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28 July 2013
That's a wrap, folks!
Katara wasn't quite used to being the protected around Aang.
This was certainly different.
From the moment she had found him in that iceberg, Katara had sworn to protect Aang with everything she had - against both word and action. She would make sure he was healthy and intact both physically and mentally. Aang was her best friend and the world's last hope. She would guide him on the long journey to defeating Fire Lord Ozai.
Now, he had saved the world.
The tables of protection had turned.
Especially now that Katara was carrying precious cargo.
"Aang, I'm pregnant, not helpless," Katara said as her husband helped him off Appa as they returned to the South Pole following a vacation.
"Just looking out for my loved one," Aang replied, then placed a hand on her stomach. "Not to mention our incoming family member."
"I understand," Katara replied with a sly smile, "But geez, Aang, you've been holding my hand like I'm some kind of little kid." She laughed despite these words.
Aang also chuckled. "Okay, I'm sorry, sweetie."
"Heh, things have certainly changed a lot from when we were kids..." Katara mused.
"Yes," the Avatar answered, "When at times, you wouldn't let me out of your sight for more than five seconds without worrying that I'd wind up in Fire Nation clutches?"
Katara laughed once again, but to be honest, he was right.
In the five months since the waterbender learned that she had been pregnant - and even before that - she had noticed just how much the tables had turned.
Things are so much different now... Katara thought later that night as she watched Aang in a deep sleep. She herself had woken up as she had a bit of a tough time sleeping due to occasional cramping.
Instead of going back to rest - she had quietly hoped Aang wouldn't awaken and fall into a nervous breakdown - Katara went out to the porch of their home.
Protection...spirits, how did it change so much, so fast?
Katara thought back to when they visited the Southern Air Temple for the very first time, shortly after she and Sokka had freed Aang from the iceberg and began their journey toward helping him master the elements.
She remembered after Aang had found Gyatso's corpse, and went into the Avatar State as a result of the emotional toll. It was from that day onward that Katara, alongside Sokka, would be Aang's new family. The then-young waterbender also swore to protect Aang as best as she could - not from his responsibilities, of course - but just to make sure he remained in the best mental and physical state possible.
So many times, Katara would always make sure she was there for Aang whenever he needed it.
If he was stressing about the loss of his people, or the difficulty of the journey ahead, she would hug him.
If he got any injury - no matter how minor - she would heal him.
If he was having any trouble learning the elements - she would tell Toph and Zuko how to teach him. Or, such as in the case of his first day of earthbending training, give him a rest by getting him back over to waterbending.
If anyone ripped him for abandoning the world - she would defend him.
There were so many "ifs" that went against him that she would make sure would work for him during that final year of the Hundred Year War - and it even continued in the time afterward.
But times change, and so do people.
As Aang grew older, maturing rapidly, he no longer needed Katara's protection.
He could face these challenges on his own and be more accepting of all the events of the past. Of course, he still took up offers on healing; he not having learned the skill - but nonetheless, the Avatar was able to go more on his own with life in general, though he'd never mind having the waterbender - his wife and best friend - by his side.
Though Katara expected this, she didn't think the protection would reach these levels.
It started after the search for Zuko and Azula's mom and after Katara and Azula nearly got into fights many times throughout the journey. A freaked out Aang began standing closer to Katara more often in the days and weeks afterward, especially when they were around the Fire Nation Royal Family, even though Katara would keep reminding Aang that she would simply keep her distance from the Fire Lord's sister.
When conflicts flared up during the early days of establishing Republic City, Aang always stood next to Katara during any battles. This even annoyed the waterbender to a certain extent - she was a master, and for how much she loved the Avatar, she didn't need him shadowing her at every flare-up! "You have your own matters to attend to, Aang, I can handle myself," she tended to remind him.
After boyfriend and girlfriend became husband and wife, this triggered more of a protective sense in Aang; especially as they began moving closer to the idea of having children. The Avatar would protect his wife and the future mother against every potential threat, and grew so fearful during his trips that he would write to Katara daily to make sure everything was all right. This brought a mix of amusement but again, annoyance to the young adult waterbender.
Over the next two years before Katara was pregnant, Aang did relax his protective slant. He reminded himself more that his wife was indeed a master waterbender, capable of handling herself if a threat came up while she was out, and healing as well, in case she were to get hurt. He always knew this - he just didn't want the best thing to ever happen in his life to be lost under his watch.
This thought again took over the Avatar when they got the couple got the news that they were to have a child. Aang went right back into his protective ways, making sure Katara took every step right, didn't get herself into trouble by mistake...sometimes, she just wanted to yell at him that enough was enough, but restrained herself - she knew that he cared about her and their new addition, after all.
It was simply just crazy to think, how much the tables of protection had turned...the protector was now the protected. She was in that position around Sokka as well when they were little kids, but never quite like the way Aang was now.
"Oh, there you are!" Aang's voice called out. "Spirits, you had me worried, Katara!"
"Like that's the first time recently?" Katara asked, chuckling.
Aang raised his hands in defense. "Okay, okay sweetie, I get it," he said, smiling despite this. "Just cut me a break, it is the middle of the night, and I didn't see you in the house."
"All right, fine," Katara replied. "I was just thinking about things..."
The Avatar sat down next to her, taking on a bit more serious look. "About what?"
"Just how much things have changed between us," the pregnant waterbender answered. "Remembering how I used to protect you, and now you protect me..."
"I simply want the best for our family," Aang responded, rubbing Katara's stomach.
"I know you do, and I can certainly understand that," Katara said, thinking back to how she was "Team Mom" during their wartime travels. "But Aang," she continued, covering his hand with hers. "I'm pregnant, not defenseless."
"I probably have been a bit overbearing," Aang admitted, squeezing her hand. "I just...being a husband and soon-to-be father...I just want it all to be all right."
"It will be," Katara assured him with a smile. "Don't worry, Aang. Don't worry about me, and don't worry about our child. We'll both be fine. Spirits forbid, anything happen, you know we can get out of it."
The airbender nodded idly. "I know you can...I don't want to lose the best thing to ever happen to my life...well, I should say, best person or even people, now."
"Again, I completely understand," the waterbender answered. "Just...try not to worry so much. You have enough to concern yourself with as is." She smiled brightly. "You make a great husband, and I know you will make an excellent father."
"I can say the same for you; a great wife and an excellent mother," Aang replied softly, smiling back at her.
"Just...don't be too overprotective of our child," Katara warned him with a laugh. "Or we'll never hear the end of it."
"Right," Aang said, laughing back.
Of course, regardless of those warnings...
There would always be room for protection.
Protection of loved ones is just natural.
"I'm pregnant, not helpless" recalls the sentiment Pema gave to Tenzin in "Welcome to Republic City" when the latter helped his wife off Oogi in the South Pole.
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