Wipe your hand across your mouth, and laugh

"Sheik! Come on, we're going to be late!"

Hands stilling on the lyre strings, Sheik glanced down through the branches and smiled at the sight he found there. Link's excitement was infectious, a cheery grin across his face, bouncing on the balls of his feet. Chuckling as the Hylian's movements sent the little bells knotted to the ends of his clothing jangling and ringing, he tucked the lyre away, the composition he had been working on stored away for later, and leaped nimbly out of the tree.

"Have they arrived yet?" he asked, dusting himself off out of habit - his own outfit was mostly free of dust, but he found that he could not quite help himself from fussing.

"Not yet. Yula's gone ahead to keep watch, though - and we should check up on Epona before."

Sheik made a sound in the affirmative, gazing up at the sunlight shining through the leaves. "How is she doing?"

Link smiled fondly. "Pretty well. She's gone for a few runs since then, although she's sticking close by. For, well, obvious reasons," he added with a chuckle.

"Of course," he smiled, following Link up the path that led to the ranch. The sound of the odd blue goats reached them before they could see them, bleats and calls filling the air. From nearby, there was a loud whinny.

Jogging ahead, Link started for the stable. "Hey, girl!" he called, and Epona trotted calmly to the gate, followed by a small chestnut foal. "And hey there, cutie!" A wide smile crossed his face, and Epona's foal butted his hand boldly.

"They're coming along nicely," Sheik observed, offering the apple he carried to Epona. She plucked it from his hand delicately, and he gave her a pat.

"Uh huh," Link smiled, "The mayor wants her to have more - he says she has good bloodlines." A faint shrug - horse genetics, it seemed, were still a mystery to him.

"She is in her prime," he conceded, then reached a hand out to the foal.

She snorted, and Sheik withdrew his hand, looking bemused. Link chuckled outright, wrapping an arm around his shoulders. "She'll get used to you," he said encouragingly, then gave his shoulder a squeeze, voice lowering. "How are you feeling?"

The Sheikah let out a sigh. "Fine, Link," he reassured, "It was just one dream. Even normal people have bad dreams sometimes." Despite the self-deprecating words, his tone was light, almost teasing. "Now, we should hurry back, or else we will miss our guests."

"Okay," Link finally conceded, although he wasn't about to move his arm from Sheik's shoulders. "I bet she'll like it here - it's helped a lot for you, huh?"

"It has," Sheik said quietly, eyes on the landscape as they started back towards the village's mouth. "Having a purpose has helped - and I'm sure the forest air is healing."

Link smiled a little, eyes lifting as a little blue spark flitted by. "Hey!"

"Hi!" he grinned back, holding out a hand for her to land on. "Ready for the big day?"

"Am I ever!" Navi said enthusiastically, alighting from Link's hand and doing a loop around Sheik's head. "Maybe one day, she'll decide to come back to the forest as well, like everyone else!"

That got a chuckle. "But she's not from the forest," he pouted out.

Navi made a rude sound. "Neither's Sheik, but he came!"

"Alright," Sheik interrupted good-naturedly, "I'm sure we can decide her future for her when she's actually here."

Link let out an embarrassed laugh, dropping his arm to catch Sheik's hand and swing it idly. Here and there, as they walked, the beginnings of festivities were beginning to emerge from the forest around them - a pavilion in a clearing, colourful lamps on long poles, the different glass in each one promising to be a glowing spectacle once night fell. The celebration for the first day of summer - it was Link and Sheik's fourth since coming here, and this year would be a special one.

Near the entrance to the village, at the road that led through the woods and, eventually, back to the bridge that divided this land from Hyrule, they lingered.

They did not have to wait for long - Link's sharp ears caught the sound of horses and a carriage well before the round-eared Humans that inhabited the forest caught wind of the arrival. Soon, though, a whistle was blown, a cry of, "Make way for Her Majesty Zelda, Queen of Hyrule!" shaking the very leaves.

And out of the carriage stepped the young queen, laughing, her hair tied back in a practical braid and dressed in the customary dress of the summer festival. "Just call me Zelda," she told the young villager who had announced her presence, then turned back to the carriage and lifted from it a little boy.

It was curious, seeing the child now after so many letters. Sheik gazed at him, and a faint smile crossed his lips as he glanced from the blonde-haired, blue-eyed prince to his blonde-haired, blue-eyed mother - and the Sheikah moving to stand behind Zelda, the little boy resembling him to every last facial feature.

Link glanced between prince and Sheikah, and a laugh bubbled out of him.

Handed over to his father (or, at least to all official knowledge, to his mother's protector), the queen reached for the younger pair's hands, swinging them merrily as they led her back to the village proper. "- is so cute - you'll be able to see her a bit later, once she's rested. And you should see the bonfire we're going to have this evening!" Link enthused, Sheik simply content to listen and watch.

Somewhere ahead, music was beginning to play.

The summer festival dance. Glowing orbs in glass lanterns light up the trees and the field, the little prince clapping delightedly as Navi swoops and loops before his eyes, Link grinning fondly at his old friend. Beside him, Sheik plucks a melody on his lyre, watched the fire, and is content, music in his hands and peace in his heart.

Quietly, Link reaches for his hands as another song starts, a lively promise of joy. Catching sight of Zelda already twirling and laughing in her protector's hands, the boy watched over by a persistent fairy and a few fascinated young women from the village, Sheik allows himself to be lead forward.

Here, he finds it easy to move and lose himself in the music, the fire light in Link's eyes the brightest thing he's ever seen. Reaching out as the dance begins, he cups his Hero's cheek in one hand and lets a smile cross his scarred lips.

And then he's laughing in sudden surprised shock as Link wraps his arms around Sheik's middle and spins him around, grinning gleefully.

Beneath the moon, the fairies loop and dance, and beneath their light, the people gathered around the fire do the same.

It's summer, and there's warmth in the air and in Link's eyes as he gazes at Sheik and in Sheik's heart, eight years past a long forgotten memory. How could it possibly still slip its claws in to him, here in the night, here in Link's arms, here with his closest friend and his other half?

Link steals a kiss, and spins him around, and Sheik lets his head fall back as he laughs.

Finally, he is happy.

The End