Disclaimer: I do not own Avatar or the musical The Music Man by Meredith Willson.

Author's Note: Well, this is the end, as I see it. There are three more songs, but they're really specific to the show and don't lend themselves well to broader interpretation. This goes along with Chapter 10 and Chapter 13, and these are also all consistent with Chapter 1.

The Avatar Returns

Katara is indoors, pulling together food for dinner, when the cry goes up outside: "The Avatar! The Avatar!" Her heart first leaps into her throat, and then returns to her ribcage and begins pounding frantically.

This isn't really unexpected. Aang has been sending her letters ever since he left, but it often takes several months for them to reach her. She got the last one over two months ago, so she assumed he must be on his way back and thought he would be there faster than another letter.

Katara rushes out to join the rest of the village in watching the bison spiral down out of the sky. Momo flies down in advance, wrapping himself around Sokka's head. Sokka tries for a moment to be angry but ends up laughing and just requesting that the lemur allow him to breathe. He puts an arm around his wife, Suki. He, Hakoda, and Katara took a trip to Kyoshi Island about six months ago, where Sokka proposed to Suki. They were married soon after because she wanted to have the wedding at her home. After a brief honeymoon, he persuaded her to come back with them to the South Pole, and once she saw how small their village was and how much they needed strong women to provide for their future, she agreed to stay. Suki is already pregnant and just beginning to show.

Lida Rose, I'm home again, Rose,
To put the sun back in the sky
.
Lida Rose, I'm home again, Rose,
About a thousand kisses shy.

Katara almost doesn't recognize Aang at first. She can see, as he stands on Appa's head and prepares to jump down, that he is no longer wearing his monk clothing, probably having finally outgrown them. Instead, he wears a blue outfit in the Kyoshi style, and she surmises that he stopped at Kyoshi Island shortly before making the journey here. It looks new, and she briefly entertains the notion that he had it made to impress her. He does look good in it, and the color sets off his arrow tattoos nicely.

Aang lands on the snow pack, and even from a distance, she can tell that he is taller and that his chest and shoulders are a little broader and heavier than before. He searches Katara out and finds her, smiling happily to see her again. She smiles back, finally seeing the same boyish grin and sparkling gray eyes she fell in love with. She thinks she is falling all over again.

They approach one another but stop with about three feet left to go. They aren't certain how to greet each other after all this time. Katara can no longer hear any sound, not even the constant wind off the ocean that blows her hair loops across her face. She thinks she can sense Aang asking himself the same question that nags at her: What if he/she doesn't love me anymore? Deciding to end his uncertainty, Katara runs to him, just remembering to make the height adjustment as she presses her mouth to his, taking her first taste of him in more than a year.

Ding, dong, ding, I can hear the chapel bells chime.
Ding, dong, ding – at the least suggestion,
I'll pop the question.

When they pull apart, it is as though all the distance in time and space never happened, and they can pick up where they left off. Aang is taller and older, but he is still the same person. Suddenly, however, they become aware of the people watching them and murmuring at their reunion.

"I brought presents," Aang says, blushing and returning to Appa to retrieve some packages. He greets everyone and distributes various items, especially to the children. There are a few more than there were when he left, but he seems to have planned for this with extra baby gifts. The tribe members take the hint and withdraw a little, only Sokka and Suki hanging back a little to receive Aang's congratulations on both their marriage and the upcoming birth of their first child. Suki gives him a hug. Sokka claps Aang on the shoulder, and the two young men exchange a long, meaningful glance. Finally, Sokka nods curtly, then gives in and hugs him as well.

Once Sokka and Suki have given them a little space, Aang goes back to Appa's saddle and brings two objects down to Katara: a leather-bound book and a small box.

"I made a few stops on the way back," he confesses, opening the book first. "I had some unfinished business with a certain volcano." Katara gasps when Aang withdraws a black-and-white panda lily that he's pressed between the pages. It is dry, of course, but still pretty and reasonably well preserved.

"It's beautiful," she whispers, taking it from him almost reverently. "Thank you."

"I felt bad about missing your last birthday, so I wanted to do something special," he replies. "I actually meant to get you one of these a long time ago, so I'm sorry it's late, on both counts."

Lida Rose, I'm home again, Rose,
Without a sweetheart to my name.
Lida Rose, now everyone knows
That I am hoping you're the same.

"What do you mean?" Katara asks, perplexed. Aang doesn't seem to hear her as he fiddles nervously with the box in his hands. He is uncertain about something, but he finally raises his eyes to meet hers.

"For your next birthday, I was kind of hoping you would give me something," he says softly.

"What?"

"You." Aang drops to one knee in the snow, and Katara finds her mind going blank as she realizes what he is doing. "I know I don't deserve you, and it's probably not fair for me to just show up like this after a year and…but I love you, Katara. I've thought of you every hour of every day that I've been gone, and I know that I don't want to be without you anymore. I want – I need you beside me. Please, will you marry me?"

Aang is looking up at Katara hopefully, and she feels tears springing to her eyes. She has imagined this scene a thousand times and rehearsed half a dozen speeches, but when actually faced with the moment, it has all flown out of her head.

"Oh, Aang," she breathes. "Home for me is wherever you are. I love you, and I'd love to marry you!" There is scattered applause from the villagers, who have apparently been eavesdropping.

Aang stands and hugs and kisses Katara happily. Then, he backs up and opens the box. There is a ring inside, made of some kind of dark, shiny stone. It is exquisite in her eyes, and she understands that he has made it himself. Katara makes a mental note to compliment his earthbending technique later. She picks up the ring and turns it, admiring the way it catches the light.

"It's hematite," he answers her unspoken question. "I chose it because it's tough, but pretty, like you." Katara blushes at the compliment. Aang tries to put the ring on her finger, but his hands are shaking, so Katara grasps one of his hands to steady it and helps him put it on. It is slightly large, so Aang makes some final adjustments to make it fit perfectly. There is an inscription engraved onto the stone that reads "eternal love."

So, here is my love song,
Not fancy or fine,
But Lida Rose, oh won't you be mine?

As they embrace again, Katara tries to stop crying, but she can't. It's not because she's unhappy but because her heart is filled to overflowing, and all that excess emotion has to go somewhere. She holds tightly to Aang, never wanting to let him go again. Two voices float across the icy space behind her.

"Well, Sokka, it looks like I'm about to lose a daughter."

"She was never really ours, Dad." There is a slight pause after this.

"No, I suppose she wasn't."

There are still many things to work out, information to share, and arrangements to be made, but all that can wait. Katara will be a 16-year-old bride, and she couldn't be happier.

--

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: It seemed appropriate to end this collection with a sweet Kataang story. I'm starting to wonder how many ways one can write a proposal. I believe this is my third Kataang one, and it's my favorite so far. I used western traditions here. I thought it would be more effective for those of us who, well, live in the West. Look for my Avatar Goes Broadway collection, which I should be starting to post in a few days, possibly shortly after the next Destiny's Call chapter. Thanks to all those who have followed this!

Review responses:

Justcallmewolfy: Yeah, I wish we'd seen some kind of epiphany from Sokka on-screen, although he did seem pretty clear about the Kataang situation in City of Walls and Secrets.

Snows Of Yester-Year: That's okay; it's a long song. I basically cut out the part where the chorus comes in.

Kimbalynn616: Well, I am updating soon – you haven't even reviewed Chapter 14 yet! Do you like Sokka's wife? I can't recall seeing you say anything against that ship.