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Words of Avatar Kuruk:
Happiness flows through us in an unending stream.
It twists and turns, filling every fiber, every corner of our bodies.
In this moment, all doubt is swept down the river, all fear crushed and scattered to the winds.
Cheers erupt around us in a wild chorus, and for an instant, hesitation strikes.
We gaze into each other's eyes and our surroundings seem to melt away.
Hesitation is replaced by Love incarnate, eternal, everlasting.
In this moment, we are the only two in this world.
A world of love, truth, happiness, and trust.
A world of true perfection.
Ba Sing Se, inside Team Avatar's home...
Katara's nerves were twisted into knots. Her heart was fluttering and pounding like a caged bird.
It was the morning of the wedding day, and she was already about to pass out. She paced around the living room anxiously, chewing her bottom lip and twisting a strand of her hair.
Toph sat on the couch, looking rather amused. Stretching, she said, "Relax, Sugar Queen. It's not like it's your wedding day or anything."
Katara shot Toph a fierce glare. "Toph, this is a serious thing." She wiped her clammy hands off on her shirt. "I'm just nervous."
Toph yawned. "I would help you out, but I've never been married, so it looks like you're on your own on this subject."
Katara was about to retort when she was suddenly swept into the air from behind. She gave out a small squeak, her heart rate spiking. She placed a hand over her chest as Aang's infectious laughter chimed in her ears. She landed with a gentle thud, and Aang whirled her around to face him. She smiled, swaying slightly.
"You're very pale," Aang commented cheerfully, "are you all right?"
"Oh, yeah, my heart is only trying to escape my ribcage, but I'm fine." Reaching up, she swept his hair to the side. "How are you this morning?"
Aang looked as though he could run the length of the Outer Wall, so full of bounding energy. "This is only the most exciting day of my life!" He laughed. "I'm absolutely WONDERFUL!" Taking both of her hands, he kissed her.
Katara gazed at him as they pulled apart. "Aren't you nervous?"
Aang didn't answer. He took her hand and placed it over his heart, and she felt it beating insanely, thudding against her palm erratically with uneven, heavy pangs.
Sighing, Katara spread her fingers, extending further, feeling his heartbeats reverberate through her palm and out through her fingertips. "Stay still." She murmured, and placed her ear on his chest. Closing her eyes, leaned into him, listening to the staccato thumps that seemed to speak of life.
Aang slipped an arm around her waist, pulling her closer. They stood together, relaxing until Aang's pulse completely calmed down.
"As soon as you say something about tonight," he whispered, "it'll start again. Try it."
Katara thought for a moment, thinking of a question. "Did you order enough food for tonight?" she asked.
Sure enough, his heartbeat leapt forward like a wild ostrich-horse.
Toph sneezed in the other room. "More importantly," she yelled, "please tell me there is going to be meat!"
Katara laughed. "Toph, Aang is probably the only vegetarian that is going to be attending." She patted his chest affectionately. "Plus, you forget that Sokka will be there. Meat will definitely be a factor, otherwise he wouldn't show up."
Aang grinned. "Speaking of Sokka, I need to wake him up. We're going to pick up some people.
Katara glanced up at him. "Who?"
Aang covered her mouth playfully. "You'll see. Probably not 'till tonight, though. Your dressers are going to be here in about an hour to take you."
"To get ready." He added, tapping her nose. "But first, I'm going to take you out for a very nice breakfast. Hurry, grab some shoes."
"Aang, I'm a mess!"
"No," he disagreed, brushing the back of his hand across her forehead. "You look absolutely beautiful, and I mean it."
"He's being truthful!" came Toph's voice as she returned to the room. "Go on, Sugar Queen."
"Plus," Aang added thoughtfully, "this will be our last date as a 'together' couple. After tonight, we will be dating as a 'married' couple."
Katara cracked a smile, shaking her head. "All right...I'll be back in a minute." Turning, she whisked away down the hall. Aang watched her go with a loving expression on his face.
"So, Twinkletoes," Toph said, "how's it goin'?"
Aang slowly let himself turn toward Toph, reluctantly pushing Katara from his mind for a moment. "It's going excellent." He answered, running his fingers through his dark hair. He stretched his hands over his head, grunting. "It all happened so fast..." he chuckled, "seems like just yesterday we were trapped in the Cave of Two Lovers together."
A confused expression dawned on Toph's face. "And when was that?"
Aang sat down in the armchair. "Actually, it was right before we met you." He laughed. "We really could have used you in that cave."
"Because it wasn't really a cave...it was a labyrinth, a huge maze. We were confused and trapped, stuck with some singing nomads and a terrified Appa. You can imagine."
At that moment, Katara returned, hastily yanking her hair back into a long ponytail. "All right," she called, "I'm ready."
Aang jumped up, brushing himself off. "Sweet, let's go!"
She nodded, smiling at his bubbling enthusiasm. She took his hand when he offered it to her and he pulled her to his side and began walking toward the door. "Don't' blow a hole in the wall, Toph." Katara said jokingly.
"I'll try to contain the urge." Toph answered, blowing a strand of hair from her face.
Aang laughed. Arm in arm, they walked out the door.
It was a very beautiful morning. Together, they walked through a gorgeous garden filled with multicolored butterflies that fluttered through the flowers majestically. Aang had bent down to pick a Panda Lily, which he wound through Katara's hair and rested against her ear.
Afterward, they walked to The Food Palace, where Shen had prepared a fantastic breakfast for the both of them. Trays of bon-bons, bowls of steaming soup and rice, platters of eggs, and many more delicacies were placed before them, and soon their stomachs were bulging.
When Aang had finally convinced a reluctant Shen to take payment, he and Katara strode out the door with a cheerful goodbye.
As they rounded the corner to the house, they noticed Sokka waiting outside, looking disgruntled. "We've gotta go!" he yelled to Aang. "I'm going to saddle Appa. Hurry and fix your hair or something!" he hustled off to the giant barn.
Aang turned to Katara. "Your dressers should be here any minute." He murmured. A gentle, caring expression glowed in his gray eyes. "I'm not going to see you again until tonight."
Katara jumped forward, throwing her arms around his neck. "I know." She turned her head into the curve of his neck. "Can you believe it's here?"
Aang rubbed her back soothingly.
They held each other for a moment, letting the fact that they were finally getting married settle in on their minds.
"Katara?" Aang asked after a moment.
"I was just wondering...I have a pretty good idea why, but...why did you always brush me off?"
Katara frowned. "What do you mean?"
"I mean...like when I kissed you right before the invasion. You got the weirdest look on your face. Or when I kissed you at the Ember Island play...you got really mad then. After the invasion, I really DID think that we would be together. But, we just went on like it had never happened. There were a lot of times that were similar to that, like the Cave of Two Lovers and when we danced at my secret party. I know that you said it was because we were in the middle of a war, but I can't help but feel like there was more to it."
Katara hesitated, taking in his complicated question. She thought about it for a few seconds, mulling over the possible answers. "I think..." she said slowly, "I think that I was afraid."
Confusion crossed Aang's face. "Of what?"
Katara blushed a deep red. "Being a distraction." The warm feeling of the flush rushed across her cheeks. "Of course, there were many times when I couldn't deny feeling something towards you, but I always managed to excuse it for 'brotherly love.' I was nervous. There were also a few times when I felt like I had encouraged you too much...The Cave of Two Lovers was one of them. So, I had to cut if off with acting like I didn't have feelings. I got so good at it that it became second nature to just brush you off. You took me completely by surprise before the invasion. It took me forever to decide what I felt." She paused, rolling the last sentence over in her mind. "But...I think I was mostly afraid of being in love...especially with my best friend."
Suddenly, Katara was cut off by a yell from Sokka. "LOVERBOY! We gotta go!"
Aang frowned, pulling away from Katara. "Coming!" he called back. Facing her once more, he said, "Sorry...I've really got to head out." He took her face between his hands, pressing his forehead against hers. "Being in love with your best friend isn't that bad, is it?"
Katara smiled, laughing quietly. "No...not at all. You are still my best friend."
"And you are mine." Aang whispered, kissing her forehead. He traced his fingertips across her cheeks as he pulled away.
Katara watched him go longingly as he jumped onto Appa's head. She heard him say "Yip, yip!" and Appa bellowed as he took off into the blue sky. She sighed, turning to walk back to the house. She had just made it to the front door when she heard Appa roar again. Facing the sky, her jaw dropped when she saw an immense message written in the clouds.
It read: Baby, you're my forever girl.
Katara smiled softly. "I love you too, Aang.
Ba Sing Se, Earth Kingdom palace, royal dresser's quarters...
Aang jumped sharply, letting out a small yelp. "Ow!" he gasped, massaging his shoulder. He had been stuck by an unwary seamstress, who bowed apologetically.
"So sorry." She muttered hastily. Pulling back the needle, she cut the long thread. Grunting, she then stood up, stepping back to admire her handiwork. She circled Aang, tweaking a cloth here and there. Finally, she clapped her hands together, smiling enthusiastically. "My finest work!" she declared.
He stood up slowly and admired her work in the mirror. The deep yellow, almost golden robes were interlaced with strands of curling red embroidery, which flowed up from the sleeves and met at the collar, then down to a red cloth belt that was tied around his waist, with the excess hanging at his side.
He stared deeper into the mirror and he could see the sun setting in the distance, setting the sky ablaze with brilliant hues of pink, purple, and orange. He heard the rest of his friends inside the Jasmine Dragon behind him, talking and laughing with enthusiasm. He felt footseps approaching. A gentle breeze flowed past him as he turned and smiled, staring into Katara's sapphire eyes. She stood beside him with a loving grin on her face and her cheeks flushed red.
He looked down and smiled to himself at how similar his robes appeared now. The only thing missing was his Air Nomad necklace, which he now placed over his head and lowered to his chest.
"You look very handsome, Avatar. Master Katara is a lucky girl." She leaned forward to pull a stray thread from his collar. "You are nervous, no?"
Aang inhaled deeply, running his fingers through his hair. Laughing, he held out his hand, which was quivering like a leaf. Clenching it into a fist, he answered, "Probably more nervous than I've been in my entire life!"
The seamstress, who was a kind old woman, sat down with a huff. She picked up the measuring tape and began winding it up in an expert fashion. "Avatar," she rumbled, "she is probably ten times more nervous than you. Just act natural, like you're enjoying a nice walk together. You'll be fine."
Aang forced his teeth to quit chattering. "I know we will."
The Happiest Moment of Our Lives.
Katara took a deep, long breath, drawing it in slowly. She tried to expel her nausea as she exhaled, clenching her jaw. Every single part of her was ready to collapse. Her hands were shaking, her legs were wobbling, and she just couldn't seem to focus on anything. She fumbled everything she tried to pick up, she stuttered when she spoke, and she had nearly fallen on her face three times. She felt like a poorly built house, ready to keel over at any moment.
"Master Katara?" Came a voice from behind her.
Katara turned her head slowly, facing her dresser. He was a tall man, balding and gray.
"What...what is it?" she said faintly.
"It is done, my dear." He said happily. "Would you like to see the dress? You have to hurry; the procession begins in ten minutes."
Katara's stomach rolled over. "Ten minutes?" she choked. Shaking her head vigorously, careful not to disrupt her curled hair, she tried to clear her mind. "Yes..." she replied."I want to see the dress." Stepping down from the stool, she carefully balanced herself in the shoes she was wearing. Walking smoothly, she stepped to the oblong mirror that dominated the wall in front of her.
It was absolutely beautiful.
The light green sleeves draped over her arms in careful folds, creating an astounding image of movement and grace. At the end, they were hemmed with the softest material Katara had ever felt, and small Water Tribe insignias decorated the tips with unchallenged beauty.
At her neck, the engagement necklace that Aang had made gleamed fantastically in the overhead lantern, flashing the Air Nomad/Water Tribe pendant. It was followed by a silk collar that was about two inches below the leather strap of her necklace. The collar flowed flawlessly into the dress.
Gorgeous patterns were embroidered into the blue silk belt that circled her waist. Flowing from the belt, the bottom half of her dress was a slightly darker green, and was laced through with light green embroidery.
All in all, the dress itself was a wonderful sight. Katara stood in awe at the mirror, turning this way and that, momentarily lost. She blinked and her vision shifted for a moment.
She saw Aang standing before the sunset, and felt herself slowly walking towards him. Her hair and dress fluttered slightly in the evening breeze. She stopped beside him and he turned to face her, his gray eyes filled with loving adoration and a gentle smile playing about his lips.
"It's...wow...I can't even..." she covered her mouth, smiling slightly. She twirled around like a small girl. Stopping, she turned to her dresser and bowed low. "Thank you, thank you!" she whispered. "It's perfect."
The dresser waved his hand modestly. "Master Katara, it was an honor to make this for you." He bowed to her, and then glanced outside the door. "And now, it will be my honor to escort you to your father." Standing, he offered her his arm.
Katara immediately turned to jell-o again. Shaking uncontrollably, she took his arm and walked with him, almost tripping a few times. She jittered and shook, trying to get herself under control.
After what seemed like a lifetime, she saw her father and almost fell into his arms. "Dad!" she gasped. "I'm going to kill myself, I'm so nervous!"
Hakoda laughed, thanking Katara's dresser. "Katara," he said, standing her up straight, "don't be."
"How did you feel when you married mom?" Katara demanded.
"A bit scared." admitted Hakoda.
"Well," Katara said, "imagine that a thousand times stronger. That's how nervous I am." She rubbed her eyes, wary of the makeup that decorated her eyelids.
Her father smiled affectionately. "Katara...you love Aang, right?"
Katara nodded instantly.
"And you want to be with him, right?"
"Then don't worry." Hakoda murmured. "You will be fine. All you have to do is say a few words and bow."
At that moment, a man cracked the door open and popped his head in. "Chief Hakoda!" he murmured. "It's time to get her out there."
Hakoda nodded. "All right, Bato." Grasping Katara, he said, "I know you can do this. You helped him save the world. This should be minor compared to that."
Katara sighed, trying to calm down, which was nearly impossible since she was about to hyperventilate. "All right," she gasped, "I can do this." Straightening up, she regained some posture.
"I have to go, Katara." Hakoda whispered. "Go on, get out there! You'll be fine." He choked up, hugging his daughter. "Your mother is here, too." He muttered. "Make her proud. I'm sure you already have." With that, Hakoda turned from Katara and left.
Katara watched him go, panic rising in her chest. She grasped her hands together, forcing the panic to back off.
"For Aang." She whispered. "Come on, Katara...you'll get to be with him forever. You can do this...do it for you...do it for Aang..." Steeling herself, she walked with strength to the door and waited for it to be opened. Carefully, she lowered the flower wreath onto her head and tucked the Panda Lily Aang had picked for her into her hair.
The doors opened.
Katara exhaled fiercely.
"For us." She murmured, and strode out into the glow of the courtyard.
A loud rustle rippled throughout the entire courtyard as the massive body of people turned to watch her. Dead silence dropped like a blanket, filled with silent awe and amazement.
Katara almost lost it again, freezing at the beginning of the walkway. Her eyes flickered everywhere like a cornered animal. She was about to back away when she saw him.
Her heart and conscious melted on the spot. He was standing at the end of the aisle, straight and true. He was gazing at her, an expression fiercely passionate and loving dominating his face. His hair swept to the side, not covering the arrow that was so carefully placed there in honor of his mastery. His gray eyes gleamed and sparkled, so gently touched with the wisdom of his years. His lips twitched up into a small smile, and he stared adoringly into Katara's eyes. His confidence, trust, and love that he so felt for her was written all over his face.
She watched as his mouth opened slightly and she saw him mouth the words: I love you.
Immediately, strength filled her every limb, and Katara strode forward with confidence and compassion, eager to reach Aang and his never-ending love. She felt the eyes staring her down, the crowd breathing in on her every move, but she ignored it. All she could see was HIS face.
It seemed like an eternity, but before she knew it, Katara was climbing the stairs to the boy she had been through everything with, the boy she had been destined to love since she caught him when he fell, and the boy that was now a man.
As his hand extended into her line of vision, she took it, not a second of hesitation misleading her movement. Their fingers interlaced, and it felt perfect. His hands cradled hers with the gentleness of a newborn child.
He helped her ascend the stairs, which they stepped up together. Side-by-side, they were unbreakable. As they reached the top and turned toward each other, he kept hold of her, caressing her fingers with his thumbs and staring into the expanding blue that was Katara's eyes.
The crowd seemed to be holding its breath, beholding this historic spectacle.
Katara barely heard a word that the man marrying them said. It was all mush, but she didn't care. She followed the movement of his lips as Aang replied "Yes" to questions, followed the grace of his arm as he rose his hand.
Then, it was her turn. The words of the man barely registered in her mind, but she still answered the questions, and raised her hand when it was her turn.
Together, Katara and Aang performed a ceremonial bow, bending low to each other, showing their willingness to stay with each other, to always love each other, and to stay by each other's sides.
Then, the man smiled widely, and pronounced them married.
"In this moment, we are the only two in this world."
Immediately, Aang pulled Katara into his arms, pressing his lips against hers eagerly.
"A world of love, truth, happiness, and trust."
She kissed him in return, equally passionate, wrapping her arms around his neck tightly, not willing to let go. They delved into the moment that would live in their memories and hearts forever, letting the chaos of cheers rain around them as they sat in their own little circle of absolute joy, celebrating the binding of their lives.
"A world of true perfection."
As they broke apart, they still smiled at each other, foreheads pressed together, not speaking.
Aang's lips moved to Katara's ear, and she heard him whisper, "Dance with me". She nodded, grinning even wider.
He swept her into the middle of the courtyard, and the crowd cleared away immediately. They began to step, rotating around and around in a beautiful, majestic routine that had never been practiced. They made it up as they went, ignoring the bulging swell of people that wanted to speak to them so badly.
Powerful music rose in the courtyard as the orchestra began to play a mix of traditional Fire Nation and Earth Kingdom pieces, nearly identical to the song that played during their first dance.
Aang twirled Katara around, pulling her so that her back was to his chest. He wound his arms around her waist and took her hands, stepping slowly and lightly. Katara leaned into his embrace, trusting him. The burning passion, love, and celebration that decorated their dance could not have been clearer.
The group slowly went silent, gazing at the dancing couple. It seemed flawless, not a step out of line, not a movement gone wrong. It flowed as gracefully as water, as light and pure as air.
Aang closed his eyes, pressing his lips to Katara's hair. "Forever." He murmured to her.
She grasped his hands tighter, lightly tracing the arrows that decorated the back of his wrists.
"Forever." She agreed.
As always, be sure to check out the rest of the series, more chapters coming soon!
For the collective works of the author, go here.