Hello, humans….Hylians….Hobbits…..others. Thanks to all who have read and reviewed chapters one and two. This is actually a re-edited version of Chapter 3; I decided to start at the end and go backward because this part is still so fresh in my mind. My post-Chapter 2 resolution is to not write nearly-thirty page chapters anymore; I think some things got lost in because of the sheer amount of content. With school and work starting back up, I also don't have time to write as much, and I hope to update every week or two (can't guarantee it, though). I'll admit this one seems a little awkward…hard to do ZeLink when Link is out of the kingdom and Zel is kinda mopey. This one's sort of transitional, I guess you could say…..but things will get better in 4, so stick with me. Remember, this is my first full-length story and it's a lot harder than I anticipated, but I fully intend to see it through (and there are even some sequel ideas churning around...but that's probably at least a year away;).

Oh, I don't own Zelda. If I did, I would have enough money to open a theme park called HyruleLand. You guys would all come….you know you would!

Making Up for Lost Time

Ten-Summer

The King of Hyrule was surprised, when he entered his study, to find a letter addressed to him in a childish scrawl on the stationary of the Hylian Knights. Curious, he opened the folded piece of parchment and read:

Your Majesty:

I am leaving Hyrule to go look for my fairy Navi, who helped me on my quest to save the kingdom and then flew away. I don't know how long I'll be gone, or where I'll go. I don't want to leave, but I feel like I have to, and I understand if you give my job to someone else. I hope I will find Navi soon and then I will come back to Hyrule. I'm sorry I didn't tell you that I'm leaving in person, but I thought you would try to talk me out of it, and I have to try and look for Navi even if I don't find her.

Your humble servant,

Sir Link, the Hero of Time

P.S.-I wrote the princess a letter too, so she knows I'm leaving. If you give my job to someone else, make sure it's to someone who will be nice to her, or she won't listen to them and might get hurt or something.

The king frowned at the letter before him. He had hoped that upon hiring Link for the position of the princess' protector, that the position would stay filled for a long while. However, he had come to know the young man well enough to determine that the search for this fairy must be very important to him if he had decided to leave the princess. The king knew that the young Hero was absolutely devoted to his daughter, and the fact that he'd mentioned finding a replacement that the princess would like in order to maintain her safety spoke volumes to the king about the character of his youngest knight. He sighed wearily, and summoned a page to take a message to Ronan; Hero or no Hero, the princess must not be unsupervised for long.

After Link had taken his leave, Princess Zelda had watched him leave the castle grounds, then waited to see if he might appear again as he left Castle Town or rode into Hyrule Field, longing for one last glimpse of the boy who had become such an integral part of her world in the few months he'd been at the castle that she could not fathom what life would be like without his presence. She stood, watching, for over an hour, long enough that she would have spotted him had it been possible, and then, sighing sadly, she had the stable boy saddle her own horse and took off for Lon Lon Ranch.

"Hey Zel; what are you doing here?" Malon asked as her friend rode under the archway between the barn and ranch house. "I thought you and Link were…..hey, where's Link?"

Zelda dismounted, then walked over to the redhead, who was petting a butterscotch-colored filly and stopped, then took a deep breath and said, "Mal…..Link's gone. He left this morning to go search for Navi. I…..I don't know when he'll be back."

"What? Oh, so he's gone to the forest, then. It could be a couple of hours; he'll probably have lunch with Saria, and…"

"No, you don't understand…he's gone. He's probably gonna leave Hyrule all together."

The ranch girl turned toward her friend, surprise in her eyes. "Really? But where would he go?"

"I don't know, but he said he has to look for her, and he doesn't think she's anywhere around here," The princess leaned her back against the edge of the fence, staring off into the distance.

"Well, why'd he just decide to look for her all of a sudden? Why didn't he do that back when she first left?"

"He thought it would be okay, but then he had this nightmare last night and said he had to leave. He promised me he'll be back, but….." The princess had promised herself that the tears she'd shed this morning would be her last regarding the Hero's leaving, and she repeated this like a mantra in an attempt to keep this promise.

"Honey, he's the Hero of Time." Malon said, reaching out to put her arm around Zelda's shoulders. "If he can take on Ganon and win, he can take on anything," Malon said reassuringly, as much for her own peace of mind as for that of the princess.

"I know, but...he's not…..immortal or anything," Zelda whispered, admitting her biggest fear.

"No, but he's…" She really didn't know how to respond. " If he promised you he'll be back, he will." Malon spoke with conviction; just saying those words made her feel better, but she saw that Zelda still looked really sad. She had an idea, though, of how she might help her friend to feel better. "He'll do anything for you, and not just because it's his job." She smiled slyly," I think he likes you."

Zelda pulled back from her friend's embrace and said agitatedly, "Of course he does. Link's a nice guy. He likes pretty much everyone but Ruto and some forest boy named Mido." She tried, without success, to will away the blush working its way up her face.

"Aha! I knew it!" Malon said triumphantly. "You like him too! Awwww…" And to Zelda's horror, she began chanting, "Link and Zelda sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I….."

"Shut up," Zelda said between clenched teeth. "Somebody might hear you," she said, looking around nervously.

"Who? The horses? Oh yeah, you've really gotta watch what you say around Biscuit here, or she'll tell everyone in Hyrule all your secrets," she said, stroking the horse's nose.

"Malon, you're crazy," Zelda said, laughing. "Only you would come up with something like that."

"And only you, my dear, hold the key that unlocks the heart of the Hero of Time," Malon said dramatically, pleased with the return of her friend's smile, and enjoying it even more when Zelda blushed again at this statement. "And for your information, I am completely jealous." She sighed dreamily. "He's sooo cute. You're a lucky girl, Zellie. Every girl in Hyrule would give a million Rupees to be in your shoes. As if being the princess wasn't already enough," she said, elbowing her friend gently.

"Oh, Mal, I don't think every…."

"Oh, you'd be surprised. I mean, we know Ruto has a thing for him…but I kind of think Saria might, too."

"Saria?!" Zelda exclaimed. "But she's…like his mother…..or maybe more like his sister…I don't know, but I don't think she likes him, likes him." She thought for a moment, then said, "On the other hand, the conversation did always seem to lead back to Link when I talked to her while we were in the Sacred Realm….but, it kind of did that with everyone else, too." She giggled, "I mean, I don't think Darunia has a crush on Link, do you?"

Malon laughed at her friend's statement, then said with a smirk, "Just watch Saria next time she's around him. Her feathers get just as ruffled as the rest of us silly chickens."

Zelda laughed again, "I think you've been spending too much time around all these animals. First horses and now chickens!"

"Yeah; I know. Now that Ganondork's out of the picture, my dad's been talking about hiring on some more workers so he'll be able to do more things to make the ranch grow, and have more help when I have to go back to school (she made a face; just the thought of fifth grade Ancient Hylian History made her want to throw up), and I can better serve my kingdom in my role as best friend to the Princess of Hyrule," she said with a giggle, linking her arm through Zelda's as they left the paddock and headed toward the barn.

"Come on; I'll help you finish your chores, and then after lunch maybe we can go swimming at the castle." Zelda told her. "Our pool is really pretty; it has the Triforce on the bottom in teeny-tiny little gold tiles, and the rest of it is made out of blue ones. Aaaaand….there's a rumor going around that the cook is planning to make ice cream this afternoon," the princess said, eyes sparkling. "Her strawberry swirl is to die for!"

"Wow; swimming in an actual pool and ice cream? I think I'm gonna like this being friends with the princess thing even more than I thought," Malon said, and the two girls giggled as they entered the barn. Once inside the Princess of Hyrule had her first experience with mucking out stalls, and she smiled the entire time as she daydreamed of what might happen if Malon's insight regarding Link turned out to be true.

Link, however, was not smiling at that moment. In fact, he was far from it. His toes were numb, his legs were blue, and his head was pounding from that stupid Goron baby's crying. He wished for the Megaton Hammer, so he could whack some sense into the kid, but knew that wouldn't really accomplish anything. Instead, he had to head back out into the snow (Snow! In the middle of summer!) and try to find Darmani, the ancient Goron leader who was the baby's father, and who might know something about how to get the kid to shut up. He hoped.

Following the Great Deku Tree's suggestion, Link had decided to explore an uncharted area of the Lost Woods in hopes of finding Navi. He had ridden for nearly two days, until he was sure he was far beyond Hyrule's borders. After eating the last biscuit, he'd dozed off in the saddle, unaware when Epona wandered into a thick fog. When the horse's slow walk decreased to a stop, he'd raised his head, taking in his surroundings. Something's not right here, he'd thought. He'd had that feeling hundreds of times on his quest to save Hyrule, usually just before Navi said, 'Hey, listen' or 'Watch out' to alert him to an enemy's presence.

Just then, two strange fairies, one a deep purplish-red, one yellow, flew in front of Epona, startling her, causing her to throw Link from her back.

And then everything had gone black.

When he'd regained consciousness, Link had seen a creature that looked like one of the Skull Kids from the Lost Woods standing before him; only it was wearing a strange, creepy mask. It was holding something blue; the Ocarina of Time! The Skull Kid had quickly put the instrument behind his back, and when Link had lunged forward, trying to retrieve the precious object, the creature had jumped onto Epona's back, and the horse had taken off at a run. Link had grabbed onto the stirrups of his saddle and had been drug deeper and deeper into the mysterious forest.

Things had only gone downhill from there.

After falling down a cliff, being turned into a Deku Scrub by the Skull Kid, and making the unpleasant acquaintance of the yellow fairy, named Tatl, his companion, Link had arrived in a strange place called Clock Town. It was the epicenter of the kingdom of Termina, and after talking to the Happy Mask Salesman (the one who had a shop in the Market of Hyrule Castle Town) Link had learned that the moon was going to fall from the sky. Three days later, he'd battled the Skull Kid upon the town's clock tower, just hours before the disgruntled chunk of rock was to have fallen. As a Deku Scrub, his only weapon was blowing disgusting green bubbles from his snout, and he'd used one to knock the ocarina from the Skull Kid's hand. Time was running short; the moon was getting closer and closer, and then he'd had a flashback, remembering his final conversation with Zelda and how she'd told him of the powers held by the Song of Time.

Upon playing the familiar tune, time had…..turned back to the dawn of the first day! He'd spoken with the mask salesman again and had learned the Song of Healing, which, miraculously, ended the Skull Kid's curse, so Link was no longer a Deku Scrub. He had his sword and shield back, and he still had the ability to morph into the Scrub temporarily by wearing a mask of the creature's face. He'd thought of leaving then, of abandoning his search for Navi and going back home, but the plight of the Terminian people sparked the Hero inside him. He'd discovered it was necessary to explore the four areas surrounding Clock Town just past Termina Field: a swamp, a mountain (his current location), and ocean, and a canyon, and must defeat temples in each location in order to break the curse of Majora's Mask. He must also constantly play the Song of Time in order to speed up, slow down, or turn back time, and help all sorts of people with problems, who were scattered throughout Termina and listed in his Bomber's Notebook (he'd never thought he would end up being a gang member) until his mission was accomplished.

Saving Hyrule had been a piece of cake, compared to this.

Link finally found Darmani, nearly dead, and learned a song called the Goron's Lullaby (he really hoped it worked on that baby as well as Zelda's Lullaby worked on the princess), then played the Song of Healing, releasing the fearless leader's weary soul from his body and earning Link a Goron mask that allowed him to change into Darmani's form, just as he'd taken the form of the Deku Scrub before. He suddenly missed Darunia something awful, wishing for one of the Fire Sage's bone-crushing hugs, but knowing he would not get one until he had stopped the Skull Kid and prevented the moon from falling from the sky.

Two weeks later, Zelda and her friends were walking through the Lost Woods, heading toward Kokiri Forest after visiting Darunia, Darla, and their new baby, once again named after the Hero of Time. The princess' new guardian, a knight named Hal, followed at a discreet distance, both to give the princess and her friends privacy and to better enjoy the forest without the constant chatter of little girls as they headed to Saria's house for lunch. Zelda was fascinated by the prospect of seeing the place in which Link had spent the first ten years of his life, and she wondered if Saria would point out his house, and if she might be able to go inside later. Her thoughts were interrupted when the emerald-haired Sage spoke.

"Isn't little Link so cute?" Saria cooed.

"Is he as cute as big Link was when he was a baby?"Malon asked, catching Zelda's eye and motioning toward the Kokiri girl, whose cheeks became rosy at the mention of the Hero's name. 'Told you' she mouthed to the princess, who laughed silently behind her hand; she was greatly amused that all four of them had a crush on the same boy. At least we've got good taste, Zelda thought.

"Oh…..well, um….." Saria hated to say anything that might ever possibly hurt anyone's feelings, so she said, "He was cute in a different way."

"Meaning that he wasn't a Goron and isn't going to outweigh all four of us by the time he's a teenager," Malon said wryly.

"Well…..yes," Saria said, then couldn't stop herself from gushing, "Oh, he was such a beautiful baby. He had those big blue eyes, and his hair was so pale and fine you could barely tell he had any at all. And he was so sweet!" she said, her voice reaching a decibel level only heard by dogs on the last word. "He never cried unless he was hungry or needed to be changed, and he was always looking around and smiling, like he wanted to see everything in the forest all at once." The pixielike Sage sighed in happy remembrance as they exited the hollow log and stepped into Kokiri Forest.

"Wow," Malon said, looking over the village below. "Everything's so….green."

Saria giggled, "Yes, I guess it is. Even our clothes…..and my hair," she said, patting her head. "Of course, Mido would get all specific about it and say that there was also brown and blue and pink and all the other colors, the smarty pants," she said, rolling her eyes playfully.

"Mido," Zelda muttered. "From what Link's said about him, he sounds like a real jerk. I mean, who could be mean to Link? He's like the nicest guy in the world."

"What makes this Mido think he has the right to be a meanie?" Ruto asked irritably. She and Link may not be engaged anymore, but that didn't mean she didn't still care about him. "Is he the king or something?"

"He says he's the Boss of the Kokiri…..but that's a title he made up himself. It's not like the Great Deku Tree told him that or anything," Saria replied, trying to be neutral, but she, too, disapproved of Mido's treatment of Link.

"What's the Great Deku Tree?" Malon asked. "Is that the tree Link told me about that can talk?" she asked excitedly. If there really was a talking tree, and Link hadn't just been teasing her, this forest was going to be much cooler than she'd originally thought!

"Come on…I'll show you. He's right over here," Saria said, grabbing the redhead's arm and practically dragging her across the forest, Zelda and Ruto following behind, laughing their heads off at the forest girl's enthusiasm and the helpless look on Malon's face.

Hal arrived just in time to see the girls running off toward what looked like a path with steep walls on the other side. Since the forest seemed to have nothing but kids in it, he sat down next to the pond to rest; the princess could call him if she needed him. That was the agreement they'd made when he'd been hired to take over Link's position, and so far it had worked out well.

When the girls arrived at the head of the path leading to the Great Deku Tree, they encountered the Kokiri Boss himself, who spread his arms and legs as wide as possible to block their entrance. Ruto, however, wasn't having it. "Get out of our way, twerp," she commanded.

In his squawky voice, Mido asked, "I am the great Mido, Boss of the Kokiri. And who, might I ask, are you? You look like a fish."

"That's because I am a fish, stupid!" Ruto shouted at him before adding in a regal voice, "I, for your information, am Princess Ruto of the Zoras, and this," she pulled Zelda to her side, "is Princess Zelda of Hyrule. Both of us outrank you, so watch your tone, forest boy."

"That's right," Zelda said, playing the 'princess card,' as Link would've said, "And you'd better watch what you say about the Hero of Time; he's a knight now, and I can order soldiers to come get you."

"Sss….soldiers?" Mido asked nervously.

"Yeah; there's one right over there," Zelda said, motioning toward Hal, who was throwing pebbles into the pond to aggravate the fish. "All I have to do is scream and he'll come over here and take you back to the dungeon!"

"Ddd…dungeon," Mido squeaked, his eyes as big as Deku nuts.

"Even better, forget soldiers…..send Nabooru," Malon said with a smirk.

"And who are you?" Mido asked, trying to sound intimidating again, though they could all see his knees shaking. "And what is a Nabooru?"

"I am Malon, of Lon Lon Ranch; you know, where the cow came from?" Saria had told them that Mido was terrified of the huge, mooing creature that now lived in a pen the Kokiri had built in the Lost Woods. "And Nabooru is not a what; she's a who. Actually, she's a Gerudo. Gerudos are warrior women from the desert who….."

" Ask questions first and kick…..no wait, they kick a…." Saria paused mid-phrase when she saw the shocked looks the other three girls were giving her. "What is it?" she asked.

"Saria….you can't say that word. It's kinda bad," Malon said under her breath.

"Oh, sorry; I didn't know. I just always thought it was really cool when she said that." Thinking about it, they all did, though they all (now) knew better than to say it.

"So…..Zelda said, standing over the forest boy and giving him her most menacing look, "are you gonna move, or are we gonna have to do it ourselves? There are four of us…and only one of you," she said, poking him in the chest on the final word."

He was staring at her with absolute fear on his face; his eyes looked like they might pop out of his head. "Uh…..sure…right this way, ma'am," he said, stepping aside.

She got closer, until she was right in his face. "I'm a princess; you better call me Your Highness, Kokiri Weenie."

As Link rode Epona over the last barrier on the sandy path leading to the Great Bay Coast, he pulled on the reins to slow the horse to a stop, then dismounted.

"It's good to have you back, girl," he said , putting his arms around the horse's neck as she put her long head over his shoulder; their own special version of a hug. Then he turned and simply stared.

The first time Link had seen Lake Hylia, he'd thought it to be impossible that there could possibly be anything bigger, water-wise, in the entire world. Now, looking out over the ocean, he knew this to be untrue. The greenish-blue water stretched as far as the eye could see, and the warm, sandy beach was a sharp contrast to the snow he'd trudged through on the way to the Temple at Snowhead while up in the mountains. This, with the exception of a few Leevers, was paradise. Zelda would love this, he thought. He tried not to think of home much because it made him sad, but sometimes, he just couldn't help it. This was one of them. Maybe someday, I can bring her back here when Termina is back to normal…if that ever happens.

A squawking sound suddenly pulled him out of his reverie, and looking out over the water, Link was shocked to see what appeared to be a Zora floating in the waves, surrounded by a flock of seagulls. Link ran toward the water's edge, wading in and then diving into the current as he swam toward the fish-man. He continued to find it strange that so many people in Termina bore such a striking resemblance to people back home in Hyrule. In fact, Romani and Cremia, who lived at the ranch where he'd finally found Epona (after blasting a huge boulder with the granddaddy of all bombs, the Powder Keg) looked just like Malon! Romani looked like Malon did now, at ten, while Cremia looked like she had at seventeen. The younger sister also had a sweet yet flirtatious way about her that reminded him of her Hylian doppelganger and made Link miss his friends back home even more.

As he swam closer, Link saw that the floating creature was indeed a Zora and, like Darmani, he looked to be near death. Somehow he found the strength to pull the man to shore, and after playing the Song of Healing, was left with a mask that let him assume the form of the Zora who, according to his epitaph, was the guitarist for a band called the Indigo-Gos. Considering that he would be spending a lot of time in the water, since he knew that the third temple was located somewhere around his current location, Link knew the mask would come in handy, just as rolling around as Darmani had been helpful in the mountains. He transformed and, before swimming toward a strange structure, which appeared to be floating out in the middle of the water, decided to take out his ocarina to see what happened. As a Deku Scrub, his instrument had taken the form of a set of pipes, and as a Goron, he'd had drums. But this…this was by far the best. "Whoa…..cool," he said, in a voice that sounded as if he were talking underwater, as he played a few notes on the guitar. This thing had potential!

After speaking with a scientist (who looked just like the one at the Lakeside Laboratory at Lake Hylia), Link swam (really fast. With an electric shield!) to the floor of the shallow waters and into what looked like a giant fish's mouth, and entered Zora Hall. Inside there was a giant shell that he soon learned was used as a stage, and around the perimeter on one side was a series of rooms, each belonging to a member of the Indigo-Gos. There was a King Zora look-alike who played drums, a lanky guy who had what might have been hair who played bass, and the strangest-looking Zora that Link had ever seen who played a large pianolike instrument.

All of them seemed to be concerned about their singer, Lulu, who had been so traumatized when her eggs were stolen by pirates that she'd lost her voice. The Carnival of Time in Clock Town was to be the group's breakout performance, and if Lulu couldn't sing, they might miss their big chance to shine. Link knew that he now had to go the pirate's fortress in search of the eggs, but first he thought he'd try to find this Lulu and see if maybe he could get her to talk; sometimes would just start talking to him, even if they were complete strangers. He guessed maybe they thought he looked like he could be trusted and wouldn't tell anyone their secrets because he was just a kid. He followed a path leading to an upper level and found an opening to outside. Exiting the Zora domicile, he found himself to be on a grassy island, with an owl statue he could hit to establish a warp point (the Terminian version of Farore's Wind, in a way) and…..a girl who looked almost identical to the adult version of Princess Ruto!

"AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!" Link screamed, diving into the water and swimming back to shore as fast as his fins would take him.

Summer was winding down and the annual Latara Winds were blowing through Hyrule, bringing torrential rains which flooded Zora's River and kept the princess inside the castle and away from her friends. Even if she used a Deku nut to transport herself to the ranch, forest, or Zora's Domain, she could only see one friend at a time and they, too, were malcontent, quickly growing bored with the limited activities available indoors. The last time she'd visited Malon, they'd gotten into a disagreement and the princess had left in a bout of angry tears, vowing she was never speaking to the ranch girl again, as she'd accused Zelda of cheating at checkers (okay….so maybe it was true…but she had to find some way to keep things interesting, and Malon didn't have to be so mean about it!)

That had been two weeks ago.

Zelda missed Link so much it was almost more than she could tolerate, and each day seemed as if it would never end. She wished she could see him, or even hear his voice, just for a few seconds, and had decided to ask Impa if she might help her contact the Hero through telepathy.

"No, Zelda; you are not yet ready," the Sheikah replied when asked the following afternoon. She was in Zelda's bedroom, and they had been working on casting a ring of fire when the princess had brought up the question she'd been pondering for over a week.

"But Impa….it's been over two months since Link left, and I really miss him, and I'm really, really, bored!" Zelda said in a voice that was very near a whine.

"No." Her voice was firm. " I know you miss him, and you've made much progress with your magic even since this time started, but telepathy is very complex, as it involves not only your own mind, but that of the person with whom you are trying to make contact. Even blood Sheikah must train for many years before they can attempt such a feat."

The princess had been sitting at the small writing desk in the corner of her sitting room and abruptly arose and stomped to the adjoining bedroom, throwing herself on the bed and bursting into tears, crying loudly and not attempting to hide it.

"Zelda…..what has come over you?" the Sheikah asked as she entered the bedchamber. She was taken aback at this very un-Zeldalike behavior; the princess had never been one to use tears in an attempt to get her way.

"You don't understand what it's like. One of my best friends is mad at me and the other is gone, maybe far away, and I don't know where he is, or if he's hungry or sick or scared…or even still alive," the princess replied, burying her face in a pillow.

Impa sighed, realizing that Zelda was not crying because she wanted to coerce the Sheikah into teaching her how to use telepathy; she simply missed her friend, and was worried about him. "I know much more about it than you might think, little one. For I have been in a similar situation myself." She closed her eyes, remembering; asking the Goddesses to give her the strength to share her story without losing her own composure. "Several years before you were born, before the war began, I married a Sheikah man named Rado. We met when I was thirteen and he was nearly fifteen, and what started out as friendship turned into something much deeper." Zelda had calmed considerably and raised her tearstained face to look at her nursemaid questioningly.

"Impa….you've been here since my mother died. How come you didn't tell me before?"

" Zelda….the Sheikah are very skilled at hiding their emotions, but that does not mean we don't feel just like everyone else. I have not told you of this because it is still very difficult to speak of; I am only telling you now in hopes that it will bring you some solace in your time of uncertainty." The princess rolled onto her back, looking into Impa's red eyes and wiping her own with the backs of her hands. "Shall I continue?" the Sheikah inquired, and the princess nodded, her full attention focused on the woman before her.

"When the war began, he went with a unit of Sheikah and Hylians, both of whom wished for the kingdom to be united, to Gerudo Valley. Almost immediately, he and a number of others were captured by the Gerudos, and were held at their fortress for nearly a year. Those who escaped were killed as soon as they got back to Hyrule Field, where all the races save the Kokiri were engaged in a bloody battle. Therefore, I spent many months wondering of his whereabouts and safety, just as you have done with Link." Impa pressed her temples firmly to quell the headache that was beginning to develop due to the tension that had enveloped her body. " I prayed that the Goddesses return him to me… but it was not to be," She sighed, concentrating on releasing the knot of despair that had gathered in her chest as she exhaled. "By the time the war ended and prisoners were released, he was so weak and ill that he did not survive the journey back to Hyrule. But even when they returned his body to me at the castle, I was grateful that I knew where he was; for the uncertainty of those long months had been even worse than the knowledge that he was dead."

The Sheikah's voice had become raspy, and she cleared her throat before saying, "Zelda, I know that you and Link are very close, and I know that this is very difficult for you…..but I admit that I am unsure that even my powers could reach him if he is far outside the kingdom." The princess had ceased crying, but her face fell at this pronouncement. "However, if you would like, I will speak with Rauru, and see if there is something of which he knows that might be used to find out….." She did not finish, because she did not know what the Sage of Light might know, or not know, and didn't want to raise the princess' hopes too much.

"Yes; please. I think you're right; anything is better than knowing nothing," Zelda said as she sat up and rose from the bed, then threw her arms around her guardian. "I'm sorry, Impa; about your husband…and about the other Sheikahs, the ones that died when the village was attacked."

The woman's heart was struck with a pain so sharp she knew it could not be contained for much longer. "I… will go speak to Rauru immediately," she said, before turning quickly and leaving the room. Once in the hallway, she transported herself to the Kakariko graveyard, where she stood between two stones, silent tears rolling down her cheeks. "I miss you both," she whispered, hoping that somehow her husband and infant son could hear her words. Then, as quickly as she had appeared, she was gone, reappearing in the Sacred Realm moments later.

"Princess….are you ready?"

"Yes, Rauru." Two days later, the princess stood with the Sage of Light in the Sacred Realm, her palms damp and her stomach aflutter. When Impa had spoken to him at Zelda's request, he had told her that perhaps, through the power of the Sages and the Triforce of Wisdom, that they might be able to make some sort of contact with Link through the Hero's own fragment of the Golden Triangle. Now the seven of them were assembled in the Chamber of Sages and were waiting nervously for the old man to begin.

"You know, Zelda, that this is not a sure thing. We know not of what we may learn; it could be very grim…..or we could fail to make contact at all." The princess nodded, her expression somber. "But as it has been three months since the Hero's departure this very day, and we have had no word of him, I believe we must try; if not to gain our own peace of mind, then to…..prepare for what must be done if the Triforce of Courage is no longer…."

" Hey, watch it, man; you're scaring the kids!" Nabooru said, motioning toward Saria and Ruto, both of whom looked terrified and on the verge of tears. And if you really wanna get technical about it, you're kinda scaring me too, Pops, the Gerudo thought. Of course she would rather die than admit this to anyone, but it was the truth.

"I do not wish to frighten you; any of you. However, I feel that it is my responsibility to make each of you aware of all possibilities which we may encounter as we attempt to contact the Hero. Now; let us begin by joining hands and focusing our energies on the Hero. It can be a memory, or you may visualize him in your mind's eye, or simply focus on reaching out to him." The seven Sages joined hands and did as Rauru had dictated, each concentrating on Link in his or her own way.

The Sage of Light imagined the glowing Triforce of Courage, as it had appeared on Link's hand before battling Ganondorf.

Saria reminisced about the day she'd been summoned by the Great Deku Tree and entrusted with the baby who would someday grow up to become the Hero of Time.

Darunia thought of the courageous boy for whom his own son had been named, and the man he had been and would become again.

Ruto recalled watching Link battle a giant jellyfish inside Lord Jabu-Jabu on his quest for the Spiritual Stones.

Impa reflected on the many hours of joy which the boy from the forest had brought to Zelda's life, and how much more lively the castle had become in his presence.

Nabooru smiled as she remembered how handsome Link had been at seventeen.

And last, but certainly not least, Zelda remembered the day she'd first met Link in the Castle Courtyard, and how the moment she'd laid eyes on the boy in green, her heart had ceased to be her own.

They stood in silence, letting their minds drift in thoughts and prayers regarding the Hero and bearer of the Triforce of Courage. Each allowed his or her mind to travel through the Sacred Realm and beyond the borders of Hyrule. They remained almost as if entranced for nearly an hour, fighting the disappointment that threatened their concentration as time passed with no results. Finally, the Sage of Light said, "Perhaps we should attempt this again at a later….."

"Wait!" Zelda said, her voice barely above a whisper. On top of her right hand, her skin began to warm, the heat increasing as she re-focused her attention on the Hero. "I can…..feel him. I can feel him!"

"Is he okay?" Saria asked anxiously.

"He's still alive…..and he's strong," the princess said, eyes shut tightly as she concentrated on keeping the connection between the two fragments with all her energy. "He's far away, but…he's alive," she repeated, as tears of joy and gratitude toward the Goddesses began rolling down her cheeks."

"Princess, can you tell us anything else? Are you able to determine anything of his location?" Rauru asked.

"No…but he's all right, and that's all that matters for now."

Link waited anxiously behind a large rock at the edge of Ikana Canyon. Next to him was Kafei, a man who had been cursed by Majora's Mask (the strange mask that the Skull Kid had been wearing) and turned into a child. Kafei was engaged to Anju, the woman who worked at the Stock Pot Inn in Clock Town, and the child-man refused to meet his fiancée before he retrieved his stolen wedding mask. As one of the tasks listed in his Bomber's Notebook, Link was supposed to help the couple reunite…..so here he was, hiding and waiting for Sakon the thief to open his hideout so the mask could be retrieved and Link could move one step closer to going home.

He had no idea how long it had been since he left Hyrule; was almost afraid to know the truth. He knew it hadn't been years, but it had been at least a couple of months. Sometimes it seemed like forever. If his guess was correct, it would soon be autumn back home, unless the entire world was stuck in the insanity of living the same three days over and over. He was tired even after sleeping for hours because his mind was never at rest; it was almost as if he was living his quest even in sleep, and it left him sluggish and made it difficult to concentrate, or, at times like this, when he was so still, to stay awake.

"So, do all Terminians wear masks at their weddings?" Link asked Kafei, ending his words with a yawn. "That seems like a good way to get confused. I mean, you could end up getting married to someone you really hated if you couldn't see their face." He thought of Ruto and shuddered at that idea; thank goodness that wasn't a tradition in Hyrule!

"No," Kafei chuckled. "You don't wear them the whole time; it's part of the ceremony for you to exchange masks just like you exchange rings."

"Oh…..well, that makes sense, I guess. I don't really know much about weddings; I've never been to one before."

"Really? Don't people get married where you come from?" the boy with blue hair asked with surprise.

"Yeah, but I had an…..unusual childhood; I never knew anyone who had a wedding," Link replied.

Kafei looked at the Hylian boy questioningly. "What do you mean by that?"

"Well…..you told me a secret and I kept it. If I tell you one….will you do the same?"

"Sure. What is it? Got an extra toe or something?" the blue-haired boy joked.

"No…that wouldn't be a secret anyway; it'd be really cool!" Link shook his head, turning serious again. "You might not believe it, but….I used to be big just like you were."

"Really?" Kafei looked at Link in shock. "Were you cursed, too?"

"No. It's a really long story; you sure you want to hear it?"

"Why not?"

Link told the Terminian about growing up in Kokiri Forest, and leaving to meet the princess and find the Spiritual Stones, and how he'd slept for seven years until he'd grown enough to fight the temple monsters and Ganondorf. "So when I woke up, my mind was still ten, but my body was seventeen."

"Weird," Kafei commented. "So….did you like being older?"

"I could do more things; use more weapons, and I was stronger. But that body was really…..strange. After I defeated Ganondorf and these seven Sages locked him away in the Sacred Realm, Princess Zelda turned back time. I didn't want her to at first, but now I'm kind of glad; I get to actually be awake for the next seven years," Link said with a smile.

"So, what happened after time was turned back?" Kafei was amazed at what he was hearing, but somehow, he knew the boy in green was telling the truth.

"I put the Master Sword back and my fairy, Navi flew away. Then I went to the castle and the princess remembered me, so…..now I'm her bodyguard and a knight!" Link beamed for a few moments, then looked down at his feet. "Well, I was her bodyguard. I kind of left in a hurry…to search for Navi, and I ended up here. I know it's been a couple of months since I left Hyrule, and I'm sure the king has replaced me by now. I left him a letter before I left, and told him that was okay, since I didn't know how long it might take to look for Navi. I know it was kind of irresponsible….but I was really worried and I knew I had to look for her. Now that I've almost finished what I have to do here, I'm starting to think about going home, even though I haven't found her, and I don't know if I'll still be welcome at the castle or not."

"Hmmm…..that is a dilemma. Maybe I can get my father to write a letter telling about all the good things you've done in Termina; he's the mayor, you know. I mean, that's not much compared to a king…but maybe we can say you worked to establish good relations between Hyrule and Termina. That's got to earn you some points somehow."

"Hey; it's worth a try." Link replied, then said with a sigh, "If it doesn't work I guess I can always get a job at Lon Lon Ranch; the rancher's daughter is my friend, and I really like horses."

"Work? You're ten years old; shouldn't you be climbing trees or something?"

"I do climb trees….and you know what?" Link said, smiling mischievously, "So does the princess. Besides, I like my job. I get paid to have fun and just…..follow her around."

"Which you don't mind at all, do you?" Kafei teased slyly, amused when color began creeping up the Hylian boy's face. "Yep; I knew it. You like her. But does she know? More importantly, does she like you back?"

Link rubbed the back of his neck and said, "I don't know. I don't know about any…can we just talk about something else?"

"There's nothing to be embarrassed about. I mean, Anju and I were sort of already together when we were your age."

"So you've known her since you were kids? And now you're getting married?" Link looked at the boy beside him incredulously. "I didn't know people did that. I thought you just met somebody when you got older."

"Well, for some people it works that way, but for us…..I think I knew the first time I met her that she was it; that there was no other girl I could be happy with. We got to be really good friends, and then it was like we were so close that friendship wasn't enough anymore."

"How old were you when you knew that?" Link said, curiosity piqued. Not that he was considering anything along those lines…..it was just…..interesting; that was all.

"Twelve or so. It's hard when you're that young and you know you're meant to be together. People don't believe you; they say you don't even know what love is; that it's just a childish crush; that you'll grow up and find others. But we knew. And we fought for it. And in a way, I guess we'll continue to fight for it for the rest of our lives." Kafei opened his mouth to say something else, but just then Tatl, who had been sleeping in Link's hat just as Navi used to, flew out and hovered above a man running down the path toward them. Sakon, the thief who had stolen Kafei's Sun Mask, had arrived at his hideout, and it was time for the two boys to take action to get it back.

Later, back at the inn, Link waited with Anju for her fiancée to return from Ikana Canyon (since he couldn't play the Song of Soaring like Link, he just had to walk back to town). The moon shook the ground beneath their feet and time was short before it would supposedly crash into the clock tower, destroying the town and everything (or everyone) in it. As he waited, his palms sweated and his stomach churned nervously; it was nearly four a.m. and the boy with long blue hair had yet to arrive. Link was sure the moon would fall before Kafei got there, but just before four thirty, the blue-haired child entered Anju's room. The couple, one a young woman, one the man who appeared to be Link's age, embraced, then exchanged masks. They were oblivious to the forest boy's presence until the masks had merged to form the Couple's Mask (somehow Link didn't think this happened to everyone). After receiving the mask, Anju told Link he should flee town; that she and Kafei would stay. Even if the moon fell, they would face their fate together.

Link quickly played the Song of Time, then re-checked into the inn after returning to the first day. He went upstairs to the Knife Chamber and collapsed into sleep. For the first time since he'd arrived in Termina, he didn't dream of collecting masks or finding the Boss Key or all the stuff in his Bomber's Notebook.

He simply dreamed of Zelda. He was pretty sure she was the one he'd want to be with if the moon ever fell in Hyrule.

Okay…raise your hand if you're ready for Link to come back from Termina? *raises hand* A ZeLink story without ZeLink is like The Office when Pam was in NY instead of with Jim in Scranton (sorry…I love that show; I'm a big Jam fan, too). Thus…..our Hero shall return next chapter! Hmm….as for this one, we learned some back story on Impa (thinking of doing a fic on her since she's one of my favorite supporting characters) and Saria curses! (I lol'd when writing that, especially her tone…remember, she's not threatening Mido; she's just passing along what she's heard Nabooru say). Let me know what you think (such as if the shorter length will work; I've got about half the number of pages here as in Ch.2) and suggestions for future chapters are still welcome, especially for the rest of years ten and eleven.

Also, not sure exactly how it works (I've only been writing a couple of months; not sure if I can edit the text or if I have to re-submit each chapter), but I am going to start doing a few minor edits to past stories and chapters…..nothing that changes the plot significantly, just clearing up a few points and getting rid of wayward quotes (lol….thanks Wavebreeze:). So if you start getting alerts on stuff I've posted previously, that's why.

Oh, and shameless plug alert: My DA name is PrissyKissy; check out my story Death By Chocolate, submitted for the ATA/TCE Fanclub's Kill Navarre Contest (and big thanks to LeighEm for introducing me to these wonderful stories after I finished chapter 1 of this…..that's one reason why it took Chapter 2 so long to get up; I read both of them in their entirety in about four days! Yay for Christmas break, no?) If you want more details, PM me