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29th January, 2014
Toph isn't quite sure where she is. It's a garden of some kind (or so her nose tells her), and there's a small pond to her left, but other than that, there's no way to identify it. Her naked feet dig blissfully into the dirt, slightly damp from the hour. There is a slight chill in the air, and she can feel the dew beginning to settle on her skin. Her dress is likely ruined, the precious silks destroyed by the mix of cool weather and earthbending.
She does not know it, but the owner of the little garden was dreaming about such an occurrence happening. He will still be surprised in the morning, and probably quite upset. It doesn't matter; Toph will be long gone by then.
But for now, she is content to remain where she is. Her knees are tucked up underneath her chin, hands locked between them and her chest. She wonders, with a head less foggy, less clouded with sadness and–dare she say it–shame at her earlier expectations, what it is about her that garnered such a reaction from them.
Toph knows she is not the prettiest. She knows, in the same way she knows that Zuko is sexy, Sokka handsome, and Aang... she prefers not to think about Aang for the time being. She knows, because she can sense it. The way the boys fawn over Katara, or the girls that sidle up to the male members of their little group.
Toph knows she isn't the most feminine. She has given up the habit of cleaning her toes in public, or picking her nose. Eventually, it became... embarrassing. She could tell her friends disapproved of the behaviour, and while that on its own would not usually be enough to sway her, it made her wonder; it made her embarrassed enough to stop.
She laughs each month as Katara complains of cramps and blood, but each month she also dies a little inside as she wonders when it will happen to her. She remembers when the waterbender's moon cycle first began; they held a celebration for it, after all. She remembered the cold trip to the South Pole, and the warm reception. Hakoda was just as gruff but kind as during the war. The Water Tribe siblings spent an afternoon talking with old friends; Zuko spent it apologising profusely. It left Toph with Aang and Kanna (or Gran-Gran, as she told them–rather firmly–to call her), preparing for the small party. Sokka was proud, Zuko was uncomfortable (although that was nothing new). Aang was just as open about it as Katara, no trace of awkwardness. Toph inquired (rather subtly, in her opinion) about it all. It seemed like such a big deal, and she didn't want yet another thing to separate her from true womanhood.
"Well, we hold celebrations in the temples, too," he told her nasally (his nose was being held shut as he stirred the sea prune stew). "Because Katara can have children of her own now. Only girls can do it. I suppose they celebrate it here because it ensures the continuation of the Tribe, but in the Air Temples it was because it is the circle of life," he explained. "We held celebrations every eclipse, because it was the meeting of the sun and the moon. I think they did it for each and every girl in the other temples, but we were only boys, so..." he trailed off here, and Toph didn't ask any more questions.
She wonders when she'll have her own celebration. The events of the night introduce a new question; will it be worth it?
Toph can feel, through the delicate material of her dress, the visible evidence that she is becoming a young woman. The soft mounds of flesh that ache at inappropriate times and tighten the her shirts the barest hint should be more than enough to prove to people that she is a girl, and yet they're just another aspect that is taken for granted. Her hands, trapped against the soft flesh, move of their own accord, gently touching. Her mind brings up long-forgotten memories; her mother, explaining the practical use of a breast to a newborn. Suki's titters as she talks about the unbelievable pleasure brought to her by Sokka's hands, his lips, his breath ghosting across the sensitive flesh.
Toph shudders at the very thought of it, although she can't yet identify the reason. Perhaps it has something to do with the way her own chest has begun to tingle. Her head resting on her knees, Toph's mind slowly empties. Her breathing becomes light and soft, and suddenly she pulls her hands away with a gasp.
It is not the realisation of what she is feeling that breaks the spell, nor the vibrations of any person near. Toph pulls away because, for the barest, briefest second, the thought of Aang crossed her mind, replacing her hands with his and continuing the sensations.
These thoughts are not new, although they are unwanted. She wonders why she has them, and whether it is natural. Katara has never complained of it happening to her, although Toph hears sometimes, in the deep hours of the night, Katara's own dreams as the girl mumbles and moans in her sleep. It doesn't help that she knows Zuko has similar dreams; when Katara is in the room, it is all the firebender can see.
Toph stands from the garden, and begins making her way back to the house with a heavy heart. What of Aang?
She may be blind, but she can see him. Does he see her?
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