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|More from LightningStrike24||Family/Friendship||G||NA||None (one-shot)|
Meep. I just had to write this after I noticed how much Katniss Everdeen (you know, from The Hunger Games? Who doesn't know her?!) drank tea. Now, do I believe that she would just blurt out her life's story to a stranger? Or Iroh, in retrospect? No. But...it's Iroh...how could she not? XD
Anyways, this takes place before THG, and after "Zuko Alone".
Katniss meets a stranger in the woods who offers her tea and some advice. One-shot.
She doesn't know what to think when the old man she has just run into (knocking him down in the process) offers her a good-natured smile and a question.
"Would you like some tea?"
Common sense tells her no, she should not be accepting tea, out of all things, from a stranger, even if he is a fat old man who she can easily sink an arrow into if need come to be, but she finds herself nodding.
"I would. I would like some tea."
And so, she finds herself sitting on a bed of pine needles, awkwardly doing nothing while the old man pulls out a greatly misshapen earthen teapot, and two equally lopsided, rough-hewn cups.
"Do you like jasmine?" he asks her, filling the pot with water from a flask while eyeing her with a kind, beatific gaze.
She blinks, cocking her head quizzically. "What's jasmine?"
The old man starts, staring at her in disbelief. "What?" he demands incredulously. "You have never had jasmine tea?" He shakes his head in disappointment. "What a shame. Here; let me make you some right now."
He busies himself with boiling the water (she thinks she sees flames shooting from his fingertips, but she dismisses the ridiculous notion, because no one can manipulate fire), and once steam is shooting merrily out of the spout, he rummages around in his pack, drawing out a small pouch of sorts. He quickly pours some of the scalding hot water into the cups and takes a small handful of shriveled up black pod-thingies out of his pouch, deftly dividing the small amount into two bunches. He then carefully scatters them into the two cups and hands one of them to her.
She eyes it suspiciously before taking it.
The old man bursts out into hearty laughter. "A cautious one, are you not?" he smiles while sipping out of his cup. "Trust me, I have not done anything to it. But I am sorry that we do not have any time for me to prepare it properly."
She gives him another look before taking a tiny drink. Her eyes widen at its strange yet savory taste, and she gulps down another mouthful.
"Wonderful, isn't it?" the old man asks.
"I...yeah," she responds, looking at the cup clasped in between her hands. "It's...the best tea that I have ever had." She offers him a tiny smile. "Thank you."
"Ah! Don't mention it." The old man winks at her. "I am glad you like it—the secret ingredient, as always, is love, my young friend."
She merely takes another sip from her cup, her eyebrows furrowed together.
"You seem troubled," the man observes quietly. "What is wrong?"
"N-nothing." She quickly drains the rest of the tea to cover her tiny frown, and the old man refills her cup, unbidden.
"You look like my nephew when something is tugging at him," he comments, but doesn't probe.
She looks up, and maybe it's the tea, or maybe it's the presence that this man exudes that she feels like he can be trusted, but she bursts out suddenly, "It's my mother."
The man raises an eyebrow.
"Ever since our father died, she's been pretty much dead to the world! My—my little sister and I, we were basically turning into skin and bones—and she still did nothing!"
"I see." The old man takes another small sip of his tea. "So you are angry at your mother for doing nothing."
She drops her gaze. "Yeah."
"My nephew and niece both lost their mother, my sister-in-law, at a young age," the old man quietly says. "My niece is now something akin to a sadistic, unstable, crazy human being, partly because she was influenced by my brother, her father, but also because her mother never appeared to give her as much love as she did my nephew. He, on the other hand, was detested by his father..." The man pauses. "His father scarred him for life by burning his eye and the surrounding area, and banished him forever from our land unless he brought back a certain...being. As much as I love him, he is now very conflicted and embittered, constantly seeking his father's approval—which, sadly, he will never truly get."
She winces, touching her own eye. "I'm sorry."
The old man waves it off. "My advice to you is, do not blame your mother for her actions," he explains. "She is going through a rough patch in her life, having just lost her husband—and I am sure that she loved him very, very much. Simply sit back and let it pass, which it will do so eventually. You seem like a promising young lady—do not become crazy like my niece, or bereft like my nephew. Accommodate your mother. Help her through this."
She nods thoughtfully. "Thank you for the advice...and the tea."
"It is my pleasure."
He tells her later to keep the cup, and she watches as he continues his way, where the woods soon swallow him up.
She's just finishing the tea off (which really is heavenly) when she remembers she forgot to ask the old man's name.
For the collective works of the author, go here.