Disclaimer: Link and all else belong to Nintendo. I'm just a poor high school student, so don't sue!

Note: To Tara on her birthday ^_^ Since I didn't know what else to get you and I couldn't get the one ring (That gollum fellow is quite a bugger), here's a fluffy and sweet Zelda ficcy for you. Lol, okay, so I tried to make it fluffy, but well, you know me. This is the best I could do ^_~

Takes place before and during OoT. Link sees a curious stranger.

Feedback makes me happy ^_^

Gifts of Friendship

By Syntax

January 2003

For six-year-old Link, life was beginning to get cumbersome. Of course, he hadn't had much experience in said life to understand what cumbersome truly meant, but he knew he was feeling it. Sitting at the base of his tree house, the small boy furrowed his brows and pouted.

He had gone with Saria into the forest for the first time today to collect some fruit from the large Deku trees. Never one to question his time with Saria, Link happily followed her, clutching his friend's hand unless he were to get lost.

Link never wondered why he was the smallest Kokiri, and could never quite understand why he was the only boy without a fairy. Most often than not it would get him excluded from games, and that mean Mido would push him in the mud for the fun of it. The other Kokiri normally laughed alongside with him, but even if they were never openly mean. It was as if Saria was his only true friend, one who would stand up to Mido for him because when he did it himself, he'd only get a black eye.

Carrying the hand weaved basket, Link smiled wide as Saria scurried up the large tree trunk, dropping down the soft fruit so Link could collect and place them in the basket.


Link stared up, holding the basket out in front of him, the fruit landing square inside.

"Nice catch Link!" Saria called from the green treetops, her Kokiri garb and emerald hair nearly blending her in. Link smiled happily at the compliment, and waited for Saria to come down.

With an exhale of breath, Saria jumped down from a low branch, and playfully tapped Link's nose, which he wrinkled and in return stuck his tongue out. Laughing lightly, Saria took Link's other hand and began to walk.

"I think we've got enough fruit, don't you?"

Link glanced down at the basket, heavy with fruit, and he hefted it up to get a better grip. It was heavy, but Link didn't want to say anything, or Saria would think him a little baby, and wouldn't bring him with her to the forest. So he sniffed a little, and nodded.

Eyeing the smaller boy, Saria hid her grin as he struggled with the basket, and she let go of his hand so he could use both to drag the basket with him. Having done so, Link quickly let his free hand clutch at the basket as well, not saying a word of complaint.

Saria had slowed her pace as not to lose sight of Link, and slowly they made their way back to the entrance to the village. Her smile grew as she saw Link's proud expression, and as they made their way down to the main square of the village, he went to hand the basket up to Saria when something pushed him from behind, and Link lost his balance, falling into the lake, basket and all.

Of course Saria had yelled at Mido until her face turned red, and fished a soaking wet Link out of the lake, physically fine but having lost their day's work of collecting fruit.

So now in a new change of clothes and still drying, Link sat and pouted. Mido's expression from Saria yelling at him was almost worth it, but it wasn't enough. Today he had thought himself big enough to help Saria, and all he did was ruin it all. Sniffing slightly, and rubbing at his eyes, determined not to cry since only babies did that, he stood, grabbing the weaved basked from beside him.

A determined look came over Link's face, a courage that would help him greatly in the years to come. He decided he would go and replace all the fruit he had lost, and grinned to himself, picturing how happy Saria would be when he would present her with the basket.

"Oh Link!" She would say, and she would give him a great big hug. "You're such a responsible boy! Much better than that doodie-head Mido!"

Then Mido would glower, and stomp around. "Duuuh, I'm a Deku butt! Link's so much better than me! Grr grr grr…"

Link giggled to himself at the scene in his head, and he headed off towards the lost woods. He thought he remembered where Saria had gone to get the fruit, and thought he would be able to remember the way back. But just in case, Link brought along with him a pouch full of shiny stones that he could drop to find his way back, just like in that story Saria had told him about the two little Kokiri children and the big hut made of sweets.

His tummy grumbled a bit at that, but Link ignored it, thinking he could have some fruit later on. Maybe Saria would give him a sweet later. Smiling at that, Link trudged up towards the entrance to the lost woods before running into a wall.

Well it wasn't really a wall, but a Mido, and he stood with his hands on his hips, glaring down at Link who had fallen on his bottom.

"Where do you think you're going, shrimp?" He sneered, and Link frowned, wondering why of all people he had to run into him.

"Nowhere." He replied, getting to his feet, but Mido had already spotted the basket. A big mean grin appeared on the other boy's face, and he laughed.

"What, you're going to go into the forest alone? Going to try and get fruit for Saria? You know you're not allowed in there without another Kokiri."

"I wasn't gonna go there," Link lied, getting to his feet.

Mido smirked. "Well if you want to go and get lost, go ahead. Don't say I didn't warn you. We're probably better off without with some stupid no-fairy in our village. Maybe you'll get eaten by a Wolfos."

Link frowned, ignoring Mido's words as he stepped around him, hearing his dumb mocking laughter behind him. He'd show Mido! Face red and fuming, small hands fisted, he stomped his way into the entrance of the lost woods, suddenly a little apprehensive. But anger won its way out, and he went in.

The air was notably different in the woods, and Link wondered why he didn't notice it before. The canopy of trees let only small streams of light down to the forest floor, and remembering the stones, Link dutifully dropped them as he went, trying to remember which way Saria had taken him.

It wasn't so bad here, there were small fairies that flew around, ones that belonged to no one, and he smiled at them, watching the whirring little lights dance and twirl. The wild things of the forest, insects and birds chirped together in a sort of melody, like the songs Saria would play for him on her ocarina.

Walking further into the forest, Link glanced around for the large fruit bearing trees that they had been at before, but furrowed his brows as they seemed nowhere to be found. He thought this was the way they had gone earlier in the day, but the lack of any familiar surroundings began to worry him. As he walked, taking in the beautiful forest atmosphere, Link glanced down to find his pouch empty, the last stone in his hand.

Had he really gone that far? Frowning, Link tried to think of what to do. He could go back, but then he wouldn't have any fruit to give Saria, and Mido would laugh and make fun of him. He could go on…

Looking up, then back, Link made his decision, and continued on.

It wasn't in the minds of small boys to think themselves foolish. Link figured he could remember his way back to this spot where his trail of stones stopped. It was a small clearing with plants that had large yellow flowers. He simply shrugged, and went on his way.

It was beginning to get late. The light through the treetops now began to turn a burnt gold with the setting sun, and Link looked around him worried when he could not find the trees he was looking for. And more than that, his tummy was growling more, demanding some food. He had thought he could eat when he found the trees, but with each passing moment, it began to get more and more unlikely.

Deciding to give up, Link turned around and backtracked. He frowned, but his worry blocked out any thoughts of disappointment. At the moment, all he wanted was to be back home. Worry began to edge into panic as Link passed tree after tree, and the clearing with the yellow flowers was nowhere to be found.

The light dimmed faster, and as night began to creep up, Link admitted to himself that he was scared. The other children always told stories of Wolfos' and other scary animals that would lurk in the forest at night. Big mean things that liked to eat Kokiri children for dinner. Link shivered.

The basket was clutched in his hands like a lifeline, and a faint sound made Link stop in his tracks. He wasn't sure what it was, but cocking his head to one side and perking up one ear, Link thought he could hear someone, and it sounded like humming.

Suddenly, Link felt a great relief. That meant one of the Kokiri was out here, probably looking for him! Rushing towards the sound, Link weaved his way in and out of thickets and trees, letting the humming become louder, and then suddenly it had stopped, and Link skidded to a halt. Glancing around frantically, he looked back and realized with a sudden impending doom that he was completely and utterly lost. But more so than that, in his excitement, he had left behind Saria's basket, and for some reason this was worse than his hunger, tiredness, and fright put together.

Sliding down the trunk of a sturdy tree, Link sat on the soft forest floor, and his face crumpled as he began to cry. For once, Link didn't care if he looked like a baby, he only cried, small hands covering his face. He wanted to be with Saria, he should have never been so dumb, and Mido was right, and the village is better off without him, and…

"Now this is a sight."

Link stopped crying, his fingers parting slightly so he was able to peek through them at the voice, breath still hiccupping as he blinked away his tears.

He wasn't Kokiri that was for sure. Link dropped his hands from his face, looking up at the stranger, frightened but curious. He was one of those big people that the children always told stories about. They lived far outside the forest, in strange places and homes made out of dead tree and stone. Link always thought they were just stories.

"You're a Kokiri child." The big person said almost thoughtful, and he bent down to be level with Link, who sat very still, eyes wide.

The big person was smiling, wearing odd purple clothing and a large bag was hefted on his shoulders. Yet it was the outside of the pack that attracted Link's attention, for from it hung many colorful painted masks. He looked at each of them, some funny looking, some beautiful, others sort of frightening. Yet the man himself was a skinny looking fellow, eyes considerate, auburn colored hair parted aside. "Or maybe you're not" He muttered, and Link still stared, not understanding. Instead, the stranger smiled larger. "You are lost then?"

Link nodded, not speaking, wiping the tears from his eyes. The stranger stood, and Link looked up, watching. If he thought Mido was big, this guy was huge, and he towered above Link, making him feel so very small.

"Come now, child. You look hungry. After we eat, we can go about looking to get you home." He reached his hand out, and Link stared at it, then back up to his face. He looked kind enough, but instead Link's lip trembled. "I lost Saria's basket." And almost began to cry again.

The big person raised an eyebrow, but merely reached down and took Link's unresisting hand, pulling the small boy to his feet. "Well then, I guess Saria will need something to replace it." He said, voice friendly as he led Link through the dark forest. Again, Link didn't quite understand, and he sniffed. He knew Saria had warned him about strange people, and to never go with them unless she said it was okay, but for some reason this man made Link feel a little happier. Despite his fright and misery, he found himself trusting the big person as he led him in the unknown of the forest.

The man slowed as he reached a small clearing, though it was not the one with the yellow flowers. A soft glow of firelight illuminated the campsite, and Link shivered, not fully realizing how chilly it was. Glancing up at the man to find his face as warm as the fire, he let go of his hand to sit near it. The man also sat near the fire, and beside him lay strips of meat which he lay onto a small pan. Sprinkling some green herbs Link didn't recognize, he placed the pan on the tray above the fire, letting the meat cook.

"What is your name, little one?" The man asked, and Link tore his eyes away from the food.

He cocked his head at the big person, wondering if he should tell him the truth. It always seemed the other children were wary of the big people, but Link didn't understand why. This big person was nice enough. He smiled a bit. "My name is Link."

"Link" The man repeated, as if testing the word, his eyes taking a faraway look. It was as if he was searching the past and the future, but the look was gone in an instant, and he smiled. "Well Link, you shouldn't be wandering out here at night. It 's a dangerous place for children."

Link had the good grace to look embarrassed. "I wasn't supposed to be here, but I came with Saria before and I thought I wouldn't get lost."

"Saria, she is your friend?"

Link nodded enthusiastically. "She's my best friend! She takes care of me, and we play together, and she yells at Mido when he's mean to me." His face fell a bit. "She's my only friend."

The words were said with a pang of loneliness and isolation, and the man that sat beside Link looked as if he understood. Link looked at him, felt as if this man knew what it was like to be different, and smiled at him, not wanting him to be sad. The man seemed to appreciate the gesture, and his smile returned.

The meat sizzled, and Link's hunger returned full force as the big person removed the strips onto a platter. He placed it in front of Link. "Wait a moment for it to cool, unless you want to be burned." He warned as Link reached out to grab at the strips. Face coloring, Link backed his hand away.

As Link ate, the man sat, ever watchful and ever thoughtful. The boy didn't think anything of his peculiar nature or his look. Instead he ate like any growing child, and finished off the plate. Then after he did, he looked up, suddenly feeling very discourteous. "I'm sorry mister, I ate all your food."

The man smiled. "I can always get more, and you looked famished. Feeling better now I hope?" Link nodded, returning the smile.

The man walked Link back after they finished, holding his hand like Saria had, listening quietly as Link began to chatter away about anything and everything, like most small children do when they have a listening ear. He made affirmative noises every now and then as they walked, giving Link the indication that he was following the story.

They slowed after a bit then, and the stranger looked down at Link who had finally become silent. The entrance to Kokiri village stood in front of them, and Link swallowed. After all of that, he still had come back empty handed. It seemed the stranger could read the look that came over the boy's face, and he slid his pack off his shoulders, reaching in and rummaging around until he found what he was looking for.

It was a small mask, made for a child. The wood had been polished and colored in bright paints. The face that made the mask smiled, cheery and happy. It made anyone who looked at it lifted in spirit. Smiling fondly at it, the stranger handed it to Link. "For Saria, in replacement for the basket." He winked then, and Link stared down in awe at the mask in his hands.

The stranger smiled still, almost wistful, and Link looked up with a great big grin. "Thanks mister!" He said, and then looked down again. Feeling he had to repay the man somehow, he reached into his tunic pockets, rooting around until he pulled out an item with a grin. It was a bracelet that Link made a few days ago, the rope wrapping around in a braid like Saria had showed him. He had planned on giving it to her, but seemed to have forgotten about it. Plus, he had made it too big, and he smiled, handing it to the stranger with a flourish. "For the food." He said courteous, and sounding not at all like a small child. The stranger nodded, taking the bracelet from the child's hand, a strange look in his eyes.

"Good bye Link, head along, your friend must be getting worried."

Link hadn't thought about that, and nodded, turning to go, waving at the stranger before he went, yet he didn't hear the soft words that followed. "Until next time."

Saria sniffed, wiping her eyes. She was so worried, and she looked out towards the exit of the forest for what seemed the hundredth time. It had been a while ago that she noticed Link not among the village. Wondering where he could have gone, Saria had asked around, increasing in worry before Mido had finally admitted he had seen Link go into the lost woods earlier. After that, Saria had rounded up the other children to go into the forest to look for him. They had found a trail of stones no doubt left by Link, but it had stopped a while later, and still the small boy was nowhere to be found.

After the light had gone, they still searched. But it had been no use, Link was gone, and they had given up the search for the night.

"Don't worry Saria," one of the Kokiri girls Mira said, patting Saria's hand. "We'll find him. Tomorrow when it's light out, we'll all start again."

"But what if something's happened" Saria choked out. There were dangerous things out there, and Link was still little. He could be hurt or worse. Saria wiped at her tears, and even Mido had been silent. While vocally giving his opinion earlier that they shouldn't be so worked up about the 'little shrimp,' Saria had given him a look that could curd milk, and he had gone quiet. Now he looked solemn, and even a little sorry.

But it still didn't ease Saria's worry. Burying her head in her hands, Saria let out a tired sigh and closed her eyes. The fire that lit in the square flickered slightly, and the dead quiet was interrupted my some rustling. She didn't raise her head though, but a small voice made her bolt up.


Link stood just a few steps away from her, looking more than a little guilty, holding something behind his back. Saria didn't notice though, and instead enveloped Link in a hug so tight he thought he couldn't breathe. Then as soon as she let go, her face became angrier than Link had ever seen her.

"How could you do that! Don't you know any better, wandering into the lost woods without me? Alone? I was so worried I thought you were hurt! Never do that again, Link! I thought you were gone forever!"

Link looked down and away. "I'm sorry Saria." He looked up then. "I went to go replace the fruit I lost, but then I didn't know where I was going so I got lost, then I was scared and I thought I heard someone and I lost your basket, I'm sorry I didn't mean it, I was just scared, so I brought you this." The rush of words came so fast that Saria almost didn't understand, but then Link was holding out something to her.

It was a mask, and Saria took it with some hesitance, looking at Link curiously. "Where did you get this Link?"

Smiling widely, Link almost beamed. "The nice big person gave it to me."

Saria looked to the others, incredulous, then down to the mask, and for some reason the silly face made her smile.

A ten-year-old Link hefted the Deku shield on his back slightly, readjusting it a bit on his shoulders. Hyrule Market Place was a great mixture of noise and excitement, big people all over the place towering above him. Link felt a grin on his face. These were Hylians, just like him. These people were just like he was, and for maybe the first time in his life, Link felt like he belonged.

After a quick trip into the shops to fill up on supplies, Link looked around at what else there was to do. A door off to his left piqued his interest, and he went forward, letters forming the words 'Happy Mask Shop'. Raising a brow, Link pushed the door and entered.

It was a bright and, as the sign had said, happy looking place. Walking up to the counter, Link saw a curious man stand behind it. Link furrowed his brows as something nicked him at the back of his mind. Somehow this man reminded him of something, but he couldn't quite put his finger on what that was.

"Hello there, how can I help you?"

Link looked up at the diverse masks that sat up on the shelves, but his train of thought became interrupted by laughing voices, and with a raised brow, he glanced over to see a beautiful Gerudo woman emerge from the back, a small girl clinging to her hip. The mask man's smile took on a different look as he stared at who Link assumed was his wife, and the little girl cooed, reaching out to her father.

He felt almost out of place at the scene, and Link flicked his eyes away, hoping to give the family a moment of privacy. The woman, noticing Link's discomfort, whispered some words to her husband, and plucked the child from his hands, returning to the back. The girl's face took on a lost look from being taken away from her pappa, but to his surprise, did not cry.

"I'm sorry about that." The man said with a smile. "My daughter tends to be a little pushy." His voice was filled with laughter, and Link felt a grin.

The man smiled at him, and as he reached up for the mask Link had indicated, the sleeve of his purple tunic slipped slightly to reveal a thin braided rope tied around his wrist.

A flash of memory came and went in an instant, and Link stared at the man's wrist with a very odd feeling. He thought he should remember, and with furrowed brows, Link took the purchased mask, staring down at it, wondering what it was about this man that confused him so. Instead, Link shook his head, nodding thanks at the salesman and left the shop. Perhaps he'd figure it out later, and Link walked on, off to see the princess of Hyrule, and perhaps start on a great adventure.