Chapter 4

"I'm going on the ship with Aang. Find Appa and catch up with us in a few hours, you know the words to make him fly. Aang spoke them before at the iceberg. Just believe. Don't forget to pack for the trip. I love you." Katara whispered and with that she pried herself from her brothers caging arms and walked unhurried onto the ship under the young leader's suspicious eyes, subtly encasing Sokka's feet in ice as she went to ensure he wouldn't try to chase after her. Once on the deck she then waterbent the ship into motion, distancing the large metal bulk from the shoreline, very careful not to reveal the strain it put on her to move such weight. After they were safely underway, she swiftly undermined the young warlords authority and sat with an older gentleman playing pai sho, dragging Aang along with her. The man was surprisingly good company, witty, deep thinking and knowledgable about a great many subjects. She was a tad deterred when the scarred young man joined them at the table, choosing to spend his time glaring at a decidedly nervous looking avatar rather then talking to them, but the man who had introduced himself as Iroh, or uncle as he liked to be called, quickly drew her back into the conversation. Soon enough the two were playing a cheerful game of pai sho and telling carefully edited versions of their stories. This was how she discovered the young warlord, who she now knew to be Fire Nation prince Zuko, had been banished by his father and could return only in the case that he brought the avatar with him. Said Fire Nation prince had seemed angry when iroh began to tell the story, however was quickly distracted as Aang made a noise of sympathy and returned to glaring.

Katara in turn was busy telling the story of her father grief and her subsequent descent into semi-madness, which had gathered the immediate attention of everyone on the deck even including the ever angry Zuko and a few soldiers that were managing to pretend to work well enough that they could remain in hearing range. It was as she was explaining the tale of a very lost trader that had ended up in the south pole and ended up exposing her to quite a few things one would not normally find in the South Pole including pai sho and tea, that Katara noticed a familiar black speck approaching from the sky. Aang, who had just been about to cry out, was silenced by a sharp elbow and no one noticed as small streams of water curled over the sides of the ship, slithering over to the feet of those inhabiting the deck. It was just as a large bison shaped shadow fell over the ship and the first soldiers began to cry out, that they all found their lower bodies frozen into a solid block of ice, leaving their hands free to melt themselves from the trap in some time. The bison landed with a resounding thump and Sokka jumped from the saddle onto the deck, running for Katara as Aang ran to meet his bison in an affectionate, though somewhat undersized, embrace. Spinning her around, checking for any sign of injury, completely ignoring Zuko as he made dire threats, Sokka was finally satisfied at her state of health, pulling her into a tight hug before leading her back to the flying beast. He was lecturing her on not worrying him, barely stopping to breathe, when Zuko interrupted.

"Wait! You said you wouldn't leave!" He yelled and Katara could see that he had made a good amount of headway on his block of ice, though not nearly as much as his uncle who was already halfway finished.

"Nooooo..." Katara said, drawing out the word playfully as she settled comfortably in Appa's saddle

"I promised neither of us would leave the ship without your knowledge. Speaking of which, bye Zuko, we're leaving!" Katara was amused to see a vein throbbing on Zuko's forehead but Iroh was almost done and though he didn't look angry, Katara didn't want to be there when he escaped if the rate at which he was melting the ice was any indication of his power.

"Time to go!" She called to Aang who sat at the head of the bison

"YIP YIP!" Aang shouted, cracking the bison's reins and they quickly rose into the sky, leaving behind a ship full of disgruntled Fire Nation soldiers and a furious prince.

After a fair bit of flying the Fire Nation ship was finally out of sight and the trio gave a sigh of relief.

"Well aang if you could drop us off at the South Pole that would be great. I don't know where you're going now but wherever it is I wish you luck." Sokka said and though obviously reluctant to be alone, Aang moved to direct Appa back to the south pole when Katara interrupted, causing him to hesitate

"We're not going back to the South Pole."

"Katara, what are you-" Sokka protested

"Sokka, I am the monster of my village. I was raised to breathe power, enough power to defend them against the fire nation, and now that I do, they fear me, they envy me and they hate me in equal amounts. You had the position of chief thrust upon you when you were too young to truly understand what it meant. These people that do not offer the house of their leader the spoils of their harvest for his protection, that persecute his sister and barely accept their grandmother, once revered village elder that she was, as it is do not deserve you." Sokka seemed about to interrupt but Katara spoke over him

"Perhaps we will return one day, but our future does not lie with the Southern Water Tribe. The tribe will take care of gran gran, however if you still desire to return we will drop you off. I will travel with the avatar to teach him waterbending, regardless of what you decide." For a moment it seemed as if the water tribe chief would throw a screaming fit, but he breathed deeply and gradually managed to calm down before thinking on the issue.

"We will continue on then. Who knows what you would get into if I left you to your own devices." Katara grinned, lunging to hold her brother in a tight embrace, smiling wider as he returned it. Aang was excited also and as the sun set and the moon rose higher in the sky he chattered about airbenders, about waterbenders and warriors, and all the adventures they would have together. It was to the sound of the avatars laughter that both siblings fell asleep that night, wrapped in each others arms.