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Chapter Two: Love
She stands before him, a goddess in every way.
"Hi," he murmurs, and he immediately regrets it. Surely he should have uttered phrases more eloquent, more fitting to his worship of her, rather than the simple colloquialism he has bumbled. "I—you—ah—you look pretty today."
She smiles. "Thank you, Aang." Her braid appears to flow in the wind, simultaneously an ocean wave and a current of air. He is not sure whether this is a good sign or merely his own superstition. "Have you seen Sokka?"
His attention has riveted itself on the curve along her neck where her mother's betrothal necklace had once hung; now, an empty spot taunts him.
He wonders if making one for her will be drastic.
Would she refuse?
He shakes his head.
Not yet, Aang. Not yet.
"Have you seen Sokka?"
His goddess has spoken, and he has not answered. He blinks. "Oh, uh, I think he went to the river," he answers carefully, making an awkward gesture of the surface of the creek, "to fish."
There has to be something I can do about her necklace, he muses. But what?
The inspiration seems to beat him over the head, and he whips around. "Actually, I'll be right back," he offers, his usually calm words suddenly spilling out of him like water behind a fractured dam. "I just remembered that Sokka wanted some fishing line!"
Of all the things he loves, she must be the most.
She is left standing alone, a mixture of confused, bemused, and amused. "Boys will be boys," she supposes, and she inhales the morning chill. She spreads her arms, welcoming the sun, and stretches, grateful that there is no one present. As her bones applaud her with the usual healthy cracks, she makes her way to the nearby brook. Sokka is likely down where the real river begins, she rationalizes, mentally preparing herself. She expertly lifts the water and twists it in the air, a smile playing upon her lips.
Of all the things she loves, this must be the most.
He returns, jubilant, to her, hiding his gift in his palms, now thoroughly slick with anxiety. "Hi, Katara," he musters, once again cursing himself for being so unromantic.
Romance . . . he thinks, beaming in spite of himself. Yes, please! With a side order of l-o-v-e.
"You're late," she tries to tell him, but he will hear none of it.
"I have a present," he interjects brightly, and, quivering, he raises his hands to her, remembering how he had sat silently, cross-legged, on the firm branch, gently plucking each tender flower stem, splitting it carefully with his fingernail, lovingly threading it into the chain.
It is a delicate arrangement, and it is perfect.
He does not rest until it is around her neck.
She does not know that intertwined in each bloom is a prayer of love.
For of all the things he loves, she is the most.
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