Oma glanced over her shoulder nervously to ensure that she wasn't being followed as she entered the cave. Needless to say, the consequences would be disastrous if someone were to find where she disappeared to all of the time. Especially if that said person disappeared himself.

Han had been following her far too closely as of late. It was as though he sensed that something larger than himself was occurring, and that his younger sister was at the center of it all. Oma hated it. It meant she had to watch her steps more carefully, that her moments with Shu would need to be too infrequent and brief.

After all, she didn't want her brother to get lost in the cave that she and Shu had so painstakingly created.

The war between the two villages had escalated in the past few months, and Oma knew that anything even remotely suspicious would be blamed on the other village. His village. She wanted this war to end, not intensify. And she most certainly did not want her brother to die at the hands of the badger moles' mischief.

She sighed softly and continued walking, the soft light from the crystals overhead guiding her path. The closer she came to their secret chamber, the more her worries began to dissipate. Shu would be there, and when he held her, her world would be whole and safe once more.

But he wasn't there, and she would never see him again.

Years later, Han would lay Oma's body to rest in that cavern, beside the man that he had helped her to bury when she was still young. His sworn enemy, and the only man that his sister had ever love. He would carve their story into the rocks, paying tribute the romance that he had at once forbidden and condoned. And he would pray to the spirits that he would be more understanding in his next life.

)0(

Hundreds of years passed, but the cave remained, the story of the two lovers scratched into weathered stone walls. A young girl rested her eyes on the story for the second time that year, and then glanced at the boy beside her. "It feels…familiar here, doesn't it?" she asked softly, glancing around the cavern, her blue eyes skittering past her older brother.

Zuko frowned, and trailed his fingertips over the lid of one of the sarcophaguses. "You've been here before," he replied dryly, attempting to ignore the strange tug on his soul.

"It's not that," Katara said softly, glancing around. "It's…It's like my spirit remembers something. Like there's a memory just out of reach." The frown on her face deepened as she tried to pinpoint the source of the feeling, but failed.

"I know," Zuko replied, almost too softly for her to hear. But she did.

Katara glanced back at the other members of the group, who were otherwise occupied at the moment. Then, she took a deep breath. "Maybe it's just the story that's familiar," she whispered so that no one but he could hear. "Two young people from warring nations fell in love." Zuko glanced upwards sharply, and searched her face. Her eyes spoke the words that she didn't say.

And then…oh, spirits, a smile from the boy. "Yes, they did," he replied, and Katara's lips stretched into a grin to match his own. And when he held her, there was no war or pain or suffering. There was just him. And her world was whole and safe once more.

Sokka saw the pair; he wasn't quite as stupid as people thought. And although his gut wrenched to see his baby sister, the girl he had sworn to protect, in the arms of a fire nation prince, he swallowed his pride and turned his head. They had so little time until the Battle of the Black Sun, after all. He wasn't about to deny his sister happiness in the few months they had left.

)0(

And so the cycle repeats itself, over and over again. Once, they were Oma and Shu, the first earthbenders, and then they were Zuko and Katara, two children who loved too much and died too young. They were thousands of others as well- all stories of love, war and loss.

But such is the way of things. Push and pull, tui and la… time continues in its never ending flow; the eternal circle of gain and loss…of love and death…

The circle of life.