Can't Reclaim, Can't Forget.
Almost a year after Link saves the world by not becoming the Hero of Time – even though he still is – Saria still misses, a little, her friends' voices and being able to be with them, or waking up inside her house, going through Kokiri Forest with them, playing her Ocarina for the Skull boys that gathered, lost and alone, inside of it.
Missing Link feels like part of her left, but in a different way than transforming into a Sage did. There is no time for a Sage, not like this: even though seven years didn't happen, she still went through them and she still remembers them, so it's been close to nine years since the last time where she and Link played catch with their friends.
Though her bond with the Sages is sweet and lovely and she wouldn't change it – loving them is easy as breathing, and if she misses the Great Deku Tree and his wisdom, Darunia-papa makes up for it a little – sometimes, Saria misses who she used to be, and the hopes she had for that life that are no more.
Before she can do much more than sigh, sitting at the edge of the lake, arms wrap around her and she squeaks, looking back and up to find Nabooru smiling at her, caramel skin warm and soft, the scent of her hair almost like a forest itself.
"Ruppee for your thoughts, pretty one?" Nabooru asks, keeping her close.
Saria shakes her head as she leans against her body, looking around as the Sages rest, as they hear Ruto laughing in the water, as Darunia-papa basks upon the warm sun. They're not seen like this, so there is freedom to just stay for a little while, no danger that makes it that they have to remain inside their temples, not just yet.
"I was just remembering the days gone by," she tells Nabooru, smiling a little, but the Sage of Spirit isn't fooled and keeps her arms around her, barely lifting an eyebrow.
It would be easy, Saria thinks, to become upset after being constantly treated like a child, but she knows the respect her fellow Sages hold for her, so instead of doing something as petty as that, she leans against Nabooru's chest, moving her hands to hold Nabooru's, gently.
"Missing those days?"
"A little bit," Saria sighs, moving a hand to touch the grass.
"Missing Link then?" Nabooru asks, and for all that it's been almost nine years, Saria can feel herself blush. And then Nabooru laughs a little, hugging her tighter for a second before leaning back, so that Saria can turn to look at her.
"... he was my best friend."
"You can be honest with me, though," Nabooru cocks her head to the side, and her red hair rolls from her shoulder as if it was fire. "It's more than just that."
"It... used to be, yes," Saria concedes, still blushing. But then she smiles a little mischievously, looking at Nabooru. "We were both smitten with him, weren't we?"
Nabooru laughs out loud, but it's a good laugh, not bitter or angry or upset, so Saria smiles, wrapping her arms around her legs.
"Yes, yes we were. He was pretty cute as a kid," Nabooru says, and her expression is twice as mischievous, shifting into something lazy and teasing as she winks. "And when he grew up, he was fine."
"Nabooru!" Saria says, surprised into giggling and blushing.
That just makes the Sage's grin widen and nod.
"'s all true, though! Veeeeery handsome. Though we should be careful not to talk too much about this when Water Princess is nearby. She says she still has dibs on 'im."
Saria shakes her head, trying to stop her giggling. Though it's true that the former Zora princess remains firmly attached to her beliefs and the bonds she made when they were all mere mortals, Saria knows that she, too, really loved Link and that alone would have made Saria like her, even if she didn't know the depth of Ruto's love.
"That's better," Nabooru says, and her voice has lost some of the mirth. Instead, there's gentleness and Saria looks up, confused, even as Nabooru hugs her again tightly against her bosom, wher Saria can her her heartbeat. "You look better laughing than melancholic, pretty one. Remember the past, for it is the path that brought you here, but don't mourn for what never happened, or the weight of nothing will keep you down for good."
Saria smiles, leaning against Nabooru's shoulder.
"That sounds like something miss Impa would say," she wonders out loud, peeking to see towards Nabooru, who shrugs, but a grin remains upon her lips.
"I might have been talking with her a little bit..." Nabooru says with a shrug before standing up and helping her do the same. "Now, it's too pretty a day for such a pretty girl like yourself to be so sad. So go now and bother your papa for a while, won't you?"
Saria giggles again, nods and starts walking towards where Darunia rests before she stops and turns around to hug Nabooru tightly, smiling at her.
Nabooru's hands remain rough but they are gentle as they caress her face and her hair. She shakes her head.
"It was my pleasure, pretty one. Now go; I'm going to see if I manage to trick old man Rauru into the water."
Saria laughs again before she nods, running towards Darunia, her heart lighter than before: she'll miss the life she had as a Kokiri for as long as she remains upon this land of Hyrule, but doing this and being like this, seeing Hyrule alive and well like this...
It makes it all worthy.