"Wow," Sidon thinks. "Are Hylians always this beautiful?" He watches the boy, man , making his way through rows of beasts and creatures with a certain elegance that Sidon hasn't ever witnessed. Sure, he's seen Hylians before, even if they're not very popular around his people. But they were tense like driftwood, dull like pale fish and altogether not very easy on the eye. This one though… this one...
Turns out "Link" is not that common of a name. Muzu is being a prick about this boy, man , Sidon corrects himself, because even if the Hero has been in a magic slumber he's still over a hundred years old. Just like Sidon. And Sidon does not like when they treat him like a boy. He'll be king, rather later than sooner, still he insists that people respect him, even Muzu. Also he insists that Muzu - especially Muzu - respects Link. The man has put his life on the line for Hyrule and for the Zora and for Mipha. And yes, he failed. Yes, he lost. And yes, he even lost his memory. But Sidon can't feel anything but sympathy for this small blue and golden figure that stands all alone in the middle of the throne room, overshadowed by the king and the rainclouds and his cruel past. Sidon feels bad that they ask Link for a favor. Again. But he's the only one who can do it. He's the only one who can save them. Again.
There's a pinch in Sidon's chest.
To say that Link is on edge is an understatement. Link is a nervous mess. He's jumpy and reaches for his weapon, a strange crooked metal boomerang, more than once. He keeps looking around like he's expecting an ambush even in the guest rooms where the only threat is the never ending rain that pours and pours as if the sky had never gotten over Mipha's tragic death. Sidon watches Link, small, blue and golden Link, with concern. He wonders if all Hylians are like this, jumpy and paranoid, unable to relax even for a second, or if it's just this one. It's hard to remember what the other Hylians were like, those he met before Link. It's hard. He wishes he'd paid closer attention.
Instead he pays close attention now. And that's how he notices the perk of Link's ears when there's sounds he doesn't recognize. And how his fingers twitch when something or someone moves in his periphery. His jaw is clenched and his shoulders tense. He never relaxes, never just lets go even as there's only the sound of the rain on the arches and arcades and only the dim light that emphasizes the lazy shadows of the domain.
It must be the fear, Sidon assumes, the fight and the threat out there. Creatures and monsters, everyone wants Link dead in the wild and even some of the Zora in here want him dead, Sidon knows that. He's very ashamed. Of course he's not one of these people. Of course he wants Link to be healthy and strong and their savior. That only makes him feel more ashamed.
"You can rest, my friend," he offers. "No one and nothing will harm you here, I will see for it myself."
But Link gives him the glance of a man whose hand will reach for the weapon at the slightest hint of threat. It hurts Sidon a little. Just a little.
Why Link won't talk Sidon doesn't know. He doesn't ask. It's none of his business and he makes sure that Link can answer his questions with head shakes and nods and vague gestures. They understand each other just so much that silent moments aren't awkward. Still, Sidon wishes he knew more about their small guest. He knows now that Link has been here before even if he doesn't seem to remember.
Ironically Sidon doesn't remember either. Maybe it's the grief that made him forget, maybe it's the same for Link. What he must have gone through Sidon can't muster the courage to imagine. So he decides to leave the past behind and make the heavy mood fade away, to encourage Link and support him and be a good friend. It's nice to have a friend. He wonders if Link has many friends.
The way Link flinches when Sidon touches his shoulder in a brotherly manner tells a story.
Sometimes, when the sun sets in the west, and the reddish light shimmers through the rain, it's like Mipha is still alive. The stone of the statue has a rosy glow and the lifeless eyes glimmer just so Sidon thinks he can still hear her voice.
"I miss you too," he answers smiling, a little sad and a little hopeful. "Don't worry, we'll be fine." Because Link returned. The man his sister was in love with even in the chaos of war. The man who risked his life to save her, and who is willing to risk it again, for all of them. He's amazing. It must have been easy, despite the chaos of war, to love him. "He's amazing." But of course Mipha knows that.
When Link returns it's with two dozen lightning sizzling arrows in his quiver and one in his shoulder. All Zora present on the bridge back away from the danger of electricity, only Sidon is way too concerned to care about the risk the arrow causes for him. The smell of blood is overwhelming and all he can think of is in how much pain Link must be.
"Prince Sidon! Stop!" Muzu calls out, "It's too dangerous!!" And it's only then that Link seems to realize that Sidon has approached him. He looks at him, pale and panting, his eyes a watery blue like he's going to vanish. Then he backs away.
"I need to get the arrow out," Sidon gasps. He's so scared he can't think straight. How much can one stupid arrow hurt him anyway? Link has made all his way back to the domain with that cursed thing in his shoulder, maybe even fought with it! And all Sidon is supposed to do is watch as the blood stains the blue fabric of the Zora armor a nasty purplish black?
"The spring," Muzu says, "its powers will counter the lightning energy of the arrow and ease the pain. Don't touch him!" he hurries to add when Sidon wants to lift Link up to carry him. It's terrible to watch Link's unsteady steps to the spring below the domain and when he's made it there Muzu shoos away the few concerned spectators before he leaves them with a glance that says he counts on Sidon.
With a clatter that sounds way too loud Link drops the quiver to the floor. His left hand hangs at his side useless as he starts unbuckling his belts with the right one.
"Oh," Sidon exclaims, "no, my friend, don't bother with these, just get into the water as fast as you can. We can care about the clothes afterwards."
Link looks at him like he's not sure if to follow Sidon's suggestion.
"Please go ahead. The water will dissolve of any stain and dirt and magic power."
Between the splashing sound of water as Link clumsily descends into the dimly glowing pool there's also a faint "tss", the short sound of the lightning magic fading away from the overwhelming cleansing of the spring. Nevertheless Sidon is a little nervous when he gets into the pool. The lightning seems to have completely vanished though so he steps closer to Link, examining the arrow that sticks out from the back of his left shoulder, right next to the shoulder guard, and that Link can't reach with his right hand, not that he's not trying.
"I'll pull it out," he offers, making Link give up his attempt to reach the thick shaft. "Fast or carefully?"
Link makes a harsh gesture with his right hand that has Sidon swallowing hard.
"Fast then. On the count of three." His heart beats so fast when he carefully wraps his fingers around the wood. "One… two…"
Then he pulls. The resistance of the flesh is much stronger than Sidon expected and he could have heard the flesh and fabric of the armor set rip if it wasn't for Link's scream.
It scares Sidon, it scares him a lot. It's the first time he's heard Link's voice and it sounds so tormented, so full of pain that he thinks his heart stops. He throws the arrow away, crimson, sweet smelling blood on his hand and his chest and all over the Zora armor and calls "I'm sorry, I'm so sorry!"
Link bends over, panting voicelessly. Blood oozes from the wound, staining the greenish grey leather and blue fabric more and more. It's horrifying.
"I'm sorry!" Sidon exclaims, petrified. There's nothing he can do, he knows that, nothing he can do that won't hurt Link even more. Or maybe-
"Here, I'll pour some water over the wound, it will ease the pain." He waits until he sees Link nod, then hastily does as he has offered. He can hear Link inhale sharply when the water first touches the injury, but then Link relaxes a little, exhaling slowly and uncurving his back.
"Feels better?" Sidon asks and when Link nods pours some more water over the hurt shoulder. "I can help you take the clothes off," he murmurs, "it's hard to clean the wound with all the ripped fabric in the way."
After Link nods again Sidon gets to work very, very carefully. He understands the concept of clothing, he is just not used to removing it, neither from his person and much less from someone else. After the many different belts and leather straps that hold the weapons in place are removed the Zora adornments are thrown to the ground along with the metal shoulder and arm guards. Sidon can’t help but frown at the useless things. Either the Lynel was lucky or very skilled when it shot to hit Link only a hair width away from the one part of the armor that could have stopped the arrow. Then there's another piece of clothing underneath, this one blue and thin like Zora skin, and very tight on Link which makes it incredibly hard to remove. Sidon can't imagine the purpose of two layers of clothing, other than making the process of dressing and undressing unnecessarily complicated. Maybe he'll ask, one day. For now he focuses on helping Link get out of the slippery, tight fabrics without making him move his injured shoulder too much. Every time Link hisses, lowly like the lightning arrow when the magic dissolved, Sidon curses himself for being so clumsy. It's so hard though. Link is so small and delicate under his big hands, even more so when Sidon peels the wet fabric from the skin to reveal his bare small body.
The scars don’t come as a surprise and yet they do. Sidon knew Link had scars, right from the moment he first saw him. Or maybe saw him for the second time, he doesn’t remember the first time after all. The small shimmering lines on Link’s face are just a hint at what his body has suffered through. And that it has suffered becomes clearer to Sidon as he has time to follow the lines over the pinkish Hylian skin. There is no place, no place at all where there’s not a scar running over Link’s body, some thin and fine, some thick and crooked and some patchy, like they haven’t been caused by claws and blades but there’s nothing Sidon can imagine that leaves marks like this. He tries not to give away how shocked he is as the horror Link has endured mirrors on the small body right in front of him, shimmering in the dim glow of the spring in macabre beauty.
“There,” Sidon chokes out, trying and probably failing to sound confident, as he drops the clothes just out of the spring. “That’s better.”
Seeing the blood run from Link’s shoulder unobscured really isn’t better at all. Façade, he tells himself, then pours water over the wound. Link remains perfectly silent, but his stiff posture relaxes a little and that’s how Sidon can tell the magic powers of the spring do their job.
“This spring,” he says, a little insecure if Link even wants to hear it, “is the center of the Domain. The royal family is bound to it, has been for a very long time. It’s a symbiotic relationship, kind of. The longer my father is King, the more powerful he becomes, affected by the spring, and the better his spiritual power feeds the spring in return. That’s how he became so big. And that’s how Mipha got her amazing healing powers. Me however…” He wipes a little blood from Link’s back, and notices how he doesn’t even flinch this time. “I’m just tall.”
Link turns his head to look at him over his shoulder, like he wants to object. But Sidon smiles at him, trying to cover his bitterness. “That’s okay. I can carry you all the way up to the guest rooms so you can rest. The bleeding has stopped. Neither my father nor Mipha could have carried you, my friend.”
Link chuckles, voicelessly.
It makes the pain in Sidon’s chest vanish immediately.
Carrying Link up to the guest rooms is of course out of the question. It would make them both look farcical - a prince carrying a heroic Champion like a babydoll, no way! So instead Sidon helps Link remove the rest of the armor and after letting him soak a little more in the soothing water, hands him a cloth to dry off before they make their way upstairs side by side. Link looks like he’s about to collapse any second now from exhaustion. Still he gives Sidon a subtle smile and touches his chin with the fingertips of the right hand in a wordless Thank You before disappearing into his chamber.
Sidon waits until the door closes with a sound barely noticeable over the swish of the rain, then turns to report to his father. Naturally Muzu has already informed the king about the arrows’ successful retrieve, but now Sidon can announce that the Hero - even if weak and tired - is secure and out of immediate danger as well.
But is he?
Making his way up to the throne room Sidon can’t stop his inner eye from reviewing the state of the Hero’s body, the many, many scars and the way his blood poured from the shoulder wound like the water from Vah Ruta’s trunk.
“He can’t do it!” is what he says when his father asks about their plan. “He’s too fragile. Too small. Too… He can’t do it, father. I won’t allow it! He’s my dear friend!”
“Sidon,” his father tries to calm him down with his rumbling but gentle voice, but only because he’s not seen what Sidon has seen he still wants to proceed. Sidon is not having any of it.
“He’ll get hurt,” he predicts, his shoulders stiff and his stomach cramping as he imagines what could happen. “Or worse. It’s a miracle he is still alive with how things are. I’ve seen his scars, father, and there are so many of them, countless scars all over his little body. He’s… He’s vulnerable. He gets hurt so easily. How could he go against whatever possesses Vah Ruta when a single arrow makes him bleed so much? I can’t let him do this, not when I know how easily he is injured. I’d feel so guilty if I let a friend be hurt now that I have seen how much he has endured.” He clenches his teeth. It’s selfish, he knows that, and when the dike breaks it will wipe the entire domain away. But is sacrificing Link really worth it? Is the life one worth less than the life of many?
At his father’s voice he looks up and is surprised to see the king smile.
“Words can not describe how proud I am to witness what an honorable and selfless man you have become. The manner in which you stand up for the sake of a person you have only met and how your heart comprises the fate of a friend so dearly pars with the grace and benevolence of your dear sister. I am glad to have you at my side in these trying times for your thoughtfulness knows no end. Still, I must ask you, that you call the Hylian Champion a dear friend: Do you not trust him?”
Sidon frowns. “Of course I trust him, father.”
“Then tell me, son, what makes you assume that Link’s strength does not equal the evil spirit of Vah Ruta? What makes you so sure he can not win?”
“I wiped the blood from his shoulder,” Sidon answers, bitterly. Has his father not understood his point at all? “I ripped the arrow out of his flesh, making him scream in agony. And not for the first time, clearly. He is littered with scars and wounds from countless battles, and half of them look like he barely made it out alive. He is a Champion, so what, you and me know best that Champions are not immortal and not invulnerable. He is vulnerable. His scars are proof.”
“But what,” his father cuts in, still smiling a gentle smile, “what else are those scars proof of?” And as Sidon just stares at him uncomprehending, he answers the question himself. “He survived, Sidon. Every single attack, those that left scars and those that didn’t, he survived all of them. And why is that? Because he is an experienced warrior. He is a master of swordsmanship and archery, blessed by the Goddess Hylia, a Chosen Hero. It is kind of you to protect him, but is it not faithless to mistrust his skills? He is the one whose fate was entwined with the incarnation of the Goddess, the Sword that bans all Evil and the one to put an end to the reign of the Great Calamity once and for all. If anything he is the one who can conquer Vah Ruta, because he has lived through the war as the only warrior of all warriors with the blessing of godly powers. And maybe it is your destiny, my son, to aid him and assist him in this first of many fights that can bring peace and happiness not only to us here, the Zora under Vah Ruta’s wrath, but to all Hyrule forever. To stand by his side as the prince of the Zora, and - maybe more importantly - as a loyal friend.” He falls silent, watching how Sidon thinks about his words, then nods, because his father is right.
He can’t decide which direction Link goes. He can’t just be in his way when Link has travelled through Hyrule to help them. It would be treacherous. It would be unfair. It’s not his place. Instead he needs to do what he can to help Link, to make his fight, his fights , as easy as possible, even if it’s just by moral support. He’ll be a friend for Link, a good friend, no - the best friend. He’ll do anything in his power so Link can go his way wherever it may lead him. He’ll be by his side, from this second on. He can do this. They can do this!
“You know,” his father interrupts his thoughts, “you are a lot more like your sister than you probably think.” He smiles at him like he knows something Sidon is not aware of yet.
No matter how gently Tona sucks on the tips of Sidon‘s two dicks, they don‘t get hard like they usually do. He just can‘t focus, not tonight, not when every time he closes his eyes he sees pale pink skin and golden hair and blue eyes before him.
„I‘m sorry,“ he murmurs, sitting up a little against the edge of his sleeping pool, feeling guilty.
Tona smiles at him softly. „Stressful day?“
„Yes...“ He sighs, his shafts pulling back behind the skin on his lower body until there‘s hardly the little slits to be seen.
„I heard about the Hylian,“ she says, tilting her head as she rises from the water. „You must have a lot of important things on your mind. You can call me anytime.“ She places a gentle kiss on Sidon‘s biceps, then leaves.
The truth is that Sidon is relieved when she‘s gone. He tried hard to focus on anything else, after he left the throne room, but his mind wanders back to the Hylian, to his tiny chuckle, his soft, barely-there smile when Sidon wished him good night. The swift movement of his blade slicing through enemies when he arrived, the toned muscles of his arms as he tried to reach for the Lynel‘s arrow. The sweet smell of his blood. The memory leaves Sidon ashamed and with nausea, but a little excited, too.
With a groan he turns in his sleeping pool to stare at the small shelf. On top of it lies the Zora armor, freshly cleaned, neatly folded, and with the loving thoughts of his late sister woven into every piece.
Sidon is not sure how much clothing means to Hylians. Link seems to wear an awful lot of it, layer over layer, covering his skin like it’s something that can never see the light of day. Even when Sidon helped him get out of the armor earlier, he refused to undress completely, keeping the tight short trousers he wore under the armor on like it was his most valuable treasure. It might be, for all Sidon knows. After all the only set of clothing he’s ever known anything about was made by his sister as a wedding proposal and rests on the cabinet across the room in a small blue and greenish-grey pile, the metal parts shimmering in the blue glow of the luminous stones set up in the room. It bothers Sidon how there’s a nasty rip in both the slick blue fabric and the scale-shaped leather cover of the outer tunic. His sister must have put so much effort and love in this set and now she can’t even repair it. But-
With a loud splash Sidon emerges from the water.
That’s right, Mipha can’t. But he can!
It takes him two strides across the room. The pieces of clothing feel delicate and soft under his fingers, but he holds them close as he hurries out of the room and downstairs.
He has crafted before. It’s part of the education for both Zora boys and girls to work with different materials to make decorations and adornments, but to say that Sidon is skilled is not appropriate. Still, he tries his very best to navigate the needle through the tattered edges of the fabric and close the ripped cut with the thread he got from the market. Mipha’s statue keeps her eyes on him as he works, stitch after stitch until there's only a slightly rigged up patch where the damage used to be. It doesn’t need to be perfect, he tells himself, because the outer tunic covers that part and it’s much easier to replace the damaged leather scales where the arrow went through. The leather looks a bit different than the old pieces, making the shoulder part appear like the splotchy pattern of a karp: some dark brown scales in midst of greenish-grey.
But when Sidon is finished after what must have been two hours his chest swells with pride and even in the twilight under the rain it feels like Mipha smiles at him. “There’s nothing a loving hand can’t do,” she used to say when she healed his abrasions and bruises from play and he remembers that in this moment, when he can feel how much he still loves her. His love for her, after all these years, and his friendly feelings for Link, that have sprouted from his heart like a lotus flower, that’s what made him capable of this. “I’ll be a good friend for him,” he promises Mipha. “I can never replace you. But I will do my best so he can be safe and happy.”
In the soft bluish glow of the luminous stones Link’s skin is ashen pale. Sidon’s breath hitches and his fingers clench around the Zora armor in his hands like it’s a lifeline. With hesitant steps he crosses the distance between the door and the bed to take a closer look.
There’s blood on the sheets, a deep, dark, sweet red on fabric that is as white as Link’s face.
“Link,” Sidon whispers, his voice stuck somewhere in his throat that feels like someone chokes him with all might.
“He’s dead,” is what he thinks, “he’s dead, because I didn’t pay attention, because I was so occupied with my own stupid feelings that I didn’t realize in what terrible a condition he was and now he’s dead, bled out while I was with Tona or out there, thinking that I could do something, be a friend, be there for him but where was I when he needed me where was I ?” He reaches out with a trembling hand, choking on the name of his friend he let down, “My friend...”
With a shriek Link’s eyes open. There’s only a split second, but what Sidon sees is absolute terror, before Link crawls backwards, his right hand groping for a weapon, his left giving in under his weight right at the edge of the bed and he loses his balance crashing to the floor with a loud, painful scream.
“Link!” Sidon exclaims, panics too, but for different reasons than his friend, who must have mistaken him for an enemy. “It’s me, it’s me, Sidon, don’t be scared!” He rounds the bed, finding Link curled into a ball, hissing from pain and clutching at his shoulder. When he notices Sidon approaching he tries to get up into a sitting position, scrambling backwards until he’s backed against the wall, like Sidon means him harm, like he’s a wounded animal. In a way he is. It hurts so much to see the fear in his wide eyes, and to be the reason for it.
Helpless Sidon stands and holds the armor close to his chest and slowly there’s recognition in Link’s eyes. His clenched jaw relaxes and he exhales with a puff, pants audibly.
“I’m sorry,” Sidon murmurs, “I didn’t want to scare you. I just wanted to bring you this and check if you are okay but…” He swallows. “There was blood on the bedsheet and you looked so…” He sighs, not sure if Link even understands what he says. The Hylian just stares at him like a shot deer. “I… I’m sorry, I… Maybe I just leave and-”
But Link shakes his head. It’s hardly noticeable in the twilight, but Sidon is sure he’s seen it.
“Should… should I stay?”
Link nods, hesitantly, but more certain than before.
“Oh. Okay, I…” Sidon looks around. When his eyes fall on the stains on the sheets he frowns. “Your wound bled,” he informs Link. “Can I have a look? To see if it’s bad?”
Again Link nods, but doesn’t move to get out of his corner, so Sidon puts the Zora armor onto the mattress and slowly approaches his little friend.
Link doesn’t flinch when Sidon kneels next to him, and he doesn’t when he places his big hand on Link’s upper arm to gently turn him so he can see the wound. It’s surrounded by dark crusted blood and there’s a nasty greenish bruise forming across Link’s entire shoulder blade, but the cut has closed again and didn’t break open even when Link fell from the bed.
“It’s closed,” he states, his voice low. With gentle fingers he rubs a little of the dried blood from Link’s skin, making him shiver under the touch.
It’s strange, how small Link really is. Sure, Sidon is tall even for a Zora, but to see his hand on Link’s tiny back makes him very clearly visualize the difference in their size for the first time. He can’t forget his father’s words, though. No matter how small and vulnerable Link appears, he is strong. Fierce, and courageous, and breathtaking. A legend.
And still… The way he looked at him after he woke up from his dead-like sleep just moments ago, before he recognized that Sidon meant no danger, the panic in his deep blue eyes sits in Sidon’s heart like an icy thorn.
“You should rest,” he suggests, his fingers tracing down Link’s spine. “I can stay and keep an eye on you. So you don’t need to be scared.”
There is something written over Link’s face, as he looks at him over his injured shoulder, that Sidon can’t decipher. Maybe it’s insecurity, maybe it’s shame. Maybe it’s both. He shakes his head a little then with his right hand points at Sidon and lays his palm against his cheek, closing his eyes for a second. Sidon understands what it means: “You need to sleep.”
“I can rest another time. If you want me by your side it’s the least I can do. Sleep is something I can catch up on. Your peace and well-being is more important than that now.”
Link casts his eyes downwards. There’s a hint of red coloring the tips of his pointy ears and his cheeks that Sidon doesn't know the meaning of. He knows way too little about Hylians and their customs and their anatomy. But he decides it’s nothing to worry about when Link looks up at him through thick dark-golden lashes and smiles the tiniest smile.
“You sleep,” he repeats the same gestures again. Then points at himself and forms a circle with thumb and index finger. "I'm fine."
"Okay," Sidon agrees, smiling himself. He can feel his heart beating just a little bit faster. "I'll trust you. But if you need anything, my room is just down the hall. You can come there anytime when you need something, or when your wound bleeds again or when you feel lonely. I'll be there."
The same smile and fingertips against Link's chin are his Thank You.
Sidon doesn't sleep much that night, not when thinking of pink pointy eartips and a pretty little smile makes all the fatigue go away.