disclaimer: I claim no ownership over any of the characters contained within. This story is written for fun, not profit.
notes: Something random; would like to rework for another fic.
edit: Thanks to White-foxx for mentioning a typo (and inspiring me to go check - sure enough, there it was). Thank-you!
It was the weight of the stars that woke her; specks of light thin in the sky, like the air above the mountains. Appa groaned beneath her, one of the nighttime sounds that had taken the place of ice creaking and settling, and Sokka ahead, on the mount, sang softly. She closed her eyes and strained for the chant somewhere in the wind, remembered at the rolling pitch: their mother singing the moon chant.
(Where is the moon? lost with the stars /
where is the moon? wed to the sun /
will she come home? when she is dark)
Katara brushed hair from her eyes and just looked, for a moment: stars brighter than she'd seen even in the darkest months at home, the moon here nearly as full as a woman heavy with child.
Her heart stung.
"Are you afraid?"
His voice was soft and she turned to face him, not knowing if he had spoken, really, but smiling all the same. More than anything she thought he needed smiles. He twitched the fingers of his outstretched hand, looked down at his palm and then back to Katara. A corner of his mouth worked.
"Not really," she said, voice a murmur. She felt heavy, still, with sleep. Katara quirked another smile, one Aang returned for a moment. "Just tired."
"I'm tired, too," Aang said, curving his fingers into a fist. The moon caught the tattoo on his forehead, lighting it a ghostly blue. He fell silent, then looked at her again, eyes bright and intent. "You don't have to lie. It won't hurt me."
She reached her hand out, just brushing her fingertips over his small knuckles. "A little," she said, finally. "I know it's a great adventure, like in the chants. That I'm lucky to go on a journey like this, and to see things we don't even have stories for."
"But you're afraid," Aang echoed, for her. His fingers unfurled and fumbled for hers. Their hands clasped, palms together and her thumb beneath his, dark and peach; warm. "Still. You're afraid."
"What if I never see home again?" she whispered. "I keep thinking."
"You don't have to go home," Aang said, suddenly, fiercely. "We're family."
Her heart stung, again, at the twist to his face: small, lonely, sad. Maybe as much as the thought of never going home, staying like the moon in her mother's chant, a girl who was lost in the heavens and married to the sun.
Aang's face shone stark and young in the moonlight.
"I couldn't," she said. She held his hand, tight, and turned to the stars again.
She felt Aang's grip tense, and loosen as he moved closer, arm folding to his side. "Can I go home with you?" he asked.
Katara moved to face him, pressing her forehead, gently, to his when he looked at her.
"Yes," she said. She smiled.
The corner of Aang's mouth twitched again, and he smiled, too: white teeth and hope.
"Hey!" Sokka's voice carried across Oppa's back, exasperated. "If you don't wanna sleep, you take flying duty."
"Sleeping!" Aang called and immediately rolled away from Katara, flopping onto his stomach and mock-snoring.
Sokka muttered - "yeah, yeah" - faint on the wind.
Katara closed her eyes.
She smiled into the dark. "What?" she asked.
"Thank-you," Aang said.
Sokka was chanting again, the same rolling pitch and a different song, shoulders hunched to the stars.
(Where is the sun? home with the moon /
where is the sun? bright in the sky /
will he come down? he and the moon)