After being sent back to his previous body and era, Link helps Zelda convincing her father that Ganondorf is a threat to his throne. Then he departs to Termina. But one year later, when he decides to return to Hyrule, the strange portal under the Clock Tower leads him to an alternate timeline.
He does not know what to expect when Zelda sends him back. He only understands that one of them, at least, has to remember to prevent it all. Peace of mind and solitude of heart clash in his head when he sees the innocence of her new eyes. He stops her and, with a couple spells and arguments, they convince her father too. They shorten the Gerudo's visit.
As soon as he is out of the kingdom, Link takes his leave - quickly and silently, before she can get used to his presence.
He tries to pick up the pieces of his childhood between the trees, in the glade of the wild children. But once a Kokiri leaves, he cannot pretend to return to the forest. A Kokiri who hurriedly left after the Great Deku Tree was murdered should be glad if he only becomes a Stalchild.
He is not even a Kokiri.
Before he knows it, he finds himself in her garden.
The guards know him well by now. Probably some lost orphan, an amusement for the little Princess. Well, he cares little for what they think, because being worthy of her friendship without needing to have near-death experiences is enough to make his heart swell with joy.
They play and he listens. He does not speak much, half because he has never been a man...a person, of many words, and half because most of the words he has now do not belong in the mouth of a child.
Before long, though, the gap between their minds becomes painful.
He does not know what to expect when he leaves her land to find himself. What he understands is that he has to do it before something gives. He would rather have her friendship from afar than to see worry and confusion take root in her eyes. When she hands the Ocarina to him again, it has a faint smell of lavender.
Everything begins with three days.
He learns that the eyes of his Lady remain as inspiring beyond the ties of words and dimensions. Soon, everything is done and seen and over, left only for remembrance. Time is freed again, days can now form months, and he... he sees enough deaths for two lifetimes.
He is not sure he has a better grasp of who he is, but he has found a fierce strength, one that the Goddesses allow him to keep.
In the meantime, though, the slaughters, the failures, the fear and violence make him crave her smiles even more than before. He sees no solution to his doom. He decides to turn back. It takes long, painful sessions of questions, storytelling and running errands for the innkeeper's mother, but he learns the precious tune he needs to teleport both the young Epona and himself to the other side of the door under the Clock Tower.
It is the brink of autumn when he passes it. Dried leaves crunch in colored garlands under Epona's hooves. He rides back with both longing dread and resignation. He tries to have realistic expectations and wants to believe he succeeds.
He never expects the sight of the torn kingdom that greets him beyond the woods.