Epilogue

"I've got it!"

With practised ease, Link vaulted over the arm of the sofa, grabbing the phone and lifting it in one quick movement. "Hello?" he asked breathlessly, forcing his breath to steady out.

"Hi, big brother," came a familiar voice, and Link grinned as he let himself relax. It was good to hear Aryll's voice, considering she was still up in Castle City at the university there.

"Hey, little sister," he returned, settling back down on the sofa. "What's up?"

He could almost hear the shrug. "Not much. Do I need an excuse to call my favourite big brother?"

"I'm your only big brother," he pointed out, "Unless you've found more family reco- oof. Grey..."

She laughed a little. "Have you considered putting him on a diet?"

Link rubbed at his stomach, glaring (well - pouting) at the unrepentant cat. "He's not fat, he's just huge. I think he's part mountain lion or something. You were so tiny when we got you, little guy, what happened?"

More laughter from the other end of the line, muffled a little. "That nickname has got to go, Link, seriously..."

The conversation continued, catch-ups and congratulations. And then Aryll paused, drawing in her breath.

"Grandma wants you to come back here for dinner," she blurted out, "For finishing the course."

Link went still, getting a curious look from Sheik. "I'm - not sure," he said falteringly, "It's been a while since I last saw her..."

"Yeah, but you've been talking on the phone okay, right?" Aryll sounded a little on the anxious side. "And - she said you could bring your friends. Well, I know she said friends, and she mentioned Zelda, but - I think she was trying to say it's okay for you to bring Sheik as well."

With a sigh, he stared down at his hands. "What about Uncle," he pointed out warily, and Aryll made a negative little sound.

"I've been working on him. He's - he might be rude. But I don't think he'll be hostile..."

Link let out a faint laugh, still gazing downwards. "He probably still voted no in the referendum, though, right?"

Aryll snorted. "Well, he was on the wrong side, wasn't he?"

He did smile a little at that. "Hey, can you get online? I want to show you something..."

Booting up his old laptop (second-hand, purchased with his savings from the bar), he logged into the chat program, plugging in the webcam. When Aryll's curious face appeared, he waved a little with his right hand, keeping his left carefully hidden.

She waved back. "What did you want to show me?" she asked, head tilted a little.

Link swallowed a little, holding up his left hand. "This."

She stared hard. And he explained, softly, almost faltering, but unable to stop a smile from forming as he recounted it, glancing over at an encouraging Sheik often. "He gave it to me when it was in pieces - all these different loops in different shapes. It was a puzzle, and he told me to put it together, and there'd be a message at the end. And I did - and there wasn't a message like a note or anything, just the ring. And -" He ducked his head, a little bashful. "I guess it makes sense for me, huh? A puzzle that turns into an engagement ring."

He glanced at his hand again, his smile soft. "The next week, I gave him his as well - it's also silver, but smooth, and there's music notes on the inside. It's the melody of the first song I ever played for him on guitar."

Aryll was silent for a long moment. And then she let out a squeal high enough to distort the speaker, leaving Link laughing and wincing at the same time. "You're engaged now? Congratulations! Oh my Goddesses, Link, that's so good!"

"It is pretty good, huh?" he sad with a self-conscious smile. "It's five and a half years now. We'll have to wait a little longer until the law actually passes, but..." The self-consciousness was slipping away, replaced by contentment. "We can wait."

With a promise made that, yes, he would go back to Castle City to see his grandmother, his fiance along for the ride, Link ended the call and returned to Sheik's side, dropping his head to his shoulder. "What do you think?" he murmured, and Sheik reached for his hand absently.

"I think it's about time your grandmother realised how amazing her grandson is," Sheik murmured, playing with Link's fingers. "And it might be good to meet her."

"Yeah," he breathed, settling back against the cushions. "Even Uncle might be impressed by the whole orchestra thing."

It was optimistic, but Link still smiled at the idea.

The door opened again, and Zelda shuffled in through the door, arms laden with boxes from the university. Link and Sheik jumped to help her, the three settling back on the sofa again once they were sorted.

"I'm glad you two were here today," she murmured tiredly, letting her head fall back, braid flipping over the back of the sofa.

"I'm glad you two are here for all the other days," Link returned, one arm already around Sheik, the other moving to wrap around Zelda's shoulders.

It had been dropping out, overseas trips, and car crashes, the year they had started university. It had been new courses, foals, and unexpected visits from Twila, the next. It had been graduation, and referendums, and engagements, and friends and family and the world spinning on beneath their feet, for that year and for the years still to come, ranger training and orchestra performances and historical digs, birthdays and Solstice, cats and horses, spaghetti dinners and fancy restaurants, Sheik and Zelda and their whole chosen family, a patchwork quilt of disparate memories and experiences that somehow came together to be greater than the sum of its parts, in the days and months and years that made up Link's life thus far.

And for the future? Whatever it brought, he would meet it head on and laugh.

The End