“I have this weird feeling I’m going to die,” Link said.
Sidon nearly dropped his book as he fumbled in alarm, “What?”
Link didn't look away from the view outside of the window in Sidon's private quarters overlooking the Domain. His eyes may have been pointed toward the hustle and bustle in the city below, but they were seeing something else, “No, that's not right. I feel like I have to die. To defeat the Calamity, I mean.”
Sidon was disturbed. He folded his book shut and put it on the desk, “Why?”
Link watched a group of children chasing eachother around Mipha’s statue, giggling as they ran through the shallow water, “I don’t know. It’s just this feeling I get, that… after I enter Hyrule Castle, I won’t be coming back.”
“I… very much would hope you come back, my friend.”
“I know,” Link mumbled. One of the children fell down and cried out in pain. The other children stopped and grouped around the fallen one to see if they were alright, “I just feel… somewhere inside me, that someone's already decided that something needs to be… exchanged, I guess, to seal the Calamity away. And that that something is me.”
Sidon stood, “Link…” he said, softly, reaching hesitantly for the Hylian sitting in his windowsill.
“I think that maybe…” Link murmured, “I even accepted that, before.”
Sidon touched his shoulder and Link jumped, startled.
“Sorry,” he mumbled, looking up at Sidon only for a moment, before he looked back down to the palace grounds.
“Do not be,” Sidon reassured quickly, “I am only concerned.”
“I know…” his eyes were pointed at the playing children, but they stared somewhere else, far away, where Sidon could not follow, “I just… wanted you to know. To be prepared. If I don’t come back.”
“You’re going to come back, Link,” Sidon said, resolutely, “You are the Hero of Hyrule! The Hylian Champion! The appointed knight of legend!”
“Yeah, I know.” Link cast his eyes up, to the horizon, “that's who I am.”
Sidon wasn't sure why, but he didn’t like the way Link had said that.
“I’m going, tomorrow,” Link said, finally, eyes still locked on where the sky met the rolling hills of the peninsula in gentle twilight, “It was nice… to rest here, for the day, with you. Thank you.”
“You’re going?” Sidon repeated, dumbfounded, “Tomorrow? To- not to Hyrule Castle?”
Link just nodded.
“I’ve freed all four divine beasts. I’ve found the sword that seals the darkness. She’s waiting for me. I have to save her. I have to save… everyone.”
“You… just like that?” Sidon asked, whirling, “You’re just going to go?”
Link nodded, “I came for one last day of reprieve… I-” he paused, then looked at Sidon, “You have always been a good friend to me. Today was nice. Quiet. I don't get many like that.”
“I- is there anything you need? Weapons? Potions?” Sidon was fumbling, scrambling in the dark to reclaim a foothold in this conversation. He was going?
“No,” Link said firmly, “I’m ready. I’m leaving at sunrise.”
“I… I wish you the best, my friend,” he said, finally, dumbstruck.
Link collected his sword from the corner and turned toward the door. He pulled it open and paused, but didn't turn around, “I want to tell you something selfish,” he murmured, then went silent. It hung in the room, heavy and dangerous, and Sidon’s tongue felt thick in his mouth, “But you deserve better than that.”
He shut the door behind him.
Sidon had hoped, truly hoped, that the sunrise would indeed be the herald to Link’s departure, but he was no fool, and he had been waiting since far before then. There was no light on the horizon when the sillhouette of the Hylian appeared on the bridge leaving the domain.
Sidon’s stomach twisted at the way he pretended not to see him as he passed, eyes cast firmly downward in the dark pre morning mist.
“Link,” Sidon said, after the champion had already taken a few steps past him, “wait.”
“I don't… you can’t leave like this. You can't tell me you think that you are going to die and then just… leave.”
Link was silent, back turned. Sidon didn't think he imagined the way his shoulders twitched together ever so.
“What were you going to say? Last night, what were you going to say?” He asked.
“You know what I was going to say,” Link whispered, his voice hoarse.
“Then why not say it?!” Sidon demanded.
“I have to stop the Calamity.”
“What does that have to do with anything?!”
“I can’t,” Link whispered, utterly nonsensical, “Not to you.”
“Link! What were you going to say!” Sidon yelled, and Link whipped around. His eyes were moist, but he did not cry, and his brows were knit together in unconscionable fury.
“I love you!” He snarled, the way a mad dog barks, and all the air went out of Sidon like wind over the sea. “You know it. I know it. And I know you feel the same,” Link continued, “But I’m a dead man, and I don't get to love people. I have to go.” He turned, like a frightened animal and tried to stomp away, but Sidon darted forward like another step might take him too far to reach and grabbed his shoulder.
“Don’t!” Link snapped, yanking his shoulder away, but he stopped. “Just… don’t,” he repeated, more softly.
“I… you were going to just come here and spend your last day with me and then leave and never come back, without ever saying it? You were going to do that to me?” Sidon felt bitter, hurt. Link stared at the ground.
“I shouldn't have come.”
“Yes, you should have! And you should have stayed!”
“I can’t stay. I have to face the Calamity.”
“Not if you genuinely believe it's going to kill you!”
“I’m already dead!” Link snarled, feral. Sidon fell silent. “I’m… already dead.” Link repeated it like an admission he made even to himself, soft, like an exhale, and he shook his head, “I died a long time ago. Just like everybody else. No one else gets to keep going. Urbosa isn't going to meet the new Gerudo chieftan. Revali isn't going to get to win any more medals. Daruk isn't going to know how the Gorons are fairing. Mipha is… never going to marry anyone,” he whispered, still staring down, hands balled into fists, “I’m no different than them. They just gave me a body that can move so I can do my job, and just like everyone else, when it's done, so am I. I am a job, a duty, an unfinished business. I am not…” he trailed off, eyes briefly flicking backward toward Sidon, or at least his feet, “You can't love a ghost.”
“You aren't a ghost, Link…” Sidon touched his shoulder again, and Link didn't flinch away this time, “You’re a living, breathing person. You’re alive. It’s going to be okay. I promise.”
“You can't promise that.”
“I’m promising it anyway. It's going to… I’m going to make it okay.”
“...You’re a fool.”
Sidon smirked sadly, “A fool you’ve fallen in love with.”
Link finally looked up at him, tilting his head back only just, eyes red and puffy, lips pulled back in a bitter, trembling scowl.
“Don’t go. Not yet,” Sidon murmured.
Link looked away, back at the horizon. Dawn was still a ways away.
“...Okay,” he said, finally.