Link stopped his sword at the feeling of eyes on his back. He spun, readying for an attack—Revali was glaring back at him, but thoughtfully instead of the spite Link was used to receiving from the Rito. Link sheathed his sword, watching. His eyes were much prettier when they weren’t imagining what he’d look like as a pincushion.
Revali huffed, turning his face away. “I don’t like you,” he said.
Link snorted. Understatement.
Revali scowled at him again, before averting his gaze once more. Uncharacteristic. And cute. “Don’t make me change my mind. Now come with me. I’m going to show you how to use a bow.”
Link raised his eyebrows, pointing to himself. Seriously?
Revali huffed. “The Princess’s sworn knight should be able to protect her from any threats, or am I wrong?” Link shook his head, not quite following his logic. “Who better to teach you than the best archer in all of the Rito tribe?”
Revali’s smug grin made him look more like himself, handsome and cocksure. He splayed his wing across his chest, showing off his impressive plumage, not to mention the cut of his shoulders. Link’s throat felt dry; he swallowed.
“Now, are you coming or not?”
Link, still bemused and a little overcome, nodded his assent. He might as well see where this was going. And refusing an uncharacteristically kind offer would be… rude. Probably. And Revali was the best archer Link knew. It definitely wouldn’t hurt to take his advice, whatever it may be.
His compliance had nothing to do with wanting to spend more time with the usually prickly Rito. Nothing at all.
Link had not thought this through. Revali steadied him, his chest pressed warm against Link’s back, even through his feather-lined clothes. One of his hands was heavy on his hip, grounding and destabilizing all at once. Link’s cheeks felt hot. Luckily he was feigning incompetence, or the way he was shooting would be embarrassing.
“There,” Revali said, his voice almost soft. “Hips forward a bit more. Perfect.”
Link closed his eyes, praying to the Goddess for patience. He was such an idiot. He should have foreseen this.
“Now, draw back,” Revali breathed, his free hand coming to light on Link’s left shoulder. Link obeyed, opening his eyes to find the target. “Aim… And let go.”
The arrow whizzed past his ear, hitting the target exactly where he was aiming. The ring just outside the bullseye. Revali huffed a laugh.
“Not bad for a swordsman.”
Link closed his eyes. He should really come clean. Revali would be mad, but it would be better than continuing to lie to him. His advice was excellent, but Link didn’t exactly need a beginner’s lesson. He felt eyes on him and turned his head.
Zelda was frowning at the target. “Link, are you feeling okay?”
“He’s seemed fine to me,” Revali mused. He must have heard her approach. “Why, did you notice something?”
Link flushed guiltily. There was only one way to explain. He knocked another arrow, firing it with hardly a glance at the target. When he met Revali’s eyes, he knew it had been a bullseye. The look in his eyes was briefly hurt before his eyes iced over, cold as Hebra.
“I see,” Revali said. He turned away.
Link bit his lip. “I didn’t mean to lie,” he blurted, voice rough from disuse. Revali turned his head sharply.
“So you do speak,” he sneered.
“Revali!” Zelda put her hands on her hips.
Link waved her off. “It’s okay,” he said. “He’s right to be mad. This was my fault.” Revali’s shoulders came back down, just slightly. Link forged on. “I didn’t want to say anything, because I wanted to know what you were going to teach me. You’re a more dedicated archer than me, but you assumed all I knew how to use was swords.”
Zelda blinked. “You thought…? Link is from Hateno. He’s a very skilled bow hunter.”
Link blushed. “It’s true that I don’t generally use bows for combat. And I do really want you to help me improve.”
Revali crossed his arms, tapping a finger against his arm. “Very well.” He turned, heading up the path leading into the mountains.
Link frowned, watching him go.
Revali slowed to a stop, glancing back over his shoulder. “Are you coming or not? You can’t practice on an easy target like that. I have a special range set up.” Revali gestured expansively, his voice lifting. “Honestly, Link, are all Hylians this slow on the uptake, or is it just you?” He laughed. “The princess is brilliant, of course, so I’m thinking it might just be you.”
Zelda groaned, pinching the bridge of her nose. “What do you have against Link?”
Link shook his head. “It’s okay,” he said, smiling. “He’s just teasing.”
She narrowed her eyes, leaning toward him. “Oh Goddess,” she pulled back, “you actually like it.”
Link shrugged, a little bashful. Before Zelda could say any more, he jogged after Revali, trying to catch up. He already knew what she was likely to say, and he didn’t need to hear it. Besides, he shouldn’t keep Revali waiting.