Because I lack original thought, I so totally ripped off Rashaka and did a companion piece to her fic, Rain, which you can find on this site, (which was based on a piece of fanart by Irrel.)
There were many ways to predict the future. There was palm reading, tea reading, bird entails, studying the cracks in bones, astronomy…the list went on and on. But one must always be careful which of these methods are chosen when reading a person's fortune. Palm reading are vague, but hopeful—the perfect answer for little girls who only wanted to know small things, just enough to incite their curiosity. Who will I marry, Aunt Wu?—was a common question the old Mistress had to answer, and for that she always turned to their palms. For the palm would tell them that the man they married would be tall, or powerful, or have some other odd physical trait that would identify them to a young, hopeful maiden.
The lines of a hand would not tell them that their future lover was a firebender, or that he would die young, or that the marriage would not be happy, or any other sort of misfortune that the future might hold.
When Katara of Water had last been in the old Mistress' shop, she had been a child, a girl, just mature enough for a palm reading, for the lure of simple words—"You will marry a powerful bender" had been enough for the child, with eyes so wide and so eager to fantasize what those words meant.
Now, however, there was no girl, but the beginning of a Lady, which made the old Mistress smile. She gestured for the Lady to sit while she gathered the needed materials—tealeaves, hot water—and listened while she spoke.
"I really shouldn't be here," Katara confessed, kneeling down on a pillow. "We're suppose to be in Bai Sing Sei before nightfall, but I couldn't help myself. I had to stop by and…well, see if anything has changed."
The old Mistress laughed as she poured a small cup of tea for the child, no--woman in front of her. "Drink quickly," she warned, "But try not to drink the tealeaves." The Lady obeyed, and sat her glass down silently, watching as the old Aunt stared into the leaves, decoding what they said.
"What do you see, Aunt Wu?" –But Katara was hushed.
"I see a snake and a mask," The old Mistress answered, noticing Katara's questioning look. "There is an enemy, and there is uncertainty in the hidden." She turned the cup, and began to study it some more. "There is a parasol, and an octopus—there is your lover, but there is danger surrounding him…" She twisted the cup. "There is a fork and a cross and a fan," Aunt Wu rubbed her chin carefully—this was beginning to go deeper than she thought. "You will lie to gain his trust. This is your sacrifice for your journey, your mission…You will lie to get his heart."
Katara was sweating as she peered over, watching Aunt Wu read the tealeaves. The old Mistress turned the cup one last time before listening to what Katara needed to ask.
"I don't understand, Aunt Wu…What does it mean?"
Aunt Wu held Katara's hand gently, looking the Lady in her eyes as she began to explain her destiny to her. "When you arrive at Bai Sing Sei, you will meet a man, a warrior who you will recognize as your enemy." Katara's gaze turned from curious to forbidding. "You will use him, gain his trust…Katara, you must listen to me." The Lady nodded, excitement rushing through her. "You must gain his trust, you have to, by any means necessary. Do you understand?"
Katara began to shake. "Aunt Wu, I don't understand…"
"Then try to, dearest. You must gain your enemy's trust, or your journey will end."
Katara gasped. "Will something happen to Aang?"
Oh, how little the child understood! "All I know is that your journey will end. I cannot tell you someone else's fortune when I'm telling yours." Aunt Wu took a deep breath, and let go of Katara's hands. "You must gain his trust. Once you gain his trust, he will not be able to refuse you."
Katara let out a breath she had been holding. "How do you know this for a fact?"
The old Mistress laughed. "Child, nothing is for a fact. However, I can only tell you what I see…It is up to you to decide whether it comes true or not."
Katara nodded. "I will take your advice, Aunt Wu, and remember what you said. Though I doubt I'll see an enemy in Bai Sing Sei."
"I hope you don't, my dear." The old Mistress sighed as she bid the girl farewell. "I hope I'm wrong."
For in the last turn of the cup laid a fortune left untold—some things were best left a secret, after all.
A circle—love, lust, intimacy…and a child, born out of the intimacy between two former enemies.
A vase—a friend in need of help, and the inability to be of use.
A dog—the most dreaded sign of all, the Grim—the foretelling of death, but the question remained: whose?
Yes, some fortunes were best left untold.
And I so totally win because I can make like three or four of Irrel's fanarts tie together. :)