[identity profile] ryttu3k.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] ship_manifesto
Title: The Hero and the Harpist
Author: [livejournal.com profile] ryttu3k
Fandom: Legend of Zelda - Ocarina of Time
Pairing: Link/Sheik
Word Count: 6,615. Uh. Sorry.
Spoilers: For the entire game and manga
Notes: Image-heavy, containing official art, game screencaps, and manga scans, and one Youtube embed.

"I've been waiting for you, Hero of Time..."
An introduction to Ocarina of Time

For fans of Nintendo - indeed, fans of video games in general - the Legend of Zelda series is amongst one of the most famous series ever created. And there are none quite so famous as Ocarina of Time - the fifth official game to be released, one of the biggest-selling Nintendo 64 titles, and, twelve and a half years after its release, still the number one all-time release on GameRankings.com 1.

Ocarina of Time has one of the quintessential Zelda stories - a young boy named Link is selected for a special destiny, to take up the Master Sword and save Princess Zelda and the land of Hyrule from the evil king Ganondorf. While this story has been a standard since the very first Zelda title, the 1986 title The Legend of Zelda, Ocarina of Time propels the series into three dimensions - both in terms of gameplay, and in terms of characters.

Throughout Ocarina of Time, Link must save Hyrule. His only assistance? Some of the more helpful citizens of Hyrule, a fairy named Navi, a horse named Epona... and a mysterious musician named Sheik.

"You really do look like the legendary Hero of Time..."
Meet Link

Link is the heart of Ocarina of Time - the protagonist and the player character. Defined by his courage, his eagerness to help, and his isolation from both the world he grows up in and the world he's thrust into (and yet, it's a world that he's willing to explore and integrate himself in to), he's the quintessential Hero.

When we first see him, he's around ten years old, living as a Kokiri (an eternal child) in the forest. Teased and excluded for not having a fairy, Link one day awakens from a nightmare to discover that a fairy has come to him. Navi, sent by the Great Deku Tree (the guardian spirit of the Kokiri) has summoned him, and he has no time to waste.

This launches him into adventure. Taking up the sword and shield, he defeats the parasite infecting the Great Deku Tree. Alas, it's too late for the guardian spirit - leaving him the Spiritual Stone of the Forest and imparting the final instruction for Link to leave the forest and find the young Princess Zelda, the Deku Tree dies, and Link sets out on adventure.

It's an adventure to span the four corners of Hyrule, the tops of mountains and beneath the surface of lakes, and even time itself. Zelda informs Link of the threat that the Gerudo King Ganondorf holds over Hyrule and sends him on a mission to find the other two Spiritual Stones. He does so, and returns only to find that Ganondorf has made his move. Zelda flees with her Sheikah attendant Impa, Link is granted the Ocarina of Time (a royal instrument that allows the weilder to open the Door of Time and gain access to the powerful Master Sword, the Sacred Realm, and, within it, the Triforce - a relic left by the Goddesses that grants the wish of that who claims it), and Link must race to the Temple of Time.

Within the Temple is the Master Sword. Link reaches for it...

And wakes up in the Sacred Realm, seven years later and fully grown.

Needless to say, he's a bit surprised.

The Sage of Light, Rauru, explains to him his new destiny - he's the Hero of Time, sealed in the Sacred Realm until he grew old enough to take up the Master Sword. Now, his destiny is to save Hyrule from the damage that Ganondorf has produced, ruling Hyrule for the past seven years as a tyrant king, and to awaken the sages scattered around Hyrule, and he's unceremoniously booted back out to the Temple of Time.

And that's when he meets Sheik.

"I am Sheik. Survivor of the Sheikahs..."
Meet Sheik

Oh, Sheik. No other character in Zelda's entire twenty-five year history produces such violent arguing at the mere mention of their name as Sheik does. Since this manifesto will be taking the position of Sheik as an individual character, first, a bit of an overview of the controversy.

Throughout the game, Sheik is shrouded in mystery. Appearing only to tell Link stories, give him instructions, and teach him songs, Sheik's origin remains unknown until a scene near the end of the game. Appearing in the Temple of Time once Link has awakened all the sages, Sheik tells Link a story about the Triforce - then disappears in a flash of light. When this light fades, Princess Zelda stands before Link.

And herein lies the difficulty. Zelda's following words reveal nothing substantial - was she Sheik all along, or were other elements at play? Zelda fandom is divided between those who claim that 'Sheik' was simply Zelda in disguise, and those who believe that Sheik is an individual character (usually male, given that he appears male in the official art and is referred to as a young man in game dialogue, although fans of female!Sheik exist as well, and the 3DS version will probably increase that percentage). The game gives no hint, official media oscillates between using male and female pronouns (male in the official guide and most of the official sites, female on the official encyclopaedia... although the official encyclopaedia also claims that there were seven medallions instead of six, that Link used them himself to seal Ganondorf away, and that a trainee attendant in Wind Waker is actually a princess, so YMMV on that particular source).

The Smash Bros games use female pronouns in the English-language translation (the Japanese does not use gendered pronouns), although Sheik's appearance in Super Smash Bros Melee still looks physically male (in Brawl, Sheik has had a redesign and now looks physically female, however, the Zelda ensemble in Brawl are based on Twilight Princess and not Ocarina of Time), the manga (which producer Eiji Aonuma describes as filling in the gaps in the game precisely 2) takes the angle that Sheik has his own male identity, artificially created as a living disguse for Zelda over the seven years that Hyrule waits for Link.

This manifesto will be referring to Sheik as a character with his own seperate, male identity, whether as a standalone character or as an artificial constructed life form designed to protect Zelda, using evidence of his vastly different appearance (while Zelda is a slim, feminine young woman with fair skin, long hair, and blue eyes, Sheik is muscular, broad across the shoulders, has darker skin, shorter hair, and red eyes), their different reactions when Link is in danger, and different abilities (although this manifesto can certainly be read as Link/female!Sheik, or even Link/Zelda to a smaller extent). To go into detail for this would be an entire manifesto on its own, so instead, here's one I prepared earlier 3. (Bon appetit, don't forget the seasoning.)

Throughout the game, Sheik reveals nothing about himself. But as Link's guide throughout the adult portion of his quest, his mystery, his fascinating character design, and - especially - the seemingly growing connection between him and Link ensure that he's one of the most popular characters in Ocarina of Time.

"A feeling in the heart that grows stronger over time..."
Link and Sheik in the game

Shipping in a game where one character has no dialogue and one only appears in cutscenes can be kind of tricky sometimes. However, there are enough hints in the game to make a plausible case for it - Link's desire for closeness, Sheik's words, and their reactions during the scene at Lake Hylia and at Kakariko Village.

Let's go through these.

Link's desire for closeness

Well. It could have started better. Link's first reaction upon spotting (or sensing?) Sheik is to spin around, sword in hand. But he seems to drop that defense pretty quickly - something about Sheik, perhaps, is trustworthy. Maybe he knows not to raise his blade to him. Perhaps his words seem compelling.

I sense impending destiny.

He certainly obeys Sheik's word immediately - if you don't do what I do and run around getting things done before tackling the first temple, Link does indeed trust Sheik and head to Kakariko Village.

Their second encounter is a little more promising. Link doesn't seem overly surprised, nor even remotely aggressive. Indeed, his stance is almost passive. Perhaps he's observing, attempting to work out what this odd fellow in spandex is about.

Once Sheik delivers his trademark, "Link, I'll see you again", he backs off, practically blinding Link as he disappears with a flash. Link makes no move to catch up with him.

Back to the Temple of Time. There's more exposition here, instructions on how to return to childhood, all that good stuff. Link definitely seems more comfortable here, approaching without a hint of surprise, sword remaining on his back. He remains still as Sheik gives those instructions, calm and ready.

Curiously, when Sheik disappears this time, it's with the same flash of light as the Light Arrows use, not his trademark Deku flash. Additionally, he also says, "We shall meet again" instead of his usual, "I'll see you again". Strange. Again, Link does not respond to his departure.

Off to Death Mountain! Sheik's appearance here is kind of hilarious - unlike the forest, where he could have jumped out of a tree, his only option here is to jump off a volcanic vent. What's that suit made of, anyway?

But that's quickly abandoned in favour of more poetry. The setting here is curious - Link is standing higher up than Sheik, indicating a position of power. But it's Sheik's words and actions that prompt Link's own - perhaps this is a more equal relationship than others we've seen. The duet itself certainly speaks of passion - there's quick cuts, intense close-ups, images of fire.

It's afterwards that things become interesting. Sheik delivers his usual, "Link, I'll see you again" - and Link hastily takes a step towards him. And then a wall of flame appears out of seemingly nowhere, Sheik backs off, and his escape is made. Unlike his passiveness in Sheik's earlier disappearances, Link now actively stares around, searching for him before settling into passivity.

Fire - the ultimate chastity belt.

Perhaps he's starting to realise he wants Sheik around.

Their next encounter is in the freezing Ice Caverns. Link has fought his way through, defeated the wolf, and a chest has appeared. Awesome, treasure for the next temple.

But no sooner has that happened that Sheik appears (in front of the closed door, your guess is as good as mine on how he got there). Link physically starts when he sees him, eyes widening as he jumps. Still, he closes the distance between the two as Sheik begins to talk.

This time, however, when things come to an end, he runs towards Sheik. (And is still disappointed. But that's beside the point.)

The next two scenes will be covered in-depth below, so this is the barest of bare bones.

For both these scenes, closeness is the name of the game. Link immediately rushes to Sheik's side for both of scenes, both involve physical closeness more than any other scene. In both, Link's actions are motivated by Sheik's presense and his safety.

For more detail, see the more in-depth section. In the mean time, it's on to the desert.

There's a curious start to the desert cutscene. We actually start from Sheik's point of view - standing atop a giant arch, we see him leap down and Link start. Sheik approaches, Sheik speaks, Link listens, they play the song.

And then Sheik tucks the lyre away, and the two simply stare at each other. No more words - no more songs. And then Link takes the initiative - he doesn't wait for Sheik to say goodbye, he doesn't run after his disappearing figure. Instead, he steps forward, towards Sheik.

Make your move.

And the sand whips up, Sheik backs away, and when it clears, Link is alone again.

We're nearly at the end. Press on for Sheik's words, for the lake and the village, and then on to the end of the story.

Sheik's words

The first sense of Sheik's poetic nature is in his second cutscene - where Link learns his first song from him, the Minuet of Forest. While their introduction is pure exposition, this second one begins to show... a thoughtful side.

Put yourself in Link's shoes. You've just aged up from ten to seventeen in the blink of an eye, then shoved out into a hostile world and told to be a hero. You've returned to your childhood home, and learned that not only does no one recognise you, but the secret places you hid in as a child have become infested with monsters. You've fought your way through the Lost Woods, raced up the stairs to see your best and closest friend...

And she is no longer there.

And then someone who may become a new friend falls out of the sky and gently explains, "The flow of time is always cruel... Its speed seems different for each person, but no one can change it... A thing that doesn't change with time is a memory of younger days..."

Saria herself may be gone, but Sheik's words ease the parting. He will always have their memories.

After more Temple of Time exposition, it's off to Death Mountain! I personally love this bit of dialogue - I think it speaks volumes to the growing relationship between the two.

"It is something that grows over time... a true friendship. A feeling in the heart that becomes even stronger over time... The passion of friendship will soon blossom into a righteous power and through it, you will know which way to go... This song is dedicated to the power of the heart... Listen to the Bolero of Fire..."

Strength and power through friendship and through passion. This gets to the heart of how I view Link/Sheik - a relationship that offers Link strength through his bond to him.

And his reaction to Sheik's departure, mentioned above, shows that it's starting to work on him.

I don't mind admitting that I have a strong bias towards the next scene - the dialogue here is my favourite of the lot, despite it not being my favourite scene overall. As well as being the most blatantly shippy, it's also a pretty interesting piece. Let's go over it.

We start with exposition. The ice is from a curse, the Zora are frozen beneath the surface, and only one has managed to escape. Link should go to the Water Temple and stop it. Right, all very standard. Then we get the poetry.

"Time passes, people move... Like a river's flow, it never ends... A childish mind will turn to noble ambition... Young love will become deep affection... The clear water's surface reflects growth... Now listen to the Serenade of Water to reflect upon yourself..."

Progress. Development. And what is Link and Sheik's relationship doing if it's not progressing, developing, changing? Young love becomes deep affection. Link is developing from a child to an adult, and I believe his feelings are developing as well. Why else would he be so frantic for Sheik to stick around?

The next two scenes will be covered in-depth below, so this is the barest of bare bones.

The dialogue at the lake is sparse. It's a congratulations, a gentle reminder that Link is fighting for everyone in Hyrule. His language is less formal here - this is no speech, just easy conversation. At the village, it's still less formal - but this is not so easy. The village is under attack, and Sheik's words are near-frantic - Kakariko Village is a Sheikah village, and Impa is a Sheikah as well. Link must defend them. (If you do view Sheik as Zelda, this scene could also be her own panic over the welfare of her guardian.)

For more detail, see the next section. In the mean time, it's on to the desert.

Sheik's words in the desert are notable by omission. Unlike the last two scenes (described ahead), the casual language is gone. The barriers are back up. And, aside from his silent disappearance at the lake and his promise to help the village, Sheik does not say, "Link, I'll see you again".

When Sheik disappears for the last time, it's done almost wordlessly.

We're nearly at the end. Press on for the lake and the village, and then on to the end of the story.

The Lake scene and the Kakariko scene

These two scenes are stand-outs in the Link/Sheik relationship. Both will be given more individual attention - you could practically write a manifesto on their actions in these scenes alone.

The Lake scene is unique amongst all of Sheik's cutscenes. He's not giving Link instructions or telling him a story, like the first or the last. He's not teaching him a song, like the other six. In this scene, he's simply come to see Link - perhaps concern for his welfare. Perhaps he knows how hellish the Water Temple is.

Perhaps he just wants to see him.

Rescuing Hyrule later, cuddles now.

Link's first reaction upon seeing Sheik is to gasp in surprise, then sprint to his side. And I do mean to his side! After Sheik speaks, Link cautiously approaches until the two stand closer than they've ever stood before - within arm's reach, should either have felt the urge. (Unsurprisingly, this scene has become an incredibly popular place for a first kiss in Link/Sheik fic. I'm guilty of it myself... about three or four times over.)

Link gazes out over the lake's surface, and Sheik gazes intensely at something else - at first, we are led to believe that he's staring out at the lake too. But the next shot reveals the truth - he's been gazing at Link, long and lingering, intense and unreadable. Another shot back to his face - and slowly, he begins to back off.

I c u thar, Hero.

There's no crack of the Deku nut this time, but Link still spins around, feeling his sudden loss. Aside from himself, the island is empty - Link runs from one corner to the other before a shot reveals Sheik's presense - up the top of the dead tree, gazing down at Link for long seconds before diving into the water. Link whirls around at the splash, but it's too late - Sheik has, once again, slipped through his fingers.

The Lake scene can be seen here - I apologise, I'm not quite sure how to embed something to start at a particular point.

Onwards to Kakariko. Nice trip to a cute town, see what's there... oh, it's on fire. Link runs in, stares around dumbly - then spots Sheik standing by the well and practically breaks a landspeed record to race to his side.

Sheik's eyes are narrowed, his words are urgent - "Get back, Link!"

Don't mind the burning house behind you.

Why? Well, the wooden beams exploding off the top of the well might be an indication. As Link whirls around to see it crash land, Sheik stares into the depths of the well - and then above it. Seconds later, Link spins around just in time to see some invisible thing grab Sheik, tossing him around like a rag doll, then hurling him headfirst down a flight of stairs. How polite. This time, Link doesn't waste any time as he rushes down the stairs, kneeling by Sheik's side and setting a hand on his back (the first time, I believe, they've actually touched).

Still, the moment doesn't last long. The monster (now visible) approaches, Sheik reaches out urgently (but, interestingly enough, the 3DS version changes things so now he's reaching out to the monster - a plea not to hurt Link, perhaps?), Link draws his sword in preparation to defend his fallen friend, and... the screen goes blank as we hear Link's shouts of pain.

This is gonna hurt.

We wake to the fires doused by the rain, the monsters gone, and Sheik crouching over Link. Still, it's back to business and time to restore personal space - Sheik's words are frantic, though, only a sliver of poetry escaping through. What's more interesting is the almost tangible frustration Sheik must be feeling - whether a seperate Sheikah or Zelda in disguise, this time, it's more personal. Sheik speaks in exclamation marks. His composure has been erased.

"Link! Impa is one of the six Sages. Destroy the evil shadow spirit and save Impa! There is an entrance to the Shadow Temple beneath the graveyard behind this village. The only thing I can do for you is teach you the melody that will lead you to the Shadow Temple..."

This is a curiously intimate duet. The camera wraps lovingly around Sheik's body, then Link's. Sheik's lyre to Link's ocarina - the two are tied together by the camera.

From lyre to ocarina.

Sheik promises to take care of the village, and disappears with a Deku flash. This time, Link does not react - perhaps he knows (hopes?) that Sheik will still be there when he's done.

The Kakariko scene can be seen here. Why doesn't anyone just name Link 'Link'?

If you've read the desert parts, above, then it's time to get to the beginning of the end.

At the end

When you realise that this is the last scene we see Sheik in, his behaviour at the desert begins to make sense. He doesn't say 'I'll see you again' - because, as Sheik, he effectively won't. The barriers are back up. Whatever you believe Sheik is, whether a construct or his own person or just a very effective disguise, whatever Link and Sheik had must come to an end.

It takes place in the Temple of Time, their first place of meeting. Link rushes in even if you warp there, then halts as a voice called, "I have been waiting for you, Link." He slowly turns - and there stands Sheik, standing at the temple entrance.

Sheik speaks glowingly of Link's achievements - overcame hardships, awakened Sages. Last step - fight the King of Evil. But first, Sheik has yet another story.

This one is hard to interpret - it's another cutscene, showing neither of them. Sheik describes the Triforce, how one's heart must be in balance to claim it. (The cutscene ends, and Link moves closer to Sheik, closing the gap between them.) Sheik continues - Ganondorf's heart was not in balance, and so the Triforce split - the Triforce of Power went to Ganondorf. The Triforce of Courage went to Link.

And the Triforce of Wisdom...

Held by the Seventh Sage, destined to be the ruler of them all...

Sheik raises his hand. The Triforce shines forth. And when the light fades, Sheik is gone and Zelda stands there.

Link doesn't even react to learning that he holds a piece of the legendary Triforce. But to Sheik's disappearance, he shows shock, horror - grief that the companionship that he and Sheik once shared is now irrevokably gone.

And doesn't he look pleased to see her.

Perhaps he has a new future with Princess Zelda, perhaps not. Now, Link has a princess to rescue, a King of Evil to defeat, and a world to save.

But a thing that doesn't change with time is memory - and as Link fulfills his destiny, I don't think he'll ever forget the one who guided him, taught him, watched over him, who was his friend, and, maybe, who he loved.

"I wonder why I'm telling you all these things?"
Link and Sheik in the manga4

The manga, written by two artists using the name Akira Himekawa, has regretfully also prompted a fair amount of controversy, with some parts of the fandom claiming that they're nothing more than non-canonical fanworks. Others disagree, with series producer Eiji Aonuma describing them as filling in the gaps precisely, with changes to the story not just approved of, but suggested by Nintendo. It would be pretty boring to see several dozen pages of Link fighting monster after monster - the manga was requested by Nintendo to focus on the characters themselves, their thoughts, their emotions - and their backstories.

In the manga, Sheik is first seen observing Link as he trains in the field, but is quickly revealed to be working for none other than Ganondorf. He is clearly trusted by the King of Evil - he has been requested to search for Princess Zelda, to keep an eye on the Hero and to attempt to lure him astray. Sheik, unflappable, appears to have no such issue with these demands.

His interactions with Link begin tensely. With a rampaging dragon loose in the mountain (Link's childhood friend and pet, now warped by Ganondorf), Sheik recovers the unconscious hero after being attacked, dresses his wounds, and watches over him until he awakens. And then he orders Link to kill his old friend.

Nice to meet you. Kill your old friend kthx.

It's not the happiest of chapters.

With the dragon dead, Sheik reports back to Ganondorf - the Hero defeated the dragon, and yet now he is miserable, shaken. It would be an ideal time, he suggests, to take advantage of his distressed state.

The process continues. Sheik, using his illusion abilities, lures Link to the ranch, where they are beseiged by Gerudo. This seeming trap is an easy one, however, and Link defeats them handily - but not before Sheik mentions that the Princess that Link had been seeking had been seen in the desert.

It's in the desert that things become rather more interesting. Despite suspicion from Ganondorf's foster mothers, Koume and Kotake, Sheik is instructed to make contact with the hero. He does so, rescuing him from a fierce sandstorm. And, in the longest period of time with the two together, Link accepts Sheik's offer to guide him through the desert.

Hero of Time: dumb but cute.

It's a companionable time. They converse as they walk, set up camp together. Link finds himself spilling secrets and uncertainties, then wondering why he's telling Sheik all this. And Sheik, for his part, comes the closest to an actual smile as they talk.


Alas, it does not last. In the morning, as the Gerudo approach, Sheik does not aid Link in fighting them off. Instead, he knocks him unconscious.

When Link wakes up in a Gerudo prison, he's rather displeased.

And yet, even that has a silver lining. Escaping from the prison (and breaking the brainwashing around the future Sage of Spirit, Nabooru, in the process), he promptly encounters Sheik again - bearing his shield and the Master Sword, offering the weapons to the Hero. The two prepare to fight...

...And Sheik promptly spins around and lashes out at the watching Koume and Kotake. They furiously proclaim him a traitor - and Sheik responds that he was never one of them to begin with. Link's smile here is simply delighted, especially when Sheik apologises for his earlier attack, and Link replies that his feelings were hurt more than his body. Curious how much stock he puts in Sheik - how firmly set within his affections the Sheikah has become.

Yeah, Link's pretty happy to hear that Sheik is on his side.

And that is when tragedy strikes, in the form of an attack against Sheik from Koume and Kotake. Knocked unconscious, Nabooru urges the panicked hero to take Sheik to safety. With Sheik in his arms, Link flees to the Spirit Temple.

But we never even got to spoon!

And here is one of my favourite scenes in the entire manga. Link tenderly supports Sheik's head in his lap, his expression soft - then hurries off to gather water, blushing furiously and wondering why he's so flustered.

Hmm. To stealthily make out with or not to stealthily make out with.

It's during this interval that 'Sheik' begins to awaken - horribly disoriented, asking for Impa, staring at 'his' hands like they're utterly foreign. And upon Link's return, 'he' immediately reverts back to the form of Princess Zelda.

Zelda explains. She was young, under the constant threat of capture. To her guardian Impa, she requests a disguise - one that will enable her to hide beneath Ganondorf's nose, to avoid capture until Link can awaken and lead Hyrule to safety. Impa reluctantly agrees, and tells Zelda the story that she will tell - that of a Sheikah who has returned to Hyrule following its fall, wanting to serve Ganondorf in revenge for what the Royal Family did to their people a long time ago. Zelda falls into an enchanted sleep not unlike the one Link is in, 'sleeping in her mind' - and Sheik, a young Sheikah male, awakens in her place.

Zelda = gone, Sheik = awake. Hi, Sheik.

This is the last we see of Sheik, but not the last we hear of him. Later, a heart-to-heart conversation between Link and Nabooru (after Zelda's inevitable capture, of course - it just wouldn't be the Legend of Zelda without it!) reveals exactly how he felt towards Sheik - when Link laments that he didn't even get to touch Zelda and Nabooru points out that he was holding on to Sheik pretty closely when they escaped, Link firmly says that he saw the two as seperate. Every panicked moment when he believed Sheik was injured, his hurt when Sheik 'betrayed' him, their closeness in the desert, and even his flustered reaction at the very end of it - in Link's mind, that was towards Sheik and Sheik only. Not Zelda.

Sheik =/= Zelda. Got it.

The manga does suggest that there is some romantic tension between Link and Zelda. But to exclude Link and Sheik in the manga (and even if you see Sheik as an extension of Zelda, Sheik's relationship with Link is very different to Zelda's relationship with him) is to exclude a good-sized chunk of the emotional heart of the manga.

"A childish mind will turn to noble ambition... young love will become deep affection..."
Why ship them?

Why do I love this pairing so much? Because it represents stability and consistency for Link in a world that's gone very badly wrong. Link could be stumbling around with no idea where to go - Navi can't magically know what happens next, as helpful as she is - but then there's Sheik. Calmly, gently, nudging Link on to his next port of call, teaching him the songs he'll need for the next part of his mission.

Think of it from Link's point of view. He's aged seven years in the blink of an eye, and awoken in a town that's in ruins. Everything has changed. Death Mountain is angry. The river has run dry, thanks to the domain freezing. Even the forest, his childhood home and representative of his innocence, has become overrun by monsters.

It'd be very easy to become overwhelmed - but in comes Sheik, a guide to gently nudge him in the right direction. Did you get the impression that Sheik watches over him, other than just teaching him songs? I did, too. (The manga all-out shows it.) And it's not just duty - at the lake, Sheik meets him for no reason other than to just see if he's alright. He's already at the island - waiting for what? To see if Link made it through? I think this speaks volumes - he's looking out for Link at every opportunity.

Link wants to be close to him. That much is obvious. And I think Sheik does, too, but can't (for reasons of duty or whatever) - that long, lingering, intense gaze at the lake is aimed solely at Link.

The two of them are constants in each other's lives in a world that really kind of sucks, now. To Link, Sheik is dependability and support and friendship and perhaps something more, should he be allowed to get close enough - and I believe Sheik would similarly find himself drawn to the Hero. They look out for each other, they hold each other up, and that's why I adore the two of them together.

"You must travel over mountains... under water... and even through time."
A brief guide to fandom

The Link/Sheik fandom, sadly, is not what it was in the years following Ocarina of Time's release. Other Zelda games have been released, and fandom tends to focus on those for the most part - although the 3DS rerelease next month should aid with that nicely (despite Sheik's more feminine appearance - that will be interesting!).

Still, there are fics and art to be found! The home of Link/Sheik fandom on Livejournal is [livejournal.com profile] sheikxlink_fc, which has a decent archive of fic, art, and discussion. Other sources include fanfiction.net, although YMMV on that as a source, and deviantART (which has the Link x Sheik club), and there's some really pretty stuff to be found on Pixiv (assuming you have an account).

This is just a sampler, essentially - there's much more to be found out there, and if I've left anything off, don't take it personally! There's just a lot to sort through, right? Practically all of these authors and artists have more than one fic or piece, and I encourage you to explore their works.



Soul Mates by andrhats. There's only one word I can use to describe Soul Mates, and that is epic. At a hundred and forty-seven chapters, give yourself a week or so to go through it! The author is currently writing a sequel, Soul Remnants, as well.

Bound By Blood by VampireWriter114. To contrast with Soul Mates, it's only five chapters long, but it too is beautifully written. Has dark themes.

One-sentence Link/Sheik by [livejournal.com profile] tir_synni, part of the [livejournal.com profile] 1sentence challenge. Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta. Succinct and tasty, like when you go to those fancy chocolate places and they have little truffles and chocolates that just look plain pretty.

These last three are all works in progress, in various lengths and stages of completion and activity. Normally, I wouldn't include WIPs, but I enjoy these three, and I do recommend what's been posted so far.

Return of the Shadow by BeyShadow, WIP. A new post-game adventure, last updated June 2010.

Haiera by The LB, WIP. Also post-game! Dark. Last updated September 2010.

Aglyphis by Virkez, WIP. Mostly Link/Sheik, but there's definitely some ship tease with Dark Link. (Which is fine, as I quite like them as an OT3.) Last updated December 2010.


Red, The Color Of by [livejournal.com profile] aubuyn. Technically a two-shot, but hey, technicalities. Personally relevent for me because this is the first fic I read upon getting back into fandom.

The Beast by [livejournal.com profile] kiyala. What can I say? I have a soft spot for shipper!Zelda.

Spider Silk Nightmares and Sun Soaked Daydreams by [livejournal.com profile] hiza_chan. Definitely dark with sexual themes, but also hopeful.

The Magic That You Showed Me by [livejournal.com profile] inuyashacooks. Beautiful imagery and words.

Red Eyes by k-shee. A post-game reunion. I love a happy ending!

What's The Matter, Hero? by transformersjunkie. Silly and fun. Poor Link!

Sleeping Prince by Spiritual Stone. An AU (alternate universe) fic, also starring Midna. Sweet and a little bit funny (mostly due to the aforementioned imp).

Killing Me Slowly by BlinkyDesu. You'll never see festivals the same way again. Uh, smutty.

Hiding in the Shadows by [livejournal.com profile] allira_dream. Something a little different - this is Link/Zelda-as-Sheik, and is one of the few fics in fandom to focus on transgender issues.

Link and the Vampires' Teabags by HJ Bender. ...Crackfic. I hold no liability if you asphyxiate from laughter.

And, of course, I wouldn't be quite so egotistical as to link my own writing. Really. Even though there's three multipart and several oneshot Link/Sheik pieces there. Although I have seen some in rec lists...


This is just a sampler - there's a lot more art out there than there is fic, and most of these artists have multiple pieces. Go forth and explore some really excellent galleries!

The Well by wynahiros. Plenty of art of Link, Sheik, and Link/Sheik.

The Fire Temple Can Wait by kacfrog711. Seriously, that does look like a risky position to be taking...

Into the Shadows by astralrayn. There's a fic to go with it, too - A Little Push In The Right Direction, by Saiyou the lover.

The Legend is mine by summer-maxwell. Flustered, Link?

HI SHEIK by Humanoid-Magpie. Man, narrowing this down... the artist has an adorable cartoony style and a lot of cute stuff. (I went with this one because it's just so much fun to see Sheik flail.)

The Closer I Come To You by KatFrog08. Some gratuitously pretty and semi-naked.

Happy Valentines Day 2010 by omg-chibi-sorn. Diabetes-inducing. As a bonus, you can watch it being painted! (And I will forever associate this track with Link/Sheik. Awesome.)

Valentine Love by salsa-ishida. Another arist I had a lot of trouble picking one image from! And she draws the cutest chibis ever.

I Know You...? by K-Rocket. Poor Sheik needs some tissues.

LinkXSheik by Mitzume-Naye. If anyone can translate the summary, I'll be interested to hear? Heh.

Don't Worry About Me by ladysketcher. You know what'd make the Kakariko cutscene a lot more satisfying? Cuddles.

Anything by Sui Yumeshima. Instead of linking to her dA account, I'm linking directly to her site - not only is there more Link/Sheik stuff there, but there's more Sheik, period. Particularly in the tegaki section - have a browse!

Miscellaneous fun

[livejournal.com profile] spacefragments' hilarious screencap summary (where some of the caps in this manifesto came from), part one and part two. Go forth and enjoy this beautiful tale of love and longing and buttocks!

"Link... I'll see you again..."
Parting words

How to sum up Link and Sheik? They're drawn together by destiny and ultimately torn apart by it. They are stability towards each other with no stable future. Happy moments become sad in retrospect.

But the fandom tends not to take that lying down. There's an amazing variety of fanworks to explain it all - where Sheik comes from, his connection or otherwise to Zelda, how a stable future may by obtained from what seems like a hopeless situation.

A happy ending that canon doesn't provide - but doesn't contradict outright, either.

Ocarina of Time is a journey for Link, and for the player. From childhood to adulthood, from safety to danger (and back to safety), from loneliness to finding the people he loves and who love him in return. And if the journey is more important than the destination, then that's okay too.

And that is why I ship Link/Sheik.


1 All-time best games on GameRankings
2 Interview with Eiji Aonuma and the authors of the Ocarina of Time manga
3 Why I write/draw/portray Sheik as an individual male character
4 Scans originally found at Zelda Infinite, translated by Goddess Rinoa. Occasionally edited to reflect the official English Viz translation, as some lines come across a little differently in the official translation.

Date: 2011-05-27 05:20 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] the-tox.livejournal.com
Huh. Seems like I did a good decision, just focusing on the games and staying out of the fandom. I had no idea people debated whether Sheik and Zelda are the same person or not. To me it seemed pretty obvious that they were. When I first started reading fanfiction I looked into Zelda a bit too, and saw quite a lot Link/Sheik stories. And to be honest, I found it very ridiclous that people would like Sheik to be a boy and his own character, just for the yaoi. Says I, the lesbian yaoi fangirl :P

However, reading this manifesto, I guess it is a bit ambigous. Good job. I'll keep my headcanon though (Sheik is female, and in love with Impa :3 Impa/Sheik = <3), but I'm not gonna dismiss Link/Sheik fangirls (/boys) as mindless yaoi-lovers anymore ^^

Date: 2011-05-27 10:44 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] impa.livejournal.com
I am really, really glad that instead of focusing on the "OMG YAOI" or "OMG HET," you really focus on the dynamics of their relationship. I'm kind of annoyed that some people just ship Link/Sheik because it equates to sweaty man-love. There's just so much else to look at. I'm not really a big romantic shipper of the pairing, but I think their dynamic as good friends and partners is attractive.

I name Link 'Link' all the time. People just want to be special, I guess.

Date: 2011-05-27 11:02 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] impa.livejournal.com
I'm relatively neutral on the issue of Sheik's gender. It doesn't really matter to me either way. I mostly see Sheik as an extension of Zelda, but at the same time, I consider them two different enough personas to qualify as their own ships. (Like, Link/Zelda =/= Link/Sheik.) Yes, it's all about the moments! My main fandom is full of shippers who just ship for genders or hotness. They are CONSTANTLY just shipping two guys or two girls together because they look good together, and it doesn't matter that they'd probably want to kill each other. It annoys the heck out of me. (I always hate it when people turn a genuinely nice female character into an evil bitch just because she gets in the way of the mansex. Really, now? Are we that immature? I mean, there are plenty of other ways you can do that WITHOUT making the female character evil.)

I think they have a really beautiful relationship as close friends. Incidentally, and I'm just curious here, do you consider the TP-style Sheik to be male or female?

I guess I can understand it, people using their own names so other Youtubers won't steal their videos, but really now.

Date: 2011-05-28 12:06 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] impa.livejournal.com
I think that basically nails the dynamic differences between Link/Sheik and Link/Zelda. I guess I'd say that in the game, Zelda is more like Link's childhood friend, and Sheik is more of his future/adult friend? Well, in a really simple nutshell.

I find it really funny when anyone ships Shad with a main character. He only interacts with Link on a professional level - sure, you talk to him more, but he really sort of reveres Link. (Kind of the ideal/hero-worship that Link has with Zelda in the OoT manga.) It's not much of a personal connection.

To me, anyone who feels the need to bash a female character who doesn't really deserve it (or DOES deserve it, in some cases, depends on the extremity of the bashing) is automatically a really bad writer. And that would be well over half of the fanfic writers in my fandom. It's so annoying to me because I've seen someone who has done the "female gets in the way of same-sex relationship" thing very well without making the female a bitch - the exact opposite, actually; she just got in the way for being herself, but it wasn't necessarily her fault or anyone's fault.

Yeah, I've always thought of Brawl!Sheik as a female. I think Brawl!Sheik also sounds a little more female? Or is that just me?
You know what's really sad? I can already see all the raging arguments about Sheik's gender and how the 3DS remake isn't legit and all that. SIGH FANDOM.

Hey, it happens. I saw it happen to one guy and then he re-did the footage with his special name in it. Stealers ruin everything.

Date: 2011-05-28 01:39 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tir-synni.livejournal.com
I know Sheik = Zelda, but I <3 the fact that there is a character actively working with and even saving Link on occasion, whereas it's usually just Link saving everyone. There was active communication between Link and another character for a prolonged period of time, which is rare in the games. It's also rare for someone to scold Link on being reckless.

I'll admit, one of the main reasons I write Sheik as just Sheik isn't so much the yaoi aspect as the introduction of an independent character. I also like the destiny thing Link and Zelda are rocking without tossing romance into the mix. I just write my personal fanon more than anything. *^__^*

This is absolutely lovely. Thanks for all the work you put into it!

Date: 2011-05-28 04:26 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tir-synni.livejournal.com
I think there is some hinting in the manga about Link's heritage that could definitely lean toward Link having a royal background, but it's been too long since I've read the manga. :( They look an incredible amount alike, though, and their destinies are very much intertwined. :D

Date: 2011-05-28 02:28 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tavadriel.livejournal.com
Thank you for this! As someone who came into fandom pretty late (thanks everyone, you know who you are), this is a great introduction to the pairing. You give your reasoning, name your sources, and even admit which parts are personal taste.

I can't say it any better than to just repeat "thank you!.

Date: 2011-06-03 12:20 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mythc-writer.livejournal.com
I love essays that don't just try to force their headcanon on others. You actually sound down to earth and use facts to show why you love what you love.

Sheik has always been male to me for the same reasons you mentioned in your essay on deviantart, which also had great observations that I didn't notice like Zelda and Sheik having different reactions towards danger. And I also saw Super Smash Brothers Sheik as female for also the same reasons you talked about in the comments.

But as to his own identity, I could go either way with him being a separate entity entirely or an alternative ego of Zelda's, who is still quite separate but originated from Zelda. That does make me wonder if Sheik is a different person entirely, how did he develop like he did? Maybe in the beginning he was like a newborn baby, not in terms of him actually being like a baby. But in terms of him having to learn everything yet he still has some innate personality traits, talents, etc. That would be a fascinating read.

Either way Sheik is an awesomely cool character. I love that you got so much material out of just observation. Having Link not talk makes interpreting him more difficult, but on the other hand that means the game producers, artists, etc have to work harder to show how he is through actions, facial expressions, and through other people.

Bottom line: This is a good essay, full of passion for what you are talking about yet you use logic to explain why.

Love this

Date: 2012-12-28 10:20 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] ravenholic
I love the fact that you actually explained rather then just mindlessly forced your opinions. I'm rather new to the Shiek/Link fandom so this really helped full in a lot of gaps though I've already fallen in love with this ship. An interesting take that I actually read from an author's fiction would be that Shiek and Zelda switch places. In it Shiek had hidden and Zelda disguised as Sheik was the one to meet Link at the Temple of Tome though in another version I read that the switch happened before the Spirit Temple. Even though this situation is completely unlikely my head has excepted and favorites it mainly for the reason that I support Shiek being his own person and being able to interact with Link along with Zelda.

Re: Love this

Date: 2012-12-29 02:57 am (UTC)
ryttu3k: (zelda: oot link sheik shiny heart)
From: [personal profile] ryttu3k
Thank you! :) I''m kinda fond of overexplaining, heh - I hope this served you well!

And I've written something like that, actually - only Sheik was captured by Ganondorf's forces in between the Shadow and Spirit Temples, necessitating Zelda to take his place for the Spirit Temple (not knowing that Sheik and Link had begun a relationship, she acted much more closed-off) and Temple of Time.

There's a lot of different interpretations, ways you can look at the situation - the game itself never goes into detail, so you can come up with your own theories as you please :) (I wrote up a ton here. 3.1 is my 'canon', and 2.1.1 is my favourite for the potential of interaction with both Link and Zelda, while also being canon-compliant.)

Anyway, thank you for commenting! :)


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