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|Day the Fourth: Happiness|
4th January, 2014
For Toph, certain feelings had been denied to her for much of her life. She was not permitted to smile or cry in the presence of company – her parents included – nor was she allowed to ask why. Simply put, the freedom to express her emotions were just another facet of her life that was not under her control; however it was not, as she believed, due to her blindness. Despite barely being a member of the aristocracy (could she be, if no one knew she existed?), she was still made to follow their rules.
So, naturally, she tried to break them every chance she got. Eventually it became too hard to smile at something that wasn't there, all the while getting in trouble from her parents for daring to let such an expression cross her pretty features. It wasn't until she was eleven and she discovered the Earth Rumble ring for the first time, that Toph realised why other people were always smiling. It was the freedom.
Unfortunately for Toph, old habits die hard. Of course the easy emotions were, well, easy. But the others? Shame, regret; love? The best she could hope for was to pretend they weren't real, because how could she feel something for someone else that had never been shown to her?
In the Water Tribe, emotions were encouraged. If you could turn red-hot with fury, then at least you wouldn't freeze, and they certainly didn't play chess to keep warm at night. It was a small community, and Sokka was encouraged to show all the people in his village his emotions – how he felt about his people, specifically – because come winter, they may not pull through it. But, there was always a disadvantage, and being perpetually happy for the elders of the tribe; elders who put no effort into even pretending that they cared anymore, what with the men of the tribe leaving. He became sharp and cynical. Sarcastic, even, because it was better than caring and having his friends taken away through sickness or disease, or age. It was better than crying over his mother, now his father. He had to be strong.
It wasn't his fault that what he thought was a strength, wasn't really a strength at all.
It got better with time; the fear of losing those he loved lessened, until it wasn't there at all. And then, he lost someone else. Someone he couldn't protect. He wasn't even worthy of feeling sad about it, because he had failed so miserably. And if he was not allowed to grieve for the sad times, he most certainly wasn't allowed to smile at the happy memories.
Thus, Sokka learned to school himself. He couldn't let anyone else get into his heart, because he knew he would ultimately fail them. How could he protect anyone else, when he could barely protect himself?
It was funny (the Universe's sense of humour, Sokka suspected), that the rules and beliefs that each had forged were broken. The weakest of all in matters of the soul taught the most guarded that protection was not love.
The boy who could not open his heart, taught the girl who could not love.
And together, they found happiness.
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