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Arc 1: Air
March 17th, 2013
Mako tied his scarf around his neck. His father had said that it would protect him, but Mako now realized that nothing could protect his heart from getting broken. Asami fixed his hair for him so he was more presentable. He knew she still had feelings for him, but he also knew she didn't like playing second fiddle to Korra when it came to his feelings. He sighed and Asami touched the side of his face lightly, trying to reassure him. He turned away from her. "I can't do this. I'm not going."
"Mako, you have to go. It's Korra's wedding; she'll be upset if you're not there." Asami replied gently.
"Tell her I'm sorry." He fought to untie his scarf and proceeded to throw it on a chair in the room.
Asami's brow furrowed angrily. She couldn't believe how childish her ex-boyfriend was being. She had hoped—at least a little bit—that Korra's marriage would provoke Mako into dating her again. She had found, however, that this was not the case. Disappointed, she sighed, folding the scarf and setting it on the edge of the nightstand in Mako's room. "I'll tell her," Asami paused in the doorway, "but I think she'd rather hear it from you."
She slid the door shut quietly and proceeded down the hall alone. Asami could hear the sound of her shoes clicking against the wooden floorboards of the air temple. The wedding was to take place on Air Temple Island, and Korra was currently getting ready at Bolin's apartment above the pro-bending arena. For a moment Asami wondered how they were going to fit Korra's dress out of that little place. She snickered quietly to herself before regaining her composure. She expected that Korra was to arrive at any moment now. The guests were assembling, the groom was present, all they needed was the bride.
Asami was greeted with a nod from Tahno when she stepped into the courtyard—which had been decorated by none other than Tahno himself. She could see the groom standing patiently at the head of the aisle. She narrowed her eyes at him—he looked too smug. Asami took her seat in the second row on the bride's side. She looked longingly at the empty chair beside her. "It must be difficult." She was startled by the general's voice to her immediate left. Asami had not expected him to say anything to her. "I do not pretend to know his suffering, but if he loves her, then her needs should outweigh his own."
He turned to look at her with the golden eyes that marked him as royalty. His harsh eyebrows were bent low over his eyes, and for a moment Asami had thought she had somehow offended him. "He has done Avatar Korra a great dishonor by not appearing today."
It was odd how the general didn't even have to speak the name for her to understand who he was referring to. She wanted to defend Mako somehow, but what could she say? She knew in her heart that General Iroh was right. "It might not seem like it, but Mako really does care about her. Which is more than I can say for the groom."
"Yes, I also have concerns about this arrangement with Councilman Tarrlok." The prince admitted.
Before he had time to elaborate on the statement a flying bison loomed overhead and made its landing at the top of the aisle. Bolin escorted the Avatar down Oogi's tail where her father was waiting to receive her and walk her to her place beside the groom. Tonraq lifted his daughter's veil and smiled at her. He would not let his anger at the situation mar the fact that a wedding was meant to be a happy occasion. With a gesture of his hand he motioned for her to join Tarrlok at the alter before seating himself beside Senna.
Bolin quickly crept over to Asami as the Northern Water Tribe leader began to speak. "Psst! Asami!" He whispered, "Is this seat taken?"
Her long tendrils of ebony hair swayed from side to side as she shook her head. Asami knew Mako would not be changing his mind about attending the ceremony. Bolin looked relieved, plopping himself into the chair beside her. "Great!" He sighed, "Doesn't Korra look beautiful?"
Asami shrugged. "I guess—if you're into traditional Water Tribe bridal gowns," she replied in an equally hushed voice.
"Oh come on!" he hissed, "She's stunning! The train on that blue parka is killer!"
"Yeah, I'm sure she's dying in it. The weather here is not even close to being as cold as the south pole."
"Okay, but the leopard-seal headdress and the veil are definitely winning fashion."
She crossed her arms and admired her red evening dress with its intricate silk bustles. "I suppose she does make me feel under-dressed for the occasion, but I guarantee Tahno would disagree with your statement."
Bolin had prepared another set of comments, but he was silenced by the cold stare from the general looming over Asami's left shoulder. "Some of us would actually like to hear them exchange vows."
Asami caught Bolin muttering under his breath (which of course was more like loud whispering) about the prince's general lack of fondness for much of anything—the thought of which elicited a light snicker from herself. Asami didn't quite understand why the vow exchange was so important to the general. Her first thought was it was just business for him, but after Korra exchanged rings with Tarrlok she saw him quickly dab his eyes with a handkerchief. She couldn't decide if she would say something to him or not, but she eventually settled on not bringing it up. She doubted that General Iroh would have wanted her to approach him about it—it was none of her business. .
At the conclusion of the ceremony Asami flinched when Tarrlok leaned in to kiss her friend. In fact, Asami adverted her gaze to her new shoes rather than be subjected to the scene in front of her. She could hear Bolin next to her firmly expressing his disgust. A weak applause broke out and guests began to stand. Asami took this to mean it was safe to look now. The paparazzi began snapping photos of the Avatar and her husband—which would no doubt be front page news for the following day. It had been a nice ceremony, but Asami was glad it was over. Bolin began crying intensely, but Asami didn't understand his purpose for the tears. She moved him aside and headed for the sanctuary, where the reception would be taking place.
"Miss. Sato." She turned to see General Iroh give her a light bow—why was the prince bowing to her?
"It would be my honor to escort you to this eve's events seeing as your," he searched for the proper word, glancing at Bolin who was weeping on the shoulder of his pet fire ferret, "usual companions appear to be indisposed."
She was flattered, but she did not want him to feel obligated to chaperone her. She was perfectly capable of handling herself. "I must decline, Your highness." She replied with a light curtsy, "While although I am flattered by the kind gesture, I am more confident on my own."
She side-stepped the astonished prince and strode toward the staircase leading into the air temple. As an after thought Asami called behind her, "You have my thanks all the same, General."
Asami continued to climb the staircasesteps. As she approached the temple doors, she was immediately bombarded by the paparazzi's interrogation. She politely smiled and tried to catch—at least some of—their questions. They wanted to know about her plans for Future Industries, what her position was on Korra's marriage, and Asami thought she heard something about cabbages? She opened her mouth to speak, but someone else interrupted. She recognized the general's voice. "You'll have to excuse us. We have an invitation."
He offered her an arm and, in an effort to escape, she did not refute his help. As they pressed through the crowd of news reporters and cameras, Asami could hear them making false remarks about her relationship with the general. Iroh noticed her making wicked faces at the reporters as they passed and he chuckled. "Try to ignore them. They'll say anything to get your attention."
"Your chivalry has caused much mischief among the paparazzi." She remarked.
He smiled. "Indeed. I shall be sure to rectify the situation. You do not need to worry yourself with it."
It was refreshing to be on the general's arm, but she had to admit that she would likely grow tired of it if she was expected to be there. The doors opened for them and upon stepping into the room a boisterous man called out, "Now presenting General Iroh of the United Forces, Prince of the Fire Nation and at his side, Asami Sato, heiress to the Future Industries Enterprise and Fortune!"
A fierce blush spread on her face and she quickly looked to her right to see a hobo she had only met once. He had obviously been cleaned up for the event, but Gommu still retained his greying beard and bushy eyebrows. It wasn't until then that Asami realized the room had gone completely silent. She and the general had frozen in their place, unsure of what the next move should be. Iroh's expression told her that he had not expected so much attention. Oddly enough, that knowledge alone served to relieve Asami of some of her nerves. She prompted him to step forward and the two entered into the room with a sea of familiar faces on either side. Korra and Tarrlok sat atop the stage at the end of the long aisle—presumably where they were accepting wedding gifts.
Korra greeted Asami with a big hug. She cupped her hand over the side of her face as she whispered into Asami's ear, "I didn't know you and General Iroh were—"
There was a kinky eyebrow wiggle where that sentence was supposed to end. "What? No! No! He just saw that I was alone at the wedding and—"
"Alone at the wedding?" Korra's face became suddenly very crestfallen, "Where was Mako? I thought you two were going together?"
"We were but..." Asami didn't know how to finish that phrase. She sighed. "Mako says he's sorry."
Korra's brow furrowed. "Sorry doesn't change the fact that he missed my wedding."
"I know." She knew that if it had been her in the same shoes, she would be in tears. In fact, she could feel tears welling in her eyes just from the thought—she had to get out of here before anyone else caught on that she was upset. "Here, this is for you and—and Tarrlok. It's not much, but I hope you'll accept it—put it toward something useful."
Asami pushed a small white envelope into Korra's hands and retreated into the crowd of people with Iroh chasing after her. Dumbfounded, Korra opened the envelope to see a thick stack of yuans. Her eyes went wide when she realized just how much was there. She had a feeling that she and her new husband would not need it, but it was generous for Asami to gift that money to them.
With a sideways glance toward her husband who was milking the attention for all its worth, Korra tucked the envelope inside her first layer of tunics. She would tell him about it later. She redirected her focus to the guests once more and watched Tahno approach them. He was wearing that stupid grin on his face. "Councilman." The men exchanged a quick nod before Tahno addressed Korra, "For you."
He was holding a single white rose in his hand. Korra wasn't sure what this was for. She knew Tahno's roots were also Northern Water Tribe, so she supposed it must have been some symbol of beauty—or some other prissy thing they prided themselves in. She accepted the flower, which had been clipped of its thorns and mused that red roses were more flamboyant—more Tahno-like. He bowed lightly, "I thought the bride should have at least one rose from her wedding."
"Oh—uh—thank you, Tahno." She said, taking note that Tarrlok was watching Tahno the same way a hunter does its prey.
Only one guest had not shown the entire evening, and it pained Korra's heart to know he would not even see her. She wondered if Mako even realized how much he had hurt her. She sighed, deciding it wasn't worth thinking about. She was married to Tarrlok now and her days with Mako as a couple had been relatively short-lived. She loaded the last of the wedding gifts in the car, and watched as it drove away. With a great sigh she heaved herself onto Naga's back, her skirts draping over the sides of the animal awkwardly. Tarrlok was busy thanking the last few guests for their attendance, as well as the airbender family for their hospitality. He took a look at the sign on the back of the beast's saddle that read 'Just Married' and he chuckled a bit. Did Korra actually believe he would—
"C'mon, Tarrlok. Get on." Korra ordered impatiently.
He supposed there was no way around it; he would have to climb onto Naga's back just as Korra had. It was very uncouth. He could hear Tenzin stifling his laughter from somewhere behind him. As soon as he was seated, the polar-bear-dog sped off across the island. He wondered if Korra had some sort of boat hidden away that she planned on using to get them to the mainland. Of course, those thoughts vanished—he was too busy panicking— when Naga jumped off the side of a cliff and into the waters of the bay. It was understandable. He had lost his bending and now the roles had changed—the water controlled him. At first Korra laughed, bending the water around them as they dove into the water, but she then realized her fault when Tarrlok clung to her waist. Her laughter stopped, now understanding the weight of the act she had just committed. Korra went silent.
"I'm sorry," she said quietly, urging Naga to paddle on the surface of the water instead, "We'll be on land soon."
She had refused Tarrlok his bending when she found she could restore it. He had abused his power the same as Yakone. Korra couldn't allow someone like that to go unpunished. She glanced behind her at Tarrlok's damaged face. He had once been the bane of men everywhere, but his looks were now tarnished with unsightly scars. People feared this broken shell of a man and she wondered if fate had punished him enough already. The newly weds were silent, allowing only the sound of the waves pass between them. Korra was relieved when Naga had finally reached the shore. "I probably should have mentioned this earlier, but I have no idea where we're going," She admitted as she led the polar bear-dog to a stop light.
Tarrlok laughed—not in a mocking or condescending way; he seemed genuinely amused by her comment—and something about that really annoyed her. He began by apologizing that he could not arrange a honeymoon immediately, for the abruptness of their wedding had prevented that, "but just because our marriage was formed by politics does not mean it should be without all the standard perks. For now, however, my estate shall have to do."
"Terrific. He has an estate," Korra mumbled to herself. She had wondered what having Tarrlok as a husband would be like—she now realized it would be like living with the arrogant snob she never liked.
Tarrlok said the directions to his home were easy, but Korra was having a difficult time with them. Even after a year of living in Republic City, Korra still didn't know her way around very well—which greatly frustrated her new husband. However, they still managed to make it to the wrought iron gates of Tarrlok's grandeur home in a timely fashion. The councilman dismounted the polar bear-dog and nodded his approval at the servants who were unpacking the wedding gifts from the Satomobile parked in his long driveway. A valet offered Korra a hand to help her out of the animal's saddle in her wedding dress. She, of course, dropped from her perch without his help. "Where should I park the—uh—polar bear-dog?" he asked when she handed him Naga's reigns.
"Any ol' hut big enough will do. She's not picky. Oh! Keep her away from any leechi nuts, though!" Korra cautioned.
The councilman was curious why leechi nuts were forbidden to Korra's best friend, but he refrained from asking a question that was likely unimportant. The doormen waited patiently and gave a light bow to their employer before opening the double doors for him and his lady. Korra heard them give a short word of welcome to Tarrlok, to which he reciprocated with a quick nod. In truth, Korra was a little overwhelmed by—well, pretty much everything. Korra wasn't sure what she had expected, but she had always pictured Tarrlok as more of a simplistic, cheapskate of a man with too much money—though she supposed he was known for grand gestures. His living arrangements must fall into that category, she thought before passing through the doors.
Korra was startled when the doormen bowed to her in greeting and followed up with a warm welcome to councilman Tarrlok's home. She paused to thank them, but a loud voice prevented her from giving a proper response to them. "Korra? Are you lost again?" Tarrlok could be a real—the Avatar stopped that thought and reminded herself that she had to spend the rest of her life with this guy. She growled in frustration, grabbing two handfuls of fabric on her dress before she entered the house with a glare on her face.
The inside was so—big. Even bigger than the Sato mansion. Just where did all of Tarrlok's wealth come from, anyway? Noatak didn't have a yuan to his name and Yakone was a mobster that fled to the Northern Water Tribe and renounced his claim to any of the money he "procured". Tarrlok could be a self-made man, Korra supposed, though she highly doubted it. Perhaps his mother had something to do with his financial success? That was the only logical explanation she could think of—Tarrlok never did say what happened to his mother.
Korra walked through a long hallway into a spacious area with two marble staircases on either side of the room. Tarrlok was waiting on her. "Ah, there you are, Korra!" he gestured to the room around them, "Well, how do you like it?"
"It's," she paused, just now discovering a mural decorating the high-ceiling, "...different."
"Yes, well, I hope you will come to find it an adequate home. The master suite is located in the east wing," Tarrlok raised his left arm indicating the direction for the east wing, "and the slightly smaller guest suite in the west wing."
She noticed he didn't move his right arm at all. Korra knew it was greatly disfigured, but wondered if there was some other problem with it as well. She listened to him continue speaking, "You can choose which suite you'd like."
It hadn't occurred to Korra until that moment that she would actually be staying here—like, forever. "I have a choice?"
"Of course you have a choice!" he sounded mildly offended, "You can have whichever one you'd like."
"And where do you intend on sleeping?"
"In the suite you find less-favorable. I've instructed my staff to temporarily place your things from the island in the study, but—if you request it—I'm sure they would be more than happy to take those things to your new living quarters." he glanced over at a tall grandfather clock leaning against the wall, "Feel free to make yourself at home, Korra—after all, this is your home now."
Korra furrowed her brow. "What, are you just going to leave?"
"I had a dresser imported from the finest carpenter in Ba Sing Se for you—as a gift—but, apparently, yuans are not an accepted form of currency in the Earth Kingdom." his face contorted with vexation for a moment before he addressed her again, "I do have this to clear up, but I should return in time for the evening meal. In the meantime, Nagi, the head butler will assist you."
The Avatar pouted watching her husband stride away. The chagrin she felt was slowly beginning to consume her. Why was it, again, that she agreed to this marriage? Korra answered that question with a heavy exhale of breath. She took her dress in her hands once more and slowly ascended the staircase to the east wing of the manor. She was sure she would be a lot happier once she got out of her frumpy bridal gown.
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