disclaimer: disclaimed.
dedication: still to best friend.
notes: i don't know, okay. i don't even know.

title: the phantasmagorical escapades of nabs & ganondork
summary: How we were before it all went wrong. — Nabooru/Ganondorf, pre-OoT.

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"You are going to get us killed, Nabooru!"

"AT LEAST WE'LL DIE LAUGHING!" Nabooru shrieked, as she pulled Ganondorf down a sand dune. They were children, ten and twelve respectively, screaming as they ran for the Desert Colossus, wondering if they could outrun the guards this time.

Probably not, but neither child had the presence of mind to really comprehend where they were headed. The Desert Colossus was a place of legend among the Gerudo tribesgirls. The desert was a wild, beautiful place in their eyes, and the Colossus was its center, its heart.

The voices of the guards behind them had faded into silence, but still, they ran.

It was ritual that when a girl came of age, she would make the trek to the Colossus. If she made it to the half-way point alive, she was a full initiate, eligible for guard duty and passage to the Colossus in times of prayer. If she made it all the way to the Colossus without stopping, she would be considered for leadership.

(Nabooru had been seven years old when she'd entered the desert. Ganondorf could still remember the fear, sharp and acrid on his tongue, as he'd watched her tiny body disappear into the sandstorm that had sprung up the night before and had looked to be raging for days. He could still remember watching the way the wind tore at her cloak.)

Regardless of the death rate, the girls went every year, again and again and again.

Ganondorf, the first boy born in a century, would never comprehend its pull.

But Nabooru was Nabooru and she was seriously scary when she wanted to do something. And so to the Colossus they ran.

(She was seriously scary all the time, not that Ganondorf was ever going to tell anyone that.)

Her hair was cut long past her shoulders. Shining in the desert sun, it was a symbol of her already-important place in the Gerudo hierarchy; she was the future leader of the whole race and it was nothing to sneer at.

Sometimes she even acted like it.

But most of the time, she acted liked a ten-year-old girl, and Ganondorf had to treat her as such.

"Come on, dork! Stop being such a cucco-face and hurry up!" Nabooru called over her shoulder. She was scrabbling up a sand dune, a skinny monkey-girl who barely dented the dune's immaculate surface.

Ganondorf grumbled and followed her.

She waited for him at the crest of the dune, burning in the late-afternoon sunlight. She hooked a too-skinny arm around his and tugged on him, gold eyes alight with laughter. He nearly stumbled and face-planted in the sand.

"Look," she grinned. "The Goddess is down there!"

The Desert Colossus spread out before them. The temple—the Goddess, rather—jutted out of the ground, cut from pale red-brown rock. Once-exquisite features worn plain from the wind and sand stared down at them, sightless and transcendent. Nabooru was staring upwards, her voice caught in her throat.

The Goddess always took her breath away.

She nearly skidded down the last dune in her haste to reach the temple's mouth. She didn't even look over her shoulder as she yelled "You coming, dork?"

Ganondorf paid the girl no attention. He was staring at the statue-temple's eyes, empty of emotion and perfectly blank. They were cold, cut of stone, and gave him shivers despite the sun's heat.

He lowered his gaze from the statue's dead eyes, and slid down the sand dune. Nabooru's tracks led towards the temple in delicate arcs. Ganondorf followed them, careful not touch a single one—because in the desert, tracks never lasted long, always blown away by the wind.

Ganondorf wanted to make permanent tracks.

One day, he would.

There would be no more drawing in the sand with sticks. He would carve his name into the rock—carve his name into the canyon walls, and every wall beyond, all the way to the end of the world; to the end of time, even.

He followed her footsteps to the rock platform, and looked around. Where had she got to now? Ganondorf caught sight of a flash of red and bronze, and found Nabooru standing in the shadow of the temple's mouth.

"I want to go in," she said, eyes bright.

Ganondorf balked. "No one's allowed in, Nabooru."

The girl wrinkled her nose, her eyes squinching against the glare of the desert sun. "Stop calling me that. I'm Nabs when no adults are around, okay?"

He nodded just a little and stepped into the shadows, next to her. He was two years older and a head and a half taller, but sometimes he felt like she was the elder, especially when she looked up at him with laughing, secretive eyes.

"Fine," Ganondorf murmured. "Nabs. We're not allowed."

"Like that ever stopped you before," Nabooru snorted. She slipped her hand into his—a gesture left over from before either of them was too old to know better—and tugged him towards the mouth of the mouth of temple.

"Just for a little while! Just until the sun sets and it's cooler. We'll be home before dawn, and no one will know we were gone," Nabooru insisted.

And with that, she tugged him inside the temple.

It was cool and dark inside, the vomit-inducing heat kept out by thick walls and solid stone. Nabooru stared around, golden eyes wide in wonder. The walls were painted in red and gold, pale brush strokes peeling with age.

The two children stared at the interior of the temple, quietly speechless. It was ancient history come to life. For a moment, they both stood perfectly still.

And then Nabooru sat herself down, stretched out, and yawned happily. "It's so nice here. Y'know, this is why I love the desert. It's—"

"The desert is going to kill us," Ganondorf replied as he sat down next to her, awkward in his growing body—he was all elbows and knees, and Nabooru teased him mercilessly for it.

"How can you say that?" she demanded. "The desert is everything! It keeps us alive!"

"You haven't seen Hyrule, Nabs. They want us to burn."

Nabooru shook her head against the floor, stirring up dust. "And we don't try to kill them right in return? War is awful. Too many die for nothing."

"Freedom is nothing?"

"I never said that," Nabooru murmured. "Freedom is everything. But it's like horseback riding. You have to take care of your tack; otherwise you don't deserve to ride."

He stared down at her, uncomprehending.

"Look, you dumb dork. There are better ways than war! Peace… I think everyone needs peace."

"More than they need freedom?"

"I dunno," Nabooru replied, frowning. "But I just don't like it when people die."

There was no reason to like death, Ganondorf thought. Death was unnecessary. But then he thought of the Hylian race, and the way that the wind blew only fortune and goodwill towards them. The way they had everything, and never worked for it. The way they left the Gerudo girls dead. The way they took live prisoners—and the way those live prisoners became little more than toys.

The Gerudo may have been cruel on the battlefield, but they had never played with those they captured. It was always a clean death, carried away by the wind.

That desert wind that brought nothing but sandstorms and death took it all away, too.

His fists clenched convulsively at his sides.

The desert would always take more than it ever gave, Ganondorf knew. Even if Nabooru didn't see it—even if the rest of the Gerudo didn't see it, he thought viciously—one day it would destroy them all, and there was nothing he could do to stop it. He was powerless to stop it.

The knowledge of that would forever eat away at his soul.

He couldn't save his people, because he didn't have the power.

Nabooru was looking up at him. "Stop being grumpy, dork."

"I'm not grumpy," he groused, completely refuting his own words.

Nabooru laughed, high-pitched and echoey in the Spirit Temple's grand foyer. "You're always grumpy. Want to go watch the sun set?"

Ganondorf nodded, grateful for the subject change. He pushed himself off the ground and then reached down to help Nabooru up. She jumped up with the extra force of his pull, and darted around him with a mischievous grin marring her lips. The flash of red that was her hair was the only thing he saw as she disappeared out through the temple's entrance.

For a moment, Ganondorf stood in the empty Spirit Temple, and swore that one day, he would save them all.

Even if he died, he would save them all.

/ / /

Nabooru was waiting for him outside. Painted in the colours of the setting sun, she looked older than her ten years, and she smiled at him like dying because dying was all anyone around there was doing, anyway.

Ganondorf slung an arm around her shoulder, gawky and awkward and helpless.

"You're such a dork," she told him affectionately.

"Whatever," he muttered, flushing. The extra colour went unnoticed under dark skin and the darker glow of sunset, and for that, he was grateful.

(If Nabs found out that he—no. Just no.)

"I'd be okay with staying here forever," Nabooru whispered, staring into the sunset. There was something wistful in her voice; it sounded odd in her little-girl voice. But it was real and it was there and it was sad, and Ganondorf didn't know how to make it better.

Probably nothing would make it better.

"Yeah," Ganondorf murmured. "Me, too."

The two children stood in the fading light of the desert sun close together, lonely hearts about to break, and waited for night to come.

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fin.
notes2: this was supposed to be funny but ended up just being sad.
notes3: please leave a review if you liked it! :)