Disclaimer: I do not own The Legend of Zelda or any of its characters. If I did, Sheik would be his own person rather than Zelda in disguise, he'd be in more of the games, and the Sheikah would be more prominent characters. The only things I own are the characters Astar, Inianna and Io, and certain, made-up words of the Sheikah language.

Warnings: For this chapter, there is graphic male-on-male sex. It is rated M for a reason, so if you are offended by this or are underage, please go elsewhere. For the story overall, Sheik is a male and separate from Zelda, there are spoilers for the manga and game, and I played around with the Sheikah culture and Sheik's appearance.

A/N: I am so, so, so, so, so sorry for the long wait you guys. Reality didn't just catch up with me; it slammed into me with the force of a freight train. Between school, work, family drama, love life drama, and an evil writer's block (obviously conquered now), I had absolutely no time or sanity for Bound by Blood. But at long last, I managed to work around real life and finish editing the final chapter. So here you go! The long awaited chapter is finally here. I really, truly, sincerely hope it was worth the wait for all of you. Enjoy!

Chapter 5: Unmasking

Sighing, I lowered myself to ground, crossing my legs and balancing my elbows on my knees. "Very well," I surrendered, "Make yourself comfortable, Hero, for my past is no short tale."

"Sheik, enough with the formalities already," Link groused, exasperated, plopping down unceremoniously beside me as he stripped off his gauntlets. "The name is Link. A great deal of time has passed from when we met officially in the Temple of Time and there was a need for you to stand on ceremony. You are no longer my guide, but my friend, and I would like it if you would call me by my name, not my title."

For a moment, I could only blink in surprise. By removing the need for titles and honorifics, Link had inadvertently equalized our friendship. But more importantly, his granting me permission to address him by his name suggested a closer, more intimate relationship. Though I tried to keep myself from reading too much into it and give myself false hope, I could not stop Zelda's words of encouragement from echoing in my head, nor prevent the smile curving my lips. "As you wish, H-" I caught myself with a sheepish grin, "Link."

The hero momentarily closed his eyes, as if the sound of his name leaving my tongue brought him blissful delight. When he reopened them, his blue eyes were as bright and vibrant as the midsummer sky, smiling as brilliantly as the sun at high noon.

"Thank you. That's much better," Link breathed with a contented sigh. Settling back against the rock wall of the Shadow Temple, he leaned into my shoulder and laid his warm hand on top of mine, locking our fingers together like gears in a machine. The Hylian's touch sent my heart palpitating in my chest, and I could not help but think wryly of how we found ourselves in the same position we had adopted inside the Shadow Temple, locked in that rusted old cell for meager protection.

"So," said Link, interrupting my reminiscing. I glanced over at him to be greeted with a sunny smile. "Where does your tale start?"

"At the beginning," I responded, pleased my voice sounded steadier than I felt. "At the very beginning." Breathing in deeply, evenly, I willed my heart to slow and wrenched my mind away from Link.

Then I began my narrative:

"Our stories begin very much the same, you and I. Both our fathers served the Royal Family; yours as a Knight of Hyrule, mine as a Warrior and Guardian to the King of Hyrule, Princess Zelda's grandfather. Your mother was a basket weaver, and mine was a painter; neither of them were fighters. We were even born the same year, the year the Hyrulean Civil War ended when Princess Zelda's father, King Daphnes Nohansen Hyrule, united the six races under one banner. And like you, my father was killed during the civil war. But where your father died honorably on the battlefield as a warrior should, mine perished inside the walls of Hyrule Castle along with half the Sheikah population." Upon the confused expression on Link's face, I clarified, "He was murdered by Princess Zelda's grandfather, his blood bound master, during Dlynos de Irc'deaw – the Great Betrayal – when the Royal Family turned against and slaughtered the Sheikah Tribe."

Beside me, Link stiffened, finally understanding, and his head whipped around so he could stare at me in horrified alarm. I did not meet his eyes. Although I could sense the question he was burning to ask, the blonde held his tongue. He knew I could not reveal to him the details of or the reasons for that bloody night, so he did not attempt to pry the truth from me. Instead, he merely squeezed my hand, wordlessly encouraging me to continue.

Before I could begin brooding over this tragedy as I often did, I said, "Though I cannot tell you what happened during the Dlynos de Irc'deaw, I can say that, in addition to ending the Hyrulean Civil War, Princess Zelda's father also stopped the genocide of my people when he assumed the throne. After apologizing to the remaining vestiges of my race for his father's crimes, the King granted them permission to leave the Royal Family's service if they so desired. It was an act of kindness and precaution. He was not so cold-hearted that he would force the Sheikah into service after such a grievous betrayal, nor did he want to shackle any tribe members who might harbor any dangerous, ill-feelings toward the Royal Family. About three quarters of the remaining Sheikah took him up on his offer, retreating to a country far beyond the Death Mountain Range. My mother, tormented by the sorrow and grief of my father's death, was among them. She abandoned her position as the Royal Family's painter and fled Hyrule with my older sister and me for that distant, far-off country."

Instantly, Link perked up beside me, very much like an eager, golden-haired puppy. I could almost envision him with pricked, pointed ears and a wagging, bushy tail. "You have a sister?" the blonde inquired curiously, excitedly.

His enthusiasm was so palpable, so electric, I almost wanted to lie to him so as not to douse that radiant energy. Almost. But I was tired of hiding the truth from Link. Closing my eyes, I corrected sadly, "Had. I had a sister, Link…."

As I predicted, I felt Link's eagerness and excitement deflate like a dying Octorok. Before he could offer up an apology, I hurried to continue. "For five years, my mother raised my sister and me in this small, unknown country, trying to help rebuild our tattered race. I remember very little of my childhood outside of Hyrule. When I close my eyes and concentrate, I can catch snippets of those days: a village nested within a mountainous region, blanketed in snow; my mother sitting by my bedside, her white-gold hair gleaming in the firelight as she told me stories about my father and her life in the castle, how she used to paint the portraits of the Royal Family; my sister, Io, parading proudly around our cottage when she was old enough to begin her Warrior's training, leaping into the air and swinging from the rafters to demonstrate her skill.

"Then, the year of my fifth summer, my life radically changed. My mother was stricken with a foreign, incurable disease. The village healers struggled to discover what her ailment was and how to treat it, but to no avail. In less than a month since she had contracted the illness, she passed away, and Io and I became orphans. After my mother's death, none of the villagers wanted to take us in. They had all seen or heard of the ghastly way in which she died, and as such, feared we, too, might contract the disease and spread it to them. And with our tribe as it was – scattered, torn and flirting with the thin line separating survival from extinction – the other Sheikah did not want more members to die. So they shunned us.

"Parentless, homeless and forsaken by our tribe, Io, though only five years older than I, took charge of the tattered remains of our family, vowing to protect me. As is our custom, my sister and I discarded our birth names and adopted the names all underaged, orphaned girls and boys take: Shekinah and Sheik. Then, two moons after we buried our mother, we abandoned our village to embark on a journey to Hyrule."

"I am sorry to interrupt," Link interjected suddenly, "but I am a little confused. Why are all those orphaned in childhood required to drop their birth names?"

"You must have noticed how the name Sheik is a shortened version of the word Sheikah, and how Shekinah is a similar variation," I began slowly, wondering how best to explain this complicated concept to him. When he nodded, I continued, "There is a reason for the likeness. They signify that we are now children of the Sheikah tribe itself, and as such, are below all members of the tribe with the exception of those younger than us, much like any other family system. All elder tribe members are now our parents, and as such, we must obey them as we would have our biological mother and father. More than anything, my name is a societal status, and thus limits the amount of power I can hold within the tribe. Generally, orphans are seen to be of a lower social standing because we lack the full sixteen years of parental guidance and upbringing my people believe is needed to produce a well-rounded adult. The exception to the rule is those orphaned after the age of sixteen, when we are legally seen as adults. They may keep their birth names and high social standing, as their parents lead them through the crucial beginning stages of their lives."

Mulling over my words, Link frowned, no doubt trying to wrap his gentle, benign Hylian mind around the strict, harsh world of the Sheikah. Before I could ask him whether he understood or not, he inquired, "If Sheik is the name all orphaned boys take, then what is your birth name?" He paused for a moment, then added sourly, knowingly, "Or are you not permitted to speak it?"

Nodding, I confirmed solemnly, "By law, I cannot speak my birth name, nor be known by anything but Sheik. Even so, I am afraid I would still be unable to tell you my real name, for I cannot remember it. Because Io was a Warrior at age ten, she was considered legally bound by all Sheikah laws and customs, and as such, was careful to address me only as Sheik. Being as young as I was, my name has become lost within my memories. The only reason I can recall my sister's name is because I was not old enough to understand the concept of name abandonment, and so, addressed her as Io." Pausing a moment, I thought to myself for a moment before adding, "Technically, I have broken the law twice now: first by calling myself Shekinah the day Zelda and I met you, and now by speaking my sister's birth name out loud."

I smiled bitterly then at Link, and while he could not see the expression on my mouth, I knew he would read it in my eyes. "Yet another reason why I have no identity of my own. There are countless other Sheiks milling about the Shadow Folk, and my people do not distinguish one Sheik from the next."

For a moment, neither of us spoke, lost in our own thoughts. Then the blonde turned to me, and with an encouraging squeeze of our laced fingers, asked, "What happened after you and your sister left your village?"

Diverting my gaze from those celestial eyes to gaze at the moon, I answered, "We walked. For two years we trekked through the mountains and wilderness, living off of nuts, berries and small game, huddling together to keep warm during the winter season, and marching toward Hyrule with only a tattered, aged map as our guide. The journey was fraught with perils. The elements were harsh and unforgiving; more than once, we nearly froze in the winter, drowned in a tempest flood or died of thirst during a drought. We dodged the slavers who roam the range beyond Hyrule's borders, ready to snatch up travelers to sell in the slave market, and fled from the wild animals and monstrous beasts inhabiting the woodland and craggy mountainsides.

"Being older and more experienced, Io fared far better than I. Compared to her, I was weak and frail. But she taught me well, and showed me how to survive off the land, how to fight, and how to use rudimentary shadow magic. Under normal circumstances, it would have been forbidden for Io to teach one as young as I the Sheikah way, since Warriors' are not trained 'til the age of ten. However, as our survival depended on our skills, Io decided our lives were more important than the Sheikah codes. At the time, I loathed every minute of my training, but now, when I look back on those years, I am grateful for her instruction. Without her tutoring, I would have died that night twelve years ago...

"I had just turned seven when it happened. In the dead of the night, Io woke me, ordering me to hide myself in the forest. Slavers had spotted our campfire and were riding toward us. In spite of my pleading, my sister refused to hide with me. She insisted an empty campsite would only arouse their suspicion, and would encourage them to search the woods for us. If she stayed by the fire, then at least one of us could escape. When I continued to protest, she used shadow magic to bind, silence and conceal me, and then retreated back to the campfire.

"I could only watch in horror as the slavers finally arrived, dismounting from their horses to examine my sister as if she were a precious artifact. Before I knew it, they had chained her hands and feet together, saddled her on the back of a horse, and rode off into the night with her. Only when the distance between us became too great for her to maintain the spell I was released from the Io's imprisoning magic. The moment I was freed, I ran in the direction they had taken her, crying and screaming for her to come back."

A tremor crawled down my spine at the bitter memory. My heart throbbed with the remembered anguish when I realized I was all alone, when my only remaining family member had been ripped from me. Unconsciously, my fingers constricted around Link's, and I felt his hand move, as if he was trying to wriggle it from my grasp. Worried I was hurting him, I loosened my grip, and he lifted his hand from mine. But then, before I could mourn the loss of his touch, my heart leapt wildly when Link wrapped his arm tightly around my shoulders. Drawing me close to him, he touched his forehead to my temple and reached over with his other arm to cover my hand with his. Eyelashes softly brushing the skin of my face like the wings of a butterfly, he whispered gently, "I'm so sorry, Sheik…."

Fingers trembling ever so slightly, I turned my hand over under Link's so our palms were pressed together. Threading my fingers with the Hylian's with an appreciative squeeze, I said past an abruptly dry throat, "There is no need to apologize. You were not the one who kidnapped her." Wetting my lips nervously, I met his cerulean blue eyes and allowed my smile to shine through my eyes. "But thank you."

Staring down at our interlaced fingers, I acutely aware of Link's arm around me as I continued, "For three days, I did not eat, drink, sleep or move from our campsite for fear I would miss my sister if she managed to escape and came in search of me. By the fourth day, hunger, thirst and exhaustion drove me to act on my body's needs. Only after I was fed, watered and rested did I regain my senses and faced the bitter truth: Io would not return. I realized then she would not have wanted me to sit there, crying for her. She would have wanted me to carry on, to persevere toward Hyrule, the beautiful Golden Land she always spoke so highly of. She would have wanted me to forge a new life for myself in Hyrule with the Sheikah who served the Royal Family, tribe members who would care for and train me.

"And so, swallowing my tears and terror, I gathered only what I needed in our saddlebag and set off on my own, leaving all else behind. It pained me to abandon what few belongings Io had brought with her, but I could not carry them if I wanted to survive. However," Tugging on the side of my cowl, I revealed one narrowly tapered ear to Link and touched the small, crimson hoop earring dangling from my earlobe, "I did take these... As a rite of passage, all Warriors have their ears pierced when they turn sixteen. Normally, men wear studs and women wear hoops. However, when it was my turn to receive the initiation, I insisted on two piercings: one to symbolize my entry into adulthood," I moved my finger to the ruby stud behind the first piercing, "and one to commemorate my sister and her sacrifice. These earrings were Io's most prized possessions; they were a gift from our father and she was saving them for when she turned sixteen. They are all I have left of her, and I wear them to respect her memory, just as I chose to honor her by giving her name to my ny'tiall. To this day, I know not whether she is alive or dead."

Cautiously, Link touched the coral earring, balancing it on the tip of his finger. But then, his finger strayed, ghosting over the ruby stud to trace the delicate point of my ear. Another barely suppressed shudder ran through me, but this time, Link's touch was what caused it. Gently, he caressed the shell of my ear, and the rough, calloused pad of his fingertips sent warm, sinful tremors through me. Lips parted and eyes wide, his expression was a blend of childlike fascination and the reverence of an adult. As usual of all things that were new to Link, be it an unfamiliar face or the newest invention, my ears enraptured him. He was familiar with the Hylians' long, pointed ears and the humans' short, rounded ears, but not the small, delicately tapered ears of the Sheikah; a combination of the two.

Drawing my cowl back into place, wordlessly informing Link his time was up, I continued, "It was another year – a long, hard year – before I finally broke free of the wilderness and at last stumbled upon Hyrule, somewhere between Kakariko and Zora's Domain. Seeing Hyrule for the first time in all her glory – the rolling green plains of Hyrule Field; the sparkling, silver-blue waters of the Zora River; the lush, verdant fringe of the Kokiri Forest and the craggy, red rocks of Death Mountain in the distance; the golden sunset gilding the white brick walls of Castle Town, gleaming brilliantly before me like a beacon calling out to me, calling me home – I wept. I wept with joy, I wept in relief, and I wept simply from the sheer beauty of the land. Hyrule was as beautiful as Io had told me and more, more than I had ever dared to dream. I had made it, and at that moment in time, nothing else mattered. I had survived. I can remember falling asleep later that night with tears streaming down my cheeks and a smile on my lips, the image of Hyrule field bathed in twilight infiltrating my dreams.

"It took me an additional week to cross Hyrule Field by foot. By the time I was a day's walk from Castle Town, I was out of food. In the midst of wondering how I was going to eat, having no rupees and little understanding of currency, a group of Hylian boys that previously had been torturing frogs on the riverbanks by the Kakariko bridge suddenly stopped me as I passed. They surrounded me, ridiculing the paleness of my hair, the color of my eyes and my Sheikah garb. At first, I heeded no attention to their teasing and abuses. But when they took my sister's earrings, I reacted. As I jumped, snatching at the earrings the taller boy dangled tauntingly over my head, he and his friends laughed and sneered at me for coveting such a girly item. Desperate, I lunged at the boy. Though he was taller than me, I was stronger, and successfully tackled him to the ground, wrenching the earrings from his grasp. However, before I could recover, the other boys ganged up on me and shoved me into the river.

"It was in that moment I felt certain I would die, for of all the talents Io imparted on me, she never taught me how to swim, for she herself was uneducated. I thrashed wildly in the river, frantically trying to keep my head above the water, all the while clutching my sister's earrings in my fist, too afraid to let them go even to help myself. Just as I began sinking under the murky waters, choking and breathing in water, I felt a splash beside me and arms around my waist, dragging me toward the riverbanks. Only once my back was pressed firmly against the muddy banks did I open my eyes, sucking in gulps of air and coughing up water. After I checked to assure I still had my sister's earrings, I turned to my savior. My rescuer wore boy's clothing, but his blond hair was too long, blue eyes to gentle and face too soft, too round, too feminine to be a boy, even for a child of six summers."

"Zelda," Link guessed, a smile in his voice.

Glancing at him with a matching smile of my own, I nodded and confirmed, "Princess Zelda. At the time, I knew not who she was, only that she was a girl and did not show much shock at my unusual appearance. She asked if I was hurt and helped me climb back up the steep, slippery sides of the river. Once we were back on solid ground, she scolded the boys as only royalty can, chasing them off with a broken tree branch. Afterwards, she guided me to a deserted grove by the river where I could wash my garments and lay them out to dry." Snorting lightly, I shook my head as I remembered, "Damn girl nearly stripped me from my clothes."

At this, Link stiffened, as if my comment upset him, but I shook it off as nothing and continued, "We spent the day together, and she showed me around Castle Town, pointing out areas of interest and eating lunch together. As starved as I was, I devoured the first real meal I had in three years, and Princess Zelda, laughing as she told me not to give myself a stomachache, kindly handed me the rest of her food. Eventually, night fell and after hearing I had no place to stay, the princess was reluctant to leave me. Somehow I managed to convince her I would be alright, and reluctantly, she left and I settled down into a back alley to sleep, consumed by thoughts of the strange but kind girl. The next morning, while hunting for scraps of food to eat, I began hatching a plan to sneak into the Castle and meet with the Sheikah supposedly living there. Little did I know, they would come to me."

Staring down at my nimble, bandaged fingers, I confessed, "I have only ever stolen once, and it nearly cost me my life. By high noon, my stomach was growling, demanding a meal as filling as the one I'd had the day before. My quest for food led me to the marketplace, and there, I spotted a nearby vendor selling loaves of bread. Desperate as I was for food, I reluctantly steeled myself to snitch a small loaf. Unfortunately, I wasn't swift enough, and I was caught. Luck was not my side in that moment, for the vendor was a particularly violent man with a grudge against the Sheikah. He recognized me for what I was and began beating me, for stealing his bread and for the death of his wife at my race's hands.

"It was then I heard a familiar voice calling out to the vendor and commanding him to stop. When he let me fall to the ground, gentle hands drew me up and even though she was now dressed in a royal garb, I recognized Princess Zelda as the same girl who pulled me from the moat the day before. I could scarcely believe she had been Hyrule's princess in disguise. Before I could stammer out my respect, she cut me off, insisting friends needn't be so formal. Then Impa approached, and I was amazed to see another Sheikah, the first in the year since my sister's capture. She asked me my name and background, and in my excitement, I told her everything, completely forgetting the story Io had crafted so the other Sheikah would not spurn us in fear of contracting Mother's fatal disease. Yet my tale did not disgust Impa. On the contrary, she was impressed I had survived for so long. Dismissing the vendor, she carried me back to the Castle with Princess Zelda bouncing along behind her, bombarding me with a hailstorm of silly questions I can no longer recall.

"Impa left the princess and me in the infirmary, where her Highness insisted on using her magic to heal my scrapes and bruises. Only later did I learn I was a guinea pig for her to practice on. When Impa returned, she informed me she had spoken with the King, asking his permission to allow me into his service. She said he had agreed, and with my and Princess Zelda's consent, he would like me to become her Guardian. Almost unanimously, she and I agreed, and right then and there, I made an informal vow to always protect her in gratitude for saving my life not once, but twice. Then, just when I thought my life was complete, Impa offered to adopt me as her son. It took all my restraint to keep my acceptance a tear-free one. Afterwards, she introduced me to her children, Astar and Inianna, who were Guardians of the princess's brothers, Ronan and Nathanial respectively."

Interest piqued, Link straightened a little beside me, eyes curious. But unlike before, he did not question me further. Perhaps he feared to know what fate befell these siblings, both Zelda's and my adopted family. I hoped I would not have to tell him.

"For the next four years, I trained under Impa's hand, working hard to become a Sheikah worthy of protecting a member of the Royal Family. And then, when I turned ten, I officially became Princess Zelda's Guardian. After that…" I shrugged, "there is little left to tell you. The princess and I had a multitude of troublesome, foolish adventures, and two years later, we met you for the first time as Adelz and Shekinah."

"I still cannot believe you disguised yourself as a girl," Link sniggered, ignoring the glare I shot him. "When we met again in the Temple of Time, I thought I had gone mad. I recognized that your hair, eyes and manner of speech were identical to Shekinah's, only you were really a man."

I sniffed. "I thought it was quite humorous. The expression on your face was gold. At the time I wished I had inherited my mother's talent for painting so I could capture that expression of pure shock on canvas forever."

"Hilarious," Link grunted, shoving me playfully before abruptly becoming serious. "Tell me... what happened to you after Ganondorf seized control... the night of the Great Cataclysm?"

My smile faded. Seems I would have to crush his innocent excitement after all. Sighing, I said, "After Impa fled with Princess Zelda, Astar led Inianna and me out of Castle Town along with the Sheikah living in the palace. Since... since the princess's brothers had been killed alongside the king and queen, they were free to leave and take refuge in Kakariko Village." As predicted, Link's face fell upon hearing of Ronan and Nathanial's deaths, but otherwise made no comment. "Nearly a month passed before Impa returned to the village, but when she did, she led all the Sheikah still loyal and willing to fight for the princess – the last remaining member of the Royal Family – to their hiding place. A few years later, I was volunteered to become a double agent, which resulted in jealousy-induced duel with Astar I never would have survived if Princess Zelda had not intervened and cured me of my wounds."

Alarmed, Link demanded, "Your own brother attacked you?"

"Foster brother," I corrected firmly. "And yes, he did. Astar and I have never really seen eye-to-eye, and we have only just reconciled our differences. I always found him to be too proud and bloodthirsty for his own good, whereas he was always envious of the attention Impa gave me and had a deep-rooted hatred for my… my…" I gathered a deep, uneasy breath, praying this addition would not backfire on me, "my lack of inclination towards the opposite sex. The Sheikah always look down upon my kind, and for Astar in particular, my sexuality only offered him another reason to hate me."

Beside me, I felt Link sit a little straighter, acutely aware of his crystalline blue eyes boring into the side of my skull. Heart in my throat, I refused to look at him and blundered on as casually as I could muster, "The rest, you could say, is history. I served under Ganondorf for five years, awaiting the moment you would return from the Sacred Realm so I could act as your guide. From there, you know the rest."

Silence followed the completion of my narration, and my heart beat so frantically, so loudly in my chest I feared Link's long ears would hear it. I was content to simply gaze out across the expanse of the graveyard, but Link would not allow me to avoid his gaze forever. Tanned fingers touched the fabric of my cowl, capturing my hidden chin was. Gently, he turned my head to him and my breath hitched in my throat upon seeing the tenderness in his sky blue eyes.

"I know who you are, Sheik…" Link affirmed confidently, releasing my covered face and tightening his arm around my shoulder. "You are the strongest man I have ever met. You grew up knowing your parents had died, knowing you were an orphan whereas I was raised in the dark, believing I was a Kokiri. You have had to struggle all your life, and that has made you strong. You are loyal to the ones you love. You are selfless, willing to sacrifice yourself to protect others. You are brave, never letting anything shake your resolve, remaining calm and steady even in the most desperate situation. Without the Triforce of Courage, I am not even sure I would have been able to stand as steadfast as you whilst inside Ganondorf's den. The courage you carry is a unique, natural brand. You are clever and swift enough to fool the King of Evil for five years, and wise beyond your years."

Shaking his head, he said, "Yours may be the name all orphan boys take, but I cannot imagine you as anyone but Sheik. You have seen more and done more as 'Sheik' than any other pompous Warrior in your tribe. When I think of 'Sheik,' all I see is your face, and the honor you brought to your supposedly meaningless, generic name; glory you will not admit you deserve, which also makes you modest. And finally, you are passionate. Passionate about Hyrule, about its people, about Zelda, your sister, your duty as a Guardian, and..." Here, his smile became incredibly soft and he gently brushed back a shock of my pale hair, letting his fingertips graze over the exposed portion of my face as he breathed, "Passionate about me..."

My reaction was instantaneous. I recoiled, staring at Link in horrified shock, for his words and tone implied a meaning deeper than mere friendship. However, the Hero of Time seemed unfazed by my violent response, and simply gazed at me with calm, almost hopeful eyes, reminding me forcefully of still spring pools.

"Am I wrong?" Link challenged quietly, his eyes daring me to contradict him.

As I drew on a breath to insist I had no knowledge of what he was insinuating, Zelda's words and my own conscience stopped me. The princess had urged me to trust in her wisdom, to believe in her when she said everything would turn out alright, and those words nagged at my brain. And in spite of all the secrecy, the vague, cryptic responses, and the fragmented truth, I had never spoken an outright lie to Link, before, and I'd be damned if I were to start now. Besides, my heart – despite its panicked beating – ached to finally let down my barriers to Link; all of them, even the ones I had built around the truth of my feelings for him.

Exhaling the breath I had gathered in my lungs, I allowed my eyes to flick down to his hand, resting on his knee. Hesitantly, nervously, I reached for it and laced my shaking fingers with his. When I raised my eyes again, a dawning smile was curving the blonde's lips. Finally, voice little more than a whisper, I yielded, "No, Link. You are not wrong…"

A breathtaking smile stretched Link's mouth, and he squeezed my hand happily in response. "I never even entertained the notion that I might be mistaken," the Hylian breathed with only the faintest hint of smugness in his voice. "But do you see now? You are not just a shadow and you do not need 'substance' in order to exist. Ever since your sister's kidnapping, you have existed and survived with minimal aid, standing on your own two feet. You are your own person, Sheik; a man with a unique identity and personality, and..." Sliding his arm down to circle my waist, Link released my hand to cup my cheek with a rough palm. Gently, he touched his forehead to mine, staring intently into my wide eyes as he whispered, sounding as breathless as I felt, "A man I fell in love with without ever having to see his face."

Eyes snapping open wide, my heart lurched, slamming against my ribcage so hard it felt like a battering ram. All I could do was stare into Link's smiling face in complete shock, trying to hear past the ringing in my ears. My first reaction was to chide him for teasing me, but I held my tongue. My second instinct was to inspect the air around him, trying to detect any wisp of shadow magic that might be controlling him, casting this hallucination before me. But I sensed no magic, saw no deception. The affection and passion reflecting in the Hylian's eyes were genuine. Link was telling the truth; he loved me. Zelda had been right all along. Link loved me.

My heart swelled in my chest, so elated I felt I might burst. A shuddering breath pushed past my lips, and I squeezed my eyes shut, barely able to believe it. Twining my fingers in the golden hair at the nape of his neck, I held Link's forehead to mine, eyes closed and body trembling. I knew not what else to do. My mind was blank, yet spinning as chaotically as a whirlwind, and it seemed my skin was the only thing keeping me from flying everywhere at once. A soft laugh – more of a breath than a sound – tickled my cheek, as if Link read the unspoken emotion in my gesture. Yet he chose not to comment or question me on it, and simply drew me closer.

Through the muddled haze of my mind, I tried to think of how to respond, how to tell him I felt the same way. My first thought was not the long-winded speech I had futilely tried to concoct on my way to the graveyard, a bold kiss on the mouth, or even a simple 'I love you, too.' No, what I said was, "Link... I can change that..."

Curious, Link drew back a ways, if only to better see into my eyes. A slight, worried frown marred his expression. "What do you mean?"

"You said you... you fell in love with me without knowing what I look like," I explained in a whisper. "I can change that..."

Understanding lit his celestial eyes, and Link withdrew from me completely, excited tension rolling off his body like static electricity. Laying a quivering hand against my cowl, I said, "I told you once before that, by law, I am forbidden to reveal my face to anyone but family. But, when courting and with parental consent, we are permitted to lower our cowls. Normally, it would have still been illegal for me to reveal my face to you since I have not gained Impa's approval. However, now that she is a Sage and no longer connected to worldly matters, that power has been transferred to Princess Zelda, who all but ordered me here tonight, so..."

With a deep breath, I closed my eyes and curled my fingers around the lip of my cowl, very slowly lowering it. Hypersensitive, I felt the brush of the cowl's fabric, felt the night air on my face, cool against my overheated skin, and felt the breeze kiss newly exposed cheeks, then lips, and finally my chin. The cowl fell slack, bunched around my neck, completely baring my face. I hear Link's sharp intake of breath before I saw his reaction. And when I found the courage to open my eyes, I was greeted by awed, reverent expression.

"Goddesses..." he breathed, reaching out to touch my cheek, the pad of his thumb tracing the arch of my cheekbones. "Sheik... You're beautiful..."

Embarrassed, I averted my eyes and laid my hand over the back of Link's, holding his palm to my cheek. His thumb stroked a long path over my cheek, following the long, triangular path of my silvery rhyfel'aira.

"Sheik... these markings..." the hero murmured wonderingly, tilting my head to the side so he could watch the moonlight glint off the rhyfel'airas' platinum, reflective sheen. "What are they? Impa has similar ones under her eyes..."

"They are called rhyfel'aira; Warrior's Silver, in this tongue," I responded quietly, shivering faintly when Link continued his exploration of my face, tracing the bridge of my nose, my jaw line and chin, caressing my lips. "All those destined to become Sheikah Warriors are born with them. They separate us from the civilians, signifying that we were born stronger, faster and swifter than the others... and that we carry the magic necessary to forge a blood bond."

Here, Link paused, reluctantly extracting his hand from my face. I mourned the loss. Although the Hylian retrained his moonstruck wonder and inability to tear his eyes from my face, his countenance adopted a more serious expression.

"Sheik…" he began earnestly. "You never told me how you broke your blood bond with Ganondorf. You are the first Sheikah to ever do so, yet you spoke not of how you accomplished such an impressive feat. Why?"

Inhaling deeply, I admitted with a rueful grin, "Because I was afraid to tell you."

The hero's frown deepened. "Why?" he repeated.

Sink or swim, I thought to myself, picking up Link's left hand – the one bearing the golden mark of the Triforce – in mine, hoping it would help me gather my courage. "When I broke the blood bond, it was you I thought of... You and... and my feelings for you... They were what imbued me with the strength needed to overcome Ganondorf's control." Meeting Links widening blue eyes, I confessed softly, "As it turns out, my love for you is stronger than any Sheikah blood magic."

For what felt like another five years in Ganondorf's service, Link was silent, merely gaping at me. Just as I was about to break the unbearable silence, the blonde's face split into a blazing grin. Before I could recover from the blinding, sun-like smile, I suddenly found myself on my back, a heavy weight on my chest and a pair of firm, chapped lips against mine. Heat jolted through my stomach and my heart skipped so violently, for a moment, I feared it had stopped beating.

Of the two of us, I clearly had more experience; Link's kiss was nothing more than the press of his lips against mine, sweet, but teeming of childhood innocence and naiveté. For the first time, I was grateful for Ganondorf's torture, as it had bestowed upon me the experience needed to take the reins.

Pushing his cap from his head, I twined my fingers in his hair, tilting our heads to the side and prying his mouth open with my lips. Gently, I touched his tongue with my own, and Link gasped, audible and childlike, but did not retreat. While he retained a youthful ignorance in matters of physically expressing love, what he lacked in experience he recovered with his sheer enthusiasm and passion. As always, he learned fast, following my lead and matched my pace, our mouths moving in sync. Soon, his eager, discordant kiss, the grip of his hand on the base of my skull, the heat of his body, and the shy touch of his tongue filled the pit of my stomach with a curling heat and burning pleasure.

To my disappointment, Link was the first to break the kiss. Panting heavily, his breath hot my lips, he smiled down at me and kissed the tip of my nose. "How long?" he asked raggedly.

"How long have I loved you?" I guessed, my voice husky. "Since the day we met. Although..." I smirked as I quoted, "after our reunion in the Temple of Time, childish love blossomed into deep affection."

Grinning, Link swooped down to kiss me again, short but deep. When he withdrew, he chided, "You dolt. Why did you not tell me earlier? I would have returned your affections. Once I overcame my shock of learning you were a man, I realized my feelings for 'Sheik' were the same as my feelings for 'Shekinah'."

"Link, there are four very simple, very significant reasons why I refrained from confessing. Firstly, same-sex relationships are forbidden among the Sheikah, and I feared punishment or banishment. Secondly, my number one priority at the time was keeping you alive and out of Ganondorf's hands. Love would have only distracted you from your duty. Thirdly, I simply lacked the nerve to tell you, as I feared a rejection. And finally, I was under the impression you fancied women. Princess Zelda in particular."

"Zelda?" Link demanded incredulously. "You thought I was in love with Zelda?"

"I had no reason to think otherwise," I protested defensively. "After all, you were always obsessed with trying finding her, so I made the logical assumption that you loved her."

"You mean a stupid assumption," the blonde corrected with a snort, shaking his head as he cupped my face. "Sheik, you idiot, I love the princess like a sister. I was desperate to find her because I wanted to protect her, not because I wanted to be intimate with her. You are the only one I have ever desired in a romantic way."

Link's words warmed my heart, but even then, I could not help but tease him a little more. "Well, how was I to know that? You chide me for withholding my feelings, yet you are equally to blame for the prolonged wait. Were you under some curse or affliction of the tongue that prevented you from confessing? Are you not the keeper of the Triforce of Courage?"

Embarrassed, Link cleared his throat, a faint pink hue suffusing his cheeks. Jerking my face closer to his, he muttered gruffly, "For a member of the stoic Shadow Tribe, you sure talk a lot."

I grinned impishly. "What can I say? I learned from a master conversationalist."

The Hylian grunted, somewhat less-than-amused, "Yes, well, this 'master conversationalist' of whom you speak suggests a little less talking. What say you?"

Smiling, I twisted my fingers in his gold hair and softly claimed his lips. With a half-starved groan, Link fell on me like a ravenous Wolfo, his mouth slamming hungrily against mine. The passion in his kiss drove the breath from my lungs, sending my heart palpitating in my chest. His palm – calloused from hours of swordplay – turned my head to the side, deepening the kiss. Stomach swooping, I sighed shakily at the welcome invasion of Link's tongue and my fingers tightened in his blond hair, threatening to rip the silky strands out by the roots. However, he seemed not to mind, groaning heatedly at the rough treatment. The sound shot straight to my loins, and heated arousal coiled low in my stomach.

Our battle of lips and tongues set me ablaze with uncontrollable desire. Carried away by an all-consuming carnal lust and hunger, I nipped the fleshy swell of Link's bottom lip. More out of surprise at the unexpected bite than pain, Link jumped, his hips slamming against mine. Pleasure shot through me and my head fell back, an involuntary, needy moan clawing at my throat. Link, who had stilled above me in concern, shifted his hips again, consciously this time, seemingly encouraged by my positive reaction. A second blissful shockwave rocked me, heightened all the more by the sound of Link's innocently surprised moan.

Heat continued to curl in my stomach as Link ground his growing hardness against my own, my fingers fluttering weakly in his hair at the intense pleasure. As he rocked his hips against me, the Hylian kissed his way up my throat, his lips burning a trail into my skin. His mouth traced the line of my jaw, brushed across my parted, gasping lips, ghosted over my half-lidded eyes, grazed along my rhyfel'aira before halting his progression just below my ear, placing a kiss there.

Shuddering with desire, I wrapped my legs around Link's waist, increasing the pressure and friction between our bodies. A trembling groan escaped the Hylian's throat as he thrust tentatively against me, a shiver passing though him as I kissed and sucked at his throat. Taking advantage of Link's distraction, I carefully snagged one blue earring with my teeth and gently tugged. Obliging to my silent command, Link tilted his head to the side, allowing me to drag my tongue over the ridge of his long ear. Violent tremors rocked Link as he moaned breathily, peppering my jaw and neck with heated, passionate kisses. Smiling at his reaction, I lightly bit the tip of his ear and Link hissed in pleasure, his hips jerking against me as he crushed his mouth to mine again.

Unfortunately, the kiss lasted only a few moments before Link broke away again and stilled his movements. "Sheik..." he panted, struggling to rein in his erratic breathing, his cerulean eyes hazy with lust. "What would happen to you if the Sheikah found out about this, about us...?"

I bit back a frustrated groan. Of all the times to discuss this topic, now was not the time I would have chosen. "I cannot say for sure," I confessed with a shrug, frowning a little. "The Elders can issue a number of different punishments, all of which are dependent on the gravity of my transgressions. However, I can assure you none are pleasant, regardless of their severity."

Link's worried expression deepened into an anxious scowl, his golden eyebrows knitting together. Fingers whispering over my cheek, he stared intently into my eyes and said, "Sheik, I have no desire to stop... this... our activities. Believe me, every inch of my body is screaming at me to continue. Yet, at the same time, I do not wish to endanger you by breaking the laws of your tribe. I will not see you harmed for breaking a taboo."

Wordlessly, I detached one arm from around his neck to loosen my head wrapping, letting the worn fabric fall slack around my pale hair. The sight widened Link's eyes, and they only grew larger when I guided his hand under the loose cloth, encouraging him to fully remove the bandages. My eyes fluttered as he stroked the small section of my white-blond hair, enjoying the simple pleasure before I shook it off to inform him matter-of-factly, "Link, were I truly concerned of being discovered, we would not be in our current position. I no longer care if this is forbidden. It would be impossible for me to return to simply being your friend knowing you return my affection. For now, we shall have to pray to the Three that our relationship remains secret. Even if the Sheikah find us out, I will gladly accept their punishment time and time again, for not even the Goddesses can keep me from you now."

The apprehensive expression abruptly melted into the brilliant smile I adored. "Guess that answers that. To hell with the Sheikah code!" Link proclaimed loudly, joyously and dove down to kiss me so passionately I almost forgot how to breathe, his fingers tearing the loose wraps from my head so he could submerse his hands in my hair. Smiling into the kiss, I held his face in my hands, dragging my bandaged fingers over his sculpted cheekbones.

Then, unexpectedly, Link broke away yet again, another frown marring his face. Before I could demand what was bothering him now, he extracted my hand his face and glared down at the bandages encasing my narrow fingers. Growling, he declared, "Those need to go. I want to feel your skin, not rough cloth."

My breath hitched in my throat as Link began systematically unwinding each strip of fabric, planting a light kiss on the pad of each finger he exposed. When all ten digits were bare at last, he returned them to his face with a smile, whispering, "Better," and dove down to kiss me.

A spark of electricity jolted me as my naked fingers slid over Link's warm, smooth skin for the first time, unobstructed by bandages. The texture of his skin intoxicated me as much as his kiss, and a carnal desire to touch more of him overcame me. My hands roamed his face, touching where our lips connected before trailing over his throat and down his clothed chest. Hesitating only a moment, I slid my hands under his tunic, my fingers gliding over his chiseled abs.

Involuntarily, Link's muscles contracted at my touch and he gasped into my mouth, his hips grinding particularly hard against me. For a moment, I sketched out the hard grooves and lines of his muscled stomach, reveling in the blonde's shivers, moans and frenzied grind of his hips. However, my touch was impeded by the brown leather belt cinching his tunic at the middle. Reluctantly, I tore myself away from Link's mouth and lightly touched the belt, peering questioningly up into his lust-clouded eyes. For a brief moment, Link's expression cleared, reading the unsaid question in my gaze. I saw the visible change in his eyes when they hazed over again as he nodded, granting me permission.

Fingers shaking ever-so-slightly, I fed the leather straps of his belt and baldric through their respective buckles, casting them to the ground and freeing Link's tunic. Unanimously, our breathing increased when I gripped the tunic's hemline with both hands, slowly draw the green fabric up over Link's torso and head. It hit the ground next to his belts. Despite the warm night, Link shivered. However, as I dragged the fingertips of both my hands down the warm expanse of his bare, corded back, watching his eyes slide shut as he trembled, I knew it was not a chill that touched him, but desire.

"Sheik…" Link whispered desperately, crushing his mouth and burning chest to me. My fingers dug into the fleshy, firm muscles of his back, the heat of his passion threatening to melt me as his tongue plundered my mouth, determined to taste me. Dragging one hand from his back to his chest, planting it over his heart, Link's sigh at my touch quickly turned into a gasp when my fingers grazed one sensitive nipple. Seizing the advantage of his pleasured distraction, I constricted my legs around his hips and pushed on his chest, flipping us over.

Link's aquamarine eyes flew open in surprise to find himself suddenly lying on the grass. Startled, he gazed up at me, straddling his hips with a lopsided grin. The warrior blinked twice in rapid succession before he seemed to grasp what happened. Smiling sheepishly, he drew me down to him, whispering in amusement, "Sneaky Sheikah..."

His lips on my throat garbled my reply in a choked gasp. Link kissed his way down my neck until the bunched fabric of my cowl prevented him from moving farther. Leaning back into the grass, the Hylian eyed my bindings, tabard and battlesuit with a critical, disapproving eye. Holding my hips in place, he sat up without warning, our chests pressing together. My head dropped to Link's shoulder and I bit back a needy groan; the shift had increased the pressure on our straining flesh. I could clearly feel Link against me through our clothes.

For a moment, Link too seemed dazed by the pleasure, panting heavily and, like me, visibly resisting the urge to thrust upward and grind our members together. But he shook himself out of it and with a look of determination, dove into the task at hand: figuring out how to undress me. Smirking in amusement, I bit the inside of my cheek to keep from laughing as I watched Link struggle to unwrap my arm bindings. With every passing second, his expression grew more and more frustrated until, at last, he exploded, "By the seven hells, how do you untie this thing?"

Snorting, I tugged the loose end my bindings free, handing him the shabby strip of cloth. "Here," I murmured, dragging my hands down his chest, purposely grazing his nipples and rocking lightly against him. The action elicited strangled gasps from the both of us, Link's voice carrying louder as I nipped at his throat, urging huskily, "Now hurry up. My patience grows thin."

Breathing heavily in my ear, Link's half-lidded eyes flickered down to where our bodies connected intimately. "I have a better idea," he murmured, his hand dropping to the ground. Before I knew it, he had yanked a dagger from its sheath and my arm wrappings fluttered to the grass, cleaved in two.

"You know," I drawled in a monotonous tone, plucking a shredded bandage from the grass, "once loosened, it is easy to slide the bindings off. You did not have to mutilate them."

"Were you not the one who instructed me to hurry?" Link countered smugly, slitting the sides of the chest wrapping holding my tabard in place. Casting aside the dagger, the hero yanked the tabard and attached cowl over my head, discarding it carelessly by his tunic. Scraps of severed cloth drifted to the earth like confetti.

"Besides," Link added, his voice abruptly serious as his fingers hurried to unlace the front of my battlesuit, a faint blush coloring his cheeks when his blue eyes locked with mine, "Ever since awakening in this older body and experiencing all of its adult urges, I have fantasized about seeing you – all of you – stripped of your concealments." His blush deepened, but he did not falter, "Now that fantasy has become reality, and I cannot wait a moment longer."

Link's mouth was on me then, cutting off my reply with a fierce, hot kiss. With surprising dexterity, he peeled the clinging fabric of my battlesuit away from my shoulders, rolling it down and off my arms and over my stomach. Electricity jolted through me as the bare skin of our chests brushed. Instinctively, I flicked my thumbs over his nipples, bucking against him in response to his blissful moan and shivering at the intense pleasure. Temporarily lost in the ecstasy, the Hylian yanked me to him so our naked chests were pressed flush to each other, his hands clutching at my back as he attacked my mouth as fiercely as he would any foe.

At long last, when we separated for air, Link leaned back to better see me... and froze. Wide, crystal blue irises shimmering with an odd mixture of awed reverence, horrified shock and boiling anger, Link he ran a hand over my chest and the netting of puckered white scars crisscrossing my torso and arms. Mapping out the line of the particularly long, ropy scar slashed over my left pectoral, Link whispered, his voice strained, "Sheik... These scars... There are so many..."

"I was not as fortunate in my friends as you were, Link," I explained quietly as the blonde continued his half-admiring, half-horrified exploration of my damaged body, his touch gravitating to my arms. "When Ganondorf expressed his... displeasure with me... I had no village healers, enchanted potions, or farm girls proficient in treating wounds to help me. At most, all I ever had was a half washed rag to cinch the bleeding... and even then it was only on a good day. Most never healed properly, and... well, you see the result."

The Hylian's exploration had carried to my shoulders, and with a light touch, ghosted a finger over the skin of my back, right between the shoulder blades. "And this...?"

"...Is not Ganondorf's work." I finished for him, gently drawing his hand away from my neck and laying him back on the ground. Even without looking, I knew what it was he touched: the golden tattoo of the Triforce, held between the outstretched wings of a phoenix. "All Guardians have the Crest of the Royal Family inked into their skin as part of the initiation ritual."

A sigh escaped Link's lips, his drifting closed. When they reopened, they followed the path of his hand as he caressed my stomach and its myriad of scars. "Sheik... your body... it is breathtaking and heartbreaking at the same time."

"They are merely scars, remnants of the past," I argued firmly, stroking a hand across his chest, down his ribs and stomach, moving lower. "Stop worrying about what was..." My hand slithered under the waistline of his leggings, wrapping around the hard length hidden beneath; the Hylian's breath caught, "And focus on what is..."

"Oh, Goddesses..." Link moaned weakly as I stroked him, his fair eyebrows knitting together above his closed eyes, his expression one of complete bliss. "S-Sheik... it feels so good..." The delectable sounds and enticing words shot white-hot bliss straight to my groin, and my own straining flesh throbbed in need.

Panting heavily, I leaned over the writhing Link to whisper huskily in one long ear, "Glad you listened to me about relinquishing the past and experiencing on the present?" Twisting my hand around him, Link cried out in pleasure, bucking helplessly into my touch. Inwardly, I smirked. Five years of torment finally paid off.

"N-not like you... ahh... offered me much choice..." Link gasped out between moans, his body trembling as I tightened my hand around him, pumping him faster. Lust-clouded, sky blue irises cracked open as the hero panted helplessly, "Sheik... it feels incredible... Better than I ever imagined..."

Yanking me down my by hair, Link kissed me fiercely, all but plunging his tongue into my mouth. I smiled into the kiss, swallowing the sound of each beautiful moan and worshipping the hot, rigid organ in my hand. The action was familiar, but the newly blossomed sense of enjoyment and gratification at the pleasure I brought the man below me was a foreign, but welcomed sensation.

Following my earlier example, Link divested one hand from my hair to touch my chest, his fingers flicking curiously over a nipple. I shivered as the pleasure rolled through me. Fueled by my response, Link experimentally rolled the hardened bud of flesh between his fingers and wedging a knee between my legs, rocking it against me in time with my strokes. Alien pleasure jarred me, sapping the strength of my limbs and nearly collapsed on top of the hero, my fingers wavering around him. While I was well-versed in the ways of performing sexual favors, in matters of receiving them, I was as inexperienced as Link. I was used to pain, not pleasure.

Partly to distract myself, partly to hear the Hylian's blissful cries, I shoved Link's knee to the ground and swiftly crawled down the length of his body. Immediately, Link's breath hitched in his throat as I knelt between his legs, eyes fixated on the prominent lump swelling underneath his cream-colored leggings. Eager to finally taste the hero, I curled my fingers around the waistline of his leggings, slowly drawing them downward...

"No! Sheik, wait!"

Suddenly, Link's hips jerked away from me and it was a moment before I realized he had sat up. Hand curling around my chin, lifting my face skyward, I saw his sweat-slickened chest heaving in time with his ragged breathing, his blue eyes glittering with lust. Color flushed his cheeks, though whether it was from desire or embarrassment, I was unsure. In a hushed, winded breath, he repeated, "Wait..."

"Are you embarrassed?" I asked softly, reaching up to stroke one red cheek, brushing the fingers of my other hand over his still-clothed member. He trembled, his eyelids fluttering and a shaky breath expelling from his lungs. "I know this is new to you, Link, but please, trust me. There is no need to be nervous. You will feel nothing but pleasure."

"I do trust you, Sheik. I trust you with my life," the warrior assured quietly, smiling kindly at me as he drew me upward, grazing his lips across my brow. "But I did not stop you out of embarrassment or fear." Link then planted a hand on my chest, and much to my surprise, pushed me down into the grass before straddling me. "I stopped you because I want to do it."

My eyes flew open wide and I sat up so fast I nearly smashed noses with Link. "How did you even know what I was about to do? And more importantly, how do you even know what that is?" I demanded, horrified and shocked. "I can say with utmost certainty the elderly lady who explained the concept of reproduction to you did not include that in her lesson!"

Laughing softly, Link eased me back down to the earth and explained, "I heard tale of it from some of the more bawdy customers at Kakariko's tavern one night. They had finished off several rounds of ale and began boisterously sharing their latest romp with their pals. Naturally, a competition arose between the patrons and soon, every sailor, knight and blacksmith in the tavern were boasting about their sexual conquests with men, women or both, or even about the skill of their favorite harlot at a local brothel. As it was impossible to ignore the volume and omnipotence of conversation, I could not help but store all manners of sexual knowledge I overheard away in my head." Here, color began to infuse Link's cheeks and, embarrassed, he stammered, "Only... only after I dreamt of... performing oral gratification for you... was the desire to please you as such kindled within me. But now it is so much more than mere curiosity and the urge to please..."

Suddenly, Link was over me, blotting out the sky and stars with his glorious body, a determined gleam in his cloudy blue eyes. Strong, calloused fingers formed iron manacles around my wrists, shackling my hands above my head. Unless it was a trick of the light, a soft golden glow emanated from behind me, gilding the silvery strands of my hair. For a moment, I wondered if it was the Triforce of Courage only to chide myself at the ridiculous notion. Link had no need of its heavenly valor here and–

And all other thoughts were blown from my mind like a gust of wind scattering stacks of unrolled parchment as Link's free hand slithered under my bunched battlesuit, palming me in his warm, firm grip. I gasped in surprise, my eyelids fluttering weakly as the blonde trailed wildfire kisses down my throat and over my chest.

"But now," he continued in a whisper, his lips hovering tantalizingly over one nipple, his breath ghosting over the sensitive skin, "my pride will not allow you to dominate me again. You have bested me in speed, stealth and wisdom, but you will not beat me here." To demonstrate, Link's mouth locked around the tight bud of flesh, sucking on it gently. My body jerked sharply in response, and a hiss of pleasure snaked through my teeth. The combined bliss of the Hylian's tongue sliding over my nipple and the long, firm strokes of his palm had me quivering helplessly.

"You may have more experience than I in matters of sexual gratification, but I am determined to surpass you," Link murmured breathily, kissing across my chest to lavish my other nipple with the same skillful treatment of his mouth. "I will shatter your stubborn silence and I will be the first to hear you crying out in bliss, the first to bring you such pleasure you cannot hold your voice in."

In an unexpected motion, the hero twisted my flesh in his hand, and pleasure spiked through me so intensely my body jerked. My breath caught in my throat and I arched unconsciously into his touch, biting my tongue to counter the moan forming on it. However, the hero offered me no chance of recovery and repeatedly twirled his rough, capable hand around me 'til I was nearly thrashing beneath him in throes of electrifying pleasure. In effort to remain silent through the jolts of bliss, my teeth clenched together and my trapped hands curled in on themselves, nails digging into the pliable flesh of my palms.

Heat and flesh shifted over me as Link abandoned his sweet torture on my nipples to move lower, peppering my ribs with stinging kisses. "I will be the one to pierce your impenetrable, stoic Sheikah composure, the only one to see you lose control and give all of yourself to me," he continued, his smoldering mouth and scalding breath skimming teasingly over the toned planes of my stomach, my muscles contracting involuntarily at the sensual, butterfly-wing touches.

Releasing my wrists and – with a barely restrained whimper of disappointment on my part – the hard column of my flesh, Link's hands settled on my hips, rolling my battlesuit down my thighs and free of my legs. A slight shudder ran through me as my naked legs touched the earth, feeling the coarse bristle of the grass beneath my skin, uninterrupted by cloth or armor. Bared to the moon and stars, the wind and the earth, I could not help but feel vulnerable, exposed, weak.

But when Link's celestial eyes found me, raking reverently over my naked body from head to toe, I felt like something else: beautiful. Positioning himself between my legs, in one long fluid motion, the blonde ran his palms from my shoulders all the way down my chest and stomach. I gasped at the sensual caress and my back arched, following the touch of his hands like an ocean wave. Steadying me with a firm hold on my hips, Link's lips tantalized the skin around and below my navel, his breath hot as he promised, "I will eradicate all the pain Ganondorf inflicted on you, and I will replace his torture with a tenfold of pleasure so you will never remember his vile touch."

Suddenly, my eyes flew open as wet heat engulfed me and my gut clenched at the surge of burning pleasure. "Link!" I sputtered breathlessly, reflexively reaching down to tangle my fingers in his hair. A half-choked off moan wrestled from my throat as Link's mouth began a rhythmic contraction around me, creating a glorious suction that had me twisting the golden locks in my hands. The mind-blowing pleasure and my desperate urge to feel more of his mouth were so intense it took all the self-control I had just to keep myself from thrusting into his mouth. Recalling that this was the Hylian's first time to ever attempt oral pleasure, I knew the only accomplishment I would achieve by ramming myself down his throat would be to chase him away from the act.

Though my rationalization helped me restrain my impulses, it was infuriatingly difficult to remain passive under the blissful ministrations of Link's mouth. On the one hand, I had no desire to frighten him away with overzealous reactions and was eager to let him experiment with the new situation on his own. On the other hand, my hips and thighs ached and trembled from the exertion it took to remain immobile and I longed to educate him in the more effective method of oral treatment... and to feel the results. In the end, my desperate need outweighed courtesy, and I pushed lightly, but firmly on the top of Link's head, trying to compel him downward.

Questioning crystal blue eyes flicked up to my face, locking with my own. I very nearly lost it then and there. With Link's lustful, stormy irises staring up at me through strands of sunbeam hair while his mouth encircled me, the Hylian was most seductive and alluring sight I had ever laid eyes on. Merely gazing at him had me hardening in his mouth.

Then, Link submitted to my hand's steady pressure against his skull, drawing more of my flesh into his mouth. A shuddering breath expelled from me as I steered the up and down motion of the blonde's head, my fingers gripping his hair so tightly they threatened to tear the sun-hued strands from his scalp. Even guided, the burning wetness of his lips had me pinned to the earth with an unbreakable force, the sensation robbing me of the ability to conjure up movement.

Abruptly swatting my hands from his hair like a pesky fly, Link seized my hips firmly in his hands, and I cried out suddenly as he all but swallowed me whole. The strong hold on my hips kept me from bucking into his mouth, but not even I could prevent the strangled groans and gasping moans escaping me. Each wet pass and hard suck of Link's liquid fire mouth on my flesh struck jolts of pleasure though me, like a smithy hammering on a new piece of steel. My hands balled into fists at my sides, tearing up chunks of grass and soil as the ecstasy climbed higher, reducing me to a mindless, writhing, gasping creature. The coiled bliss in my gut wound tighter and more intense with every slick stroke, every contraction of Link's mouth around me. I felt my groin tightening, a telltale sign that the throbbing, electrifying pleasure was inching closer and closer to detonation, and I knew I would not last much longer if Link continued. As much as my body screamed, burned, ached for release now, I did not want to startle Link with an explosive ending, and, more importantly, wanted to save my climax for a more fulfilling completion.

With excruciating difficulty, I tugged sharply on Link's golden hair, stammering, "Link, wait... Stop..."

Surrendering to harsh pull on his hair, Link withdrew his mouth from me, and I groaned weakly at the loss. Already, I could feel my impending climb to climax slowly recede back into an aching throb, a combined effect of the cessation of pleasure and the night air cooling my feverish, saliva dampened flesh.

"I need not ask if you were enjoying yourself. Your body told me that much," Link began assuredly as I sat up and drew him to me, absently stroking a rhyfel'aira slashed across my cheek."What I do not understand is why you stopped me when you were obviously feeling pleasure."

Lovingly brushing the damp, golden bangs from his face, I stared intently into his crystalline eyes and responded, "I interrupted you because, before we continue, I wish to know how far you are willing to go. I do not want any misunderstandings between us, especially not ones as serious as these."

For a long moment, Link held my gaze unwaveringly. Then, without breaking eye contact, he leaned in to tenderly kiss me, his tongue salty with the tang of my essence. Cerulean irises locked with scarlet, mouths inseparably intertwined, the Hylian hooked an arm around my neck and slowly drew me down with him as he lay back against the grass. At a carefully measured pace he extracted his mouth from mine, but continued to hold me close, our lips brushing, our breaths mingling together as one.

Finally, Link began to speak in a hushed whisper, his thumb stroking my cheek, "I may be ignorant of little more than the basics of this kind of joining, but I do know I want to be one with you, consequences be damned. I will gladly weather any and all penalties that our actions might bring us, for I would pay the price of a thousand deaths for just one night with you."

At these words, my heart squeezed and tripped over itself, an elated swell of joy inflating so wildly in my chest I felt as if I would burst. Warmth trickled from my painfully beating heart and seeped into my limbs, tantalizing my nerves until I felt as if I had been consumed by all the fire and heat of Death Mountain. Fearing spontaneous human combustion, I cupped Link's face and crushed my mouth to his, pouring all my violate passion, love and jubilation into the frantic kiss of lips, teeth and tongues. Link gasped under the intensity of my fervent kiss, his eyes wide, but he eventually surrendered to it, his lids sliding half closed and his fingers digging into my shoulder blades, pulling me closer.

As our lungs were burning and screaming for air, we parted, both panting as heavily as if we had battled a platoon of Stalfos. Wiping away a thin trickle of saliva at the corner of Link's mouth, I conceded, giving him the chance to back out, "If that is what you wish, lywnnola."

"It is," he confirmed in a breathless whisper, "So please hurry. I fear my sanity will flee me if I am forced to wait much longer." Hearty color unexpectedly enflamed the Hylian's cheeks, and with an air of unwavering certainty, he commanded, "Enter me so we may become one."

Although my member twitched at the sound of the hero's unintentionally erotic command, I shoved aside my anticipation and desire, and frowned, brow furrowing into a deep crevice.


"What?" Alarmed, Link pushed himself up to his elbows, intense hurt and dizzying confusion marring his face. The sight tore at my heartstrings. "But, Sheik–"

"This is not a rejection, Link," I interrupted reassuringly, reaching out to stroke his face. "I am not refusing to have sex with you–" He blushed crimson at my use of the word "–but rather your request to bottom. I know what you are trying to do, and I appreciate it. Truly, I do. However, it is unnecessary."

"But, Sheik," he began again, just as insistent and urgent as before, but now that he knew I was not denying him his posture was more relaxed, "You only just woke up. Even in all of Zelda's power, many of your wounds have not fully mended. You told me yourself Ganondorf raped you before we met on the stairs, so it is very well possible you are not healed... well, there... I could never forgive myself if I caused you additional pain."

Shaking my head slowly, I insisted, "It matters not. Enduring five years under Ganondorf's assaults has strengthened me rather than breaking me. My threshold for pain is now very high; even if I have not healed completely, having you inside me will not cause me discomfort." Crimson flushed the Hylian's face, his encased arousal twitching eagerly against the inside of my thigh. "Trust me, Link. Not only am I used to being the submissive one, but it will be more enjoyable for the both of us that way. Besides, were you not the one who claimed he would scour the memory of Ganondorf's touch from my skin? What better way to achieve your boast than by bringing me pleasure in the way he brought me ultimate pain?"

The anxiety in his eyes cleared like clouds blown away from the sun, revealing the clear, blue summer sky behind. "Aye... I nearly forgot," Link whispered, a smile slowly stretching his lips as he skimmed his mouth against mine. "I have a promise to keep."

"That you do," I responded breathily with a tender smile of my own. Placing a hand on his chest, I gently pushed him back down onto the ground. Even through skin and flesh, I felt his heartbeat against my palm, strong, deep and beating wildly. Sweeping the sunset hair from his face, I stared intently into his eyes and said, "I know you are at least a little nervous; we all are our first time. But you have nothing to fear. I will guide you as I always have; your natural instincts will take care of the rest."

Wordlessly, Link nodded and smiled, all the trust and love he felt for me written plainly in his expression. Encouraged, I shimmied down the length of his body to finally tug off his boots and leggings. Now that we were both naked, the blonde's breathing increasing noticeably and a blush stained his cheeks. Heart fluttering in my chest like the wings of a hummingbird, I straddled his waist and gazed down at Link, taking a moment to digest that this was real. Then, unable to wait any longer, I discreetly coated my fingers with liberal amounts of saliva before leaning in to kiss the Hylian. Reaching between our bodies, I gently stroked Link with my slickened fingers, smearing the fluid over his hardened flesh. Link immediately mewled into my mouth, clutching desperately at me as he bucked into my hand, trying to generate more sensation out of my light touches. A second later, I granted his silent request, wrapping my hand around the base of his member, holding him steady as I lowered myself onto him.

Tearing his mouth away from me, Link's head fell back against the grass, releasing a strangled, pleasured cry to the heavens. A trembling gasp escaped my own lips. Eyes sliding shut, I shivered at the sensation of Link inside of me, filling me. This feeling... there was no other way to describe it but right. With Ganondorf, all I ever felt was disgust, humiliation and immeasurable pain. No amount of bathing ever left me feeling clean. Nothing could dispel the phantom remnants of his hands on my skin, not even when I clawed at my own flesh in desperation to escape the memory of his touch.

But with Link, I felt an overwhelming sense of passion, of completion, of rightness. There was pain, yes, but it was minimal, deriving more from the stretching of my half-healed wounds than from lack of preparation or the physical presence of Link inside me. The saliva coating the Hylian's member was the first lubrication, the first preparation I had ever used, but even without it, the simple pleasure of being joined with Link would not have been sullied. We were a perfect fit, as if Farore made us for each other.

"Sheik..." Link panted, drawing me out of my amazed trance. Reaching out, he cupped my face with both hands, staring keenly into my eyes with his lust-hazed ones. "Are you in pain?"

Smiling gently at him, I shook my head and touched the back of one hand. "Quite the contrary," I corrected, lowering my hands to brace them on his shoulders. "You feel incredible." Thigh muscles flexing, I lifted myself up and slowly slid back down the length of his hard flesh, pleasure tightening in my gut from the wondrous sensation and Link's cry of utter bliss.

Eyes squeezed shut, brow furrowed and sweat beading his forehead, Link blindly reached out for me and dragged me down to him. Twining his hands in my pale hair, he whispered pleadingly against my lips, "Keep going... Whatever you do... do not stop..."

Having been the slave to two blood bonds, I had grown to resent direct orders. However, Link's command was one I was more than willing to obey. Utilizing the stabilizing leverage of the ground and his shoulders, I drove myself down onto the blonde at a steady, measured pace, his burning member sliding through me like a hot knife through butter. It was all so intense, a sensory overload: Link's erotic cries and seductive facial expressions; the tangy flavor of sweat on golden skin and the musky smell of sex; the sheer pleasure stabbing through me with every thrust. Never before had I felt like this, so filled with bliss I felt disconnected from this earth, as if I were floating boundlessly up into the clouds. Panting and gasping for breath, I was lightheaded from intoxication, but instead of ale, I was drunk on pleasure, on love, on Link. And I longed for more. I wanted to be inebriated to the point where all that existed in my world was this ecstasy, this passion, and this man below me.

"Sheik..." the blonde warrior gasped, his arms encircling my neck, fingers tugging at the hair at the nape of my neck. "Sheik... oh, Goddesses, it feels so good... I never want... never want to stop... Ah! I want more... I need to... feel more of you..."

"So demanding..." I chided huskily, breathlessly, but nonetheless pushed off his shoulders to sit upright, hands braced against his chest. Immediately, Link slid deeper inside of me, every inch of him from tip to hilt sheathed within my body. The slight shift in position wrestled a cry from the blonde, and I myself had to bite back a moan. The impression of fullness had increased, Link's member exerting a steady pressure against a certain, sensitive spot inside me that sent tremors through my body. Losing himself to carnal desires, Link thrust up into me with a wavering moan, and I jerked from the sudden jolt of pleasure. Taking the hint, I timed my pace with Link's thrusts, thigh muscles straining and fingers curling into his chiseled sides as I impaled myself onto him, driving him deeper and harder into me with every stroke. Heat surged through me with every measured roll of my hips, striking the pleasure point within me even as I rode Link as one would ride a horse.

However, while I was content with my leisurely pace, striving to lengthen our union, my Hylian lover was not quite as patient. Warm, strong hands seized my hips, jerking me to the side and suddenly, cold earth struck my heated back. Before I could fully process the sight of Link braced on his elbows above me, he yanked my hips up to meet a powerful downward thrust. The blonde's sudden boldness coupled with the sharp stab of ecstasy startled me into unleashing a short, pleasured cry. Biting the inside of my cheek, I grappled with the escalating effort it took to remain mute as Link plunged into me, repeatedly assailing that one spot, unleashing wave after wave of white-hot bliss through me. Link, however, refused to have any part in my silent routine.

Balancing himself on his right arm, the warrior circled my flesh with his left hand, making my breath catch in my throat. "Stop holding back," he commanded with unexpectedly steady authority, pumping me hard and fast and eliciting a half smothered moan. "I want to hear your voice." He punctuated his statement with a thrust so powerful, stars burst before my eyes and I screamed, short and strangled. Link smirked. "Good boy."

Glaring up at him, I raised myself up enough to nip sharply on the tip of one long ear, and was rewarded with a sharp intake of breath. "Do not patronize me, Hero," I warned dangerously, lying back against the grass.

With a grin, Link twisted his hand around the head of my member and almost reflexively, I bucked helplessly into his touch, moaning lowly. "Never would I dream of it, O Shadow Warrior."

Then – even as we panted and moved against each other, basking in the pleasure of our intimacy, Link staring down into my face – his crystalline eyes softened abruptly, adapting a loving expression. Without hindering the speed or intensity of his thrusts, Link lifted his hand from my hard flesh to touch my face. Callous-roughened fingertips mapped out my facial features, tracing the path of my rhyfel'aira,outlining the shape of my eyelids, parted lips, the narrow taper of my ears, trailing through my damp hair... Summer blue eyes followed the motion of his fingers as they ventured down my neck and collarbone, trekked the crisscrossed terrain of my scarred chest and traveled over the taut, sweaty planes of my abs. I already was feverish and lightheaded from the intense pleasure of Link's touch and thrusts, but the amorous gleam in his eyes as they examined my body – appreciating it, worshiping it – had me aflame in a pit of lava. Everywhere his eyes and hand touched sent my nerves tingling and burning until I felt as if he was touching me everywhere at once. Unable to stop myself, shivers and soft moans seized me as I lost myself to the pleasure, my body trembling with uncontrollable bliss.

Wandering away from my stomach, Link's scorching hand curled around my hip, wedging between the small of my back and the ground. Then, his palm coiled around the taut curve of my butt, sliding downward to touch the spot where his body and mine joined. The Hylian's touch seemed to reinforce the authenticity of the situation, that Link was really there, inside of me, making love to me.

The reality of it all sent a powerful surge of pleasure through me, driving me to helplessly moan his name, "Link..."

A moment later, Link's hand was splayed over my slick lower back, forcefully drawing me closer to him, sliding in deeper as he claimed my lips in a passionate, breathtaking kiss. Hand knotting in my hair, he held my mouth to his for a moment longer before breaking away with a needy gasp. Gazing adoringly into my eyes, Link whispered, "You're so beautiful, Sheik... Absolutely everything about you is breathtaking..."

My breath hitched in my chest, my heart swelling against the confining bars of my ribs. However, before I find the words to voice the strength of my emotions, Link's pace increased, and he pistoned faster in and out of me. The half formed words died in my throat, reverting into a wordless moan instead. Wrapping my arms around his neck, I pulled him down to me, craving the crushing weight and heat of his body, the slippery chaffing of our chests as they rubbed together. But even then it was not enough, and I lifted my legs up, locking my ankles around his waist. Immediately, the pressure increased and we moaned simultaneously. Our mouths collided with a kind of animalistic desperation, tongues twining and lips meshing in time with our thrusts, each of us clinging to the other like a lifeline as the swell of pleasure intensified.

"Sheik," Link gasped out against my mouth, his body trembling against mine. "Sheik, I cannot hold out much longer..."

The Hylian's words reinforced the pleasure coiling in my groin like a spring-loaded trap, winding it tighter. "Nor can I..." I admitted breathlessly. Unhitching my legs from his waist, I tucked them between our chests before extending them to drape my knees over his shoulders. We both cried out as Link slid deeper inside of me, striking the pleasure point within me with such ferocious accuracy that I convulsed.

Panting and gasping, I managed to sputter weakly, "Make every last second count, Link..."

An affirmative grunt was his only response as he rammed himself into me, his thrusts short, hard and erratic, but as deadly accurate as his bowshot when it came to striking the magic spot within me. As the pleasure climbed higher, my moans and cries grew louder, and my legs tightened around Link's shoulders. More than once, I had to remind myself not to squeeze too tightly, lest my powerful leg muscles accidentally strangle Link.

Just as I was nearing my climax, Link snapped. With a final plunge, a gargled shout and a spray of wet heat, he came inside of me. Trembling violently, his foggy blue eyes slid shut and he thrust weakly into me, riding out his orgasm, my name falling from his lips like a prayer. The burn of his searing essence filling me and warming my insides threw me over the edge of the cliff. With a breathy cry, the pleasure exploded and I, too, came, my flesh twitching as it shot my seed against my stomach. For a long while, I could only lay there beneath Link, weathering the shockwaves of mind-numbing pleasure as they rocked through me like pulsations from an earthquake.

Shivering and breathless from the sheer force of my climax, my legs fell limp against Link's shoulders, and slowly, I lowered the long, trembling limbs to the ground. A heartbeat later, Link pulled out of me and rolled onto his side, gathering me into his arms and holding me against his chest. Breathless, sweaty and sticky, we lay in each other's embrace, staring into the other's lust-clouded eyes as we slowly descended from our highs, regaining our breath.

Suddenly, a smile began to spread across Link's face, slowly stretching from ear to ear. It was the same warm, sunny, childlike smile I had fallen in love with so many years ago. In spite of myself, an answering smile upturned my own lips. Cupping his face in both hand, I touched his sweaty brow to mine, closing my eyes as I whispered softly, "Fy'daira, Link."

Link needed no knowledge of the Shadow Tongue to hear the adoration in my voice or to decipher my words. Damp, chapped lips pressed softly against mine, warm breath tickling my mouth as he responded, drawing me closer, "And I love you."

Later, I could never recall how long we laid together in the grass outside the Shadow Temple, wrapped up in each other's arms, completely alone save for the occasional inquisitive spirit or two. All that existed to me was the sweat cooling our flushed skin, the heat of Link's muscled body against mine, and the deep-seated satisfaction of finally consummating my love for the Hero of Time. Even after recovering from my climax, my nerves still tingled, replaying the feel of Link's hands, mouth and body. Nothing could pierce the protective barrier the Hylian's touch had cast upon my body. I felt... I felt...

Realization hit me and my eyes flew open. Despite being covered in perspiration, saliva, semen and dirt, I felt clean, cleaner than I had in five years since Ganondorf first touched me. For the first time in half a decade, all the torture and sins sullying my body felt as if they had been cleansed, the Gerudo king's crimes washing away like layers of grime built up from years of trekking through the wilderness. It was if Link's pure light had purged me of the remaining wisps of Ganondorf's evil through our joining, unclogging the shadows of my heart and freeing me from my phantom shackles. His light unbound me, allowing me to exist by his side as a cleansed shadow.

Before I could stop it, a soft chuckle escaped my lips. Curious, Link glanced down at me and asked, "What is it, Sheik?"

"You made well on your promise," I informed him quietly, sweeping his damp bangs out of his celestial blue eyes. "I can no longer feel the Black King's vile touch. You rewrote the memories of pain scribed on my body with pleasure. Your hands are the only ones I feel now, the only ones I can recall."

Rather than looking smug, Link's expression was tender as he leaned down to kiss me. "Good," he murmured against my lips, "because so long as I can help it, my hands will be the only ones to know your body so intimately."

Smiling faintly, I responded, "And they are the only hands I will ever desire." My eyes drifted up to the heavens and noted the sky's lightening color, gradually shifting from black to blue. "No matter how desperately I long to remain here with you, I fear our time is up. Dawn is approaching and I can imagine there will be a number of distraught mothers if they hear their children discovered two naked men in the graveyard."

Unconcerned, Link shrugged one shoulder and hugged me closer. "They all grow up sooner or later. It will not harm them. They probably would not understand anyways."

Pursing my lips to hide my amusement, I arched an eyebrow at the blonde hero and countered mild, "Be that as it may, keep in mind there are also Sheikah lingering around the village. We may be of Shadow, but we are not nocturnal. The tribe will be waking up soon and many of us chose to rise before dawn for morning exercises. And if they find two naked men together, one of whom is a Sheikah Warrior–"

Link's vehement curse cut me off as he all but leapt from the ground, scrambling about to sort through our discarded garments. Laughing softly to myself, I sat up slowly and cringed. As focused as I had been on Link and the pleasure of the night, I had forgotten the pain of my wounds. Now they assaulted me in full force. Many had reopened, either from our earlier skirmish or during our love-making. A new pain had been added to my back, which ached both from being arched for so long while I had my legs over his shoulders and from Link's powerful thrusts scrubbing me against the ground, chaffing my skin raw.

Zelda is going to kill me, I thought with dread, sitting crosslegged and grinning faintly as I watched Link scuttle about, quite enjoying the view of his muscled behind. However, I decided the renewed pain and the princess's scolding were well worth the night's events. Not only did I rekindle my treasured friendship with the blonde hero, but I had learned of his love and acted upon it. And to me, that was all that mattered. Whatever fate threw at me – pain, Zelda's wrath, my tribe's punishment – I could handle.


Instinctively, I snatched my battlesuit out of the air when Link threw it at me. He was hopping on one foot, trying to tug his boot on over his rumpled leggings, his green tunic dangling from between his teeth.

Amused, I snorted at his comical appearance as I tugged the one-piece battlesuit over my knees and stood up, carefully rolling the tight fabric up my thighs. "Link, you look ridiculous," I informed him matter-of-factly, laughing outright when he lost his balance and fell of his ass, his boot flying off into the air.

Rather than looking chagrinned, he smirked mischievously as he yanked his tunic over his head and retorted, "I may look silly, but at least I do not have grass stains on my back."

Freezing in the midst of shoving my arms into my sleeves, I stared at him in horror. "You're bluffing."

"You know I am terrible at bluffing," he countered mirthfully, standing up to retrieve his boot and shoved his foot into it. "Take a look for yourself."

Ignoring the protest of my stomach muscles, I craned my head around over my shoulders in attempt to peer down my back. Sure enough, pale green smudges blotted the pale skin of my shoulder blades.

"Wrutrac'dosg, he was right..." I cursed under my breath, hurriedly tugging my bodysuit up over my shoulders and quickly lacing up the front.

Sauntering over smugly, Link handed me my tabard as he fixed his cap atop his golden hair and cinched his belt around his waist. "Told you," he quipped gleefully, grinning as I huffily yanked the tabard and attached cowl over my head.

"Shove a cork in it," I suggested mildly, striding to the fence to fetch my lyre and wad my shredded wrappings in my hand. Without the bindings to hold it steady the tabard swished freely around my chest. Guiltily, Link glanced at the shredded cloth in my hand, following me as I leapt over the fence to the cobblestone path below.

After he had recovered and returned the Master Sword to its blue and gold embossed scabbard, the warrior apologized as we started down the path, "I am sorry about your bandages, Sheik. I forgot you needed to wear them again after I cut them off."

"So long as we avoid running into any Sheikah, no harm, no foul," I told him placidly, offering an encouraging smile.

A little of the embarrassment lifted from his face and he relaxed, smiling faintly as he looked ahead. Behind us, the sky lightened to a hazy lavender-gray as the sun yawned in the east, bleaching the headstones in its waking light. As we neared the narrow pathway leading out from the graveyard and into the village, Link turned to me with an impish smile and asked, "So, what other impressive positions does your flexibility allow you to assume?"

Smirking, I cut my eyes toward him and teased suggestively, "I guess you will have to stick around long enough to find out."

Link opened his mouth to reply, only to close it slowly when his eyes fixated on something in front of us. Suddenly, his pace slowed, wariness crossing his features. I, too, shifted my eyes forward and felt an unpleasant jolt of fear. Early morning light spilled from the mouth of the short stairway below us, our only way back to Kakariko Village. Framed against that shaft of pale light was a black, humanoid silhouette, blocking our path.

Before I could discern if the person hidden in the half-light was friend or foe, or even before I could hide my exposed face behind my cowl, a familiar, female voice called out, "Enjoy yourselves, boys?"

"Zelda!" Link cried, embarrassed, a crimson blush spreading over his cheeks.

"Princess..." I sighed, relieved, pursing my lips faintly as my lady stepped into the light, ethereal in the dawn with her porcelain skin, burnished gold hair and glittering sapphire eyes. The sly, knowing smirk on her lips, however, belied her regal, angelic appearance.

Hands on her hips, the princess stepped directly in front of us, keen eyes taking in our disheveled clothes, damp hair and the torn bindings in my hands. Grinning widely, she giggled, "Judging by your appearances, I would say so."

Link flushed even redder and stammered wordlessly, trying to explain. With a laugh and a carefree gesture of her gloved hand, Zelda wedged herself between us, wrapping a slender arm around each of our waists and steered us towards Impa's house.

"Breathe easy, Link," she encouraged, smiling beautifully at him. "No need to be so mortified. I was, after all, the one who convinced Sheik to seek you out." Turning her oceanic eyes to me, she asked, "So, tell me, Sheik. Was I correct in my prediction?"

Returning her gaze evenly, I responded, "Yes, Princess. You were," and smiled gently at her, silently thanking her. With a wink and a laugh, she squeezed Link and me in a one-armed hug, the three of us – the Heroes of Hyrule – temporarily lost in our private world as we climbed the stairs toward the cottage.

It was then I recognized light and shadow did not exist in separate worlds. We lived side by side, each complimenting the other. Yes, it was true shadow could not exist without light, but without shadow, light was shapeless. Shadow needed light, and light needed shadow. They were two parts of the same whole, just as Link and I were. And that revelation led me to a second one: I had formed a blood bond with Link that night. However, ours was different from the one I had had with Ganondorf, even the one I shared with Zelda. It was natural, not forged by blood magic but by the love and passion we had for each other. Although I was unsure of what the future held for us, I knew the bond between Link and I would continue even after we passed from this world.

Ours was a blood bond I did not mind having.


lywnnola = a term of endearment, literally means "dear heart," close to "sweetheart."

fy'daira = "I love you." Fy'daira is used for romantic love.

wrutrac'dosg = a curse; literally means "bleeding shadows."

Ending notes: Okay, even though I tried to keep that as tasteful as humanly possible, I'm still blushing. God, I cannot believe I wrote such a graphic sex scene, much less posted it...

Anyways, I tried something different here with Sheik and Link, and I'm not totally sure if I succeeded the way I wanted to. While Sheik is definitely uke and Link is definitely seme, I kinda blurred and flip-flopped the seme/uke rules, Sheik being a mature, experienced uke and Link a child-like, inexperienced seme. Frankly, while I do picture Sheik as being more mature and reserved, I just can't see him as a seme. The whole idea of him submitting to others fits him so much better, being a Sheikah and therefore, by canon and my own version, a servant to Hylians. Likewise, with Link, yes I see him as a child trapped in a man's body, but I also see him as highly active and competitive, and, canonically, he's also a renown hero, imbued with the power of the Farore. To me, that just doesn't ring uke. And, while Sheik does have more experience, I tried to write the sex scene in such a way that he wasn't so much as in control as he was guiding Link. That plays along with his character and what he's done already. For the most part, he guided Link to the Temples, guided him in what to do, and then, once Link had that knowledge, he let him go off and take over from there. So, for the most part, after Sheik showed him the ropes, Link seized control and exerted himself primarily as the dominant one. Plus, physically speaking, they both fit the seme/uke body structure stereotypes, Sheik being slightly shorter, thinner, and more of an androgynous pretty boy and Link being taller, more muscular and has a definitive masculine handsomeness. People may disagree with me, but that's just the way I see their characters, and I did my best to stay true to my version of their personalities.

Well, that's all I have to say about this chapter. Again, I am very sorry for the intensely long wait (curse you, real life!) and I would like to thank you all for reading my story, especially those of you who have been reading it from the very moment I posted the first chapter. I sincerely hope you enjoyed and that this final chapter lived up to your expectations. I tried my hardest for you guys! Please let me know how I did. As I always say, I love getting reviews and I love my reviewers! You bring a smile to my face =)

EDIT: For all of those who enjoyed this story, I just wanted to let you know that I am working on a sequel of sorts to Bound by Blood. It's not a direct sequel; it takes place in the Twilight Princess world, and deals with Link and Sheik's descendents. The story occurs after the events of Twilight Princess with a new threat, new evil, and new romance between TP Link and Sheik (I looked; they did have a Sheik planned for TP but cut him/her. However, I will adopt him for my own purposes =P). This story will reveal the details of the Great Betrayal, and what happens to Link and Sheik after Bound by Blood. If you're interested, feel free to swing by my profile. I'm keeping a status update there on the progress of the story for curious readers. It's a long one - 15 chapters planned thus far - so I figured I'd keep those interested informed.

Love you all! *hugs and kisses* Until next time!