Things aren't always as they appear, and even the seemingly uneducated can have a thing or two to teach you sometimes. gen/no pairings, spoilers for the Swamp
A Lesson Learned
"The only thing I can't figure out," Sokka began, rubbing his chin carefully. "Is how you made that tornado appear out of nowhere to suck us down."
"I can't do anything like that." Hue told him, sounding vaguely amused. "I just bend the water in the plants."
Katara dropped her possum-chicken, her eyes gone wide with interest. "You mean you can bend the water inside the plants?"
Due laughed at her. "Of course we can, silly! Don't they teach you anything at them here poles?"
Tho took a large chunk out of his possum-chicken, chewing it thoroughly before speaking. "I thought you said you was trained in this sort of thing, and you don't know how to bend water in plants?"
Katara blushed. "No one ever told me I could. I've only bended just the water." She rubbed the back of her head carefully, feeling very embarrassed. "Master Pakku declared me a master…how could I be a master if I didn't know you could bend the water inside of something?"
"Maybe he didn't know." Due laughed. "I wouldn't be surprised."
She turned to him curiously. "Where did you learn to bend if you didn't have a master to teach you?"
"My Ma." Due smiled at the memory. "And she learned from Grammy. And I dunno where Grammy learned it from—I think she just knew it."
Aang crossed his legs, staring at the campfire with newfound interest. "I've never heard of waterbenders outside of the two Poles. How long have you guys been here?"
Hue looked at the Avatar inquisitively. "Well, most of us was born here. I know Due was, and he's the youngest of us. I know my Granddaddy came here a long time ago with his granddaddy, and they've been here ever since."
"I think I remember Aunt Bessy saying she was from a pole, didn't she, Due?" Tho said cheekily.
"Yeah…hey, didn't she say she was from the South Pole, Tho?" The other boy said, throwing another fish to Slim.
Sokka and Katara shared a look. "No way---are you talking about Besthea? As in, our Besthea--Granddad's sister?" Katara asked tentatively.
Tho nodded. "I dunno if she was your Granddad's sister, but our Aunt Bessy's name was Besthea. We always called her Bessy, though."
Sokka nodded. "That sounds about right, only…Granddad said Aunt Besthea ran away because she fell in love with an earthbender. There aren't any earthbenders here, are there?"
" 'Course there is! My sister's an earthbender!"
"My cousin's one!"
"I think my Pa 's one of them mudbenders."
"I'm your Pa, boy, and it's earthbending, not mudbending!"
A roar of different cries from the small swamp village, each with a different mindset about earthbending. It certainly explained the green clothing.
"So, most of you are descendents of waterbenders and earthbenders?" Katara asked, taking her possum-chicken that she had dropped and feeding it to Slim.
Hue nodded. "Yeah, my mother was an earthbender and my father was a waterbender. That's what I was telling you about. The whole worlds connected in some way or another. You just gotta look for it."
Aang smiled. "I've heard of people from different nations marrying, but I've never actually met anyone from it…how cool!" He smiled widely at the people surrounding him when an idea hit him. "I wonder…if there are earth and water children, is it possible that the airbenders didn't die out? I mean, what if they were bred out? Like, what if what's left of the airbenders are out there, they just think they're Fire Nation or—"
"Aang." Sokka scolded. "Chill. I sure what you're saying is plausible, we just don't know for sure yet." Aang let out a breath. What Sokka was saying was true, but it still made Aang wonder.
Katara folded her arms. "I wonder what it's like for more conflicting elements, though? Like for an air woman and earth man, or fire boy and water gir---"
"Don't go there, Katara." Sokka continued to scold. "You aren't allowed. Don't even think it. Not unless you want to give me nightmares for years." Katara glared at him as if she wouldn't mind giving Sokka nightmares, so long as she had her say, but Hue interrupted.
"I'm sure you could. It would be difficult, but I bet it could happen. Remember, we are all connected." Hue patted the ground he was sitting on. "You and I are no different from the Fire Nation or the Earth Kingdom or anything. Remember that."
"Like this?" Katara asked, holding her hand apart in her stance. Due shook his head.
"Nah. You almost got it, though. You just gotta feel the water. Try to pretend the plants not there. That's what my Ma did to teach me."
Pretend the plants not there. It's just the water. She breathed. Okay, you can do this, Katara. She relaxed, spreading her arms apart. She began to push and pull at the plant until it finally swooshed.
"Perfect, cuz! You did great!" Due clapped for her. "I knew you could. Now, show me some of that fancy water stuff you was doing earlier."
"I will in just a second." Katara said, catching her breath. "It's a lot harder to bend the waterplants than it is to just waterbend."
Due shook his head. "At first it is. It ain't once you get use to it."
She nodded. "I wonder what else it could be used for? Like, could you bend a person if you bended their blood?"
"I 'spect you could, but you'd have to be really powerful to do that. Mostly it's used for healing."
"Healing?" Katara raised her eyebrow. "How could it be used for healing?"
Due shrugged. "Like, if a person's bleeding, and you ain't got no water, just bend their blood and use that to heal em. Messier, but at least their alive."
"Fascinating." Katara admitted. She never would have guessed, but these hillbillies were a lot smarter than they let on. They knew waterbending and healing techniques she had never heard of, and she had brushed them off as being simple! How many others had been in this same swamp and met the same people with the same assumptions?
Maybe next time she would be more open-minded about other people she met. Like Hue said, they weren't that much different.
It was one lesson learned.
THIS STORY IS DEDICATED TO THE FOLLOWING:
And anyone else from the South who saw the episode and immediately connected with/was offended by the portrayal of the hillbillies. We are not all so dumb, I should think, and neither are the hillbillies in the show. Admit it, they did some awesome stuff that we didn't see and/or think about all of season one, and we saw both the North and South Pole! Gotta give them credit for something, you know.