A warm ray of morning light falls upon Revali’s face, and he slowly stirs from a deep, pleasant slumber with a quiet groan. The familiar sounds of Rito Village awakening around him — the crackling of fire, the dry creaking of wood under sharp talons, and the fluttering of wings — bring a smile to his beak. The ease in his heart tells him that sleep brought no nightmares this time around. No memories of cold, sickening corruption taking hold of his body and flooding his bloodstream as raw, foreign hatred tears through his every thought, all-consuming.
Revali lets out a deep sigh and keeps his eyes closed, more than content to remain within the comfort of his hammock. He feels oddly warm and safe, and he eagerly curls up closer to the source of that warmth, cradling it in his wings until realization splashes him like ice-cold water.
He is not alone.
He opens his bleary eyes to the sight of a blond head tucked against his chest, and his heart seizes.
As he lies perfectly still, feeling Link’s breath ruffle his feathers and staring at his wings wrapped around the Hylian — something he would have deemed unthinkable not that long ago — he remembers their strange predicament. They have been dancing awkwardly around each other for months in a delicate balance of familiar banter, newfound companionship, and flickers of something neither of them has dared to name yet.
That something is what made Revali offer his hammock to a shivering Link last night after a foolish miscalculation (which had something to do with a submerged treasure chest) sent the Hylian tumbling straight into the freezing waters of Lake Totori. Link had shown up at his roost shortly after sundown looking like a wet dog, and even though Revali wasted no time laughing at his tomfoolery, Link had made himself at home. He lingered by Revali’s fire, letting his clothes dry and cradling a cup of warm milk in his hands instead of travelling to a warmer location with his Sheikah slate. Watching him shiver like a blade of grass in the night breeze, the proposal had escaped Revali’s beak before he could think better of it.
After a beat of stunned silence, Link had simply nodded, wide-eyed and flushed despite the blue of his trembling lips. He only seemed to let his guard down once nestled against the Rito’s feathers, a relieved sigh leaving his mouth at the warm contact. With his heart lodged in his throat, Revali had hesitantly wrapped his wing around him, muttering a weak jab about Hylians always needing blankets. Link had stiffened at the gesture, but he did not push Revali away. Neither of them uttered another word before drifting off to sleep.
As his hammock sways gently in the cold morning breeze, Revali pictures his younger self waking up in a tangle of limbs with his sworn enemy, and his shoulders shake in silent, rueful laughter. If this had occurred one hundred years ago, he would surely have thrown Link back into the lake with a rock strapped to his legs before plunging himself into Death Mountain’s crater. Now, on the other hand, getting out of bed is the last thing on his mind, and the implications of that are not something he is prepared to face — at least not this early; not when he is this comfortable.
Careful not to disturb Link, Revali cranes his neck slightly to stare at the Hylian’s sleeping face. His strange, featherless features are softened in slumber, making him look younger and more vulnerable. His small mouth is ajar, and Revali’s feathers puff up in muted indignation when he realizes the flightless fool is drooling on him. He has also taken one of Revali’s legs hostage between his calves, much to the Rito’s surprise. He attempts to wiggle it free, and the reaction is immediate: Link’s legs tense up and tug Revali closer, keeping him trapped in an iron lock. Revali’s breath catches, and he braces for a familiar feeling of confinement to take over and suffocate him, as usually happens when he is grabbed without warning.
It never comes.
Instead, his heart swells in his chest and goosebumps pepper his skin, drawing a shaky breath from his lungs. It reminds Revali of the sheer exhilaration he experienced the first time his Gale took him to the skies without faltering, high above the world he knew.
What is wrong with me? He chides himself, glaring at Link’s messy, knot-ridden locks like they have personally insulted him. He runs a feathered finger through them, nonetheless, thinking for the umpteenth time the Hylian would benefit from learning how to braid his hair the Rito way.
Revali’s musings come to an abrupt end when Link stirs beneath his wing, groaning softly and pushing away from the Rito’s fluffy plumage. His eyes are still closed, and Revali waits with bated breath for them to open and take in their current situation.
A sharp intake of breath and a scrunched-up nose are the only warning Revali gets before Link sneezes on him, and the Rito cannot help the disgruntled squawk that leaves his beak.
Link’s eyes shoot open in alarm, and he grasps blindly for a weapon at his back, but realization dawns on him at the sight of Revali’s unimpressed face inches away from his. The Rito watches with vindictive satisfaction as Link’s face does its best impression of a ripe wildberry in a matter of seconds.
“So, enlighten me, would you?” Revali drawls, his voice dangerously airy. Link gulps. “Is this how Hylians normally thank someone for their hospitality? By sneezing and drooling on them like a newborn fledgling?” He quirks an eyebrow and gestures towards his chest with a flick of his wing, his eyes never leaving Link’s face. The boy glances at Revali’s damp feathers, eyes impossibly wide and lips pressed into a thin line. Revali already savors the apology that is certain to follow.
He is thrown completely off balance when Link sputters and bursts out laughing.
It is not the first time Revali has heard him laugh. It has become a more frequent occurrence as of late, since the weight on his shoulders is considerably lighter, but Link’s laughter is usually a quiet, stifled affair that quickly dissolves. It has never been the loud, wheezing mess currently unfolding before Revali’s eyes. It is unsightly, infuriating, and utterly… endearing.
It is also dangerously contagious.
Before Revali can do something stupid like join in, his wing shoots out and shoves Link off the hammock in one swift motion. The Hylian goes down easily with a startled yelp, and Revali snickers to himself as he reluctantly gets out of bed. His plumage may protect him against the morning chill, but he dearly misses the safe pocket of warmth they shared. Revali shrugs the feeling off and turns around with a flourish, regarding Link’s undignified form with a smirk.
“I suppose you could provide us both with breakfast as a proper apology and compensation for my troubles,” Revali sneers, perfectly aware his words lack any real bite.
The idiot has the audacity to smirk right back.
“Good morning to you, too,” Link rasps, still breathless from laughing at Revali’s expense. He slowly picks himself up off the floor and wipes dust off his clothes. “Would crepes be agreeable?” There is a mild teasing edge to Link’s words, and he looks up at Revali with his head cocked to the side, his hands on his hips. A breeze blows through Revali’s home, mussing up Link’s hair even more and making his eyes crinkle in the morning light.
Revali really, really wants to strangle him. He would also like to run his fingers through Link’s locks again.
“I suppose they will suffice,” he chokes out instead, clearing his throat.
After that, Link’s nocturnal visits become a regular occurrence.
He does not show up at Revali’s roost every night (he does have a home of his own, after all), but it is a close thing. Whenever Link’s travels bring him close to Rito Village, Revali is guaranteed to hear a quiet knock on the threshold of his house or see him approach from a distance with a fresh hearty salmon in his hands — an offering Revali can never bring himself to turn down.
Link never seems to have a particular reason to stop by; he is merely content to sit by the fire and share a meal as he talks idly about the pilgrims he helped that day, the wild horse he accidentally spooked and coaxed back with some apples, or the rushrooms he collected during a particularly daring climb. Over the course of many months, Revali has discovered Link is most at ease when he is cooking. There is always an easy smile on his lips when he stirs the contents of a bubbling pot or when he uses a wooden lid to shield himself from the sizzling fried bananas Revali secretly favors. The boy is guaranteed to have a new recipe he wants to show Revali at least once every two visits, and the Rito has long since given up feigning disinterest: Link is, unfortunately, quite a good cook.
The other Champions have also noticed this about the Hylian. Link can never show up at their homelands without people flocking to him. Praises, stories, and small requests await the traveler wherever he goes, and he never dismisses anyone, seemingly glad to lend a helping hand and share a meal while he listens to their plights. It is a running joke between the Champions that, whenever Link visits, it is faster to search for the most crowded cooking station than to wait for him to arrive at their dwellings. Link has even learned a little about Goron cuisine, much to Daruk’s delight, even if he never touches the resulting “dishes”. Revali knows the Goron Champion once made Link try one of his rock roasts, and that the Hylian could have done without ever getting that memory back.
Revali does not know if Princess — and soon to be Queen — Zelda is also aware of Link’s cooking prowess, but she is always eager to provide him with new ideas for elixirs whenever they all reunite at the steadily-recovering Castle Town to discuss future plans for Hyrule. Link no longer stands guard behind her with the sword that seals the darkness strapped to his back, having renounced his title soon after the Calamity was defeated. Instead, he sits by her side, wears a regular sword, and is just Link: a traveler, friend, and self-appointed messenger for them all.
And, after all the Champions have been through, everyone understands his decision.
Most of the time, however, it is just Link and Revali at the Rito’s home, huddled in front of a fire and talking about inane things, like keeping a tally of Revali’s victories over Link at the Flight Range or debating the validity of shield surfing as a means of transportation. These discussions often end with a heated Revali flailing his wings and pacing around the room to emphasize his arguments, while Link simply nods along with that insufferable half-smirk plastered on his face.
He never asks to stay the night, and Revali does not make the offer ever again. Once the cooking fire is reduced to weak embers and their conversation has petered out, the Rito shrugs off his armor and flies to his hammock with a quick flutter of his wings, fixing Link with a cursory glance over his shoulder. He leaves an empty space next to him as he lies down: a silent invitation that Link always accepts.
They never talk as they lie side by side, nor do they make eye contact, but Revali covers Link with his wing and Link huddles close like it is the most natural thing in the world. Like neither can feel the heavily charged air that surrounds them in the stillness of the night.
Sometimes, when the moon is high up in the sky and the cry of cicadas is too loud for Revali to fall asleep, he is possessed with the idea of breaking the silence and asking Link what all this means — if their strange relationship has taken a turn towards something else. But the sight of a pink scar on Link’s left shoulder, spiderwebbing all the way down to his chest, makes the words die in his throat. He knows Link does not blame him for it, that he had been a mere puppet under Ganon’s control, but it does not change the fact that one of Revali’s own bomb arrows did that to him. More times than he can count, Revali has awoken in a cold sweat with the smell of burned flesh filling his nostrils, Link’s agonized scream of pain ringing in his ears.
Isn’t that what you wanted? A small voice in the back of his head whispers, its cadence brimming with poison. To settle things one on one, once and for all, between the two of you?
Not like that. Never like that.
So he keeps his beak shut and he tugs on the loose fabric of Link’s old shirt to hide his scar from view, keeping his selfish, traitorous thoughts to himself.
When dawn breaks, it brings an entirely different routine. Revali is always the first to rise, and he gets into the habit of running his fingers through Link’s tangled hair, gently removing some of the knots as he goes. Link never stirs from where he lies pressed against Revali’s chest, and the Rito has plenty of time to be fascinated by the strange texture: soft and silky at the roots, much like his own feathers, but coarse and scraggly near the ends. Whenever his fingers snag it or touch Link’s pointy ears by accident, the Hylian twitches in his sleep and Revali freezes, heartbeat loud in his ears. Thankfully, Link soon relaxes and continues to snore quietly. The Rito often takes this as his cue to leave the hammock and take off in a short morning flight to calm himself down, and every time, he swears up and down he can feel a pair of piercing blue eyes on his back.
He always returns to a rekindled fire and the sound of ingredients being chopped, and all of Revali’s troubled thoughts fall by the wayside.
The one time Link wakes up first, however, gives him pause.
On one particularly cold morning a few weeks into their unspoken arrangement, Revali is gently roused from sleep by the slightest feeling of fingers running through his feathers. It takes a moment for his dazed brain to register where he is and who is touching him, and it takes all his willpower and years of training to keep his breathing steady and his eyes closed.
He feels Link hesitantly explore the soft plumage of his torso with a shaky hand, lingering on each feather the same way Revali’s fingers do with the Hylian’s hair. His other hand trails along the curve of the Rito’s wing on top of him, and he tests the sturdier, longer feathers there. It feels... nice. It is also entirely overwhelming. Revali cannot remember the last time anyone touched him this gently, and the sensation sends raw static through his frayed nerves.
A slightly rougher movement causes one of Revali’s feathers to come loose with a dull sting, and the Rito barely suppresses a shiver at the sharp intake of breath he hears in response to the mishap.
Revali knows Link is watching him intently, expecting him to wake up, and he decides he cannot fake sleep anymore, nor can he trust himself to speak, flustered as he is. So he stubbornly keeps his eyes closed and rolls onto his back with a groan, wing sliding off Link and giving the Hylian an opening. He fervently thanks the Goddess when Link takes the chance and rolls off the hammock, and he follows the barely noticeable sound of his footsteps quickly pattering away from Revali’s home until it fades out entirely.
Only then does Revali throw himself out of bed in a daze, summoning his Gale to fly somewhere far, far away. He will surely return to his home in time to see a familiar figure hunched by a crackling fire, pouring ingredients into a pot, and smiling nonchalantly at his arrival. They will eat, bicker, and part ways like they always do — like nothing has happened at all.
But, before that, Revali needs to find a distant place where he can scream his lungs out without being heard.
A week passes and things remain unchanged, much to Revali’s relief.
Revali never mentions catching Link red-handed, and the boy does not give any indication he is aware of the Rito untangling his hair every other morning. Although, sometimes Revali does wonder: Link’s hair looks even more unkempt as of late, and it takes the Rito several minutes to work his way through even a fraction of the tangles every time. Link always stirs before he can finish his work, prompting him to flee the hammock in a hurry.
One evening, Link stands outside the threshold of his home covered in mud from head to toe. His matted hair is rigid with static and it stands in different directions, the ends singed to a crisp, and Revali decides he has had enough.
“Don’t even think about setting foot inside my home until you’ve washed off all that grime, you flightless hazard.” He spits, his narrowing eyes looking Link up and down from where he is seated, tending to his bow. The boy’s shoulders droop, but he nods in defeat. He grasps for the Sheikah slate at his hip, fingers tapping at it with practiced ease, and soon enough he is fading in a flash of electric blue.
“Bring a comb when you return.” Revali grunts at him, and Link’s eyes widen in surprise before he disappears. If the Hylian is going to go out of his way to turn his hair into a bird nest, then Revali has no choice but to take matters into his own hands. He busies himself kindling a fire and rummaging through a cabinet in search of scissors, ribbons, and wooden beads, and he tries his best not to overthink what he is about to do.
It is nothing out of the ordinary for a Rito, he tells himself. His people have a deep sense of community ingrained into them: they share their belongings with ease, their homes leave little room for privacy, and it is not uncommon for them to groom each other’s feathers. Once the village had gotten used to living around a 100-year-old legend, Kass and Amali’s daughters had timidly approached Revali, eager to redo his signature long braids. Revali had felt more flattered than he would ever be willing to admit, and he patiently answered their never-ending stream of questions while they wove colorful ribbons into his feathers. His demeanor was gruff and a bit too dramatic at times, but he saw nothing but delight and awe on the girls’ young faces.
It's the same thing. He repeatedly tells himself, his fingers picking a length of ocean-blue ribbon from the tangled mess in his cabinet. I am just doing him a favor out of the infinite kindness of my heart. It’s just basic Rito courtesy towards a frequent visitor and… friend, I suppose.
It doesn’t need to mean anything.
Several minutes later, Link reappears looking considerably more presentable. He has changed out of his soiled traveler clothes in favor of the snowquill set he usually wears around Rito Village, and his skin looks pink and scrubbed clean. His damp hair, however, is an entirely different matter.
Revali hums in approval and beckons him in. Link obliges and plops down on the floor without a word, his eyes warily following the Rito as he gathers his materials. Revali settles behind him, sitting cross-legged and biting back a smirk when Link’s back goes ramrod straight.
“Did you bring it?” Revali prompts, and Link produces a comb out of his pocket. The Rito plucks it from his fingers and observes it by the firelight, turning it this way and the other. The wooden comb is a little on the small side, and its teeth are a bit too close together for Revali’s liking, but he figures it will have to do.
“Good. Keep still or else.” Revali sharply swipes one feathered finger across Link’s throat, and the boy breathes out a nervous laugh before nodding. Satisfied, Revali gets to work, separating Link’s hair into sections and slowly working out the knots in each one. His fingers linger on the strangely burnt ends and curiosity loosens his tongue.
“So, what did you get yourself into this time?” He prods, running the comb through a particularly stubborn section. Link hisses and Revali adjusts his grip accordingly. “Were you wearing metallic gear during a thunderstorm or something equally idiotic?”
“Electric wizzrobe,” Link mutters, and Revali sees his ears redden under his scrutiny. “They’re normally not a problem, but I… didn’t see it coming.”
Revali tuts, reaching for his scissors and making short work of cutting off the singed ends. Link’s hair had grown a considerable amount in the past few months, and a proper haircut was long overdue. “And I assume your lack of attention had absolutely nothing to do with yet another treasure chest,” he drawls, brushing trimmed hair off Link’s shoulders with a swipe of his wing. “Because that would be just utterly—"
“Asinine?” Link does not turn around, but Revali can hear the grin in his voice regardless, and his feathers bristle despite his best efforts.
Revali harshly tugs on Link’s hair, which earns him a grunt and a pointed sideways glare, and he starts ranting about the Hylian’s unhealthy obsession with treasure hunting and savage tendencies. Link’s shoulders shake in quiet laughter through it all, and Revali, try as he might, cannot keep mirth out of his voice.
Once he has successfully pulled most of the Hylian’s hair into a neat ponytail at the base of his skull, Revali loops the strands that frame Link’s face into two intricate braids, weaving the blue ribbons he picked into them. Focused as he is on the task at hand, his rant dies off, and they sit in comfortable silence by the fire. Link’s eyes fall closed at some point, and Revali finds himself stealing glances at his face while he works. The Rito knows he is no expert at measuring beauty by Hylian standards: their featherless bodies, small noses, and prominent ears will always be somewhat foreign to him, but he believes Link could be considered easy on the eyes. Possibly.
Revali wonders what Link thinks about his appearance compared to other Rito. He immediately smothers the thought under several layers of silent mortification.
It is both a relief and a disappointment when he finishes securing Link’s braids with the wooden beads. Revali repositions himself to face the Hylian and he places a feathered finger under his bangs to comb through them one last time, ensuring all the knots have been taken care of. When he removes his hand, Link’s eyes are staring at him intently and Revali’s throat closes up.
“W-well then, there you have it,” Revali stammers, clearing his throat to disguise the high-pitched edge to his voice and scooting away from Link. “You look considerably less repellent now, all thanks to me.”
“How kind of you.” Link snorts, fixing Revali with the weakest attempt at a withering glare the Rito has ever witnessed. Hesitantly, the Hylian runs his fingers over his smooth braids and tugs them forward to get a proper look. His eyes widen slightly when he sees the blue ribbons, and a smile creeps onto his face.
“Thank you,” Link murmurs, tucking a braid behind his ear and grinning at Revali. “I like blue. I think it’s always… been one of my favorite colors.” His eyes trail over the Rito’s face and gradually glaze over, grin twisting into a crooked, rueful thing. “No way to know for sure, though.”
Revali does not know what kinds of things Link liked a century ago, much less his favorite color. The Hylian had been closed off to the world, hiding his insecurities behind a mask, and Revali had harbored so much anger and envy towards him that he never stopped to look at his fellow Champion as something other than a rival. He never saw him for who he really was: a boy saddled with a burden too heavy to carry from too young an age.
Revali cannot help him retrieve his memories, but he can do what he does best.
He flicks Link’s forehead sharply. The Hylian squeaks and gapes at Revali’s smug face.
“If blue was not your favorite, then it’s a good thing you don’t remember,” Revali flexes his wings by the firelight, puffing his dark blue feathers to display them clearly. “After all, it is objectively the best color.”
Link sputters and bursts into laughter. His braids swing back and forth as his shoulders shake, and Revali follows the motion with his eyes.
“Full of yourself as always, aren’t you?” Link teases, shaking his head.
“I am a living legend, so it is justified.” Revali replies without shame, his smirk growing. “Besides, I am correct.”
“Yeah,” Link whispers, glancing up at Revali with a bashful smile. His sky-blue eyes glint in the firelight, and they remind Revali of the many times they have woken up together with the rising sun. His heart flutters in his chest like a caged bird. “Yeah, I suppose you are.”
It is a dark, cloudy night when Revali wakes to the sounds of a distant thunderstorm brewing south of the village. His eyes crack open in mild annoyance — he was having quite a pleasant dream for once — and he is greeted by the sight of Link watching him intently from up close.
His instinct to jump is soon overridden by the blank, dead-eyed look on Link’s face, visible to his sharp eyes even in the darkness. It is an expression Revali has not seen in an overly long time, and he suddenly feels wide awake under Link’s scrutiny.
Revali tilts his head in a voiceless query and Link’s body goes taut, but he does not answer or move a muscle. He simply stares ahead, unblinking, braced as if waiting for an inevitable onslaught, and it is too familiar a feeling for Revali not to sigh inwardly. He quirks an insistent eyebrow at Link, nudging him with his beak before he can think better of it.
Link’s breath catches and Revali sees a flash of something wild in his eyes before the boy reins it back in. After a few, tense seconds, Link opens his mouth to reply, but no sound comes out and his brow furrows in frustration. Hesitantly, he raises his right hand and signs two familiar words with sharp, jerky movements.
Revali hums, a shudder running through him as his past nightmares flash rapid-fire in front of his eyes. He disguises it by shifting his position so he can see Link more clearly, and the Hylian tracks his movements like a cornered animal ready to bolt.
Revali knows he must tread carefully.
“Do you want to talk about it?” He awkwardly prods, his voice barely louder than a whisper. Link shakes his head vigorously and breaks eye contact, worrying his bottom lip between his teeth. His face is still inscrutable, but Revali can feel Link’s leg shaking where it rests against his, and the Rito knows a thing or two about nighttime restlessness. For him, at least, there is only one way to deal with it.
“Would you like to fly?” He asks instead, the ghost of a smile spreading over his beak. Link’s eyes widen in shock, and he raises his hands once more.
“Yes, right now. Do you have that paraglider of yours?” Revali sits up and swings his legs over the side of the hammock, peering over his shoulder just in time to see Link nod stiffly. “Good. Follow me.”
He jumps off with a graceful flutter of his wings and steps outside without looking back. He hears a dull thud and some rustling behind him before the sound of rapid footsteps joins the scraping of his talons against wooden stairs. Revali glances behind him and is relieved to see Link had enough presence of mind to throw his tunic back on, for the night surely brings a chill.
The wind howls around them as they silently make their way to the landing that bears Revali’s name, weak flickers of moonlight peeking through the clouds to help illuminate the path. Revali leads the way at a slow pace, and Link follows closely behind, clutching the handles of the paraglider at his back. When they arrive at their destination, Revali beckons Link over to the border of the platform, making him stand in front of him.
“Hold on to your paraglider and stand still.” Revali waits for Link to nod once more before he crouches on the floor and spreads his wings on either side of him, taking a deep breath to focus. He has practiced this before with a few overly enthusiastic Rito children, but Link poses a new, less aerodynamic challenge; one he is determined to master on his first try.
Revali lets out all the air in his lungs and calls upon his Gale, but he wills the air currents to surround the Hylian instead of him, making Link the nexus. He sets the updraft free with a sharp flap of his wings and he rides the edges in a swift spiral, keeping his eyes on the center where Link shouts in surprise as he soars into the sky.
Revali’s Gale reaches its highest point without a hitch, and the Rito laughs triumphantly when the paraglider keeps Link afloat in midair. Link’s eyes are filled with child-like wonder as he gazes upon the world far below him, and he chokes out a breathless laugh when his eyes meet Revali’s. The Rito cannot help but grin back, relief coursing through his veins at the sight of Link’s smile.
They stay adrift over the landing until, soon enough, they begin to lose altitude. Revali glides back down and stands on the railing with his wings crossed, waiting. Link lands soon after, stumbling forward on shaky legs and breathing heavily.
“Impressive, I know.” Revali smirks, puffing his chest out.
Link snorts and shakes his head, still catching his breath. He straightens up and cocks his head to the side with a shy smile, his right hand moving in an arc towards his left palm.
‘Do it again.’
Revali guffaws and jumps onto the platform, folding his wings behind his back.
“Eager, are we? I cannot say I blame you: my Gale is indeed a wondrous thing to experience.” He strolls around Link at a slow, deliberate pace, like a bird of prey. “But I must say, I don’t feel particularly inclined to indulge your request.” Revali leans forward to whisper in Link’s ear, a smug grin on his face. “I could use some convincing.”
The effect of Link’s utterly unimpressed face is somewhat lost by the vivid red of his ears, but Revali is filled with trepidation when a terrible, familiar smirk spreads across his face. Link clears his throat and mumbles something unintelligible into his hands, testing his voice before meeting Revali’s eyes.
“Please, Master Revali,” Link rasps, his voice low and strained, but the clear edge of mockery is not lost to the Rito’s ears. “Please use your otherworldly skills and intellect to—”
“You little—!” Revali squawks, summoning his Gale in a flustered rush to send Link flying without any warning. He takes off and rides the current with ease while the boy scrambles to open his paraglider; if his wings happen to hit Link a few times as he zooms by, it is not entirely accidental.
“I have a mind to burn that diary one of these days…” He mutters through gritted teeth, glaring at the disheveled Hylian mess in front of him. Link’s grin only grows wider.
“I thought you wanted to, what was it, provoke me into facing you?” Link taunts as takes off from the updraft, gliding towards one of the rocky pillars surrounding Rito Village. As Revali trails behind, he weighs the pros and cons of plucking Link’s paraglider from his hands and letting him plummet straight into Lake Totori.
“You’re lucky I left my arrows back at home,” Revali hisses as they land on the mossy terrain, placing his hands on his hips. Link just laughs in response, running a hand through his wild locks. His ponytail has come loose with the wind, and the only part of his hair that does not resemble a bird nest are the braids still framing his face. A small opening in the clouds above lets the moon shine through, casting a soft glow on Link’s skin. There is a gleam in his eyes that makes Revali’s chest tighten.
Link places his right hand on his lips, then moves it palm-up towards Revali, mouthing a quiet “thank you”. Revali recognizes the same words in his signing, but it still looks like he is blowing him a Hylian kiss, and a shiver runs through him.
“Y-yes, yes, I am amazing, I know,” he stammers, feathers puffing despite himself. “Another go?”
They spend the next hour soaring the night sky from pillar to pillar, all the way down to Rito Stable, back to the village, then around to Warbler’s Nest and the surrounding woods. The howling wind brought by the nearby storm rages on, and Link takes advantage of it in a valiant effort to try and keep up with Revali’s strong wings. They race one another and twirl in midair like two songbirds in spring, and Revali suddenly realizes he is having more fun than he has in a long time. As a familiar weariness slowly seeps into his bones, Revali tells himself it is a good way to increase his endurance, but training is the last thing on his mind when he sees Link somersaulting in his updraft with unabashed glee on his face.
When Revali’s strength finally runs out, they use one last Gale to head back to the village. Link’s wild eyes bore into Revali’s as they ascend towards the landing in a whirlwind of feathers, and the intensity of his gaze forces Revali to look away, heart hammering away inside his ribcage.
They follow the stairs back to Revali’s home in silence, both dragging their limbs in exhaustion, and Revali can see the lines of Link’s body tensing up the closer they get to it. Revali is no stranger to this either, having trained at the Flight Range until sunrise to avoid sleeping on more than one occasion, but he knows that is not a real solution.
So, when Link lingers by the threshold of his home, Revali walks past him, gathers some firewood from a pile in a corner, and tosses it at the Hylian without a word. Link scrambles to catch it and stares wide-eyed at Revali, but the Rito simply sits down with his back braced against a wooden pillar and folds his wings, gesturing towards the cooking pit with a jerk of his beak.
Link’s shoulders relax and he gets to work. Revali closes his eyes and rolls his shoulders, stretching his tired muscles with a deep sigh. He opens his beak to tell Link where the flint is, but the tell-tale sound of a bowstring being drawn makes the words die in his throat, and his eyes fly open in alarm.
He is decidedly not prepared to see Link aim a fire arrow directly at the wood mere inches away from him, and he lets out a startled cry when the arrow hits its target and explodes into flames, barely missing his talons.
He sits there, dumbfounded, as Link calmly walks up and tosses some acorns into the fire, plopping on the floor next to Revali like he did not just casually commit arson. He even has the audacity to act confused at Revali’s obvious distress, tilting his head to the side in a way that starkly reminds the Rito of a friendly stable dog.
“If you ever shoot a single arrow under my roof again,” Revali seethes, his eyes narrowing to slits as he jabs a finger against Link’s throat. “So help me, Hylia, I will hang you at the Flight Range and use you for target practice! Do not test me.”
Link shrugs and sticks his tongue out at Revali, tending to the roasting acorns with a stick. Revali huffs indignantly and spends the next few minutes drilling him on basic home etiquette and unspoken laws regarding destruction of private property across Hyrule. Nothing he says manages to wipe the self-satisfied grin from Link’s face, but Revali finds he doesn’t particularly mind.
They share piping hot acorns and watch the clouds go by through the open walls of Revali’s home while the sky slowly clears out and stars peek through. Dawn is still a couple of hours away, but the horizon already looks a little brighter, and the distant storm from before can no longer be heard.
Gazing upon that horizon, Link suddenly opens his mouth.
“I dreamed you were dead,” he whispers, bringing his knees close to his chest. Revali’s muscles seize up, and he shakes off a flash of sickly red flooding his vision before turning to look at Link.
“You, Mipha, Daruk, Urbosa. I freed your Divine Beasts, but you were nothing but restless spirits, long… gone.” Link’s breath hitches and he closes his eyes, fingers digging into his arms.
“And I had to fight Ganon knowing that I’d keep you trapped forever as spirits if I failed, but that you would leave this world for good if I succeeded and I—” Link’s voice breaks and he curls up further into himself, burying his face into his knees. “I… couldn’t do it.”
Revali does not notice he has moved until his hand is on Link’s shoulder, grounding him. Link jolts and takes a shuddering breath, one of his hands sneaking up to hold Revali’s feathery knuckles in a strong yet shaky grip.
“And then I woke up and you were right there. Alive.” Link nails dig into Revali’s skin, and the Rito does not move. “But I couldn’t shake the thought that I might’ve left you all to rot for eternity simply because I could not let go, or because I failed to fulfill my duty once again, and—”
“You wouldn’t have.” Revali declares matter-of-factly.
Link’s head snaps up, and he faces Revali with a poor imitation of the expressionless mask he once wore. His jaw is too tense, his lips quiver ever so slightly, and there is a storm brewing in his eyes that threatens to overflow as he stares at the Rito with the intensity of a cornered beast. Revali feels the feathers on the back of his neck stand on end, but his face remains calm.
“You wouldn’t have,” He repeats, shaking his head. “Because you are an insufferably stubborn fool who is physically incapable of ignoring someone else’s plight, no matter how insignificant or outrageous. Did you not cross Hyrule multiple times to help some random man build a town from scratch? Do you not go out of your way to constantly help strangers, even though your so-called duty has already been fulfilled?”
The Rito squeezes Link’s shoulder and he leans forward until their faces are barely apart. Link breaks eye contact, looking anywhere but at Revali’s eyes. “Even when completely stripped of your memories, you put your life on the line to rescue someone who despised and antagonized you, someone you barely remembered, simply because it was the right thing to do. And you trained for months to defeat Ganon and make up for a failure that was not yours to bear alone.”
Revali stares at the cracks that continue to spiderweb over Link’s mask as his words sink in. The boy shakes under his hand, and his eyes dart in different directions like he is desperately trying to find a way out, but Revali refuses to offer him one.
“So no, you would not have left us to rot, and you would not have failed on your own, because you are so stupidly brave it is unbearable. And you would have had our support as Champions, even as ghosts, until the very end. Do you understa—?”
Revali gets the wind knocked out of him when Link crashes into him, wrapping his arms around Revali’s torso in a tight, painful embrace. The Rito rests his head atop Link’s, awkwardly patting the Hylian’s back as he convulses and gasps for breath against Revali’s chest, hot tears streaming down his face. Revali knows he is no good at handling vulnerability, be it his own or someone else’s, and he feels utterly out of his depth with a sobbing person in his wings.
But he has a good memory.
He remembers the painful, endless years he and Vah Medoh spent trapped with no other solace but each other’s company. Every time he felt like he might lose himself and succumb entirely to the alien, bubbling hatred coursing through his veins, Medoh would gather what little strength of will it still possessed and whirr quietly at Revali, sending a soothing rumble through his entire body. That small vibration helped Revali break through the poisonous haze threatening to consume him more times than he can count, allowing him to hold on for a century of torture until Link finally set them free.
Revali might not know much about physical comfort, but attempting what little he does know seems worth a shot, even if doing so means a blow to his ego.
So he takes a long breath, and he emits a soft, murmuring cry that vibrates deep inside his chest and throat. Link stills at the unfamiliar sound, his iron grip on Revali’s torso easing up slightly, and the Rito takes this as a sign to continue.
The distant rustling of leaves in the breeze and the chirping of crickets keep them company as Revali’s hushed cooing resounds in the stillness of the night. Link’s breathing slowly becomes steadier and his body sags against Revali’s chest with only the occasional tremor coursing through him. The Rito suddenly feels numb with exhaustion, his lack of sleep catching up to him.
“Hey, featherless disgrace,” Revali stifles a yawn and gently nudges Link. “You should get some rest.”
He gets no response, and a better look at the Hylian shows he is already fast asleep and drooling on Revali’s feathers again. Revali sighs and wipes a lingering tear off Link’s cheek, feeling warmth spread through his body at the casual familiarity of his predicament. He really does not want to move now, and that leaves him with only one option.
“I draw the line at carrying you to bed, you know?” Revali settles back against the pillar and closes his tired eyes, wrapping his wings snugly around Link. After many nights spent lying side by side, he finds Link’s weight on top of him oddly comforting. Grounding.
“You better not tell a soul about any of this,” He mumbles, voice thick with sleep as the world begins to fade out around him, like he is sinking into a pool of cotton. “I have a reputation to maintain.”
When Revali wakes, the sun is high in the sky, his neck is awfully stiff and bent at an awkward angle, and he feels strangely cold.
It takes him a few seconds to get his bearings; he does not recall ever waking in such an uncomfortable position and, as a Rito, he is not used to sleeping in late. His brain feels fuzzy and slow, his muscles protest even the slightest movement, and the bright sunlight coming through the open walls makes his budding headache painfully apparent.
He groans and stretches his sore wings, and that is when it clicks.
Link is nowhere to be found.
He stands up too fast and regrets it immediately: black spots swim in his vision and his stiff legs barely keep him upright, forcing him to brace himself against a table. He sighs deeply, grateful no Rito is around to see the sorry sight he knows he must make.
Someone could have seen you earlier, though. Cradling him in your wings.
He flushes fiercely underneath his feathers, and he quickly discards that thought in favor of a better alternative: Link must have woken up early, as usual, and snuck out while Revali was still dead to the world. Revali knows he can be a heavy sleeper when particularly exhausted, and Link is not the type to wake someone on purpose without a good motive.
Revali knows his reasoning is sound, but unease coils in his gut regardless.
He distracts himself by throwing together a quick meal and dutifully tending to his disheveled braids, but his thoughts keep swirling back to Link. He is decidedly not worried about the featherless idiot after his breakdown last night, nor does he feel the least bit forlorn without him around. It is perfectly normal for them to spend the day apart — or several days, for that matter. No, Revali has no intention of searching for him like a clingy hatchling.
But he could use some company.
Once the buzzing in his mind becomes unbearable, he launches himself into the sky in the direction of his Divine Beast, which is leisurely soaring over the east shore of Lake Totori. While his fellow Rito have been nothing but kind to him and would certainly provide excellent conversation, what he needs right now is someone who truly understands him. He briefly considers paying one of the other Champions a visit — surviving a century of hardship had brought them all closer, after all — but the idea of a long flight is not particularly tempting when his muscles still feel like they are made of dry, creaking wood.
He makes a smooth landing on Medoh’s tail, and a subdued rumble against his talons greets him upon contact with the stone surface.
“Missed me, old friend?” A smile tugs at Revali’s beak as Medoh whirrs in response, and he leisurely strides towards the end of its tail. Ever since defeating Calamity Ganon, Revali has only wandered within the confines of Medoh’s ancient machinery once to check on its secondary terminals. Even with all traces of malice gone, the oppressive feeling that had taken hold of his chest the moment he set foot inside had been unbearable, and it did not ease until he finished his inspection in a panicked hurry, barely able to breathe despite Medoh’s best efforts to calm him down.
After that experience, Revali thinks it wise to stick to Medoh’s outside areas whenever he visits.
Gazing over the edge, he extends his wings and inhales deeply, taking in the breathtaking view of Hyrule that greets him. The freezing wind ruffling his feathers is a balm for his agitated mind and, for a blissful moment, he forgets what brought him here in the first place. It is just him and his Divine Beast, away from the world and everyone in it.
But Vah Medoh keeps a keen eye on its pilot, even from a distance, and it always knows too much.
A rumble breaks the stillness, carrying a question for Revali. The Rito scoffs.
“Must I have a reason to visit you?” Revali scratches the floor with his talon, his brow creasing. “I simply thought to bless you with my presence, that’s all.”
There is a beat of silence, followed by a single, pointedly sharp whirr. Revali bristles and throws his wings up in the air in defeat.
“Alright, alright! I was feeling overwrought, and I wanted some company. Satisfied?”
A soothing hum courses through Medoh’s machinery and Revali relaxes, flopping down on the floor with a sigh. The familiar gesture, although comforting, brings back the memory of trembling hands clinging to him in the dark, stirring the disquiet in his heart once more. Before he can fiercely smother his feelings, he wonders if Link is similarly troubled or if he is just running around in the wilderness doing something equal parts brave and foolish.
There is a sudden ringing in Revali’s ears, and a vivid image is pressed into his mind.
Two silhouettes flying over Lake Totori, a Rito and a Hylian, illuminated by fleeting flickers of pale moonlight. They are too far away for their expressions to be visible, but their laughter rings loud and clear in the stillness of the night.
A pitiful squawk leaves Revali’s beak, and the scene is gone in the blink of an eye. He can feel Medoh’s mirth in the thrumming air surrounding him, and he bitterly wonders what kind of ancient power he would need to amass in order to strangle a gigantic rock bird.
“You know I hate it when you do that,” Revali hisses, his feathers a flustered mess. He lies back against the warm stone floor, gazing at the clouds floating overhead. “That idiot just… needed a distraction, and since I was feeling generous, I graciously let him make use of my Gale.”
A series of whirrs rend the air and the floor underneath him vibrates softly. Revali throws a wing over his eyes with a groan.
“I just—” Revali picks his words carefully, turning them over in his head before spitting them out as if poisonous. “I don’t… mind his company. It can be enjoyable to have him around, even with how nauseatingly smug he is somet— hey! I heard that!” He points a warning finger at the air, and the creaking sound that follows is a bit too reminiscent of a snort in Revali’s opinion. Vah Medoh could be truly infuriating when it wanted to be.
Birds of a feather, Link would say with that impish glint in his eye. Revali hates how clearly he pictures it.
“But there is this constant restlessness I feel, as if my wings were clipped to my sides.” Revali’s hand reaches towards the clouds, pretending to hold them in his grasp. For a moment, he can feel the seamless slide of hair between his feathers, and his fingers ache. “Sometimes it pushes me to do strange things. Things I should be ashamed of. Would have been, certainly, before the Calamity, but I… am not.”
Medoh hums quietly.
“I want to keep doing those things and I don’t know… what to make of that.” Revali rasps in a voice barely higher than a whisper, feeling painfully exposed. The phantom feeling of hair between his fingers shifts into the sharp snap of a bowstring being released, and he hears the sizzling whistle of three arrow bombs on their way to their target.
Revali squeezes his eyes shut, but blood and fire flash behind his eyelids regardless.
“I don’t know if I have any right to.”
Before Revali realizes it, he is sliding down Medoh’s tail as the floor beneath him tilts downward with a loud rumble. He squawks and sits up, barely scrambling for purchase with his talons in time to avoid falling off the edge.
The reverberation stops and Medoh’s tail stills.
“What the plucking hell was that about?!” Revali yells at Medoh, awkwardly making to stand on the sloped surface. Medoh’s engine groans and the floor begins to tilt once more, forcing Revali to beat his wings and hover over the ground. Before the Rito can let loose a scathing string of insults, Medoh pushes another image into his mind, this time more forcefully.
A view from the top of Medoh’s head, where Link is sitting under the sunlight. The strong wind blows through his blond hair and there are dark circles under his eyes, glazed over and fixed in the horizon. His hand reaches into his pocket and produces a blue feather with a white tip, and he twirls it in his fingers with a sad smile on his lips.
Revali comes back to his senses with his heart in his throat.
“What is he doing here?!” His voice is nearly unrecognizable, like the high-pitched screech of a seagull. Medoh cries out once, shrill and utterly exasperated, and Revali gets the message loud and clear. A quick burst of his Gale allows him to fly over the Divine Beast’s back, and his eyes survey its surface in a frenzy until they find Link, still perched on Medoh’s head. How had Revali missed such an obvious sight earlier? Had he only just arrived?
The boy whips his head around at the sound of Revali’s wings with his mouth comically agape, and the Rito sees him hastily hide something in his pocket before Revali lands beside him with an elegant twirl.
“I figured you’d be bombing bokoblins by now, or whatever it is you do for a living these days.” Revali’s voice still sounds strained and his feathers are in obvious disarray, but he hopes banter will provide a good enough cover for his distress. He is eternally grateful when Link’s shoulders sag, visibly relieved.
“It’s octoroks today, actually. There’s nothing quite like getting hit by rocks, one after the other.” Link replies without missing a beat, grinning. The Rito shakes his head and sits next to him, keeping his eyes trained on the nearby mountains.
“Strange vantage point, then, even for the likes of you.” Revali sneers. He hears Link snort by his side.
“I sometimes visit the Divine Beasts.” Link says softly, his hand stroking the mossy stone surface of Medoh’s head. “Mipha once told me boarding Vah Ruta can be overwhelming after, well… everything she’s gone through, so I figured all of you might struggle in similar ways.”
Another flash of angry red crosses Revali’s vision, and he sucks in a shuddering breath.
“Thought I’d keep your Beasts company whenever I can, to help a little.” Link brings a knee closer to him and rests his arms on it. “Besides, they have helped me retrieve a few memories.”
Revali’s eyebrows shoot up. “Is that so?”
“Mostly of the other Champions. I think I only ever visited Vah Medoh once before the Calamity, didn’t I?”
“…Yes.” Revali remembers, of course. Princess Zelda and her appointed knight had paid him a visit in order to inspect Vah Medoh’s ancient terminals. She was fascinated with the Beast’s impossible ability to remain airborne for seemingly endless periods of time, and Revali was always eager to brag about the skills he had to display in order for Medoh to accept him as its pilot. For the most part, Link’s silent presence had been easy for Revali to ignore, since the Princess allowed him to wander around at his leisure while she questioned the Rito.
“I was standing right here,” Link whispers, watching a flock of birds fly by. “I was so amazed by the view I forgot myself for a moment, and you snuck up on me.” His expression softens. “You saw me smile.”
“I did.” Revali breathes out. He can still remember the scathing words that had withered in his throat at the sight of Link smiling, framed by the setting sun. It had been subtle, barely a quirk of the Hylian’s lips, but unexpected nonetheless. Revali had stared in silence, frozen in place until Link noticed and whirled around, smile sliding off his face. His mask was back nigh instantly, as if nothing had happened, but his eyes had reminded Revali of a cornered, terrified creature.
“You said Zelda was looking for me and guided me back to her, and for once… you didn’t try to provoke me. You didn’t seem disgusted by my presence.” Revali winces. There is no reproach in Link’s voice, and that somehow makes it worse.
“And then, the strangest thing happened.” Link’s face twitches, like he is holding back laughter. “Vah Medoh rumbled out of nowhere and you froze. You looked like someone had slapped you and then you just… stared at me. Very, very pointedly.”
Revali coughs and clears his throat, cursing his past self for his lack of control. It is no surprise he had frozen: his damn Divine Beast had chosen that exact moment to give him a piece of its mind, its machinery conveying a message just for him.
Aren’t you curious? He puts up a front just like you.
“I’ll tell you exactly what happened,” Revali rasps, running his hands over his wings to smooth his ruffled feathers. “If you explain to me why you are keeping one of my feathers in your pocket.”
Link’s placid face turns red in an instant and he buries it in his hands, groaning.
“So you saw, huh?”
“Medoh did. Its eyes are everywhere.” Revali notes with a fair share of amusement that Link pales at the notion, and he wonders what other things the Hylian would not want him to find out. He dutifully files that thought away for another time in favor of the matter at hand. “Well?”
Link sighs in defeat, digging the feather out of his pocket and twirling it between his fingers. It is still in pristine shape, even weeks after that fateful morning, and Revali preens at the idea of Link handling it with great care. “It came off one morning while you were sleeping and I took it, alright? I’m a hoarder, and your feathers are… nice.”
“I cannot argue with that. My plumage has always been highly acclaimed among the Rito.” He flicks his wings and stretches them in front of him for Link to appreciate, quirking an eyebrow at him. “That still doesn’t explain why you were staring longingly at it while perched on my Divine Beast, of all places.”
Link sputters and goes even more red, rapidly resembling a spicy pepper.
“I wasn’t—! It’s not—!"
Before Revali can get a proper answer, a strong gust of wind blows through them and swiftly plucks the Rito’s feather from Link’s fingers.
The world appears to slow down as the blue feather floats away, tossing and turning in the howling wind. Revali watches Link rise and grasp at the air in vain, chasing the runaway feather as it flies just out of reach. He does not hear Link’s heavy footsteps getting farther and farther away, nor does he notice himself croaking a warning when the boy steps dangerously close to the edge of Medoh’s beak, barely keeping his balance on the narrow surface. Revali is only aware of hurtling forward, reaching for Link as he jumps off without hesitation towards the flying pinion.
The Hylian’s fingers graze the feather for a split second before the breeze carries it further away, and Link plummets to the ground like the stupid, flightless creature he is.
Revali makes it to the edge just in time to see the silhouette of Link’s paraglider opening far down below. The relief that courses through him at the sight is short-lived, however: hot, unbridled anger soon takes its place, and Revali finds comfort in its familiarity. He digs his talons in and lets it cover up the tempestuous feelings he does not want to face.
He shoots through the air like an arrow towards Link, who has made it safely to one of the pillars they landed on last night. The Hylian whirls around at Revali’s approach with frustration plastered on his face, but he has the decency to look sheepish under the force of the Rito’s glare. Just as he opens his mouth, Revali beats his wings harshly, and Link shields his face against the strong gust of wind that ensues.
“Are you out of your mind?!” Revali glowers at Link, seething. “Have you actually lost what tiny semblance of common sense you still had in that tiny brain of yours?!”
“I can still get it!” Link is not listening. His eyes are trained skyward, fruitlessly trying to track the runaway feather from such a distance, and he gestures with his hands as if making calculations. “I just need you to lend me your Gale for a second and—”
Link’s mouth falls shut with an audible click when Revali angrily plucks a feather from his wing and slaps it on his hand mid-gesture.
“If you want one so badly, there you have it!” Revali spits, eye twitching and plumage sticking out in all directions in agitation. “My Gale is not yours to call for your every little whim, and if you ever pull such a ridiculous stunt again, mark my words, I’ll have Medoh beam you to oblivion! Have I made myself clear?”
Link does not reply. He stares between Revali and the feather in his hand, eyes wide and ears pink, looking utterly dumbfounded. Confusion makes Revali’s anger fade enough for other thoughts to seep through, and the true weight of what he has done hits him with the force of a Goron hammer to the gut.
The feather Link had taken was meaningless, just one of many that would be gathered and used to make warm clothing and soft beds for visitors, arrow fletchings, or traditional Rito decorations during the molting season.
But Revali had just plucked one of his feathers, out of his own volition, and given it to Link without a second thought.
Revali is painfully aware he has no way out this time. He cannot simply fly away and will his wings to scatter the words left hanging, nor can he count on Link being unaware of the significance of his actions. Even if the look on the Hylian’s face was not a dead giveaway, Revali remembers it all too well.
He distinctly recalls one of many days spent training at the Flight Range after fulfilling his role as Champion. It is not unusual for other Rito to join him, Teba being the most frequent occurrence, but that day had also brought Link’s company. Revali had stepped back into the hut after using up his entire quiver and walked right into an interesting conversation.
“Oh, this?” Teba tugs on his left braid, where a clashing shade of lilac peeks through the green, yellow, and red ribbons looped into it. “It’s part of Rito courtship: you offer one of your feathers to someone you love and, if your feelings are returned, they’ll give you one of theirs.” Teba’s fingers trace the beads holding his braid in place, revealing the tip of a lavender feather sticking out of them, usually hidden by his fluffy white plumage. “Some Rito choose to turn that feather into jewelry, while others weave it into a braid. Saki and I wear ours like this.”
Link hums and stares at the braid, seeming to consider something before opening his mouth.
“What if someone takes a feather from you? Does that have any significance?”
“It doesn’t,” Revali chimes in, resting his back against the threshold and crossing his wings. Link’s shoulders give the slightest jolt, but his face is perfectly calm when he turns around to look at him. “The feather has to be offered voluntarily and openly. We Rito value our plumage more than anything; it protects us from the cold and grants us the gift of flight. It makes us who we are.” Teba nods along, turning his attention back to the bow on his lap.
Revali stares into Link’s eyes, wide and unguarded, and something flutters frantically inside his ribcage.
“To offer someone even a single feather is a symbol of ultimate trust, respect, and surrender. It is not something to be taken lightly.”
Revali sucks in a shallow breath, cursing his past self over and over. Link’s dumbstruck expression soon becomes unbearable, and he breaks eye contact with a sharp jerk of his head. Revali’s heart threatens to beat itself out of his chest. Every nerve in his body feels raw and vulnerable, but his mind is the most treacherous of all, screaming at him to escape, retreat, forfeit, do anything but stand there waiting—
Waiting for what? The tiny, venomous voice in his mind sneers. You certainly cannot expect a response, can you?
A deafening scream tears through the air, causing both Link and Revali to jump. They look up to find Medoh flying overhead at a much lower altitude than before, effectively blocking the sun from view. It shrieks once more, and Revali braces for a familiar onslaught of words or images to pour into his brain, but they do not come. Instead, he hears Link gasp beside him, and he turns to find his face gone paper white, startled eyes fixed on the Beast as if seeing it anew.
Vah Medoh eventually flies away without another cry, but Revali feels its gaze weighing on him and a thrumming in the air that soothes his worn out nerves, keeping his dark thoughts at bay. Sunlight cascades down on the pillar once more, and Revali closes his eyes for a few moments, feeling it wash over him.
When he opens his eyes, Link is standing mere inches away, and his gaze is so intense it makes a shiver run down Revali’s spine. Barely suppressing a squawk, Revali takes a step backward, only for Link to take one forward without breaking eye contact.
“W-what are you—" Revali’s voice is a high-pitched, feeble thing, and he cannot force any more words past the lump in his throat. Link takes another step forward and Revali’s brain promptly shuts down, his talons locked in place.
Link’s face is inscrutable, but his eyes are bright with sunlight and there is an edge of desperation to him as he leans forward and presses his lips against Revali’s beak, clutching the Rito’s face with shaky fingers.
All the air in Revali’s lungs leaves in a rush and his eyes flutter close, wings falling limp at his sides. The tempest in his mind swells to a maddening crescendo then dissipates altogether, and Revali’s world is reduced to Link’s touch and the steady thrumming of his pulse in his ears. Link’s kiss is strange and gentle, and the sensation barely registers against his sturdy beak, but the rush of euphoria coursing through Revali’s veins leaves him lightheaded. If not for the strong hands cradling his face, he is certain he would topple over.
Link pulls away, but his hands remain buried in Revali’s feathers as if sensing his sudden weakness. The Rito blinks his eyes open and is relieved to see Link looks every ounce as dazed as he feels after the brief contact.
“I don’t have any feathers to offer you, and I don’t think you meant… to give me one like that,” Link murmurs, pressing his forehead against Revali’s beak with a small, soundless laugh. “But, if you don’t regret it… if you’ll have me, I’d like to accept it.” Link leans back once more, and Revali’s breath catches at the sight of fiercely flushed cheeks framing a wobbly, blinding smile.
There is a shift in the air as the wind swirls around them, ready to change course in the direction of the setting sun. Revali clutches the tiny hands framing his face, and any semblance of hesitation shatters when his thumb grazes the plucked feather still in Link’s grasp, held like it is something precious.
He decides he is tired of being earthbound: tired of listening to his own excuses, of nightmares and old scars flooding his mind with venom and holding him hostage, of shackling his own wings while the wind beckons him to the skies.
But, above all, Revali is sick of pretending not to know his own heart.
He takes a leap of faith and lets his trembling wings wrap around Link to pull him into a tight embrace, and, for once, the meddling voice in his head is completely silent.
“Yes,” Revali croaks against Link’s ear, voice breaking as a single tear slides down his face to get lost in his feathers. He gently nuzzles Link’s face with his beak, and he feels the Hylian shudder and cling to him more fiercely in return. “Yes, I think I’d quite like that.”
Many days come and go, and the weather changes with them, bringing forth a warmer, sweeter edge to the morning air. Revali eagerly takes a deep breath from his perch atop the odd, crooked chimney of Link’s house in Hateno Village while he watches the sun rise from the peaks of Lanayru Range.
Although Rito Village will always be second to none in Revali’s mind, he must admit the land that saw Link grow up is not without its charm, and the view from his spot is certainly stunning. Sunlight casts the land below in shades of soft yellow and orange, illuminating mills and tiled rooftops one by one, and a soft breeze runs through a sea of green crops. Despite the early hour, Revali can already see people starting their morning chores, and the smell of cattle, wet soil, and dye permeates the air.
To the west, Hateno Tower casts an eerie blue glow over the fields, and Revali finds himself smiling at it. It had been Link’s idea to visit his homeland, and given Revali’s reluctance to travel via Sheikah slate — he was more than capable of flying anywhere he needed, thank you very much — the Hylian had relented a little and taken them both to the tower so they could fly the rest of the way. The unpleasantness of having his body dissolve into nothing and reassemble upon arrival was forgotten the moment he was greeted by the sight of lush greenery and sharp cliffs in every direction, and he wasted no time taking to the skies to survey the area from even higher.
It was a straight shot from there to Hateno Village, but they had gotten awfully sidetracked when Link pointed to a nearby bokoblin camp and Revali, ever the competitive jerk, dared the Hylian to an impromptu aerial archery competition.
The Rito still maintains that Link’s victory does not count — sabotaging your opponent with time-stopping mechanics can hardly be called fair play, after all — but none of Revali’s complaints or sharp pecks to Link’s pointy ears could ever wipe the Hylian’s self-satisfied smirk off his face.
Link had worn the same expression when they lied down on his bed at the end of the day, curled up against each other with an ease that still felt new, and the Rito had nipped at Link’s nose in half-hearted admonishment. Link had squirmed and buried his face in Revali’s neck, and the Rito had felt Link smile against his feathers as they drifted off to sleep.
It was with great effort that Revali had gotten out of bed to watch the sunrise that was hidden from him by thick stone walls: Link clung to him like courser bee honey, and Revali found he liked it just as much.
The front door below opens and a familiar figure steps outside, yawning and rubbing his eyes. Revali’s eyes soften at the sight of impossibly messy hair and tanned shoulders exposed by the worn neckline of a tattered old shirt, and an easy grin pulls at the corners of his beak when Link turns around and looks up in his direction.
The Hylian looks positively miffed, and he shakes his head before climbing up the walls of his house with ease.
“Do you have to rise with the sun every day?” Link chides once he reaches the rooftop, dusting his clothes and glaring at Revali perched above him. “I swear you’re worse than a Cucco.”
Revali snickers and jumps off the chimney, softening the fall with a flap of his wings. “I don’t recall it being a problem when I’d untangle your hair while you pretended to be asleep,” He quips, lifting a hand to run his fingers through Link’s tangles. “Perhaps I should get back into that habit.”
Link’s cheeks become a lovely shade of pink, and he brings Revali’s hand to rest against his face, mumbling something unintelligible against his palm. Over the past few weeks, Revali has discovered the Hylian makes a prime target for his sharp tongue during the early hours of the morning, while drowsiness still clings to Link. He becomes particularly bashful then, and Revali would never waste such an advantage.
They settle on the rooftop, sitting side by side. A shiver runs through Link’s spine at the morning chill, and Revali wordlessly wraps a wing around him. Link hums gratefully, curling up closer and nosing the Rito’s neck, and a quiet trill escapes Revali’s beak in response.
“Did you sleep alright?” Link mumbles against his feathers. “No dreams?”
“…None.” Just the night before, Revali had woken to Link’s steady grip on his shoulders while he struggled to breathe, and his ears rang with the frantic beeping of a laser taking aim at his chest. Link had held Revali through it all, his voice a steady stream of reassurances while his hands deftly found the places where angry scars were hidden by carefully groomed feathers, soothing them in slow, practiced motions. Revali’s ego had screamed at him to push Link away, but his heart clung to the Hylian like a lifeline until the storm receded.
It was during the aftermath that Link came up with the idea to go to Hateno Village together, claiming it was well overdue for Revali to visit. It was as good a distraction as any, and Revali would have been lying through his teeth if he said he was not curious about Link’s home.
From underneath Revali’s wing, Link hums and shifts his head to peer at the slowly waking village below them. “How do you like Hateno so far? Is it what you thought it would be?”
“It could be said to be charming,” Revali remarks, watching a thin column of colorful smoke waft from one of the chimneys, presumably the dye shop. “For a Hylian village that is. Although it is quite clear people here do not get visitors often.”
Link snorts. “You could say that.”
Their arrival at the village by dusk had not gone unnoticed. It was immediately made apparent Hateno people were not used to seeing Rito, for they gawked openly at Revali while Link showed him around, checking their wares and making small talk when prompted. Nobody there recognized Revali as the Champion of old even though he still wore his blue scarf, and they all seemed to treat Link as a regular, if somewhat odd, neighbor. It seemed news and rumors travelled slowly to this far corner of Hyrule.
And, as Revali wrestled his wings away from a flock of enthusiastic children and watched Link get an earful from two sour-faced women for disrupting them, he mused it was probably better that way.
Being an unknown traveler with unfamiliar customs had its perks, however. Revali would never admit it out loud, but it was a relief to escape the gleeful looks and whispers that followed him everywhere in Rito Village as of late, as well as the increasing number of invitations for him and Link to join his neighbors for meals, training, or anything at all. He supposes he should have expected it: while the thin streak of blond hair woven into one of his braids is easy to miss, the oddity of a blue-and-white feather peeking from behind Link’s left ear certainly is not.
Especially when the idiot keeps touching it with a dopey smile on his face wherever he goes.
“What about this house?” Link’s voice gets quieter, and he prods a loose tile with his foot. “It’s a bit out of the way, but I like it here.”
“Of course you do.” Revali thinks of how luminous Link’s home is despite its closed walls and tiny windows, the sight of an impressive weapon display greeting him upon entry, along with a well-stocked pantry and crates upon crates of materials shoved under the stairs. “It enables your appalling hoarding tendencies.”
Link elbows him right in the ribs.
“I suppose there is value in collecting tokens and keepsakes, though. Especially for someone like you,” Revali muses, rubbing his side. Last night, while Link gathered ingredients from the pantry downstairs, Revali had stared in wonder at the collection of pictures on the wall by Link’s bed. He was only familiar with two of them: a disastrous group shot of the Champions before the Calamity, and a newer picture taken shortly after their victory where all of them looked considerably worse for wear, but genuinely happy to be in each other’s company. To have survived despite all odds.
But there were others: Mipha’s brother posing next to Link at Zora’s Domain; a blurry shot of Teba and Tulin training at the Flight Range; the young Gerudo chief hugging a placid-looking sand seal; a bashful Goron boy waving at the camera; a wedding celebration somewhere Revali had never been to; and many, many other snippets taken all over Hyrule.
Link might have no control over which old memories would return to him, but he is free to decide for himself which new ones to cherish. His cluttered house is a testament to that, and Revali would not have it any other way.
“This could be your home, too, you know?”
Link’s face is perfectly calm, and his voice is subdued, but the intensity of his gaze from such a close distance is still a force to be reckoned with. Revali swallows around the lump in his throat and he pecks at Link’s hair to distract himself.
“Is your little brain still asleep? I have a fine home of my own, and you invade it fairly often.”
“Don’t be obtuse.” Link chides, scratching under Revali’s beak. “I spend so much time in Rito Village it’s basically my second home, and it’s helped me in many ways. I want you to have the same thing.”
Revali’s eyes follow a young man guiding an old horse down the road that exits the village, and he thinks of how he seldom leaves the Hebra region unless it is for diplomatic reasons. Kaneli is too old to go on long trips, and the Champions at large have assumed the role of mediators, for lack of a role to fulfill. Very few Rito ever broaden their horizons despite being born with wings, and Revali vividly recalls staring longingly beyond the confines of Lake Totori when he was a scrawny little fledgling with a tiny bow strapped to his back.
He remembers tucking away that wanderlust in favor of honing his skills and becoming a legendary Rito warrior.
Well, you achieved that already, didn’t you?
He has devoted his days to training, discussing kingdom affairs with the other Champions, and reluctantly helping other Rito with their archery, but he knows one distant day, he will have to hand over his title and control over Vah Medoh. He will have to pass the torch and teach someone else the gift that is his Gale, and then…
What comes next?
He does not know yet, but Link is living proof that happiness can be found in more than one place, and he figures Hateno Village is as good a starting point as any for him to introduce some changes into his life. Revali already took a leap of faith in Link’s direction, and he cradles the priceless reward in his wings right this moment, his stubborn heart filled with more warmth than he ever thought himself capable of harboring.
What is another jump to someone with mastery over the skies?
“I don’t see why not,” Revali sighs, tucking Link’s feathered braid behind his ear. The blinding smile he gets in return is all he could ever ask for, and all he really needs.