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Link's journeys to Termina and back, and to childhood and back, but always a hero.
Written for the prompt 'Link: transformation - all the other possible forms ' at areyougame @ DW
Navi had noticed first. "Wow, you're all grown up, Link!"
The heart of the Temple of Light had nothing familiar, and Link had assumed the old man standing before him had been bent double with age. But once he moved, it was obvious. It was like wearing stilts. Everything was higher up, his head and his center of balance. The Hylian shield he had found in a soldier's tomb was light and smaller than he remembered; he could use it as something other than a hiding place. And all his other treasures -- his boomerang and slingshot -- were all too small to fit comfortably in his hands any more.
But not the sword; the Master Sword's grip fit his hand perfectly, and it moved like an extension of his too-long arm. Even the Kokiri Sword had taken some getting used to. That blade was child-sized, but weighted different than the Deku sticks Link had always practiced with. This, this was the sword he was meant to wield.
Still, a chill went down his spine as soon as he set foot outside the Temple of Time and felt, under the dark clouds and dead gardens, the miasma take hold. He hoped that the legendary blade was good enough to make up for a wearer who had slept through half his life.
Of all the places he had been in Hyrule, the Spirit Temple had the most magic in it. Not merely because of the power housed within, but because he had seen it first as an adult, and returned as a child. As the notes of the Requiem of Spirit faded and he felt the sudden burst of heat from the desert banish the cool air of the Temple of Time, Link forced himself to look around the grounds.
This wasn't the first time he'd used the songs Sheik had been teaching him to travel as a child -- he couldn't safely go to the volcano when his fireproof clothing was too big for him, and there wasn't much point to return to the heart of the forest or the graveyard, but Lake Hylia and the Temple of Time were places he visited regularly.
But this was the second time he had to travel by magic and song, and even the Shadow Temple had been visible to him, resting on unscalable cliffs. But, the Spirit Temple was guarded by Gerudo unwilling to allow a young boy past, and a hostile desert that had been a trial to cross even as an adult.
It made the temple almost as magical as the future. Somewhere he couldn't walk or swim to, but was transported in the blink of an eye. But it was far more beautiful than the ruins of Hyrule Castle Town, the frozen Zora headwaters and the other things Ganondorf had done while he was asleep.
He stepped off the mark of the Triforce and walked towards the temple, wondering what he'd find there.
Part of Link would always shudder whenever he pulled the Deku Mask from his pack and put it on, feeling the magic wrap around him and force his body into the tiny wooden shape. He couldn't escape the feeling of drowning in brambles that the first, unwilling, transformation had given him -- and, on some of the dark forest nights with branches whipping in the wind, it came back to him, even as a Hylian. Nor could he forget the fear that he'd had for his first three days in Termina, that he was stuck this way for the rest of his life.
But the flying, that made him almost forget the feelings as he floated, light as a leaf, on breezes. Link had never been afraid of heights, having grown up climbing trees, but this was different. Here the open air and wind were his friends, the ground a memory. It was what birds felt, this freedom.
Link had a soft spot for the Gorons. Whether he met them on Death Mountain or Snowhead, some things could be counted on as constant as the stone beneath his feet. And one was that once you earned a Goron village's loyalty, you were part of the village. Even if you were a small child, and made of flesh, not stone. When he had lived among the Kokiri, he had been a semi-outcast without a fairy; but the Goron folded him in to their hearts, despite how he looked.
Though the mask felt like cheating. He felt -- no, he was sure -- that Darmani wanted all the loose ends his death left tied up. Not just at Snowhead, but with his people. And Link couldn't leave that wish alone, even though he knew that he would be gone before sun-up on Carnival Day, to relive the three days over again, previous tasks left undone.
It was a hard mask to set down. Not for the strength, or the ability to ignore heat, but for the sense of brotherhood Link felt among the Gorons.
He expected Lulu to remind him of Princess Ruto, since... well, since they were both Zora ladies. But, she reminds Link of a different princess instead. Maybe it's the way she looked, standing outside the hall, like someone took her world and smashed it in front of her, but she had curled up into silence, not into another person as Zelda had.
Link decided it was the way Mikau felt about her, bleeding through from his spirit in the mask. He felt half-remembered dreams of Mikau's, dreams of a life with Lulu and her hatched eggs, a life of music and light that the Gerudo pirates had taken from him. Link was still trying to sort through the seven years that only happened for him and Navi as he lived the same days over again, and part of that was Princess Zelda, something even she had sensed the last time they spoke.
He didn't know what he could do to make Lulu smile again. He can rescue her eggs, and lay Miaku's spirit to rest, but it won't bring that dream back. Time had passed them by, as it did for everyone except Time's Hero.
Link didn't know when his exact birthday was. Kokiri were forever children and had 'birthday' parties whenever they felt like it, usually several times a year. Malon had been the one to decide that he should have a 'real' birthday, on one of his visits to her father's ranch, so she declared that the day he left the forest was his tenth birthday.
He had left Hyrule before his eleventh, waiting only until Epona was old enough to support him as a rider. After Ganon had been sealed in the Sacred Realm, and Zelda had sent him back to his childhood for the final time, neither he nor the past Zelda knew what would happen. Even Impa and her knowledge of old magic couldn't illuminate the situation
If he had been sent back before the two of them opened the Door of Time, Ganondorf would still be troubling himself to get the Sacred Stones, but would not have the power to remove King Daphnes from the throne. He helped the Gorons clear out the Dodongo caverns again, and saved Princess Ruto from her imprisonment inside of Jabu-Jabu, but he had insisted that Darunia and Ruto keep the stones, or give them to others, but not let him or Zelda know where they were. No one person was ever to have all three stones until he was old enough to take up the Master Sword.
As for himself, the Great Deku Tree had asked him to guard the Kokiri's Emerald, and Zelda and Impa suggested the best way to ensure that Ganondorf couldn't open the Door of Time with the three stones was to make sure he didn't know where they were. So, the Emerald rode with him on his travels outside of Hyrule, safe in its obscurity as nothing more than a brilliant gem carried by a foreign boy.
But now, he knew that he would be able to wield the Sword of Evil's Bane, that he could open the Door without fear of Ganondorf using him to make a grab for the Triforce within the Sacred Realm.
It was time to come home and fix whatever problems had come in the seven years. He could only pray to the goddesses that it was less than those from the other seven years, and that Zelda and the other sages had protected the realm.
He led Epona through the Snowpeak mountains. The passes were mostly clear in high summer, but with snowmelt still feeding the streams and mountain lakes. Some of the streams would make their way down and fall into Zora's Domain, and eventually feed Lake Hylia. He caught a glimpse of his reflection in one of the ponds, a man leading a horse. His tunic was still green, though not the bright Kokiri color he had worn as a child, and he was struck by the familiarity of his face, how he had worn it years before.
Things had come full circle. But now he was ready.
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