This was written for the very talented Torchic373, because this is their absolute FAVORITE PAIRING OF ALL TIME. That is all. : )
Disclaimer: I do not own The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (or any of them, for that matter *Mournful Sigh*), or the characters present in this fan-fiction.
WARNING: Contains spoilers for the game.
The tree sat inside of the temple, graced by serene shafts of champagne-colored sunlight. Pleasantly cool stone tiles left dusty smudges along the bottoms of Link's feet as he sat on the ground directly below the astoundingly beautiful Tree of Life.
He'd removed his boots, sliding the roughened hide over his thick, knitted stockings before discarding those as well. The flesh was calloused, reddened and sore, and Link had wanted to feel the worn stone on his bare flesh for a quite a while. This was his moment to relax - to come back to himself, and regain his strength.
He rubbed his toes against one another, reveling in the sensation of the dry dirt between them. His nails were long, and had begun to create holes in the thicker parts of his stockings. It would be necessary to go back to the Knight Academy for a replacement pair very soon. A weary, but relieved sigh escaped his throat.
The Sealed Temple was a peaceful place, but it wasn't one he'd typically have chosen to rest within. Being so close to Zelda's sleeping form was unsettling. He wanted to break into the room and just...be near her. However, if he tried to do just that, it could upset the elderly woman. That, and he knew it would hurt him too. He needed to stay strong for just a little bit longer.
A wave of displaced nostalgia overcame him then, as a far-off sphere of some unknown pollen drifted to the ground in his peripheral field of vision. The temple smelled like her - or maybe he was only imagining that it did. Had it smelled like Zelda before he'd discovered her presence? He could barely remember his first impression of it.
The small guardian sat in front of the door to the reincarnated Goddess. She would have come to speak to Link, but as an introverted person, she understood his need to reflect, and be given privacy. Her tall companion, however, did not quite understand such a need.
Groose had observed the smaller male as soon as he'd arrived. He hadn't gone to stand by the tree with him immediately. Though they'd bonded considerably over recent events, Groose and Link still didn't completely resonate with each other. The relationship was slowly blossoming. It would reach full maturity under better circumstances, the elderly woman often thought to herself.
For his part, Link had greeted them on his way in from a farther distance than usual. It wasn't that he was in a bad mood. He was just shrouded in a distinct sadness; one he probably didn't even fully recognize in himself. The aura of melancholy was just enough to keep Groose at bay for a full three minutes before he succumbed to his impulse to join the other boy.
Link sensed Groose's looming presence just before the larger male's shadow cast him in a mellow stencil of dark grey. He looked up in response, craning his neck to meet the other boy's eyes. The light of a swiftly descending dusk prevented him from doing so, and he turned his attentions back to the tree after offering a reluctant smile.
"Hey, you're bleeding!" Groose muttered with surprise as he glanced towards the hero's unclothed feet.
Link's eyebrows rose in perplexity. He hadn't realized his toes had chaffed to that extent. It was true - a small smear of sticky blood had begun to coagulate with the dirt, forming a russet mud at the base of his big toe. It didn't concern him too much. A bath would be in order as soon as he returned to Skyloft for new stockings anyways. That meant that he couldn't dwell in the temple for too long, as he'd be delayed in the floating town while he cleaned up.
Though he tried to convince himself to rise to his feet and begin the flight back home, Link couldn't bring himself to move from his spot. Groose had retired to the stone bench directly behind him, and was resting his head on one impressive fist as he leaned forwards and vaguely watched Link.
The smaller boy shrugged. "It doesn't hurt."
"You're gonna get some kinda gross infection before you can even save Zelda, you know."
A distant smile appeared on Link's face at the words of his fellow knight-in-training. He turned, and was finally able to see Groose's face; silhouetted by the bold rays of the sinking sun. His eyes were the same color as the light, as it had deepened to a warm gold-amber.
"I promise you, I won't let it happen before I save her."
The determination and understanding in Link's expression and his voice disarmed Groose a little bit. The smaller boy placed a warm, thin hand over the one that Groose had resting on his own knee. It was meant to be a reassuring gesture - and the effect was not lost on him.
"You know, you look a little bit like her."
Link chuckled lightly, feeling suddenly flustered. "Oh, really?"
"Well - I mean not exactly like her. Even though you are kinda girly..." Groose trailed off as Link scoffed at him; more pretending to be offended than genuinely feeling that way.
The big guy used the hand he was previously resting on to make a broad gesture, 'clearing away' his original statement.
"What I really meant was, you look like you could be her brother." He nodded, satisfied with his amendment.
Link shook his head; a bemused look painted across his features.
"I wouldn't have thought of it." He replied after a moment.
"Yeah, I didn't either for a while there. It kinda just occurred to me." Groose spoke as though he'd stumbled upon a great revelation.
"But you know we're not related...right?"
"Yeah, yeah! I know that. How dumb do you think I am?"
Link bit his lip, hoping Groose would continue without expecting an answer, which thankfully, he did.
"You guys just have the same coloring and basic size. You're both small, of course, Zelda's got an excuse since she's a girl and all..."
"Groose -" Link began to speak, wanting to protest the direction the conversation was going in, but the other boy continued on.
"You're just short."
The hero sighed, allowing himself to surrender to whatever it was his tall companion had on his mind.
"Alright, what made you bring all of this up?"
The large male looked away from Link for a moment, concentrating. He resumed facing the hero after a period of what appeared to be intense deliberation - something that always struck Link as an unsettling sight to behold in Groose.
"Well, I kinda hated you the whole time we were all just going to Knight Academy together."
"I realize that." Link smiled softly.
"But now I don't, because you're like the last piece of her that's still awake."
A strange emotion was brewing between the two of them, and it caused a stillness in the room. Link felt a little bit cold, suddenly, and he would have put his socks back on but they were still damp with sweat. Instead, he shuffled to his feet and sat back down on the bench Groose had claimed. There was a foot of space between them, and it felt vast.
"We will wake her up."
At those words, Groose breached the gap between them. His lips were excessively warm. Link thought the embrace would be invasive, but it was somehow - alright.
After he awoke a couple of hours later, his fingers entwined with much larger ones, Link stood to leave. He gathered his socks and boots, sliding them both on, careful to leave Groose undisturbed in his sleep.
On his way out, he bid goodbye to the elderly woman. She smiled, and there was infinite wisdom in her expression - but she said nothing.
Just a short one. I actually like the relationship between these two characters in the game. Link was so cute when he placated Groose after landing in the forest for the first time. All the characters in Skyward Sword are so likeable...
Listening To: "Iroha Uta" Cover by Sekihan and Nero.