Hopping up onto the shore, nimbly maneuvering so he didn’t get a drop of water on his boots, Link landed gracefully with a soft ‘oomph’. Stretched out in front of him was the massive grassy plains of...somewhere. Massive trees, housing immense colonies of vibrant green leaves that shifted and danced in the light wind blowing through dotted across the landscape. In the far distance, he could see faint moving shapes that were probably, most likely, horses...maybe. He would be cautious approaching them, regardless.
There was some splashing behind him. Turning, he took a couple steps back to give Sidon room to get out of the river. Water streamed down his scaly skin, glinting with tiny sparkles as the bright, high noon sunshine bounced off the droplets. Golden eyes surveyed the beautiful scene laid out in front of them, the usual twinkle of excitement and enthusiasm more visible than usual. Reaching forward, Link tugged on his still damp arm, and smiled up at him when he looked down.
‘Thank you for carrying me out here.’ He signed.
“Of course, my friend!” Sidon exclaimed exuberantly, his broad voice echoing over the once quiet, still landscape. Behind him, he was pretty sure the herd of possible horses were taking off now, startled by the loud Zora voice, “Happy to do anything to help. However, if I may voice a concern?”
‘Sure. What’s wrong?’ He asked, cocking his head curiously.
“Oh, nothing is wrong.” Sidon reassured, waving his hands slightly, “I simply wanted to make sure this was where you meant to part ways. Are you certain you do not want me to take you further up river? There’s a lovely little village there.”
Smiling, touched that Sidon would be concerned from him, Link shook his head, and signed, ‘No, this is alright. Thank you. Don’t worry, though. When it starts getting dark, I will head over to the village.’
“Good.” A relieved smile spread across the Zora Prince’s face, revealing the sharp white teeth lying behind his lips, “If you need any help with anything, please don’t hesitate to stop by the Domain. I will do whatever I can to aide you.”
‘Thank you, Sidon. I appreciate that. It makes me feel stronger, knowing I’ve got you on my side.’
“You do indeed.” Sidon said fondly, warmth appearing in his golden eyes. Letting out a soft sigh, he placed his hands on his hips, cocked his head, and commented, “However, I would prefer it if you would visit outside of emergencies popping up. I expect you to be stopping by whenever you’re able.”
Chuckling, Link nodded, ‘I’ll do my best.’
“You had better, or I might just track you down and drag you back to the Domain for a good meal, and a good rest.” Sidon teased, though Link got the feeling that there was a considerable amount of seriousness behind that statement. There was no doubt in his mind that the Zora Prince would actually do it if he stayed away for too long. Not that he intended to do just that. In the Domain, he had found a peaceful, welcoming place to rest and recover. Plus, Sidon was there, so.
‘It won’t come to that.’ He reassured with a smile, ‘I will stop by as often as I can, I promise.’
“Alright,” Sidon offered a small smile, then sighed again, “I won’t keep you any longer. I need to return to the Domain, as well.”
‘Good-bye, Sidon.’ There was a disconcerting pang inside his chest. The familiar loneliness that he hadn’t noticed had done quiet during his time in the Domain was starting to creep in again, quietly whimpering that they didn’t want to leave Sidon’s side just yet, that they wanted to stay with him, to stay engulfed in this warmth, this fondness, this comfort. He shoved it forcibly away. He wasn’t a child, and Sidon wasn’t his mother or caretaker.
“Good-bye, Link.” It was a little bit of a relief to notice that Sidon, obviously, didn’t want to part ways just yet either. Fidgeting where he stood, it looked as though he was trying to think of something else to say, something that could keep him there.
For a few awkward, silent moments, they kind of just stood around, shifting uncomfortably, neither wanting to take the first step away. Finally, he couldn’t take it anymore. Knowing that if he remained for a moment longer, the loneliness whimpering like a lost child at the back of his mind would win, and he’d give in, go back to the Domain, stay one more night while telling himself all the while that it would be just one more night, he would leave the next morning, and ignore the fact that would lead to the whole thing playing over again. Better to just put his foot down, and walk away now.
Offering one more smile, he turned, started to walk away but stopped when Sidon caught hold off his arm. Jumping in surprise, he turned back around to find the Zora Prince doing...something. Knitting his eyebrows in confusion, he quietly watched as Sidon leaned forward, reaching out, then moved back, shifted to a slightly different position, repeat, then seemed to change his mind. Releasing Link’s arm, he held his own out, stooped, thought better of it, and continued to fidget around, looking confused and uncertain. Not catching on at all, wondering if this was some kind of good-bye friendship dance Zora performed, he signed, ‘What are you doing?’
“I want to embrace you but,” Sidon chuckled, an adorable hint of flush appearing in his white cheeks, “I don’t mean this as an offensive, but you’re so small. How do I?”
A hug from Sidon would be very nice but he wasn’t too sure either how to work that out. No offensive had been taken, he was tiny compared to Sidon. Course, he was tiny compared to a lot of people and things. He didn’t even come up to the Zora Prince’s midsection. If Sidon were to try to hug him standing upright, he get nothing but an armful of air. Bending over might work, it’d be awkward, but it would work. Still, there had to be a better way. Tilting his head, he thought about it for a second then the solution popped up inside his mind.
‘Can you kneel down?’ He asked, gesturing towards the ground.
“Of course.” Lowering himself to his knees, Sidon brought himself somewhat closer. To further reduce the distance between them, he sat back onto his legs, which put the two of them nearly at eye level. Chuckling, he slowly shook his head in embarassed amusement, “That was easy.”
Instead of responding, Link stepped forward, pushed himself up onto the balls of his feet, wrapped his arms around Sidon’s shoulders, and squeezed tightly. Muscular arms snaked around his midsection, pulling him close to a sturdy, warm, still slightly damp chest. Sidon’s scent was stronger than he was so close. Something tangy, like the wind that blew in from the sea, mixed with an undertone of salt. Underneath it all was a crispness that he couldn’t quite identify. Against his skin, Sidon’s was surprisingly smooth. He had assumed Zora were scaly, but it seemed as though that wasn’t the case.
Melting into his embrace, Link let out a content, happy sigh. How long had it been since he was hugged like this? Perhaps that wasn’t the right question to be asking. Really, it had to be, when was the last time he had been hugged? He couldn’t even remember. Was that why Sidon’s embrace felt so good? Why he could feel himself drifting towards the conclusion that he didn’t want to ever leave the loop of his arms?
He didn’t think so. He was pretty sure that he felt that way because it was Sidon. Something about him just made him feel so good, so safe.
“Promise me that you’ll be careful.” Sidon murmured, his breath tickling Link’s ear.
Since he couldn’t respond as his hands were preoccupied, Link chose to just nod firmly, rubbing his cheek against the fin that hung by the side of Sidon’s face, hoping that he could convey to the Zora Prince that he would. After all, Zelda was waiting for him, and now, there was someone who would be sad if he got hurt so it only made sense that he did his best to remain intact and uninjured. Letting out another sigh, Sidon squeezed him once more then slowly began to move back. At first, he couldn’t bring himself to letgo, not wanting to be separated from that warmth, but eventually convinced his arms to let go.
Stepping back, he smiled up at Sidon as he stood, ‘Will I get another one of those when I come back to the Domain?’
“More than one, if you want.” The Zora Prince smiled in return.
‘Okay, I’ll hold you too that.’ He teased, then offered a slight wave, ‘Good-bye, Sidon.’
“Good-bye, my friend. I will see you soon.”
‘See you soon.’ He agreed with a firm nod.
Before the loneliness could come tumbling back in, he turned and started to walk away, hyper focusing on the herd of maybe horses in front of him. A loud splash came from behind him a few moments later, signaling that Sidon was leaving. It was right then that he came very close to turning, racing back to the river, and throwing himself back in in a desperate hope of catching the Zora Prince before he sped away. He, somehow, managed to fight it back. Stuff to do, he had important stuff to do, needed to keep moving forward. If he did, he could reward himself later on for being strong. The reward, of course, being going back to the Domain to spend more time with Sidon.
And get more hugs. A lot more hugs. He wanted so many more hugs.