GhirahimxLink: Be My Escape
Chapter Fifteen: The Promise
Link let out a low breath, watching as it formed a little cloud before drifting off in the night sky. He couldn’t sleep, Again. His nightmares had gotten the better of him. They were more frequent now, more vivid. Some of them were about Demise hunting him in the dark fortress, sometimes they were revisits to his most brutal torture sessions. Sometimes he dreamt that Demise had somehow made it onto Skyloft, a bloody smile on his lips as he dragged the demon lord’s lifeless body behind him. Sometimes they were nice; Ghirahim came back for him, just like he said he would. But when Link woke up, and realized he was alone, he, too, considered those nightmares.
Sleep was a fleeting thing for the boy, so rare, that when he managed to catch an hour or two during the night, it was considered a treat. Often he would wake up in a mad panic, coated in sweat, his lungs heaving. There were always those terrifying handful of seconds that passed too slowly, when the sky child waited for his eyes to adjust, praying that he wasn’t still in the dungeon. And then he would feel the warm bed underneath him, see his belongings scattered on the ground, and realize that he was safe in his home, far from harm’s reach.
He was always on edge. He couldn’t walk around the island without expecting to see Demise hiding behind every corner, ready to catch him.
The only source of comfort for Link was when, during his sleepless nights, he could escape the suffocating confines of his house and climb the Light Tower in the plaza. The chilly night air reminded him that he was alive, piercing his body, biting his lungs. He was alive, and he was safe. His mind knew that. His heart wasn’t so easily convinced, however.
Link had the pleasure of telling Headmaster Gaepora that he had failed to rescue Zelda, that she had died at the hands of the enemy. He told the grieving father that it was a quick, painless death, but in truth, the boy didn’t know that at all. Knowing Ghirahim, it probably wasn’t. The headmaster didn’t leave his quarters for days, stricken with a heartache so painful, Link was certain he would die from a broken heart.
It was a different story for the islanders; they didn’t have time to mourn. The blood had barely dried on the ground when the people picked themselves up and sprang into action. The dead demon pigs were pushed over the ledge (Link tried to convince them of the savagery behind this action, but no one listened; despite all that had happened, the surface was suddenly a myth all over again, and the Bokoblins were going to do nothing more than float through space for all eternity), and the dead that belonged to the island were buried in the cemetery, along with a communal vigil to provide closure. Next came the rebuilding. Slowly, brick by brick, Skyloft grew. Just like in battle with the demon pigs, the islanders banded together, working side by side as one, until their home was restored to its former glory. The Academy and residential areas were the first to rise from the ash. Then it was the Bazaar, Beedle’s Shop, and the Goddess Statue. Whatever had been tainted by blood, fire, and war, was made anew.
Weeks passed, months. Time moved forward, spurring Skyloft along.
Just like nothing had ever happened.
People laughed, chatted about idle things, pretending they couldn’t see the blood-stained cobblestone underneath their feet.
Life had carried on in Skyloft, leaving the boy far behind with his nightmares and paranoia.
Though, Link had to admit, some things had changed, but even then, he wasn't entirely sure he was happy about it. The moment the Academy was back on its feet – granted, it was still quite wobbly; the fire had done a number on the kitchen and classrooms – Headmaster Gaepora held a celebration in Link's name, honoring him with the title of Knight. On account of his heroic bravery, the boy was deemed ready for knighthood. School was no longer a requirement, since he experienced more than the instructors could ever teach him. The sky child's official graduation was to take place the same day as the annual Winged Ceremony. According to Gaepora, it was to be quite a spectacle, one that would go down in the history of Skyloft. Link politely declined, but the look on Gaepora's face quickly told him that he wasn't in any position to do so. And so, with a forced smile and very little words, the sky child moved out of the Academy, donned a stunning midnight blue tunic, and took to the skies, destined to patrol and protect for the rest of his life. In truth, the boy enjoyed school; it helped keep his mind off things. Things seemed simpler when he was in school, innocent. Now that he was a knight, every day when he stared at himself in the mirror, at the blue tunic, at the goggles stuck to his forehead, it was all just a reminder that he was no longer a child. His innocence had long since been tainted, marred, sullied. Things could never go back to the way they were.
Link let out another sigh, rolling his head to the side, gazing out into the star-saturated night. He had grown to hate that endless horizon, those wispy clouds. What once gave him a sense of peace now filled him with burning frustration, reminding him of what lay beneath the clouds, just out of reach, what he had left behind. No, that was wrong. It was the other way around. The demon lord left him. It felt like an infinity ago, and yet it still sent a sharp pain to the boy's heart. Link let out a groan and placed a hand gently over his heart, trying to dull the ache that spread through his chest. His eyes drifted along the sea of clouds. How many times had he searched the horizon during his patrols, looking for signs of life beneath the blanket of clouds, for signs of his Ghirahim? How many times had he leapt from Red's back, hoping, praying that the clouds would suddenly split open, sending him straight back into the heart of the surface, the very place he had been trying to escape from what seemed like lifetimes ago?
The island was too small for the boy. Having had a taste of the surface, Link found himself craving the freedom of being able to run without suddenly meeting a free-fall. He missed the tiny, odd-looking birds, the Kikwi's rummaging for food, the trees that towered over his head with ease. He missed the sturdiness of the ground beneath his feet, how it didn't sway and tip with an especially turbulent breeze. He missed being able to look up and see the clouds high above him, stretching for miles and miles. He missed the adventure of it all, exploring, discovering new things. Skyloft offered normal, stability, consistency, and while the islanders thrived in such conditions, Link was quick to grow bored.
In that sense, the sky child had to agree with the others; life had indeed slipped back into its old, stale rhythm, and it left a bitter taste in his mouth.
He hated it all.
So badly he just wanted to disappear.
Suddenly, a brilliant flash of green light flared in the sky, bursting through the clouds and spiraling upwards, higher and higher, until the boy could no longer see the top. Link stared at the beacon of light, his expression unchanging, his mouth in a tight line. His heart wallowed against his ribcage, barely beating. The green light was right where the old portal to Faron Woods used to be. It pulsated like a living organism, pulling at the sky child’s fragile heartstrings, beckoning him. With a groan, Link turned his head away from the beacon, closing his eyes, shutting out the light. He hated nights like this the most. He was low on energy, having gotten no sleep for the past handful of days, and his eyes were playing tricks on him. Seeing the portal come to life before him happened more often than he cared to admit, but he wasn’t about to tell anyone about his hallucinations; he’d lose his position on the patrol team for sure. Link smirked. ‘On second thought, maybe I should tell someone. Perhaps they would think I’ve gone mad and strip me of my title. What a shame.’
Holding his breath, the boy counted to ten, exhaled, and turned his face back to the horizon. ‘It’ll be gone,’ he reasoned, ‘as it always is.’
The beacon was still there.
Link shot up, his nerves rigid. Goosebumps trailed along his arms, biting at his skin. The scars riddling his body began to burn, aching with each frantic heartbeat. His eyes, wide and unblinking, wandered up and down the glowing beacon, a pool of nausea in his belly. “It’s official,” he moaned, squeezing his eyes shut and rubbing them vigorously with his knuckles, “I’m insane.”
He cracked his eyes open slowly, peeking through his gloved fingers.
The beacon, in all its green glory, was still there.
The boy bit his lip, his mind racing in circles, screaming, screaming, screaming.
‘Go inspect it.’
‘No! Don’t go inspect it; night flying is illegal.’
‘Idiot, you’re a Knight now. You can fly anytime you want!’
‘No, it’s too dangerous. What if it isn’t there?’
‘Oh, but what if it is?’
By the time Link realized what he was doing, he had already thrown himself off of the Skyloft Light Tower and was sailing through the sky, his heart in his throat and laughter on his tongue. His whistle for Red was a shrill thing, piercing the silent air like an arrow. In an instant, the crimson Loftwing was drifting underneath the sky child, crowing eagerly, his amber eyes flicking back to Link. The boy landed softly on the bird’s back, his fingers sliding through the plush feathers as he searched for the reins. His feet were barely in the stirrups when Red screeched mightily and barreled forward, blasting into the night sky. Link lurched in the saddle, his arms flailing as he fought to keep his balance. As he pinned his legs tightly against the bird’s sides, the boy could feel the stirrings of laughter in his belly, bubbling up his throat and squeaking out his tightly clamped mouth. God, it felt good to laugh. It felt good to smile. Genuinely smile. He had faked one for so long, he had nearly forgotten what an actual one felt like. He let out a giggle, quietly at first, but it was so infectious, so intoxicating, that soon he was roaring with laughter. The sky child was feeling better than he had in days, weeks, even months. He felt lighter, as thin as the air.
There was still the risk that Link was well past the point of being crazy. But he couldn’t turn back. He was beyond the point of logic now. Rationality wouldn't save him. The sparks in his veins drove him forward, the wild breath in his lungs, the crazed scream in his throat. Like a moth to a flame, Link raced for the beacon. He didn't need to tell Red where he wanted to go, the Loftwing could sense it, feel it surging from his pores. "I'm coming, Ghirahim," the boy whispered, his words lost in the wind, "I'm coming!"
When the pair finally reached the portal, the sky child wasted no time. Wordlessly and without ceremony, Link leapt from Red's back and dove into the beacon, tucking himself into a tight ball in hopes of cutting through the air faster. It was only when he passed the ring of clouds separating myth from reality that Link realized his fatal mistake: he didn't have a sailing cloth, and therefore had nothing to slow him down. With a yelp, the boy started swinging his arms and legs frantically, as though the action would slow him down. He called for Red once more, praying that his Loftwing could still hear him through the barrier of clouds. A skipped heartbeat later, and Red tore through the portal's opening, his eyes wide with confusion. He squawked nervously at the sky child, a growl rumbling in his belly as he picked up his owner. Link let out a relieved breath, burying his face into the bird's neck. "Thank Hylia for you, Red!"
It took a couple minutes of coaxing Red to land, and Link knew that, despite all their training, Loftwing's remained wild at heart, and couldn't always be domesticated to the point of blindly listening to their masters. Red was different; the boy knew the bond he had with the Crimson Loftwing was not to be taken lightly. It was as though their relationship transcended time, that they had been friends, partners, in another life. Link hopped off the bird's back, scratching his feathery neck with praise. "Job well done, Red," he murmured, and the bird chirped in response. "I can always count on you."
The Loftwing playful nipped at the sky child's tunic, and with a ruffle of his feathers, the mighty bird took off, shooting into the sky with a cry.
Link watched Red drift into the night before dropping his gaze and wearily scanning the woods. His eyes were slow to adjust to the night that drenched the surface. The moon didn't make it passed the clouds tonight, leaving the boy in darkness. As he felt around his surroundings, Link suddenly wished he had been more prepared. A lantern would have been nice. Weaponry, too. He had killed a lot of Bokoblins up on Skyloft, and even with the divine hope that Ghirahim had held up his end of the bargain, it was doubtful that all evil could possibly be eradicated from one place. The boy flicked his wrists, trying to shake off his nerves. He prayed that he wouldn’t walk into a nest of sleeping Deku Shrubs. They were always grumpy when they first woke up.
The boy wandered through the woods, using his heart as his guide. It pulled him in many directions, and after nearly falling into the same pond a third time, he was about to give up altogether, opting to search for the demon lord when daylight was on his side.
And that’s when he saw him.
Ghirahim, standing next to a horribly cracked bird statue.
He was leaning against the pillar with his arms crossed against his chest, surrounded by an air of nonchalance that Link saw right through.
The demon lord’s wobbly smile went crooked, and he pushed himself off the statue, cocking his head to the side. His entire body was shaking. He let out a low, shuddering breath, and then spoke:
“Hello, my foolish boy, my sky child, my Link.”
The boy contemplated closing his eyes, holding his breath, and counting to ten. He wanted to be sure that he wasn’t crazy, that his brain wasn’t making this up as another form of torture.
But then the demon lord reached out and touched him. It was tentative, hesitant, fingers brushing against his cheek. Cold, perfect fingers.
“Is this a dream?” Link whispered, his heart in his throat. It was suddenly hard to breathe. “Have I truly lost my mind?”
He was afraid of what the answer was.
Ghirahim smiled adoringly at the boy, brushing his hair out of his face. He bent down, resting his forehead against Link’s. “Oh no, sky child. This is very, very, real.”
A sob burst from the boy’s throat, and he crumbled into the demon lord’s arms. “Ghirahim!” He cried, overwrought with every emotion he had held back, had buried deep, the past months.
Every tear he had refused to shed was now drenching the demon lord’s chest.
Every shred of pain and anger was now ripping the boy’s throat raw.
Every wave of sadness was now rolling off Link, pelting everything in his immediate radius without mercy.
Ghirahim held onto Link as though his life depended on it, and for a moment, Link wondered if he, too, had often dreamt of holding the boy in his arms, only to wake up and find himself alone, tricked by his desperate mind and anxious heart. The thought made him feel sick. ‘Never again,’ he vowed, ‘never again will I let those dreams become a reality.’
But, just in case, the sky child sank even further into the demon lord’s arms, nuzzling his face into his chest. He inhaled deeply. Mint and honey. Perfection.
Ghirahim let out a chuckle as beautiful as wind chimes. “You foolish boy,” he scolded, yet his voice was light and whimsical, “why didn’t you wait for me like I had asked? I promised you that I would come back for you.” He let out a little huff of air, pouting. “You certainly took the wind out of my sails by finding me first.” He jutted out his lower lip. “I feel a bit emasculated, in fact.”
“I know you said you’d find me in this life or the next, but Ghirahim, I didn’t know if I’d be able to wait that long! When I saw the beacon, well, I simply couldn't wait!”
The demon lord chuckled again, and it was music to Link’s ears. He’d never grow tired of that sound. “You are a stubborn one.” He pulled away from Link, tilting his face upwards. With a gentle hum, he nuzzled his nose against the boy’s. “No wonder why I like you so much.”
Link blinked, causing several tears to tumble down his cheeks. “But how?” He whispered, reaching up and cupping the sides of Ghirahim’s face with such care, as though the demon lord were the most precious, fragile thing he had ever touched. Like he was smoke ready to dissolve in the wind. “How did you get the portal to work?”
Ghirahim’s cheeks warmed underneath the sky child’s touch, and he bit his lip, sheepish. “Well, when I returned to the surface, I immediately got to work in destroying the portals. I tracked down each and every one, smashing them to smithereens, making it impossible for Demise to use them.” He frowned. “I’m afraid that I was a bit too efficient at my job. It was bloody difficult rebuilding one of those stupid stone birds from just a pile of rubble. All of the pieces looked the same!” The demon lord slowly pulled his hands out from behind his back, giving Link a good look at the oozing cuts, broken callouses, and blisters marking the palms, days upon days of hard work etched into his skin. “I finally found the final piece tonight.” He winced. “I’m sorry it took me so long.”
Link shook his head vehemently. “Don’t apologize.” He commanded, his voice firm. His legs were trembling underneath him, but the boy ignored their threats to crumple and stood up on the tips of his toes. He brushed his lips against Ghirahim’s, a whisper of a kiss. “I feared I’d never see you again.” He murmured gently.
Ghirahim smiled softly against the sky child. “My darling,” he moaned, “how many times must I tell you? We belong together. Nothing, not even death, not even a stupid bird statue, will keep us apart. Our love with withstand all obstacles, without fail.” He sank into the kiss, savoring the feeling of Link’s lips on his.
Since the fall of Demise’s empire, Link had felt nothing but numbness; he had become hollow, a shell. But now, as Ghirahim pressed into him, sliding his torn hands onto the sky child’s back, slipping deeper into the kiss, he had never felt so alive. A plethora of feelings assaulted his sluggish brain, and Link tried in vain to memorize everything. Everything he was feeling, everything that was happening. From start to finish, he wanted to be able to replay it, over and over, until it was ingrained into his memory.
The way his heart sped up when the demon lord paid extra attention to his bottom lip.
The way Ghirahim’s back arched at his touch, his silk skin cool against Link’s fingers.
The feeling of Ghirahim’s body on his, pressed so tightly together, there was no guessing where human ended and demon started; they were simply one.
The way he reciprocated, his long fingers working their way up the boy’s back, scratching at his
tunic, desperate to feel the skin underneath the layers of fabric.
The way his lungs only allowed shallow breaths when Ghirahim paused to kiss away his tears.
He had to remember it all. Ever second.
When the demon lord pulled away, Link had to bite back the whine of disappointment. His body
ached for more, longing for more than just a taste. Ghirahim’s onyx eyes danced along the boy’s face, and he chortled, tugging Link into a tight hug. “We have the rest of our lives to play, sky child. Let’s just enjoy being together, in this very moment.” He pressed his lips onto the crown if the boy’s head. “Let’s not spoil it, shall we?”
Link’s heart thrummed happily at the demon lord’s words, how they felt like honey coating his
body, sending a pleasant, sweet warmth flitting through him. Unable to help it, he let out a little snort. “What odd words for a demon to say.”
“I know. What on earth is wrong with me?”
With extraordinary care, Link picked up and demon lord’s hands and brought them to his lips, tenderly kissing the wounds. “Your poor hands.” He whispered, flicking his eyes up to Ghirahim.
The demon lord sucked in a breath, melting under the boy’s sizzling gaze. “They don’t hurt that bad, really. Finally seeing you again makes it worth it.”
“Can you heal them?”
Ghirahim frowned, his back stiffening. “Unfortunately, I cannot.” His mouth quirked to the side, and he arched an eyebrow. “You never asked me about Demise.”
Link pulled his lips away from the demon lord’s hands, his eyebrows raised. It was his turn to feel sheepish, and suddenly his body felt like it was on fire. “I sort of assumed he was dead by your hand.”
The demon lord rolled his eyes, placing his hands gingerly on his hips. “Demons can’t die. Honestly, sky child, do you listen to anything that I tell you?”
“Yes!” The boy argued. He shrank away from Ghirahim’s dark stare, and dropped his gaze to the ground. “Sometimes I forget.” He finally mumbled.
The demon lord smirked. “Doesn’t honesty feel better than lying?”
“It wasn’t a lie—”
“Demise has been sealed away,” Ghirahim announced, his proclamation cutting through Link’s sentence. He eyed the boy carefully. “Have I gotten all of your attention now?”
The sky child, upon seeing that Ghirahim was waiting for a response, quickly nodded, his lips tightly clamped together, his eyes wide with shock. He wasn’t sure he was able to form words at the moment, anyways.
Ghirahim waited a moment more before continuing. “You see, though he would never admit to it, Demise had used up a lot of his strength in the mere planning stages. I didn’t notice it at first; I simply assumed he was more irritable than normal due to stress. It hadn’t occurred to me until much later that he was losing energy from strategizing and building his army.” He shrugged his shoulders. “And when he shut down all flow of magic within the fortress in a half-crazed effort to track us down, well, that was that.” The demon lord suddenly grinned, his eyes glimmering with a hatred for the Demon King. “The fool was never good at controlling his power, and in the end, it cost him. For the first time in my life, we were matched for power.” His shoulders shook as a vicious laughter rippled through him. “What a battle it was. In the end, I was able to overthrow him and seal him away in the Sacred Grounds. Of course, I received some help from his horde of Bokoblins.”
“Demise’s Bokoblins?” Link asked, breaking his stunned silence.
Ghirahim didn’t seem to mind his interruption. “Obviously. There is no way I’d be able to carry his fat body all the way over to the Sacred Grounds by myself.” He shook his head. “They carried him, while I carved out his soul, separating it from his body. That was tiring; left me exhausted for days.”
“How did you get them all to help you?”
“Oh please,” the demon lord scoffed, flicking his wrist playfully, “those pigs have such tiny brains. It takes very little effort to convince them to do anything, even if it means turning on their creator.”
Link clenched his fists together, his fingernails biting into the palms of his hands. "So that's it then? It's over?"
Ghirahim nodded a bit too quickly. "It's over."
The boy peered into his demon lord's eyes, frowning, suspicion creeping up his spine. Ghirahim began to shift from foot to foot, his eyes darting from Link's to the ground. His frown deepened. "There is something you aren't telling me." He tried to meet the demon lord's eyes again but couldn't. "There is fear hiding behind that fleeting gaze of yours."
Ghirahim bit his lip, the tendons in his neck stiff and jutting out. He let out a strained breath. "I suppose I haven't been entirely truthful." He closed his eyes, a groan on his tongue. He took another deep, shaky breath; Link rubbed his arm reassuringly. "Yes, I sealed Demise away, and yes, I am currently stronger than him." His pale, porcelain face grew impossibly paler, his eyes dripping with fear. "But he is still strong, and even within the confines of his prison, he is fighting to get out." The demon lord placed a hand over his heart. "Even now, as we speak, he fights. It wasn't hard to combat his attacks at first; I'd simply replace the seal and send him even deeper into his eternal damnation. But every day he grows stronger, finding new ways to battle my soul, and I am running out of seals; if I slip up even once and use the same seal twice, it's over. He will break through the barrier as though mere paper is blocking his path. He is waiting for me to weaken, to make a mistake. He is counting on it." He let out a sad little sigh. "I fear that one of these days he will attack, and I will not be strong enough to fight back."
Link felt his heart swell with an emotion he had grown uncomfortably familiar with: fear. It laced its way up his spine, sending shivers racing underneath his skin. He shuddered, the hairs on his arms standing on end, the nerves hiding just below the surface taut, its frayed edges on the brink of snapping. He felt cheated; he had but a taste of happiness, and then it was abruptly ripped out of his arms, out of reach. The sky child cursed under his breath, kicking at the ground, sending a spray of dirt everywhere. “It’s not over,” he grumbled, “why would we have the luxury of it being over? It would never be that easy. Not for us.”
The demon lord didn’t reply. Anger began to bubble within the boy, igniting his heart, burning the blood in his veins. He bared his teeth at Ghirahim. “You tell me that honesty is important, and yet you lie to me? You told me not to spoil the moment. And look what you’ve done.” He threw his hands into the air, exasperated. “I give up. Honestly, I just give up trying to have anything good happen to me.”
Ghirahim rested a hand on the boy’s shoulder and gave it a gentle squeeze. Link slowly lifted his gaze till it landed on Ghirahim’s, and he faltered, his anger quickly replaced with confusion. The demon lord’s eyes were desperately wide, pleading as they raked over the boy. Link took a small step back. “What?”
Ghirahim let out another groan, dropping his face into his hands. “That’s only half of the story,” he mumbled through his hands.
Link rolled his eyes. “Of course it is.”
“Sky child,” the demon lord slowly picked his head up from his hands, his gaze sharp, “this is serious. The second half of the story involves you.”
The boy pinched his lips together, fighting off another rush of shivers.
He felt incredibly cheated.
Ghirahim stood tall once more. “The seals I put on Demise are only a temporary fix; they won’t last long, and if he manages to escape, we will be right back to where we started.” He sighed, severing eye contact with Link. “That’s where you come in. I’m not strong enough to fight off Demise, but you are.” His mouth slipped up into a half-smile. “Well, at least you will be by the time your journey comes to an end.”
Link’s heart skipped a beat, his stomach dropping into his bowels. “Journey?!”
“Correct.” The demon lord reached behind the bird statue, and with a grunt, he pulled out two heavy looking objects.
The boy’s sword and shield.
Link inhaled sharply, surprising himself when tears sprang to his eyes. With trembling hands, he reached out, taking the sword and shield carefully out the demon lord’s hands.
In his clutches, they felt at home, and he felt whole, restored. He didn’t realize how much he had missed his weapons.
At his touch, the sword immediately began to glow, pulsating with an excited energy. The boy felt warmth flood his system as the energy flitted through him, sparking in his veins, setting fire to his heart. The sword hummed in his grasp, sending tendrils of vibrations down his arm, tickling his hairs. He smiled, inspecting the blade carefully. ‘I’ve missed you too, Fi.’
Ghirahim smiled warmly as he watched his sky child fall in love with his weapons all over again. It was a love he never had with Demise, despite being his trusted weapon for years upon years. And yet, as Link began to playfully swing his sword around, jabbing and slicing at the air, the demon lord was reminded of something:
Link was different, special, an entirely different breed of human.
‘Perhaps, one day, when this is all done, he can wield me with as much love,’ the demon lord prayed.
“Ghirahim?” The boy’s voice snapped the demon lord out of his thoughts, and he quickly shook his head, blinking rapidly, causing his eyes to sting.
Link had halted his mini practice session and was staring at him hesitantly. “Are you alright?”
Ghirahim waved a hand in the air, a light chuckle breezing past his lips. “Oh, don’t worry about me! Just lost in my thoughts.”
The boy eyed his demon lord up for a moment more before sending his sword back in its sheath. “You mentioned a journey.” His face hardened with determination, and he stepped forward, his hands gently clasping around Ghirahim’s elbows. “What sort of journey?”
The demon lord forced a smile, and he winked playfully. “Oh, you’ll like this one. It is a grand adventure, the chance of a lifetime. You must travel through the uncharted lands of the surface, unlocking the secrets to strengthening the bond between you and your sword, thus ensuring it is ready for battle.” He winced. “Or, in our case, a seal breaking.”
Link bit his lip, reluctant to take part in the enthusiasm that Ghirahim was thrusting at him. “But Zelda is gone. She was the entire reason for my journey. Without her forging the path and me following her footsteps, how am I supposed to know where to go?” The boy let out a sigh, swallowing the bitterness that reared its ugly head in his throat.
Ghirahim offered a crooked grin and patted Link's cheek. “You aren't, sky child. That’s the beauty of it! This adventure belongs to only you now; revel in that fact. Forge your own path. Discover new territories. Live a little!”
“I don't suppose you could come with me.”
“No, I don't suppose I can.” The demon lord let out a sigh, running his hands through his hair, wincing as several strands snagged into his cuts. “Someone needs to stay here and make sure the seal doesn't break, and that little old lady in the Sealed Grounds looks like she is going to drop dead at any given moment.” He offered the boy a grin. “I'm looking at it as my punishment for serving such a vile king.”
Link shook his head, smirking grimly. “I think serving such a vile king is punishment enough.”
Silence enveloped the pair, but it was cold and unfriendly. When the boy spoke again, it was a quiet, sad thing. “I wish I didn’t have to do this alone.” He wiped his eyes hurriedly with the back of his hand, ashamed of the hot, selfish tears blurring his vision.
The demon lord hooked a finger under the sky child’s chin, turning his gaze upwards. He offered a reassuring smile. “You won’t be alone. The little blue bird trapped in that sword of yours will always be around for company.” He shrugged, crossing his arms against his chest. “And I’ll be here, you know, if you need me. You can always come and visit. I mean, it’s not like I’m going anywhere. And I may not be able to help you in the line of duty, but I’d like to think that I give rather good advice. You saw the size of my library, so you know that I’m quite advanced with knowledge.”
“Ghirahim.” Link interjected, a smile pulling at the ends of his lips.
The demon lord continued to ramble. “And demons have terrific memories. Did I ever tell you that? I can remember books I read when I was but a youngling. I can remember every dream I’ve ever had, every nightmare.” He shuddered. “I’d prefer not to remember those, however. There are some ghastly ones locked away in here,” he tapped a finger against the side of his head. His eyes suddenly brightened. “You know, I’ve often thought about writing a book of my own! What an idea. Maybe I’ll work on that while you’re gone. Besides maintaining the seal, I’m going to have a lot of spare time on my hands. And something tells me that old lady is a bit dry in the personality area.”
“I mean, have you met her—”
The boy pressed his lips forcefully against the demon lord’s, sending his rant into a crashing halt. Ghirahim let out a happy groan, tugging Link into a fierce hug. “That was nice,” he said when they finally pulled away. He bent his head, rest it in the crook of the boy’s neck. “A bit out of nowhere, but nice just the same.”
“Well,” Link scoffed, “you wouldn’t shut up!”
The pair remained together for the rest of the rapidly fading night, resting at the foot of the bird statue. The sky child sat with his back against the stone, while the demon lord lay beside him, his head cradled on Link’s legs. As daylight threatened to break, they danced around the subject of goodbye, talking about everything else, and sometimes nothing else. It was perfectly loving and perfectly frustrating all at once.
The boy was the first to speak, reluctantly breaking the unspoken rule. “I suppose I should get going,” He said quietly. “I imagine the rest of the Knights are getting antsy, wondering where I am, why I’ve missed my patrol.”
“And if they knew that you were in the company of a demon all night, what a scandal.”
The boy smirked, but its mirth was fleeting. He ran his fingers through the demon lord’s hair, watching as the sky filled with pinks and oranges. “I’ll come back.” He promised. “Every chance I get, I’ll come back to see you.”
Ghirahim pinched his lips together, his face pointed to the horizon, his pale skin glowing with hues of the morning sky. “I know you will,” he mumbled.
Link watched as a thin trail of tears escape from the corner of the demon lord’s eye, sliding over the bridge of his nose before dripping off onto his pantleg. Ghirahim slowly closed his eyes, letting out an irritated moan. “I hate goodbyes.”
“This isn’t goodbye,” the sky child insisted. He bent forward, gently sliding his lips along the demon lord’s forehead. “This isn’t forever.”
“I know.” The demon lord said again, his voice heavy, threatening to crack. He slowly sat up, reaching for the sky child’s hand. The tears were coming down harder, and while he tried to wipe them away, there were simply too many to catch.
Link scooted forward so that he was sitting next to the demon lord. “Hey,” he crooned, brushing his finger along Ghirahim’s cheek, “I need you to do something for me, alright?”
The demon lord let out a hiccup that caused his shoulders to shake, and after wiping his eyes several more times, he bit his lip and nodded weakly. “Anything.”
The sky child smiled. “I need you to be strong and know that, no matter what happens out there, you will always wait for me. If you lose me in this lifetime, promise me that you’ll wait for me in the next.” He caressed the demon lord’s cheek, running his fingers along his jawline. “Care for that little red string for me, and I’ll always find my way back to you.”
Ghirahim’s lip began to wobble again. “It’s harder when you’re the one getting left behind, you know.”
‘Tell me about it.’ The boy nodded encouragingly, his heart squeezing tightly within him. “Please, Ghirahim,” he begged, “say you’ll promise.”
The demon lord let out a growl, shaking his head fiercely. “It’s not fair,” he cried. “I’m supposed to be the strong one! I’m supposed to be the protector! And yet here I am, stuck in one spot, while you’re the one having to do all the dirty work.” He sniffled, rubbing his nose. “You have no idea what it feels like to be left behind while your other half is putting their life at risk every day.”
Link let out a sigh, a sad smile on his lips. “No, Ghirahim, I do understand. I understand completely.” He reached forward, his fingers lightly grazing the demon lord’s neck, his shoulders, his collarbone. “When I watched you leave for the surface, and I was left alone on Skyloft, my heart hurt so much, I could hardly bear it. I didn’t know when I was going to see you again. I had no way of knowing if you were still alive. I didn’t know how I could possibly go on, move forward.” A swell of emotions crept up his throat, but he pushed them back down. “I do know what it feels like. I lived through it for three months.” The boy bit his lip, holding it still. “Please, darling, just promise me. Please?”
The demon lord finally managed to dry his eyes, and he gave Link a shaky smile, nodding his head. “With all my heart, I promise to always wait for you, my dear sky child.”
Link felt his blood sing with an overwhelming amount of love for Ghirahim, and tears blemished his sight once more. He blinked them away, his smile cracking slightly. If he broke now, the boy wasn’t certain he’d ever be able to leave the demon lord’s side. “That’s all I ask.” The words felt repetitive on the boy’s tongue, like he and the demon lord had walked down this road before.
The sparkle in his endless black eyes told Link that the demon lord felt the same way. “Well then,” Ghirahim joked lightly, “until our next meeting, lets seal it with a kiss, shall we?” He winked at the boy. “For old time’s sake.”
And as the sun broke over the mountains, splashing them with its radiant light, the pair sealed their vow with a kiss. This kiss, drowning in thousands of goodbyes, worries, and uncertainties, was kept afloat by the single promise of hello, and in that instant, the kiss became more than just a vow. For Link and Ghirahim, it became what they always wanted; finally, within reach, they felt it caress the blood in their veins and tickle their hearts, felt it fill their lungs full of song. It was there, and they reached for it wholeheartedly.
The perfect moment.