A/N: Thank you all for the so kind reviews on my previous Legend of Zelda fics! They always brighten up my day. This is a little return to Termina, set in the same world as my other Majora's Mask stories.
As relates to ships – I'm quite open about any Zelda ship, to be honest, but my first Link-ship was Link/Malon, and I have to remain true to that. Worry not, the suggestions are very subtle.
The note about fairies only having room for one feeling at a time comes from J.M. Barrie, also known as the author of 'Peter Pan.' Thought you'd like to know that.
Of course, I own nothing at all in relation to Legend of Zelda… but then, were you expecting me to? Nevertheless, enjoy!
Homes Away From HomeLink's Bomber Notebook
If Lost, Drop in Postbox addressed TO LINK
TOP SECRETPLEASE RETURN IF LOST Thank you!
"What's that cha got there, huh?" Tatl swooped down to look at it, her light obscuring the page.
"Hey!" He slammed the Notebook shut, forcing her to scramble away from it. "Can I get a little privacy?"
"I give you plenty of privacy," she protested. "Whatcha doing?"
"It's a notebook," he explained.
"I noticed, thanks."
"There's plenty of spare paper in the back. I'm just trying to take some notes, keep track of time."
"Oooohhh… good idea." Her tone became a bit of a tease. "Did you keep any notes when you had Navi?"
"Some," he answered, "but not a whole book's worth. I just grabbed pieces of paper when I could and stuck them in my hat in the meanwhile. It drove Navi nuts."
This seemed to pacify Tatl. She settled on his sword hilt, easing her wings. She watched the two juggles in the square before them. He opened the notebook again, took up the pencil he'd bought at the Post Office, and started writing.
It's now Eleven in the Morning, First Day. East Clock Town. By the Deku Flower. Played the Reverse Song of Time. This is my third time running through the Cycle – I've played the S. of Time twice now. Yesterday I defeated Odalwa in the Woodfall T. (Why are these things always in temples?) It took me just about all three days – what do I mean, yesterday, I mean the day before today, on the third day of the previous three-day-cycle, I defeated him and cleaned the temple. Took me three days but I did it. Didn't get a lot of sleep, but I don't think Dekus need sleep as much as Hylians do. And I got a bow and quivers. Feels good to hold a bow in my hands again. This set is small enough for me to use as a kid. Tatl suggested that our next destination be the Mountains where Gorons live. That'll be nice. I hope the Gorons here are as nice as the ones back home in Hyrule. I wonder if the clock turns back in Hyrule when it does in Termina.
I'm very tired. I miss Lon Lon Ranch. I sure hope that Malon and Mr. Talon are able to keep an eye on Ingo. Mr. Talon told me to come back in time for the harvest festival they have every year – I sure hope I can make it. What I wouldn't give for some fresh, warm milk! I can just hear Malon offering it in her cute accent.
And I miss the Kokiri Forest. I was planning on giving some of the Kokiri fighting lessons so they can defend themselves now that the Deku Tree's gone. It's not like they haven't got the manpower – but they would rather not fight. But I could at least drop by and just spend an afternoon under the trees. I could fall asleep there and dream for hours. No. This is a notebook about Termina. What is happening inside Termina.
Fixed Woodfall Swamp. Restored the Deku Princess. Saw a sign saying 'House of Skultula' which I'll have to check out later. The Butler had this elaborate maze that he had me go through to retrieve the Mask of Scents, helps me smell things. Have to wonder how useful that'll ever be. I know that right now in Woodfall the swamp is poisoned again and the princess is missing again and the witch is fainting again and the monkey is being tortured again. I can't fix it all again. I simply can't. I have to save the Gorons at Snowhead. But I'm so tired.
He put the quill down. He'd filled up a whole page already, half of it a useless wish to go back to Hyrule. How was he going to be any use as a Hero if he kept wishing to go back home? Back in Hyrule when he was a grown-up he'd been – focused, somehow. And of course Navi had an excellent memory, never forgetting a single face or detail that someone had said. And she had always found time to nurture him, to coax him to find shelter for the night, and food. She could help him keep on track.
Tatl did not seem to know the meaning of the word 'nurture.' All the maternal instinct in her little heart must have been doled upon her brother. Link had heard Saria say once that fairies' hearts are so small there's only ever room for one emotion in them at a time. It seemed to fit Tatl – her mood was always anxious and pressing and impulsive. Link wasn't used to having to be the rational one urging, "take it slow." And with the clock tower ticking away every minute of every day, and the great terrible moon staring down at them, taking it slow looked more and more foolish by the…
His stomach grumbled.
Link frowned, closed his notebook, and (quite unwittingly) heaved a pathetic little sigh.
The juggler nearest to him had heard, and turned to look at him. "Why, Brother," he said with a bit of surprise, "Here's a little boy all alone at Carnival season!"
"And without even a family to lunch with!" his brother added. "Hello there, little boy," he approached Link and crouched so as to be on eye level. "Where is your mama?"
Link's back stiffened. "She's out of town right now," he said. "I'm doing just fine right now, thanks." His stomach growled again. "Er…"
"Aw, the brave little chappie. Have you got any place to get a lunch?"
"Well then why not come lunch with us?" The second brother – the one in the red shirt – demanded, quite pleased. "The Stock Pot Inn's food's the best –"
"Provided it's the mother's cooking…"
"Oh right, the daughter's cooking is…"
"But I heard it is the mother's cooking for lunch today! And I smelled a handsome soup for our first course!"
"Oh-ho-ho-ho! The mother's cooking cannot be beat in Clock Town! And there is always room at the table for a hungry little boy and his appetite! Come along now, chappie, our treat. We will make your excuse to the missus."
"Say we found you wandering the streets…"
"Alone in the snow…"
"The bitter midsummer snow…"
"And besides it is the Miss Anju who sets and seats the table while the missus cooks. And she has a heart as generous as the ocean, donchaknow."
"Even if her cooking would poison all the ocean!"
"Oh-ho-ho-ho! Come along, now!"
Somehow Link found himself being led through the doors of the Stock Pot Inn. He had been inside before, but not for very long. On the wall, the vast, multicolored clock ticked another minute.
The jesting brothers led him to a long dining room with yellow walls and a long table with a red tablecloth. The pretty, redheaded Miss Anju, whom Link knew by sight, was setting the table.
Another set of twins, two exotic looking girls in rather spare outfits, were already seated and were conversing with each other in low tones. Every now and again one or the other would make a strange gesture with her hands, as if to indicate a dance step. The brothers accompanying Link greeted them with smiles as "The pulchritudinous and poised Rosa Sisters," but the girls, as one, glared at them coolly with their long, painted eyes, and then turned away.
"Ah well, tomorrow is another day," the brothers consoled each other. Then, as Miss Anju was turning around, one of them said, "Hola! Miss Anju, is there room at the table for one more?"
She turned around and looked at Link right away. "Well, of course there is. Where did you find this one?"
"He was lounging around outside without any supervision and he said he hadn't any supper plans, either –"
"No supper-vision, if you will –"
"So we invited him to taste the best food Clock Town has to offer!"
"Oh, you men! You really are too kind! Well, of course. Here you go, you can sit right by me. Momma's cooking some red pepper soup to start with and then there'll be Cuckoo with rice, how does that sound?"
"Um… delicious, ma'am," he answered shyly. He could hear Tatl snickering in his hat. "I don't mean to be any trouble! Just some soup and crackers would be nice and then I'll be on my way…"
"My! Such a polite young man!" Miss Anju beamed at him. "No, no, I must insist that you take some time out to eat with us."
"Besides, it gets lamentably boring talking to only poor circus folk such as ourselves…" one of the brothers lamented.
"Even though the Rosa Twins can make fine conversation when they want to…"
"But we, alas, have the conversation skills of turtles, and only…"
"All right, boys, that's enough." Anju's mother arrived at the door, wheeling in an old lady with stringy red hair and a nose as long and crooked as the beak of a Keese. Balanced on the old woman's lap was a soup tureen that smelled truly marvelous. "Is everybody downstairs?"
"Mister Gorman said to say he's not coming," one of the Rosa twins (the one in blue) said shortly.
"Eh! Just as well… hold a minute, who's this?"
"This is… Er, well, what is your name, dear?" Anju turned to Link.
"My name's Link, if you please," he answered.
"And you're staying with us now?" Anju's Mother pressed on.
"No, no, we just saw the lad starving in the streets…
"… and figured we'd take him in for a bit and a sup."
Anju's Mother did not relax her careworn scowl, but she set a bowl in front of Link with as much soup as anyone else. "I suppose your mother's somewhere out shopping in West Clock Town and left you to play by yourself?"
"Actually, I – I've never had a mother."
At once the table silenced. Six pairs of eyes turned to look at him, wide and earnest (Granny was starting in on her soup.)
"Oh, you poor thing," Anju said in a tone that made Link feel that he was, in fact, a poor thing, when he had refused to think of himself as such even before he met Navi.
"I did have a father, though," he added in an attempt to lighten his story, but realized that the Deku Tree was neither a father – strictly speaking – nor was he in the present tense. All this did was earn him even wider and more pitying eyes. "Er…" He picked up his spoon and began to dig in, "This is great soup, Mrs…"
"Here we say grace before eating meals," Anju's Mother (he had started to think of her in capital letters) said in a voice of thunder. (Also, Granny did not seem to count in 'we.')
Link dropped the spoon onto the table and folded his hands meekly. He could hear Tatl giggling in his hat again.
The diners bowed their heads as Anju's Mother said a solemn, but not unduly long, grace, thanking the four Guardian Spirits that they had food and that they had guests and that they were safe.
At the last invocation, a little change went through the diners – the Rosa Sisters slumped, Miss Anju straightened up in her seat, and Link just sighed.
Anju's Mother sat down and took up her spoon. "Now, let's eat."
For the first few mouthfuls there was only an awkward sort of silence. Then, Link tentatively asked the brothers from the troupe, "So… you guys must travel a lot in your line of work!"
They looked at him as one and nodded encouragingly.
"Have you ever heard of a place called Hyrule?" he asked.
"Hyrule?" The brothers looked at each other.
"Never heard of it."
"But we've been a few places that maybe you've heard of…"
And the brothers launched into a fast-paced and quick-witted tale of the various places they've been and troupes that they had been part of, and a side story that they mentioned about cows led Anju to remark on her best friend, Cremia, and Romani Ranch, which lay not far from Woodfall Swamp (at this point, Link noticed, Anju's Mother suddenly looked stern again, and did not speak). Now Anju told stories about their adventures visiting Cremia and Romania out in the country, and with entertaining them in the city. When the laughter had faded on the last story the Rosa Sisters shared a glance and actually started to talk, too, about the vast metropolis where they had been born and brought up. As soup was replaced by the main course, the conversation turned rather more somber, reflecting on the ghastly moon that hovered in the sky, and they wondered if it would get any closer.
The conversation slowed as everyone was left to their somber reflections. Then Miss Anju turned to Link and asked brightly, "So what do you do? Are you going to be selling something at the Carnival with a friend?"
"I… I, uh… I collect masks."
"Really?" Asked one of the juggling brothers. "A splendid hobby! What masks do you have in your collection?"
"Er, not many so far…" Link wasn't sure he wanted to show them the Deku Mask, but he brought out the Great Fairy Mask, to many oohs and aahs.
"What a likeness!"
"I haven't seen a mask like that before…"
"What beautiful hair!"
"Could we borrow that mask to try and copy the makeup? We'd give it right back."
"Where did you get it?"
"It was a present," Link said quickly. "This was what started up my collection, in fact."
"That's a keeper." Anju's Mother said with authority. "I collect masks myself, you know, in my spare time, and I think you should really hang on to that one, young…"
"Link," he supplied.
"C'mon, what other masks have you got?" one of the brothers coaxed. Link took out the Mask of Scents, a present from the Deku Butler. It got a slightly less warm reception.
"That's a mask that'll draw in the girls for sure!" (This from the brother in blue.)
"Well, it'll have to draw in something!" (From the brother in red.)
The Rosa Sisters looked at it with unmitigated disgust.
"Ahm, well, it has its uses, but I'm not crazy about it myself – but it was another gift, can't exactly give it away… erm, and what else… I have this mask!"
He hadn't even completed pulling it out of his bag when he realized it was a mistake.
"That's a little creepy," the blue Rosa sister said.
"That looks familiar," the red juggler said.
Anju's Mother's expression turned to one of utter shock and anger.
Anju gave a gasp and covered her mouth with her hands, her eyes wide.
Anju's grandmother looked up and said, with a croak, "Oh, it's that little boy who used to come around here so often. Who had a mask made of him?"
"Um… it was Madame Aroma who gave this to me. She asked me to look for her son, Kafei, and… so she said to show this to people and ask if they knew of where he was. So, um… do any of you know?" He ended hopefully.
Anju's Mother exhaled loudly through her nostrils. "Well, I don't know where he is. Does anyone else?"
Around the table, everyone shook their heads, except for Miss Anju.
"That is the answer to that. Now, you might try the Romani Ranch…"
"Mother!" Anju said in a shocked whisper, glaring at her mother at the other end of the table.
"What? I'm only saying what may help him in his investigation," Anju's Mother answered blandly. Anju lowered her eyes, her cheeks burning red.
"I'll be sure to check it out… thanks, Ma'am." Link didn't want to stuff the delicate mask back into his bag, but he couldn't get it out of sight fast enough.
"Do you have any other masks?" Anju's Mother asked politely.
"No, ma'am. My collection is… small, for now."
"Well, you're young, and just starting out," Anju's Mother started in on her soup, "But at this time of year I'm sure you'll have no trouble at all finding nice masks."
"No… none at all…" Anju said in a low voice. She then stood up and took away the empty plates without a word.
Anju's Mother cleared her throat. "For dessert today we have some cut peaches and cream, if anyone's got room."
"That little boy has got room, no doubt," chortled the brother in red.
"He must have a hollow leg somewhere for all that food!"
"Hold the cream for our servings, please," said the Rosa sister who was dressed in red while her sister nodded.
A moment later Anju came out and set the first bowl – which had finely mashed peaches and cream – in front of Granny. Then she served the Rosa sisters (creamless) and the juggling brothers (who thanked her graciously, even though she said nothing.) Last she served Link a plate – and was it just him, or did it seem like there was a bit more cream on his plate than on anyone else's? He looked up to her to say "Thank you."
She just gave him a smile and sat down at her place.
It wasn't long before dinner and dessert were both over. The Rosa sisters resumed pacing in their rooms, and the brothers returned to the outdoor square to practice juggling, flashy swashbuckling, and witty banter. Anju cleared the table and her Mother wheeled Granny into the parlor. Link tried to help clean the table, but Anju coaxed him to the parlor, to talk to Granny.
For a while he just stood in the hot, stuffy room, watching as Granny's head bent down and then up again over her diary, as she wrote slowly.
Then, from the next room, he could hear Anju and her mother arguing. Their tones were sharp, and Link didn't want to listen to them.
"Listen to them, battling like a pair of old Cuckoos," Granny chortled over her book. Link glanced at her. "Anju really should get married. They can't stay under the same roof in peace."
"Ah." Link glanced awkwardly at Tatl. Did this constitute conversation?
"Why don't you come by me, Tortus, and listen a while to your old mother?"
"Tortus?" Tatl squeaked in Link's ear, but he ignored it.
"Of course… Granny." Link edged nearer to her wheeled chair, and sat down by her.
"Now I've prepared some stories for today… good stories for the Festival of Time coming right around the corner. Which would you like to hear? The story of the Festival? Or the story of the Four Giants?"
"Um… I'd like to know about the Festival of Time, if you please, Ma'am."
"My! What a polite little gentleman." She smiled fondly at him and patted his hand. "It's so good to see a young man with good manners. Now… just take my diary away, first, put it right on the table by the candle…" Link complied. "Now where's my book… It's the brown one with the gold leafing…"
"Is this it, Granny?" Link pulled a book from the nearby table and held it up close, so her weak eyes could see it.
"Why – why yes it is. Just put it on my lap, I know where to find the place…"
When her wrinkled hand was settled just so on the page, and when Link was sitting at her feet, facing the fire, she began to read aloud, in a practiced voice, "Once upon a time, at the marriage of the sun and the moon…"
There was a shift. Link started back to consciousness. Anju was shaking him awake.
"Little dear," she said with a bit of a chuckle. "You fell asleep on Granny's knee."
"I wasn't asleep!" Link protested. "I was listening!"
Granny's chortle sounded, low and a bit scratchy. "Oh, I believe you, little Tortus, I know you were listening. And you'd be surprised what you can learn in sleep, too."
"Well, but it's time for Granny's nap, so you'll have to resume your own nap somewhere else."
"I wasn't napping," Link defended stoically.
"Of course you weren't." Anju's Mother was there, already behind Granny's wheelchair, and as soon as Link was out of the way, she wheeled Granny out of the room.
"I'll see you at dinner, Tortus. Mind you play gently with your friends," Granny called as she left. Anju bent down and smiled at the little boy.
"Thank you, Link, for listening to my grandmother's stories. Mother and I are just so busy all the time, she really appreciates an audience."
"It was nothing. I liked hearing the story. The beginning was great."
"And sleeping," Tatl whispered in his ear.
"Oh hush, you slept too," he hissed back.
"Is that a fairy you have?" Anju asked as her mother walked past their door again.
"Yes," Link answered quickly.
"Oh… of course I've heard of fairy fountains and wild fairies, but I never saw one that was attached to a person before…"
"It's only temporary," Tatl assured her. "I'm just helping him get a job done. Really I'm a wild fairy. As wild as they come."
"Really?" Anju giggled. Then she checked the door suddenly. She leaned in and whispered to Link, "Can you meet me at eleven o'clock tonight in the kitchen?" Before Link could respond, she added, "If you're looking for Kafei, I have something to tell you about him, to help you find him, maybe. Please say you'll meet me."
"All- all right," Link agreed.
"But the doors here close at eight," she warned, "so you'll have to be inside by then."
"Or use the secret entrance," Tatl whispered in Link's ear. He shushed her.
"I'll be here," he promised.
"Good," she said, smiling weakly – and he realized that most of the smiles he had seen her give earlier had been only halfway, somewhat insincere things – masks of smiles.
Impulsively, he took her hand. "Miss Anju, I'll find Kafei for you, whatever it takes!"
"Oh!" Anju looked surprised. At once Link regretted his impulsive chivalry and added, "Only if you want to, of course, I wouldn't like it if he were someone who was mean to you before, like I said, only if you want to…"
"Oh, you little darling!" She laughed and kissed his forehead lightly, "You just run along and play. Meet me later tonight, in the kitchen, remember. And it's our secret."
He grinned at her. "Believe me, Miss, I'm good at keeping secrets."
As he stepped jauntily out of the Stock Pot Inn, Tatl veered sharply into his line of vision.
"Hey! What's that for?" Link batted her away with hand.
Tatl let out a high chime like a scold. "You can't pull that past me! You like her, don't you?"
"What? No I don't!"
"Don't lie to me. You were smiling all sweetly and 'I'm good at keeping secrets Miss' – you were so obvious."
"I was not." Link strode forward as fast as he could without running to try and escape the little fairy. But Tatl could fly quite quickly. "She's not my type, anyway."
"What is your type, then?" Tatl teased, "if not redheaded and sweet?"
"I…" Link couldn't answer. Redheaded, sweet, and hospitable actually suited him just fine, but…
"Never mind!" he insisted. "I'll go check out the House of Skultula, then, in Woodfall, so I can come back quickly in time for our meeting." Nothing like Skultulas to drive all thoughts of romance out of a boy's head.
And it was nice, he reflected as he brought out his reliable old ocarina and began to play the Song of Soaring, to know he had a home away from home, at least.
Link, who as an adult had been the heartbreaker of Hyrule (not by his own admission), never thought that his heart, simple and pure as it was, could ever be swayed in two directions.
And then he saw Cremia, her red-gold hair whipping in the wind around her, steadying a cow, and looking over her shoulder at him, a suddenly awkward Link.
"Well? What are you looking at? Would you like to come in a minute?"
Link, the Hero of Time, Champion of Farore, and Savior of Woodfall and Snowhead, blushed and stammered.