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26 July 2013
"Lights will still guide you to me, Katara...even after I'm gone."
The silver-haired waterbender made her way down the stairs of her lonely home - at least, she couldn't help but feel lonely.
It had been a year since her beloved left the world, and his spirit retreated into an individual somewhere within her native land.
Katara had been living at the South Pole again for the last three years - Aang retired from United Republic affairs due to his declining health, and the couple passed ownership of Air Temple Island onto their youngest son. It was in their South Pole home that the Avatar's life reached its end after 66 biological years.
Now, the elder waterbender had been feeling lonely - she had found herself having to spend several nights at her daughter's home, with her family, if just for the company. Though Katara had been at home more recently, the feeling still haunted her. She had shed many, many tears on almost a nightly basis, so much so that Kya almost had her mother move in with her permanently.
The lonely feeling in the darkness of the nights had been at the point of killing the widowed wife.
The winter solstice had been nearing for a few nights now, and Katara swore she had been hearing a voice in her dreams in that time.
A voice that had been getting clearer by the night.
Finally, it had said on this particular night...
Katara. Go to the backyard, and to the hammock where you spent your last days with Aang. Light five candles and place them in the snow as best you can. We shall handle the rest.
Complying with this request, Katara reached into a small cabinet and pulled out four small candles. She pulled out a small book of matches from the same cabinet and made her way toward the door. Donning her parka, she opened the door and carefully walked down the icy steps, heading for the hammock.
That hammock had not changed even in the year since Aang had been gone; a blanket still decorating it to protect against the Water Tribe's cold. Katara refused to move it, even if she was on her own now. It was a still a symbol of how things used to be.
Katara dug out some snow with her bending and dug the candles into the small open areas of snow and ice; sitting a few feet away from the hammock, careful not to burn it by mistake. She lit the match and slowly but surely lit all the candles. The elderly woman sat in slight fear, wondering if a cold wind would come along and extinguish them all.
Kneeling in the snow, Katara dropped her head and closed her eyes. "Aang...are you trying to reach me?" She said, her eyes watering. "If you are...please give me a sign...I love you and miss you so..."
As she meditated, she could feel that wind biting down on her. She opened her eyes slightly to make sure the candles were still burning. They were, so she once again closed them.
Silent moments passed by in the snow, until Katara felt something odd.
The next breeze that came by was a lot warmer.
Soon, she found herself in a significantly darkened area, the candles still burning. However, there was nothing else around her. It just seemed to be an empty void with her and those lights. Tears fell down her cheeks again, as all it seemed to do was remind her of that loneliness she felt for the past year.
She turned her head and looked in the direction of the voice. "Yes? Who's there?"
Katara...walk toward me. Use the candles to guide you...
Katara picked up two of the candles and followed the voice. She wondered where this could be leading, where her home was, and what was going to happen next.
The voice grew louder.
I love you, sweetie...
More and more steps and Katara got more and more anxious. When she heard the "I love you" she couldn't help but wonder...was it really him?
You're almost there...
Keeping the candles in front of her, their light being all she had in this unknown area, she began to make out something well in front.
She drew closer and closer, step-by-step.
Could it really be? She thought, her mouth slightly opened in a quiet gasp.
She made her way to the end of the darkness.
There it was.
Suddenly, the bright light at the end revealed all.
There was a bearded man, his bald head containing merely a blue tattoo. He was dressed in the red and yellowish robes she had always known. He stood in front of a hammock, just like the one they had used at their South Pole home.
"Welcome home, Katara...I missed you," he said softly. "Place the candles on the side here..." he pointed to two small candle holders on a side table.
Katara complied, but she moved so fast out of pure excitement, that she fit them in rather sloppily. Still, they were in position.
That was it for her.
The gray-haired waterbender shed a few tears and threw her arms around the Avatar before her. "I missed you too, sweetie...I missed you too..." her head was buried into his shoulders, tears staining his clothing.
For several moments, the two stood in that bright light, hugging as tight as they could, trying to make up for a year's worth of lost time. After this event ended, Katara stepped back, keeping her hands in Aang's grasp.
"Aang...how long do we have?" She didn't want the moment to end.
"Until sunset," the Avatar remarked. "It's the solstice...so this is our only chance."
"Spirits..." Katara slowly remarked. "I just...I don't know what to do! We're here in the Spirit World..."
"Of course," Aang reminded her. "This is the time when the spirit and human worlds are at the closest, remember?"
She nodded and recalled back to the time when Aang first contacted Avatar Roku. "I didn't know I could be here though...I'm merely mortal."
"It takes an intense spiritual awareness," Katara's husband informed her. "Someone very-well connected can make their way in during the solstices with meditation. You of course not only have a connection to me...but also the Painted Lady, remember?"
"I see..." Katara continued. "Say..." she thought back to the words that entered her dreams. "Was she...was she the one who contacted me?"
"She was," Aang answered with a smile. "I sent the Painted Lady to you with that message."
Just then, the Painted Lady appeared before the couple. She smiled at Katara and said, "I owe you for restoring Jang Hui to its greatness and driving those troops out."
Katara smiled brightly at the ancient spirit. "You didn't have to do this..."
"It was the best I could do," the painted spirit continued. "I knew you probably had to be missing Aang...and he missed you too. Sorely so."
"Thank you," the waterbender said almost inaudibly as the Painted Lady made her away from the scene.
"Oh Aang..." Katara continued as she embraced him again. "Words can't explain how happy I am to see you again..."
"I can say the very same, Katara," Aang replied, reaching down to give her a light kiss on the lips. "Remember this for every solstice...light candles in front of our hammock, and meditate...and you can come. I'll be here." He smiled brightly at her.
"I'll remember," Katara remarked. "Come on...let's rest."
The candles continued to burn as Aang and Katara walked to the hammock and fell down on it, holding each other in their arms...oh, those candles. How those lights had indeed guided Katara back to her beloved...and always would.
No matter who the next Avatar was...
Katara always had Aang.
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