Story is rated M for violence, torture, language, and sexual content. However, it was also contain copious amounts of tooth-rotting fluff.

I, sadly, do not own The Legend of Zelda.

"You have more than earned your freedom, Link," Zelda assured him, holding his hands gently in her own. "With Ganon sealed, and the Sheikah to protect me, there are no valid reasons - other than purely selfish ones - to keep you bound to me. Freedom is important. People whither without it. I don't ever want that to happen to you. I couldn't bear it."

Link frowned. "What about you, though? You don't exactly have freedom."

Zelda smiled wistfully. "My duty is a birthright, passed down through countless generations of the Royal Family by the goddess Hylia Herself. I simply have no choice in the matter. I never did, and accepted that a very long time ago. Your duty is fulfilled, and therefore you do have a choice, now."

Link couldn't dare to hope. His life had been laid out for him from the moment he was born - as the only son of a high-ranking knight of the Royal Guard, it was simply expected for him to follow in his father's footsteps. As if that hadn't been enough, he had gone and drawn the Master Sword, and his fate had been sealed. Now that the Calamity had finally been defeated, he simply assumed that he would go back to being Zelda's knight.

He never expected to have a choice.

"That's not exactly fair-"

"Link. Go. Be happy." She dropped his hands and gave him a playful push on the chest, causing him to stagger back slightly in surprise. "It's not like we'll never see each other again. I love you dearly, you're my brother in everything but blood. Which is why I must let you go. We'll keep in contact, and rest assured that if I should ever require your services as a knight again, I will ask. But, I promise, you will always be able to say no."

That had been mere weeks after Calamity Ganon had been defeated, and a little over nine months ago, now. Link took a deep breath of the late afternoon, early autumn air, and wiped his brow. The temperatures had begun to drop slightly in the recent weeks, but not enough to rid Link's body of the sweat he always accumulated by the end of the work day. It was nearly time to pack it in, so he began to gather up his tools, before climbing down from the top of the house he had been roofing that day.

After the fall of the Calamity, the demand for builders had increased dramatically. Mostly in Castle Town, but in the small villages as well. Link had no interest in heading to Castle Town - too many memories... fragmented as they still were. Besides, he already owned a home in Hateno Village, and knew the owner of Hateno's sole construction company - Bolson of Bolson Construction - quite well. In the wake of Hyrule's construction boom, the cheerfully flamboyant man had had little choice but to start hiring as many workers as he could - whether or not their names ended in "-son". No one had really expected the population to surge overnight, but in the weeks and months that followed the fall of the Calamity, most of the country's transient travellers had decided to settle down permanently, and many people with ancestral roots in Hyrule who were living in foreign lands had decided to return. And more were coming all the time.

Not to mention the babies. Babies were starting to be born left, right, and center. It wasn't difficult to figure out what much of Hyrule's meager population had done to celebrate the defeat of the Calamity in the days and weeks following, if the current baby boom was any indication.

Altogether, the situation necessitated an immediate increase in available housing.

Zelda had not considered the restoration of the castle a priority, citing the needs of her people to come first, but her advisors - mainly consisting of Impa and other highly-regarded Sheikah elders - had insisted on restoring the seat of Hyrule's power as quickly as possible, both as a symbol to her own people, and to the leaders of foreign lands. The neighboring countries had remained friendly enough during the one hundred years between the Calamity striking and its fall, but many speculated that that was simply because no one was daft enough to invade a land caught in the grip of an ancient, supernatural evil. Which... was fair. Who really knew what would happen, now, though.

The full restoration of Hyrule would undoubtedly take many, many years. Decades, most likely. Link absolutely did not envy Zelda's job in any way, shape, or form. He often still found himself feeling guilty for leaving, but there was no doubt that she was in very good hands with the Sheikah. The Sheikah had been protecting the Hyrulian Royal Family for thousands of years, and had been the ones to peel his own sorry ass off the grounds of Blatchery Plain after he had pretty much died in the princess' arms, afterall. And, honestly, Link felt far more useful and productive here, building homes for people and families to start their lives in, than he ever did as a glorified babysitter.

"Hey, Hero!"

Link was shaken from his wandering thoughts as one of his fellow construction workers - a young burly fellow by the name of Hano - called out to him. Link had despised the other workers' insistence on the moniker, but soon gave up when he realized it wasn't going anywhere anytime soon. Let them have it, he figured, if it makes them happy.

"Some of us are headed down to the tavern, care to join us?"

The offer was tempting, but really all Link wanted to do was go home, clean the sweat off of himself, and relax. He'd had a terrible sleep the night before - again - and besides that, he was exhausted from the long work day.

"No thanks, Hano. I'm beat. Maybe next time. Be sure to have one for me, though," Link added with a grin.

Hano returned the smile, and nodded. "Next time, then. Hey, looks like Number 5 has a new occupant," he pointed his chin down the row of recently finished homes before disappearing over the ridge to meet up with the other workers.

Link glanced over his shoulder to where Hano had pointed, and indeed spotted a young man unloading a wagon in front of Number 5. Smiling, Link recognized him as a Sheikah immediately - the traditional clothing and silver-blond, nearly white hair being a dead giveaway. He wondered if he had met him before, having spent plenty of time in Kakariko Village both during his quest, and in the immediate weeks following.

Despite his weariness, Link found himself wandering over to the young Sheikah. As he drew nearer, it didn't take Link long to realize that he had not, in fact, met this particular young man before. He was sure he would have remembered such a face. He was... beautiful. Link actually found himself quite struck by the graceful curve of his cheekbones, the delicate, yet sharp edge of his jaw, the way his hair framed his face, the fullness of his lips...

Goddesses. Get ahold of yourself, Link.

Gathering his wits - and his courage - Link smiled warmly once he was close enough, and spoke up. "Hey, welcome to the neighbourhood! Do you need a hand?"

The man looked up from the bag he was about to lift from the wagon, and Link's stomach nearly fell to his knees when the man's stunning ruby eyes met his own. It finished its journey right down to his feet when the man returned his smile.

Oh, crap.

His silver-blond hair was drawn back into a single braid, rather than piled on top of his head in the modern Sheikah style, and reached nearly to his waist. Shorter, soft, wispy strands framed his face. He was about an inch or two shorter than Link, which was certainly impressive considering nearly everyone was taller than Link. He was small, but as the sleeves of his robes reached only to his elbows, Link could see that his forearms were smoothly muscled, and definitely not scrawny.

Lithe. Strong.

"Oh, I'm fine, thanks. Most of it's inside, already. I just have a couple left."

Slightly disappointed, but not allowing himself to show it, Link nodded. "Alright." He chewed his lower lip for a moment, while the other continued to look at him. Hylia above he was so bad at meeting new people. "Um... I live in the old house over there, just over the little bridge," Link gestured in the general direction of his house, "if you need anything at all, just ask." He shuffled his feet. "My name is Link, by the way," he added quickly.

The other's eyes grew wide for a moment. "Oh... Oh! Y-you're the Hero!" he stammered. "I-I knew you were living in Hateno, but I didn't expect you to be the first person I met... I-it's an honour..." Was it Link's imagination, or was there a faint blush colouring the other man's cheeks?

"Oh, uh, yeah I guess I am. Heh. But please! Just call me Link. I promise I'm just a normal guy. My shit stinks just like everyone else's."

Link blinked, realizing what he'd just said.

"... Um... I've clearly been spending far too much time around construction workers... That was... Oh goddesses..." He rubbed the back of his neck and chuckled nervously, trying to diffuse the awkwardness. Or make it worse, he wasn't sure.

Smooth, Link, real fucking smooth. Swallow the other foot, while you're at it.

The other man had lowered his face and covered his mouth, his shoulders shaking with laughter. "Wow. If your intention was to topple your hero pedestal," he said between chuckles, looking up at him again, "consider it absolutely obliterated."

Somewhat relieved, Link couldn't help but laugh as well. And then his mouth opened of its own accord once again: "Heh... well, I like the view better down here anyway," Link said, looking straight into those ruby eyes.

Oh BY THE THREE what am I doing?!

The young Sheikah definitely blushed this time, a small smile tugging at his lips. But then his eyes widened again.

"Oh, goddesses where are my manners! My name is Sheik," he exclaimed, extending his hand.

"Sheik," Link repeated, taking the offered hand. Sheik's grip was firm, and warm. "Sheik... of the... Sheikah..." He found himself smiling, bemused.

Sheik chuckled and rolled his eyes. "Yep, Sheik of the Sheikah." Sensing that he wasn't going to elaborate, Link decided to let it be.

They were still clasping hands.

"Um..." Sheik broke the silence, but didn't pull his hand back. "I should finish up. Get some of this stuff unpacked before dark..."

"Of course," Link said, not pulling his hand back, either, "don't let me keep you. Remember, if you need anything at all..."

"The old house over the little bridge," Sheik confirmed with a smile. Link's knees felt weak again. Good goddesses, he was pretty.

"Right," Link grinned right back. "It was nice to meet you, Sheik."

"You too, Link."

Their hands finally separated.

Was... was the Hero of Hyrule just flirting with me? Sheik couldn't help but wonder as he carried his remaining bags into the small house. He didn't exactly have much experience with flirting. He'd always been shy and socially awkward, and growing up in a tiny village that was mostly filled with relatives in some way or another didn't offer him much opportunity to practice. His... preferences... narrowed the pool even further, if not dried it up completely.

Ugh... he probably just says that stuff to all the pretty guys...


Sheik certainly knew well enough from his own extremely limited experience that men flirting with other men was definitely not the social norm. So either Link had been genuine - or he was a colossal creep. Sheik doubted that it was the latter... Queen Zelda and the other Sheikah all seemed to hold the Hero in very high regard, and he didn't think that would be the case if the man was some lecherous pervert. He actually chuckled at the thought. Nah... Link was a little uncouth, perhaps, but not a creep.

He was certainly good-looking. Sheik had nearly gotten lost in those sapphire blue eyes. He'd almost immediately regretted turning down his offer of help as soon as he'd uttered the words.

Bah. Sheik shook his head. I'm reading way too much into this. Overthinking, as usual. He was tired, had been travelling all day, and just wanted to set up his bed and have something to eat. Maybe read a bit before falling asleep. Tomorrow, it was straight to the lab to begin work with Purah and Symin.

The small house he was renting for his stay was already furnished with some basic pieces - a small dining table and chair, a comfortable lounge chair near the fireplace, a writing desk, an empty bookshelf, a dresser, and thankfully, a bed. Impressively, the small washroom actually featured running water, as did the kitchen. The perks of new construction.

But first things first. Sheik unpacked his sheets and blankets, and promptly made up the bed. With that accomplished, he wouldn't have to worry about being too tired to do it later.

There would be plenty of time for overthinking while he unpacked the rest of his belongings.

Link's stomach wouldn't stop doing flip flops. He had returned to his house, washed up, and was thinking about what to prepare himself for dinner. He found himself aimlessly pacing around his small kitchen, however, rather than actually doing anything to prepare said meal.

It was ridiculous, really. It was just a boy. Well, young man, really, probably very close to Link's own age of eighteen. Link knew plenty of young men. Worked with plenty of young men. Interacted with other young men, in some capacity, nearly every day.

So what, exactly, was so special about the young Sheikah he had just met? Yes, he was exceptionally good looking, but it had to be more than just that.

He'd known for a long time that he preferred guys. Even from his scattered memories of before the Calamity, in his earlier teens, he could recall surreptitiously watching other young men sparring in the training yards - shirtless, muscles glistening in the sunlight. The little flutters he'd feel in his stomach if he made eye contact with a handsome boy. He even recalled a brief fling he'd had with a boy about his age that had worked in the castle library. His name had been Shad. They'd shared a few stolen moments here and there, kissing in hidden alcoves, touching over clothes, but nothing more. Once Link had drawn the Master Sword and been named Zelda's Appointed Knight, he'd no longer had time for such personal matters.

It was just another piece of his life that he'd had to sacrifice.

He knew, with a pang of sorrow, that Shad had almost certainly died when the Calamity had struck, along with everyone else he'd known from the castle, including his own family. The thought was always enough to send him spiralling into despair, and he never dwelled on it for long.

Even after he'd awoken in the Shrine of Resurrection, before he'd recalled any of his memories, there had been clues. Link couldn't help the veritable storm of reactions that had erupted in his stomach (and other places) upon meeting the Zora prince. From head to toe, Sidon was simply one big piece of walking, talking eye-candy. Every time Link had come face to face with those magnificent abs... goddesses. He'd honestly had an extremely difficult time maintaining his composure nearly every time they'd met. To say that Link had been confused upon learning of Princess Mipha's feelings for him in the past would have been an understatement - he hadn't known, in that moment, that the feelings hadn't been reciprocated. Link had scratched his head for weeks over that one.

And now, here he was, finding his stomach in nervous knots after having spent only a few minutes with Sheik. The small, lithe Sheikah was no Prince Sidon, but that crush had been purely carnal, anyway. Fuel for lonely, late-night, tension-relieving fantasies...


No... Something about Sheik was different. Link genuinely just wanted to get to know him better.

Ugh. Food, Link. He shook himself out of his ruminations and headed over to the icebox. He would need to go hunting, soon. He could always buy meat and fish in the markets, but he preferred to gather his own. The months he had spent in the wild during his quest had spoiled him, in a way. He had been a glutton for a good meal his entire life (what he remembered of it), but foraging for all of his own food had given him a definite appreciation for knowing where, exactly, his food was coming from. And the freshness, of course, was unparalleled.

He suddenly wondered what Sheik would be eating for dinner, tonight. Probably whatever he had brought with him on his journey today, which likely meant... road food. Tough, chewy dried or salted meats, maybe some hard bread? Link frowned in distaste. That was just a shame.

Should I... invite him over? No, it's too soon... too weird... Or would I simply be acting like a good neighbour? Neighbours do that, right?

Before he could think about it further, Link had hauled his boots back on and run out the door.

It was just beginning to get dark. After making his bed, Sheik had unpacked his clothes and a good portion of his books, and his rumbling stomach now had him thinking about dinner. Or, some excuse for dinner, anyway. He would have to do some shopping at his first opportunity.

He had just opened up the sack containing his meager rations when he heard a knock at his door. Puzzled, he cautiously stepped up to the small window in the door and peered out.

It was Link. He was shifting his weight and chewing his bottom lip. He looked nervous. Or excited. Or... both? Unable to keep himself from smiling, Sheik opened the door.

Link's face lit up when he saw him.


Link's question caught Sheik off guard. Whatever he had been expecting, it wasn't that.


Gods. He gave himself a mental facepalm. Real intelligent, Sheik.

"I-I mean," Link rubbed the back of his neck, "I-I assume you don't have much in the way of fresh food right now, so I thought, m-maybe, I could be a good neighbor and share?" He flashed what probably should have been a dazzling smile, had it not screamed 'please don't think I'm a raving lunatic?' instead.

Sheik thought of the tough strips of salted meat and dehydrated fruit in his bag, and his stomach turned a little. The offer was certainly not unwelcome. Besides, the adorable image that was a flustered Hero of Hyrule standing in front of him was too much to pass up.

Trying to appear casual, Sheik crossed his arms and leaned against the doorframe. "Well, I was just about to dine on the finest dried apples and salted elk this side of Dueling Peaks but, I have to say, your offer does sound better," Sheik returned the attempt at a dazzling smile. From the way Link's cheeks flushed, he hoped that meant he had succeeded.

Link had learned early on in his quest to save Hyrule that he not only enjoyed foraging for his own food, but he loved cooking it as well. One of the small pleasures he'd enjoyed during that intensely stressful, achingly lonely time was learning new recipes, experimenting with different ingredients, and, of course, getting to enjoy the (sometimes literal) fruits of his labor. He'd always loved food, after all.

Sure, there'd been a few dubious mishaps along the way, but it was all part of the process.

Cooking for someone else, now that was not something he'd done often. But Link embraced the challenge set before him, and vowed to impress the beautiful Sheikah who had so graciously accepted his spontaneous offer of dinner - despite the nervous flutters in his stomach warning him not to fuck it up.

Not wanting his hungry guest to have to wait too long, he decided to prepare a simple - yet still relatively impressive - meat curry. He grabbed the last of his Goron Spice from the cupboard, making a mental note to keep an eye out for more at the market, and carefully placed all of the ingredients together in the pot. After positioning it over the fire, Link poured them each a cup of tea and joined Sheik on the small sofa. Link always found it awkward starting conversations with people he didn't know, but to his pleasant surprise, talking with Sheik felt perfectly natural.

It turned out that Sheik had come to Hateno to apprentice under Purah, to learn all he could about Sheikah tech. His area of expertise was more of animals and plants, but he had shown an aptitude for understanding the more complicated aspects of the technology, and appreciated Purah and Robbie's belief that the knowledge should be passed on - both to possibly further the applications of such tech, and to prevent its misuse.

"How is it that I never met you in Kakariko?" Link wondered, having fallen into the assumption that he'd met all of the residents of the small village.

Sheik snorted. "There's a very good chance I was either lost in the library with my nose buried in a book, or out in the field doing research whenever you were in the village. Paya - she's my cousin - spoke of you often. I always seemed to miss your visits."

Link smiled at the memory of the nervous Sheikah woman. "If Paya is your cousin, does that make Impa your grandmother, too?"

"She sure is. A scary one, at that," he chuckled into his teacup. Link smiled. The elderly matriarch, as diminutive as she was, was certainly still capable of commanding a fearsome presence. Link had a very hard time imagining her bustling about in a kitchen, baking cookies and cooing over the children like most grandmothers would. Not that Link could remember his own grandmothers, if he'd even had any...

Hearing Sheik's stomach growl (much to the other's embarrassment) roused Link from his brief thought detour, and he rose to check on dinner. Deeming it ready, he dished out two servings and placed them on the table, along with some bread. "Dig in," he instructed his guest, and sat down to his own.

With barely concealed excitement, Sheik eagerly took his place at the table and tasted the dish. His eyes widened for a moment, before looking up at Link. "This... this is really good."

Pleased, and blushing, Link shrugged. "It's no salted elk, but it'll do."

Sheik laughed heartily, before they both proceeded to devour their meals.

They spent the next hour talking about everything and nothing, falling into conversation as easily as if they'd known each other forever, laughing at each other's lame jokes, even occasionally finishing each other's sentences. It was quite ridiculous, really, how natural it felt. Being an introvert at heart, Link couldn't recall ever simply enjoying another person's presence so much.

"Alright, Sheik of the Sheikah," Link said after a moment of amiable silence, "your name. It's eating at me. I have to know. Unless it's too personal, of course," he quickly added.

Sheik chuckled and rolled his eyes. "Fine. My parents were history buffs, and particularly loved the stories of the past Heroes. The legend goes that the Hero of Time had a Sheikah guide who helped him on his quest - a young man by the name of Sheik. He gave the Hero clues to help him along the way, taught him the magical songs he needed, was quite possibly a friend to him. However, it turned out in the end that Sheik never actually existed, that he was just the princess in disguise the entire time. But my mother loved the story, and I ended up with the name." He shrugged.

Link frowned. "Hmph. I wonder if the Hero was disappointed." Sheik barely stifled a snort.

Link didn't fail to notice that Sheik had referred to his parents in the past tense, but didn't feel comfortable pressing such a sensitive topic yet.

"It's late," Sheik noted, sounding regretful, "I should get back. I have to be at the lab pretty early."

"I have to work tomorrow, too," Link sighed. He honestly didn't want his new friend to leave. He had enjoyed their evening together immensely.

"Thank you very much for dinner, and the company." Sheik rose, and Link stood as well.

"You're very welcome. Thanks for actually taking me up on the offer and not thinking I was some weird-ass creep," Link laughed.

"I never said I didn't think that. I was just really hungry, and I can defend myself rather well," Sheik said with a smirk, narrowing his eyes and mimicking a traditional Sheikah fighting stance, and they both laughed again.

They moved towards the door together and Link opened it, letting in the cool, night air. The sun having set hours ago, it was now completely dark outside.

"Let me lend you a lantern," Link said, beginning to head for his storage closet.

Sheik reached out and grasped his forearm, causing him to turn back. "No need. Sheikah. We can see in dark," he said, gesturing towards his eyes with his free hand.

"Right," Link said. Sheik's hand was still on his arm. Sheik seemed to hesitate, and then Link felt his grip loosen. On impulse, not wanting to lose the contact, Link reached up and put his own hand over Sheik's. They looked into each other's eyes, and a million unsaid things seemed to pass between them. Sheik's eyes flicked to Link's mouth - so quickly that Link couldn't even be sure that the other hadn't simply blinked. But his stomach fluttered anyway, and he swallowed.

All the goddesses in heaven above, I'm not just imagining all of this, am I?

He wanted nothing more than to lean forward and kiss the beautiful young man in front of him, but that would be far too much, wouldn't it? They'd just met. Mere hours ago. Link may not have had much experience in this department, but even he knew that it was far too soon to be-

Sheik suddenly leaned up and kissed Link's cheek. "Thank you again," he practically whispered, briefly meeting his eyes. "Good night, Link."

He turned and disappeared into the night.

Link stood in shock. He slowly blinked and raised his hand to the cheek that Sheik had just kissed. He leaned against the door frame, not trusting his legs to keep him upright.

"Good night, Sheik..." he whispered into the darkness, and grinned.