Disclaimer: Avatar the Last Airbender does not belong to the Spleef, it belongs to Ryan DiMartino and Bryan Koneitzko.
I don't know if this constitutes a crack pairing or not. X3
The woman in the marketplace reminded Hakoda of his wife. She was pale of skin, unlike his own spouse's dark skin. But there was a gentleness around her eyes that mirrored his wife's.
Despite the milder weather that they were sailing in, Hakoda of the Water Tribe could not help but miss his home. He missed the familiarity of the tundra and the village, but what he missed most was his children. They were always in his thoughts, and he prayed to the spirits every day for their safety. And he also prayed for his dead wife. He was adrift, seemingly stuck in limbo. Even going off to war, it felt almost unreal.
The pale-skinned woman was dressed in simple green garb, yet she exuded a regal air. She had a cup of tea in front of her, and she was seated at one of several tables in front of a small tea stall. But she did not touch her tea, and she looked very melancholy. He could not help but be stirred at this. Why would she be so sad? Had she lost a husband, or a child in the war that had taken his wife? He was a compassionate man.
"Is there something that I can do to make you smile?" Ursa of the Fire Nation heard someone ask, and she looked up to see a tall and broad-shouldered Water Tribe man gazing down at her.
During her travels, men had approached her, their intents clear. She knew that she was attractive, but it galled her that men could be so… un-chivalrous. Courtly mandates stated the proper behavior between the sexes, and the appropriate situations under which certain behaviors were to occur.
But this man did not have that intent in his eyes. He seemed warm and kind, very much like her own son, who she missed dearly.
"Thank you… but there is nothing that will make me happy. I miss my son." she sighed. He gave her a small but compassionate smile.
"I miss my children."
"You look like you have been traveling for a long time. Would you like me to buy you some tea?" she offered.
"It would be very improper for me to ask you to pay for me. But I will be glad to take a seat. My men just landed today, and we are glad to rest and get supplies."
"Where do you come from?"
"The South Pole. We left out village to fight in the war." he stated. This filled her with sadness.
"You lost your children in the war?" she asked. He shook his head.
"My wife was killed in a Fire Nation raid. My children survived, and I had to leave them behind in our village." Hakoda stated, clearly saddened about this.
"It's not easy leaving a child behind." she stated, thinking about her own children, especially her son.
"I see that the war has affected you. If I may ask, what of your husband?" he asked. She sighed and looked down. Her spouse was not dead, but to her, he was. He did not truly care about her, and to him, she was merely a pawn, something for him to use as she saw fit. He was consumed by greed and ambition, as hungry as his father and grandfather for power.
"The War took him away." she replied softly. It was the truth, in a manner of speaking. And the same went for her daughter. She had tried to nurture Azula and show her what was right and what was wrong, but the girl was too much her father's daughter.
"And your son?" he asked gently. He was so different from Ozai. His eyes radiated genuine concern, and respect. Her husband was lacking in both. He might affect either whenever it suited him, but she knew better than to be fooled by his skilled façade.
"I had to leave him behind… I pray for him every day."
"I pray for my children every day. I shall add your son to my prayers." Hakoda offered kindly. This brought a small smile to her face.
'Then I shall pray for your children as well."
"If I might ask, where are you headed? It is not safe for a woman to be traveling alone, and I would be saddened to know that something had befallen a kind woman as you." he said, and she was moved by the genuineness in his tone. Why couldn't there be more men like the one before her?
Ursa was of royalty, her father a distant relative of Fire Lord Azulon. She raised and groomed as such, with the highest standards that could be expected from one of her pedigree. When she was of courting age, she was highly sought after, but all she was prized for was her beauty and her status. But this Water Tribe man did not see that. She was not sure what he saw in her, but she had never seen such kindness or concern from any man in the Fire Nation, with the exception of Iroh. She could not help but smile at the man before her.
"… To be frank, I do not know. I have no destination. I left my home without any real planning and... now I do not think that I can ever go back."
Hakoda nodded gently. He would not press the matter, for she had already revealed quite enough for a stranger. He did not even know her name, but she seemed so sad and lonely.
"I do hope that you can go back to your home one day. I am sure that your son loves and misses you." Hakoda offered kindly. He knew that his own children missed him, and he longed to return home. The way she looked at him when he said that reminded him of how his wife would look at him, with kindness and gratitude when he did something especially nice for her, like helping her with her chores after his own when she was especially tired.
His mother had raised him with a deep respect for the opposite sex, and had emphasized to him that men were not better than women. A marriage was supposed to be a partnership, and nothing else. His marriage with his wife had been as such, and it had been such a wonderful union. He had not thought of being with another woman after her death.
"Where are you headed?" Hakoda asked.
"I don't have a specific place to go to at this point, but I was thinking about heading north."
The Water Tribe man stared at her for a few moments, an idea rapidly forming in his head. It was one that he hoped would be mutually beneficial to them. Both of them were lonely, after all, and she seemed to genuinely enjoy his company.
"What is your name?" he asked.
"My name is Hakoda. My men and I are headed north, and I would be honored if you would accompany us. It would not be right to simply leave you here, and you can stop off at any place you need to." the man offered. His offer was friendly, implying nothing inappropriate at all, and she very much enjoyed the gentle way he was looking at her.
She gave him a radiant smile. Ursa had never smiled in such a way at her husband, and Hakoda had never seen a smile as beautiful as his wife's, until now.
He smiled back.