Mipha stood beside Link, her shoulders slumping forward weakly as her lover kept her up with an arm around her midsection, his own head lazily resting atop hers as it fell to the side. The two of them had gone quiet as Dorephan remained with his face having fallen into his hand, mustering the courage to look upon his battered daughter standing before him. Beside Mipha and Link, the self appointed 'Big Bad Bazz Brigade' had been standing together attentively, though, in their childish reverie, had quickly restarted to a collection of excited whispers as they recounted the events of just an hour ago. To the couple's other side, Tovar stood, in near the same weak state as his peers, refusing to damage his pride by taking a seat- much as Mipha had chosen.
"Oh my god! and that uppercut!" Rivan whispered quietly, just catching Link's ear, as he recreated the action at his two pals, turning toward Sidon, "Right?! and Gaddison! That was so…so- Whoa! Just POW!"
He threw his arms to the side to simulate Gaddison's heroic action, hopping up and down as he attempted to quell his excitement, leaving Gaddison to rub her arm as she peered away, embarrassed, "It wasn't anything special…"
"It totally was!" Rivan assured, quickly turning toward Bazz, "Wasn't it?!"
Bazz only grinned, turning toward her with a approving glance, "I'd say Gadd is a true heroine, indeed."
"Cut it out!" Gaddison whined, covering her face with her hands as her embarrassment overwhelmed her.
Snickering, Rivan crossed his arms, proud of subduing his cohort, though Bazz's appreciative smile gleamed true before he reached out to pat Gaddison's shoulder in praise, though it earned him little in the way of her ending her recoiled stance. Before he could speak further, Dorephan's voice suddenly rang out through the throne room, forcing all the children to fall into line, arms at their sides.
"And what of the other two..?" he finally managed to speak, guiltily, lowering his hand to reveal himself in a show of courage.
Tovar raised his shoulders valiantly, though his somber voice betrayed anything he could have demonstrated as such, "Vakem has passed on. Melepha is not far behind. She clings to life, though hopefully, most of her wear, now, is from exhaustion. That, and performing arts that she had yet the ability to control- her arm has been torn up."
Dorephan nodded slowly, "And yet I find you here, Tovar, standing, of all things."
The soldier grinned, "With all due respect my liege, I'm not about to end the streak of servicemen giving their after-combat reports; I believe my son, of all people, would have scolded me greatly for such an offense."
The King sighed at his subordinate's choice of actions, though let him be, simply continuing on as if to hurry past the details to allow the man a rest, "Speaking of your after-combat report…"
"Sir!" Tovar shouted as he saluted, earning a hasty emulation from Rivan, who slowly returned to normal upon realizing Bazz and Gaddison hadn't done the same.
Link lowered his face closer toward Mipha's ear, whispering to her, "Are you sure you're okay?"
In a second, she replied with a nod, "As long as I have you here to keep me up, I-"
"Dear, you're the only thing keeping me standing right now," Link interrupted with a grin allowing Mipha to bury the side of her head further into him as a helpless sigh left her before her own smile.
"Yes, about that!" Dorephan suddenly spoke up louder, quickly turning toward the four children at the other side of the rotund room, eyeing them critically, "I would very much like to know what four children were doing assaulting such a dangerous threat to our home, one of them being the Prince, no less! I would expect my own son to have something of a grasp on what danger is!"
His gaze lingered for but a moment before his head turned down, "Who among you is responsible?"
Gaddison shivered as she took a step forward, assuming that her action of grabbling the weapon away was what the King was referring to, ultimately, though Bazz quickly threw his arm to the side, impeding Gaddison's momentum as he stepped forward, his face still with conviction as the King watched him with low eyes.
"It was my idea, sir," Bazz answered, his lips twisting in concern as he did his best to avoid his King's glare.
Dorephan continued on with his interrogatory action for a moment before lowering his head once again, catching it with his hand as he gave a massive sigh, shaking his head, "Too many people have died as of late. That's enough in the way of punishment. Despite how stupid some actions might have been, here we are, inevitably, still able to have this conversation. For that, I cannot offer enough thanks to every one of-"
"Sire!" cried Muzu, stepping angrily into the throne room, throwing a hand in Link's direction, "These Hylians are a threat to our most basic sense of safety and-!"
Dorephan lifted his head to reveal an angered look, "Muzu! It's because of that Hylian that you're still able to argue about him!"
"I'm still not convinced that this wasn't a plot from the beginning! Are you aware your own son was coerced into falsely releasing those two other fiends?!" Muzu accused.
"From what I gather," Dorephan explained, "It was because of those two men that my only daughter, your student, is standing here right now. I may have my father's temper, Muzu, but I've been through enough to understand, far better than he, that many situations call for no such thing."
Muzu advanced toward the throne, his fangs barred as he fumed, though as he passed by Tovar's side, Dorephan continued, "You would cross the path of a man whose son has just perished, seeking further bloodshed?"
The advisor halted in that moment, having been blinded by Tovar's presence since entering the throne room in a rage. His clenched fist shook as he held back whatever vitriolic retort ran through his mind, only managing to stomp a foot into the ground before admitting, "…no."
Dorephan nodded, "I do think it is a fine time for these Hylians' departure, but they owe us nothing. If anything, we all owe this Knight plenty for saving the life of the brightest among us all."
He turned toward Link with a frown, "You've done far too much for this Domain for me to send you away so callously, but-"
"I understand," Link interrupted with a decisive nod, struggling to stand upright as Mipha remained bound to his side.
With a gracious show of appreciating at his understanding, Dorephan only nodded, pointing out toward the entryway to signal everybody's dismissal.
Link sat with a propped up knee to rest his arm on, his opposing hand in unwanting territory as it laid in his lap instead of around his lover's body in a halved hug, though Mipha was quick to remind him of their charade as they sat beside one another near the great bridge, watching as Lall's wagon was prepared and filled with Dorephan's return for the King of Hyrule. Mipha did her best to sit up straight and remain with an air of austerity that often accompanied royalty, though in her weakened state, she couldn't help but slump her shoulders and keep her head hung low, her eyes merely directed up toward the action before them.
Link sighed, shifting his weight and switching legs after stretching his muscles, turning to Mipha and speaking up, "Well I won't be forgetting this visit any time soon."
She grinned, though aside from that, offered little in the way of movement, "You mean the idea of near death doesn't excite you?"
"Maybe once this Calamity thing happens. If it happens," Link shrugged, leaning back against the sleek railing behind him, "Goddess, I wish I could follow the Princess I truly wanted to."
Mipha quickly turned her head toward him, "Shh!"
Shrugging, Link went on, "Why can't they know? I want nothing more than to hold you as tight as a creature can embrace another."
Her eyes trailing downward, Mipha frowned, "It's just…not the right time."
Though his heart twisted at the thought, Link decided to leave it at her word, only releasing a muted sigh as he watched Lall and Jarrol put together the last of their cargo, Lall quickly rushing around either side to instruct the various Zora attempting to load the massive better bag of fish, among other things. The Hylian stressfully went along as his cousin warily avoided any and all contact with the slimy fish skins, making him quite ineffective for Lall's purposes.
"I've never had anything with another being like I've had with you," Link muttered quietly, earning an unseen blush from Mipha, "I only want to spend every night with you the same way we shared one another last night."
Mipha's eyes caught his profile, "We both have greater responsibilities."
Seriously, Link's stare turned down to meet her face, nearly piercing her view as he spoke up critically, "I would give up this sword, my rank- everything to just…run off and make you my world."
Unable to speak in reply, Mipha's face dipped low in sadness, understanding the same feelings she would also feel occasionally. She caught the sound of Sidon scampering across the platform, his feet pattering with the mild sucking of his still-dipped feet as he rushed to the wagon to hand Jarrol a gift from Dorephan, followed closely by the Big Bad Bazz Brigade, all of whom were quick to take this opportunity to thank both of the men. Mipha heard a chuckle from beside her as Link had taken to watching as well, a smile crossing his face at the sight of Rivan squaring up to recreate the past event in front of Lall, only earning a concerned nod from both Hylians.
"They'll all probably be grown by the time I return," Link spoke, "The King has Zelda traveling, literally, everywhere trying to find whatever it is they're trying to find. May be a few years, and I know you all hit that growth spurt and grow like basins in a flood."
Mipha smirked at the odd comparison, watching Bazz take quick, intermediate glances toward the two of them as he tried his best to remain ensconced in his brigade's activity. She turned back in surprise as Link worked his way up to his feet, swaying weakly before grabbing ahold of the nearby railing to steady himself, letting go only once his tight muscles had started giving way to his intentions.
"Hey, Bazz," he shouted, the boy jumping his tremendous shock at being address by a Knight, though he slowly walked toward Link with a nervous cadence, avoiding his stare.
Link only smiled at the boy's reaction, turning to meet Mipha's confused stare before speaking to Bazz once he was within earshot, "You still have your sword with you?"
"No…" Bazz grumbled, arms crossed as his eyes shifted away, "Tovar took all our stuff. Not like we weren't just heroes or anything; he should have given us actual stuff to practice with for once."
Watching the boy with interest, Link couldn't help but chuckle at Bazz's brimming pride as he reached a hand over his shoulder, luring the child's attention back toward him at the sound of Link's sword sliding along its sheathe on its way into the air. Mipha's eyes went wide at the sight, horrified at what Link was about to do, though she only watched in silence as Link spun his sword in his hand, gripping its hilt upside-down to hand the Bazz.
Bazz went still as his eyes locked with the weapon, nearly shaking with anticipation. This sword belonged to the man whom he just witness being a hero just hours earlier, he thought, his hand having gome limp as he pleaded with it to move. Slowly enough, Bazz reached up, grasping the sword gingerly until Link was positive he had a sure grip, dropping the weight into Bazz's hand, which he clearly wasn't expecting, nearly dropping the weapon into the ground as he desperately tried to wield such a massive sword.
"Watch your fins," Link instructed easily, "There's a reason the Zora always use spears."
"Y-Y-Yeah," Bazz stuttered unconfidently, his body swaying around as he attempted to handle the massive blade, his eyes shooting wide as his body's momentum took his arms toward the Knight's legs, though Link only dropped his wrist, taking the weak blow to his gauntlet, leaving Bazz standing there, his mind whirring, as he watched in horror, despite having done nothing in the way of injury.
Link smirked, "Well, maybe when you're a bit bigger, alright? Tell you what, how about next time I show up, I bring one that might work for you."
His eyes now glimmering in the sun, Bazz's mouth dropped in awe, unable to answer until just eking out, "Y-You mean it?"
"Why not?" Link shrugged familiarly, "You want to be a great soldier, right?"
"I wanna be a hero!" Bazz quickly interjected his correction.
Link nodded, "Alright. Then it's a deal. Until then, try and keep that little troupe of yours under control; I have a feeling that may be more daunting than any Lynel."
"Y-Yes sir!" Bazz shouted still with an opened expression, almost as though saluting into some ethereal being before him.
Bazz started off, only just realizing he was still in possession of Link's blade before returning it to its proper owner, then scurrying off toward the others, whom had all begun to depart from the wagon's side as Lall hopped aboard, leaving Tovar to eye the two by the wayside. Link sighed as his time was coming to an end, his lips curling into a grin as he heard Mipha beside him.
"For somebody so enamored with the idea of running off, you sure do make a lot of promises," she teased, reaching a foot over to playfully jab at his leg.
"I guess it's not too bad," Link concluded, reaching down to take Mipha's hand before pulling her up, first, to her feet, then into his arm to allow her a supportive hold, the two slowly making their way toward the bridge, "I do often wonder how my life might have turned out had you not suggested I take hold of this sword."
He waved at Lall to signal him to go along, leaving the two secretive lovers time to chat as they caught up slowly, allowing Mipha a quiet reply, "You wouldn't be that boy's hero, for one."
Link's eyes rolled playfully, turning down toward her with a droll expression, "You'd still have fallen for me, right?"
Mipha's brow curled mischievously as she held her tongue, leaving Link to chuckle, "Going to play hard to get, huh?"
"Only for the moment," Mipha smiled, "I like seeing you flustered. I like seeing any part of you that isn't that stoic look on your face. It just reminds me how much of yourself you allow me to see."
Link asked flatly, "And if we keep on like this, as Champions, are you prepared to see me injured?"
"I pretty much just saw that," Mipha confirmed with a teasing voice.
"Are you prepared to see me die?"
Her face gradually fell as the two began the trek across the massive bridge, following in the thunderous rolling of the wagon ahead of them. As familiar as the floor beneath her had been her entire life, Mipha suddenly felt chilled by the platform beneath her, almost feeling within her the same vastness that separated her home from the waters below.
"If whatever happens…truly happens," Link muttered, quietly, unable to finish his thought as he merely let the grinding of wheels overtake his voice.
Mipha turned to look over her shoulder, back toward the Domain, her eyes trailing down its various inclines, hunting for any Zora eyes that might be turned toward them. Her hand gently reached up to grab ahold of Link's, tightening its grip as she pulled him into her side as they walked.
"You're frightened," she spoke in a whisper.
He replied, "I'm frightened of losing you."
As her feet slowed to a stop, Link did as she had done, turning back toward her so that Zora's Domain sat just over her shoulder. Their hands still entwined, Mipha lowered her head as she hid her smile, already having come to terms with such things. She'd been at peace with her role in Zelda's plan, whether or not it should come to pass, simply because she had a people- she had a home to protect. She had reasons, a multitude of such, to find peace in dying in whatever might ensure during this Calamity. But she knew, all too well after the night before; Link had nothing but her. She was his home. his shelter. The only place where he could truly open up and be himself.
She pulled his hand toward her palm-side up, lifting her opposite hand before gently running her thumb across the softest portion at its center, speaking delicately while feeling his warmth creeping through her own hand, "I did make that armor as a keepsake, you know? I made it because you're the one I love, and the one I must protect- not from the mundane, but from that which could be a threat. because I know that nothing will stop you. You'll be so focused on what's ahead of you, you won't bother to think of yourself. And no matter what harm might come to you, I'll be there, at every scale, to protect you."
Mipha's head turned up toward Link to reveal a tearful smile, her face tilted to the side slightly as she peered into his eyes, "That's why I suggested you take the Master Sword. I know there's greatness within you. and ever since I first laid eyes on that spirited child, I knew it would be my greatest duty, not to protect this world, but to protect the one tasked to do so."
She grinned amusedly, "Then you grew up, grew taller than me… I realized that, not only did I want to aid you in your journey, I wanted to help with whatever demons might reside within you. Help with your loneliness."
Link watched her carefully with a concerned turn of his brow as her hand left his, reaching into a satchel at her side before returning to drop a sickeningly dark half-scale into his palm, allowing him a glance before covering it herself, sandwiching her broken scale between the two of them.
"I'll be here when you return," she smiled, "I'll have your armor completed. Then I won't have to worry anymore about your health."
Link cocked a smile as she giggled slightly, sliding her hand from his and taking the scale with her, "You know, this is the only scale of mine you've actually torn yourself. I'll have to integrate it somehow."
"Alright," Link agreed with a slight nod, turning his head to check the progression of his wagon out of here, "Well, that's about-"
"Is anybody watching?"
Link grinned, returning to examine her home for any signs of being watched, finding nothing, leaving Mipha to continue, rather embarrassingly, "You know, this bridge is called Luto's Crossing, named for the sage, Luto, who was said to have crossed between us Zora and a Hylian millennia ago. So this bridge sort of symbolizes our crossing between our home and the world beyond."
"Are you saying you want to cross beyond to a Hylian yourself?" Link mused, teasingly.
Mipha's face went red as her eyes jutted to the side, leaving Link to smile as he turned his head down toward Mipha's as his shoulders slid down, taking her into a gentle kiss as they stood there, closing their eyes, losing themselves in one another as they left any chance of their discovery to fate itself. Mipha's toes curled as her lips burned, reminding her of her wound hours ago before her mind quickly replaced her thought with their night before, her skin shivering at the memory of being consumed by nothing but her lover's body heat.
Her eyes opened slightly, shooting open as she realized Link had already pulled away and straightened out, finding a teasing smirk on his face at the sight of her having been so lost in the moment. She quickly threw a playful punch into Link's arm as he humored her with a recoil, though he continued to pull away, stepping backward away from her without breaking their eye contact.
"Be safe," she concluded with a gentle tone.
Link paused, his voice just barely passing by her ears from this distance as he spoke simply, "I love you."
Mipha smiled, "More than the waters of this world, I love you."
With that, Link turned forward, breaking into a light jog as he made his way to the rolling wagon that had turned down the path upon the mainland, leaving Mipha there, alone, with their damaged scale wrapped tightly in her hand. Perhaps she would add it to his chest piece, next to his heart. Maybe at his side, where it had come from her. Perhaps she would just wait until he returned.
She knew she'd have to ask once she saw him wearing her armor with her own eyes.
A/N: Well, that's the end! I hope you all enjoyed it, and it's been fantastic reading everybody's notes or comments on this :D Just a quick explanatory note- "L" and "R" and pretty interchangeable in Japanese, so for whatever reason, when translating BotW, Nintendo translated what should have been "Ruto's Crossing" to "Luto's Crossing"- which is silly, since they'd decided on the name back in 1998 :/ I'm sure somebody just wasn't thinking about it, but it makes perfect sense that, after so many thousands of years since OoT, the Zora might very well have mistranslated the name itself, which I think is a fantastic addition to the idea I originally had with these two Zelda stories- making the world of Hyrule far less perfect that it's usually portrayed, giving it a more realistic feel.
In any case, that's my excuse: blame Nintendo! :p After a short break from writing, I have quite a lot of readers still patiently waiting for 'Deadlocked', surprisingly, so I'll be returning to my Overwatch tales before maybe doing my Warcraft story with Kyra's parents. I also have a Sonic the Hedgehog story rolling around in my head, shockingly enough, since I don't actually play the games :p
In any case, I hope you guys stick around, maybe try some of my other stories, or just wait for another Zelda story that I'm sure to come up with at some point :D Thank you for the views and the reviews- I can't explain just how of the world they mean to me :) and thank you for supporting my work in general. See you on the other side!