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Chapter Ten: Breathe Again Edit
He is smiling.
She is in his arms, and he is holding her, and that is enough.
“Aang . . .” she breathes.
“Ssh, don’t say again,” he murmurs. “I’m enjoying the moment.”
“That’s you always say,” she teases in reply, and she gently puts her finger on his lips.
“Fine. I’ll hush.”
They sit together in silence, listening to the cool sound of the waves lapping against the shore of the beach. “Someday,” he promises, “I’ll take you back to the Southern Air Temple and show you what it was. What it really was.”
“I’d like that,” she whispers, caressing his arm. “I would really, really like that. And maybe someday, I can show you what the South Pole really does look like. Before the battle and the war.”
He laughs. “I’d like that, too.”
“And then I can show you exactly what it was like. It was so beautiful, Aang. I mean, I wasn’t there . . . not really. But my mother used to tell me stories about it.”
He rolls onto his back, gazing at the stars. “I could tell you stories about the Air Nomads.”
“Oh, really?” She gazes at him, and he shudders beneath the glow of her crystal blue eyes. “Well, go on. I’m listening.”
Listening to the waves and the wind against the shore and the sand, he relaxes. “There was an old Air Nomad legend that said . . .”
“On the clearest of nights . . .”
She leans in. “Yes?”
“When the clouds are just right, when they look like a fluffy bunny—”
Her laugh warms him. “I thought that foretold doom and destruction?”
“Only to Aunt Wu,” he snaps, slightly irritated, but one peal of soft, clear laughter makes his annoyance disappear like ashes on the air. “Well, the Air Nomad legends say that kisses are especially lucky on those nights.”
She points. “You mean like that cloud over there? Lucky, right?”
He smiles. You could call it luck . . . or you could call it lying. “Yes. Like that.”
“So kisses are . . . especially lucky?”
He shrugs. “It’s just a—mmfm!”
Her lips on his—the taste of her mouth—the smell of her hair—and he gently cradles her head in his hands, pressing her closer, needing, wanting—Katara—I love you—please—don’t—ever—stop—
“Don’t ever stop what?”
He bolts upright. It’s not night.
And the beach has disappeared.
To be replaced by a campsite.
And a forest.
He is staring at her, who is staring at him.
He shrinks. “Oh, uh—I was just dreaming. About you Waterbending.”
She accepts this and turns away, and he sighs in relief.
Still, he can taste her dream-mouth upon his, so inviting . . .
He wishes it could last forever.
But he’ll have to breathe eventually.
Then again . . .
He can always come back for more.
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