Time knew he was the dad of the group. He knew that well- having every single member of their crew call him 'dad' at some point really hammered it home. He wasn't necessarily opposed to being considered a father; Malon actually wanted children, and they had spent long nights discussing how much fun and how hard it would be to be parents.
Time wasn't as much as a daydreamer as Malon tended to be. She would bring up plans for their future often in the middle of doing dishes or washing laundry, while Time waited for the nights where they did nothing but soak in each others presence and think aloud.
But Time had wanted to wait, before. He thought that he and Malon were too young- he was a firm believer in living wildly when you were young, and settling down with children when you grew older. Malon, however, took that with a grain of salt- "you're pushing thirty, Link," she would always say. "Thirty is the perfect time to have children, no?"
Before everything, Time would always reply with a smile and a "No."
Their group had formed a content family. Time was the dad, Sky was the mother; Twi: peace-making older brother, Hyrule and Four: calm middle siblings, Wild and Wind: chaotic younger siblings and Legend and Warriors were the twin brothers who both despised each other and were partners in crime.
Age had nothing to do with the roles at all. Time was the eldest at thirty while Sky was only about nineteen; Twilight was twenty five. Hyrule and Four were sixteen and seventeen respectively, and Wind was thirteen while Wild was the most gremlin-esque eighteen year old Time had ever met. Legend and Warriors were both twenty one, but the way they acted fluctuated through each day.
It was a happy arrangement, but there were always problems. Legend once cracked a joke about Time and Sky being married, which made the two of them incredibly uncomfortable- not only was Sky still a teen, Time was married and Sky had his girlfriend who he loved more than anything. Time was just as uneasy as the joke as Sky was, but Sky was the one to bring Legend aside and tell him how the joke made them uncomfortable.
Legend came back with an embarrassed blush stretching to his ears, mumbling to Warriors that Sky was definitely a mom because he sure knew how to make Legend hate himself. Sky looked stern, but he obviously was a little guilty- however, he had done his duty well. Legend refrained from making the joke again.
It was things like that that Sky did; he would pull whoever aside and give them gentle lectures. He never scolded (except for when they were all tired and one of them was acting up) and he gave off the feeling of a mother. He was able to ask people to do things without sounding bossy, and he freely gave out affection to whoever needed it.
He was a badass on the battlefield, as well.
Things like that made Time feel like he didn't deserve his role as the group father. Sure, he was the eldest, and there was no way in hell he was going to let any of the other boys take that role. But Sky fit into the roles of both being sweet and smiley while also stern and protective. Time knew he could be strict- having one eye somehow heightened his glare. He also knew that he could be stern, so much so that when he scolded one of the group he could always see Wind or Hyrule shrink away when they got too close to him and the one being scolded.
He just didn't know how Sky was able to be so… parental. Sky was the number one person everyone went to for comfort, and the boy had the innate gift to pick and choose words that didn't feel like he was babying the person. Legend and Warriors teased him relentlessly, but Time knew that they themselves went to the younger man when they needed help with their issues.
Which was why Time was more startled than usual when he was shaken awake by Wind, tears bubbling in the youngest's eyes. A few dripped onto Times' face, which made his half asleep mind think it was raining and then drearily wondered why he was sleeping outside in the first place as he turned on his side.
"Time," Wind whispered, his voice cracking. " Time."
Time felt the boy pat his cheeks, pressing on his markings. Time opened his eye, Wind hitting a little harder until Time sat up and pushed his hands away.
"What?" He asked, having to push the word out from his chest because Wind couldn't understand any of the sign from his era. The word, therefore, sounded more forceful and harsh. However, Wind apparently didn't care as he suddenly latched his arms around Time's chest, pressing his cheek against his soft undershirt.
Time's arms went up slightly, staring down at the top of Winds head. The youngest Hero didn't loosen his hug, only tightening when Time slowly hugged the boy back. He wasn't good at this.
"What's wrong?" He finally asked, once the boy let go. Time quickly removed his arms from the boy, the youngest wrapping his arms around his own knees. Time searched for a thing to say, finally realizing that rain wasn't coming from the heavens. The boy was silent, his shoulders shaking as he breathed unevenly. "Do you want me to go get Sk-"
"No!" Wind burst the word out, though it was muffled by his mouth being pressed to his knees. "Sky's mad."
Sky had been mad, earlier that day. But not at Wind- in fact, it had been toward Wild. He had seen the wild child use the Master Sword to chip away at some rock, of all things. Sky was livid enough to scream, something that terrified all of them and drowned out Wilds protests that the rock was ridiculously soft and that he did it all the time. Sky was bitter for the rest of the day, sneering at Warriors when he cracked a joke about it and almost snapping at Twilight before he paused and tried to compose himself.
If it were up to Time, he would have no problem waking the boy up to give some comfort to the youngest Hero. But he could see Wind's view of things, though he found it a little ridiculous- Wind was scared that Sky would yell at him as well. He had noticed how tense Sky was, though he significantly mellowed out before they went to sleep and had an apology session to all the people he had been rude to right after dinner.
"Oh… 'kay," Time said slowly, the low light of the burning coals giving Wind a backlight. "I won't wake Sky up. But, kid, I'm not good with-"
"Do you remember ReDeads?" Wind asked, the question rather loud and causing Four to shift in his sleep.
Time remembered ReDeads, though he didn't want to. He hated those things. They would come out of nowhere and paralyze you with a bone chilling shriek, then jump on you and scratch at your face and neck until you fought them off.
"Yes," Time said, Wind hiding his face back in his knees. "I assume you had a nightmare?"
"I was back on Outset Island," Wind began to explain. "I was playing with Aryll, but then…" he swallowed thickly, shivering. "My- my granny came along and said somethin' weird, then I blinked an' she turned into a ReDead and-" the boy took in a short, shaky breath. "She- she killed Aryll."
Time's stomach dropped at that. He had never met Wind's sister, but he saw pictures of the girl- she looked like a smaller, feminine version of her brother. Her eyes were a sea glass green and her smile was big; from what Wind told him, she was a cute but annoying sibling. That, mixed with the fact that she was only about seven, made Time think about how scary he would find the dream. And she was Wind's sister.
"I'm sorry," Time said, cringing slightly. Sky was so much better at this. "That must've been freaky."
Wind nodded, and Time decided to avoid embarrassing himself and instead opened his arms to the boy, Wind crawling into his hold and cuddling him. They got to the point where they were both laying down on Time's bedroll, Wind snuggled on top of Time. He would say it reminded him of Malon, but it was different. He didn't know how, other than Wind was tinier than his wife and Malon didn't lay on top of him most nights.
Was this what kids entailed? Snuggling with a smaller being, something fragile (though the arm that was around Wind's back reminded Time that the boy had muscle) but all together alive.
The thought of that scared Time, sometimes. He barely remembered his days as a young boy, and he would be the first to admit that he babied the younger members of their group, especially Wind. He had tried to get Wind out of a battle countless times, forgetting that the boy had killed Ganondorf by stabbing him in the head. He was as much as a Hero as the others.
Wind sighed, and Time could feel him begin to breathe deeper and more even. He thanked the Goddesses that Wind didn't snore, because the quiet, peaceful atmosphere that was created would have been ruined if Wind sounded like Legend when he slept. There was a reason the man slept in his own tent.
The next thing Time knew, he was waking up to find that Wind was still cuddling with him, his hair pressed against Time's chin. Time kept his eyes closed for a bit, listening to the ambient sounds of morning as he decided that when he got back to Malon, he would seriously bring up children.
The moment was ruined the second the man opened his eye to find Wild smiling mischievously down at him, his slate held up and over the two other Heroes.
"Wild." Time said warningly, Wild's smile growing into a smirk as he escaped the tent quickly. Time could hear his laughter, mentally cursing about how much of a gremlin Wild was. He tried to get up, but Wind made an admittedly adorable sound and whined,
"Nooo!" as he grabbed onto Time's shirt. Time froze in an awkward position when only a fourth of his body was up, one arm supporting himself as the other hand was on Wind's back.
The kid wasn't a baby- he was a pirate, for Hylia's sake. He had the mouth to prove it. But Wind did have his moments of making Time feel like a real father.
Time could sense that the other Heroes that were awake were crowding in at the door, obviously wanting to see Time snuggling with Wind. Time wouldn't give them the satisfaction- he moved slowly, setting Wind down onto the bedroll and freeing himself, making sure the boy was still asleep. Once he found that he was, he stood, walking to the entrance to the tent where Legend, Warriors, Wild, and Twilight were all bunched together, trying to look in. Their disappointment was obvious as they all looked up at the eldest Hero.
Time smiled pleasantly, and greeted them.
"Good morning, boys."