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March 3, 2014
At some point during the night, I had a dream. I was on a bridge with Princess Yue; the same bridge she abandoned me at. Instead of her leaving me to feel hurt and confused, she stayed. We talked about all sorts of things; my travels with the Avatar and her being a princess. We started talking a walk, holding hands and smiling. And as we walked through the Northern Tribe, our hands never let go of each other; swinging with every simultaneous step we took. I remember her laughing at my sarcastic comments, her giggle is so gentle and sweet sounding. We stopped at one point; staring at the crescent moon together, admiring the beauty that it is. We turned back to each other, face to face, full eye contact. Her eyes are so beautiful and such a unique shade of blue. At that moment, we closed our eyes; grabbing each other in our arms, and shared a long, romantic kiss. Maybe the kiss wasn't real, but even in my subconscious, I could feel a spark as our lips touched.
At that moment, I wake up from Katara shaking me back into reality. She looks very furious this morning...I wonder why.
"Good, you're awake," Katara says to me in a sharp tone. "Now get up, we have a meeting to go to right now!"
Not only is my sister unusually cranky, but she's super bossy too. I do not like this side of her at all.
"What's going on?" I ask, still trying to open my eyes.
"Master Pakku caught me teaching Katara waterbending last night and now I'm no longer allowed to be his student," Aang explains.
"So now we're going to meet with Chief Arnook this morning and see if we can settle things so Aang can get Master Pakku to teach him again."
At that moment, my stomach makes a large growling sound, loud enough for me to grasp my stomach to try to stop it. Food. I haven't eaten a crumb of anything since the party. Oh how I would kill for another plateful of food to fill the emptiness in my gut.
"Before we go, can we get something to eat?" I ask. "We haven't eaten since the party."
Katara looks at me straight in my eyes with an angry glare. Maybe I shouldn't have asked that right now, but I'm starving, and I'm pretty sure Aang and Katara are too. Katara finally lets out a sigh. It's a frustrating sigh, but at least she's not looking at me with anger in her eyes.
"Fine," she finally says. "but we have to be quick, our meeting is very soon."
That was just enough to get me right on my feet. I adjust my overcoat and the three of us head out. We start walking around the city looking for a good place to eat. We walk across a very familiar looking building. That's where I tried to get something last night! I don't think I want to walk in there again after the episode I had with that guy.
"How about here?" Aang suggests. "This looks pretty good."
"Normally, I'd be cool with this place, but I kinda don't want to go there. You see, when I left to go on my date with Princess Yue, I thought about stopping for a quick bite, but I didn't have any money and the owner said that even though I was a friend of the Avatar, I still had to pay and--"
"Sokka, enough!" Katara shouts, interrupting me. "We found a place to eat, and we have money that was gifted to us during our stay from Chief Arnook, remember?"
Oops. I totally forgot that we were given money in addition a place to stay.
"Oh right, I guess I've just been getting used to being out of money," I explain.
"Besides, with the money, he can't turn us down. Lets just go in and get out," Katara says as we enter the restaurant.
As we all walk inside the restaurant, the owner that I met last night looks up, noticing me right away. He was smiling at me, but his grin was rather sinister. I know we're both thinking the same thing. I just hope he doesn't throw us out after the incident. As we approach the counter step after step, anxiety builds up in my gut, making my heart rate increase. I can feel drops of sweat leaking down my face. The owner pounds his muscly fist on the counter, shaking everything on top of it. I think he even made a dent.
"Well if it isn't ponytail boy," the owner says with a tough, deep voice. "and it looks like you also brought your friends with you. Like I said, you either come back here with money or not at--"
"Cut it out!" Katara snaps. "We have money and we need to buy something to eat and now."
I've never seen Katara so harsh to someone before. She's had her moments where she's yelled at me, Aang and others, but this time's different. It's not like he did anything cruel to her. Is she sticking up for me? That would be a first. What is she so angry about? I mean, yeah, Master Pakku caught Aang teaching Katara waterbending and banned him from being his student, but why isn't this getting to Aang more? He should be more upset about this than anyone. Even he's looking kind of frightened by Katara's behavior right now. She seems to be releasing a lot of anger out because of this Pakku guy. I guess I can't blame her; he won't teach her because she's a girl. What kind of rule is that anyway? If you're a bender, you should be able to learn how to use it properly. My sister is more than just a healer; she's a fighter too.
The owner, now looking scared by Katara too, apologizes for harassing me and we order our meals. I still really want to try that pickled fish, so I order it, hoping there won't be any difficulties with getting it this time. Katara orders the blubbered seal jerky. Not my favorite Water Tribe meal, but it's always a good snack to have around. Lastly, Aang orders himself seaweed bread. I didn't even know they could turn seaweed into bread before, but there are very limited options for Aang to eat in the Southern Tribe being a vegetarian. Within a matter of minutes our food is given to us by the owner, and we head out. I'm so glad we're leaving this place; the owner really sends shivers down my spine.
"What was that all about back there, Katara," Aang asks before taking a bite out of his seaweed bread.
"What was what all about?" Katara replies with a semi-annoyed tone.
"You kind of scared us all back there when you yelled at the owner. Are you feeling alright?" Aang asks in a concerning manner.
Katara's face becomes angry again, her face frowning wider and eyebrows pointing down.
"Yes! Come on, lets just go to the meeting!" She shouts, taking a bite out of her seal jerky.
Katara walks in front of us, leading us the way to the meeting. Aang and I don't dare to speak unless spoken to. Katara is freaking us both out a little this morning, and maybe some peace and quiet on our way to the meeting is all she needs. Aang and I quickly finish our meals, and as silently as we can too. Aang rips a part of his seaweed bread off, and silently offers me the piece. I want to shake my head, but I also want to know what it taste like. He hands me the piece, but I rip in in half, giving back one of those pieces. I'd offer a bite of pickled fish, but I know he wouldn't want it. I chew the bread, letting the flavor take over my tongue. It's not bad, but I probably would never order it for myself. Seaweed tastes better in soup.
As we all finish our meals, we arrive at the building where the meeting is going to be. It's the same building where the party was held. The same building where I met Princess Yue. The same building where I made a fool of myself in front of her, becoming flustered in the moment. All these things happened in one sitting, and it only took her seconds to ruin it all.
We walk in the main lobby of the building. There sat Chief Arnook, Master Pakku, and...YUE! She's here too! I guess all members of the royal family are required to attend all meetings. There are four other people sitting together behind them, but all I can do is look at Yue. But why? I worked up the courage to ask her out and how does she repay me? By leaving me behind, breaking my heart. I'm surprised she's even looking my way right now. Why should I even care if she's in my presence again? I don't want anything to do with her anymore...or do I? I still feel pain, but seeing her even after what she did last night makes my heart pump as fast as it did the first time I saw her. Still, acting a little on the aloof side wouldn't hurt. Just don't look her in the eye...
We finally reach the group of people, bowing our heads in respect. Katara walks a couple steps in front of Aang and I, and begins speaking to Chief Arnook.
"Chief Arnook, I would like for Aang to be taught by Master Pakku again," she explains.
"What do you want me to do? Force Master Pakku to take Aang back as his student?"
"I suspect he might change his mind, if you swallow your pride and apologize to him."
Why should Katara have to swallow her pride? She did nothing wrong. She just wants to learn the ways of waterbending. At first, Katara looks at Aang, processing her final decision. She turns back to the group, annoyingly agreeing to. Pakku just looks up at the ceiling.
"I'm waiting, little girl," he remarks sarcastically.
Katara's hands turn into fists. I'm debating on whether to grab hold of Aang to flee the building or not.
"No. NO WAY AM I APOLOGIZING TO A SOUR, OLD MAN LIKE YOU!" Katara shouts, unknowingly cracking the ice beneath her as well as causing two pots to shatter.
"Uh, Katara?" Aang says concerned.
"I'll be outside if you're man enough to fight me!" Katara yells.
Yue gasps at Katara's challenge. I myself am shocked by this, but Katara is already halfway out of the building. I think her mind is set, but how is she supposed to win this fight? Could she even win? Aang nervously turns back to the group.
"I'm sure she didn't mean that," Aang says.
"Yeah I think she did," I reply back.
Maybe saying that wasn't the best time to mention, but I know my sister better than anyone else. I can tell when she means the things she says. She's been angry enough times for me to know. Aang starts to run after Katara, and I start running after him. Halfway down the stairs, we both catch up to her. There's got to be a way to convince Katara not to fight Master Pakku.
"Are you crazy Katara? You're not gonna win this fight!" I shout.
"I know! I don't care!" Katara replies, taking off her overcoat and throwing it to me. What am I, a coat carrier?
"You don't have to do this for me. I can find another teacher," Aang says, trying to talk Katara out of it too.
"I'm not doing it for you! Someone needs to slap some sense into that guy!"
Katara turns around, noticing Pakku on his way down the stairs.
"So, you decided to show up?" Katara asks in a tough manner.
Instead of talking back, Pakku just walks his merry way down the stairs, ignoring Katara's challenge. He walks past us as if we aren't even here.
"Aren't you gonna fight?!" Katara asks.
"Go back to the healing huts with the other women where you belong," Pakku quietly replies.
This only makes Katara angrier. Her hands turn into fists again, bends the ice below us into water, and whips the back of his head with a strip of water. What is Katara thinking? Even she knows she can't win this fight! She's just asking to get us kicked out of the Northern Tribe!
"Fine, you want to learn to fight so bad? Study closely."
And just like that, he starts to bend two big streams of water from these pools of water. Katara runs towards Pakku, but he bends the water at her, knocking her down. She gets right back up, as he starts the bend the water around the two of them, making the circle of water smaller on her side.
"Don't worry, I'm not going to hurt you," I hear Pakku say.
Katara finally manages to bend the circle out of balance, turning it into a single stream again, and OH NO! It's coming right for me! I can't even move due to the forming crowd around Aang and I, and I immediately get taken down my the large amount of water.
"OW!" I yelp in pain.
A little embarrassed from being knocked down in front of a lot of people? Yes. I manage to get myself back up, making my way in the front row again. Katara has frozen her feet onto a post, making a blast of water avoid her.
"You can't knock me down!" She shouts heroically.
The people around me start cheering. Even I start to yell 'YEAH!' as Katara unfreezes her feet.
"Go, Katara!" Aang shouts.
Katara charges up to Pakku, but he bends an ice wall in front, which she quickly turns back into a liquid water. Then, she starts to I think punch him. Why would she do that? She's a waterbender. Her element is all around her! Of course Pakku knows that. He bends the ice around him, turns it into water, and bends it around Katara, bending the water along with herself into a pool. Katara quickly rises up from the water, earning some more encouraging chants from the crowd. She bends some of the water into ice, and bends discs of ice at Pakku. Pakku is able to break and dodge the discs, but I can tell he's having a hard time keeping up with Katara. She might be able to win this thing after all. Katara starts to form a stream of water around her, bending it at Pakku, who bends it around him self, and splashes it behind him. Katara runs towards Pakku, but gets knocked over by a huge blast of water. Maybe she won't win this...
At first, Katara just lays there on the ground. Is she okay? Is she giving up? In a split second, she gets herself back up, and bends two long snow pillars down, about to fall on top of him when he bends them into snow flakes.
"Well, I'm impressed. You are an excellent waterbender," Pakku says.
"But you still won't teach me, will you?" Katara asks.
And that's all Katara needed to hear as she bends an ice wave to Pakku. He easily dodges it, who bends an ice pillar and rises himself with it. He turns it into a wave of transportation, but Katara bends water at him, creating it to collapse below his feet, but Pakku creates another wave, turning it into ice as he lands on it and knocks Katara down. He lands on the edge of one of the pools as Katara skids on the ground. He bends a huge amount of water from the pool, turning it into multiple ice shards, sending them down Katara's way. They form around her, and she can't escape. She lost. Katara tries to fidget her way out.
"This fight is over," Pakku declares, walking away.
"Come back here! I'm not finished yet!" Katara yells.
"Yes, you are," Pakku says as something catches his attention in the snow. It's Katara's necklace! It must've fallen off during the fight. Pakku picks it up, examining it. "This is my necklace," he says quietly.
"No it's not, it's mine! Give it back!"
"I made this sixty years ago. For the love of my life. For Kanna."
"My Gran Gran was supposed to marry you?" Katara asks.
I'm surprised to. No wonder Gran Gran left the North Pole, who would want to marry a jerk like him? The crowd starts to go their own ways as Aang and I walk down the stairs, but keep our distance from Katara and Pakku. Some other people walk down the stairs too; Chief Arnook and Yue. Yue walks over and stands next to me. I don't get this woman at all! She rejects me and now she wants to stand next to me? Does she like me or not?
"I carved carved this necklace for your grandmother when we got engaged. I thought we would have a long, happy life together. I loved her," Pakku says sadly.
"But she didn't love you, did she? It was an arranged marriage. Gran-Gran wouldn't let your tribe's stupid customs run her life. That's why she left. It must have taken a lot of courage."
As Katara finishes off her speech, I hear Yue begin to cry next to me. She hides her face from anyone seeing her tears at first, but decides to run off. What's going on with her? I don't understand at all! Should I even go after her?
"Go get her," Aang says to me.
I start to run off, after the beautiful princess, but something stops me in my sprint. I think Yue needs some time to be alone. There was obviously something that Katara said that caused her to react this way. Maybe it's me. I like Yue...a lot....but maybe she just doesn't like me back. Maybe our statuses could never work out. She's the princess of the Northern Tribe. And what am I? Nothing that can be compared to her. It's clear to me now that this was never meant to work out. Does that stop me from liking her the way that I do? No. She's still the woman in my mind. The person that makes my heart skip a beat a pump faster than I can count.
Aang walks up behind me, putting his hand on my shoulder.
"You alright, Sokka?" he asks.
"I'm fine. I'll catch up with her later."
We walk over to Katara and Pakku. Pakku has just agreed to teach Katara waterbending. Maybe there's a soft spot in this old man after all. The three of us walk away, and head back to our place of stay. Aang and Katara exchange happy comments about the fight. Even though Katara lost, she did really great out there. I didn't know she had it in her. I think that itself deemed her worthy of being taught. But what still puzzles me is what's up with Yue? She just ran in a sudden outburst of sadness. Why? We make it back to our current home.
"So when are you going to talk to Yue?" Aang asks.
"I don't know. I just think she needed some alone time. Maybe later tonight," I reply.
"Just remember that if it turns out she doesn't like you, at least you tried," Katara says happily.
This is probably the happiest Katara's been all day...and also the most intelligent thing she's said so far. I really did try. That's all I can do is just go for it. I guess I'm just not the guy Yue wants, which is so sad because I know she's everything I could ever want in a girl. She's sweet, beautiful, and elegant. But that's just it. She's perfect, and I'm not. A perfect person with someone with so many flaws couldn't possibly mix well together.
Before we could leave to get lunch, Chief Arnook came to our home, bringing us some leftovers from the party as a gift and somewhat reward to Katara for earning her way into waterbending. I didn't think there would be much left, but there is so much brought to us to last for days! Before Katara can grab hold of a bowl that was covered up with ice, I smash my way through, and old memories with dad start to fill my mind. Inside the bowl is stewed seaprunes.; one of my favorite dishes. I don't even bother getting a pair of chopsticks, I just slurp it down in seconds. My eyes catch the sight of arctic hen. I didn't know they made that stuff up here. Gran Gran always tells Katara and I that it's a Southern Tribe meal whenever she makes it, but I guess for the occasion, the Northern Tribe couldn't resist. At this point, I'm completely full. There's so much food in front of me, but it's not all for myself, and if I eat another bite, I'll probably puke. I know what it tastes like to have arctic hen come back up...it doesn't taste good.
A few hours go by before we eat again. This time, I go straight for a piece of the giant sea crab they cooked at the party. It's one of the most amazing feelings your tongue could ever experience! I can't even remember the last time I ate crab. The piece was so good, I went right for another...and another...and another. I don't think I'll be able to eat for days now. But those pieces of crab were so worth eating. I let my stomach settle and digest the meal before I finally decide to leave a find Princess Yue. My first thoughts about where she could be is in the building we were just at today. Maybe I'll just start there. I walk along the empty streets of the Northern Tribe. It's so peaceful. No one to be seen. No one to be heard. I look up at the bridges. Bridge after bridge, and my thoughts overcome of Princess Yue and how just yesterday, she hurt me. I look over to another bridge; the bridge where Yue dumped me...and there she is! Well well well, back to the scene of the crime, huh? Well, I guess this is it. It's time to find out once and for all...does Yue like me...or not...
I walk up the stairs, and towards Yue, breathing my final breaths before the truth is said and done. Yue doesn't even look me right in the eye. She just stares right off into the sky, as if she wants to escape and never see me again.
"What do you want from me," Yue asks as a tear runs down her face.
"Nothing. I just want you to know, I think you're beautiful and I never thought a girl like you would even notice a guy like me," I confess.
"You don't understand."
"No, no. See that's the thing. I think I do understand now. You're a princess, and I'm...I'm just a southern peasant."
"It's okay, you don't have to say anything. I'll see you around, okay?"
I begin to walk off, my heart feeling heavy, when Yue grabs hold of my arm, reaching me towards her. She places her hand on my jawline, and her lips touch against mine. Her lips are so soft and there was a moment there where I could feel a spark as I close my eyes, letting my first real kiss be as good as it can be. As her lips start to draw away from mine, I can only think about how much I wish they were still intertwined. But why did she kiss me just now? I thought she didn't like me. I guess I was wrong. She does like me!
"Okay, now I'm really confused. Happy, but confused," I explain as I hold her hand with both of mine.
"I do like you, a lot. But we can't be together, and not for the reason you think. It's because...I'm engaged," Yue says as she pulls down the collar of her overcoat, showing me her betrothal necklace. "I'm sorry," she says to me, running away, out of my sights yet again.
No! It can't be true...but it is. She likes me, she really does like me! But she's arranged with someone else. Why must this be the way it is? We can be together. We can have a long, happy life; the kind that Pakku dreamt about with Gran Gran...but we can't. I just hope whoever she's meant to marry is worth it. I hope he treats her right. I know I would've if I was meant to be in his position. There's something there between the two of us. We both have mutual feelings for each other...it's just not enough.
I walk off the bridge, taking my time back to our temporary place. As I walk in, I ignore Aang's greeting a fall right to the ground, curling up into a little ball form.
"Is everything alright?" Katara asks.
"No. Yue likes me, but...she's engaged," I explain.
Katara gasps in disbelief. "I'm sorry, Sokka," she says whilst putting her hand on my shoulder. "I know you really liked her."
"I still do like her. I just can't be with her."
"You two can just be friends," Aang says.
"I know, it's just...this is the first time I actually met a girl that I saw something there as more than just friends."
After that, we all decide to get some rest. I wait for Aang and Katara to fall asleep before I let myself really think about what happened today. I should've known right from the start that it was never meant to work out. It's so frustrating! This girl actually likes me back and I STILL can't be with her. It would be different if she didn't like me; it was just be different feelings. NO! Arranged marriage is what's keeping us from seeing how meant to be we really are. I let out a long, sad sigh before I close by eyes, and drift back into a world where nothing can bother me.
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