First of all, I think of Sheik as a separate male character. Perhaps one who took Zelda's spirit inside of him Yu-gi-oh style (think Malik living in Ryou's head for a while).
Though this story may have a different explanation…
Second, if you see something you don't like, just hit the back button or the little red X. 'swhat I do.
Static red is a redone, redressed Blood red. Regretfully, it is less light and probably just as overdone. -sigh-
Summary: Shooting stars fade faster.
Disclaimer: I do not own Legend of Zelda or anything related. I am not making any profits from this fanfiction. I do not own Alice in Wonderland or the Divine Comedy. All work is fictional and not based on real people, any resemblance to them or copywrited works are entirely coincidental unless otherwise stated.
Chapter 1: Can we please cut the drama? (I can see your red fingers.)
The entertainment for the evening was abject misery.
Such a dramatic opening warrants an explanation, yes?
Link was, indubitably, far out of his element. He stood inside a ballroom, one arm outstretched with the hand of a Lady resting upon it.
It should have been a soft, dainty touch, but it was in an uneasy way, curved over his arm like a plate of metal.
The hand of the Lady didn't look like it belonged to her.
She didn't speak much - afflicted by an illness of the throat, he was told. Her father required her presence at the ball lest Hyrule appear weakened.
Link was there as an honorary guest.
And, of course, he was Lady Zelda's escort - what made a kingdom appear more mighty than the Hero of Time standing together with the King's daughter, the final sage?
That was all well and good, and Link was happy to help, but Zelda was scary tonight.
She was tall, yes, but it seemed she had grown some since their lasting meeting, since she was easily his height.
Quieter, darker and somewhat surly - though that could be attributed to the bad-time feelings born from sickness - Zelda was simply not herself.
And Link was quite worried for his survival.
He tried to steer her towards a less crowded place - a moot point in the lively glitter of the party.
"Zelda… is there anything wrong?" He tried to murmur and speak over the noise at once - of course, it didn't really work.
Zelda inclined her head to hear him.
He repeated it.
She glanced up at him - were her eyes always that shade of blue…? - and opened her mouth to answer, when a loud greeting called over him.
"Oh, dear Lady!" They turned to regard the approaching noble, who smiled and bowed.
He looked a little like the happy-mask salesman.
Zelda let go of his arm and curtseyed before offering the customary hand to the gentleman, who kissed it in turn.
They exchanged the common courtesy - the man, of course, giving his name without needing Zelda's.
The noble turned his narrow eyes to Link, "And who is this, if I may ask, Milady?"
Zelda brought a hand up to brush her throat, soft, and gave him a faint smile before whispering - her voice was lost in the din of the party.
Link decided to do his job.
He stepped up, "I am Link, Sir." And bowed.
"Link of what?" The man demanded, before catching up. 'Oh' and then a common continuation of it beginning with 'S' bloomed over his taut features. "Oh… my… It is an, ehem, honor to meet you, good sir. I apologize - it is simply that you are not quite as I had imagined you to be… Why do you not introduce yourself as the great hero?"
"Indeed, why not?" He saw Zelda mouth, turning an intense look on him from the corner of her eyes.
He smiled. "I get that rather often… I'm not a hero, sir - I only did what I had to."
This kind of humble politeness didn't agree with the man, who stared at him looking almost affronted.
Link really would have preferred to have been elsewhere.
He put out his hand for Zelda. Her grip on his arm sealed the deal - and a few new bruises, I'll wager - so he looked about the bustling party.
"Oh, my - look, Zelda, your father!" However the man may have felt about Link calling the King's daughter by name was erased when he realized the king may have been encroaching their air.
He turned to offer his salutations.
Link and Zelda disappeared into the crowd.
There was a balcony behind elegant white French windows, looking over the garden. They stepped out and Zelda immediately went to the edge, tossing her legs over the balustrade in a most unladylike, entirely graceful way.
Perhaps balcony was not the right word - it was more a tall fenced deck, built on solid stone. Zelda glanced over her shoulder at him then back to the night - he kept noticing little things, the way her face looked sharper and longer, the wiry strength she moved with.
She looked back at him and spoke in the whisper the ball had drowned in its gaudy grandeur, "Are you coming?"
He shook himself and nodded.
Feet touched the stone and she jumped, dress fluttering around her - landing looked like an unpleasant art rather than basic motion.
He followed, noting aloud her slippers would grow dirty.
The look she gave him told her not to worry about her slippers.
They moved across the garden to a shaded, hedged area. Behind one such hedge there was a curve of stone steps leading into a small path. They ducked to move through it and found themselves in a dark room after the first curve. It opened up so they could stand.
Dirtied slippers moved over the ancient stone as a cat, and Zelda knocked against a panel.
After a moment it knocked back to them, and slipped open. Zelda greeted them.
Link almost flew out of his skin.
He switched his gaze in rapid succession between them, the elegant one in a fine muddied gown, crossing her arms with her feet wide apart, and the clean simply-clothed one with her hands and feet together.
Staring at him now, she was the height Link remembered.
"I did this for you - now you will do this for me." A soft voice echoed around them, unyielding and assured.
Zelda looked back to the taller her, mouth forming an 'o'. She nodded and stepped away so they could enter.
"I'm sorry; I simply wasn't expecting you to…" The passive Lady remarked, nodding to Link.
The one he'd been with all this evening grunted. "I didn't expect he'd be the one. You should have mentioned it to me."
Link, true to his nature, was polite and quiet while they lost him.
Passive Zelda gestured towards a couch. "Please sit, Link." She asked of him, and he obliged. Hands clasped firmly in his lap, he again switched his gaze between the duality.
Confrontational Zelda moved off to the side with nary a word or glance, disappearing behind a screen.
The earth-spattered gown was tossed without ceremony over the top.
Link did not gape, (though he really, really wanted to) because that was impolite.
Sweeter Zelda smiled at him, shrugging at his stare of confusion while clothes rustled and then water splashed.
A ring echoed around them, the sound of magic as it dispersed.
Confrontational Zelda had disappeared and in warped parody of his memory, Sheik stood in her place. He regarded the room with a dark vindictiveness and crossed his arms. Homing in on Link, he spoke, "Would you like to start, Zelda, or shall I?"
She sighed. "It is your story, Sheik. I am only here to verify."
He turned his tight stare to her a moment before looking back to Link. His face was covered again…
"Enjoyed the party, hero?"
Terse non-sequiturs weren't the best opening to a story, Link thought. "… I wouldn't say 'enjoyed'…" He trailed off, adding in a fainter tone. "It was a lovely party,"
"Too crowded?" Sheik asked in a surprisingly sympathetic voice.
Link was rolling along with all this rather well. He nodded, "And too gentle."
Sheik glanced back to Zelda, then asked something strange, "Do you know who I am?"
The desire to shout 'a liar' was strong, but he resisted. "You're Sheik."
"No." Not-Sheik replied curtly. "I am nameless."
Zelda sighed and looked away.
"Because my father would not name me, and my mother died before she could." He continued his story, crossing his arms. "I am Zelda's protector."
"Sheik…" She cut in, giving him a sympathetic stare. "I told you we could…"
"I am doing it now. Past is past." He turned back to Link, who should have been wondering why Sheik was telling him this but really was more interested in what happened next. "She died when I was very young, younger than you were when you went to sleep in the Temple of Time.
"I was born to protect Zelda." Then, in a softer tone, "If it weren't for Lady Zelda's birth, I would not exist at all…"
Zelda coughed, "Sheik traded places with me. He… did many things in the war for my sake. And your's, Link."
"I was told to deceive you by both Ganondorf and Impa." Sheik paused and sighed. "You weren't supposed to know that I was a separate person - no one is."
"Then why'd you tell me?" Link demanded, bewildered.
A moment later, he got the idea that Sheik was smiling from the way his brow curved. "Because I did not want you to believe your guide was a lie. And… to say sorry. I did many things to hinder your journey. They were not Zelda's doing."
He bowed his head, hair falling to hide him.
Link stared. "If you were ordered, it's not your fault." He pointed out in simple disbelief.
Head coming back up, Sheik stared at him as though he were the confused one.
Then he and Zelda exchanged a look, Zelda's something akin to I told you so, or so Link thought.
"… I'm glad you're you." Link told Sheik minutes later, tilting his head. "… no offense meant to you, Zelda."
She smiled and rolled her shoulders.
The Sheikah sighed and shook his head, falling back against the wall. A soft thumb reverberated through the room.
"You are a kind person." He murmured in an absent voice, closing his eyes and tilting his face to the ceiling.
"So why were you dressed as Zelda?" Link asked, relaxing as much as he could - not much. He was still inside the castle, where overdone was the style rather than the exception.
Sheik sniffed and refused to look at him.
"I asked him to." Zelda spoke up, settling in a chair against the other wall. "I really am sick."
"Oh… how did you do it?"
"Simple illusion. Which reminds me - Zelda, thank both our lucky stars that Impa was entertained by this evening's fiasco, because she knew."
Zelda coughed then chuckled. "I see." Turning her gaze to Link, she added, "Thank you for escorting him."
Sheik twitched again.
Link felt his cheeks heat up and his ears prick in embarrassment. His arms came up to cover his head.
Someone clicked their tongue while he hid.
"Zelda." As he mumbled, full of embarrassment, he brought his arms back down. "That's not funny."
The third of their trine concurred.
Maybe too much.
His fingers flicked out -flashed- and let metal fly.
The needle stuck in the cushion behind him, spearing the small skulltula. He hadn't even noticed…
Staring made him shudder. "… thanks." The stricken hero mumbled, examining the venomous beastie and the sizable needle jutting from it. (It was more a narrow bolt.)
Stunned only a moment, the suffering registered and it shrieked. Loud, high screams echoed from the skulltula.
Convulsing legs splaying every which way, scrabbling against shredding into the upholdstry it kept shrieking, struggling at the metal with its death throes.
Sheik leant forward, staring at it wide-eyed, fingers digging into his arms until they left little red crescents. Link scrabbled for something to put it out with.
Zelda's shoe came down firmly on it a moment later.
She pulled back, letting go of her bunched skirt, and gave a sheepish look to Link.
He blinked back up at her and grimaced.
Clattering rung out.
"Sheik?" It looked as though… he'd had taken off down the stone corridor.
"I should go look for him." Zelda mumbled.
Link glanced at her. "Meet you at the stables?"
Five minutes later he sifte form foot to foot waiting because Zelda stayed behind to change.
Pursuit had him disappearing down the hidden path.
Epona pawed the ground and whinnied her impatience, leaving Link feeling well in-tune with the temperamental mare.
Zelda came out the stables minutes later on a young gelding, calling to him, "We should check Kakariko."
Who knew Sheik better? He took her at her word and they took off.
The way up to the village was quiet - the moon hung overhead, dizzyingly great and glowing white. It cast black shadows with its pure beauty.
They left their horses tied at the gates and entered the town. No one was outside, the lights all blown out - of course, everyone slept. It was so late…
"I'll check the inn." She called to him.
Link nodded and took off to his own destination - the graveyard, bleached under the looming lunar…
Graves lined up beside graves - of course, it was all in the name. Ancient air compelled him to silence his steps and smother his breath.
Absent of life and death, the graveyard stood in unusual eerie twilight. A state of no existence.
Above the moon, perhaps affected by the solemn air, hid itself behind thick clouds. Light was blotted out. Faint fire bolts echoed from inside the shadow temple.
He moved for the cliff below the entrance.
The moon flashed through a gap in the clouds and bore for only his eyes silver-blond just beyond where the shadow had reached. "Sheik!" Words went echoing and shattered in the darkness.
Sheik turned to him, too-bright eyes ripping apart the night and everything else in the world.
Link felt his stomach twist.
Night bleaches everything. Why can I see the red…?
Head cocked, Sheik regarded him. "Hero." He greeted softly, almost-sweet.
Link almost stepped back. His senses were screaming at him, but what he couldn't say… "… Sheik." Forcing words that felt like daggers, he tightened his fists, "Why do I smell blood?"
"Because something is bleeding." Sheik replied simply, turning to step towards him.
Link wouldn't let himself take that step back. "You mean you? There's no one else here…"
"Perhaps not anymore." Sheik replied quietly, stepping right up to him to meet his stare.
Link swallowed. "Are you okay?" He demanded, looking over what he could see. One hand was bloodied.
Two fingers caught on his chin. "I'm fine." Sheik murmured so softly he tilted his head to hear.
One hand came up and settled on his chest - strong fingers pressed into his collar bone - and Sheik lowered his head to the crook of his neck, other hand drifting up to his cowl. "You, on the other hand, have done something very detrimental to good health."
"Wha-" He tried to writhe away and hit a tombstone - Sheik's hand slammed to the sides of the tall Celtic cross and jailed him.
Teeth brushed his neck, ever-so-gently, and scraped against the flesh.
"If I bit you, you'd die." Sheik murmured to him.
"Why would you bite me?" His voice shook - really, all of him shook. Breathing wouldn't come easy…
"Because I am hungry." Too-serene and assured. A perversion of the tones he was used to…
There was a terrifying quality to the melodic voice, more suited to singing than screaming… Link wondered if it'd always been there.
"I could kill you, right now. It does not matter that you are the hero or that you are a Hylian, or that I am just a faded shadow."
Is this how he was in the war? When he worked for Ganon… This really wasn't a time to wonder. "Yes, you could." He mumbled. "But what good would it do?"
Sheik laughed against his neck - it sent thrills through him, the hot breath and the deprecating voice. "None. Such is the beauty of senseless slaughter. Never needing a reason or purpose."
"That is very cold, Sheik." His voice barely passed between them.
Sheik pulled back, one hand coming free so he could rest his forearm against the icy stone.
He flashed a too-sharp smirk at Link.
"What-?" He sucked in a gasp, wide eyes fixed on fire-lit points.
"I told you I was hungry." It was murmured in a laughing tone. Letting his temple rest on his fist, Sheik chuckled. His mouth was beside Link's ear, then. "Close your mouth before I do."
Another shuddered ripped though him.
"You're not…" He struggled for the word, remembering the shattered-bone canines.
"Hylian?" Sheik guessed easily, swaying a little. The moon refused to show the entirety of its face for the two in the midnight shadows, but Sheik's eyes lit up in the dark.
"No." Link tried to lean away.
"Of course not - I am a Sheikah." Red eyes narrowed while he tutted. "I know I've told you before."
"And those fangs? Because they are fangs…" Link mumbled, eyeing up the canines and understanding how a rabbit before a wolf's gaze felt.
Another chuckle reverberated in the still air, falling between them. "You know, there are many reasons I cover my face, Hero."
Link glanced to the empty yard.
"And how fortunate for you, you found one." Sheik pressed his nose to his neck and inhaled.
Link felt his heart catch and skip.
His gaze caught the moon, who hid itself away again.
No one was coming to help him-
Nails raked against the stone. He swore softly.
- Why would he need help, when it was Sheik?
"Shouldn't you know better than to walk around graves at night?" Was hissed at him, sudden and welcome. Sheik gnashed his teeth at him like he was the one at fault, recoiling so they didn't touch.
His head whipped away and he gave Link a furious snarl. "Do you want to die?"
It made him flinch.
Life was new motion, struggling against the stone and the devil and wriggling free, stumbling back from long fingers.
In those seconds, Sheik pressed his shoulder into the grave marker and smiled at him between chunks of blond, calm and sweet again.
"You should probably run. In a moment…" He trailed off and flashed his fangs to the maltreated hero. "Because I really am hungry."
Link believed him.
Feet pounding the dirt - flashing past Zelda, unseeing, while she frowned in passing and called out - he kept moving, leaping the stairs and almost snapping his neck in a blind fury, untying Epona in flurries of clumsy motion, leaping onto her back and taking off for anywhere but there.
The bloodless-bone moon showed itself again to laugh.
AN: … Oh, Sheik baby, you're not a faded shadow - you're a faded moon.
The creepy guy is a baronet. That's why Link calls him sir.
Zelda is called Lady because, based on Link's clothes and the general time set of fantasy fiction, they are in the 1300s and Princess wasn't made a term until the 1400s. And only recently has it come to mean the daughter of a king/queen (originally it meant a woman married to a prince. The royal daughters were referred to as Ladies.)
Sorry for the dramatic exit. Seems the melodrama around here (where I live) is rubbing off on me.