Disclaimer: most of the characters and setting in this story are not my own – I'm just borrowing them with the hope that Nintendo won't mind too much.
Chapter 1: A Link to the Past
Link clutched the Triforce to his chest, eyes closed tightly.
He didn't know what to wish for: Ganon had done too much harm, and Link suspected some of it couldn't be fixed, even by the Triforce: his uncle was dead, and so was the King; the maidens' souls had been freed, but their lives remained lost, even the Princess's.
What was there left to wish for? Ganon had already taken everything. Even the mystical Golden Realm was gone, the reflection of Hyrule's hopes and dreams turned into a nightmare by the demon.
There were many things Link wanted and could have wished for, but they were all so selfish he couldn't bring himself to do it. He wanted his uncle back, he wanted the maidens back. He wanted all the guards Aghanim had made him kill to be alive and themselves again, and to forgive him. Above all, he wanted the Princess back. He wanted her to look at him like that again, like she had when he had saved her, as if he was the sun itself. He wanted to be able to call her just Zelda, like his future self did with his. He'd happily settle for her just to be alive again, even if she never again so much as stood in his presence.
If he were to wish for any one of those things, however, wouldn't it mean giving up on the others and on everything else Ganon had soiled or destroyed? He couldn't pick one wrong to right, he wanted it all: he wanted ALL the harm Ganon had done to be undone; he wanted everything back just like it was before Ganon had gotten his paws on the Triforce.
As soon as the thought formed in Link's mind and before he even realized he had effectively made his wish or dared to hope such an all encompassing wish could be valid, the Triforce started shining, so brightly as to hurt Link's eyes right through his closed eyelids. It shone brighter and brighter, and Link had to fight back the urge to let go of it to cover his eyes with his hands. He turned his head sideway as far back as it could go instead, but it didn't help: the glow of the Triforce was filling the whole room.
Then, as suddenly as it had started, the glow was gone. Link opened his eyes warily, afraid the Triforce may start shining again. It was still in his arms, but it was back to normal and thankfully stayed that way. Link looked around instinctively for any visible effect from his wish, and gasped: through the door to the room where they had fought, Ganon was scrambling up, whole and seemingly unhurt. Link's eyes went from the Demon to the Triforce and widened.
The Triforce had granted his wish, all right: everything was back, just like before Ganon had claimed the Goddesses' artefact… including Ganon.
Link's eyes went back to the pig and met the beast's own. He stuffed the Triforce into his tunic and took out his bow and arrow, expecting Ganon to charge at him. The Demon did no such thing, however; he hissed, and before Link had even had a chance to shoot a single arrow at him, he vanished with a puff of smoke.
Link's breathing accelerated. Just like that, Ganon had escaped and it was anyone's guess where he'd resurface and what he'd do - and whatever it was, Link felt it would be his fault. He clenched his teeth, re-sheathed his sword and took out the mirror that had the power to bring him back to the Real World; the first thing to do was to let the King know Ganon was loose. After that, assuming he didn't get thrown in the dungeon, Link would happily do whatever was asked of him to fix things.
As Link looked into the mirror, the room around him faded and was replaced by the castle's inner court and the sound of deafening cheers.
Link had never felt LESS deserving of cheers. He ignored them and looked around frantically, looking for the Princess; he found her standing next to her father, beaming at him. Link's heart skipped and for one glorious second, he was happier than he would ever have thought possible.
Then, reality came crashing back.
"Your Majesties," he said, addressing both of them, "he…"
"Come inside," the King cut him off, setting off towards the entrance to the throne room. "Close the door behind you," he added without turning around.
Zelda and Link followed him.
"He doesn't want a panic on his hands," Zelda explained in a whisper as they walked, "and since you obviously have bad news…"
Link nodded without meeting her eyes.
Zelda closed the door behind them once they were inside, shooing the few who had followed away with an apologetic smile.
"Firstly," the King said as he sat on his throne, "Link, I must express my gratitude, and I hope to do so properly once you have told me your news and we have dealt with it. You need to know that nothing you might tell us will change the fact you have single-handedly saved not only my daughter and myself, but the whole of Hyrule."
"He's back," Link blurted out, barely hearing him. "Ganon. And he ran off… I messed up, I really messed up. I'm so sorry… I didn't realize, I was just thinking, and the Triforce did it…"
He collapsed to his knees, shaking. He could still hear the cheering outside and it was making him feel worse. Here was everyone, so happy that all was well…
"Young man, are you saying Ganon is still alive?" the King asked.
Link nodded without raising his eyes. He felt a hand on his shoulder and the next moment, Princess Zelda's face was inches away from his own, looking serious but thankfully not angry. His heart automatically started hammering in his chest.
"Is he in the Dark World?" the Princess asked.
Link nodded again.
"Light World," he corrected. "I think. I didn't look outside, but..."
"What about the Triforce?" she interrupted him.
"I got it," Link said, pulling it out of his tunic. "But Ganon ran away, he could be…"
Link didn't finish his sentence, having suddenly lost his train of thoughts: the Princess was smiling at him. He swallowed and made a valiant – if doomed - effort at reassembling his thoughts. Zelda got up from her crouch and pulled him along so that they were both standing again.
"The only place Ganon can possibly be is the Light World," Zelda said gently, still smiling. "Remember, even with his power increased by the Triforce, he could not escape from there – that is why he needed the maidens: he wanted to use them to break the seals and thus escape his prison. Now that he has lost the maidens and that the seals are back to the level they were before Aghanim captured them, Ganon will not be able to escape the Light World, at least for a while."
Link sighed in relief and nodded to signify he understood.
"I was worried he'd go on a killing rampage, just out of spite," he said. "What about Aghanim?"
"Aghanim was created by Ganon, after he had acquired the Triforce. I'm not sure he has enough power to create a puppet like that again, and if he does, he will find us a lot more difficult to fool than last…" She didn't finish her sentence, gasping instead and suddenly backing away, her eyes wide.
Link flipped around, shield at the ready and sword in hand. Both dropped noticeably when he saw what had startled the Princess and he frowned, partly in annoyance and partly in puzzlement.
Before him stood the ghostly form of his future self, palms outward in a gesture of peace and smiling meekly.
"You again?" Link's past self groaned. He turned towards his princess, and spoke to her in a completely different tone than Link had ever heard him use.
"It's all right, Princess Zelda," he said apologetically. "This is my future self. He can send his spirit into the past and Sahasrahla has been helping him out."
The Princess visibly relaxed and eyed him curiously.
"Sorry I scared you," Link said sincerely.
"Your ears…" she said, "and that accent! From how far are you?"
Link barely understood her.
"I don't really know, to be honest," he said. It was technically true: he knew he was from at least 1500 years later than this time since that's how long Ganon had held his spirit captive before he was finally reborn, but he had no idea how much time had passed between the past life he was looking at now and the one who had been defeated by their age-old enemy.
"Look, I can't believe I'm saying this to a time travelling spirit, but well… this isn't a good time," his past self said, arms crossed and looking very much annoyed. "Did you need something?"
Link looked down and rubbed the back of his head, embarrassed. He did know this was a bad time: he had aimed for the time where this past self, which Zelda's research identified as the last one before the doomed child, needed to figure out how to hide the Triforce because Ganon was on the loose.
"Zelda thinks Ganon will be looking for the Triforce if he ever returns, and…"
"That's why you needed the Master Sword, isn't it?" his past self asked, cutting him off. "You were fighting Ganon, and you didn't tell me because you didn't want me to know he was still around in the future."
"Right," Link said. "But you know he's not dead now, so it's okay, right? Zelda said it would be."
"Yeah," his past self said with a sigh. "I already know I screwed up, no spoilers."
Link's eyes widened in disbelief. "How can you say that?" he asked. "Zelda says your wish brought everyone back to life and everything!"
"And what happens when he escapes the Light World?" his past self asked, frowning.
The Princess answered before Link could, reminding his past self that Ganon was at least trapped for a good long while – at least as far as Link could understand her. Her hand on his past self's shoulder seemed to have more effects than her words, anyway.
"I suppose," his past self answered.
"So…" Link started again, taking advantage of the pause that followed to get back on subject, "we don't want him to find the Triforce before we do, so we need to know where it is. If you don't mind, can I just stick around until you decide where you're going to hide it?"
He had a feeling even as he asked that none of them would be too keen on the idea of some weird ghost listening in on the mother of all state secrets, but he was dearly hoping he could talk them into it.
Sure enough, his past self, the princess and the King all gave him astounded looks, shocked he'd even suggest it.
"I can't be tortured to talk until I go back to my own time, and that's really far away," he argued tentatively.
They still looked extremely uncomfortable.
"Do you swear not to reveal what will be decided here to our enemies?" the King asked, speaking very slowly.
Link understood the words 'swear', 'reveal' and 'enemies' and, guessing the rest, nodded eagerly. "Not a word," he promised.
The King sighed, imitated by the Princess and the Hero.
"Very well," he said, still very slowly, going on to say something about not having any option.
Link's eyes widened briefly in surprise at the idea: he wouldn't have dreamed of staying without permission. He quickly recovered, however, and smirked as though the King was right, afraid the Regent would change his mind if he found out that he could in fact make their Hero's future self leave.
Not wanting to bother the historical figures, Link stood to the side and stayed quiet, listening all the more attentively that he had so much trouble understanding the Princess and the King.
He was still nowhere near used to the accent by the time the trio broke for the night, still having reached no conclusion. They had tossed around a lot of ideas, many of which involved magic such as Link had never even imagined, but they were finding disadvantages to all of them.
Much to Link's amazement, one of the options they had discussed with perfect seriousness was to hide the pieces of the Triforce inside the very souls of the Hero and the Princess – that possibility had eventually been discarded because it would mean giving Ganon the Triforce of Power and the Princess feared the demon would be able to gain the other two as well. Apparently, Ganon had appropriated the mystical powers of seven maidens to break the seals between Hyrule and the Sacred Realm, and the Princess felt this was a sign Ganon could tap into the power of other people's souls. Therefore, she felt the souls of his two nemeses were not safe hiding places for the pieces of the Triforce.
The other options had included several variations on breaking the Triforce into pieces and scattering it. Apparently, this strategy had had some success in the past, but they weren't confident Ganon would not find the pieces. The conversation had slowly veered to how best to hide several pieces of the Triforce, with no decision being reached before the Hero fell asleep and the Princess and King agreed to break until morning.
Link went back to his own time for a fraction of a second before sending his spirit to the following morning, catching up to his past self just as the meeting was starting up again. It took most of the day again, but it was eventually agreed that the Triforce would be separated into its three components and that as much as possible, they would be hidden outside of Hyrule, in places Ganon could hopefully never access.
The Princess started talking about where the Triforce could go, and although Link could not understand most of what she was saying, the gist of it seemed to be that they could send each piece to a location where part of the souls of the holders lingered. The King then started, and as near as Link could tell, he was instructing that since they could send the Triforce pieces magically without travelling to their destination, they should choose places nobody could get to anymore.
Link was liking the conversation less and less: it involved far too much magic for his liking, not to mention it seemed to imply his past lives had bits of their souls floating around everywhere like Poes. He wasn't as terrified of magic as he had once been – having to use it himself to survive against Ganon had taught him it had its uses – but it still made him deeply uneasy. As useful as it could be, magic had a way to backfire that he didn't like – even the blue potion, which should have been a great blessing, had turned out to be a double-edged blade at best.
The King then turned to him and asked him something. Link blinked at him: he was pretty sure the King had said something about why he was here, the Hero and the Triforce not being found, but he had no idea how he had connected the three parts.
His past self noticed his confusion and rolled his eyes at him.
"Your majesty, if I may repeat your question? Your accent is as pronounced to him as his is to you, but we can understand each other perfectly."
"Of course. Yes, do translate."
"The King wishes for you to confirm whether the Triforce was ever found after we hid it."
"No," Link answered easily. "That's why I'm here; you guys are the last time the Triforce was seen. According to history books, anyway."
His past self translated and the trio went back to ignoring him, first agreeing that it was better for the Triforce never to be whole again than to be whole in Ganon's hands and then discussing various places Ganon, the past Princesses and the past Heroes had visited outside of Hyrule. As the conversation veered into more detailed arguments on old legendary places and events, Link's past self became more of a spectator than a participant, which meant Link himself could barely follow what was going on. His past self turned straight towards him in the middle of a discussion that Link thought might be about Termina, although he could not for the life of him figure out why the King, Princess and Hero may be talking about a fictional place.
"Can you go back as far as the Hero of Time?" his past self asked him.
Link blinked at him, at a loss as to why his past self would want to know that.
"Yes," he said. "I've been there a few times. Why?"
The Princess had been listening very attentively and obviously understood his answer, because she positively beamed at him. Despite having neither blood nor cheeks at the moment, Link still felt himself blush. She answered for his past self, speaking very slowly so he'd understand.
"Please, future Hero, go back to that past life now and find out for us whether he really did travel to Termina."
Link's eyes widened. She couldn't be serious; he had always felt his Zelda had some pretty wild ideas sometimes, but this... this was plain crazy.
"Termina? You mean, with the masks that turn you into monsters and the falling moon? You think it's real?"
The Hero glared at him for the rudeness, and the King looked shocked, but the Princess didn't lose her smile and nodded.
"Yes, we think it may be, although we of course cannot be certain," she said slowly, painfully articulating each syllable. "Please, go visit the Hero of Time and find out for us. He is said to have donned the Fierce Deity Mask and stopped the moon… please, Hero… if it is real, Termina will be a safe haven for the Triforce of Courage."
She had her hands joined together by the time she finished, and her eyes were fixed on his. He swallowed and took a step back.
"O… okay. Sure, no problem. I can do that. But… what if he's never been there?"
His past self glared at him again, but the Princess prettily shrugged.
"Then it is best for us to find out sooner than later," she said, smiling softly. "Thank you, Future Hero."
She kept her eyes on him, obviously expecting him to get going right away. There was just no saying no to that face, and his past self's glare was becoming a bit more annoyed with every second that passed, so Link willed himself back to his time, intent on going straight to see the Hero of Time in Termina.
I'm very sorry this was so long in coming. I had a feeling it might, in fact I didn't know for sure until recently whether I'd even ever write this story, and that's why I never actually promised there would be a sequel to Hero. Just the same, I know it still looked like I would write one, so I apologize for the delay. Thank you for your patience.
I have decided to upload this story as I go, which means two things: the chapters will be shorter than they were for Hero and a few weeks apart of each other. I actually have several projects on the go at the moment (most of them for a different fandom) and because I'm a bit odd, I've scheduled half an hour of writing time a week for each of them – additional writing time is spent on whatever I feel like.
I don't want to beg for reviews, but I won't insult your intelligence – I love feedback. What story I feel like spending more time on (beyond my schedule, that is) is very likely to be affected by the reviews and feedback I get. That being said, so long as I believe I still have even just one interested reader, I will keep working on this as per my established schedule. Chapters will be slow to come (one a month is my goal but I'm not sure I'll reach it), but they'll come.
Thank you in advance for your patience. I hope you'll enjoy. :D