disclaimer: disclaimed.
dedication: to Emily because COME TO MY FANDOM.
notes: whoops, replaying Twilight Princess again. also, my headcanon!Shad is a super-dork who is bad at social situations and speaks like Jake English. ish.

title: soon it will be cold
summary: Shad wasn't ready to give up on his father's lifework. Not yet. — Ilia/Shad.

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A girl with a horse stood in front of him.

She was young.

She was so young.

But she looked up at him with an inquisitiveness that Shad had not seen in another person in a long time. And she had it, this fairy-girl with eyes the colour of Faron's foliage and gold curls dappled sun and shadow, looking up and wide-eyed innocent. There was intelligence there, wrapped up in colourful rags and pale skin—the kind of youth and beauty that lingered forever in the summer, edged in crazy and catastrophe. He'd never learned her name.

Shad swallowed tightly. "I—er—"

She tipped her head at him, a slow smile shimmering on her lips. "I remember you. You're here for Link. Right?"

Link. Yes. Link. Father's research. Link. Possessed the Dominion Rod. Link. Not this girl who couldn't have been older than his youngest sister—sixteen summers, maybe. Link. Life's work.

"Yes," he coughed. "Yes, Link."

"He's not here right now," she murmured.

And it was such a lovely thing.

"Blast," Shad chuckled nervously and pushed his glasses up his nose for want of something to do with his hands. So awkward, he thought to himself nastily. "I've missed him again."

"He doesn't really come here, anymore," she said softly. There was something melancholy in her voice—but also acceptance. And wary; she was wary. Shad watched it filter into her consciousness. "Everyone knows that."

Everyone in Ordon, perhaps.

Shad cringed and folded in on himself. "I—er—"

"Welcome to Ordon," she said simply. "I'm Ilia. I don't know if we were ever properly introduced."

Shad shook his head a fraction of an inch, too paralyzed by the prospect of actually having to be this close to her; she smiled out of the corner of her mouth and Shad wondered if she'd let him touch her but—

She was so young.

"Shad," he choked out. "I'm—Shad. Er. Perhaps I ought to go, I only came to speak to Link, and I wouldn't want to intrude—"

Ilia smiled again. "I'm just about to go, anyway. Don't worry about it."

And the question escaped before he could stop it. "Go where?"

"A forgotten place," she shrugged, and Shad didn't know why he cared so much—but she'd lost her memory, and he'd never known her name, too deeply entrenched in trying to prove that the Oocca weren't a figment of a dying man's imagination.

"You can come, if you'd like. Company would be nice," and he watched her hands close convulsively around a little wooden statue that she'd magicked from somewhere under the rag-dress she was wearing. "I have to give this back."

And Shad, with the words and the thoughts stuck in the muck and the mire that was his thought processes, could only nod.

Her breath came quicker as she held it. "I promised. Heaven is close to that place, and I promised."

And heaven was where Shad wanted to go.

And so he smiled a little crookedly and pushed his glasses up his nose again. "I'd—I think I'd like that very much, Miss Ilia."

She looked at him then, strange and fae.

"Please don't call me that," she whispered. "Just Ilia."

Shad nodded once. It was hard to breathe.

She swung herself up on the horse, all golden sunlight and perfection and utter insanity. He could taste it under his tongue—it rolled off her in waves too strong to ignore.

She was so young.

Shad wondered what he'd gotten himself in to.

fin.