Title: Hero's Requiem

Characters / pairing: Link (Ocarina), Link (Skyward Sword prequel)

Prompt: Death on the battlefield.

Author's note: Inspired by the new timeline (Link dies in Ocarina, leading to Link to the Past and the classic games) and the official Skyward Sword prequel manga.

Link, crumpled where he had found himself, was in a state of disbelief.

With faded blue eyes, he watched as Zelda dropped to her knees, her hands slicked with blood, her face streaked with tears.

He watched as Ganon reached out, curling a massive hand around the Triforce.

He watched as Zelda gathered her remaining strength, crying out to the Sages, and Ganon screaming as the Sacred Realm tore him away.

And then all he could do was watch as Zelda got to her feet, expression emotionless until she reached a tangle of limbs, Farore green stained in Din red.

Link watched as Zelda mourned over his broken body, and he felt his own eyes burn with tears, his own hands stained as he sealed them over the killing wound.

He had failed, then - died in the line of duty, failed to prevent Ganondorf from succeeding. And now help was beyond him - he could not comfort Zelda, could not explain to the Kokiri or the Gorons or the Zora what had happened to their loved ones. He could not help restore Hyrule to what it should have been.

He had failed, and he bowed his head in crushing guilt and grief.

"You have nothing to feel guilty for."

Slowly, Link raised his head. The voice had come from everywhere and nowhere - a soft, comforting note in his head.

"You have nothing to apologise for. Every step you took from your home was done solely to help others - no one can ever begrudge you because of this."

The speaker was approaching, and for a moment, Link thought it to be a reflection - an image of himself. But no - this man was older, his eyes ancient and weary. Golden armour gleamed beneath the tattered cloak, glinted around his wrists. The hem of the tunic was different, the boots were tied differently.

But for all their differences, the man standing before him could have been Link himself - a Link who had not failed, whose life had not ended at sixteen years old at the hands of an enemy too powerful for him.

"That's not true, actually," the man told him, and a quiet, gentle smile crossed his face. Somehow, Link had the impression that it was rare - that there were no smiles when he had lived.

Because the garish red that stained the green tunic definitely indicated that he was no longer amongst the living.

Much like Link himself, he supposed.

"Did you fail too?" Link asked dully, and the man exhaled, settling down crosslegged next to the fallen hero.

"I did not," he answered calmly, "And neither did you. You and I - we are alike in a way that none before and none after are. We succeeded. The hateful creature we sought to defeat is gone. And in the process, our lives were stolen away." The smile became sad, softly bitter. "We are not so much heroes as sacrifices, I suppose. But it was willing, for me. I would have died for them."

And, silently, Link nodded. "I would have died for them," he echoed numbly, and drew his hand away from the wound. It came away clean. "For my friends and - for Hyrule. Even though I don't really know it."

Again, that soft, sad smile. "And you think yourself to blame?" The man stood, extending a hand out to him. "Stand, Hero. You have nothing to be ashamed of."

Link gazed up at him for a moment, then, slowly, placed his hand in his.

A hand settled on his shoulder - comforting, almost familial. "Look," the man said simply. "Even through the dark - a new day awaits."

Softly, Link smiled. And with blame left behind and a friend at his side, the two started off - ready for whatever came next.