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|Hope Against Hope|
April 19, 2010
Hope Against Hope is the first chapter of Honor Thy Father. It is a flashback chapter, so its placement is more thematic than strictly chronological. Its exact chronological placement can be presumed to be immediately before the first battle of The War of the Lotuses.
Katara discovers she is pregnant. Mai helps her keep it together.
A Friend In Need
She bent some water from her pouch to wipe her mouth clean. It was the second time she had thrown up since they left the North Pole. This was very odd, since she had grown up sailing and kayaking with her father and brother. She had found her sea legs almost before she could talk. She thought no one had seen her, so she just scurried to her stateroom. She hurried inside and locked the steel door behind her, hurrying to her bed. She laid down, feeling queasy and miserable...
Out of instinct, she opened her eyes. She almost let out a scream when she saw the lean figure light the candle. She had been sitting in the boudoir chair silently all along, playing with the spark rocks in her right hand.
"Mai!" She exclaimed. "I almost attacked you!"
Mai scoffed as she picked up a towel from the boudoir and wet it in the water bowl. "Number one – that would not have been a problem for me." She squeezed the towel and sat on the bed by her sick friend. "And number two," she continued as she wiped her friend's sweaty brow, "you make a terrible liar."
Katara closed her eyes and allowed herself be nursed for the first time in years. "That feels good."
"It really stinks that waterbenders can't heal themselves, you know."
Mai replied, "I can imagine. You know, I can also imagine it would take something truly strong to make a waterbender seasick..."
Katara opened her eyes and stared into the ceiling, fighting back the tears. Mai just looked at her, needing no words to make sense of the moment or situation. Already used to these deep silences, Mai continued "I would like the court doctor to take a look at you and make sure everything is okay."
Katara just nodded silently, closed her eyes again and went to sleep against her friend's lap.
"Well, Miss Avatar, congratulations! You seem to be 6 weeks pregnant, and from the looks of it everything seems to be going fine."
Katara's face froze as her eyes began welling up with tears. She touched her belly with both hands and stifled a sob.
"We need a moment" Mai said to the doctor in a dry tone.
The doctor, a wise and understanding man, bowed to the Fire Lady. "Of course, Milady. I will be right outside."
"How?" Katara asked, her voice breaking. "How can I possibly deal with this now, Mai?" Mai stayed silent as she embraced Katara from behind. "How can I possibly bear a child in this situation? How can I take care of it, when we're fighting all the time just to stay alive?"
Mai now stood in front of her, tears running down her face too. "You know, back in Ember Island, when they came for me and my babies, I felt like a failure too. I told myself 'Is this all you got, Mai? Is this the absolute best you can do when Zuko is not around to protect you?'"
For one moment, Katara stopped feeling sorry for herself, realizing that she had forgotten all about Mai's ordeal.
"Then I realized that some things will always be beyond me – out of my control. I had nothing to do, but hope. Hope that my husband and our friends would somehow come help us. And you know what? It happened!"
Mai wiped her face and recomposed herself. "Hope is powerful Katara. You never know what it can bring, if your heart is steady and true. Now I'm stronger than I was then. I'm fiercer and I'm more hopeful. I would be able to fight twice as hard for twice as long."
"It's hard to hope" Katara said, regaining her self-control.
"Katara, just think of your journey. Think of all you've gone through, all the danger you've faced, all the things you've accomplished. You're not a little tribe girl anymore, you're a hero! You're the wife of the Avatar!"
Katara's eyes began welling up once again. "It's so hard having to share him with everyone. And lately, he's been so glum about the war and his own inner conflicts, that he hardly seems to notice me around or pay any attention."
Mai gave her a smile. "I know, I know – YOU should know, miss Fire Lord Zuko's wife..."
Katara pulled herself together, feeling a bit ashamed. "I do sound kind of pathetic and weak rambling on like this. Sorry for being so selfish Mai."
Mai gave her a big hug. "What would I do without you, Mai?" They both sighed. Then Mai said, "Sometimes all we have is hope. And we must never relinquish it, even to our dying breath..."
They both laughed hysterically.
The wise old doctor heard them laugh out in the hallway. He smiled.
For the collective works of the author, go here.
|Honor Thy Father Chapters|
| Hope Against Hope - A Change of Pace - Tainted Sanctuary - A New Home - Recovered - Empowered - When In Doubt - The Hunt - Full Moon - Reckonings - Sora
The Love of the Daughter - The Wasted Warrior, Part 1: Cycles- The Wasted Warrior, Part 2: Regrets- Daddy - The Charade, Part 1: The Shadow - The Charade Part 2: The Beast - The Charade, Part 3: The Fool - The Breakthrough - Redemption, Part 1: Dejection - Redemption, Part 2: Dominion