North Meets South

Chapter 4 - What Was Lost is Found

Over the next few weeks, Pakku shared more of his stories of Aang, Katara, and Sokka's visit and their fearlessness in the siege of the North. She was proud of her grandchildren. She cried hearing of Sokka's brief love of Yue, and the terrible sacrifice she made to restore the moon and the world.

During a quiet dinner, Pakku asked a hard question, "Kanna, how did Katara receive your betrothal necklace? If it hurts too much, you don't have to say."

Kanna looked down sadly, "It's OK, Pakku. You need to know. I have to admit, Pakku, that I wore your necklace most of my life. In my youthful vanity, there was part of me that thought you might forsake everything and come to me."

Pakku responded quickly, "I considered it, Kanna. But there were so many Fire Nation raids. It was not safe to leave the capital. And I had my duty to train the defenders. And then it seemed too late."

They smiled each other for a lingering moment, and touched hands, knowing the truth.

Her eyes glistened, "I understand. But thank you for sharing that, Pakku. When it was clear you wouldn't ever come, I still couldn't part with it, and put it away as a keepsake. Of course I never wore it the short time I was married. When Hakoda and Kya wed, I gave it to him to give to her. We had nothing, and it was all I had of value to bless their marriage."

The next part was hard to say, "And on the day she was murdered protecting Katara, her father gave it to her as a remembrance of her always. I don't think she's ever taken it off."

In a soft, caring voice, Pakku whispered, "If you couldn't wear it, I can think of no one better than Katara to have it, Kanna."

Pakku just hugged her as she cried in his arms for the pent up hurt that was still there for so much that was lost in her life, and knew he had to do what his heart had been telling him for weeks to do.

One moonlit night, knowing now it was Princess Yue smiling down on them, he held her by her waist, looking across the bay, and watched the shark-whales sound in the sacred calving bay.

He held out to her a small polar chipmunk-hare skin wrapped with a leather thong.

"For me?" she beamed at him.

"A little something for three months together," he mused.

She opened it and tears flowed freely. It was another exquisitely made betrothal necklace, a twin of the original he had tried to give her. Pakku held his breath. The events of sixty years ago were still fresh in his mind.

She smiled broadly, took it, held it up before him, admired it, and said, "It's beautiful Pakku. I accept! Now, help me put this on, please."

He did, but not before they embraced in a deep hug and a kiss.

With the new betrothal necklace firmly around her neck, her eyes gleamed as she asked, "So what's stopping us? Let's get married tonight."

Pakku was pleasantly surprised, "Uh… well… nothing. But I figured you might want to plan for something special."

"I have something special," poking him on his nose.

"Oh," he blushed.

They walked swiftly hand-in-hand to the shaman's hut, and awakened him. At first he was angered and flustered, and then was pleased with their announcement and request.

In a simple ceremony, witnessed by the shaman's sleepy pregnant wife, holding their latest fussy child, Pakku and Kanna, sixty years after the first engagement was refused, became husband and wife.

They strolled more slowly back to her – now their – dwelling. She snickered,"Won't Hakoda and the kids be surprised when they come home."

They both got a great laugh out of that.

As soon as they got back inside, they pulled the covers tightly over themselves. Surrounded by the closeness they felt in the darkness, in their hearts, all they saw in their minds were the 17 and 16 year olds they were so long ago, as they celebrated their long-lost love.

Life continued on a normal pace for Pakku and Kanna, and they settled well into the excitement of married life. Every day they lived to make up for lost time. The Southern Water Tribesmen admired their sweet late-in-life love affair, and young wives drew inspiration for the way Pakku doted on Kanna, and hoped their men would return safely and care for them and their children as well as he did for Kanna.

While children were out of the question for the pair, they assumed the role of every tribal child's 'grandparents', and drew great joy in that, helping every young mother with their children's care.

But one day a white tundra hawk, carrying a scroll, alighted on the entryway to their dwelling.

Pakku read the details gravely, and announced, "Kanna. I have to go. The White Lotus is assembling outside Ba Sing Se for the final battle to liberate the city from the Fire Nation."

"The White Lotus?" inquired Kanna.

Pakku explained, "We are a group of Masters of all bending and non bending disciplines dedicated to world peace. We've vowed to see an end to this madness of world domination and corrupt rule by the Fire Nation. I knew the time would come if the Avatar ever came back. He is ready. And so must we be."

She worried, "Who else will help you? It is madness to go against the Fire Nation as a tiny group of elderly men."

"The Avatar and his friends – and Katara – are joining us to defeat the Fire Lord. This is the time and place the spirits have willed. Hakoda and his forces are joining too. Many others will join them. We will be many. The Avatar rallied followers to his side."

She was relieved to hear that Hakoda was still alive, but worried, "Dear spirits, Pakku. Katara and Sokka and Hakoda all battling the Fire Lord? If anything would happen to them and to you…"

"It will end well. I feel it in my heart."

She believed Pakku but asked, "Protect them all, Pakku."

"I will do my best, Kanna," he promised.

Kanna smiled and asked, "And Pakku? Tell her about us. When you see her. Tell Hakoda too."

"Of course, Kanna," Pakku returned the smile.

They lingered in each other's arms, not wanting to let go, now that they really truly had each other. But just as Kanna knew that she couldn't hold Pakku back from realizing his destiny any more than she had let go of her granddaughter, she simply said, "Don't get lost again, Pakku. I love you. Come back to me. I want to die in your arms."

"I will return, I promise. I love you too."

Simultaneously they said goodbye, and kissed. Leaving, even knowing it was to be for just awhile this time, was the hardest thing they had ever done.

In contrast to that heartless goodbye so very long ago, each stood and watched – one from shore, and one from the deck of the ship - until they could see each other no more, each praying to the spirits that they would see each other again, and celebrate for the rest of their lives that love that had awakened between them.

They got that wish for a safe return, and were blessed to live well over a hundred years before they were separated briefly again, only to be happily rejoined forever in the spirit world.

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