science expeditions, and Link is relieved that she is happy; her duties have been making her smiles rarer and rarer.

 

“I’m excited to see it then,” Urbosa replies, indulgent as ever, a soft smile on her face and she brushes a strand of hair from Zelda’s face. Zelda beams at her, a light blush on her features, and Link wishes he could have allowed them to go on this trip alone. He is the princess’ knight, however, and where she goes he must follow; He tries to make himself as unobtrusive as possible. The princess yawns then, eyes fluttering, and Urbosa chuckles. “Sleep, I will wake you when the beast comes.” She says.

 

“Mmm… But that’s not fair… to you… “ She yawns again, trailing off, and it is not long before she is asleep, head in Urbosa’s lap.

 

“The King is working her far too hard, she is always exhausted.” Urbosa says quietly to Link, “Isn’t it your job to protect from anything that would do her harm?”

 

“I cannot counter my King, his word is law.” Link signs; They have had similar arguments before.

 

“He should not give you such a job if he won’t allow you to fulfill its requirements.” She mutters, annoyance in her voice, and Link has nothing to say to that. They sit, conversing quietly about various subjects for a few hours, before a bright blue glow begins to shine from the other side of the mountain.

 

“Your creature is here, princess,” Urbosa whispers, nudging her gently awake.

 

“Hmm?” Zelda mumbles, groggy, and Urbosa chuckles.

 

“The Lord of the Mountain?” She reminds her, and Zelda gives a little ‘Oh!’

 

“Right, of course! We have to be very quiet though, it spooks easily.” She warns and they both nod.

 

They walk with quiet feet around the mountain side, then Zelda motions for them to crouch once they get close enough. “Follow me,” She whispers and begins to crawl towards the little alcove. She pauses to take a quick picture of a blupee, which quickly scurries off. “It would seem the creature attracts blupees, how fascinating.” She mutters, more herself, before continuing, Urbosa and Link not far behind. Finally, they peek over the grass, and Zelda gasps. Standing in the center of the pool of water is a beautiful blue being, elegant and otherworldly. The creature seems to hear her gasp, however, and before she can take out the sheikah slate, the creature gallops toward the edge of the mountain, before vanishing. The blupees all scatter when the Lord of the Mountain does, and the glow disappears.

 

“That-that-!” Zelda sputters, and before Link can console her for not being able to get a picture she turns sharply, “That was extraordinary! Urbosa, did you see that? That was the most beautiful creature I’ve ever laid eyes on!”

 

“I’ve seen a more beautiful creature,” Urbosa says, eyes shining, and Link debates whether gagging at a queen's words is appropriate or not.

 

“Yes well, I’m sure there are plenty of beautiful creatures in the desert.” Zelda says, the meaning going over her head, “I simply must document this at once!” She scurries back to the camp where she had left her sketchbook and notes, leaving them in the dust. Urbosa looks back at Link, who is giving her a flat stare.

 

“Don’t give me that look, you are infinitely worse.” She says, the memory fading before Link can hear what his reply was.

 

*

 

Urbosa gives him a sad smile when the memory finishes, and Link blames Ganon for so, so many tragedies.

 

“It is time to fight him,” She replies as if reading his thoughts, “Go. We will follow.” The dream fades to darkness.

 

*

 

He finishes more shrines, helping a few people on the way, and finishes finding all the locations of the pictures. Each memory hurts a little more than the last, but he knows he must bear their weight, no matter how painful.

 

Forgetting is the easy way out.

 

*

 

Urbosa joins Mipha and Daruk in helping him, and he is finally beginning to piece his past together.

 

*

 

You are ready, Link. Zelda’s voice whispers while he sleeps, go to Impa, and ask for the chest I asked her to guard. It is time you knew the truth.

 

When he awakes he is shocked, he has not heard her inside his head for a long, long time; whatever is inside the chest, it is important.

 

*

 

“So she finally believes you ready.” Impa says, smiling, “Paya, go fetch the chest that was entrusted to us by the Princess.” Paya nods and runs off, and Impa turns back to him. “Not even I know what the chest holds, but Zelda believed them important enough to hide from you until you had regained your full strength of mind. Whatever it is, I can only hope you are prepared.” Paya comes back carrying what seems to be an ordinary chest and places it gently by his feet. He opens it, and Inside there are two bundled objects and a note which reads:

 

Link,

If you are reading this then you are finally strong enough to defeat Ganon. I asked Impa to guard this with her life, as these memories are, I believe, some of your most important.

 

These items were two of the ones you held most dear, both of which were on your person the day Ganon awoke. I took them before you were taken to the Shrine of Resurrection, and for that I apologize. I knew you would lose your memories in the shrine, and I feared that these memories would cause you to lose whatever motivation still remained within you, fragile as your mind would have been after waking. Now that you are stronger, I believe these memories will lend you strength rather than take it, and you have a right to know regardless. I’m sorry it has come to this, and I am sorry for what you have lost.

 

Your job is almost finished, and I await you,

Zelda

 

Both items are small, but Link wonders, fears, what they will bring.

 

*

 

The first item he unwraps is the headdress which appeared in some of his previous memories. It is worn but still intact, and Link examines the pieces. The ribbons used to attach the rubies to his hair are similar to that of the snowquill headdress, but the gold that attaches the feathers is far more complex. It holds a ruby to keep out the cold, but is also decorated with several pieces of diamonds and amber, and the feathers are blue rather than white. It is no common piece of armor, that is for certain. No memories return just by staring at it, however, so he quickly puts it on. Once he is done he takes off his shield to look at his reflection and-

 

*

 

“You’re just… giving me this.” Link signs in confusion, looking down at the complex piece of gold in his hands. Revali had come all the way to Hyrule Castle, insisting on seeing him alone now because it was urgent. Link had protested, but the princess had just said she could take care of herself for a few hours ( I’m not a newborn, Link!), and Revali had dragged him back to Link’s cramped quarters. When Link asked what on earth this was about Revali had said he’d gotten Link a headdress like the ones Link had seen in the rito clothing store, but this was…

 

“You were always complaining about it being too cold when you came to visit,” Revali says with a shrug, though he won’t meet Link’s eyes.

 

“Revali, this must have cost a fortune.” The ribbons had looked about the same as the ones in the store and he’d put them on without thinking too much about it, but then Revali had shown him the headpiece. The gold shines and the gems sparkle, and he’s pretty sure he couldn’t afford something like this if he’d saved his money for years (granted, knights don’t exactly get an abundance of pay, even if they’re the Princess’ Appointed Knight).

 

“What, do you expect someone like me to give gifts of any less grandeur?” Revali sniffs, still not meeting his gaze.

 

“I-I can’t accept something as expensive as this. I just- is there an occasion I’m missing or something?” He’s confused, perhaps there was a rito holiday he’d missed out on? One that came only once every thousand years to warrant such an expensive gift?

 

“It... is an occasion, yes.” Revali manages, and Link can see him having an internal battle.

 

“Is everything okay?” Link asks, “I don’t celebrate rito holidays, so don’t feel obliged to give me such expensive gifts.” He gives his best smile in hopes it will calm Revali down. He motions to take out the ribbons, but Revali quickly puts his hand over Link’s to stop him.

 

“Don’t!-” He squawks, before taking a deep breath, “It-It is a rito custom to give a gift with one’s feather’s on it when-when-” He can’t seem to get the words out, and it is so unlike the Revali he knows.

 

“Revali, it’s okay. You don’t need to get me anything.” Link signs slowly and clearly, ensuring Revali can see, “I’m fine with the elixirs, don’t feel obligated.” He’d been using elixirs to stave off the cold around rito village, and it had worked so far.

 

“It’s not out of obligation.” Revali insists, “It’s-I-It’s given when one wantstostartacourtship.” The last part comes out in a rush, and Link almost misses it. Almost.

 

“It’s what?” He squeaks out, hands tightening around the clip as the world freezes around him.

 

“I know you heard me.” Revali snaps, fidgeting. He looks so vulnerable, so unlike his usual self, and if it were about anything else Link would probably tease him mercilessly about it. As it was, Link could do nothing but stand there, mouth gaping. When the silence stretches Revali’s feathers ruffle in distress.

 

“Nevermind, I knew this was a bad idea. You can just-” Link cuts him off before he can get any further by doing the first thing that comes to mind: hugging him with so much force it knocks them both off their feet.

 

“Of course!” Link laughs, nuzzling into Revali’s neck. Revali’s entire body sags with silent relief, before he tenses again.

 

“I cannot believe it took you that long to respond! You would really keep me, the champion of the Rito, waiting?” He scolds, but Link only laughs again, pressing a light kiss to his beak, reducing Revali to incoherent sputtering.

 

*

 

Link is tugged viciously out of the memory, and thinks oh as the pieces all click together; it is really a testament to his oblivious nature that he did not figure it out sooner. His fingers tremble as he releases the poor shield from his death grip, and realizes there are voices.

 

“-him be, Paya. He is most likely reliving intense memories.” Impa’s voice echoes over Paya’s nervous tittering; he does not have the energy to reassure her. He looks to the other wrapped item, picking it up, but he cannot bring himself to unwrap it. The revelation is too much, too intense, and he cannot take another. He begins to put it back, but is stopped.

 

“You must, Link.” He hears Impa say, as if she could read his thoughts, “You know you must.” He doesn’t want to, the previous revelation is too intense, he doesn’t know what to do. Revali was courting him. Revali liked him enough to teach him his best aerial move, to braid his hair, to give him a headdress covered in expensive gems, to court him.

 

“Do not run away now, Link. You have come too far.” Impa says, and he knows deep down she is right.

 

He unwraps the second item with unsteady hands, and it only takes one look at the white embroidery of Medoh on light blue cloth to-

Chapter Text

 

“There must be something I can do to help!” Zelda insists. The champions are at a loss, and while Urbosa tries to tell her as gently as possible it would be a bigger help if she were out of harm’s way, Revali comes up to him.

 

“Looks like they’re expecting you to work a miracle, like one wave of that sword will just make Ganon vanish.” He says, tone haughty as ever, but Link sees right through him.

 

“I will be careful.” He signs, trying to reassure, but it does not seem to help. Revali’s feathers are fluffed in clear panic, which only makes Link worry. “You must be careful too. Do not let anything distract you.” Link insists, because it’s not a victory if they don’t both walk out alive. He reaches up on his tiptoes to plant a gentle, lingering kiss on his beak, which only causes Revali to let out a broken sound.

 

“You must come back alive,” Revali says desperately, “That’s-that’s an order. You have to.” Link gives a weak laugh.

 

“Since when are you allowed to order me around?” Link asks, but Revali does not reply; instead, he steps back and looks at Link with determined eyes. He begins unwinding his scarf, and Link looks at him in confusion.

 

“Revali, you can’t quit now-” He hears Zelda say in panic, but Urbosa quickly shushes her; Revali does not acknowledge either of them.

 

“This is the symbol of my place as Medoh’s champion, and as such my most prized possession.” He hands it to Link, “And now it’s yours.” Link hears Zelda gasp, and Link just stares in shock.

 

“In hylian culture this means-”

 

“I know what it means.” Revali interrupts him, “Don’t give me your answer now, give it to me after the fight.” Then he smiles, “Think of it as incentive.” Tears burn in Link’s eyes, and he gives a watery smile and a nod; he does not trust his mouth or hands to form any coherent sentences.

 

He is getting married; now all he needs to do is defeat Ganon.

 

*

 

I’m sorry for what you have lost.

 

Zelda’s words echo in his brain, rattling around, and tears pour down his face. He wants to run, run from this revelation, from his responsibilities, from the grief. He realizes Paya is there, rubbing soothing circles on his back, but it does not help. This memory has triggered countless others: sleeping under the stars up on Medoh, wrapped in Revali’s wings, where the world seems to fade away. Practicing for countless hours with Revali in the flight range. Revali following along on some of Zelda’s expeditions, complaining all the while but refusing to leave.

 

His and Revali’s first time.

 

They all pass across his vision, bright and filled with so much hope of a happily ever after that will not come. He gets up and bolts for the door, ignoring Paya’s worried cries.

 

(He does not see Impa give a sad smile. He does not hear her tell Paya “Calm yourself, child, he is strong. This is something he must do.”)

 

*

 

Link teleports to outside of Medoh, where the beast stands motionless save for the bright beam shooting from its beak.

 

“I KNOW YOU CAN HEAR ME, REVALI!” Link yells above the sounds of the wind, “I HAVE MY ANSWER. STOP HIDING AND COME FACE ME IF YOU WANT IT!” In truth, he does not know if Revali can hear him, but he has no other way of asking the ghosts to visit him in his dreams, they simply come when they want. He needs to see Revali, however, now that he has gained back most of his memories of them together. There are still some holes, but the memories the scarf had pulled loose are enough to remember how fiercely he loved; How fiercely he was loved.

 

*

 

He goes to sleep hoping, praying, and wakes to a bright blue sky, the whirl of Medoh’s motors under him. It is chilly, but the headdress Revali gave him keeps him so, so warm. He turns, and there is Revali, watching the world pass beneath them.

 

“Hearing your voice so loud was certainly a shock, I’m not sure I’ll ever get used to it,” Revali mutters, then adds a quiet not that I’ll have to, I suppose. Link wastes no time pouncing out him, knocking them both back. Revali squawks, but Link only tightens his arms around Revali’s waist.

 

“My answer is yes.” He says, trying desperately to hold back tears. Revali does not respond for a long while, before enfolding Link in his wings, sitting them both back up.

 

“This is what I was afraid of.” Revali says, “It is unbecoming of the last living champion to hold so tightly to ghosts.” It clicks then, why Revali refused to help him recover memories, why he never visited after the first time; Link sits up and punches him, making him flail back.

 

“What was that for?!” Revali squawks indignantly, rubbing his shoulder.

 

“You don’t get to choose who and what I hold on to. It is my choice, not yours, and keeping my memories from me because you made that decision on your own is cruel.” He is burning with rage, and at least Revali has the decency to look properly chastised. When he doesn’t respond Link sighs. “If you’re sorry then make it up to me,” he says, because he knows Revali is far too proud to apologize, “I still have some holes, help me recover one.” I want to remember you as much as possible he thinks, but doesn’t say. Revali seems to be contemplating this for a moment, before looking back up at him.

 

“Do you remember the first time we said ‘I love you’?” He asks eventually, far more bold than the stuttering mess who had asked to court Link oh-so-long ago. Link thinks for a moment, then shakes his head. Revali takes a deep breath. The dream begins to ripple and he is launched into-

 

*

 

It is dark, and he is curled up in nothing but his underwear, spooned by warm feathers. He is drifting out of sleep as the object they are on rocks slightly (a hammock, he thinks). He nuzzles up into the head resting on his, earning a chuckle.

 

“If you’re awake, it is probably best we get up.” Revali’s voice comes from above him, but he can feel the vibrations of it down his back. He only whines, pulling the wing resting gently over his hip up higher, like a blanket. This earns him another laugh, the wingtips moving to brush the hair out of his face. “Your hair is always a mess when you wake up. You should really keep it braided at night.” Link just pouts, not even awake for five minutes and already subject to Revali’s obsession with grooming. “I’ll braid it for you if you like.” Something in the back of Link’s groggy mind is reminding him such an offer is a big deal in rito custom, but Link’s sleep-addled brain does not register it. He begins to drift back off in the silence of Revali awaiting his answer, making Revali sigh.

 

“She is working you far too hard, you should not be this exhausted.” He grunts out, manhandling Link until they are facing each other.

 

“You act like I am a delicate flower who cannot take a little hard work. Do you really think so little of me?” He signs, his annoyance waking him up; he dislikes this coddling.

 

I think you are a reckless hylian who would work yourself into the ground if asked to because you have far too much trust in your royalty’s choices. I think you are selfless to a fault, which will get you killed one day. I think you shoulder far too great of a burden and do not need to carry the princess’ as well. I also think she has done a terrible job of caring for you in return if you feel your responsibilities as her knight include ceasing to speak. I think you should have been given a choice in all this, as us other champions were, because you will be the one to face down Ganon and quite possibly meet your death doing so, just because some sword decided you had to and now you feel obligated. That is what I think.” Revali finishes, different emotions warring in his eyes. Protectiveness, annoyance, resentment, fear. Link realizes he is crying too late, when several tears have already slipped down his cheeks. “You also need to learn how to be given affection without crying.” Revali huffs, wiping the tears away.

 

“I love you.” Link says without thinking, and Revali freezes. He does not take it back, however, because it is true. Eventually, Revali relaxes once more, a gentle smile on his face.

 

“And I love you.” He says easily, pulling Link closer, and they both drift off once more.

 

*

 

“That… is to ensure you remember what I think of you,” Revali says once the memory ends, not meeting his eyes.

 

“You have a unique ability to insult someone while also saying the nicest things they’ve ever heard.” Link manages, blinking back tears. Crying, he thinks always crying.

 

“It’s a gift,” Revali says with a shrug and a smirk. Link leans in and kisses it off his face, Revali returning it immediately. They stay like that for a long while, until the dream begins fading.

 

“Go fight Ganon.” Revali murmurs as his form begins to take on its ghostly colors, “Kill him, for all of us. And for the love of the Goddess, don’t die.” And with that Link wakes.

 

*

 

He makes final preparations to fight Ganon, determination stronger than ever before, and doesn’t say goodbye to any of the ghosts because he knows seeing them will only make him waver.

 

They will not leave him until he defeats Ganon, after all; a lesser man would just run forever, and see them always in his dreams.

 

*

 

I cannot hold him any longer! Zelda says, and Link thinks I’m ready.

 

*

 

He kills Ganon for many reasons. To save Hyrule, to save the Princess, to make sure children like Tulin grow up without fear, to avenge the champions, to avenge the lost happily ever afters, the lost loves.

 

He does not do it because he feels obligated, however; not anymore.

 

*

 

“I always had faith in you,” Zelda says, and Link begins to wonder if the only one who truly ever doubted him was himself.

 

*

 

And so they start again, rebuild brick by brick, work from dawn until dusk. It is as much of an ending as a beginning, but Link has come to terms with it.

 

*

 

“Do you… ever miss him?” Zelda asks him one day, hands clenched tight at her side, the sunlight filtering into her study bright on her face. Link looks at her for a long time, before walking over to her.

 

“Every day.” He says, meeting her eyes, “I’m not okay yet, but I will be, one day.” He wills her to understand.

 

“I-yes. You’re right.” She replies, turning away and rubbing her face. She turns back to give him a watery smile. “Thank you, Link.”

 

*

 

He has a dream, one night. He stands at the spring of courage, the goddess statue looming over him.

 

Link the familiar voice calls from everywhere and nowhere at once, Champion of Hyrule, Chosen One, He Who Sealed The Darkness. I have watches you grope blindly through this world, lost and confused. I have watched you grow, watched you find your sight, watched you help all those you come across, no matter their worry. You have brought peace and stability to this world, and have helped me regain my power by bringing to me the spirit orbs. The power Ganon stole from me, used to bring his creatures back on the blood moon, is mine once again. In return, I give you a blessing, a gift unlike any other. May you follow your Princess on her path always, with him at your side.

 

There is a blinding light, not unlike the one which woke him from his 100-year slumber, and then there is darkness once more.

 

Neither the Goddess, nor the sword, ever speak to him again.

 

*

 

Several days later Teba comes flying into the palace in a flurry, interrupting them while they are cleaning out the dining room, and it takes a second to calm him down enough to hear his words.

 

“On Medoh- they found, they found him collapsed. They thought Medoh had somehow just preserved his body, but he’s alive and I thought- Link, Revali’s alive.” Link’s world freezes around him, and there is a deafening silence.

 

“So it worked.” Zelda whispers, and Link whips around.

 

“What…?” He manages out, because hope right now is a dangerous thing, but it is difficult to keep at bay.

 

“The Goddess visited me in my dreams, offering me a gift for my dedication and valor, for never giving up even when my power refused to awaken, for keeping Ganon sealed away 100 years while you recovered. She said-she said she could bring Urbosa back to me.” Zelda holds her hands up to her chest, wrapped so tightly around one another her knuckles are white, “But I-I asked her, begged her, to bring Revali back instead. It looks like it worked.” She looks up with tears in her eyes. “I admit I thought it nothing more than a wish fulfillment dream when I awoke.” She takes a deep breath, “I do not regret it though. You gave me so much, helped me so much, and I threw it back in your face because I was scared and felt helpless. But you never gave up, never stopped protecting me, even when I yelled at you to go away. Even when you had no memory, and must have been so lost, you continued to help me, saved me and all of Hyrule. And now, finally, I can return the favor. It was my turn to help you.” Link is speechless, and he cannot move for what feels like an eternity. Then he bolts forward, hugging her tightly, and they both collapse, sobbing.

 

“Thank you.” He chokes out through his tears, and she cannot speak, so she only nods.

 

They do not move for a long, long time.

 

(“Oh dear,” Zelda gives a watery laugh, “It would seem we scared him away.” Link looks back and realizes Teba has, at some point, left. Link figures he’ll go thank him eventually.)

 

*

 

When Revali wakes he sees Link’s bright smile, shining over him like the sun, and he scowls.

 

“Either you got yourself killed like I specifically requested you didn’t, or I came back to life, and I’m going to take a chance and say it was the former.” He’d told Link, he’d told him, but it seemed Link’s habit of never listening to a word Revali said hadn’t waned.

 

“Actually,” Link says, placing a kiss on his beak, and their story starts anew.