Cold and soft, it ran through the sky—white, shapeless fluff-balls. They coat each ice-brick and carpet each and every single blade of grass. You smile at it, for a new snowfall has yet to come. The snowfall of the New Year will be the hardest it has been in years. And the new Fire Lord will be here to see it, to freeze in it, to suffer a personal kind of justice. You walk through the frozen, soft water and make your way to the dock. This was where you last saw your little boy and your baby girl. This is where you said goodbye. Your reasons were feasible, and yet they weren't enough. But you couldn't very well take them with you—it would be murder! You couldn't bring them through months of disease and fights just for your happiness. First and foremost came their safety.
And they left the very place you left them in. The stories reached you weeks after they had gone off. You had no idea where they were going; you had left them in your wife's mother's hands. Never did you expect that she would want peace enough to sacrifice her own grandchildren. Never did you suspect that your own children would fight for the right to help. Hell, it never even crossed your mind that the avatar would return, let alone make friends with them.
You frown at yourself. They would've been so much safer if only you had taken them. They wouldn't have suffered those insufferable nights running away from what was now the Fire Lord; wouldn't have felt it their duty to help a twelve-year-old who would just reappear as a waterbender when killed; wouldn't have risked the only thing that made your life worth living: theirs.
Through your teeth you had to lie. They could never see how worried for them you truly were, never let them see how broken you were on the inside. You could not let them see how desperate you were for them to go back home to Kanna.
And then you hear that the banished Fire Prince, who you know has been hunting them for little over a year, had joined the little group. You've seen the face of that monster, judged the size of his threats. You worry for your baby girl now more than ever. Because you had seen the broken boy inside that prince—had seen the way he was tortured on the inside—and knew how your daughter could never resist a challenge. And you were scared, more so than ever. You doubted that you knew your daughter anymore, doubted if she was still moral like you had raised her. Most of all, you doubted he was.
You dangle your feet over the icy water and feel more in contact with your daughter. This is, after all, her element. You know on a full scale what she is capable of now, even the bloodbending you knew Hama could do and had tried to keep your daughter away from. When you saw her go away, you were glad she couldn't teach her puppet mastering to future waterbenders. But you just couldn't protect your daughter from that—because she learned it anyway.
In just three days' time, your three person family will be complete. In just three days' time, your son and daughter come home. You couldn't be happier to know that it will be a four person family with the addition of Suki, your soon-to-be daughter-in-law. Her name fits her, you think, because it means "love" in some form of the Chinese language (you cannot remember which), and she has provided love to your son.
Smiling, wanting to leave your thoughts on a happy note, you leave the harbor; you try to make yourself feel that smile on the inside. But you can't, because you know that soon, though the nations are at peace, the leader of what has been the enemy for so long will step foot on your land.
::Three day's time::
You can see your daughter. Her hair is not in its usual Water Tribe braid; instead it is in its natural waves. You cannot see it, but you know it to be true, that her hair curls just past her waist. You know she refuses to cut it. You hope that the time she spent in the Fire Nation hasn't changed it. She hops up and down, waving franticly. Her cheeks are spread in a wide smile.
Sokka is next to her, grinning just as wide. He seems to be happy about more than just being home. You know the look on his face—he has good news. You look next to him and see Suki, gripping at her neck. You know she has a necklace under her fingers. Your smile grows and you cannot imagine anything that would change your happy mood.
Then there is Toph, the sassy earthbender. The ship is close enough so that you can see her annoyed expression. Her lips move and she is whispering something to someone. You frown upon noticing who it is she is speaking to. There is a scarred teen, tall and proud, in silks—shivering. There is some part of you that shrieks out its happiness at what some would call "poetic justice." The Fire Lord, Zuko you faintly remember from Sokka's letters, whispers back. He nods. It is then you notice that he is just a bit too close to your daughter.
The vessel docks. Too impatient, as you remember her, Katara makes her own water bridge instead of waiting for the crewmates to open the metal one. She smiles and says something to the boy next to her. The scarred young man nods. You notice the avatar is nowhere in sight. She leans up to his ear and mutters something else. He blushes and respectfully bobs his head. Something about the way her form is around him tells you that she is smirking. Katara walks past him and back into the boathouse; the Fire Lord is the first to walk off the boat and onto the ice-bridge. You walk to him, meaning to tell him off.
He smiles at you and you forget why you want to tell him off. He seems respectful enough. He even greets you with the Sothern Water Tribe handshake. And then Katara comes back—after you and your son exchange playful banter and the Fire Lord tries not to point out how bad they are, failing miserably; and after Toph complains a few times about being a "vibration blind" and being actually blind for the first time in her life—and takes her place next to the Fire Nation representative instead of you. You try hiding your jealous anger, but she reads through you. A rueful smile is sent your way. No one but you seems to be bothered by the pairing. You notice in the back of your mind that they must be used to it.
You hate these…these "walks" they take. They come back disheveled and flushed, their clothes all over the place. When your daughter looks at you, her eyes turn to the floor and she walks away, her cheeks flaming even under her dark skin. Zuko looks at you, smiles sheepishly, and goes on to bother Aang, who was sleeping when they got here, and Sokka. You glare at him, but that's as far as you dare go for fear of starting a new war.
One day, the walks, which are always just minutes long, last hours. Worried, you call upon your son and tell him to get his boomerang. Terrified, he obliges. You have never condoned violence unless necessary and he wonders what makes you condone it today. Something must've gone wrong.
You grab your sword and slash it about, making sure that the sound it makes as it cuts air is sharp enough. You lift your hood and storm out. Fresh snow had fallen yesterday and Katara had turned it to rain for a few hours. The flurry of white is mushy. Sokka stomps around behind you. You know where she usually is, so you check there first—
—only to stop cold in your tracks.
Her head is tucked comfortably into the crook of his neck. She is sobbing. He appears to be comforting her, but you don't let that stop you. You're her father! Your suspicions get the best of you and you stride to the stone waterfront the earthbender had built. Your footsteps make little noise, and because their guard is down, you sneak up on them. If they were on guard, you had no doubt they would have separated. They have better survival skill than even you.
Calmly, to push the Fire Lord away. It takes all you have to appear calm. Your daughter's tear-stained eyes look at you in worried question. She knows you. She knows the fit you would have thrown if you weren't this mad. Her neck is stretched up to see her and, among many red spots on it, you notice one long silk ribbon. It is interlaced with a blue one, but all you can see is red. Your anger has taken over your eyesight. Pure gold and silver are the gems in the middle. They are merged together, melted. The colors of both the Fire Nation and the Water Tribes.
You bend down and unclip it, taking it. Tears run down Katara's eyes, and you feel bad. But you don't regret it. Her soft voice asks for it back through unmoving lips. Zuko begs her not to start a fight with her father, with you, because of him. He says he'll get her a new one. She shouts to both of you that she doesn't want a new one, that she wants the original. The water under the dock is sloshing, and you know you have mere seconds before that temper of hers gets the best of her. She asks you, twice as calmly as you would expect, why you object to her marrying the "love of her life." You answer, saying that he used to chase them and hate her. Katara shouts her rebuttal, protecting the Lord. Waves are lifting.
You are not afraid of your own daughter, though you know that the Fire Lord should be, for he has lived her anger to its fullest extent. Instead, he grabs her shoulders and turns her to him. He says things and calms her down; you don't know what those things are. She blushes when something about pirates and saving is said. You stuff the necklace deeper into your pocket, reminding yourself to burn it later.
Calm one more, Katara turns to you. Your daughter's eyes are red and tears are running from them. Still, her voice is smooth and it doesn't crack when she asks for it back, explaining how much she loves him and how it wouldn't stop them from getting married even if you took the necklace; she says he'll just go with the Fire Nation traditions and get her a diamond ring. You see in her eyes that she is completely honest. Begrudgingly, you hand over the necklace.
Sokka smiles at them, wishing them the best. You slap the back of his head and walk away, upset.
You don't go to the wedding and that broke the bond you had with your child. She loves you, still, but she refuses to come home until you apologize. She writes to you, and her words are fond. She tells you about her children and she tells you about her mother-in-law, Ursa. Every letter is signed with "Love you forever, Katara." She says that Zuko is a part of her, that if you cannot accept that, you cannot accept her, as a person, as your daughter.
And you refuse to visit the happy family; refuse to visit your youngest grandchildren; refuse to visit Sora, Korry, and Hokada.
I hate myself. Hate, hate, hate! I broke their bond! I'm horrible. Please, put me out of my misery and tell me it was worth it! Ah! (-I run away crying-)
Review and tell me it was worth it!
(PS: I named the first two kids after something a fan of Zutara [my fellow Zutaraian] kid around with. The first two kids are Sora and Korry, and then Katara had another and was named after her father, though the it was a girl. The picture'll be on my fanfic bio, the Zutaraian family; read the comments.)
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