A/N: Yes so this game is my new addiction. I have already beaten it once and now I'm playing it again because it really is just that amazing. Anyway felt the need to write this one shot because Link's relationship with the kids in Twilight Princess is just so adorable, at least in my opinion… Anyway please read and review with your thoughts and opinions!
Disclaimer: I don't own Zelda.
Link was, without a doubt, one of the most well known people living within the Kingdom of Hyrule. His exploits during the time of twilight had been passed like wildfire from one village to the next until even the smallest of children knew the noble hero's name and proudly sang the songs and ballads written in his honor. The young man had restored villages, befriended the Princess of Twilight, and saved a kingdom from the black hand of encroaching darkness. He had fought and defeated the King of Evil himself while living to tell the tale, a feat none but the ancient hero of old could claim. The boy was invincible in the eyes of the people, a beacon of light in a shadowed world, and a figure of inspiration for the recovering kingdom.
The young man would frequently visit old villages and friends he'd come to make during his adventures yet he never stayed longer than a day or so, his constant thirst for adventure always calling him back to the open field. Link knew he was restless and sometimes tried to calm himself by galloping across the plains of Hyrule for what felt like days on end with no set destination in mind. He went where the wind and his irresolute heart beckoned, putting more miles behind him than he cared to count. Yet every once in awhile the urge to return home and check up on Ilia, Rusl, Colin, and the others would begin to gnaw at him and just like that he would drop everything, turn Epona around, and gallop back to the familiar province and the people that he loved.
It was on one such occasion that he managed to fall ill, submitting to a cunning enemy his blade could not cut and his shield could not block. The whole ordeal began on a beautiful spring morning with nothing seeming incredibly out of the ordinary. The birds chirped, the stream bubbled merrily, Sera complained, and Fado happily made his way up the grassy trail to Link's recently occupied house, giving Epona a pat on the nose as he did so.
"Oy!" he shouted, waving his arms for emphasis as he stared up at the small window leading into his friend's bedroom. "Oy Link! Come on and help me with the goats!" A moment passed in which Fado crossed his arms and gazed expectantly upward, wondering how all of Hyrule would react if they knew how many hours their hero spent sound asleep. Then again he supposed he couldn't blame him. If the goat herder spent as much time as Link did rampaging around the country lopping heads off Bokoblins and saving damsels in distress he supposed he'd want to sleep a little more too. The sound of scuffling caught his ears and he glanced up to see Link's head appear in the window, looking more than a little bit bedraggled. He waved one arm to let Fado know he'd be down momentarily before vanishing from view and once again disappearing into the depths of his house.
Link rubbed his temples, blinking sleepily as he made his way over to the ladder leading to the lower reaches of his abode. His head was pounding as though he'd been on the receiving end of one of Darbus' infamous punches and he felt dizzy, his legs strangely jellylike as he made his way across the wooden floorboards. Donning his usual green tunic and tan breeches he yanked his hat over his head and took a deep breath, stepping out the door and ignoring the ladder before leaping to the ground, just to put on the appearance of normalcy.
"You're slow this morning bud!" Fado said teasingly, slinging an arm around Link's shoulders and causing the boy to stumble forward a few paces.
"Yeah I know," Link responded, laughing off the comment while ducking under his friend's grip and heading over to where Epona was lounging lazily in the grass. Her eyes drifted up to meet his and immediately she straightened, pawing the ground in anticipation. The boy chuckled.
"No adventures today girl, just goat herding," he said to her. Fado snorted, his lips folding into what could only be called a pout.
"You make it sound so boring. Goat herding can be an adventure to ya know!" he protested. Link laughed but didn't respond, swinging easily into Epona's saddle and galloping forward, leaving a complaining Fado in the dust.
The tiny village of Ordon was only just beginning to stir from its slumber as the first rays of sunlight gently cascaded down from the rolling hills, softly kissing the ground below them and sprinkling the grass with a pleasant golden glow. Link squinted his eyes against the dazzling light, the usually beautiful sunrise doing nothing to help the pounding in his head. His senses felt off, his body was hot, his throat was definitely more scratchy than usual, and every bump in the saddle made his stomach jolt unpleasantly.
"Not enough sleep," he muttered to himself, blaming the symptoms on his restlessness of the night before. While he always enjoyed returning to Ordon and reuniting with familiar faces, there was always a part of him that missed sleeping outside under the Hylian stars, reclining on a bed of dirt and soft grass. His mattress always felt hot and irritatingly lumpy while the surrounding walls seemed to close claustrophobically around him until he was anxious enough to leap out the window.
Epona suddenly snorted and stamped impatiently, coming to an abrupt halt that jerked Link from his musings. Blinking the young man refocused on his surroundings and noticed with a bitter sense of amusement that he had nearly steered his faithful steed directly into the pond. Letting the breath whoosh from his lungs he yanked gently on the reins, ushering her back in the direction of the farm. He really needed to pull himself out of whatever funk he had fallen into. Shaking his head he turned his eyes forward, making sure he got Epona across the bridge this time as he followed the trail leading past Mayor Bo's house and up to where the goats were waiting.
The gate rose up to greet him over the rise in the hill and he urged his steed forward, wanting to get the chore over with as soon as possible. Normally he found the steady work of a farmhand rather relaxing but today his heart just wasn't in it. The goats bleated their welcome, some of them trotting over and peering up at him expectantly, obviously hoping for a treat of some kind. Link shook his head.
"Sorry to disappoint but not today guys," he said. "Now lets go, into the pen." He let out a whoop that sent the goats leaping away from him, nearly bounding over each other in their rush to head back to the tiny barn. Link spurred Epona forward though she was already quite familiar with the drill and could probably have herded the goats without the help of the young hero on her back.
Slight movement in his peripherals caught Link's attention and he glanced over to see that Fado had finally shown up despite the chore already nearing completion. Shaking his head he turned back to the two remaining goats, urging Epona towards them and opening his mouth to let out a loud whoop. Right at that moment a wave of dizziness bowled into him, causing his body to lurch in the saddle and tip sideways at an alarming rate. Through blurred eyes he made a rapid grab for the reigns yet missed entirely, thus resulting in his tumbling from the saddle and hitting the ground with a solid thump.
"Link? Oy Link, you okay?" The boy barely heard Fado shouting his name as he dizzily sat up, gripping his head in his hands and wondering what the hell had just happened. Epona whinnied in alarm and trotted over to him, giving the boy a look that clearly asked why he had chosen to sit on the ground instead of in her saddle where he belonged. The sound of pounding feet clued him in to Fado's swift approach and he rapidly lowered his hands, trying to get to his feet as steadily as he could.
"Link!" Fado exclaimed upon arrival. Link raised an eyebrow at the other boy.
"Fado," he responded dryly.
"Y-you fell off your horse! You fell plum off Epona's back!" he told him, his eyes as wide as saucers. Link shrugged, brushing the dust from his tunic.
"It happens sometimes," he responded shortly. Fado shot him a skeptical look.
"You ain't never fallen off Epona before," he stated bluntly. Link grinned at him.
"Not that you've seen," he countered, swinging back onto the horse's saddle and ignoring the throbbing in his temples. The other boy still didn't look convinced and watched carefully as Link ushered the final two goats back to their pen before steering Epona towards the gate.
"You sure you're okay bud?" Fado asked one more time as he followed his friend to the trail's edge. Link nodded, raising an eyebrow in slight amusement.
"I told you I'm fine didn't I? Come on Fado, you're starting to sound like Uli," he said with a grin. The taller boy shrugged though returned the smile.
"You can't blame a guy for worrying," he retorted. "I'll see you later." Link nodded, raising a hand in farewell before trotting down the path and back into Ordon. He couldn't believe he had fallen off his horse. A stunt like that could likely have gotten him killed back in the days of twilight and it wouldn't do any good to get into dangerous habits. Not that he planned on toppling off Epona on a regular basis but even so, the thought was disturbing. He still felt dizzy and the pounding in his head continued to worsen, his vision beginning to go fuzzy as he attempted to focus on the road in front of him. He still had training to do today and therefore couldn't afford to slack off.
"Link!" The boy stopped and wearily turned to see who had called his name, unable to stop the small smile that slid onto his lips when he saw Ilia and Colin walking towards him. The younger of the two grinned and quickened his pace, jogging the rest of the distance separating him from his friend.
"Link! Link guess what?" the boy exclaimed, his face shining, his smile stretching from ear to ear.
"What?" Link asked, playing along as he tried not to sway in the saddle.
"Rose said my name this morning! She looked at me and said 'Colin!'" he gushed, practically jumping up and down. Link grinned as well, his young friend's obvious elation at his baby sister's words contagious.
"That's great! Congratulations Colin," he told him. Ilia grinned as she stepped up beside the shorter boy, stroking Epona's nose fondly.
"Colin was just saying how he can't wait for her to learn your name too since he's positive she'll like you as much as he does," she said, her eyes glittering with amusement. Colin immediately flushed and shot the girl a protesting look.
"I-Ilia! You didn't have to tell him that," he mumbled. Link laughed causing the blonde to lift up his head and smile at him sheepishly. "It's true. I think she really will like you when she gets older, just like the rest of us." The hero's eyes softened.
"Thanks Colin. I'm looking forward to getting to know her too," he said to him. If possible the younger boy's face broke into an even bigger smile and he nodded enthusiastically.
"Where are you off to?" Ilia asked and Link wasn't entirely sure if she was talking to him or the horse. Figuring since Epona couldn't talk, at least not to humans, he would answer for the both of them.
"The spring. I was going to get some practicing in," he answered, nodding his head in the direction of the sword he constantly kept on his back. Ilia smiled and shifted her eyes from the horse's to his own.
"Would you mind if I came with you?" she asked quietly. Link blinked before pulling himself together and shaking his head.
"No, of course not. It might be boring for you though," he responded. Ilia laughed.
"Oh I don't think so. Besides, someone has to keep Epona company while you swing that thing around," she answered teasingly.
"Thanks," the young man responded dryly.
"Are you coming too Colin?" the girl asked, turning to the blonde beside her. Link raised his eyebrows, wondering when his morning training exercises had turned into a field trip. The boy smiled up at them before shaking his head.
"Thanks but I probably shouldn't. I told mom I would help her out with Rose this morning and I don't want to miss it if it she says anything else," he replied.
"Alright, see you around then," Link said to him. The younger boy nodded before waving and trotting back in the direction of his house.
"He'll make a great big brother won't he?" Ilia asked softly, a kind smile on her face as she watched the blonde's retreating back. Link nodded.
"Yeah," he responded.
"You set a good example," she continued, fixing Link with a knowing look. The boy raised an eyebrow.
"I don't have any siblings," he stated. Ilia rolled her eyes before turning and heading back up the trail towards Link's house, causing the boy to urge Epona into a slow walk beside her.
"I realize that but Colin thinks of you like an older brother you know? I think all the kids here do, even Malo," she told him, her grin widening. Link nodded slowly, unable to stop a small seed of guilt from worming its way into his stomach.
"They still think that way?" he asked quietly. Ilia paused, fixing him with a confused look.
"Why would you even ask that? Of course they do," she retorted. Link shook his head, fixing her with what he hoped was a convincing smile.
"Right, sorry," he responded. Ilia frowned before sighing and quickening her steps in order to keep better pace with the horse and rider. The two were quiet for the remainder of the walk, Ilia mulling over her own thoughts and Link doing his best to remain upright in the saddle. His face felt like it was on fire, his entire body ached, his eyes kept going in and out of focus, and the overwhelming desire to cough was slowly but surely uncoiling itself from within his throat. Fortunately they reached the spring without incident and Link wasted no time dismounting and setting his feet firmly on the ground. Maybe the healing properties of the pool would get rid of whatever was ailing him.
Removing his boots he walked towards the clear shallows, hoping Ilia didn't notice his slight falter upon taking a step forward. As soon as his skin made connection with the cool water the aching in his head subsided to a dull throb, the chills in his body vanished, and his throat cleared of all irritation. Feeling more confident in his ability to stay balanced, Link unsheathed his sword with a flourish, bringing it down in a crescent slice above his head. A pang of dizziness dissuaded him for a moment before disappearing as quickly as it came, vanishing in the comfort offered by Ordon's spring.
Ilia watched him from where she stood beside Epona, her eyes following his every move as he swung his sword around with an ease that could only have been honed through countless battles. It was still hard for her to grasp that her best friend had gone through such an abrupt change in such a short span of time. He had always carried power in his well-toned arms and now it was more apparent then ever in the complete control he obviously had over the weapon in his hands.
Yet the thing she noticed the most, more so even than his astonishing ability with the blade, was the ferocity in his startlingly blue eyes. Those same eyes that looked at her so caringly, that made her feel so safe, held another level that she wasn't sure went noticed by the other villagers. Underneath the warmth and kindness lay an intensity and a fierceness she would expect to see reflected in the eyes of a beast. Somehow she knew, though Link had never told her, that there had been a much darker side to his adventures, a side he had never spoken of to anyone. There was undeniably a part of the boy that had been shut off from the rest of the world and she wasn't sure if she would ever really be able to reach it.
Epona butted her fondly and she blinked, shaking such depressing thoughts from her mind as she stroked the horse's velvety nose.
"You know what happened to him, don't you girl?" she asked quietly though Epona merely snorted and turned her attention to the fresh grass growing by the spring side. Ilia sighed and returned her gaze to her friend just in time to see him pause and wipe the sweat from his brow before fiddling with the belt keeping his tunic taught and pulling it off, tossing it haphazardly to the dry part of the bank. The girl flushed as he grabbed his hat and threw it after the belt, the green tunic shortly following. Ilia swallowed and turned her eyes back to the eating horse, hoping the heat she felt on her cheeks was caused only by the sun's warmth and not any other unwanted factors.
As much as she hated to admit it, she knew Link was a very, very, attractive young man and currently Hyrule's most eligible bachelor, a fact Beth found infuriating. More than one girl had shown interest in becoming a little closer to the boy, efforts left in vain as Link had never returned their affections. But no matter how unconsciously popular he was with the ladies, sometimes the hero's naiveté amazed even her, she knew he would never be one to permanently settle down. No matter how much he might care for someone his heart was too full of adventure to stay put in one place for long, a fact that made Ilia more than a little sad. Still she would cherish the time she did spend with him and after he departed, continue to await his return.
Link released a yell of exertion and brought his sword swinging around him in a circular motion that sent ripples of water skittering off in all directions. Panting he paused to catch his breath, wiping beads of sweat from his forehead with the back of his hand. Despite the spring's supportive waters he could feel old symptoms beginning to creep up on him again and he was weary to step out of the shallows, afraid of what might happen once the tiny waves were no longer there to keep the illness at bay. Figuring he might as well face it sooner rather than later he took a few tentative steps towards the shore. As soon as his feet left the shallows the full force of what the spring had been holding back hit him like a tidal wave and he gasped, dropping to his knees as though he'd been struck on the head. His temples seared with pain, his body screamed its protests and a whole series of raucous coughs suddenly ripped forth from his throat, causing his body to convulse painfully with each rattled hack.
"Link? Link!" Ilia cried, racing towards him as Epona whinnied her alarm. The boy was barely conscious of her approach as his head felt like it was going to split in two. The coughs wouldn't stop coming and because of this it was getting harder and harder for him to breathe, tiny pricks of darkness beginning to spark at the corners of his eyes.
The next thing he knew gentle but strong arms were encircling him, pulling the boy rapidly back towards the spring. He heard a grunt of effort from somewhere above his head and a tiny part of his consciousness registered that the arms belonged to Ilia. A moment later there was a loud whinny and he felt something rather large and hard butt into him from the back, sending both he and the girl toppling the rest of the way into the spring.
As soon as he touched the water the coughs subsided and the pain in his head lessoned enough for him to open his eyes and get his breath back, his body still shaking weakly from the trauma it had just experienced. Ilia's worried face slowly swam into focus and he blinked up at her, trying to produce a smile.
"S-sorry about that," he wheezed, doing his best to sit up.
"Stop it! Don't move!" the girl ordered strictly and Link found himself obeying her, laying back in the shallows and letting the water wash smoothly over his chest while soaking his breeches thoroughly. He felt arms snake beneath his upper back and the next thing he knew he was being rotated so his head was resting in Ilia's lap, the water still able to lap around his face while staying far enough from his mouth and nose to enable him to breathe easier. A cool hand rested on his forehead and he heard a tutting sound leave his friend's mouth.
"Why didn't you tell anyone you had such a high fever? You big idiot!" Ilia snapped, clearly too worried to be properly angry at him.
"I didn't know," Link responded groggily, unconsciousness slowly beginning to overtake his mind. The girl snorted.
"Link how in the world could you not have known? I swear, how were you able to survive on your own all that time?" she asked in slight exasperation.
"I wasn't…alone," the boy responded sluggishly. "Mid…na…" Ilia blinked.
"Midna?" she repeated though Link had already slipped out of consciousness.
His dreams were muddled and unclear, each a bunch of unconnected scenes playing out for him in fast forward. In the first he found himself swimming deep within Zora's Domain when all of the sudden a loud crash reverberated overhead and a giant meteor with purple eyes descended upon him, bathing his body in a wave of heat. In the second he was racing through the plains of Hyrule, his fur blowing in the wind, all four legs pumping with raw muscle as he followed the instructions of the annoying little imp who refused to get off his back… The sky darkened to reveal a sturdily built figure with a fiery beard, dark skin, and a glowing blade, grinning madly at him in the dim light provided by twilight. Then there was the imp again, smiling and laughing at him as he scowled at her, doing his best to ignore her 'friendly' taunts.
Something about seeing her tugged at his heartstrings and he dropped the frown, turning instead to make a retort of his own yet she vanished as soon as he opened his mouth. He frowned only to hear a familiar giggle to his left. Grinning he whirled around, seeing her familiar figure beckoning to him in the distance. He ran toward her yet for some reason he was wearing his iron boots, the metal slowing him down as the distance between them lengthened. He desperately reached out for her, knowing that if he just got a little closer then maybe they could be together again. Voices in the back of his mind began pulling him away, causing the little imp to vanish further and further into the distance. He struggled against his consciousness beckoning him back into the waking world, wanting to get one last look at his lost friend. The imp smiled up at him before suddenly transforming into the beautiful princess he had seen in the desert, one tear sliding down her face as she raised her hand in farewell.
"See you later…" she murmured before vanishing entirely. Link tried to yell her name but his throat wasn't working properly. A light was beginning to shine through the dream world, chasing away the last shards of unconsciousness even as he tried to reclaim them. And then, just like that, he awoke.
The first thing he was aware of was how ridiculously heavy his body felt and the slight pain resting just between his temples. He was aware of his eyelids and how it felt like two lead weights had been tied to them, making the concept of stirring seem all but impossible. So, for the time being, he was content to keep them closed. Voices drifted to his ears from somewhere above him and he found if he concentrated hard enough, he could make out what was being said.
"H-he's not dead is he?"
"Don't be an idiot Talo! Link is way to cool to be done in by a stupid fever!"
"If you say so…"
"I do say so! Stop being such a child."
"If anything I believe you two are probably making him worse."
"What! We are not! If you're going to be so depressing Malo, why the heck did you come?"
"I do have better things I could be doing but someone responsible had to keep you three in line."
"What! You really think you're more responsible than me? No way!"
"Shh! Guys please can you be quiet now? Link needs his rest!"
"Don't worry Colin! I'll nurse him back to health!"
"Um, that's okay Beth, I think Renado has it under control…"
Hearing the name of Kakariko's shaman was enough to pike Link's curiosity and, with a great deal of effort, he slowly opened his eyes. There was an excited gasp followed by four faces slowly swimming into view.
"Link? Link's awake! Talo go get Renado!"
"Whaaaat? Why do I have to-"
"Just go!" One of the four heads disappeared followed by the sound of a door opening and closing before silence once again pervaded the room. Link blinked several times, trying to get his blurry vision to focus on the scenery around him. He wasn't in his own house, that was for sure, and it wasn't long before he began to recognize the various sumo pictures on the wall and the winding staircase leading to the second floor as Mayor Bo and Ilia's house. How he had ended up here however, he had no idea.
"Link? How are you feeling?" Colin asked cautiously, fixing him with large, worried eyes. The young man took a moment to ask himself the same question and, much to his delight, found he was feeling much better than the last time he'd been conscious.
"Fine," he responded, startled at how gravelly his throat sounded.
"Oooh Link we were sooo worried about you!" Beth crooned, suddenly throwing her arms around him in a clear display of affection. The hero blinked and patted her back awkwardly, realizing in the process that he was wearing nothing but a clean pair of cotton breeches.
"Beth, you're being ridiculous," Malo said shortly, staring coolly up at the girl. The brunette released her grip on the older boy before glaring down at the one who had just spoken.
"Oh be quiet!" she sniffed, slamming her hands onto her hips and fixing the kid with a withering death glare.
"Um, what exactly happened?" Link asked, ignoring the spectacle put on by the other two and instead turning his attention to Colin. The blonde boy frowned, clearly trying to put the details together in his head.
"I don't know exactly. Four days ago Epona came charging into the village causing all kinds of havoc until dad figured out something had probably happened to you. He and the Mayor followed her to the spring and found you passed out in Ilia's lap. I guess she'd refused to leave you by yourself. Anyway they brought you back to Mayor Bo's because it was too difficult to get you up all the ladders to your place…"
"You were really really really sick Link! Uli and Ilia did everything they could to help but you just weren't getting better. I was terrified!" Beth put in, clasping her hands together for added dramatic effect. Malo rolled his eyes, cutting the enthusiastic girl off before she could continue.
"It really wasn't that exciting. Since you were being difficult Ilia proposed we send for help from Renado in Kakariko since he actually knows how to heal people properly," he told him, sounding almost bored with the story.
"Everyone agreed pretty fast and Ilia opted to go on Epona," Colin put in. "But naturally dad didn't want her to go by herself because of all the monsters so they went together and brought Renado back with them."
"He's been tending to you nonstop since then!" Beth added, smiling brightly at him. The words had barely left her mouth when the door opened once more, admitting entrance to the Shaman himself. A warm smile passed over his lips when he saw Link's open blue eyes, glad to see the sickly pale color had left the boy's face.
"How are you feeling?" he asked kindly, pausing at the hero's bedside. Link smiled at him, attempting to sit up and succeeding with the help of Colin.
"Much better. Thank you for taking the trouble to come all the way out here," he said to the man. Renado shook his head.
"After everything you have done for us it was the least I could do," he responded. "I would ask that you spend the remainder of today resting and then we'll see how you're feeling tomorrow. It would be foolish to push yourself too hard when your body is not yet ready." Link opened his mouth to argue before closing it again, knowing it would do no good to disagree with the man at this time.
"At least let me move back into my house. I don't want to get in Ilia and Mayor Bo's hair anymore than I already have," the boy said, pushing the blankets off him and attempting to swing his legs over the side of the bed.
"Link wait!" Renado cautioned but Link had already attempted to stand, taking two steps towards the door before a wave of dizziness practically overwhelmed him and he fell forward, grabbing onto the wall at the last second for support. The shaman sighed, crossing his arms over his chest as he regarded the boy who grinned at him.
"Didn't I tell you it would be foolhardy to push yourself too soon?" he asked. Link nodded.
"But nothing. Would you at least pretend to listen to what the man is saying? Honestly, what are we supposed to do with you?" Link blinked and turned his head to see that Ilia had walked through the door while he'd been distracted, her hands now on her hips and an exasperated expression on her face. The boy grinned sheepishly.
"Don't worry I understand where you're coming from but…" he trailed off and Ilia cocked a brow.
"But what?" she asked shortly, challenging his gaze with her own. The boy faltered before letting his shoulders droop and sighing in defeat.
"At least let me rest in my own house so I can be out of your hair," he said to her. Ilia frowned.
"But you're not a bother at all. I rather like-" she immediately stopped, turning red in the face at the slip up. The children looked at her in confusion while a knowing smile found it's way to Renado's lips. Eyes twinkling, the shaman spoke up.
"Then perhaps we can compromise. Link agreed to rest as long as he does so in his own house. I don't believe this is an unreasonable request. Ilia, perhaps you would be willing to help him there?" he asked, almost a little too innocently. The girl sighed, knowing the man had her figured out and therefore it would be pointless to argue.
"Of course," she answered, stepping forward and gently slinging the hero's arm over her shoulder as she placed hers around his back, acutely aware of the feel of his skin on her own. The children hurried to open the door for them and Link couldn't help but notice the way Colin's eyes kept going from him to Ilia and back again, a curious expression on his face. Deciding to pay it no mind he allowed Ilia to help him through the door and out into the bright afternoon sun. The sudden dazzling light caused him to blink several times, golden sunspots popping up and hindering his vision.
"You can close your eyes if you like. I won't let you run into anything," Ilia told him, a slight teasing edge to her tone. Link snorted, returning her grin with one of his own.
"I think I'll be alright," he responded, matching her teasing voice with his own dry one. Ilia laughed softly.
"Of course you will be. You always are," she murmured, her words so soft Link barely caught them. The boy raised his eyebrows, surprised at her sudden change in attitude.
"Ilia? Are you okay?" he asked, pausing for a moment. Ilia blinked and nodded, fixing him with a confident smile as they started forward again.
"Y-yes, of course! Sorry," she told him. Link didn't look completely convinced yet decided to let the matter go, knowing Ilia would tell him if she wanted to. The two walked the rest of the way in a comfortable silence, only stopping once they arrived at Link's house. There was a soft whinny and Link turned to see Epona trotting over to him, stamping her hooves and shoving her nose in his face in obvious concern. Ever so carefully Link let his arm fall from Ilia's shoulders and instead stroked the horse's mane comfortingly, whispering apologies into the faithful steed's ear.
"Epona's been just as worried about you as the rest of us," Ilia said to him, her lips folded up in a soft smile. Link grinned as well.
"She deserves a thousand apples for putting up with me like she does," he responded quietly. Epona promptly snorted, clearly agreeing with the comment. Link laughed before stepping away from the horse and instead turning towards the ladder leading up to his small abode.
"Can you make it okay?" Ilia asked, taking a tentative step forward. Link chuckled, turning back to the girl with a raised eyebrow.
"Ilia, it's a ladder. Stop worrying so much," he told her. Ilia flushed, suddenly feeling rather stupid. The young man had obviously been through hardships much worse than this so it should be no surprise to her that climbing a ladder would barely slow him down. Yet despite this fact his arms wobbled a bit as he pulled himself upwards, a sure sign that he was still far from recovered. She bit her lip, holding herself back from helping him as she knew her doing so would only be a blow to his pride.
Only after he safely reached his door did she follow after him, easily scaling the ladder and sliding through the front door. Shutting it behind her she glanced around the place, noticing the slight layer of dust on the tables and cabinets as it had been about a week since Link had lived there.
"Do you need anything?" she asked, glancing over at him. Link paused, having been about to make his way up the ladder before smiling and shaking his head.
"No, I'll be fine. From what Renado says, you've already done more for me than you had to and you've got bags under your eyes. Get some sleep, I'll be okay," he told her. Ilia opened her mouth as though to protest before closing it again and giving a slight nod of her head.
"O-okay," she practically whispered. Link frowned, taking in her downcast eyes and tiny frown.
"Are you okay?" he asked, carefully making his way back across the room towards her. Ilia blinked before immediately shaking herself, giving him a large smile before backing away towards the door.
"Y-yes of course! Sorry, I'll lea-"
"Ilia." She froze mid step, his voice stopping her in her tracks. The girl's shoulders slumped and she sighed, slowly bringing her eyes up to meet his ocean blue ones.
"I'm sorry. Really I don't know why I'm acting like this," she muttered. He shook his head, a small smile folding onto his lips.
"Actually now that I think about it, I could go for a bowl of soup or something," he said. Ilia blinked at him before her face broke into a large smile.
"I'll get started on that right away! Go lay down, I'll have it up to you soon" she responded. Link nodded his head, giving her a light grin of his own.
"Thanks," he told her before turning and heading back up the ladder. Ilia watched him as he did so, a slight flush to her cheeks and a shine to her eyes.
Link stared out the upper window of his house, watching the moon as it bathed the land below it in pearly silver light, the velvety blanket of night having swept across the sky many hours ago. The hero was much better rested and rejuvenated now that he had slept and gotten food in his belly and no longer felt dizzy upon getting to his feet and walking around. He knew he'd caused the people of Ordon more than enough trouble and couldn't help but feel that it was about time he set off again. Sighing he rose to his feet, donning the green tunic and hat before grabbing his sword from where it lay at his bedside and clipping it onto his back. Ever so quietly he made his way down the ladder and to the main landing of his house, pausing as he saw Ilia lying on the small couch against the wall.
After making him the soup she had continued to stay by his side that day, keeping him company in his waking moments and watching over him as he slept. Now it appeared she had worn herself out and was finally allowing her body some much deserved sleep. Link smiled down at her, gently taking a folded blanket off the back of a nearby chair and placing it over her still form.
"Sleep well," he murmured, taking one last look at the girl before turning and heading towards the door.
"I'll wait for you," a tired voice whispered from behind him. He paused before a small smile slid onto his lips, impossible to see in the quiet darkness blanketing the room.
"I'll be back soon." With those parting words he walked the rest of the way to the door and slid out, shutting it quietly behind him.
Ilia couldn't help the sad smile that brushed her lips as she snuggled further into the couch, closing her eyes and listening to the sound of retreating hoof beats as they vanished into the distance. Her hero was once again off to take on the world but he would return as he had promised and as always, she would be right here waiting.
Finished! I hope you all enjoyed it. I know it ended up having a little suggested Link/Ilia but I didn't really want to make it a romance story… Actually it was supposed to have more of the kids in it and then it just sort of took off in a completely different direction. In any case thoughts and opinions would be appreciated. Thanks for taking the time to read!