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|Chapter Eleven: Revelations|
March 18, 2014
Jinora took shelter in the shade of an awning as refuge against the sweltering afternoon heat. She looked across the temple courtyard to watch Nanaki going through her forms with Guo and furrowed her brow. More and more over the past three week Jinora had become increasingly concerned, and Guo more frustrated, at not only the refusal of the practice bricks and paving stones to move at Nanaki's direction but moreso at the Avatar's apathy that they wouldn't.
Yi, sitting next to the elderly lady and alternating between watching Nanaki weave between stances and Aketryu working on repairing the tiles of a roof nearby shirtless, filled a glass full of ice and lemonade and handed it to the master airbender. Jinora thanked her.
"Is it weird, Jinora?" Yi asked abruptly. "Knowing Nannie used to be your grandfather, I mean."
"No," she said. "Everything Avatar Aang taught my father my father taught to my siblings and I, and to Avatar Korra. Korra, in turn, taught us all a great deal also. When I look at Nanaki I see my family, my friends including your grandfather, and one of the best friends I ever had in her eyes and I know that the memory of them can never fade. That's very comforting."
"I suppose I never thought of it that way," Yi said, half-turning to watch Akytreu coming down the ladder, the muscles in his left arm standing out as he held a bucket of pottery tiles. Guo joined them. Past him, Jinora saw that Nanaki was now engaged in rolling a brightly colored ball past Yakkara. The Avatar frowned with each pass for Yakkara watched the ball roll by, then looked skeptically at Nanaki. Nanaki chased the ball down, explained the game again, rolled the ball, and slapped her forehead as Yakkara watched the sphere bounce past her.
Guo was out of sorts.
"What's wrong, Daddy?" Yi asked. She didn't bother to listen to the answer as she was now watching, with a measurable level of dismay, that Akytreu had engaged Nanaki in conversation. Guo looked critically from his daughter to the boy and back and chose to direct his answer to Jinora.
"I don't get it," he said. "I don't understand her. Every pebble in this courtyard would be dancing a jig at the same time if Nanaki wanted them to but she doesn't care. "
Jinora nodded, unsure of how she could reach Nanaki. The Avatar, after favoring Akytreu with a bright smile and a coy twisting of hair around her finger, looked over to the awning and saw her mentor, her instructor, and her best friend all looking at her. She frowned.
As evening set the sky into an illustrious shade of lavender and robed the clouds on the horizon in stunning scarlet Jinora closed the historical novel that had been conquering and mastering her attention for the past three hours. She inquired with the household as to the whereabouts of the Avatar. When nobody could recall having had seen Nanaki since noon, Jinora went looking for her. After a brief search she finally found the girl on the ocean facing side of the island, soaking in one of the many natural pools that bubbled along the landscape. Nanaki was lost in the world of her own thoughts, her attention focused on the sunset. Yakkara was perched on a shelf of rock just above her, dozing with great contentment. Jinora sat down on the edge of the spring and dipped her feet into the hot, turbulent water.
"Hello, Nanaki," she said. "Relaxing?"
Nanaki glanced shyly at her and looked down at the water.
"I know everyone's mad at me, Jinora," she said. "Are you?"
"Nobody's angry with you," Jinora said. "We're concerned. We know that you can earthbend and we know that your father wouldn't permit it. Are you hesitating because you're afraid of what might be expected of you?"
"No," Nanaki said quietly, looking out to sea again.
"Because of what happened with the Unbelievers?"
Jinora tilted her head slightly.
"Because of what your father would think?"
Jinora paddled her feet lightly, letting the silence stay in place for a few moments before she spoke again.
"When I was young and I told my father I could see spirits, he was very upset. I thought he hated me. But the truth was that he wasn't upset with me, but because he thought he had failed to live up to the expectations my grandfather had set for him. In truth, he had set those expectations himself. But most of all he was terrified of what kind of danger my talent would put me in."
"But you saved the world," Nanaki said, looking at her again. Jinora shook her head.
"Avatar Korra saved the world. My point is that he was right to be afraid, and there is no father on earth worthy of the word that doesn't love his children. Your father loves you, Nanaki, even if he hasn't shown it for awhile. And ultimately, he will be proud of you even when you embrace your bending. You are the Avatar and he has every reason to be proud. Trust a crazy old woman. I'm never wrong. And you can tell me anything you need to."
With that she stood up, bowed, and gave Yakkara a pat. She walked off, leaving Nanaki looking thoughtfully after her.
Dinner was in fully swing when Nanaki returned to the house. Yi was mooning at Akytreu while her father spooned some rice on to her plate. He again squinted disapprovingly between the pair. Akytreu, for his part, was giving Kah-Pa an update on how the repairs were going between bites of a steamed bun. Tu'uri was pouring tea and Jinora's face was buried in her novel again when the discussing was interrupted by the Avatar's return. Nanaki slid the door shut softly and looked at her feet, not approaching the table.
"Nannie?" Yi asked in concern, starting to rise.
"I killed my mother," Nanaki said in a voice close to a whisper.
Silence dropped on the table like a bomb.
"I was little. I wanted a treat before dinner, I don't remember what. Mom said no, I had to wait until after dinner. I threw a tantrum, and she got mad and spanked me. I used earthbending on her. I didn't...I was to young to understand it would hurt her so badly. I was with her when she died. I was laying on her chest in the hospital, crying. She had her arm around me."
Nanaki squeezed her eyes shut as tears began to flow down her face.
"She had her arm around me and she said for me not to cry because she would always love me. And then she was gone."
She couldn't control herself any more and started to sob openly.
"I swore I would never bend again. But now I have to, because I'm the Avatar. I'm sorry. I'm so sorry."
More than anyone else, Jinora understood that Nanaki wasn't apologizing to anyone currently in the room. She was on her feet in a moment and taking the girl into her arms. Nanaki sagged under the embrace and Jinora went to her knees, stroking Nanaki's hair and rocking her as the Avatar's body shook with sobs.
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