Author's Note: I don't know if Katara and Aang will ever end up together, but even as friends they have a wonderful and special relationship. It is ever growing and changing and new challenges are forever being thrown in their way and still they remain devoted to each other. However, this story is the transformation of friends to something more. I have always believed that a truly great romance must have foundation, for passion without that foundation is just empty and in the end, meaningless.
It had been days since the little group had seen a town or any kind of civilization and patience, like the food, was dwindling down to nothing. Katara was staring at the map in front of her, trying to make sense of where they were exactly. They had stopped to rest for a few hours, having found a cool stream and a bit of shade to protect them from the rising temperature. Aang was crouched down next to the stream, trying to catch baby river frogs. Sokka was leaning against a rock, grumpy and hungry, trying to untangle a length of fishing line with the hope that maybe he could catch something more substantial to eat than nuts and half rotted berries. Momo was draped across the teenager's shoulders, occasionally trying to bat at the fishing line. Appa was stretched out in a shady spot, a low hungry growl periodically emitting from the large beast.
"Hey Katara, watch this!"
The girl lifted her head at the sound of the Avatar's voice. The young airbender was forming a ball of air with his hands and instead of balancing on it with his bare feet, he attempted to do a handstand. He ended up in a heap on the ground, pale arms and legs sprawled out in all directions, laughing.
"You're going to break your neck doing that, airhead." Sokka grumbled.
The waterbender shot her brother a look that could've killed. "Leave him alone."
Sokka shrugged and went back to work untangling the fishing line. His sister, forever Aang's protector.
The young Avatar airlifted himself into a standing position and moved over to where Katara was sitting and plopped himself down next to her, his tattooed legs stretched out in front of him.
They sat there in silence, Katara once again studying the map. Out of the corner of her eye, she could see Aang's hands moving.
"What are you doing?"
"Making something." Aang flashed her a dazzling smile and then grabbed a piece of grass and began twisting it with the other ones in his hands,
Katara smiled. 'He's making me another piece of jewelry.'
Ever since he had made her the necklace from fishing line and flowers, at least once a week Aang had presented her with one of his own jewelry creations. Some were far more elaborate than others, each was beautiful and carefully constructed, and all were special because he had made them.
It had become their little ritual, his making and giving her jewelry. A ritual that had become special to her and when it had become special, the waterbender didn't know. All she knew was that each week she looked forward to a new necklace or bracelet to wear. She looked forward to his excitement as he presented it to her, his storm gray eyes sparkling.
Katara looked over at her brother, the water tribe boy still untangling fishing line and grumbling about Aang's ability to weave. She stifled a giggle. At first Sokka had teased the airbender about his jewelry making, but the young warrior soon backed off when he noticed the happiness the simple gifts were bringing to both Aang and Katara. Sokka just chalked it up to yet another thing to add to the pair's already special relationship.
Katara turned her head back to Aang and found the airbender gone. He was no longer by her side, but once again by the stream. The waterbender looked down next to her and instead of a piece of jewelry, the young Avatar had made her a heart.
She picked up Aang's handmade heart, cradling it carefully in her hands, and blushed. The grasses were woven together, delicate and almost lace-like. It was beautiful.
The water tribe girl smiled. In his own way he was telling her what he was feeling, feelings he still was far to shy to speak of. He had given her his heart. Little did the boy know he had given her his heart all the times before when he presented her with one of his creations.
And Aang didn't know, at least not yet, that each time that she accepted and proudly wore his gifts she was giving him her heart as well.
Katara put the map down and clutching Aang's heart in her hands; went over to the stream where he was once again trying to catch river frogs.
Sokka looked up from what he was doing to see his sister kiss Aang's cheek before playfully splashing him with water. The airbender began laughing and the two were soon engaged in a spirited splash fight. The young warrior smiled and shook his head.
Their journey was going to get far more interesting from now on.