After a hundred years of sleeping, Link is finally wide awake.

Okay, maybe not wide awake. He still finds himself taking the occasional lazy day catnap, but he's more awake than usual.

It's been six months since he fought Vaati and you'd think that after those six months, Vaati might decide he's ready to just settle down or something. Retreat back to Link's little home and spend the rest of his days content in Hateno pursuing a hobby. But no, he's just as wired as Link, always looking to see some new part of the kingdom or explore some forgotten temple (and he's the worst with forgotten temples, blabbering on about what he thinks it might have been, if it's from his time or not and looking for some ancient artifact he can study for days on end).

Link thinks Vaati might just be as bad as Zelda is, at least when it comes to abandoned places and unknown artifacts.

They found a baton once and Vaati poured himself into it for two weeks straight. Link had to force him to put down his books so he could get some sleep and he practically had to force feed the mage to make sure he got something into his stomach. Vaati was unbearable up until he discovered some text about the baton in one of the castle's old books. A 'wind waker' or whatever. Now he uses it everywhere they go. Link's happy for the find, actually. It makes Vaati happy, but more than that it's helped restore a little bit of his confidence in his 'wind sorcerer' capabilities.

And it's much much safer than the Wishing Cap.

Which Zelda still has. He thought she might try to use it, but when they had their 'private talk' (like Vaati wouldn't be hearing at least half of it later that week) Zelda had told him she didn't want to risk it. Worried that maybe the power of it might corrupt. She sent some Yiga off to hide it somewhere it'd hopefully never be found, but Link knows that's too good to be true. Oh well. For once, it's not his problem.

Zelda's working harder than ever before. She's not close to construction, she's still got a lot to go, but she's made some small changes in Hyrule here and there. What's really impressive are the plans she has drafted out. Rebuilt towns, libraries, parks, the whole works.

When Vaati overheard some plans the princess had made for Castle Town, he said, "Of course, I'll take nothing less than a mansion, Your Highness." Zelda didn't find it funny at all.

Purah and her are nearly finished with their third Sheikah Slate, which Link's surprising Vaati with the second it's done. It took some convincing from Zelda to let him give it to the man (either because of his dumb joke or because of the fact that he tried to take over Hyrule again). She certainly won't admit it, but she's really excited to see someone unfamiliar with working the slate give it a try. See if it's 'user friendly' or something - that's what she told him when she listed off the pros and cons.

They're talking more than ever now, too.

Link and Zelda.

Not Vaati and Zelda.

Goddesses, he can only imagine what a disaster that would be.

They'd never stop talking. In fact, they'd probably curate every lost artifact in Hyrule in just a single week.

He makes a mental note to try to force the two together sometime and see how it works out.

But Link and Zelda are on much better terms. He can't confide in her nearly as much as he does in Vaati, but they're getting there. They can talk about the past and their mistakes - talk about how much they want to make things right now. They can spend more than just a few minutes together. And now , their relationship has the added bonus of being able to spar together whenever Link's in town.

Which bores Vaati to sleep, but he's got his magic to practice anyway and it forces him to put in the extra work needed when Link's busy getting knocked to the floor by the princess.

There's another thing that Zelda's keeping hidden. Even Link doesn't know where it is, but that's because Zelda's told him she doesn't want him meddling and getting caught up in saving someone else again.

She told him just a week after they returned from the desert. Said, "You've done enough for Hyrule already, Link. For me. And I'd rather your attention be on Vaati, anyway. For both your sake and my own sanity. Just keep him far away from me." Really, if he could just get Vaati to not be annoying around her, they'd be great friends. Maybe.

Vaati doesn't know a single thing about the sword that Zelda's keeping hidden. That its power rivals the Master Sword in all but divinity. That it's housing Ghirahim. Or something like that. It's a little iffy. Zelda made it sound like he wasn't imprisoned like Vaati, but that he wasn't able to stop being inside the sword. He tried to ask some more about it, but she kept telling him she wasn't going to spill any more information.

He can't help but feel a little bad for Ghirahim, either. Can't help but wonder if maybe if Ghirahim was given a second chance like Vaati, he'd be a friend. Or maybe this really is for the best, Zelda watching over him. She told him she was going to do all she could to try to communicate with the man in the blade without letting him out. Link didn't even have to insist. But maybe that's because they don't know where Ghirahim came from and Zelda cannot stand staying curious forever.

He's not going to get too torn up, though, if he never sees Ghirahim again. If the stranger's stuck in the sword forever. After all, he did a number on the three of them and Link doesn't want to test Ghirahim's change of heart, not after he came up with such a long laundry list of torture plans.

There's a lot he still can't remember about his past. It's not so terrible with Vaati by his side at least. The man's just as bad as him, always struggling to recall childhood traditions and old past mistakes from his first attempt at Hyrule's takeover. Together, they start making new memories. Stupid reckless ones that involve trying to ride a Lynel across Hyrule Field (bad idea, for the record, Link made it fifteen feet and Vaati got kicked off within a second), but memories nonetheless.

"The stable girl said there's a rumor going around that there's a dragon nearby. It flew in from Labrynna about a week ago," Vaati tells him. His hair's up and out of his face, tucked away into a neat little bun that sits on the top of his head. "But I'm more interested in that mask the Goron said he saw wash up in North Akkala."

"What was that about again?" Link's too lazy to grab out his slate and check. He's got Vaati for that.

"The Zora one. He claimed that when he put it on, he transformed into a Zora."

It goes without saying why Vaati's so invested in that particular story. Something that will change his race.

Link bugs him regardless, just because it's so much fun to annoy Vaati sometimes. He says, "What do you need it for? You already magicked yourself Hylian."

Which earns him a dry look. It's one hundred percent worth it because Vaati's being needlessly cute. "I'm going to kick you."

He turns his skewer over the firepit and offers up some roasted fish to Vaati. "I want to fight a dragon. Besides," he continues, stuffing the cooked food into his mouth without even blowing on it. "If the mask changed him into a Zora, how come he was a Goron when we met him? The whole thing's fishy."

"Firstly, that is a terrible joke. But fine," Vaati says, like Link's just suggested they clean the gutters of the stable. "I'll relent. And while the story may be a bit... sketchy, we're heading straight to Akkala after your monster fetish tour."

He smiles.

They're always so busy.

He wouldn't trade any of this for a thousand wishing caps.


A/N:

Mari: Ah thanks for the lovely review! :') What a big compliment!