Chapter 28

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Buddar's chest heaved as she fought for breath. Her feet pounded against the ground as she ran a few feet behind Link. Unlike her, Link was still breathing steadily as he ran. Despite her exhaustion, Buddar kept running, she didn't want to waste any time. The Lake was only a mile away from the Zora Realm, but the fact that she was both hungry and tired made it seem like ten instead of one.

Finally, to Buddar's relief, they reached the gate that led to the Lake. Link glanced over at her when he heard her heavy breathing, a concerned look on his face. "We should probably rest for awhile." He suggested upon seeing how exhausted she was.

Buddar shook her head. "We need to... Keep going." She said in between gasps, walking towards the entrance.

Link put his hand on her shoulder and gently turned her around. "Buddar, you need rest." He said. "You can't help Shadow if you get hurt because you're too exhausted to fight."

Buddar raised an eyebrow. "There are monsters in Lake Hylia?" She asked.

Link nodded. "A few, but we can't take the risk of you getting hurt." He said, his eyes filled with concern. "Please."

They stared at each other for a few moments, then Buddar reluctantly sighed in defeat. "Alright, but only for a few moments." She said, taking a seat on a flat stone next to the gate.

Link sighed in relief, then leaned against the gate, directly across from her. For quite awhile, the only sounds heard were Buddar's heavy breathing and the screeching of a few distant seagulls. Then Link broke the silence. "Why are you so intent on saving him?" He asked, frowning.

Buddar looked up at him. "I told you, he's my friend." She said. "I care about him."

"Is that really all he is, a friend?" Link asked, a bit of an edge to his calm voice.

Buddar gave him a confused look. "Wait... Do you think that I..." Her eyes widened in realization. "You think I like him in... That way?"

Link nodded slightly. "It's pretty obvious you do." He said. "Why else would you be doing so much for someone who kidnapped you?"

Buddar frowned as she felt a slight tug at her heart. "Because, I can't afford to lose anyone else I care about." She said, trying to keep her voice steady.

Link's eyes lost their hostility as she said that. "What do you mean, 'you can't lose anyone else'?" He asked.

Memories flashed behind Buddar's eyes, a lump formed in her throat that made it hard for her to breathe. She looked down, blinking rapidly to fight back tears. "I... I don't want to talk about it." She whispered, her voice shaking with grief.

She heard Link walking towards her, but she didn't look up. She felt his strong arms embrace her, in an attempt to comfort her. "I'm sorry." He apologized quietly, his warm breath tickling her pointed ears. "I shouldn't have asked."

Buddar closed her eyes and buried her face in his shoulder. His tunic smelled faintly of pine trees, which somehow helped to calm her down. "It's alright." She mumbled. "I... I'll tell you what happened later."

After a few minutes, they broke apart. Link stood up, then held out his hand. Buddar took it and he helped her up. She smiled slightly. "Come on," She said. "Let's go get that water."

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