I wrote this a while ago. Really, a long while ago. Like, right after the episode where they met Toph. So if the story doesn't line up with the actual continuity, that's why. I've been debating putting this up for a while, because at this point I really don't like it anymore. But it's been burning a hole in my documents, so I figured what the heck.
It's six chapters long, and I think they're all kind of short. They're at least not astronomically long. The whole thing seems kind of cliche to me... I don't know. It's different from what I usually write, because stuff actually happens. Eh, whatever. Let me know if you want me to continue.
Disclaimer: I do not own Avatar. I do, however, own a really cute pair of shoes. Just bought 'em. They have pinstripes!
"Katara? Hey, Katara."
Katara looked over. She had been sitting against a tree trunk at the edge of the clearing they were camping in for the night. The trees of this forest were tall and close together, but the clearing was big enough to allow them all a glimpse at the nearly full moon hanging in the sky. In three nights' time, the moon would be full, and Katara would spend another sleepless night away from camp, trying to calm herself. The full moon affected her in strange ways. She was full of energy, her waterbending became more powerful, and she became very aware of all of her senses and feelings. And that included her rapidly developing feelings for the very boy who was calling her name.
She felt an alarming want for him, a strange kind of hunger she was completely unfamiliar with. It frightened her to no end. No matter how far she went from camp, she could still smell him, this clean, airy scent that she had only just begun to notice since they had met the fortuneteller Aunt Wu, but was so distinctly Aang. Apparently this heightening of the senses happened to all waterbenders, but she had never expected to feel anything like this for her best friend. Sure, she knew she had something of a crush on him, absurd as the term sounded when relating to him, but when the moon was full she absolutely wanted him, wanted to be near him, wanted him to feel what she was feeling...
"Sorry, what did you say?" she said with a smile as Aang sat down in front of her. He was holding two bowls of stew.
"Here, dinner," he said with a smile, offering one of the bowls to her. She gratefully accepted it. Her eyes flicked up to the moon. Her senses were already growing more agitated, even though it wouldn't be full for three more days. She could feel his body heat and smell his breezy scent as though he were right beside her. She felt heat rising to her cheeks and quickly busied herself with her dinner, unconsciously avoiding the meat in the stew. She hadn't realized it, but since she met Aang, she had begun losing her taste for meat. Sokka and Toph had noticed. But neither said anything.
"What were you doing over here, all by yourself?" Aang asked curiously as he too picked his way through the stew.
"I was fixing this," she said, holding up the necklace he had given her back on the day they had met that fortuneteller. The day she had first realized that maybe they had potential to be more than best friends. Or maybe... it was just the day that she first really wanted to do something about it.
"You still have that?" Aang asked with an excited smile. Katara blushed a little. His scent was making her a little lightheaded. "I thought you'd gotten rid of it when I got your mom's necklace back."
"No, I kept it," Katara said, smiling back and looking at the necklace fondly. "You worked really hard on it, just for me. I'll never get rid of it."
It was Aang's turn to blush. Katara grinned. "Some of the fishing line snapped in my bag, so I was fixing it," she continued. She held it up for his inspection. "Good as new, don't you think?"
Aang smiled. "I... um... I'm really glad you kept it, Katara," he said simply, blushing nervously. He stood up and took both of their bowls back to the fire without another word. She watched him go. He had just turned thirteen a little while ago, and it seemed to have turned over a new leaf for him. He had grown quite a bit taller, now standing eye-to-eye with her. His voice cracked occasionally, which made Katara smile and Aang blush profusely. His face had begun to look more like Sokka's, his chin and cheekbones more prominent. She could tell he would be very handsome as an adult.
Katara sighed. She shouldn't be thinking like that. She would have fought for him if he was any other boy, as was her nature. But he was the Avatar. His duty was to the world, and involving herself would just mess with his hormones. He didn't need that, not with everything else he had to deal with. She sighed again. She was beginning to dislike the full moon
"Wake up! Everybody get up! Hurry!"
Katara jerked awake when she heard Toph shouting. She rubbed her eyes and looked around quickly, forgetting where she was for a moment. She remembered fixing her necklace and eating dinner with Aang, watching as the boys fell asleep, and then she had drifted off as well. It couldn't be morning already. She glanced up at the dark sky. It definitely was not morning.
"Wake up wake up! Move it, Twinkle Toes!" Toph shouted again, stomping past the flying bison.
Aang, sleeping on Appa's furry tail as usual, jumped up in surprise and promptly fell to the ground. Katara got to her feet immediately and crouched beside him, slowly pulling the sleepy airbender to his feet. He stumbled drowsily. Katara placed a gentle hand on his chest to steady him and blushed as his heady scent invaded her mind.
"I'm not kidding, people! Snoozles, up!"
Sokka mumbled something that sounded like "gamkerflaffel" and turned over, still very much asleep.
"Whasgoinon?" Aang muttered tiredly, leaning against Katara and closing his eyes. The young waterbender wrapped an arm around his waist to keep him from falling, trying to ignore how warm he was. She watched blankly as Toph ran around the clearing, grabbing things from the ground and throwing them up into Appa's saddle.
"Toph, what's wrong?" Katara called, trying to get the perturbed earthbender's attention. "We just fell asleep. It's the middle of the night."
"Someone's coming this way!" Toph shouted, grabbing Sokka's bedroll out from under him and tossing it unceremoniously onto Appa's back. Sokka let out a muffled yell of protest from his face-first position in the dirt. "And there're a lot of them," Toph continued, ignoring him. "It feels like a whole army coming this way."
Katara didn't question her. No time for that. "Aang, come on, we have to get moving," she said quietly, giving him an urgent shake.
"No thanks, I don't eat meat," he mumbled placidly.
Katara bit her lip and placed her hands on his shoulders, shaking him briskly. "Aang, up, now!" she said loudly. He opened his eyes and found himself nose-to-nose with her. They both blushed and Katara was seized with a sudden impulse to move closer, but she resisted and ran off to coax a whining Sokka off of the ground.
"Wait," Toph said suddenly, freezing. Everyone stopped and looked at her. Her eyes narrowed. "They all just stopped. They were marching a second ago, and now they're not."
Katara looked up at the moon, as she tended to do a lot when it was getting full. The hair on the back of her neck stood up as a strangely familiar smell reached her. It was very faint, but it filled her with a sense of dread.
Aang quietly walked over to the edge of the clearing and grabbed his staff, only to find himself face-to-face with a Fire Nation soldier, standing silently among the trees. He shouted in surprise, and the firebender immediately blasted him in the stomach with a flaming punch, sending him reeling back into the clearing.
"Aang!" Katara shouted reflexively, racing forward and catching him before he hit the ground. Sokka and Toph backed toward her slowly as more and more soldiers emerged from the trees. Katara didn't even notice them. She was busy panicking over the young man in her arms. He wasn't moving at all, his eyes were closed, and his breath was coming in short bursts. Sokka and Toph stood protectively in front of them. Katara didn't know what to do. It had all happened so fast.
"You fool!" an unfamiliar voice shouted from back in the trees. A bald firebender with a thick mustache and eyebrows to match burst into the clearing. The dark red sash wrapped up over one shoulder showed that he was a captain in Ozai's army. "I told you, the Avatar must be captured alive," the man said to the soldier who had hit Aang. The admiral looked down at Katara. "He's not dead, is he?" he asked nonchalantly.
Katara looked up at him in disbelief, anger building within her. "You stay away from him!" she shouted, pulling the unconscious Avatar possessively against herself.
"Ah, so you're rather attached to him, are you?" the man asked with an amused smile.
"Katara, stay calm," Sokka muttered to her. "Don't say anything."
Sokka and the captain looked over. Aang's eyes were half open. He looked confused. "Katara," he said again, his voice quiet and thin. "What..."
"Aang," she breathed, feeling nearly lightheaded with relief. Sokka glanced up at the captain, who was watching with interest. He waved his hand and the soldiers began to move slowly toward them.
"Aang, can you hear me? How do you feel?" Katara whispered, leaning down toward him so he could hear her. That hunger, that primal urge flickered through her, but she ignored it. Not right now. Not while he was like this.
"Tired," he sighed, closing his eyes.
"Aang, no, you have to stay awake!" Katara breathed frantically, but it was too late. He had lost consciousness again. She let out a shaky breath and closed her eyes. What am I supposed to do?
"That's very touching, but I'm afraid I need to take the boy off your hands," the captain said, stepping toward her. Sokka moved between them.
"Stay away from my sister," he growled. Toph was on Katara's other side, listening as the firebenders slowly closed in.
"Toph," Katara whispered so quietly, she knew Toph was the only one who would hear. "When I count to three, get Aang onto Appa." She gave the tiniest nod to show she had heard.
Katara gathered her legs beneath herself and pulled Aang closer to her chest. Toph slowly stepped back toward Katara.
Adrenaline rushed through Katara's veins, pushing away the fog left behind by the whirl of emotions she had gone through in the past five minutes. Aang's breathing became more ragged. She felt panic rising in her chest.
Katara jumped to her feet, pulling Aang up into Toph's arms. In a few deft movements she was between the firebenders and Toph, water from her satchel whipping out about her hands.
"Sokka, move!" Katara shouted, but Sokka was already running toward Appa, boomerang in hand. Toph jumped to Appa's head, groping around for the reins. She had never been in control before, but now was not the time to worry about that. Sokka jumped into the saddle and offered a hand down to Katara.
"Come on, hurry!" he shouted to her. Katara was trying hard to concentrate. She could hear Aang's tortured breathing, feel his warmth fading. She grabbed Sokka's hand and closed her eyes, trying to block it out, trying not the think of the weakening Avatar just a few feet away. But she felt a hand close over her ankle.
"Get the girl!" the captain shouted, changing tactics in the blink of an eye.
She looked up and saw Sokka's panicked expression. He was shouting something, but she wasn't paying attention. There were firebenders closing in behind her, arms wrapping around her waist and grabbing her arms. She lost her grip on Sokka's hand and found herself being pulled back toward the captain. She was panicking. Not for herself, but for Aang.
"Sokka, go!" she heard herself shouting. "Go! Now!"
"Katara, no!" Sokka shouted back. "I promised dad I'd protect you!"
"Sokka!" Katara was screaming frantically as the soldiers were pulling her arms behind her back. "Please, you have to save Aang!"
"Sokka please!" she was getting desperate, and it showed in her voice. "Save him! I'll be fine!" She turned to the earthbender at the reins. "Toph, go!"
"But..." Toph muttered. She and Katara had become rather close in the past few months. The thought of leaving her behind...
"Please, just go!"
Toph closed her eyes and shouted, "Yip yip!" Appa took off into the dark night sky. Katara silently watched them go. She heard Sokka shouting her name.
"How very noble of you," the captain said with a grin. Katara scowled at him. "Come on then, back to base."
The soldiers fell into ranks and started marching back the way they came, Katara in the middle of them with her wrists bound behind her back. Please be okay, Aang. Please...