The Temple of Time was as peaceful as it always was when we arrived in the signature green flash of my abilities. I did just enough with my mind to keep the portal, unseen as it was, open so I'd be able to travel back, then concealed both our minds carefully. If I was right, the past me would be able to sense our presence and that we were ahead of him on the timeline, but nothing more – further protection against a paradox.

For a moment I thought I'd arrived too early, as there was no one around at all. Early was better than late though, so for now at least I headed in toward the Pedestal of Time to wait for my impending arrival. I didn't have long to wait before blue light shot up, the shadowy figure of me silhouetted against it, then it faded leaving me stood there having just drawn the Master Sword out.

My past self noticed me immediately, and his Navi not long after. As she did not know to keep silent for this yet, I raised a finger to indicate silence, then as he gave me a questioning look, I handed over the package containing the Fused Shadows, Zelda's letter attached. I gave him a wink as he took it, then stepped back to the waiting time portal, disappearing to his view as it took me back to the proper point on the timeline.

Along the way back two things happened. Firstly I reoriented the portal to point to the battleground I'd faced Ganondorf at, since I'd left Biggoron's sword there and I wanted to retrieve it, but secondly and far more importantly, the block on my mind faded and I regained my memories of delivering the Fused Shadows.

"So the Goddess of Time did agree to help then," Navi said as we arrived. "That's good to know."

"I wonder if she was involved in keeping that portal open," I mused to myself, picking my way over the rubble to get my sword back. "Normally its much harder to keep it open that long without making it visible."

"Or maybe its the gold in your gauntlets," she countered. "Silver, there's... something I have to tell you."

"What's that?"

"I can't stay with you. It's nothing personal, but..."

"Take your time, Navi. We've got as long as we need."

"But Zelda-"

"Has no idea how precisely I can travel time, and won't even know we took this side trip," I answered, knowing what she'd ask.

Navi took a few moments to collect herself while I heaved the sword out of the rock, noticing as I examined it that it had somehow managed to maintain its edge despite what I'd done. Once I'd picked a rock nearby to settle on and wait for her, she finally answered.

"When a fairy an a Kokiri are partnered, they remain together for life. The Kokiri don't age or die – sometimes when they've been around for a long time, they disappear, but they don't die – and that extends to their fairies."

"I think I understand. Because I'm not a Kokiri-"

"I age, just like you do. I wish I could stay with you, but I want you to remember me as I am now."

"Navi... how long do you have?"

"I don't want to say. I'll have seven more years when we return to our own time, but I'll still know my time is limited. Please, let me go my own way when we get back Silver."

I reached a hand out to her, which she settled gently into. "Don't worry. No matter where you go, or what happens, you and I will always be together. Just think – you're the only fairy who knows anything about psychokinesis. Think of that as my lasting gift to you."

"But what about you?"

"I'll always remember you. You've been my friend and partner through this whole adventure, and I don't think I'd have managed nearly so well if I hadn't had your help. I'll miss you, but I'll never forget you."

"Promise?" she asked in a quiet voice.

"Promise. Now, what do you say we go argue with the Princess?"

"Argue? What about?"

"Wait and see, dear friend," I grinned back. "She's going to object, I'm sure of it, but I'm sure I can bring her around."

Since Zelda had seen me disappear into the original time portal, she would know what to look for to mark my arrival, and I knew that wouldn't appear if I travelled by normal means. So instead of going directly to the Temple of Time, I took us just outside, near the ruined marketplace – now devoid of Redeads, and even with a few of the braver folk from Kakariko hesitantly exploring the ruins.

She was waiting for me when I entered the Temple, giving me a quizzical look.

"My aim was slightly off," I apologised. "After doing all this, I'm just a little rusty. I delivered the Fused Shadows, and as I left I remembered receiving them too. There's no paradox to worry about."

"Good. Now it's time for you to return to your own time. I have to ask you to return the Ocarina of Time before you leave though."

"I don't think that's a good idea, Princess," I said.

"I think it is. It belongs with the royal family."

"Hear me out. There are five keys to open the Door of Time, right? The three Spiritual Stones, the Ocarina of Time and the Song of Time. When I go back, the Door of Time will close again won't it?"

"Yes," she answered. "The Goddess of Time will know the task of the Temple of Time is done, and will seal it."

"That means as long as all the keys remain in Hyrule, someone can open it again and access the Sacred Realm. Even if, when I get back, I return the three Spiritual Stones, as long as the Ocarina of Time remains with me no one can open the door. Someone could gather them together and learn the song, but without it, they can't open the door. Let me protect the Ocarina for you."

"But if we need it after now..."

"I promise to keep watch over Hyrule and if something comes up without a Hero to handle it, I'll step in," I offered. "I'm trying to do what's best for Hyrule here, Princess."

She thought it over for a time, then finally gave in and nodded agreement. "Very well. I'll hold you to that promise – but leave the Spiritual Stones here. They have to remain until now. I'll have them returned shortly. Now you should put the Master Sword back."

And I did just that.

"There isn't much more to tell after that," Silver concluded. "During that last transport back in time, I acted as Tails' teacher, passing on the skills the Goddesses asked me to. The wolf he saw in Hyrule was just an image the Goddesses projected, so I have no idea what it's actually like to be a wolf. When I got back, Navi went her own way, the Door of Time sealed, and I went off back to Kokiri Forest for some well earned rest."

"That's all you did?" Tails pressed.

"Sure, why?"

"Then how do you explain the bow I found in the Goron Mines? Wasn't that your bow?"

"Oh, yeah. That. I guess I forgot. Just before I taught you, the goddesses took the various equipment I gathered 'for the next hero' they told me. They left me Biggoron's Sword, the Golden Gauntlets, all three spells and the Hylian shield, which they altered so I could better use it one-handed as my younger self again. Everything else was left in Hyrule."

"What about Termina?" Knuckles asked. "You're gonna tell us that story too, aren't you?"
"Give me a little break, I've been telling this one for long enough. Anyway, you've got to tell us who that other Hero is."

"You did say you'd tell us if he hadn't shown up," Sonic agreed. "So who is it?"

"Someone you know," Knuckles replied. "Well, someone Sonic should know, at least. I don't think the rest of you know him."

Sonic looked puzzled, but didn't offer a guess. "Who is it? Can't ya just tell us?"

Knuckles smiled back slyly. "You know, I wonder how you'll react when I tell you. After all, so far all of us Heros have just been your friends – I'm sure it'll be a little different when it's your own little brother."

He let that sink in a bit, then with a mix of dismay and surprise, Sonic burst out, "Manic? You're telling me Manic is a Hero too now?"

A/N: And now at long last, our second epic tale is at a close! Damn, that was a fun one to write.

If you've glanced over at my profile page and some of the notable stories I put up on it, you'll already know the probable titles of the next three stories in this little series. I'll be taking a little break from them for a bit - I've got some other stories I've been neglecting that I really should work on - but when I return to them, look out for Silver's second adventure in Termina, which will be entitled 'Silver Demons'.

Hope you've enjoyed reading! See you next time!