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"Mother?" I asked. "Do you think I will be happy?"
My mother, Pakku.", took a spoonful of the stew I had made and put it onto her plate. "Why would I know? I don't know what you think of
I sighed. Mother wasn't usually very helpful with this matter.
Pakku and I were arranged to marry. Yes, it was arranged. I hated the Tribe's rules. It's not that I didn't love Pakku. I really did. But I didn't love the way I was forced to marry him. I should be able to choose. Even though I would choose Pakku anyway, I didn't want to have to. I should be free to choose whoever I would like. I hated our "society rules." They took away control of girls' lives. I couldn't stand them.
Pakku was the star student of the Waterbending Master, . Sying said that he might even be the Master after him, though I think he was joking. Pakku's father, , was a Commander in the Navy. Pakku dreamed of becoming a Commander like his father. With his waterbending skill, the idea wasn't so far-fetched.
Pakku was everything I could have wanted. He was kind, he was caring, he was funny... But I couldn't marry him. Not unless I had the freedom to.
Mother and I ate the meal I had made in silence. After, I helped her to her bedroom where she would sleep until tomorrow's breakfast, which I would make.
I went to Yugoda's house after washing the dishes. I checked to make sure the door was open, as it usually was. When it was closed, it meant Yugoda's mother, , was in one of her mysterious meetings with people from other nations. They all bore the same symbol of a Pai Sho tile. Yugoda didn't understand it, and it was the only thing that Kuwabara wasn't completely open with when around me or her daughter.
The door was indeed open, so I walked right in, as I usually did. I was like a member of the family.
Yugoda and her mother Kuwabara were washing the dishes together after their dinner.
"Oh, hi, Kanna!" Yugoda exclaimed excitedly. "I was wondering if you'd visit today."
She dried one last dish and then came to see me by the door. She led me into the living room.
"You already know this, of course, butand I are getting married in just three days!" she told me for the fifth time.
Yugoda was excited about being married to her fiancé, Hakuri. I liked him; we often played together as kids. But I still couldn't understand how Yugoda could marry him without it being her choice.
I laughed. "Yes, I know, and Pakku and I will be married in seven."
"Aren't you excited?"
I smiled weakly. "Yes," I lied unconvincingly.
Yugoda frowned. "Kanna, are you still upset about that? You shouldn't be. You are about to be married!"
"Against my will," I pointed out.
"But you said if you had the choice, you'd marry Pakku anyway!"
I sighed wearily. "I know it's confusing, but I just...can't have things chosen for me. It's my marriage, not Makato's."
"I agree," Kuwabara said as she strolled into the living room. "You should be able to choose your own destiny; it should not be chosen for you."
Yugoda argued, "But if you're going to choose that destiny anyway—"
"It does not matter. The choice is yours."
I exhaled quietly. Someone finally understood me.
"I loved your father," Kuwabara continued, talking to Yugoda. "And he loved me. But I didn't want to marry him when I was your age."
Both mine and Yugoda's fathers had died when we were young. It was one of the many things the two of us had in common.
Kuwabara continued, "I disagreed with society just like you do, Kanna. But I was married anyway. I was not brave enough to do anything about it, and I paid the price. I regret it to this day." She turned back to Yugoda. "I cannot stand to see you married without your choosing."
"But I would choose Hakuri!" she pleaded.
Kuwabara pressed her lips together.
As much as Yugoda disagreed with our ideas, I was incredibly glad someone recognized the way I was thinking; and they even agreed with it!
I left their house as the sun went down, as I did every day. I fell asleep thinking of Pakku, Kuwabara, and Yugoda.
This is where I must choose, I realized. I am at a crossroads. Or am I? I can either marry Pakku, or...what is the other choice? There is nothing I can do. Kuwabara wished she didn't marry, but what else could she do? Whether I like it not, I must marry. I'll...I'll be happy. I love Pakku, and he loves me. But I won't have the freedom...but this is what I would do otherwise, anyway. There is no other option. I will marry Pakku.
- This is by far the shortest chapter of so far.
For the collective works of the author, go here. Warning: Default sort key "Pakku" overrides earlier default sort key "Act 1: Pakku".