disclaimer: disclaimed.
dedication: to being up Way Too Late To Write Fanfiction. omg, i should be asleep, i'm talking crazy.
notes: i really like Colin. i can't explain it. there's a fundamental difference between him and Link, and i just… like it.
notes2: do not question my headcanon.

title: terrible crimes
summary: It's hard to be the better man. — Colin/Beth, Link.






(if they don't put me away, it'll be a miracle)

/ / /

Colin loved riding.

He loved the feeling of wind through his hair as he galloped across Hyrule's empty plains; the way that his horse's muscles bunched and stretched as they ran, one creature in two bodies.

Colin would never understand why Link had entrusted Epona's first colt to him. The man had returned to Ordon one day in early spring, leading a very pregnant Epona by the reins.

Link had said very little to anyone. He'd spoken quietly to Colin's father and mother first, and even more gently to the mayor. He'd avoided Ilia at all costs, Colin noted, with a quiet sort of sadness.

(It was how Colin knew that Link was never going to return to Ordon.

Not permanently, anyway.)

Colin was the only other person Link deigned to address.

"I'm going to teach you to ride, this summer," Link had said, grinning like a child with a secret.

Colin had nodded, wide-eyed and hazily jubilant. It was to be the first time Epona ever willingly allowed someone other than Link to ride her, he knew. He also knew that his riding lessons would have to wait until Epona gave birth.

The colt was born a beautiful thing three days later. He was auburn with a white nose and white mane and tail, but missing his mother's white socks.

Colin named him Pegasus.

/ / /

By the time Pegasus was full-grown, Colin was sixteen.

He was the most finicky horse Colin had ever had the misfortune to encounter. He was hot blooded, built for speed and endurance, and he was far too vain for his own good—Colin was sure Pegasus felt he was far too beautiful for packhorse work. He was snotty and disliked people, and rarely allowed anyone but Colin to touch him. He hated bridles and saddles, was often bad-tempered, and at times was of a mind to bite.

And Colin had never loved anything so much in his entire life.

"Come on, Peg, we have to get home," Colin called softly.

Pegasus ignore him entirely, too intent on the sweet bit of clover he'd found at the edge of Lake Hylia. Colin sighed, and sank down to the grass. He tugged on Pegasus' bridle, and nearly got his fingers bit.

"Pegasus," Colin snapped.

The horse looked up at him, sulky.

"Don't give me that look, Peg. Mam's expecting us home," Colin told him. "And Terra will be happy to see you."

Pegasus perked up. Terra was Colin's younger sister, and Pegasus had learned early on that the little girl kept cubes of sugar and bits of carrot in her pockets on habit.

She was only seven, but she was the only person Pegasus actually liked.

Colin shook his head. "Sometimes I think she likes you more than she does me."

Pegasus nickered horse laughter and gently butted his head against Colin's side, half-apology, half ribbing.

Colin grinned and swung himself up into Pegasus' saddle. The leather of the reins was warm from the sun in Colin's hands, and he clucked Peg into a trot.

It was three hours to home.

/ / /

Colin rode in to Ordon just as the last traces of daylight disappeared over the horizon. Passing Link's empty house was a sharp jab of pain, just as it always was. Five years and no word had done little for Colin's nerves, but he'd learned as he grew that depending on one person to save you was not the smartest thing he could ever do.

He walked Pegasus to the stable—his father had built it, small and cozy, at the back of the house, days after Pegasus had been born. Colin unsaddled Peg, let him into his stall, set him up with a warm blanket, and fed him the last of a bit of apple from lunch.

Pegasus nodded regally at Colin as he left.

Colin chuckled, and closed the stable door behind him.

Thirty seconds later, he had the wind knocked out of him as a tiny bundle of energy slammed into his stomach.

"'Lo, Terra."

"Colin! Colin, Colin, Colin! Mummy said to come out and get you, because you need to wash up! You missed supper again. Can I see Peggy? Is he okay? You didn't let him get hurt again, did you?"

Colin ruffled her hair, ignoring the screech-squawk of indignation that escaped her. "He's fine. Go on, then, give him a carrot, you've already spoiled him rotten."

Terra grinned toothily and darted around him, blonde pigtails dancing as she skipped into the stable. Colin chuckled, and shook his head. He walked the twelve steps to his front door, and pushed inside. His mother stood there, glowing like a sunrise. She didn't say anything; she simply folded her arms around him.

It was almost a ritual, and Colin sometimes wondered if she was simply reminding him that he always had something to home for. Sometimes he wondered if his mother ever worried about him the way she worried about Ilia, at the tops of trees and crazy as a loon, staring out towards Link had disappeared five years previous.

But Colin was stronger than that.

If only because Colin had never depended on Link the way that Ilia had.

Colin slipped out of his mother's grip, and smiled, tired. "Mam, is there supper left?"

"Yes, love, in the pot. It should still be warm. Your father hasn't come home, yet…" she smiled, but Colin watched worry line her face. She pressed her fingers to her abdomen, and turned towards the window.

Colin picked up a bowl, and thought that love destroyed perhaps even the best of the best.

/ / /

The next morning dawned bright and clear.

Colin snuck out of bed as the sun rose. He ducked out of the house as the village slept, and snuck to Pegasus' stable.

The door was ajar.

Colin's breath caught in his throat.

Why was someone at Peg?

Colin slunk around the door. "Hello?" he called softly. "Is anyone there?"

The squeak was high, feminine, and one that Colin felt he ought to have known. He stared at the girl standing by Pegasus' stall—it was Beth, blinking owlishly at him. She was tiny for a girl her age, dark blond hair chopped ragged and that dusting of freckles across her nose.

(Beth? What in Din's name—?)

"Oh, Colin, I'm so sorry, I didn't realize—I'd just heard that you'd come back and—I wanted to say hello, because I love Peg, but then you—"

Colin raised an eyebrow. "He hasn't bit you yet?"

Beth tilted her head. "He never bites me."

Pegasus craned his neck around the side of his stall, and bared his teeth at Colin in a silent horse laugh. Colin glared at him. "If I didn't know better, I'd say you liked me least of all."

Peg threw his head back and wheezed in apparent mirth.

Colin was not amused.

Beth stood between horse and master, looking awkward. She fiddled with something in her grip, uncomfortably stuck in the stare-down.

Finally, Colin snorted, and shook his head. "C'mon, Beth. Give that spoiled horse whatever it is you're holding, and let's go for a walk."

She nodded, and reached into Pegasus' stall. The picky stallion lipped the lump of sugar in the girl's palm.

Colin just shook his head, and decided to wait outside.

/ / /

They sat together in the dust of their childhood training ground. Beth pulled her knees up to her chest and Colin lay on the ground, tracing pictures in the sky. In the shadow of their childhood hero's house, they laughed.

Colin looked up at the tree house.

"Do you ever wonder where he is?" Beth asked, in a quiet moment.

"I don't think he's dead, if that's what you mean," Colin replied.

No, he did not think Link was dead.

"Then… where?"


Colin did not think Link was dead.

He thought Link was something much worse.

Colin looked over at Beth, and scrutinized the way she scrunched up her face against the sunlight. She was freckled and dusty and Colin couldn't say he disliked it, not even a little bit. He grinned at her. She grinned back. They were both silent.

A pair of dreamers, they waited around to kill time.

/ / /

"I don't know when I'll be back."

The words had hurt them both; it had hurt Colin to say them, and it had hurt Beth to hear them.

But he didn't take them back.

And she didn't say goodbye.

/ / /

Colin raced towards the Lanayru province, bent low over Pegasus' back.

Colin loved riding.

It gave him time to think.

Fat lot of good that'll do, he scoffed to himself as he ducked a low-hanging branch in Faron.

Beth was angry at him, and he didn't even know why.

It was a funny little thing, their friendship (if you could even call it that; friendship, relationship—it lasted the summer and then some). Beth was as snotty and overbearing as Peg was, and Colin figured that was why the two got along so well. She had a sharp glare and a sharper tongue, and Colin thought he was half-cracked for even wanting to spend time with her; Beth could be mean. But at the same time…

At the same time, she was funny, in a dry, bored wit sort of way. She laughed easily. Liked working in the garden. She was never afraid to get dirty—Beth always had dirt underneath her nails. She kept Talo and Malo in line; she kept everyone in line.

There was something about that that Colin liked.

As they rode, Colin thought about family and whether it was possible to ever really leave something like that behind.

He thought about Link, leaving and never looking back. About Ilia, pining away for something and someone who would never want her back. About his mother, always waiting for the ones she loved to come home.

Colin thought about it all, and realized that running away was almost painfully attractive in comparison to someone's expectations.

And that was when Colin understood why Link had left.

Because sometimes, being alone was better than being the one that everyone looked to for saving.

Pegasus slowed to a trot about half-way to the castle. Colin didn't even notice.

/ / /

Colin rode in to Ordon, broken, bruised, and bleeding. It was near midnight, and Colin figured he'd be lucky to even unsaddle Pegasus and make it into the house without collapsing. He sighed, and clucked weakly.

(Peg did not seem pleased with any of these developments.)

They headed towards the stables, bone-achingly tired.

Colin went through the motions. He dismounted and pushed the stable door open wide enough for Pegasus to trot through. Colin pulled the saddle off, undid the bridle, extracted the reins, rubbed the horse down.

He went through the motions, exhausted as we was, because neither he nor she would ever forgive him if he didn't.

Peg nickered softly.

Colin looked into Peg's stall, eyes barely open.

Beth was curled up under one of Peg's blankets, dark blonde hair mixed with straw. Colin sighed, and went to sit down next to her. She looked cold and uncomfortable, and it would be so easy, so easy, to simply leave her there and head in to his warm, comfortable bed.

But Colin was not Link.

Colin reached for a few extra horse blankets, and slipped down to the straw next to her.

He could hear her breathing.

Colin closed his eyes, and slept.

(I'm not scared to die)






notes3: if you favourite/alert, please leave a review. :)