Hiding in the Shadows.
You've been hiding in the shadows
Have you forgotten how we used to dream
Let me remind you
The light doesn't blind you at all
It just helps you see
Can you see
'Become' Goo Goo Dolls

Zelda looks at her hands. For all that she has climbed countless of trees – or as countless as she can when the guards are always nearby to call up on her about being careful – they still are soft, no calluses other than the one over her middle finger from where the feather she uses to write has roughed up a small spot. There are no scars, not even from the countless times she has pinched herself with her needles.

They remain, even now that she is hidden from Ganon, soft and cared princess-like hands.

With the same care that Impa always has with her, Zelda takes off the silk that hides her hair, lets her braid over her shoulder. She stares at the knife on her lap for a moment before she picks it up and before she loses the determination that almost a whole year of hiding has given her, she presses the blade to her braid.

For all that her father and Impa are practical and brave, they both have always failed at putting a distance between themselves and what she ought to know and do. Zelda holds no ill regards for them for having wished to protect her, and she knows how it must hurt her brave Impa's honor to hide and lower her head for her safety, but from the moment the Triforce of Wisdom was bestowed upon her, Zelda has known this would not be enough, for Ganon's power keeps growing and sooner rather than later, someone will hear of a Sheikah with a young girl walking through the few villages that remain through Hyrule.

Zelda can no longer afford what privileges a princess could have. Not if she is to help her people. Not if she is to make sure that a Hyrule remains for Link to save when he wakes up.

For all that this is her choice, Zelda's stomach still twists as Impa comes inside the hut she has managed to acquire for them both and her caretaker looks at her. She misses for one long, terrible moment the width of her skirts so that the way she shifts from foot to foot wouldn't be obvious, for the layers of her clothes to hide how she keeps clenching and unclenching her fists.

She has never been dressed like this; riding a horse was always been done with both legs to one side with a dress and she has never learned how to fence nor any other excuse to ever have been dressed like a boy, not even when she was a young girl. Zelda resists on pulling on the shirt she is using now, even if it's barely covering up to her knees or to pay much attention on the uncomfortable way the tights press over the skin of her legs, her shoulder-length hair insisting on covering half her face, the fingerless gloves like the ones Impa uses still too new, the leather boots with heavy soles, even if they've already been worn (and what a strange thing, to use something that belonged to someone else) still too heavy for feet that were only used to slippers and soft shoes.

Impa puts down their supplies and her sword and Zelda has never felt quite as young as she does then. She quenches down the thought that she must look as if she's playing dress up and she takes a deep breath, looking up towards the woman that has been taking care of her since she was a babe.

"Teach me how to fight," Zelda asks. She has but a moment to wish that she could make her voice harsher, to demand this rather than to make it a favor to her person. She swallows again and Zelda does her best to act like Link had so that she shows no doubt, so that she will be brave. "I won't remain as powerless as I am now. I won't remain useless when my people are suffering."

Impa looks at her for long minutes, arms crossed, the frown upon her face impossible to read. Zelda presses on the courage that she believes Link would have in a situation like this so she doesn't squirm and apologize for troubling Impa like she used to do when she was much younger and she had wanted something without caring of the why and the how. Then, Impa's face softens as she gives just one nod, reaching over for a discarded scarf to put it around her shoulders and half of her head, so that she can pull it and cover her mouth and chin was it needed.

"We'll get you a practice sword and a Kokiri shield tomorrow for your training to start."

She starts binding her breasts by the time she's thirteen, and her first blood comes when she is fourteen. Zelda – Sheik, for it is easier for her and Impa to hide if they are a legend rather than fugitives searched by the tyrant king – dislikes the impracticality of them both. Breasts mean that s- that he has to relearn how to dodge with both shield and sword and that he must be careful where he undresses, or if he's hurt and sometimes they ache as if he was short of breath. Blood means that predators and monsters are able to track him even if he buys potions to try and hide its scent.

It's not that he dislikes blood, Sheik confides to Impa late one night when he's fifteen, as he cuts his hair once more before he moves to take care of his sword. Sheik has seen more than enough blood, from the villages that Ganondorf has destroyed, from the monsters that Sheik has fought against. While he has no predilection for it and he would avoid to spill it or see it spilled at all costs, these times of despair are no place for that.

Still, having his body bleed like that – he simply dislikes it, the scent and the feel of it and how vulnerable it makes hims feel, and Impa's explanation about how it's needed for women to bear their chidren is not enough for him to be more understanding of it, since he doesn't have need for it, not in this kind of world.

Late at night, as he curls over his side, Sheik dreams about Link, now that they could be equals, rather than him staying at the castle to wait for his return. He dreams of them riding their horses together, fighting together to protect this land, of their swords clashing as they practice with each other. Sheik dreams of the companionship it would bring rather than the loneliness royalty brings that he knows from when he was Zelda, of having to wait, of having others tell you what to do.

Sheik dreams of he and Link... kissing, like he has seen couples do, and he pictures an older Link, eyes just as certain but a taller Link now, a stronger Link. Of touching Link the way those two men in Kakariko did, hidden behind the shadows, voices muffled, grunting and rutting against each other. He hadn't been able to see much, but the Triforce had whispered to him watery soft what it must have been. He dreams of falling to his knees and taking Link's – cock, he has spent enough time within bars and the people of Hyrule to know how the common people call it – in his mouth, hearing Link gasp, feel him swell in his mouth. Whenever he dreams of Link touching him, his body is never a female's.

For all that he knows that Impa must know about his dreams, for Impa, constantly, seems to know more than even the Triforce is able to tell him, Sheik would never think of sharing those dreams with her.

He dreams of Link, again, but it's a different dream than the ones he usually has. For the first time in seven years, Sheik can see his face and he can feel the strength that his sleep has brought to him. He realizes that he will see Link soon and his heart rejoices before he rushes to inform Impa about his dream.

"It is time," Impa agrees when Sheik tells her about the awakening of he who would be the Hero of Time. "But I can't follow you this time."

For all that Sheik has known this, there's still fear pooling at his stomach, and a heavy feeling in his chest that it takes him half the road down Death Mountain towards Hyrule before he is able to identify it like a new, fresh wave of mourning when he realizes something else.

Link coming back means not only their salvation for which he is grateful, but for Zelda to come back, too. It is a selfish want and an even more selfish need, for this freedom he has known as a man to carry on – and he knows, deep inside, that he is not more worthy of the Triforce than Ganondorf is and that he would have, most likely, still driven Hyrule to its despair for all that he wouldn't have wanted too – so Sheik takes a deep breath before he rushes towards Hyrule's castle.

And still, he mourns.