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Forbearance

Chapter Text

Five years.

As he stared into the mirror that reflected his appearance, he thought to himself.

Five years…

It had been five years since the accident that had changed his life. Five years since his eyes were mutilated by a Wolfos’ claw, since he had discovered that he was not just who he had thought he was, since he had discovered another part of him, and since he had gone by ‘Link.’

The eyes that looked back at him were no longer blue, but red. Perhaps an off-shade of it, but they were red. And the scars that graced his face were due to that very mistake. Everything else, however still remained the same.

But he was not that boy from five years ago, and would not become the man he had become two years from now, and in a time so very much unlike now…

And that little village that had piqued his interest? Many, many miles away, in a different land. Now, he stood in the land that had been his home and would always be – Hyrule. However this village was one he could not ever fathom all that time ago. At least not until he met this strange boy-man who had gone by Kafei.

The man he had become, too, was something not even of a dream. He had a friendship he never thought possible. He had parents. He had a culture. For Link had become a man now known to the world as Lyrkiel, he had gone from a young Kokiri-raised Hylian to a Sheikah Warrior. He had become a son. A best friend. A legend. It was merely due to a series of events, but one that he would go through again if it came to the same results.

And tomorrow was Summer’s Festival. Well, as the Kokiri called it anyway. The longest day of the year. The one that marked the end of spring and welcomed the beginnings of summer.

But it was also the day that had become, well, what others would call his ‘birthday.’ Granted, that day would never truly be known, for both of his biological parents were dead, but it was as close as he would ever get. It worked anyway, and he was honestly content with it.

Just as he was content with his life up until now. Certainly, yes, he had his own grievances, but there was nothing that he really could do about it. Nothing if he was to remain content with his life anyway.

But he had a dear friend, he had family that loved him, he was in a land that he loved dearly, he could see other members of his family through physical means as opposed to magical. He was happy.

At least, that’s what he tried to believe anyway.

.+++.

“Yo.”

Srekhi had greeted him in the morning as he always did, although Lyrkiel did not not notice the little package in his hands. (Not that Srekhi had made any attempt to hide it either.)

He remembered the first time he had met him: Hanging from a tree in his backyard back at home, red eyes full of jealousy and envy, dirty-blond hair dangling from his head. He also remembered the first time he had seen his friend after the two of them were old enough to have to start wearing the coverings. Uneasiness. A strange sensation that he could never decipher. And while that had been overshadowed by the joy of seeing his friend, it was still there, always had been. What it was, he could never truly figure it out. Srekhi wouldn’t have an answer to that either. It wasn’t as if his friend knew everything about him, or could read what was going on in his head.

But that could be said the other way as well. There probably was much that Lyrkiel did not know about his friend. Neither of them worried however, because while most knowledge was not kept intentionally, the two of them knew that they could tell the other anything. That they could trust the other.

The only thing Lyrkiel worried about however was Srekhi’s safety. And he would be damned if he was the cause of the other falling to injury or other harm. (Ironically, he supposed that the feelings were mutual, and Lyrkiel was putting himself in harm’s way for the other. And for himself as well. For being in Hyrule was risky for him. But as things were, Srekhi would never find that out.) And it was for that very reason that he kept things from his friend. It was that very reason that he had to avoid certain topics with the other no matter how hard he wished it was some other way.

But any other way would put Srekhi in danger.

It was a war of his consciences. On one hand he wanted to protect his friend, and on the other he wanted there to not have to be secrets between them.

It was stupid.

“Hello Srekhi.”

“Oh, don’t go giv’n me that look Lyrkiel!” He felt the other’s free arm wrap around his shoulders. “You think’n I forgot yer birthday? Happy birthday man. And don’t ya go refusin’ the gift either!”

“Fine, fine.” He rolled his eyes and took the package.

“No, dun go opening it ‘ere. Come with me!”

And with those words, Srekhi threw a Deku Nut to the ground and the two of them teleported elsewhere.

.+++.

Lake Hylia had become a frequent of theirs, and the two of them often sought solace in the shade of the tree atop the island.

Many a time did they sit here, leaning against each other, losing themselves in silence or conversation. Telling the other stories of their own lives, or merely enjoying the other’s company.

Today would probably be no different.

“Go on now, open it.”

Lyrkiel laughed softly. There just was this something about his friend that amused him to no end.

He opened the delicate and intricate packaging before he came across a little box and opened it, only to see two violet gleams shining out at him.

“When I saw ‘em I thought of yer eyes.”

His eyes… yes, even he noticed that they did have a slight purplish hue to them. It never did seem to fade years after the procedure had been finished, after his Sight had been triggered…

He stroked one of them. They were earrings.

Certainly, he did have some that had been given to him the summer before they travelled to Hyrule to mark his sixteen year, but they were just the stereotypical ones. These… they were wonderful. While part of him wondered just where Srekhi got the money for it, he remembered the other’s connections. (Aside from asking for something that seemed impossible, Srekhi never did ask Impa – or Iarma as she was to be called now – of much.)

“Do ya like ‘em?”

“What, is my speechlessness not enough for ya?” He teased with a chuckle. “I love ‘em Srekhi. Thank you.”

“Ya better!” Srekhi joined in on the laughter before he sat down, motioning the other to join him.

He felt a surge of emotion bubbling in his stomach as he joined him, closing his eyes in content, trying to push a thought that had been nagging at him for the past few months…

It wasn’t always going to be this way…

Chapter Text

“Lyrkiel, now I suppose is a good time to ask you of this.”

It was Kajiit. Malea was beside him as well as he returned home from his visit with Srekhi.

It was hard to describe the woman who bore the title of ‘mother’. She was quiet, yet cheerful. A warm presence in his life. Kind. Caring. She could also be stern when it came down to it.

She was the one who did a good majority of his teaching at the beginning. That was until Kajiit was able to fit things around his hectic schedule. (The man had many students back in Termina.) And she was the one who helped him when he had troubles. Comforted him when he needed it. She worried for his well-being. She even was a main contributor to his physical training. She was a warrior or sorts, or a hunter, or a protector. (He never really knew what her job was, but it involved fighting. He never bothered to ask.)

But it was Kajiit who typically approached him on matters while she stood by his side, a sign of her agreement to his words. To his questions and inquiries.

“What is to become of your friendship with Srekhi?”

His friendship, huh?

Certainly, yes Srekhi was somebody he really considered a close friend. Srekhi – Iarma’s trainee. Her eventual substitute. A would-be guardian.

As of right now, Srekhi would be forced to remain in Hyrule, and his family was from Termina. Already, they probably stayed over-due. At first, it was because Iarma needed Kajiit’s help on whatever it was that she wanted help with, but then…

Then Lyrkiel approached the royal nursemaid with a plea.

For Srekhi did not want to become a guardian. He did not want to live his life as Iarma did. He wanted to be a doctor.

And so, Lyrkiel talked with Iarma, asking her to let Srekhi to have knowledge that his father could give him. Medical knowledge handy for battle or after battle. Ways to treat wounds and shock and whatever else may happen unexpectedly.

But come this winter – once the tribes met once more – his parents would most likely return home, and he with them. For the Meet would take place back at Termina.

They were no longer needed in Hyrule afterwards, it seemed.

They weren’t asking him what would become of his friendship with Srekhi, no. They were asking him what would become of his future. For they knew. They knew that one of the reasons that he asked Kajiit to tutor Srekhi in medicine was for him to stay longer. That he didn’t want to part from his friend.

“As of now, we cannot stop you in any venture you wish to pursue, although we still do hope to guide you and that our opinion does matter.”

The ‘adult talk.’ For Lyrkiel was old enough now to decide what he wanted to do with his life. That being said, Lyrkiel had no idea of what he wanted to be like the others his age.

A doctor? An aide? A hunter? A shoe-maker? A warrior?

Nothing. Nothing truly appealed to him. The only thing he wanted to do was help people. And yes, he had certain skills and talents due to his training. Due to his missions and quests and journeys, but… that was no way to decide what one was to do for the rest of their lives.

They wanted to know if he would be staying in Hyrule, of if he would be returning to Termina with them. Would he?

Truly, he didn’t know.

Because part of him knew that it would be so very difficult to part from Srekhi. To go from talking on a daily basis to only talking for one week out of the year.

“I’m… in the process of figuring that out.” He admitted and that he was. Already, he had made sacrifices for him, and was prepared to make more if it was necessary.

And they nodded, they knew how much this decision would affect his life and his future. It was hard to believe that, back then, he would be in the shoes he was in now. Wearing a mask. Being a warrior. Being a Sheikah. Or having a friend as dear as Srekhi…

“He is to remain in Hyrule, I hope you realize that.”

And Lyrkiel nodded at that, that yes he knew of this. Time and time again he wondered… Would he be able to stand that separation between them? To stand that distance? Certainly, yes, he could very easily and very quickly visit his friend through the magic of song. It would take a few hours by foot and two melodies, but he could make it to Hyrule. Maybe spend a week or two every few months… but even that wouldn’t be the same.

He wouldn’t wake up, looking forward to seeing Srekhi every morning. To hear his laughter and his teasing remarks. To feel his closeness…

(He was beginning to think…)

Not to mention… Srekhi might be forced to stay behind in Hyrule during the Meets. Just like Iarma. Because he knew. Oh, Lyrkiel knew that once Srekhi reached the age of majority…

It would be official. Srekhi would be ‘promoted’ to a Guardian. He would be Iarma’s stand in. Which would mean he would be stuck in Hyrule because: What if something happened to Iarma?

A Sheikah’s duty was always to the crown after all.

And that time was fast approaching. For in just a few months… a few months before…

Before their lives changed forever.

Because Srekhi was born in the fall.

“Yes. I know that. It’s been weighing on my mind a lot lately…” There were other things too, yes. Things that he had been thinking of telling them. He knew some of it awhile ago, although not to the extent he had been fully realizing as of late.

In fact, there was many things that he didn’t tell them. He didn’t tell them that the two of them often snuck off to various places in Hyrule. (Although he knew they suspected something of that sort was happening) He also didn’t tell them of the limited knowledge Srekhi knew about him and Iarma. That there was something between them (even if Iarma wasn’t privy to that knowledge either) and preventing him from telling the other male his whole story. Or of their closeness that only seemed to grow with every passing day, even if he thought they couldn’t get any closer.

And, if Srekhi was forced to remain in Hyrule… if he had to wait five years to be able to visit his friend and have that closeness they shared on a daily basis… he could not stand that. Srekhi was an integral part of his life now…

And, yet as long as he stayed here, he was in danger of discovery.

“I haven’t… decided one way or the other of just what I’m going to do.” He said and looked up. “It’s kinda been discussed between the two of us before, but I… really don’t have any aspirations of the sort?” He sighed. “I don’t have any desire to be anything. Normal maybe, but I’ve always wished that. I could care less what I do. So… there’s nothing there that’s keeping me here or taking me elsewhere.”

Kajiit sighed softly. He could probably read his insinuation towards Srekhi. “I want you to be careful Lyrkiel, okay?”

Always… Kajiit was so adamant about his safety. That was yet another thing on his mind. Just why was he?

“I wouldn’t want… something to happen when I’m not around.”

Something? That was the most information that Kajiit had ever said about the topic since he had gone off with Iarma the day they arrived in Hyrule.

“You know I cannot say much but… there is the potential for something to happen if anybody discovers anything about you Lyrkiel. More so than we have already discussed.”

More danger?

He supposed he should have seen this coming, but why that was, he didn’t know. Just what could be more dangerous? And just what did it have to do with Kajiit’s abilities?

He sighed and nodded. “I will Kajiit.”

.+++.

He loved hearing Srekhi laugh. He was always so cheerful after a session with Kajiit. After helping him with something. After practicing abilities.

(He had to admit it made him slightly jealous. That he wanted to be the one who had made the other feel as if he was on clouds. That he was the one that made the other act this way. That it was his actions that did this. At the very least he was the one who made this possible…)

There just was something about the air that exuded from his friend after those lessons… the very way he almost seemed to sparkle.

(It was a vast contrast to the boy who had been becoming resigned to his fate. Why couldn’t Iarma see this? Why couldn’t she see that this was what made him happy? That he excelled at it in a way that he never did with fighting?)

He wanted Srekhi to stay this way.

(Perhaps it was because she had no other option available to her. That she had poured all of her efforts into training Srekhi, and they were running out of time. Iarma was not young anymore…)

But Srekhi… He didn’t want to see that distraught look in his eyes. He didn’t want to see that sparkle squashed. Wasn’t this what he fought so hard for? Wasn’t happiness the reason he risked his life?

It wasn’t fair. It wasn’t. Just like it wasn’t fair that danger followed him wherever he went. Just like it wasn’t fair that he couldn’t tell Srekhi things… just like… just like…

(But what about….)

He bit his lip. He was hesitant about it. Just thinking it was dangerous. But something had to be done, and soon…

It was worth considering… Even if it meant that he had to do something about it. Even if it meant he had to make even more sacrifices to keep the other male smiling and laughing and sparkling.

Srekhi was worth it.

Chapter Text

Occasionally, despite himself, Lyrkiel found that his subconsciousness had, well, deceived him.

That it refused to accept what he had known as true.

Of course, he really hadn't been too surprised. No, it was something he had an inkling of. Something he had figured out over time.

It was hard. Hard to believe the truth as it was. But, back then, he never had this ability. Back then he had only faith. (Faith that had completely been shattered.)

Because he couldn't look back at his memories and decipher whether or not Zelda had been lying to him. He couldn't feel something he, at the time, had no access to.

Although, his dreams didn't really seem to care.

(And, still, he couldn't equate the two as one. Perhaps this was only proof of the fact.)

.+++.

“I rememba ya told me ya play music?”

Lyrkiel looked at Srekhi and blinked. Yes, he supposed he did tell Srekhi that when they began to don the masks and head coverings. When Srekhi laughed at his choice of facial covering and how it made him stick out.

Children usually followed the stereotypes after all.

Link nodded. “Yeah. An ocarina. I had been given it by a friend long ago.” Which was true. Both of his ocarinas after all.

“Still keep up wi’ it?”

Why? Why did the way Srekhi’s eyes sparkle mesmerise him so?

He forced himself to nod and not just stare at his friend.

“Good, ‘cause I play too. String instruments. I was… wonderin’ i’ we could play someday.”

And why did the other sound… hesitant?

“I - ah - might be a little rusty but--”

Lyrkiel laughed. “Of course. Of course Srekhi. Anything for you.”

Perhaps, he was telling too much of the truth…

.+++.

Often did he wonder why Sheik had visited him in Lake Hylia.

They had no time for pleasantries. There was a war to fight, fate to face. They did not have time. And yet… yet Sheik had stood there… waiting for him as the water rose. There were no songs to teach. No directions given. Just words. Words and hope.

That probably was where it all began.

But it was also where any shred of truth ceased to exist.

.+++.

Time, yes… even now was he pressed for time. It wasn’t as urgent or dire as it had been in the times before but…

It still held importance.

And, as the days ticked on by, there was this ever-present sense of foreboding. Despite the fact that he was learning more about his friend; despite the increasing trust between them; despite how he cherished every passing moment. Because, with every set of the sun, Lyrkiel was only reminded:

It was a countdown.

Certainly, he knew not of the definitions of the date, but he could guess. Children were to be cherished and protected until the day came when it was their turn to do the protecting. And when that date came…

Lyrkiel would no longer be blessed by those wondrous emotions that filled Srekhi’s eyes as of late. By that pure joy lighting up his face… By that melody that was his laughter…

No, that happiness would be sealed by the fate that had been chosen for him. He could never live his dream to the fullest. The dream he was finally getting a taste of…

(Lyrkiel wondered: were his good intentions ultimately cruel in nature?)

Truth be told, Lyrkiel had enough of fate, more than a lifetime’s worth. It wasn’t fair. Srekhi should be able to choose his own path in life, not have it dictated to him.

(And, what about him? Where would his own path lead him? As it was now, he would return to Termina with his family come the next Meet. Return home and leave his dear friend…)

Lyrkiel had hoped that Iarma would see. See how happy studying medicine made Srekhi. See how he excelled at it. See how much more useful he could be as a doctor as opposed to a Guardian. Lyrkiel had hoped that she would relent.

But there was no such word of a change of succession.

(And after then, then what? Become a warrior? Follow in Malea’s footsteps so he could have a sibling?)

No, as it was now, his friend was doomed to a fate he did not desire, and he to separate from him in the winter.

Could he? Could he go back to their old arrangements? To only seeing his closest friend once a year, or - as he feared earlier - once every five years when the Meet was held in Hyrule? Because once - there was no if - Srekhi became a Guardian, his duties bound him to the royal family.

(It was almost ironic, considering his apparent lineage…)

Lyrkiel supposed that - ignoring the danger of course - nothing truly was binding him to return to Termina. He was an adult, free to make his own decisions. Besides, he fit in pretty well anyway. He still had no true calling or desire. Anything, he could do anything. Would do.

...In fact, Lyrkiel wondered: What if? What if he never pursued his curiosity of the Sheikah? What if he never screwed up fighting the wolflos? Just what would the Hylian Link be doing now?

And, despite his younger self’s imaginations of returning to Hyrule, Lyrkiel could, really, only come up with one conclusion:

Wandering.

Link would be a wanderer. Wandering and exploring the lands. Helping others along his way. Doing odd jobs for money to get him through the next day. Here and there. And perhaps, one day, settle down with another and help them accomplish their dream.

Help.

That is what he would do. He wanted to see others smile. To see them happy.

Again, did Srekhi’s words reverberate within him:

Why would something so small change somebody completely huh?

.+++.

Something, deep down, within him was angry. How dare that monster do that? It had no right! And yet, despite that anger that threatened to overwhelm him, the moment he saw that blue-clad form crumple to the ground, only one thing rushed to the forefront of him mind: Help. He needed help. And, he was the only one who could.

And so, taking a stance, that is what the hero did.

Help.

He was not about to let that thing hurt Sheik any further.

Chapter Text

Chapter 4

Lyrkiel fiddled with the earrings that Srekhi had gifted him. It was almost fitting - now that he thought about it - that Srekhi had chosen them because of his eyes. His eyes were the reason they became friends after all. They met because Srekhi wanted to know this strange boy that took his place in life. Jealous. Angry. Curious. But then, then this strange Sheikah from Hyrule had realised that the other needed help - help with his Sight, with his eyes.

...What were the words he had spoken back then? Told ya I’d make a good doctor.

And, despite his own quip in return, Lyrkiel knew that, yes, his friend would. The only question that remained was could he?

.+++.

He thought back to the conversation he had with his parents, and he was coming closer to a conclusion. An answer.

He was seriously considering on remaining in Hyrule. That, even if Srekhi became a Guardian despite his efforts to stop it, Lyrkiel could, at the very least, try to make his friend smile again. Try to make the days bearable. Try to keep his friend’s spirits up.

Try to keep whatever happiness that was here for them.

.+++.

Lyrkiel glanced up at the moon and was reminded of Termina, of the Skull Kid, of Navi. His search for his dear friend ultimately brought him here. It was poetic in a way how in his search for his family brought him just that, albeit not in the way he had anticipated.

And yet now, despite his hopes otherwise, he might never be able to resume his search for her. He had… more pressing matters at hand. It wasn’t that he didn’t miss her; it wasn’t that he didn't care for her, but… Navi was only a maybe. And, he couldn't waste potential probabilities over a pale possibility.

Of course, he would never truly give up. If the opportunity ever arose, and there was nothing to lose? He would jump on that ship immediately.

Was this what being an adult was? He supposed he never really had the choice all those years ago. He was just a child, following orders blindly. And, even then, if he hadn’t done what he did, well… he’d probably be dead. Now, he was putting the needs and wants of others over his. But, he was okay with that. Because, well…

He didn't want to see that torn and tormented expression in Srekhi’s eyes again. The one on that day he arrived in Hyrule…

But - dun’cha know what that means? I must be her successor!

Perhaps, there still was a way to change that…

.+++.

Always, it was always Iarma who found him first.

“I have heard you were looking for me again?”

He tried not to look nervous, tried not to shuffle his feet, tried not to avert his gaze. She intimidated him, ever since that moment he snuck into the royal gardens. Of course, the reasons were vastly different. Then, he was a child caught in doing something ‘bad’, and now? Well, she posed a threat to him. (And, if Kajiit’s warnings were true: Multiple threats.)

Threats that he was exemplifying with his current course of action.

But, it was worth it.

Idly, he noticed how similar their height differences were to when he had met her in the Sacred Realm. Certainly, he still had a little bit to grow but…

Well, it wasn’t awkward for her when she placed her hand at his back any longer.

“I can see that something heavy weighs upon you, shall we go to a more… private setting?”

He could only nod.

And she guided him away from the village, off to a small clearing. “So, what would you like to talk about? If I may hazard a guess – is this, once again, about Srekhi?”

Once again he nodded. “Yes. In the utmost essence it is.” He took a deep breath. “And, I know, at first, you will more than likely disagree with what I have to say but, this is not something I have taken lightly. Much deliberation has gone into this. I have weighed the options, the positives, and the negatives, and I have come to the conclusion that this is an action that I truly wish to take.”

When she nodded for him to continue he did.

“I want you to consider making me Srekhi’s replacement, and allowing him to continue studying medicine. I am certainly most capable. I know that, yes, I am still far from his equal in many aspects, but I have rapidly improved in this last year and a half, and will continue to do so given further tutelage. I want you to give me a chance. To train me, and tell me if I am capable of taking his place, of taking your place when the time comes.”

She exhaled, and Lyrkiel paused, watching her reaction. It seemed that she was at least taking this into consideration. That she was allowing herself to allow this option.

He wouldn’t push her. He wouldn’t insist that Srekhi would serve better as a doctor than as a royal guardian even though he truly believed it.

“…Do you know what this job entails?”

He looked up, meeting her gaze once more. “I know not the specifics, but… one can take guesses. It would mean to put my life on the line for the royal family of Hyrule. It would mean placing them before myself. It would mean that I could not return to Termina.”

“It would also mean ostracising yourself from others. While, normally, I would decline, considering you are doing this for another, but Srekhi is now in the same boat you are in, and I know if he knew what you were doing, he would tell me to not consider this. That he would tell me that he would make the same sacrifice you are making. However, he, too, knows the specifications of the job. If anything, he would become an asset as opposed to a hindrance.” She sighed. “You have put me in a rather precarious situation Lyrkiel.”

He… what?

Apparently, his apparent confusion was enough for her to continue. “By befriending Srekhi, you have made the both of you less than ideal ‘candidates’ for the job, and yet, the two of you really are the only options.” She rubbed at the bridge of her nose now. “And yet I am hesitant to give up Srekhi, as much as I am to take you up. You are from Termina, and do not have the same… ideals that those raised in Hyrule would have.”

“I am a Sheikah, am I not?” Lyrkiel looked her straight in the eyes with his own. “The duty of the Sheikah is to protect the Royal Family, no matter our secondary jobs. I know my duty, and I will obey it if it is necessary of me.” This, he spoke with absolute truth. He had done this before. Twice even. “If it is required of me, if I am the only one capable of the job, I will do it.” Granted, he might complain about it every now and then. He might moan and whine, but he would do it.

He had protected Hyrule and her monarchy once before, so why not again?

Something in her eyes flickered. “…That look in your eyes… it reminds me of a look a small Hylian child once gave me.”

Lyrkiel felt himself bristling at those words, but she only smiled softly.

“In fact, he would be your age now… and his word was not only spoken truly, it was proven true as well. I wonder if you can do the same Lyrkiel.”

And when she nodded curtly, Lyrkile wondered if he could relax. Did she not... Consider him to be that very boy? That the very expression in his eyes looked the same because it was? Was the look when he promised to return with the ruby and the sapphire?

“Very well, prove it to me Lyrkiel. Prove to me that you can be as good as you say you can, and if so, I will allow Srekhi to pursue his studies.” And she did nothing but hold up her finger. “But, on one condition. Srekhi cannot know of this. At all. Until I say otherwise, Srekhi is, and will be, my replacement. If any questions are asked, you may tell him you asked me to give you advice and pointers.”

Perhaps, was she not as much of a threat as they originally thought her to be…?

No, he could not let his guard down.

And when she nodded, elation filled him, and he bowed lowly.

“I will not disappoint you.”

“Lyrkiel, your parents do not know about this either, do they?”

He closed his eyes and shook his head. “No. Nor would they approve of it.”

“If everything goes as you planned, you will have to bid them farewell, you know that, right?”

“A bird must leave the nest, sometime, right?”

She smiled again. “Go on then, I shall meet you when Srekhi has his next appointment with your father.”

Chapter Text

The dreams, however, still continued. Still pestered him at night. And while they weren’t... bad - quite the opposite really - they definitely weren’t needed. For many reasons, really. One of which being that they were situations that would never - could never become reality. Ones that only served the purpose of taunting and teasing him.

Sheik wasn’t real.

He needed to convince himself of this. That Sheik was just Zelda. Zelda in disguise. They were the same person.

Yet - yet - a part of him just kept remembering that cowled face and those enigmatic narratives. Remembering that cool exterior and those mystifying actions. Remembering that gentle kindness when it came to saving Ruto. When it came to visiting him. That whenever the term ‘Sheik’ came up, that was all that he could remember. Not the princess. Not the Queen of now. No, when it came to Zelda, he remembered a scared but determined child. Remembered that mischievous glint in her eye when she handed him the letter. Remembered the confident, magical prowess of hers as an adult. Remembered her regal aura despite her situation. The woman who was a Queen worthy of her throne, and not the princess in exile that she actually was. Remembered the sorrowful expression on her face when she handed him the Ocarina of Time, asking him to remember the song. To remember her. He met them as different people, knew them as different people - so was it so far-fetched to remember them as different people?

...Perhaps it wouldn’t be so bad if he wasn’t royal blood himself.

.+++.

String instruments. (Srekhi wasn’t kidding.) It was similar in nature to a guitar, but more... circular and it lacked the opening. A liuqin he had called it. It also wasn’t the only instrument he played as well - Srekhi informed him.

Lyrkiel couldn’t help but get chills down his back as they played.

--He really needed to get his mind off of Shei-- Zelda. This was getting out of hand...

.+++.

He knew he shouldn’t be here but...

There was a reason. A reason why he was here at this hour. He needed to be alone for this. He needed silence. He needed it to be as close as he could to back then.

This was the only way he could think of to get over - get over them.

Of course, he had been here before. Many times, in fact. But he always had company. Was always socialising and laughing and catching up... Never - ever - like this.

He stood on the platform and glanced up. Up towards the temple that loomed above him. His first challenge of many. The first of... a lot of things actually....

And the words, the notes, they echoed in the air. A form, ghosting above a branch...

Idly, he mused that now, now he could make that jump. Unlike that old version of him: frail, unaccustomed to this strange body, confused at the fact that he had changed while his friends had not. He wasn’t supposed to, was he? But then again, Link always did things that a Kokiri wasn’t supposed to.

And he remembered the hookshot, and how it still felt odd in his hands. Remembered the pain shooting up his side from the beast that guarded the temple. Remembered thinking that maybe he should go get a fairy but worrying that another would take its place by the time he emerged from the fountain...

Remembered that awestruck as the other pulled out their harp.

And that memory echoed to even now. A memory that was so poignant that the sounds of Srekhi’s instrument had triggered it.

Of course, he had not even fathomed just how important that moment would be back then...

And, finally, he remembered the woe that overcame him when they disappeared.

Curiosity took the better of him and he found himself jumping up there now. Standing where they stood. Trying to see just what it was that they saw...

Probably an inexperienced youth. Hope, maybe, in these dark, fallen times?

Lyrkiel shook his head before jumping over to the entrance of the temple. There was no use trying to get into Sheik’s head. Sheik never existed.

Sheik was Zelda.

This. This was why he was here. To face his past. His reality. The denial. The disappointment.

To move on.

An echo of a Deku Nut stole his attention and he glanced over to see the navy blues of warriors he was very familiar with.

Shit!

Never mind shouldn’t, he wasn’t supposed to be here!

And so, Lyrkiel did the first thing that came to his mind: Run. Run into the temple.

As he slipped past doors that were once guarded by wolfos, through halls infested by skulltulas, and into the main room, Lyrkiel realised that maybe, just maybe, this was a stupid idea....

He swallowed - uncertain of just what to do. He didn’t know where to go, or what the other Sheikah was even doing here. Were they coming into the temple?

...Just what had he gotten himself into?

With a sigh, Lyrkiel tried to remember the map of the temple - trying to fathom up a good place to hide out until the other was gone. The main room, obviously, was far too open. The balconies perhaps?

Another Sheikah?”

The words startled him, but he recognised the voice. He turned to see the Poe Sisters floating by their lanterns.

Wait - what did they say?

“Your comrade just left” One of them said.

“He said something about checking up on the temple?” Another pipped in.

“Yeah. Mentioned the Queen too.”

It was... strange seeing them talk to him in tandem with the others.

“We even offered to keep the elevator open for him!”

“But he just refused us!”

“The nerve!”

“Well, he did say he had his own way out.”

He was taking in their words. A Sheikah, sent to investigate the temple on behalf of the queen? Had gone to the basement---

That was where the boss room was.

Suddenly, it dawned on him just what was going on: Zelda was ensuring that, despite everything, the future was not about to come to pass.

“Now, young Sheikah. Were you requiring access to the basement as well? Or do you have elsewhere in the temple you are intending to visit?”

---Well, what excuse could he come up with now?

“Ah - I was just wondering where they were.” Well, that wasn’t exactly a lie. He was more worried, but still wondering. “If they have left, I have no need to be here.”

There was some nods amongst the sisters before they bid their goodbyes and returned to their respective lanterns.

He exhaled. Talk about inconvenient timing.... That was a close call.... If the other Sheikah had seen him....

Part of him began to wonder, however: Just how did they get here. The song, perhaps? But then, why? Why had they used a Deku Nut to return to the Meadow, and why? Certainly, their mission was finished.... Or had they discovered something and had wanted to inform Saria?

...Suddenly he wanted to take the sisters up on their offer. But no - he couldn’t. Already he was at risk if the Sheikah returned only to hear about the tales of him.

Stupid. He was absolutely, utterly stupid.

Certainly, he would find out if there was an issue. He was a Sheikah. He was trying to become Srekhi’s replacement - Iarma’s replacement. And Iarma, she was a sage. So certainly he would know...

Sighing once more, Lyrkiel knew he had to head back. The last thing he needed was for that Sheikah to decide to return.... So, with a toss of a Deku Nut, he returned to his bedroom.

Maybe he should just... Avoid the forest for a little while - or at the very least - find another place to hold his meetings with Saria.

And… probably the rest of the temples, too, for good measure.

Fuck.

.+++.

Lake Hylia, however, wasn’t quite off limits. Certainly, yes, they were above the temple, but they were in broad daylight - and he was with Srekhi of all people. (Srekhi, who was the one who always brought them here. This, at the very least, was not as dangerous as the Sacred Meadow. A place where even the Sheikah have trouble Seeing through.) And certainly, yes, it was not quite the atmosphere he desired. Because right now was akin to when he visited Saria in the Meadow. There was company. There was just simply no time to be reminiscent of the past - and especially: no safety.

Of course, there were those peaceful, silent moments between them. Like now - as Srekhi rest his head on his shoulder. Where the only sound was their breathing. And that - this - helped. Helped wonders. Helped because he couldn’t come here. Alone. Where another Sheikah warrior could sneak up on him. (Although - he supposed he could use Srekhi as an excuse. State that the other Sheikah brought him here on occasion. But-- it just didn’t seem right to rat him out like that. For such... selfish reasons. He wouldn’t have been here to enjoy the scenery after all...)

So Lyrkiel forced himself - while the opportunity presented itself - to remember to back then.

This visit - it was perhaps the most fond memory of the war. (Too fond.) Because it had been... unnecessary. There was no rhyme or reason for it. No songs to teach, no instructions to be given. Just words. Just encouragement. Praise. It made Sheik seem so... human. He - Zelda - didn’t have to do that.

--It made him wonder then: why? Just why had Zelda risked herself so?

He supposed their friendship could be the reason. That, or guilt. She was the one who sent him on this mission after all...

Srekhi shifted beside him and Lyrkiel returned to the present as he looked over.

He couldn’t breathe.

Red eyes blinked sleepily up at him. And, despite himself, he could see the outline of the others nose. The shape of his cheeks. Almost - almost did he let his eyes wander more.

“Ah- ‘m sorry. Fell asleep dere.”

He didn’t though. No, he focused his gaze back to the other’s eyes and found the signs of a sheepish smile.

--He wished he let his eyes linger now.

Lyrkiel shook his head. Both to rid himself of his thoughts and dismiss the apology. “It’s fine Srekhi. You can sleep more if you wish.”

The sheepishness faded beneath mischievousness. “And miss out on spending time with you? Think not!”

And the other shoved him to the ground - both of them laughing.

The past - it could wait.

Chapter Text

Lyrkiel was, once again, thankful that visiting the Meadow was not the only way he could communicate with Saria.

“...So that's why I can't meet you at the Meadow for now.”

They had planned to meet today, but of course, Lyrkiel wasn't exactly keen on returning to the Meadow after what had happened last night. So, he had picked up his ocarina and played her melody to explain just what was going on.

Of course, by now, Lyrkiel had explained his entire past with Saria. Over the course of his visits with her, he had been prepared to do a lot of explaining. It was obvious that the Great Deku Tree had some sort of memory of the events - but... he was different. He seemed to have known from the beginning that Link was the Hero of Time. But Saria - time had been reverted - even though she was a sage once it did not mean she remembered. However, when Lyrkiel had begun his tale, his friend only shook her head and smiled at him, revealing that she, too, remembered the dark future.

So, telling her just what Zelda had been doing was not all too difficult to explain.

Lyrkiel could only guess that Iarma, too, remembered. Certainly, she hinted at it, although she could have only been referring to the fact that he had successfully obtained the Sapphire and Ruby, but...

Certainly, the other sages remembered then as well. Granted, he had not spoken with any of them since leaving Hyrule, but there was no doubt in his mind. Especially since Saria, out of all of the sages, would be the one least required to remember to details of the war.

Saria understood, too, just why Zelda was being cautious. Understood, and agreed with it.

(Although - wouldn’t that be something? Having to have a now-visible Sheikah rescue Hyrule once more?)

He hadn’t... precisely said the reason why he was at the temple, however. That definitely was not a conversation said at a distance like this if one could help it...

“We can just meet in the woods then!” Saria piped cheerfully. “I mean - don't the Sheikah have trouble even with their Sight? So it isn't like they will bother coming into the woods. Besides, if Zelda wants to tell us something, she will probably just send you and Srekhi again.”

...Saria had a point there actually.

“Well, where do you want to meet then?”

“That's up to you! I mean, you're the one who has to use magic now to get here. What's easier for you?”

True enough, true enough.

“Well… how about those stumps near the village? It's easy enough to picture, and close enough in case I can't use my magic to warp into the woods.” He could use his abilities to teleport out of the woods easily enough - but he supposed that made sense as the magic protecting the woods was to keep outsiders out of the village.

“Alright, I'll see you soon Lyrkiel!”

She ended the connection and Lyrkiel went to find Malea. This was one escapade that they were aware of. He had told them - fully knowing they would approve of it. Saria was family after all…

.+++.

Neither of them had expected company.

Of course, the magic of the woods had blocked his own - sending him to just outside of the entrance instead - but he had expected that. The journey to the stumps was not all that long anyway.

There was a reason why he remembered this location. This was where he met the Skull Kid. This was where he played his flute. And, this was where the man who had traded him a mushroom had vanished. (It was… harrowing. He had seen the results of what the forest did, but he had never seen a person before the forest took them. It only reignited the old fears from his younger days.)

And, it seemed the Skull Kid had not forgotten either. No, he was sitting on the lower stump, talking cheerfully with Saria. Tatl and Tael were here too, twinkling to one another in the distance.

“Lyr-" Saria started to call out when she saw him before she slapped her hands over her mouth and glanced at Skull Kid.

...Right…

Well, shit. What were they supposed to do here? Of course, protocol demanded the usage of his other name, but-

Skull Kid knew Link…

“Ah? An adult? Doesn’t he know what happens to those not supposed to be here?”

“Well…” Saria started hesitantly, “he’s a friend Skull Kid.”

The outburst of shock was - quite frankly - a sound that Lyrkiel had wished remained forgotten to the sands of time.

“Saria has an adult friend?”

Skull Kid knew Link, yes. But, was that knowledge dangerous? He didn’t talk to adults… just occasionally the Kokiri…

Lyrkiel found himself smiling as he looked towards Tatl, who was still tinkling away in conversation with her brother. Man, did he miss her. Navi too… He had never thought to see either of them again, putting his search for Navi (and probably introducing her to Tatl) aside for… other things.

...Did he have to sacrifice this too?

--No. No he didn’t.

Lyrkiel stood up straight and looked at Skull Kid. “Says the brat who is friends with Gods?” He scoffed. “Besides, didn’t you say you’re my friend too? What? Just ‘cause I’ve grown means we can’t be friends any longer? You wound me so Skull Kid.”

“Wha - who?” He paused for a moment before pointing accusingly at him. “You! You’re from Termina - aren’t you?” Then his head tilted. “But - ah - I don’t got many friends from Termina. Especially with red eyes.

He had gotten the fairies’ attention now -- although they were whispering and he couldn’t make out what they were saying.

“Well - to be fair - I didn’t have red eyes the last time you saw me.” Lyrkiel chuckled. “And I’m not really from Termina. So, I guess I can’t blame ya for not recognising me. This mask and get up probably isn’t helping either. Here - let me give ya a hint: Glad to see you’re wearing the mask I gave ya and not one you stole from the Happy Mask Salesman for a change.”

Oh he could definitely hear Tatl now. She was buzzing around him as Skull Kid gawked at him.

“Link?!”

...He hadn’t heard that name in so long… Just a few times on his mission with Srekhi... And even then, it hadn’t been directed at him. Not really.

“What happened to your eyes? Are you wearing one of those funny masks again? Is that why your face is covered? Who is it? Who died? What-”

Softly chuckling, Lyrkiel shook his head. “One question at a time Tatl. First off - no. I’m not wearing a transforming mask. As for the rest… Well after a - mistake... Well we found out I’m part Sheikah. That’s why my eyes are red, and for my get-up.”

Saria, meanwhile, was smiling knowingly at them.

--Man did they have a lot of catching up to do…

.+++.

Thankfully, they got the Skull Kid trio to promise not to tell any of the Kokiri about him. Saria had mentioned something about protecting the village and making sure others don’t wander off as well.

It was… nice seeing them again, granted, it took a little bit for him to get accustomed to hearing his other name again.

--Speaking of that, he had realised a cold, hard truth.

If he was going to remain in Hyrule he had one hell of a problem to solve. Especially if he continued his training with Iarma.

So, when he returned home the first thing he did was get Kajiit and Malea together.

“So… I had come to this realisation that there’s been an urgent matter that’s gone unattended for far too long.” He already had an idea on how to resolve it. They were his parents after all… “Do you remember how last year, on my birthday, I had gone with Srekhi on that mission?” It should have been dealt with then - perhaps even before that. (Before they had even left for Hyrule.) But how could any of them have foreseen just how the next two years would play out?

“An incident which I still do not approve of.”

Lyrkiel groaned. Kajiit really was a person who did not let him live anything down… “It isn’t as if I really had any say in it! And besides, I just couldn’t let Srekhi go into those woods ill-prepared! I’ve seen what those woods do to people Kajiit!” Lyrkiel sighed but shook his head. “Anyway, well, I had not realised it then but what if I had to give out my other name on that trip? Or even to Zelda?”

They both had paused at that.

“And providing one other than Link would have raised questions…” Malea said quietly. “Both Iarma and Srekhi would have detected the lie if you did, or asked why you could not give it out…”

Lyrkiel nodded. “Exactly.” He wasn't going to tell them that he was putting himself in a scenario like that with every passing day. That he was going to need another name to remain here in Hyrule. “And, when I met Saria today, we had… bumped into an outsider.” He raised his hand. “Not anybody who would risk my safety. He is only in the woods. Do you remember the Skull Kid?”

“The one who lowered the Moon?”

Lyrkiel nodded. “Yes. Truth be told… I met him in the woods as a kid. He is Saria’s friend.”

He heard them sigh.

“That's when I realised: we cannot keep on like this. What if Zelda wants my assistance to go through the Woods again with Srekhi? What if I have to meet with Zelda again? What if I am required to give out my other name? We are still here for another six months. Anything could happen.” He smiled up at them. “But then I remembered: the two of you adopted me, and why can the two of you not give me another name? It is a parents right to name their children after all.”

The next thing he knew, they were hugging him and Lyrkiel could only laugh.

.+++.

After much deliberation and brainstorming, Kajiit and Malea came up with a name:

Leorik.

They did not want a name too close to Link after all. Nothing that somebody could try and extrapolate.

This new name, too, did not have the same effect as Lyrkiel did for him. No, it wasn't a new identity. It wasn't some strange, foreign name that was forced upon him. It was a name his parents had chosen for him, with his permission.

It was a necessity, yes. More than his parents truly realised. But he was willing to go through with this. If he wanted to stay in Hyrule, if he wanted to take Srekhi’s place, he needed a new name. And, so, he accepted this necessity. This new name. It wasn't like it would be used too frequently.

Yet, anyway.

Chapter Text

Chapter 7

Training with Iarma was... hard. For, the moment she learned what his limits were, she would push him to them - and beyond. Would strike at him when he was down, cast magic at him when his reserves were depleted - all to force him to retaliate and defend himself in whatever way possible.

And, while Lyrkiel would protest and groan and swear, he knew - all too well - that this was a reality he would have to face in the future. Your enemies cared not if your strength dwindled, or if it became next to impossible to move. They would not stop of pause or let you regain your strength. No, they would press on until you - or they - died.

Iarma did not coddle him in this way, she did not offer mercy, just lessons learned the hard way. Lyrkiel wondered if she suspected he knew these lessons already and just didn’t care, or if she thought he needed to learn them.

As hard as it was, however, Lyrkiel could not give up. No, he was doing this for Srekhi. He knew it was going to be difficult, a challenge, but he chose this path.

Because he wanted to see Srekhi’s eyes to keep smiling. Wanted to hear his laughter. Wanted to know he was happy. The friend that was oh so dear to him.

Perhaps, too, Lyrkiel felt indebted to the other for helping him, for showing him the truth, for making him feel whole for once, for giving him a home when he had felt so lost. (Home, it had meant so many different things to him over the years. At first, it had been a tree house on stilts. Then, it had been a country. It had been friends - family. But then, it had become a community. A little village on the outskirts of a haunted wasteland. A race of people he had never thought to exist any longer. It had become his mother, his father. And, now… Hyrule was calling to him once more.)

Hyrule, and perhaps… perhaps the friend that might be too dear.

Such thoughts had begun to occur to him, but Lyrkiel found himself at a stand-still. Perhaps, it was his inability to move on, or perhaps it was simply his lack of understanding.

...Well, he knew how to rectify at least one of those problems...

.+++.

He did suppose the time had been approaching and that he had to tell Kajiit and Malea it sometime, and he had questions to be answered anyway.

"Kajiit, I uh... have a question."

Awkward. This was going to be awkward no matter how anybody did it.

"Sure, what is it son?"

"How do... relationships work?"

Truthfully he never really knew. The Kokiri and the Deku Tree most certainly didn't tell him and he did have some basic understandings of it all but...

There were so many things he didn't know.

"Why do I have a suspicion this is not just a question in general?" Kajiit had leaned in on the table they were sitting at.

"It is but it isn't?" He sighed and rubbed at his left hand, looking at them. "I honestly know little of relationships, Sheikah or Hylian. How do they work? What is accepted and what is expected? What happens in them?" He blushed a little. "I know the basics of the purpose of them, of procreation, but there is much more to relationships than that. I mean look at you and Malea. When the two of you had adopted me the two of you were not in a position to have children but you intend to."

"I suppose we should have expected this conversation earlier." His father said with a gentle chuckle. "What... triggered this? Is there somebody you are thinking of in that way?"

Lyrkiel shook his head. "Now? I... don't really know." That, inasmuch, was true, because he really didn't know. Which was one of the reasons he initiated this conversation. "But as time went by I realized there had been somebody. In my past. I didn't realize it at the time - being of a childish mindset - but once learning things about myself I realized that yes, I had feelings for that person."

...There were a few momentary 'crushes' in his life but that was all they were. He never truly knew them well, and he admired them, and as time went by the feelings went away.

"Nothing ever did come of those feelings - not that I knew to act on them at the time - and well... as things happened and things changed, both back then and in the now, it's a moot point."

There was nobody to chase after all.

"But... it made me think: what would I have done knowing that there was something to do? And what then, if they happened to return those feelings? I don't... know anything when it comes to these things. The two of you are the best role models I have in reference to this but I've only known you for five years."

There were other things he wanted to ask as well. He presumed some things but he wanted to know for certain...

"One thing my father always said to me was: if you can, marry your best friend." There was a little chuckle. "And while he was somewhat serious, somewhat joking, there still is a point to it: you want to be able to trust them with everything and love them for their faults. Despite their faults." He sighed softly. "But it's important that you love them as well. That seeing them happy fills you with a joy that no one else can match. That being with them in every way makes you feel in love in some form or another. And being with somebody - you will have to make sacrifices. Whether or not those sacrifices are worth it is up to you to decide. But they better be worth it if you decide you will be with them. You better fight for them. For the two of you. It takes two to make it work."

He listened to this advice and it made sense while other things were as well.. "And... in reference to culture?"

Kajiit was grinning a little now. "Well if you had asked me prior to this summer I would have to grant you permission to date another and to what extent the two of you may go. Coverings are allowed off when it is just the two of you, or you are allowed to show your face when they are visiting your home. They cannot however." He tilted his head. "Pregnancy is not advised unless the two of you are planning a more... permanent relationship, although it has happened on occasion. Typically the child will be put up for adoption if that is the case. The Elders prefer that a child grows up in a stable home, for the best of them. They will not force a couple together prematurely or against their will."

"But now that you are considered old enough to be on your own you can make your own decisions on this matter. Now if your partner is not yet of age they will need to gain permission for the two of you will need to wait. Most parents are lenient when it comes to those about to turn of age however." He paused. "And for you especially... you need to consider that this person will need to know your past. In fact... now that I think about it... your children would be Blind too... wouldn't they?"

That they would.

"...I don't know that that would be a problem." He said softly.

For in all of those momentary crushes... not a single one of them was female.

"That's... the other reason I came to ask... I don't know how Sheikah view same-sex relationships..."

There was some silence. "It's... not common." Kajiit finally said. "But once again, we take the children into consideration. If we force two people together, it would hardly benefit the children. In fact, it might be better that you have no inclinations to the female sex. For you and your children would then be labelled as Blind Ones, unless we... damage their eyes at birth. It is easy with some chemicals to scar the tissue, but then they may not be able to see if there is further injury to their eyes. And just how long would we have to keep doing this for? How long would it take for ‘royal blood’ to be considered not potent enough to trigger the block?" He shook his head. "It really is better this way. While we encourage the revitalization of our people, we would not wish to endanger others and cause misery just for one child to be born."

If it was okay for him... then what about others? Not as advised but... if he found another...?

Not that they had to necessarily be Sheikah either. Now wouldn’t that be something! A Blind Sheikah teaching their Hylian husband about the Sheikah Culture!

He nodded.

"How did you and Malea get together?"

He did wonder...

A gentle smile graced Kajiit’s face. "It all happened when we were sixteen..."

.+++.

As Lyrkiel listened to the story how his parents started out as friends and discovered a mutual attraction to one another, he was beginning to understand himself even more, and his suspicions were becoming less and less as mere scepticism and more like reality.

....This sucked.

Well, Lyrkiel did suppose he had one more hurdle to solve before he jumped to any conclusions…

Chapter Text

Chapter 8

It wasn’t always easy to slip away. Not with Srekhi’s persistent get togethers. Not with working with Iarma. And night time was obviously out of the question. And yet, yet Lyrkiel wanted the dreams to stop. Wanted the thoughts to stop. He needed to get over Sheik. Over this phantom of a person. He’s visited the meadow, he’s done as best as he could in regards to the lake. But... where else?

For the incident at the Sacred Meadow had deeply disturbed him.

In many ways.

The one thing he had prayed, however, was that whoever that was had not noticed his presence. The last thing he needed was to be questioned about why he was there and how he got there.

He had gone there for one thing: to clear his head. His heart. He had never truly moved on from it, and now he was trying to. In the only way he thought he could: by visiting the temples and other places he had met Sheik.

(Of course, there still was one place he could not go, but… perhaps it wasn’t too bad in a sense.)

But this was starting to become a problem. There were Sheikah checking up on the temples…

Perhaps he should visit the ice caverns next. Certainly, they wouldn't check there. It wasn't as if it was a Temple, so it should be safe… right?

He had only met Sheik there. It wasn’t connected to the temples. It wasn’t a teleportation spot. However, his recent trip to the Lost Woods, and his third name only ignited caution in his mind. He needed to be careful. What if he ran into a Zora -- he wasn’t completely certain just how often the race frequented the caverns.

Are you wearing one of those weird masks again?

--Yes. Yes that was it! Mikau.

(After he had saved Clock Town, he had tried to return the transforming masks. First, he went to the swamp and left the Deku Mask with the Butler. Apparently, it was his son who had crossed paths with Majora. The Butler thanked him, and went to visit the wooden statue that had become of his son. Next, he tried the Gorons. However, the Chief only shook his head. Saying that Darmani had considered him worthy enough to carry on his legacy. That Darmani would be honoured to have his abilities be of use whenever he was needed. He had passed on, knowing that he could still be of use.

He could not refuse after that.

And Mikau. Certainly, Mikau’s mask deserved to go to Lulu and their children.

But, she, too, had said a similar phrase. “You allowed him the chance to save his children. And he allowed you to use his abilities whenever a need arouses.”

And Fierce Deity...? Well, he was someplace safe.

Lyrkiel had packed away the masks in his pouches. They were part of the stuff he had initially brought over when they had arrived in Hyrule. The masks were... gifts to him. He could not let them get into the wrong hands.

Going over to the pouch, he pulled out Mikau and stroked the mask. He knew that this was probably not what Lulu was thinking of when she meant a need but, the poetic nature of it was not lost on him. He had allowed Mikau to move on, and now Mikau was going to allow him to as well.

It needed to be Mikau who entered the Ice Caverns. Not Lyrkiel. Not Link. Not Leorik. But, as long as the coast was clear, he supposed he could transform back? (No. Tatl told him he made the most horrendous of screams. He couldn’t do that. Speaking of... perhaps it would be best to transform someplace where others couldn’t hear him.)

.+++.

Despite his thoughts earlier, Saria had remembered the dark times. It wasn't a story he had to tell her, and that was why it had been easy to tell her about the Sheikah and the Forest Temple. Saria understood. And, that helped.

“It's… hard sometimes, Saria.” He started, looking up at the trees. Truthfully, he wanted to talk to her about this earlier, but… the Skull Kid was around. “It's just - Zelda.” He sighed and closed his eyes, head tilting back. “I'm trying. I'm truly trying. But… I just can't wrap my head around it. I just can't accept the truth for what it is. And fate just seems to be mocking me. I thought maybe, just maybe, if I went to the places we met… maybe I could accept it more.”

Saria giggled. He knew she wasn't mocking him or laughing at his misery. No, she was just trying to lighten the mood. “And then, of course that's when she decides to check on the temples.”

He sighed exasperatedly. “I mean. Yeah. I can disguise myself as Mikau to get into the ice caverns, but then what? Certainly I can do it at the lake. I can be Darmani at the Fire Temple. But… I can't use my Sheikah magic when I wear the masks! And what if? What if somebody hears me screaming when I arrive? What if the Sheikah are already there? I mean I can use the songs but…”

“What about the forest, Lyrkiel?” When he opened his eyes to look at her, she had tilted her head. “You can go to Goron City, and the Zora Domain through the woods, right? And nobody is gunna hear you scream here, or care if they do.”

“I- Right. I forgot about that.” Lyrkiel found himself laughing. “Thank you Saria!

She was laughing too.

.+++.

The first thing Lyrkiel had noticed was just how quiet it was. Of course, the previous time had been quiet as well, but this visit lacked the idle sounds of the monsters that infested this place. There were no gusts of wind from the freezards, so slicing sounds of the blade traps, no squeaking of the keese. No, the air here was still and quiet.

There also was a dampness the pervaded the area. This moistness that probably had to do with the remaining warmth of the end of summer just outside of the cave walls.

Perhaps it was a little strange, but he found the calmness… dull.

Lyrkiel knew that he did find the air a touch colder than he remembered - but he was in another body, with different skin, and ice was a weakness of the Zora’s. Fatal? Maybe not, but a weakness all in the same. Still, it was better to go about it this way, just in case. He never knew if Zelda was merely checking the temples or every place that had been affected by Ganondorf’s malice. So, Mikau he was, on the off chance he would bump into somebody he knew or - more importantly - somebody who knew him.

Certainly, a Zora in the ice caverns would not be too suspect, right?

Now, the question that remained was whether or not he take the scenic route. The room he desired laid at the end of the path, or a quick swim away...

The room that he fought wolfos in. The room that contained the iron boots. The room that sparkled. That glittered as if there were diamonds on every surface imaginable. The room that made him turn around sharply, if only to notice that something might be even more beautiful than this room -- than the room with the air that shimmered around them as they played together, with the acoustics that echoed their song so pristinely back to them -- for he had noticed Sheik glowing in a way he never had before.

It was here that he, really, first started to notice the other. Although it took another visit until things began to settle in.

His stomach churned. He needed to get over this. Get over Sheik. No matter his thoughts or feelings in the past it was never happening. Sheik didn't exist. He didn't exist.

Listen to this song and reflect upon yourself.

Those words, they felt so ironic now. Sheik had wanted Link to come to terms about his race. Wanted him to remember his connections with the people. To realise that he was not alone in this mission of his. That he had friends, allies, family. And, Link had thought that maybe - just maybe - Sheik was part of those people. That Link would have liked for him to be. That --- Zelda - Sheik was Zelda damn it!

Hard - why was this so goddess-damned hard?!

Lyrkiel punched the wall behind him as he cursed in frustration.

It hurt. It hurt! Lyrkiel would do anything to walk into the middle of the room, only to turn around and see that scene again. To see that person behind him. For that person to be real and not Zelda.

But it was Zelda, and he needed to come to terms with that. That Sheik was part of those people because they were Zelda. Come to terms that it was Zelda who saved the Zora princess. (Zelda who sent him on a mission, knowing that the sapphire was an engagement ring) Zelda who braved the heat of the volcano. (Zelda who helped him become brothers with the Goron Chief.) Zelda who spoke cryptic messages of his Kokiri brethren. (Zelda whom he gave the emerald to.)

With a sigh, Lyrkiel let his head fin rest against the ice, trying his damnedest to forget the way those cryptic words sounded like a love letter, sealed within these glittering walls.

Chapter Text

Lyrkiel should have known this by now, but every time that he thought the two of them could not get any closer, they did.

There would be the way that Srekhi would voice things, tell him things that he wouldn’t dare tell anybody else. There were some speculations of his parentage: that the people he had been led to believe to be his parents were weren’t actually his parents and were somebody else. There had been other speculations as well. Had been some comments about culture and tradition that were a little controversial.

Musical duets also became a frequent past time of theirs. Usually Srekhi used his liuqin, but occasionally he would use other instruments as well. And while Srekhi had been the one who typically taught Lyrkiel songs, Lyrkiel did show Srekhi a select few songs he had learned in Termina. (Song he had learned in Hyrule definitely were off limits. The last thing he needed was to draw attention and suspicion towards him. To make him – and Iarma especially – to wonder just how he would have knowledge of them. Being a gossip and well-read could only excuse so much.)

Srekhi’s actions only made him wonder just how close they were becoming. Made him wonder how much stuff Srekhi should not be telling him.

How much he shouldn’t tell Srekhi…

There it was again: that thought, that wish, that desire… The one he needed to stop thinking about…

You want to be able to trust them with everything and love them for their faults. Despite their faults... That seeing them happy fills you with a joy that no one else can match.

The one that Lyrkiel could never truly stop considering once the seeds had been sewn. The one that grew with each passing day. Grew into more than just a passing thought but a desire.

And yet, despite that desire, despite just how much he wanted it – the answer was still no. It… wasn’t a matter of trust, no it was hardly that. Instead, it was a matter of safety. Of well-being. He couldn’t talk to Srekhi about… a lot of things. About being Blind. About why he was hesitant around Iarma. Or even that he was training with Iarma.

Two sides of him were warring against each other. Keep Srekhi safe, or no secrets should be between them.

It was stupid. It was ridiculous. It wasn't fair.

But, it was what was right.

.+++.

As he had noticed earlier, in the ice caverns: the days were growing shorter. Which meant… well quite a few things. It meant fall was approaching, which also meant Srekhi’s birthday was approaching. One which – while merely an assumption on his behalf, because he did not know if Iarma would declare him her successor on his birthday or not – came this sinking feeling, this timeline now being forced upon him, one he had to beat. A timeline that meant he had less time to convince Iarma that he was worthy of becoming her successor. (And again, while a mere assumption it still did not mean he should let up. And, he hoped that Iarma might postpone her declaration considering the circumstances. Iarma was in good health after all, no war in the immediate future…) And, lastly, because of the shortening of days, because he had to spend more time with Iarma, it lessened the time available for him to visit the temples. To reminisce, to accept the truth, and to move on.

But, the most important thing was for him to push on forward, harder. Prove to her that yes, this was something he wanted to do. That this was something he could do.

Speaking of Srekhi’s birthday… Idly, he stroked his earrings, he had been constantly wearing them now, as opposed to the ones that his parents had gotten him. The action sent a little thrill through his body. He did need to get Srekhi something, didn’t he?

The realisations compounded and something occurred to Lyrkiel. Something that might help his case towards Iarma.

And so, Lyrkiel asked her at their next session if he could have a few days respite from training so he could close up some unfinished business back in Termina. (Which wasn’t a lie either - for he did have some unfinished business back there. He had a bank full of rupees, for one.) And, perhaps he may have misled her of just how long it would take him to arrive there - for she was unaware of just what abilities he had at his fingertips through song. Not very many could make the distance to Termina as quickly as he could. But, there were a few other things he desired to do just while he was ‘travelling’.

And, so, the first order of that business was to visit a temple. For, the Sheikah had visited the temple at night. (And, perhaps it was done to avoid contact with Saria, it did make sense to visit the other temples at night for that very reason. There were Zora in the lake throughout the day, and who knew what the Gorons did in Death Mountain during the day? There was the Desert Temple - and well, why go there in the midst of the heat unnecessarily?) Thus, logically speaking, it should be safe to visit a temple without mishap during the day… right?

(Although, that did not mean he was going to go there unmasked, however.)

It had been a tad bit more difficult to enter to volcano than he was used to, but… well, Lyrkiel could not exactly go up to Darunia and ask to use his backdoor either. He was trying to avoid any scrutiny. So, with some effort, Lyrkiel took the longer, harder, path to the volcano.

Upon arriving, he noticed that the heat was not as intense as he remembered - but, then again, he had not been a Goron the last time he had been here either. Part of him wished to remove the mask for even a moment to relive that heat. To feel as it threatened to overwhelm him - oppressive and thick - as his skin tingled, but he knew his screams would echo out and call unwanted attention to him. Not to mention, well… he did not have a Goron Tunic to protect him from it either, so, he settled.

Lyrkiel climbed down the ledge, finding it awkward, still, to use too large hands and feet for grip. (Not that a fall into lava would outright kill him, but he didn’t know how long a Goron could withstand lava, and he did not want to find out the hard way.) Eventually, he made it to the bridge and he found himself swallowing.

The bridge may be intact in this timeline but-

It was just like the ice caverns.

The bridge was broken, but at least now the hookshot felt comfortable in his grip, even if loose and slippery from the sweat drenching his body. He may have only been down here for a few minutes, but he was definitely feeling it. Was he ever grateful for the tunic gifted to him by his namesake.

Still, the task set before him was daunting. For, if he failed, if he slipped or made the smallest of errors a pit of lava gurgled below, and he knew that not even this enchanted tunic would protect him from that.

Idly, he found himself remembering to another time and place that he had to use his hookshot to reach a temple, and he wondered if that mysterious man would arrive with a melody and words that pulled at more than just his harp’s strings…

This place was one of the few where the memories were still so poignant. Where they had been untainted by future visits and experiences. For, after defeating the evil in the temple, he had no need to return here. Perhaps, yes, along the edges as he searched for a Great Fairy, but… that was not here - in the heart of Death Mountain - where he had encountered Sheik and listened to his passionate words. And, the intensity of those memories, it was reminiscent of the ice caverns, of when the Chief Elder back in Termina had recited his legend back to him. Where he had been left there, gasping for breath and longing to spend one more minute, one more second, in that memory. To experience that childish ignorance he had back then. Those strange, new emotions that he could not name. That rush of something as his hopes had been granted and he turned around to see that fascinating, mysterious man with a voice of magic and fingers of grace standing behind him.

---Lyrkiel shook his head and forced those feelings down, even if it hurt to do so.

A lie. That was what it was and he needed to accept this. Because, in every dream, in every memory, the one thing Lyrkiel had noticed was that he could not See. But, he supposed that made sense. He had been Blind back then, requiring items in order to See. And he could not remember what he never had experienced until Srekhi had approached him that one winter night… And now, he was trying to hard to accept it. Accept that lie, and move on. No matter the dreams that haunted him at night. No matter the memories that overwhelmed him from time to time. He needed to override the subconscious part of him that didn’t want to let go. That didn’t want to accept the truth and keep pretending. Didn’t want to give up that hope that he had unintentionally clung to all of these years. (The one that prompted all of this curiosity. The one that was looking, even if he actively wasn’t.)

Sheik was a lie. At least, what Lyrkiel remembered. For he was not a mysterious man with red eyes. No, the person who had greeted him was Zelda - despite his desires otherwise - Zelda in disguise.

Move on - he needed to move on - because the man he had (for a lack of a better word) fallen for did not exist.

And, as the Minuet of Forest echoed into the crater of Death Mountain, the last emotion Lyrkiel felt was passion.