"Here, have some."
Ganon looked at the bowl of rice and meat Link had seemingly made out of nowhere, relishing its warmth against his cold hands. "You know how to cook?" He asked, impressed.
Link shrugged. "I just throw stuff together and hope it blends well."
Ganon smiled, looking down to his right, at the vast expanse of desert below them. It seemed so small from afar. So peaceful. So far from the flashes of screams and blood he still saw in his dreams.
"We don't have to go right away." A gentle voice came from his side. Link had come to sit next to him, their knees touching gently. "I know how important it is to you to go back there before we find a place to live. We have all the time in the world. No one will find us here." He spoke in a casual tone, his gaze focused on his food, and Ganon couldn't help but feel lighter at his words. He looked down at the warm food, letting himself accept the prickling of his eyes. He nodded silently, but Link still caught it from the side of his vision.
They ate in silence. Not too close, yet not too far from each other. A keese started to circle above them. Harmless at first, but it quickly grew into the annoying presence these animals were known for. Without even glancing at it, Ganon zapped it with a bolt of energy, It fell onto the ground, now nothing more than a piece of grilled meat. Link snorted and walked towards it.
"Well I guess that's tomorrow's lunch taken care of."
The tall man watched as his soulmate placed the keese in his bag, a smile on his face. A smiled he had placed. Because of what he had done. He had come down from the high that had come with the fated meeting. Where everything had shut away and he could only see the person whose mark he bore almost his entire life. He had come back to reality. A reality which now revolved around another person. Someone whose own reality revolved around him as well. It didn't feel right.
He had had other people's lives revolve around him before. It ended in blood.
How could he allow himself to dictate Link's future?
"Why are you still with me?" He asked, his eyes now back to the half empty bowl.
He could feel Link's gaze on him. He didn't budge. "What do you mean?" A question he didn't really know how to answer.
"We were both very emotional in that pit, and with our whole surprise meeting we both said many things but-" He was interrupted by the soldier lifting his face with his small hands, locking their gazes together.
"Did you not mean what you said?" He asked, hurt clear in his voice.
Tears were starting to form in the corner of Link's eyes. "If you didn't mean what you said in that pit Ganon I swear to the Goddesses I-"
"No! No. I meant it. I meant all of it. I... I really did. That's the scary part."
Link sighed. "I'm terrified as well." He said, sitting next to the tall man.
The soldier lifted his eyebrow with a condescending look. "I literally decided to spend my life with an enemy I've sworn to kill since I started my service because you're the first person who ever made me feel like I belonged somewhere and like-" He buried his face in his hands. "It's crazy. We met, what, ten hours ago? Since then I've betrayed my country, my friends all think I'm dead, and I'm probably the most at peace I've ever been in my life. It makes no sense. And yet, when I look at you, I feel like it does. And I'm terrified that maybe this is a dream or just temporary and that you're going to leave and I don't even want to think of what I'm going to do if you do."
Ganon slithered his left hand up Link's arm, grabbing his hand off of his face. "If it helps, I feel the same."
Link chuckled. "This soulmate thing is messed up." He said, squeezing the large hand.
"I still don't want to leave you though."
"You're going to need a bigger army than last time if you want me to let you go. Because I sure don't want you to leave either."
They both chuckled.
"I'm sure if I grabbed the Mastersword they might have a fighting chance."
Ganon faked a gasp. "You would turn against me?"
Link laughed and turned to look at the taller man. "Nah. I'd probably butcher them all with it."
"And they call me the Lord of Evil."
"It's probably this soulmate bond thing. It's affecting me. You better keep a close watch one me."
Ganon smiled and squeezed his hand harder.
They slept next to each other that night, keeping a reasonable distance which they agreed on silently. When they woke up to find their hands intertwined with each other, they pretended to sleep just a little bit longer.
"What was it like?" Link asked as he joined Ganon in his daily gazing over the desert. "Growing up as the only male Gerudo." It had been nearly two weeks since they had settled on the mountains bordering the Gerudo desert, and Ganon grew more and more comfortable with the subject each passing day. Link sat down next to the Gerudo, linking their hands silently. A habit neither of them had spoken about.
"It was as fun as it was awkward. " Ganon started, squeezing the small hand gently. "Gerudo town was already small, but imagine having the entire town genuinely interested in everything you do from the moment you're born."
"A real celebrity."
"I used to have to go into South Lomei Labyrinth and hide underground to find any semblance of personal space."
"I've always found it creepy."
Ganon smiled. "You have to lean in to the creepy. It creates the whole atmosphere."
Link grimaced. "Tell me again why we're soulmates?"
"Someone has to show you the error of your ways."
The Hylian turned to face him. "I am warning you right now, we are not settling in any of those creepy labyrinth."
"Not even if we decorate it with flowers?"
"But then we won't have any ghost neighbours."
Link stood up at that, still not letting go of Ganon's hand. "Nope. Nu-uh."
Ganon laughed pulling on his hand to get him to come closer. "There's nothing I can do to change that?" He said, looking up and finding that Link's face was much closer to his own than he had anticipated. The conversation stopped as they simply stared at each other, both beet red. They hadn't talked about the kiss they had shared in the pit. Nor had they replicated it. Their physical contact had been limited to hand holding and casual nudges of shoulders and knees, neither really knowing how nor daring to cross that line. Link broke eye contact first, clearing his throat.
"Well, uhm. I better...start on dinner. You know...wolf takes a while to cook."
Ganon watched him leave, already feeling his hand grow cold at the loss of contact. He looked back down at his hometown, observing as the sunset coloured the ruins of his childhood. Maybe it was time to get up and cross a line.
They didn't talk much at dinner. Both ignoring the subtle glances the other was throwing at them. They went to lie down soon after, but this time, Ganon made a point to intentionally hold Link's hand before they closed their eyes.
"Tell me about your childhood." He asked. "You never elaborated on it."
"There's not much to tell." Link answered, averting his eyes.
The Hylian frowned. "I haven't really talked about it to anyone. I don't know how to start or what could be interesting."
"Start from the beginning then. Your parents? Hylians have a father and a mother don't you?"
Link scoffed. "Normally, yeah. For me I...My mum left me in the Kokiri forest when I was a baby. The Deku Tree said that she had a valid reason but that doesn't really make a kid feel better to know that the one person who should love them unconditionally just abandoned them."
Ganon thought back to their meeting. "Oh." He let out. "That's why you were so angry with me."
"Yeah, I-" Ganon could hear the tears mixing in his voice. "I thought it would be okay, you know? She left me but at least my soulmate would want me. I would meet them and they would never leave me and I could finally have a home. And then I turned six and I thought that you would take one look at me and think that I wasn't worth it and just leave me like everyone else and-"
He was stopped by Ganon pulling him into his arms. Link's nose now rested on the Gerudo's chest, a warm arm bringing him in while keeping one hand in each other's. "That's never going to happen."
The Hylian chuckled, his tears running across his nose and finding their fate in the grass below. He nestled deeper against the Gerudo. "I know." He whispered, but they both heard it clearly. Ganon buried his face in the soft blonde hair, and they stayed that way. Breaths synchronising, basking in the warmth they had longed for all their life. They couldn't tell how much time had passed until the Gerudo spoke once more.
"I think I want to go tomorrow." He said, his voice muffled by Link's hair.
The Hylian smiled and squeezed his hand. "Tomorrow it is then."
* * *
"This cannot be a good idea." Ganon said, looking down at the steep dive before them. They were on the edge of the mountain they had camped in, his arms around Link's waist who was now at least a meter off the ground, his paraglider at the ready.
"Relax, it's going to be fine."
"Link, I am litterraly almost twice your size and weight. There is no way that piece of cloth is going to support us both. Walking is a perfectly good way to go down a mountain."
The Hylian scoffed. "Nonsense."
"Don't say I didn't warn you."
"Yes, yes. Now jump, we have a town to visit before nightfall."
The paraglider did hold both of their weights, much to Ganon's dismay as it meant he would most likely have to endure another vertigo inducing glide down mountains. They landed next to the oasis, where they once would have found Kara Kara Bazar. The Gerudo grew silent as he went around the water, looking at the deserted shops and half destroyed housing. The ripples from the molduga attack didn't spare any of his childhood memories. Now replaced by dustly skeletons of what they once were.
Link had left him to explore alone, dealing with the intense heat by placing his feet in the water. It was strange to see him so. His future mixed with his past. It made him wonder what he had been doing between those two times. As if he had been lost, and had finally found his way back home. His gaze fell south. Where he knew he had to go. He waved Link over, who joined him and silently placed his hand in his once more. In its rightful place. The smaller man squeezed. A wordless question. Are you ready? It asked. Ganon squeezed back. I am.
Ganon had greatly underestimated what he would feel when his feet would settle on his hometown's soil once more. He froze in place. A big part of him wanted to just run away. Run far. Let it only be a dream. Just a memory. He felt a prickling in his eyes and felt ashamed at how easily he was crying. He focused on the destroyed walls, unable to hear the wind howling over the desert plain, unable to turn his eyes away, unable to breathe. How did one breathe again? It seemed so hard. How did people do this automatically it was so hard. How could he possibly do it?
A familiar voice brought him out of his focus. A nice voice. A voice he loved. Yes, Link's voice. He looked down where the Hylian was smiling up at him, his hand cradling the Gerudo's face.
"It's going to be okay." The voice said. "You'll be fine. You can do it. You're stronger than this. Repeat after me: you can do this."
"I can do this."
Link smiled a blinding smile and Ganon could swear to be able to do anything if he could cause that smile.
"I can do this." He repeated. He turned to the town once more, grabbing Link's hand and walking forward.
It was hard. So much harder than he could have possibly imagined. He walked over the once imposing walls, feeling much too tall for what he remembered. There was a cemetery in what one was the town square. Link said that all the locals had come together to help and honour the fallen Gerudo. Ganon counted the graves. He didn't know why, but he did. With each number came a face, a smile, a greeting thrown when they would see each other. A shout that would ring in his ears when they caught him skipping out from his duties as future King. Link didn't try to wipe the tears on his face. He gently rubbed his thumb on the back of his hand, and the Gerudo couldn't have been more grateful.
Then he heard rumbling. The sound gripping his gut in an instant, making his grief turn to rage.
"How dare they come back." He grumbled. His tears were gone, leaving only streak marks on his dark skin. His eyes shone a deep amber light. He let go of Link's hand to much protest, and jumped up to the highest wall left standing.
"HOW DARE YOU COME BACK!" He screamed. The molduga didn't take long to surface near the town. The walls shook, and all Ganon could see was red. Red dripping. Red on his hands. Red on his clothes. He shot an energy bomb at the creature, but it dove down into the sound before it could reach it. Like the coward it was.
"Ganon!" Link came up from behind him, grabbing his arm. "What are you doing!?"
"Can't you tell? I'm killing that bastard."
"And then what? Are we going to camp here and kill all the moldugas we meet until they're extinct?"
"That wouldn't be such a bad idea."
"It's not worth it! You need to move on!"
The Gerudo turned to Link. His eyes still lit in rage. "How dare you say that?"
The Hylian snapped. The punch went out before he even knew he had clenched his fist. "I dare to say that because I love you and I can't let you hurt yourself like this!"
The rumbling got closer once more, and Ganon's attention was focused on it. He dove off of the wall, dashing towards it, ignoring the screams of his soulmate behind him. As soon as the molduga surfaced, he was prepared. The energy bomb hit its stomach, causing it to spasm on the sand pathetically. One or two more blasts and it would be dead. So nicely dead. Like all the Gerudo women were. He prepared his energy, letting it sit comfortably in his hand. But he couldn't let it go. Moldugas were revengeful. If he killed one, others would come, more organised, more bloodthirsty. It would never end. Link was right. If he killed this one, his desert would turn into a battlefield, involving all the wildlife along the way. This place would destroy itself.
He let out a blood-curling scream, slamming his energy blast into the warm sand. The shock brought the molduga out of its stupor, and it quickly dove back underground, its rumbling growing further and further away. He walked slowly back to the town, his eyes never leaving the ground.
"Are you fine with letting it leave?"
Ganon turned to look at Link, his eyes following the escaping creature. The setting sun kissed his fine features perfectly, as if he was always meant to bask in the desert sunset. The Gerudo grabbed his face with his hands and placed his lips on his. It started awkwardly, with Link processing the events, but he kissed back. It was slow, gentle, homey. They had time. They were together. Their hands wandered in each other's hair, pulling and caressing amongst small moans and chuckles. They pulled away when moonlight had replaced the warm rays of the sun.
"Yeah." Ganon answered. "I couldn't be better."
* * *
Ganon was the one leading the way. He stared at a map of Hyrule as if it detained the secret of the universe. Link wanted to help, but he wasn't allowed to know where they were going. He still offered encouragement kisses, revelling in the fact that he could do that now. It was worth it even if just for the dopey smile which would appear on the Gerudo's face afterwards.
"I'm trying to concentrate here." Ganon said in feigned annoyance, his wide grin giving him away.
"And I'm just trying to help. Can't have your brain run out of me or Godesses know what would happen to you."
Ganon scoffed, only because he had no argument against Link's statement.
They were headed east, that was all Link knew. Then they were climbing a mountain, which was nothing new. He was walking leisurely behind Ganon, enjoying the scenery when his soulmate let out a joyful shout.
"Found it! I knew it existed."
Link chuckled, walking closer. "You were looking for something you didn't know existed?"
The look the Gerudo showed him as he turned around took his breath away. "It was worth it." He said, pointing down to a small pond hidden in the mountain range. It had a strange shape...like a heart. Link's heart skipped a beat, and before he could speak, his feet left the ground as two strong arms carried him down the mountain side to reach the pond.
"Is...Is this the lover's pond?" The Hylian asked, incredulous.
"Yep!" Ganon looked like the proudest man alive as he said it.
"Why?" Link asked, not really caught up in reality.
The Gerudo stilled, letting him down. He took both of his hands in his, looking as serious as Link had ever seen him.
"I think I want to settle down in Gerudo desert." He finally said.
Link looked perplexed. "Won't that only bring back bad memories? And why did we come all the way over here to go back?"
Ganon chuckled. "I figured that if I'm with you, I can learn to love it again." He rejoiced in his soulmate's deep blush. "And also I needed the right setting to make this official."
Link's expression only grew more confused. Ganon let out a nervous sigh before continuing. "We didn't really have any choice in this soulmate situation. We were in the middle of a war, which is understandable, but not good enough. I need a proper starting point. One where you get to choose what you want. So I'm asking you this. No rush of first meeting. No secrets between us. No restraint." He paused, looking into Link's wet eyes.
"Will you let me be your home?"
Link let a small tear escape his right eye, and it looked so beautiful all Ganon wanted to do is kiss it. "Only if you let me be yours." He answered with a smile. The kiss that followed was salty and sloppy yet perfect all at the same time.
The taste of home.