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28th July, 2013
She looks across the sea of people, dancing, swarming, loving, living. The sunlight shines down on the scene played out in front of her, and she can't help but curse the spirits once more, the venom almost completely gone as the twenty-seven year old ignores the little ache in her chest. Her gaze averts as he meets her eyes, and she regrets the small envelope still sitting delicately on her dresser. She regrets all that has passed between them, for she knows it was a lie. How could it not be when he was standing there, and she here?
She turns to leave, to escape the claustrophobic ceremony pressing down on her. It is easier to say "don't want" instead of "can't", but he doesn't know that. The son of the Avatar, the last airbender, needs more than she can give, no matter how much she wishes she could.
She gazes over to her mother, laughing with the councilman. She puts on a smile for the man, knowing her mother couldn't see it. She does not see the point in hiding her heartbeats. Toph knows. She always does.
She approaches the couple, eyeing the older woman's flushed face and knowing it wasn't from the alcohol. She hates to break up the scene, and is on the verge of turning around and leaving altogether when they turn to her. The man pats her on the shoulder before leaving her with her mother. They walk, slowly, away from the party. She doesn't know where they are going, but neither does she care.
They stop at the edge of the forest, hidden from prying eyes by the trees and grasses that only earthbenders seem to appreciate. Her mother, the strong earthbender—the strongest person she knows—looks at her with the blind eyes that see everything. She knows. Of course she knows, and she has never parted with the guilt that she is unable to give Lin what Lin gave her; a family. She couldn't provide a father, and Lin knows that her mother takes the responsibility of her infertile womb, no matter how impossible it was.
Lin looks at her strong mother with empty eyes, and swiftly, decisively, wraps her arms around her neck. The puckered flesh of the recent scar rubs against Toph's smooth (if somewhat dirty) features as Lin whispers to the single most important person in her life; "It hurts..."
She doesn't want to place her troubles on the blind earthbender. The ache she feels as she watches the councilman kiss the Kyoshi Warrior is synonymous with—although not as strong as—the one she feels as she watches the airbender laugh with his new bride, as he kisses her and holds her.
Grasping her mother ever-tighter, Lin feels the first tears fall. It was okay to cry in front of Toph—her mother couldn't see her anyway. She just reciprocates as her daughter grips her tight, kissing the top of her head.
"I'm sorry, sweetie," she murmurs, small fingers gently brushing away the tears.
Lin glances up at her mother. "Mum, don- it's not your fault."
With another kiss on her forehead, Toph hushes her daughter. "It's okay, Lin. It can't be changed..."
Lin sniffles slightly, already ashamed of the accursed tears that continues to run down her face so obstinately. "Does the pain ever stop?"
"No," Toph whispers, her face stoic but eyes shining with unshed tears as she continues to feel her daughter's distress. "But now, I don't think I could live without it..."
As Lin looks towards the Avatar and his progeny, the now familiar feeling of her heart tearing itself apart within her chest reaches new heights at the duo's obvious euphoria. "I don't know if I can..."
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