Author's Notes: Yes, this deals with a Link/Sheik, but, no it is not AU in the least. Though my memories of Termina are a little fuzzy I have worked rather hard to make this as canon as possible (if only my N64 controller would help out a little). This is my first try at first person PoV, but an author coughWynacough recently showed me how well it can be done. She also seriously raised the bar for all fanfiction for me. Please be gentle. lol

If you haven't already guessed, this is shonen ai. If you flame me, me and my friends will just make fun of you so... please do. :D

Prologue

Epona bumped me with her head as I waited for the gates of Hyrule to lower. Just before sunset a royal messenger had found us at Lake Hylia. Apparently Zelda had some need of me and I was to come to the palace as soon as possible, so, like the dutiful "hero" I am, I rode through the night to reach the gates just before dawn.

As it was nearly lowered, I stepped up onto it and glanced back at Epona. "Don't get lost. I shouldn't be too long," I said in joking admonishment and she snorted back at me indignantly. With a chuckle, I jogged into the market place as if I hadn't been up the whole night riding.

The castle rose up before me a few moments later, and, unlike in my childhood, I was granted the pleasure of walking in through the front doors ('drier this way,' I joked to myself). Without so much as a nod, guards stepped to the side or opened doors for me as I passed into the most private areas of the palace. A luxury granted to the favorite swordsman of the princess, though no one knew just why I held that title.

"Zelda?" I called as I wrapped my knuckles against the door, curious to hear what new task she had for me. It wasn't that I disliked helping her; it was more that I often felt more like a glorified go-fer rather than a hero. No. No, "go-fer" wasn't right either. I felt like a tool. A good tool (I'd never failed her yet) but a tool none-the-less.

A muffled "Enter," replied and I stepped inside.

All and all, she looked very much like she had that day that Ganondorf had been sealed away (that day that hadn't happened but, had at the same time). Resplendent in her royal gown, she greeted me warmly and asked how I was.

Idle chitchat was never my strong suit but I did my best, mentioning the reactive gathering the scientist at lake Hylia was keeping me busy with. She feigned interest, or was interested (you can never tell with people of her position) as I described the latest task of fetching a rare butterfly from the Lost Woods. "But I'm not here for catching up, am I?" I asked finally. She never called for me when there wasn't work to be done, and quite frankly I was getting antsy waiting for her to go through enough banter so that she didn't feel that she was simply ordering me around.
With a sigh she shook her head. "No, I'm afraid not. I would assign one of my servants to this but I don't think they would succeed. It's an unusual situation," she explained as she lead me to another room.

"Ah, my specialty. I don't know what I'd do with an ordinary assignment," I only half jested. Normal things were something I had never been good at and that hadn't changed with the years.

Zelda nodded and stopped when we had reached a room I had never seen before. "Yesterday a raven flew in through that window. It was enormous; the guards watching the walkway below said it was nearly as large as a man. When it left it had with it a very old relic of the royal family," she explained and when she saw my expression darken she quickly waved off my concerns. "It's nothing extremely dire. It stole the Weathervane, an old artifact that can change the weather."

"Now, of course the ocarina can do that," she continued as she paced to the window. "But the Weathervane is more sustained. Unlike the Ocarina you need only set it to a certain weather type and all of Hyrule is affected. Still, the effects would take some time to cause real damage. Snow would damage crops, but the warmth of the summer earth would make it hard to stay, rain could flood but as its not been raining much it would take some time of rain to reach that point. Regardless, I can combat any ill weather to an extent with the Ocarina until the Vane is found."

I nodded and waited to hear more about this raven, but instead was treated to a speech about the Weathervane's history: who made it, who used it in times of great need, and I'm sure a few mentions about particularly gifted polishers snuck in there. She also went on about the room in general which was filled with various items that were all priceless (as she said this very thing).

Unconsciously I shifted on my feet and fiddled with pouch on my belt as I tried, but failed to keep my attention focused on what she was saying. Honestly, did I need to know this? I didn't think so. I was fairly certain that a simple "The raven went that way," would have been very sufficient.

...Zelda obviously felt otherwise.

Thankfully she had her back to me as she pointed out something that the maker of the vane had also made, so she didn't see me looking around for something vaguely interesting. I was actually contemplating whether she would notice it if I slipped out the door when my eyes fell upon something unexpected. There coiled up neatly, was the face wrap that Zelda had worn as part of her "Sheik" disguise.

The princess's diatribe on the Vane was completely drowned out by the rush of memories the little piece of fabric drew up. Tentatively I reached out to run my hand over the white fabric as I recalled my companion and friend in that nightmare... my illusionary friend. It was foolish I knew, to be upset at the masquerade that Zelda had put on. It had been for her protection, but it still stung to know that the only person I had had felt close to in that hell had been only a convenient lie. Unconsciously my hand clenched into a fist around the scarf.

"But I digress," Zelda's voice suddenly broke in and I looked up guiltily, snapping to attention. "The guards said the raven was last seen flying west, towards the Gerudo desert."

I nodded sharply and tuned to leave. "I'll get it back for you as soon as I can."

"As ever, I am in your debt," she said as I headed out.

The palace and the market place were a blur as I stalked out of the city, lost in my memories. Her life had depended on that lie (that much was obvious by how quickly Ganondorf had snatched her up when she'd dropped it). I knew that, I really did, but... After being returned back to my childhood I'd tried to befriend Zelda (she was just Sheik minus the clothes after all) but it hadn't worked at all. Something was missing, something important. It had nothing to do with her clothes or gender, it was something less tangible... unfortunately it was the exact thing that had drawn me to Sheik in the first place.

As I reached the end of the draw bridge I called for Epona and waved for her to come back over from the patch of tall grass she was nibbling on when I paused mid wave. With a look somewhere between amazement and frustration I saw that in my hand… still… was the scarf. I gave a growl of annoyance at my own foolish actions and Epona snorted at me for it.

How could I have been so mental? I knew that Sheik got me bothered but to steal the damn scarf from Zelda? That was a new low in insanity. With an aggravated sigh, I pushed the scarf into my belt pouch and mounted Epona. "I'll give it back to her later," I told the horse uselessly. I was in no hurry to go back and admit my stupidity just yet. With hope, I would think of some good reason to have taken the scarf and if not... maybe I could put it back without her noticing. It was a shallow hope, but I'd made due on less before.

---

I woke with a start, reaching out for Sheik instinctively. When my hand found only air I blinked and rubbed away the remains of sleep. Slowly reality seeped in and with a groan I fell back into the bedroll. Epona and I were camped on the plateau just outside the Gerudo desert, on our way to find the princess's Weathervane... and Sheik was just a figment of a girl's imagination.

I stared at the sky and began to ask myself if I was really this pathetic, to be clinging to the memory of an imaginary friend after almost a decade, but I decided to squash that thought before it finished. I knew the answer was a resounding "yes" and didn't much want to stare that fact in the face that night.

I'd had some friends over the years; mostly acquaintances but a few friends, like Malon. After Zelda had rolled back time I'd spent time rebuilding friendships with people who didn't remember me, and Malon was one of the successes. Once, for a brief time, I'd even tried a relationship with her, but that had failed spectacularly.

She and I, we just didn't have enough in common. Her years had been spent on the ranch tending to horses and cows and chickens. She hadn't seen enough of the world and her eyes were still wide and innocent after all these years. Completely unlike Sheik's.

Sheik's ruby eyes had been worn, tired, but unyielding. There was no innocence there, but yet they weren't jaded nor hateful. How many nights had those eyes haunted me? They were the difference between him and Zelda, though I couldn't understand it. Idly, I reached out to the belt pouch that held the scarf, and ran my fingers over it.

Zelda's eyes were steady and focused. Not innocent or jaded, but with the broad vision of a leader. When she looked at me I always had the feeling that she was looking at everything else at the same time. Zelda kept her eyes on the big picture, as any good leader should. Those were not Sheik's eyes. Where Zelda's were that of royalty, Sheik's were that of a messenger boy. Someone, anyone that had gotten caught up in something he hadn't planned for nor wanted, but was going onward anyway. Just a kid making the best of the garbage hand he'd been dealt.

...And that was the crux of it. In that steadily worsening nightmare filled with deadly dungeons and murderous villains I'd thought I'd found someone in the same situation as me. Even as little as I saw of him, I depended on that distant support. It had been enough just to know that I wasn't alone ...but I had been, all along. It have shouldn't still ached this badly to know that, I told myself, but it did no good.

With barely a moment's hesitation I drew out the scarf and pulled it close, and I didn't even try to pretend it wasn't pathetic.

---

The next day found me and Epona baking in the desert heat. With a half of a laugh to myself, I gave a little wish that whoever it was that had the Vane would set it to rain. That would be a huge help just now. I was pondering what snow would be like in the desert when I felt an arrow tip at the back of my neck. "You're stupid, Hylian. No one trespasses on our lands."

"I'm allowed to be here. I have a pass," I explained, careful not to move around too much. "Just let me get it."

The Gerudo woman stepped around so I could see her dark face. She looked down her sharp nose at me warily and her yellow eyes darted to the sword and bow on my back. "Those. Toss them down and be careful abut it. I'd hate for my fingers to slip," she said silkily.

As I complied my battle keen mind couldn't help but comment that I could easily draw my sword and cut her down before she could blink, but of course that was just my mid being too used to combat. I had no desire to harm any of the Gerudo women. Except for Ganondorf, I'd found the Gerudo to be honorable thieves (if that made sense), and they'd be a large help against Ganondorf.

I handed over the pass once my weapons were thrown away and silently said a thank you to which ever of the goddesses had decided to let me keep that when I was turned back to a child. Honorable or not, I didn't relish the idea of being tossed into another of their cells.

When she had looked it over carefully she shoved it back at me. "What are you doing here, Hylian?"

"Hunting a raven," I replied. "It stole an... heirloom," I settled on as I put my sword and bow back on my back.

"Girlfriend lost an earring?" she asked with a smirking smile. "She must a hell of a looker to send you into the desert."

I wasn't as amused as she was. "It wasn't an earring and it wasn't a normal raven. It was very large, the size of a Hylian."

Her amusement faded and she eyed me critically. "This 'heirloom' wasn't magical was it?" she asked and when I nodded the Gerudo simply shook her head. "Probably the old witch then. If your girlfriend values your life, you'd best head back home an tell her her trinket is gone."

"She's not my girlfriend, and what about an old witch?" I didn't need the woman to keep telling me it was a stupid and dangerous idea. That was my job wasn't it? To do the things that no logical person would ever consider doing.

"My mother says she was one of us, though she was always a bit... strange, then one day she just went mad. Started screaming and ranting nonsense. When others tried to restrain her she killed them. She even killed her own sisters. After that she ran out into the desert and hasn't come back."

"Do you know which way?"

The Gerudo woman sighed and pointed behind herself. "It's your funeral. She went South West."

I started Epona on in that direction and didn't look back as I replied, "It's only my funeral if they find the body." With that cheerful thought, I headed into the Gerudo village.

It was much like I remembered; the streets were laid out the same and most of the buildings were identical. Ganondorf being sealed away had shifted this land as much as anywhere else, but still I saw familiar faces that, like every other village only looked blankly back at me.

Zelda rolling back time had been necessary, I knew that. There was no reason for the world to endure the suffering that he had spread if it could be changed and me myself was far better off to have grown up rather than suddenly be an adult, but still... it was a little lonely to be forgotten by everyone. Zelda was the only person in all of Hyrule that remembered me though sometimes I got the feeling that Epona did, too.

Without me needing to pull on the rein's she walked and headed down the street she had so many times in that time that had never really happened. "You remember, don't you girl?" I asked softly as I patted her neck. She nickered softly in reply.

I didn't know why the Three had left her memories, out of everyone, but I was thankful. Once we reached a certain point I took the reins and pulled her down the street that would lead the way the woman had pointed. This direction was new to both of us.

To be continued.