Link was getting better, or maybe Raphael was losing his edge. The thought was a reoccuring one as the French fencer began to find himself at the tip of Link's curved blade more often. He was certainly a fast learner, those bright eyes always watching and long ears always listening. It's like he would soak in every word, lesson and move taught to him.
This sparring match had been especially quick if not enlightening, just when the man had felt that he'd had Link right where he'd wanted him, the youth would suddenly take a large gain by simply darting to the side and cleverly lunging in. Move for move, Link certainly had something other than mere talent behind that blade of his but what it was, Raphael still wasn't sure. Like so many other things about the engimatic elf, he hoped to discover some day.
In only the few days after the youth's recovery, Link began to express his wishes to return to the others and Siegfried. With their mission sucessful, the Hylian grew more than eager by the day to return and continue their quest. Not once did he even bring up the concern of the worth of the staff. A few times, the blond french man came close to questioning his belief, but he simply could not bring himself to dissuade the youth. As long as Link believed it would work, that was enough for Raphael.
And really, it wasn't like he could say anything lest he wanted to be fiercely reprimanded by his own adopted daughter. It seemed that every second of every minute of every hour of every day she spent with Link, she grew closer and opened just a little bit. It was amazing to say the least, but at the same time, he could feel himself get just a little bit jealous. Still, he said nothing for he knew it was for Amy's own happiness. She smiled a little more and those beautiful emeralds would sparkle if not just faintly when Link would weave incredible tales of a world that simply could not exist. Creatures who inhabitated the highest mountains and merfolk that roamed the watery depths. It was such a wild fantasy that he could never bring himself to believe, even when the proof was standing right there in front of him smiling widely.
It was a strange and mysterious thing, but it was something that he was beginning to admire.
At the end of the third week they had spent in Raphael's home, the man was visited in his study late in the night. When he looked up from his fortress of piled books situated upon his table, he found a very somber Link gazing back with those piercing blue eyes.
Quiet was always the manner Link had spoken, and this was no different, but his purpose and his wishes were clearly understood as he simply said: "It's time."
Two days later, the pair had completed the necessary prepreations for their departure back to the land of Greece. They had decided to leave early in the morning wanting to get a head start on travel. In the early hours of the morning, when the sky was shrouded in a grey over cast, and a morning mist laced the wide open fields like a ghostly blanket, the two were finally ready to make the travel.The carriage that had taken them here was ready and waiting in front of the stone mansion, and Raphael had finished loading what belongings he and Link would need for the trip back when he saw the young man lingering at the mansions' steps looking back.
Raphael didn't have to ask just what Link was waiting for because he knew, having done the very same thing many times before. "Link, let's get a move on, we've got a long day ahead of us." He called from the carrige's side.
Link turned to the side giving him a half glance. "..." Very reluctantly the youth pulled the hood over his head as he made his way to join Raphael wordlessly. Despite how eager Link was to embark upon the return trip, the elf was certainly lagging today. And Raphael had hoped his over enthusiastic nature would get the best of him.
There was a sigh emmitted by the blond french man as this was only proloning the pain of leaving Amy behind, he preferred to keep it as painless as possible since he'd be suffering for it while away. Deciding that perhaps it would be best to lighten the mood or somehow distract Link, Raphael clapped the other upon the shoulder heartily. "Link, I owe you so much and you are proving to be an exceptional fighter. The others will be pleased to see how much you've progressed." A faint smile was flashed acknowledging the compliment, but it died faster than a candle in a lake. Well that didn't work so well. Raphael should have known. Link never really responded well to praise. He was a rather humble lad. Trying again, Raphael opened the door and gestured to the boy to climb in first. As much as he himself did not like idle banter, he had to admit it was just uncomfortable to have Link so quiet. It was like he was sulking like a small child who had to leave before he was ready to. It was strange how it was fitting yet unbefitting for someone like him. "...I'm sure Siegfried will be a little irritated with us returning so late, but he'll be proud none the less to see all the trouble you went through for him. You two are good comrades. And I myself would be perfectly content to stand beside you in the face of adversity." Before Link clambered in this time he paused and looked to Raphael with those stunningly clear blue eyes. He could tell that his efforts to praise the boy were not at all wasted upon deaf (long) ears. His eyes told Raphael that Link appreciated the comments and Link had proven long before that he'd gladly do the same for Raphael.
He tried to follow after the boy, but his movment caused Link's eyes to widen slightly as though Raphael had done something wrong. Of course Raphael knew what Link was stalling for, although he wished he'd just let it go. Link spoke finally, although it was quiet, it was very firm. "Wait, we can't go yet."
Almost too quickly Raphael replied: "She won't come Link, she never does…"
If the situation warranted it, the Frenchman would have laughed as he saw something of a stubborn pout form upon Link's youthful features. "She said she'd come. She wanted to…"
She wanted to?
That was certainly something different. In the many times he'd come and gone, never once did Amy appear to see him off. It just wasn't something the little girl did, and while she had changed since Link had arrived, it wasn't drastic enough that would allow any sort of sudden change to….
By this time all the impossibles had piled high, and yet once again, they were all for naught as Link's eyes strayed from his face to something over his shoulder. Just the simple way those stern features relaxed, told Raphael what the boy saw, if it wasn't already reflected in his eyes. His heart contracted for a split second fearing that it was true, but at the same time, another half of him that had been largely ignored, was thrilled.
Carefully, very, very, carefully, the elder man turned slowly. Slowly because he feared that if he'd turned too fast, he might seem too eager and only be disappointed.
When he'd turned around fully, he found himself faced with quite the sight.
Amy stood there with a most unreadable expression upon her face. She'd some how made her way down the steps to stand a few feet away from the pair. Had he been so distracted with NOT thinking of her that he'd failed to hear her? Her dark hair was pulled back in two messy pigtails and she still donned her nightwear. In her rush to catch them, she'd forgotten to slip on her slippers and stood upon the dirt barefooted. It probably didn't matter as the little girl had gone most of her life with out shoes.
The how didn't matter as impossible as it may have seemed. The why was easily the hardest question...
Ah, but of course, now he was just trying to lose himself in the details of things that didn't really matter. What did matter was that she was here. But why was she here? He supposed that didn't matter either.
Too stunned in having Amy present for the first time, Raphael could not help but stare. He wasn't sure what to say, or what to do as everything seemed so awkward, perhaps she felt it too. Amy looked ready to stay or run, she shifted uncomfortably, small hands gripping the hem of her night gown. Green eyes that he admired so much, stared regretfully at him, uncertainty shuffling behind them. He could practically hear her questions...her fears.
What should he do?
What should he say to her that wouldn't be painful for either of them? For the second time in his life, the cool, calculated and blunt Raphael certainly didn't know what to say and so when he spoke, he spoke what his heart said, not what his mind did. Words transmorgified into a simple gesture that went something like this: Arms that were limp at his sides moved slightly and slowly while palms where turned out. There wasn't so much effort and not much movment on Raphael's part, and yet, his simple gesture spoke volumes.
Amy who had been standing by watching uncertainly instantly knew what he was trying to express...
The hard wooden mask contracted, eyes clouded over when faced with this gesture and in the next second she had dashed forward.
"Father..!" The little girl only managed to choke those words as she rushed into her adoptive father's open arms to bury her face in the folds of his coat. Amy didn't cry, she had to maintain some sort of dignity. But she didn't want him to go, knew he had to, and that everything he was trying to do was for her sake. But how could she let him know with out appearing so weak that HE was the one that mattered most to her. And that no matter how much she tried, she could not deny the loneliness that haunted her in his absence. She couldn't ever go back to being who she was the day before the fates or whatever the hell it was called had allowed their paths to cross. Because with Raphael, her life finally had meaning.
'Amy, everyone has something to live for, even if they don't realize it..' She had recalled what Link had said a few nights ago. And when she asked what exactly Link was living for Link had given her such a sad smile and answerd. 'Everyone's hopes and dreams for a future.'
Everyone. Including her and her adoptive father. Link was truely strong indeed. Link was told to fight to give everyone in his world and theirs a better future and he was doing it, Raphael only asked that Amy open her heart, even if it was just a little, and she struggled with that.
Just like Link, Raphael was willing to sacrfice anything to see her live a meaningful life, but with out him what meaning was there! Amy knew that no matter what she said or did now, Raphael would only press on because he loved her so much. The little girl was caught in a loop of meanignless emotions and she felt the only right thing to do was let him follow his path. But just so there was no doubt, she hugged him this time tightly.
That little gesture meant so much to her. On the other side of that high impregnable wall he waited for her just like Link. Maybe those walls weren't so impossible as she'd thought they were. All of Raphael's meaningless waiting, Link's pointless actions at chipping away at the wall...Even though they knew the only one that could break the walls down was her, they believed she could do it.
Belief...That's so unlike Raphael and so like Link. But regardless, they believed in her. She hurt all over and her chest stung as the need to cry started to burn.
All this and more was felt when her love was reciprocated as strong arms encircled her and then lifted her up to hug her more properly. Raphael hugged her back feircely as though she could never be close enough and in her ear he whispered words of love and regret. He didn't want to leave either, but he was willing to for her.
And behind the pair, Link was heard shifting as the little elf leaned back and sighed satisfied. "Okay, NOW we can go."
A/N: Is this story back? I guess only time will tell. I went UA for the longest time, sorry for that, I had a few transitions in my life. But this story always stayed at the back of my mind. I guess I was kinda waiting to see what the third game would bring, and how it would impact my story. I've actually evaluated the new story. I think I can cope. I'm a little rusty so, I'll take up this story a little slowly. Thus another short chapter.