There was something terribly wrong with his eyes; blue as the sky on a clear Spring's morn they glowed in the sunlight, sharp as the sword that hung so casually at his side. They weren't the eyes of a child, not the golden-haired little boy he pretended to be. He tried to smile; the corners of his lips quivering upward for a few seconds, twitching into place before falling back once more.
A fairy boy she had first thought, for a bright ball of light circled about his head in quick agitated movements. She had never seen a fairy boy before. But then no one saw the fairy children; they hid among the great trees of the forest, protected by the shadows of the past. A haunting melody sometimes snaking its way to the outside world, a glimmer of light, but little more.
"Are you a fairy-boy?" She asked, watching as the ball of light appeared to turn to face the boy in green. He nodded once, his brow furrowing before clearing again, his face unreadable.
She clapped her hands together in delight, excited by this new discovery, forgetting the way his blue eyes lingered on her, staring through her soul as if searching for something and not finding it. Fairy-boy explained it, fairy-boy explained the sword; explained the shield that was far too big for him. Fairy-boy explained everything.
"Would you like to come in, fairy-boy?" She motioned towards the house behind her, failing to notice how he stiffened at the invitation glancing instead at the ball of light above his head. He appeared to accept because he fell in step behind her, watching her all the while with those morning-blue eyes.
As they crossed through the doorway he paused once again, staring at her humble home, looking no doubt for her father and mother. He took in the worn furniture, the dusting pots and the empty bottles of milk, but he wouldn't find her father. Father was always out drinking at noon, and mother was long gone. It was just her during the day, her and the horses.
"Thank you." He said haltingly, as if he were not quite used to speaking or formalities. Once again she was struck by his odd clothing, the foreign green outfit. A costume to be worn at the festivals they sometimes went to in town, but not real clothing, not wearable clothing. And the fairy which moved from the boy to the window before darting back into his hat as if it had never existed in the first place.
"You're welcome." Yes, she was very pleased with herself, she had managed to find herself a fairy boy.
"You forget these people don't know you, what do you expect them to say?"
"I expect them to listen without hearing, I expect them to lie to me, tell me everything's going to be alright. And that I don't have to go back there again."
"You can't run away from your problems."
"So what's a fairy-boy like you doing out in Hyrule?" She asked politely passing him a glass of milk, he nodded once more as he accepted it, fingering the cool glass before pushing it to the side.
"Many reasons," He said tightly, his blue eyes wandering to the golden fields outside the windows. There were monsters out there of late, but there was a sword at his side so it hardly appeared that it mattered to him. She wondered how he came about owning a sword when he looked younger than she was, where did he find those sharp blue eyes?
"Not much of a talker are you, fairy-boy?" She asked, only slightly disappointed by this new revelation, she had hoped he'd have more to say being a fairy-boy and all. The fairy-boy's lips twitched again, almost a smile, as he shook his head.
"Well, my name's Malon and I work the ranch with my Pa and Uncle. But they're busy right now, so it's just me. We don't get many visitors, just some customers, but hardly anyone comes through now that the monsters are in the fields." She sighed, remembering how promising the morning had been seeing the boy in green walking through the fields; sword at the ready, his eyes darting in every direction. No, it had been a long time since they had any visitors, business was slow.
"I know," He said, his eyes growing cold as he looked outside once more, his mind saying something his face and words did not. He was hiding something, behind the blonde hair and that green hat. The fairy-boy had a few secrets, and he wasn't going to share by the look of it.
"Bout the monsters? Everyone knows 'bout the monsters." She shrugged, taking care to appear well informed. The fairy reappeared, circling above her head for a few moments before returning to slowly circle around the boy's head.
"It's going to get worse," He said quietly the blue of his eyes turning dark with shadows of things yet to come. His face pale beneath the fairy's white light, a ghost of the future.
"How come you say that, don't you know them Hylians taken care of things?" The soldiers would soon be fed up of the monsters, of the lack of trade and commerce, they'd fix things soon enough. And then people would come for horses again, and there'd be business.
"They'll fail, they already have." A sad look passed over his face, before he shook his head. The fairy slow progress around his body cast his face in both shadow and light, like the moon in the sky he appeared to be changing faces.
"What makes you say that fairy-boy? Them soldier's pretty handy." They guarded the great drawbridge and the castle gates, their eyes lost in the shadows of their helmets and their shining armor; like the fairy-boy they hadn't looked like real people.
"Naivety has already opened the gates for him, childish stupidity has already doomed this land, and there's nothing to be done." He closed his eyes, his face in shadow, his hands gripping the glass of the milk. The half smile returned, lingering this time, but it was bitter too bitter to be a real smile. It was the smile her mother wore when she left them, it was the smile she had seen on her own face when her father came back at night.
"You talk real funny fairy-boy," She laughed, laughed at the shadows on his face, on his old blue eyes, at the sword and shield at his side and his worn boots.
"I've been told." He shrugged, a light smile flickering like candlelight upon his face before being blown out by the winds of his past. The fairy paused in its flight, as if confused, and then resumed its travel about the room.
"Sometimes you can be the stupidest human I know,"
"Why? Because I want to be lied to, tell me, who doesn't want to be lied to?"
"You're the hero of time; you shouldn't have to be lied to!"
"Just passing through then, fairy-boy?" She asked, watching as the shadows began to drift into the room, the light fading in the distance until the twilight engulfed them. Her father would be home soon, and she preferred the fairy-boy left. But the castle would close at nightfall, and she didn't want to think what monsters might be lurking unseen.
"In a sense," He paused, as if searching for more words to say, and suddenly they came rushing out. "I used to have a place in the world, but it's gone now, I never really belonged there. But then, I don't belong anywhere else either. To them I'm outsider, to you I'm fairy-boy, and to the gods I am the Hero of Time." A bitter smile, the dark laugh, and the blue eyes burning under their mage fire. The bottled fire of the night spirits, the ones they sold in the darkest of shadows, in the creaking buildings where only they dark people entered.
She tried to understand, but failed, she had never been interested in the gods. She was a simple person, her life spelled out before her, and she had no time for the gods of old. The gods wouldn't bring her father back from a night of drinking, the gods hadn't stopped her mother from leaving, the gods didn't bring the customers back from their comfortable homes in the city. (But the fairy-boy did, the fairy-boy had time for the things the rest of the world had long since forgotten.)
"Huh, but everyone belongs somewhere fairy-boy. Don't you have a family?" She didn't mention her own family, her missing mother and father and her leering uncle. The stillness in his eyes told her that it was not the right question to ask, but he said nothing.
"They don't know how dark it is down there."
"In the well?"
"Yes, and other places, it's always dark and I can't see… I don't want to go back there."
"But you can't avoid it forever, Link!"
"Of course I can, I have all the time in the world."
The silence grew with the shadows, until finally he spoke again in his soft voice. "A long time ago I belonged to the forest, and before that I belonged to Hyrule. But now…"
The darkness grew both in his voice and in the room, the fairy had disappeared in his hat and even his golden hair had become dark.
"Now I belong to the Goddess of Time, I belong to the ruins of ancient temples and to the shades that live there. It's so dark beneath the cobblestones; you can hear the pounding heart beat of the earth pounding in your ears, and the shadow of things forgotten…"
What had those blue eyes seen? Not the blue skies she had imagined, not the clear water of the rivers, or the bright fabric of the festival day. Fairy-boy, lost in the forest among the harpist's melody, among the great bones of the trees, and the green of life. She imagined his soft voice, did he know laughter, had he ever laughed?
"You tell a mighty fine tale, fairy-boy. You should be a bard."
"Yes, perhaps. Perhaps that is all I'm fit for after the gods are done with me." He sighed, his eyes no longer sharp but dull with disappointment, they had grown muddy with thought of future and past each bumping into the other as they made their way down the murky stream.
"I have delayed enough; the ghosts of the past are waiting for me." He fingered his sword, the hilt glinting in the moonlight. All thought of the girl gone, lost in whatever phantom haunted him, not even as familiar as fairy-boy anymore. She wondered if they had names in the city of trees.
He made no move to stand, his hand remaining on the hilt, staring out into the night with those frightening eyes. His face a pale grim mask, and in the moonlight she could almost see double, see the young man he was going to be, the man with the too innocent eyes and sharp features.
"Where you going, fairy-boy?"
His eyes turned to her, and she no longer imagined the adult, but saw the horrified child he was, trapped beneath the well, his screams left unheard in the heart of the earth, the village burning above him. And she could almost feel it, the earth beneath her feet, the sound of drums. Pounding, pounding, pounding away in the dark.
"Why should I go back? What do I owe them, the people who spurn me, beat me, and throw me to the wolves?"
"It's your destiny, you are the Hero of Time!"
"Yes, destiny. You know, I never asked to be their savior, I never asked to be their martyr. But no one ever sought to ask my opinion, did they?"
"Why should they have to?"
She saw him out the door, manners she supposed, and she was afraid of the dark. Afraid of what it might do to the small fairy-boy. He nodded in recognition, or perhaps thanks, she was no longer sure what his curt nods meant but she smiled all the same.
"Sure you want to go, them fields yonder not safe at night." She held the lantern above their heads, the warm golden light painting them in a shroud of daylight, a memory of the sun's bright gaze that frightened the nightmares into their holes.
He nodded again, unsheathing his sword and stepping out of the circle of light. Quickly he began walking away, towards the great cliffs and the castle's open gates, the sound of his boots fading into the distance.
"Goodbye fairy-boy!" She didn't ask whether she'd see him again, or tell him to be careful, because he was already gone. Out of mind and out of sight, just another strange dream to pass the idle days as the world sunk into darkness.
"It would be nice, to pretend I have I choice."
Author's note: Well, another Zelda oneshot. A little note of clarification, it takes place during the Shadow Temple Link decided to take a breather and talk to Malon. Thanks to anyone who read, and reviews would be very nice.
Disclaimer: I don't own The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.