"Blah" is talking. 'Blah' is thinking. The symbol 1111111111111111 means a transition in the story.
Disclaimer: I do not own anything related to Zelda. This story is strictly for entertainment purposes and not for profit.
Author's Notes: Hello! Dannondorf here. This is a story I posted back in September 06, and I am currently editing it and separating it into chapters since it was originally a fifty-three-thousand-word oneshot. There will be 12 chapters total, and I will be updating about once per week. I hope you stick with me for the whole story!
I don't prefer any specific Zelda pairings, but I tend to enjoy Link/Saria the most. Unfortunately, there's not much L/S fluff out there in comparison to Zelink and Malink, so I decided to do something about it. I'm not very experienced when it comes to fluff, but I had to try. Here's my contribution to the world of Link/Saria. I hope you like it!
Shout-outs: A big thanks to OyOfMidworld for taking the time to be a beta reader for this story!
Summary: Link/Saria. Link is pushing himself too hard, but he won't tell anyone why. The sages are concerned…enough to make a reluctant Saria spy on his thoughts and find out. Will she ever get him to open up about the horrors of his past? And just what is he training for, anyway?
Chapter 1: "The Journal"
Link was not a social person. Not that he didn't like being around other people; he just didn't talk much. He spoke very little to anyone he wasn't close to, often offering no more than a one-word response to any question he was asked. He went to great lengths to avoid talking more than he wished; whenever he did something unusual and a person questioned his actions, he would just act as if what he did was typical and let the person think he was crazy rather than bother to explain himself.
This was just the way he was, and most of the time, Nabooru respected that. However, there were times when his silence drove her over the edge. Now was one of those times.
As she sat through yet another moment of frustrating silence with him in her private chambers, she felt her patience snap. "Just what were you doing out there?!" She shouted at him.
Link wasn't affected by her violent tone. He was much more interested in warming himself by the fire, for he was completely soaked, and night in the Gerudo Valley was always cold. He rubbed his hands together and shivered, staring into the fire. "I already told you," he replied evenly. He did not bother looking at her as he spoke; he was tired of answering her question. How many times had she asked it now? Four? Five?
Nabooru glared at him as she spoke to let him know that he'd better answer, but to her further aggravation, he didn't see the look on her face because he was too focused on the flames. "All you said was that you were conquering your fears. How does nearly getting yourself killed accomplish that?"
He was silent, and she growled in frustration. As the Gerudo leader, she was used to having people obey her. Unfortunately, Link was not a Gerudo, and he became very tight-lipped when people pushed him. She would have to use a strategy other than intimidation if she wanted him to explain himself. 'Fine. Be that way,' she thought. 'I'm going to find out what's going on inside that head of yours, whether you're willing to tell me or not.'
Saria burst into Link's house excitedly. "Hi, Link!" She shouted, but once she was inside she saw that no one was there. She frowned and put her hands on her hips before deciding to sit down on his bed and wait for him.
She had only just left the Forest Temple and the Lost Woods when she heard from the other Kokiri that Link had returned home. Being the Sage of Forest was lonely work, so she was ecstatic to hear that her friend had come back to her. She lit up upon hearing the news, and happiness exuded from her body. It had given her an aura similar to that of her own guardian fairy, and with such cheer in her, she couldn't help running around and looking for Link.
But now she was tired from running, and she relished the comfort provided by her friend's bed, which was much bigger than hers so as to accommodate his grown body. As she lay down on it, she thought about its owner. He was eighteen, and she was sad to see that as he was getting older, he was spending more time away from the forest, either to look for work, visit people, keep his fighting skills sharp, or search for new music to play on his ocarina. (Or rather, the fairy ocarina Saria had given him a long time ago, since Princess Zelda had requested that Link return the Ocarina of Time to the Royal Family's possession shortly after his trip to Termina.)
Link had been gone for the past three months, and she missed him terribly. When he left the forest, he had told her he was leaving to become stronger and to conquer some old fears. Saria had laughed, asking what the holder of the Triforce of Courage could possibly be afraid of. She was surprised when he looked at her very seriously and answered vaguely, "more than enough to render me useless in the future if I don't do something about it." His response frightened her a little bit. He had looked worried about something. She hadn't been able to ask him about it before he had ridden off on Epona, but she had been concerned about it the whole time he was away. Presently, though, he was supposedly back in the forest again, and she wanted him to tell her all about what he had said.
She stretched out on the bed, letting a yawn escape her. As her arms moved across it, she located a slight bump under the covers on the otherwise flat bed. She reached under the blankets around where the bump was and pulled out a book she had never seen before. The outside had no words on it, so she opened it. Inside was Link's messy handwriting. Curiosity possessed her. She knew it wasn't polite to read his private scribbles, but she figured just a quick look wouldn't do any harm. It read thusly:
I should have left Gerudo Valley sooner. I was sparring there with my friend Sheridan, and afterward I decided to try and do something about my fear of heights. I was about to leave after that, but Nabooru stopped me and demanded I rest in her place and dry myself by the fire since I was wet from swimming. She gave me a long lecture about being careful and not doing anything overly stupid and dangerous. Then she gave me this blank book to write in and "keep my thoughts in order," and she made me promise to write in it once a day for a while. I don't know why she did that or why I gave in, but she says I've been pushing myself too hard lately.
I have been working pretty hard, I guess. Three months ago I left Kokiri Forest on a mission to conquer my fears and forget about people and things that have been distracting me while I train: namely people and things that no longer exist to me because they're from Termina and Hyrule's alternate timeline. I didn't succeed in forgetting anything, but I did eliminate my fear of heights; I climbed and leapt from cliffs, mountains, buildings, and trees all over Hyrule until I felt comfortable with doing it. I still haven't come to terms with my other fear, though…
Oh well. I'm done for a while, so I can relax and head back to the forest. It has become less and less appealing to me as I've aged and become different from the Kokiri, but I think that as long as Saria is here, this place will hold a special place in my heart. Though I never stay in one place, it's definitely the closest thing I have to a home. The other Kokiri may resent me, but Saria and I have always been best friends. I just hope that dream I had doesn't come true…that's not something I want to get into, though, so I guess I'll write again tomorrow.
Saria put the book back where it had been and made the bed look like no one had disturbed it. She was pleased that he had mentioned her, but the rest of the journal entry was cause for concern. Were memories of Termina and Hyrule's alternate timeline haunting him? She knew that the entrance to Termina had mysteriously sealed itself after he came back to Hyrule nine years ago, but was it really bothering Link that much?
What was the dream he mentioned? What was the other fear he mentioned? Did it involve the dream in any way? Finally, had he really been jumping from mountains and cliffs? That sounded more than a bit dangerous. She hoped he hadn't hurt himself trying to get over this "fear of heights" he had.
She was so busy contemplating that she was startled when Link's voice entered her mind. He had just played Saria's Song.
"Oh! Hi, Link!" She smiled, even though he couldn't see it.
"I just got back to the forest a while ago. I've searched your house, the Sacred Forest Meadow, and the Forest Temple, but I've yet to find you. Where are you? It's been too long since I saw you last."
"I'm at your house. The others said you were back, so I came here looking."
"All right. I'll be there in a minute."
Their mental link broke, and she let out a sigh of relief. She had been worried that she might stutter during their talk and reveal that she had done something wrong.
Soon he entered his abode. He smiled as he looked down at his childhood friend, and for a second the energy in his eyes made him look like a child himself. Saria briefly saw the caring, brave, but lonely kid she had raised as he dropped to his knees and hugged her.
"You've gotten too tall to hug me," she joked as she returned the embrace.
He laughed. "Too bad. I'm going to hug you anyway. Anything change here while I've been gone?"
"Not a thing."
"Of course," he said, releasing his hold on her. "Things never change around here. They sure do in the rest of Hyrule, though."
"Tell me all about it. I want to hear everything about your trip, and I want you to start with what you told me right before you left."
Link seemed surprised that she had remembered his words. "Oh, that." His smile faded, and he paused for a moment. "It's nothing, really. I've just been a little upset lately."
Saria's smile faded as well. "Upset? Why? What's wrong?" Concern clearly filled her voice.
"I keep remembering things that happened when I was in Termina and Hyrule's alternate timeline, and it upsets me that no one else has the memories I do. I've lost some close friendships because of that, and ever since I lost Malon's in the time change, I've been afraid I might lose my other friends too someday."
"You really miss that ranch girl, don't you? Well, you don't have to worry about losing your other friends, Link. We're here to stay." She hugged him again.
"You've worked yourself too hard, haven't you?" she commented disapprovingly, backing up so she could study him. "I can sense spirits that are inside the forest, and I can tell you're exhausted. Your spirit is dull and weary."
Link chuckled to himself. "That figures. I've been running all over Hyrule, and I haven't slept that much. I trained with Hyrule's knights for a week, and then I ambled to Castle Town and chatted with some musicians and took lessons on composing."
"How did that go?"
He sighed. "I learned a lot about 'music theory' as they called it, but they simply don't look at writing music in the same light that we do. The teachers and students there usually laugh at me when I suggest that there is magic in some songs. That is, until I play the Song of Storms and it starts raining on a sunny cloudless day. People always take my 'magic and fairies nonsense' a bit more seriously after I do something like that."
She giggled. "Like when you make your sword glow."
Link liked talking about the 'stupid Hylians' with Saria, even though he was one. "Yeah. They always get a kick out of that."
"What did you do next?"
"Well, I walked to Kakariko and hung out with Dampe for a long time. He's much keener on the subject of magic than everyone else in that village. He's also a nicer musician than the people in Castle Town. We stayed up all night and played songs we each knew. After training with him for a while, I hiked up Death Mountain and tried to get over this phobia I have of elevated places. It may sound silly, but each time I've gone on an adventure I've had to reconquer that fear. This time, I wanted to get rid of it for good, and the mountain was a great place to do it."
"You didn't do anything reckless, did you?" She asked, pretending she hadn't already read his journal and found the answer.
He waved his hand in a dismissive gesture. "Don't worry; I didn't try anything I wasn't sure I could handle. You know I've made some pretty absurd jumps before."
"Yes, but you still need to be careful. You don't have any injuries, do you?"
"No broken bones, if that's what you mean, but I did get cut a few times when I was sparring with Sheridan and the other Gerudo a couple days ago. After all, they're not like the Hylian Knights; when you make a mistake in combat, they make sure you know."
"Nothing serious, though?"
"Nope." He continued his story where he left off. "While I was at Death Mountain, I stayed with Darunia in Goron City for a month. They're all huge, so of course when I got there they made their usual claim that I was too weak and undernourished for the 'hero' status Darunia claimed I had. They fed me and tried to train me and add some bulk to my 'weak' structure."
The forest girl held back a laugh. Link was by no means 'weak,' especially when compared to her or any of the other pint-sized Kokiri. He was always working hard to become stronger and faster, and his muscles showed the rewards of his efforts proudly.
"After that I said hi to Ruto and the Zora King, but I didn't stay long. I swam out of that place to Lake Hylia, I called Epona, and we set our sights on Lon Lon Ranch. Malon sang some and I accompanied with the ocarina, and then Epona and I left for the Gerudo Valley. I trained there with Sheridan, then returned Epona, and here I am."
Saria sighed wistfully. "I wish that just once I could leave the forest and see the world that has become so commonplace to you."
"That would be great. If you were able, I'd ask you to join me every time I left."
"Yeah. There are so many things I'd like to show you, and besides, I don't get the chance to travel with other people very often."
"And why is that?"
He shrugged his shoulders. "Because I'm a crazy teenager who thinks he's a Kokiri?"
She rolled her eyes. "We've been through this. As far as everyone here is concerned, you are a Kokiri." She wished she could convince him, but he knew it was a lie as much as she did. The other forest children did not like having an adult around, even if he did mostly keep to himself.
Strangely enough, though, he did not pursue that topic. He simply remained silent.
Saria knew him well enough to recognize this as abnormal behavior. "There's something else bothering you, isn't there?"
He looked more troubled than she had ever seen him. "Saria…I…I've just been so confused lately. I don't know where I belong."
"Link, I can't tell you where you belong. Maybe you belong on the road, traveling constantly the way you do. All I can tell you is that I hope you decide on Kokiri Forest, because you can always come back here if you want to."
"I know. This is the only of the only places I feel I can relax at. And hey, speaking of which, I'm going to go get some food and then catch up on my sleep. I need to rest badly."
"For what? You're not leaving again soon, are you? It's hard to see you away so often."
"I don't think I'm going anywhere anytime soon. I'm too tired. I'm going to get some food. I'll see you tomorrow." He ducked under the kid-sized exit, leapt down to the ground, and was off. Saria remained behind to collect her thoughts.
'Now I feel bad about reading his book and invading his privacy; he basically told me everything he wrote in it, and he probably doesn't have anything to hide from me.'
Her thoughts were interrupted once again by a voice in her head, but this time it wasn't Link's; it was Nabooru's. (Sages can communicate with each other telepathically.)
"Saria, are you there?"
"Oh! Yes, Nabooru." She didn't know how long it would take her to get used to people being able to get inside her head whenever they wanted. It had already been nine years, but she was still surprised every time it happened.
"Listen, is Link there?"
"He just got here not too long ago. Why?"
"I'm really worried about him. Last night I was patrolling the valley and I found him jumping off the cliff near our fortress again and again. I was wondering if you could do me a favor."
"Sure. What is it?"
"The guy seems to be having some serious issues right now: he just looks plain tired. I've talked with Darunia, and we agree that he's been working himself too hard. I gave Link a little blank book and told him to write in it every day to help keep his thoughts organized. I said I wouldn't read it so that he could feel free to put down anything he considered private, but I was wondering if you could secretly read it every day for me."
Saria blinked. "Isn't that kind of like…spying?"
"Yes, but trust me, this is not for my own enjoyment. For one, I want to make sure he actually does write in it every day, and secondly…the way he's been acting lately, he's been working himself to the bone, and it's almost like he's preparing for something. If he has information about the future that we and the rest of the sages don't know, I want you to find out what."
"I don't know if I should. To tell you the truth, I already feel bad because I found that book inside his house and read his first entry before you called me. I feel like I've betrayed his trust."
"Oh, really? You're a sneaky little girl, aren't you? You should train with us Gerudo; we'd make you a master thief."
"I'm kidding! You can't leave the forest anyway. But back to that book: did he write anything worth mentioning?"
"Well, he's trying to get over a fear that's bothering him, and it may be related to a bad dream he mentioned. He didn't go into detail about either, though."
"I see. Well, we'll have to wait for further entries. And Saria…talk to him. Whether he admits it or not, I think he's keeping a lot of thoughts hidden that he should be unloading."
"I don't know, but I'm sure if you went deep enough, you'd find tons of disturbing tidbits. Remember to read his journal every day. Thanks for doing this for me, Saria."
"Wait, Nabooru! I don't want to have to read his…" she quickly spat out in protest, but the Gerudo had already broken their mental link. The childish Kokiri in Saria wanted to reopen it and yell at her, but the wise sage in her knew that would be pointless.
Sighing in defeat, she dragged herself out of Link's house and into her own, wishing she had never listened to Nabooru's request. Regardless, this couldn't crush her happiness at Link's return. 'He might actually stay for more than a day this time!' She thought happily. 'Tomorrow's going to be so much fun!' Ready to go to sleep and wake up to the next day, she was about to jump into her bed, but a package in the corner caught her eye. 'That wasn't there this morning…where did it come from?' It fit perfectly in her fist as she picked it up. It was small and wrapped in simple brown paper, and scribbled on the bag were the words, "to Saria, from Link."