A/N: An image popped into my head, and I just couldn't say no.
Disclaimer: I own nothing.
Aang sighed and lowered himself onto the cement wall. From where he sat, on the highest point in the city – in the country, even – he could see the world stretched out in front of him like a giant map. It was an amazing sight; the whole county with its lights glittering in the dark of night was one of the world's greatest wonders. Above him shone a crescent moon, bathing him in a pool of silver. A breeze wafted by and rustled his monk robes, and he tightened his grip on his staff as he brought one knee up to his chest. The breeze had been warm, like this whole place was warm. The feeling was both comforting and eerie.
The day had been eventful, full of introductions and bowing and feasting. After all of that, he had decided that he needed to get away from the clamor of celebration and just be by himself for a little while. He'd waited until the wine bottle had been passed around the table several times until the opportunity arose in which he could slip away from the feast and come up here, on the ceiling of the palace.
The sound of light footsteps caught his attention at once. He didn't move at all because he already knew to whom those footsteps belonged. Long ago he'd memorized the pattern, the sound, even the feel of those steps.
Ah, the sound of his name coming from her lips had always been one of life's greatest blessings. He closed his eyes and waited for the footsteps to stop. They did, somewhere to his right, and then the rustling of clothing told him that the somebody had sat down beside him on the stone wall of the palace. Aang could almost feel her blue eyes upon him at that moment, and he turned his head away the slightest bit so that he could open his eyes and see something other than her face.
"Hello Katara," he said, his voice light but professional all the same.
The woman beside him seemed to have noticed. She shifted uncomfortably and turned her face to the grand city before them. "I'm sorry we haven't had much time to speak," she apologized. "It's just been so chaotic with the new treaty. All the celebrating and the parties are really driving me to the end of my rope."
When Aang only nodded in response, his eyes set firmly on the horizon, she sighed and matched his gaze. "It's a lovely view, isn't it?"
This time, a small smirk did come to Aang's face. He shot her a sidelong glance and replied, "Yes. It is."
The moon seemed to have dulled since Katara presented herself in front of him, clad in the finest clothes that money could buy.
"Can we talk?" she asked.
"What do we need to discuss?" he asked, turning to look at her fully. "The treaty to ally the nations has finally been signed. The war itself has been over for nearly a decade. My work is done. All I have to do now is make sure Sokka and Toph don't party too much, and then I can go to sleep the same way I do every night."
A pregnant pause ensued. "And how is that?"
Aang looked out across the gigantic city again. "Alone."
"Oh Aang," Katara began, but then she stopped. Aang hadn't been expecting her to say more anyway. After all, what could she say?
That all-too familiar sensation began to rise in the pit of his stomach, regardless of his meditation and his effort to make it all stop: jealousy. It had driven him just about mad in the beginning, and he had had to swallow it again when he saw her for the first time in years.
"You look beautiful," he murmured. "You always did, even when we were kids."
When Katara spoke, her voice was quieter than before. "Aang, please don't. We've been down this road before, and I don't want to fight with you. I want… I want…" she trailed off and finally fell silent. She took a shuddery breath and let it out in the same fashion.
"I don't want to fight, either," he answered. "I respect your decision, and I'm glad you're happy." Katara said nothing.
Aang's eyebrow twitched just enough for him to feel it. He turned to her and raised his brow in a questioning fashion. "You are happy, aren't you, Katara?" he asked in a voice that suggested he knew the answer and wasn't ashamed to rub it in her face a little.
The Fire Lady's nose turned in the air – a haughty-looking trick she must have learned from her husband, Aang thought. "I'm very happy, thanks," she answered. She certainly didn't look happy to him.
"I'm glad you're happy," he said. He turned his staff sideways, tucked his feet beneath him, and frowned. "I have one question for you."
Immediately, she stopped looking like a Fire Lady and became Katara again. "What is it?" she asked.
He tightened his grip on his staff and loosened it again, uncomfortable. "Why?" he asked.
Sighing, Katara answered, "I don't know." She allowed a momentary silence to wash over them before continuing her response. "Every morning I wake up next to this marvelous man, a man who's done more for his country than the past ten Fire Lords put together. He's strong, he's brave, he's smart. He loves me, Aang, he really does… but I wake up every morning next to this man, and I don't even know him. I mean I know him, but every day I ask myself the same question you asked me: why?"
"So you don't love him?"
The bluntness of Aang's question caused Katara to grimace. "Of course I love him," she answered. "It's just that, sometimes, I wonder if I love him for the right reasons. If I could go back, would I have accepted his offer?" She reached up and touched her delicately carved, expensive-looking engagement necklace with two fingers. "If given the chance, could I do it all over again? I just don't know, Aang. I don't."
Aang waited a moment before speaking. "What would you do?" he asked. He tried with all of his might not to feel the weight of an old trinket in his pocket, a trinket that had taken him weeks to carve perfectly.
Shaking her head, she replied, "I don't know. It's just – I was so young, Aang! I was too young to make that choice, you know?"
"Oh, I know."
Her lips twitched downward, her eyes closed for a moment before she tried to speak again. "I'm sorry I hurt you," she whispered. "I only wanted the best for the world, and I wanted the best for Zuko."
At this comment, Aang turned his eyes to the moon and stared up at it, frowning deeply.
"Somebody once told me," he began slowly, "that power and perfection are overrated, and that happiness and love are more important. It took me a while to understand it completely, but now I know. I also know that you don't understand it. After you chose Zuko, I thought that I must have done something wrong, that Zuko had something I didn't – muscles or, or money or something. Now I know. You don't really love him, do you, Katara? You married him for your country instead of for yourself." He cast another glance at the moon.
"You don't know that half of it, Aang," Katara said, shifting her weight so that she could reach out and touch his arm. "It was such a hard decision to make! And I… I admit it. I made the wrong choice." As she spoke, her voice faded into a whisper and finally into nothing.
Another warm breeze wafted by, moving Katara's hair loopies around her face like it used to. He used to love that. He still loved that, after all this time. And here she sat, dressed in uncomfortable-looking clothing and wearing a frown to match it. What was he to do?
"Aang…" she breathed, leaning closer.
Aang turned to face her, surprised. Was she advancing on him, trying to make some sort of move? What would Zuko think if he saw? The thought was almost too much to think about – after all he and Zuko had done to make peace – and yet it cropped up into his mind as he watched Katara inch her way closer to him.
Moments later, he became aware of her breath on his face. His eyelids fluttered, breath quickening, heart pounding in his chest –
And he pulled away, shaking his head.
"It's not right," he murmured. "I can't."
With that, he stood up and twirled his staff. "I'm sorry, Katara," he said, closing his eyes. "We had our chance, and it's gone now. It was – it was like a breeze. I –"
He stopped, mid-sentence, when Katara stood up and planted her lips firmly on his own. His eyes snapped open in shock. Hands shaking, he grudgingly eased the Waterbender away from him and stared into her glassy eyes as his own filled with tears. Aang reached into his pocket, grabbed the necklace that he had made for her so long ago, and pressed it into the palm of her hand.
"Breeze," he whispered again. On that note, he bowed low to her one last time. Turning away, he walked across the roof and began down the stairs.
Katara stared in a sort of trance. When Aang had disappeared from her view, she looked down and stared at the beautifully carved engagement necklace that rested on her open palm. A warm gust of wind blew by, rustling her expensive clothing and making her hair tap at her pretty face. After that one last gust, that one last kiss, every breeze somehow felt colder than ice.
A/N: So yeah, that's it I guess. I was reading some spectacular fan fiction in which Katara regrets choosing Zuko, and I felt that I had to leave my mark on this territory.
On a side note, this is my 98th story. It probably won't affect you Avatar people much, but I've begun to tinker with something for my 100th story. Since Harry Potter was my first love, it will be a HP oneshot based on the first story I ever wrote. :3 Just a heads-up for the Potterheads out there.
Thanks for reading!