Disclaimer: I do not own Avatar: The Last Airbender.
Author's Note: Here it is at last, the epilogue I've had at least partly in mind since beginning this long journey. It is with mixed feelings that I acknowledge the end of the story that has absorbed my thoughts for so many months. Tellemicus Sundance, I really wanted to get this posted before you were deployed. Best of luck to you, and thank you for your service to our country.
Avatar Aang stood on a hill overlooking the waterfall at the Eastern Air Temple. He wasn't paying any attention to the scenery, though. Instead, his attention was focused on the gravestone at his feet.
The inscription simply read "Katara." Since this had been her favorite spot at her adopted home, it had seemed a logical place to lay her to rest. Aang hadn't been able to come up with anything to add to the stone that would really have described who she was, so he'd left the rest of it blank. He'd leave it to their grandchildren to decide to fill it in once he joined her, which he hoped would be soon.
Aang knew that he was lucky to have had so much time with his wife. Avatars typically lived to be about 150, and Katara had been 120 when she died. Over a century was more than most people would expect to share with the love of their lives, but the Avatar wasn't most people. In his mind, eternity wouldn't be enough. Shortly after she had died, Aang had made a journey into the Spirit World to find her, but Roku had turned him back.
"If you find her, you will not wish to leave," the prior Avatar had explained. "Your life's journey is not quite done." So Aang had returned to his body, and his access to the Spirit World had been blocked ever since.
He had continued on as best he could, training his great-grandchildren and going through the motions of life, but it had been ten years since Katara's death. He was now 128 (or 228, depending how you measured such things), and he felt that, having given so much of his early life in service, he might have earned an early rest, too. He'd outlived all of his friends and most of his children, and he was tired.
A low groan sounded beside him, and Aang turned to regard his oldest friend and his one remaining companion from his childhood. Appa was ancient for a bison, doubtless only living so long because he was bonded to the Avatar. His flying days were long over, but he followed Aang wherever he was able.
"Soon, buddy," Aang answered the non-verbal question. "Soon." Momo, of course, had died long since, but Aang had managed to get some help in tracking down a few other surviving lemurs before that happened, so their descendants now flocked the temple, many kept as pets by the young airbenders in residence.
Aang slowly lowered himself to sit beside the grave and thought back over his life with Katara. After their wedding, their link had become stronger than ever, as though their physical union finally completed the bond. Proximity was no longer required for them to sense each other's emotions, which was a great relief to both of them during Aang's absences.
True to some predictions, they had ended up having a lot of children. Sokka had often joked that Katara was "cheating" by having babies two or three at a time. Privately, Aang had always suspected that the spirits had something to do with that, trying to repopulate the airbenders as quickly as possible.
Katara had given Aang a total of 20 children in about as many years: two sets of triplets and seven sets of twins. 15 of them were girls, giving Aang the houseful of femininity he had previously imagined. This was all a lot of work, but fortunately, many people from all over the world were willing to come to help. Even Toph and Haru ended up settling there with their daughter to offer any assistance they could. Having been brought up not knowing if he had any blood relations, Aang always found his noisy, chaotic family a delight. He didn't even mind being tied to one place most of the time. Parenthood itself was more adventure than he might discover elsewhere.
In fact, small groups from the Earth Kingdom had already settled at the Eastern Air Temple by the time the first girls were born. The end of the war meant that a lot of men were coming back from the army, and there simply weren't enough jobs as there were skilled workers. Since Aang and Katara needed everything – from a blacksmith to a midwife – it was a logical place for tradesmen to go with their families. These first-comers were primarily paid in land and food, since Aang and Katara had tended the crops and livestock themselves.
Aang smiled when he thought of how the place had grown. It was very far from the air temple he remembered from his childhood, but he didn't think that was a bad thing. He was now the patriarch of a community numbering in the thousands, nearly a hundred of them his own descendants, spanning several generations. He was particularly proud of the fact that all four nations were represented there, including benders from all of them. Zuko's second son had been among the first of the Fire Nation to settle at the temple. As a non-bender, there was little chance of his succeeding the throne, so nobody minded that he decided to live elsewhere. Since his presence also meant regular visits from Zuko, Song, and their other children, he was a welcome addition from Aang and Katara's perspective as well.
In an odd twist of fate, this son of the Fire Lord fell in love with one of Aang's daughters. It was the first marriage anyone could remember that involved all four nations: a son of Fire and Earth and a daughter of Air and Water. Their union and subsequent children truly represented the new harmony of the world, far better than any agreement by diplomats could ever have arranged.
Sinking further into his memories, Aang recalled that he had nearly missed the birth of his first children. He'd been in Omashu, attending a multi-national conference. He'd been watching Bumi steadily decline since the end of the war, as though the conflict had been keeping the old king going all these years. He had given up the ghost about two years later, when Katara was pregnant with her second set.
Anyway, nobody had bothered to inform Aang that twins usually came early, or he might not have gone to this meeting. He'd returned home to find Katara already well into her labor. He'd charged his way into the bedroom and held her hand through the rest of the process.
Aang would once have said that he couldn't imagine loving anyone more than he loved Katara, but when he saw his twin daughters for the first time, he'd realized how wrong he had been. As he held the eldest one, taking in the shock of black hair and the coffee-and-cream complexion, the affection and sense of responsibility he felt for these small, helpless creatures was overwhelming. Inevitably, he'd asked himself the question of whether he was ready for this, but since it was already happening, he'd plunged himself into fatherhood the way he went into most things in his life – headfirst.
After that incident, Aang had insisted on staying with Katara near the end of her pregnancies, no matter who was asking for his presence, sending someone like Sokka or Toph in his place. Katara had only protested on a few occasions, and he had always given her the same answer.
"I defeated the Fire Lord and saved the world," he would say. "My first responsibility now is to our family. Someone else can handle this."
As though to compensate for the large number of children and the exhaustion that naturally came along with that, Katara's pregnancies were short and bearable and her deliveries relatively easy and uncomplicated. All of their children were healthy and grew up happy. 18 of them were airbenders, only the last two girls sharing their mother's blue eyes and waterbending ability. As though this were a signal to her body, Katara stopped conceiving after that, which allowed her to better focus on training those two.
Of course, Aang had taken charge of the other childrens' training once they were five years old, keeping them out of their mother's hair a lot of the time. His teaching method was a lot more haphazard than the structured levels he'd originally learned from the monks, but it seemed to work, and his students had a lot of fun besides. Katara had often complained exasperatedly that every one of their kids seemed to have inherited Aang's personality and irrepressible spirit. Aang, however, had noted Katara's stubbornness and bull-headedness in a couple of the girls, though he didn't think it politic to mention it. Maturity had taught him some prudence, after all.
The older kids helped out with the younger ones along the way, and their niece, Kira, spent some hours between her waterbending lessons babysitting, all of which made the entire endeavor possible. As the family grew, it became impractical for Aang and Katara to continue farming in between parenting and bending lessons, so they leased out the land, requesting just a percentage of the harvest for their household.
The airbending trait turned out to be an especially strong one, showing up in as large a percentage of succeeding generations as they had in Aang and Katara's children, but many of the old airbending customs had been discarded, for various reasons. Obviously, it was necessary for the children to interact with people of other nations, since they couldn't very well marry each other. There was simply no chance of isolating themselves the way the air nomads had before, but Aang thought this was probably for the best. The new airbenders were not going to be a separate nation but would be completely integrated with all people. This meant that if anyone attacked them, they could possibly be attacking their own relatives. Aang didn't like to think of it that way, but this situation did provide his offspring with a certain amount of protection, and he couldn't help but be grateful for that.
The tattoos, also, were a thing of the past, primarily because Aang was the only person qualified to mark the master airbenders in the traditional way. He hadn't the faintest idea of how to do it, though, and he couldn't bear the idea of putting his own children through that much pain in any case. The kids generally knew when they were ready, and some of them got smaller tattoos done by Earth Kingdom artists as their own, individual marks. Needless to say, most of them also allowed their hair to grow, having multiple cultures to draw from. Katara said she liked that Aang was still unique. Personally, Aang felt that being the Avatar should be plenty unique enough, but he appreciated her input nonetheless. It was a time for new beginnings, and he had accepted that long ago.
Airbender clothing was widely varied as well, some favoring the Water Tribe clothing Katara had worn, others preferring Earth Kingdom styles that were readily available, and still others wearing layered outfits in variants that represented either the Fire Nation fashion or the autumn-colored robes Aang had adopted as he matured.
Although Sokka had joked about it long ago, Aang did go back to making jewelry, almost by accident. When the first two girls had turned twelve, Katara had passed her mother's necklace on to the eldest. Not wanting her twin to feel left out, she and Aang had agreed to give the other girl the replacement necklace Aang had made out of fishing line. Aang had quickly realized, though, that the younger children, especially the girls, might expect some similar sort of gift, so he had set to work making various pieces for them out of whatever materials were handy, presenting them with original creations at their twelfth birthdays.
As the girls had grown up, the Avatar had quickly found that his betrothal bracelets were in high demand among their suitors, and this gave Aang the advantage of having some choice in who would pursue his daughters. Being a romantic, of course, he had asked little except that the couple love each other, so if the girl spoke for the young man in question, he was bound to get a bracelet. A couple of his sons had asked for them as well, when they were ready to settle down, and even some of the immigrants from other nations had picked up the tradition. These bracelets, along with other jewelry he had made, could still be seen on many of the women of the community. Katara had been buried with her betrothal bracelet.
In short, the Avatar who had once been the last airbender had had a long, full life. If one counted the 100 years spent in the iceberg, he had actually far exceeded his expected time on earth. In any case, he was ready to let it go.
That thought reminded him that Katara had refused to let him go, even across the barrier of death. Sokka had said long ago that the bond between an Avatar and his (or her) love couldn't be broken once it had been forged. It appeared that this persisted even when one of them had gone to the Spirit World because Katara continued to appear in Aang's dreams after she died. These differed from the ones they'd shared in life in that the pair was always in a meadow filled with flowers, and Katara always looked 16 again, just the way she had on their wedding day. Of course, Aang occasionally entertained the possibility that it was just that Katara's signature stubbornness allowed her to cross the veil between worlds.
Aang had fallen into a meditative state while considering these things, and his breathing gradually slowed. His consciousness faded into black, and he felt as though he were falling through something, like walking through cobwebs.
When Aang opened his eyes, he found himself back in that field of wildflowers, with Katara standing before him, smiling happily.
"I've been waiting for you," she whispered. Again, she looked 16, and Aang was aware that he felt younger, too, but exactly how much younger hardly seemed to matter.
"I've been waiting to join you," he responded, looking around. This was different. It didn't feel like their dreams, as real as those could be at times. Aside from his youth, he felt like a gigantic weight had been lifted off from him, a burden he had carried for most, if not all, of his life. Suddenly, it hit him – he wasn't the Avatar anymore! He had passed over into the Spirit World, and the Avatar Spirit had been born into a new incarnation.
Aang looked to Katara to make sure he was right, hardly daring to hope that it might be true. She nodded enthusiastically, her blue eyes sparkling with delight.
"Yes, you get to stay with me, now," she confirmed, and he swept her into his arms and kissed her in a way that he hadn't been able to for far too long. She laughed and took him by the hand, leading him further into their new home. Aang laughed, too, knowing that he was free to spend the rest of eternity as just Aang. There were no cares and no worries, just love and peace. Finally, Avatar Aang was wholly content.
The midwife climbed the hill, holding a snugly-wrapped newborn infant in her arms. It had become the tradition to present each of the Avatar's descendants to him, and she knew that he would be at his late wife's grave on this, the anniversary of her death.
When the woman reached the spot, though, she had to stifle a cry. Avatar Aang was lying prone before the gravestone, his faithful bison collapsed nearby. Cradling the baby in one arm, she knelt and ascertained that the old man was dead. Stunned, the midwife didn't really know what to do. At some level, she knew that she should go and spread the news so that the family could begin making funeral arrangements, but she didn't feel quite ready to move yet.
A movement from the bundle she carried distracted her. The little girl's blue eyes were open, and a tiny fist extended out of the blanket. As the midwife watched, transfixed, the baby's hand touched the dead Avatar's head. At the contact, the blue arrow on Aang's head seemed to light from within, and the girl's eyes glowed to match. The poor woman was so surprised that she just caught herself from dropping the baby.
The moment was over as quickly as it had begun, leaving the midwife to wonder just what she had witnessed. After giving herself a few moments to collect her wits, she looked down to find that the infant had fallen asleep again. Shakily, she got to her feet and went back down the hill, her mind racing.
Was it possible that she was holding the next Avatar, that it had stayed in the family? Holding the baby close, she resolved to pay attention as the child grew; this could be a story for her grandchildren someday.
Sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper, et in saecula saeculorum.
(As it was in the beginning, so it is now and shall be forever and ever.)
Member of the Boomeraang Squad: charleegirl, Jesus.Lives, Liselle129, Strix Moonwing, Avatarwolf, MormonMaiden, libowiekitty, Snows of Yester-Year, La Vixen de Amor, chocolatecoveredbananacheese, Aangy, and honorary member SnakeEyes16
Author's Note: So the cycle continues. I wanted to close it out with Aang's death but show it as a positive thing overall. The idea of Katara delivering multiple births came from The Mallorean by David Eddings. There is a character there who was also the last of her race, and it's mentioned that her god was responsible for her having babies in twos and threes.
I want to thank all of my readers, both those who have been with me since the beginning and those who have just joined recently. It was knowing how anxiously you awaited the next chapter that really kept me plugging away at this. Though I am not intending to do a sequel, I may write some oneshots to fill in the blanks between the last chapter and the epilogue. I already have in mind an M-rated story of Aang and Katara's wedding night. Because of the rating, that one will stand alone, but I might do a collection of some others. Incidentally, for those of you who've read My Cup Runneth Over, that was written with this epilogue in mind.
Billeh: I'm not sure I have another story this long in me! I will probably take at least a short break before tackling another idea like this one.
Tellemicus Sundance: You weren't too far off with what this chapter was going to contain! I can hardly believe I'm making a grown man cry by ending this story. Thank you for reading.
Kimba616: I'm sure I'll find plenty of inspiration in Season 3 (less than 1 month away now!). I might even start a new, random oneshot collection. At the very least, it should provide me with more fodder for Avatar Goes Broadway ideas.
chocolatecoveredbananacheese: Everything has to end some time. I may miss writing it, too, but I'll probably find other projects to fill the void.
Vanille Strawberry: Aw, thanks.
joehalo15: I'm very glad that you found my story shortly after joining the site. Thanks for devoting your time to reading!
Aangs fangirl1214: If you include this epilogue and Avatar in Training, it's a total of 60 chapters. That is a lot of writing. I've seen a couple of other people mention Haru and Toph, but I think I originated it in this story. It was all due to a rumor that has yet to be substantiated.
Justcallmewolfy: Well, um….Okay, they did die, but just to provide closure. They had long, happy lives, so I hope it didn't bother you.
Sunkissed Guacamole: If you had asked me a year ago, I wouldn't have thought I could complete a 45-chapter story, either. I just kept at it, one chapter at a time, until it was done.
MC Defenseless: I agree. Both Aang and Katara are sentimentalists, so the expense of gifts would be less important than the meaning behind them.
Chocolatecoveredespressobean: Well, thank you. I'm not sure I'll ever top this one, but I do plan to keep writing!
skittlesandcombos: I was kind of surprised that you said the last chapter was your favorite because it was sort of just wrapping up. The Cave of Two Lovers just felt right.
TTAvatarfan: Still some cute, fluffy stuff here, though there was more somber content as well.
redskin122004: I know I didn't spend too much time on Kataang kids, but you at least got an idea of them. I suppose the fourth season would be Air, and I haven't heard an official line on what it could contain.
DuHSPaZZiNGFeL: Amazingly, yes, I've finished it! I'm so glad you think this is one of the best stories you've read.
AirGirl Phantom: I wanted to completely close things out, showing the future of the airbenders and going into the lifetime of the next Avatar.