Lee rolled his eyes at his great-grandmother as she began to weave her tale. When he was a child, he'd been enthralled by such stories, of course: a heroic battle, magical powers, good's conquering over evil… yes, Gran-Gran's tales certainly had the right amount of pizzazz to keep the young ones entertained. But now that he was older, he saw them for what they truly were: fairy tales.
A group of young children- a twelve year old boy, two water tribe peasants, a little blind girl, and a banished prince- saved the world? To Lee, the concept was positively laughable.
And the concept of bending was ludicrous as well. Who ever heard of such nonsense as someone learning to control fire by watching the sun, or how to shift water by observing the tides, or how to move earth by noting the habits of badger moles? Ridiculous, all of it.
It was documented that there was a hundred year war, of course, but that had merely been because one progressive nation had wanted to change the ways of the backwards ones. Not because of a great comet that would provide the Fire Nation with unsurpassed power. It was war propaganda of the more suspicious, uncivilized nations.
Surely the great Fire Nation hadn't had such ridiculous superstitions of the Water Tribe, who believed that a young girl became the moon! After all, the Fire Nation was a civilized country! They had progressed farther technologically than any other nation, after all.
"Lee," his grandmother called, snapping the boy's attention back to the present. "You've heard me speak for many years. Why don't you tell the rest of the story?" she asked, and Lee grimaced, but nodded his head reluctantly as he made his way over to the children.
"…and by the time the Eclipse was over, the Fire Lord and his daughter, Azula, lay dead." Assassinated by Fire Lord Zuko, most likely. "However, the war ended at a terrible cost. The avatar, Aang, had been killed by Ozai. After all, lightning's power does not originate from the sun." The youngest of the children gasped at this point, and Lee noted that his great grandmother had tears in her eyes.
"…Aang was killed in the Avatar state, thus, the boy was both the last Airbender and the last Avatar." More shocked gasps. Lee suppressed a sigh of impatience. "However, peace was restored to the world due to Aang's sacrifice, and we live in harmony to this day," he finished.
The youngest girl, Yue, looked over to their grandmother. "Is it true, Gran-Gran?" she asked, and the old woman smiled through her tears.
"Every word, my darling," she replied, kissing the little girl's head of black hair, and setting her on her lap.
"What happened to Katara?" she asked, and the old woman smiled again, her aged brown skin wrinkling even more as she did so.
"She went back to the South Pole and helped to re-build her tribe. She eventually had a baby, and raised her daughter there," the old woman replied, her eyes in a place long forgotten by others.
"Did she marry Prince Zuko?" The little girl insisted, and the old woman stiffened slightly, before relaxing.
"No. Zuko married an Earth Kingdom Princess."
"But I thought that they loved each other!" the child persisted, and the old woman sighed sadly.
"My dear, in those days marriage wasn't based on love. Especially not in Zuko's case. He had a country to tend to, and an alliance with the Earth Kingdom solidified the Fire Nation's position in the world."
"But…" the little girl continued, but her mother quickly swooped her away with an apologetic smile towards the elderly woman. The rest of the children slowly stood and exited, waving their goodbyes as they skipped out of the small hut with their parents.
Lee, however, remained behind. "You can't tell me that you believe all that, Gran-Gran," he protested, and his great-grandmother gave him a weary smile.
"Oh, but I do," she replied, her blue eyes clouded, but filled with sincerity. "You see, my boy, I lived it."
Lee stared at her, and then shook his head. "That's impossible," he said, stooping over to kiss the woman's wrinkled, age-spotted cheek, before he too headed out the door.
He was stopped by the old woman's rasping chuckle. "You are so like your great-grandfather. Pig headed, set in your ways…" she trailed off, and then looked her great grandson over carefully. "You favor him, you know."
Lee turned around, and walked back to sit beside his grandmother. Never had he heard her speak of his great-grandfather. Not even his own mother knew a thing about the man.
"He was skilled with broadswords too, just like you are. The Blue Spirit, they called him," she continued with a wheezing laugh. "It suited him," she added with a reminiscent smile.
"You were named for him, you know," she added, lightly touching Lee's cheek. "He went by that name when he was hiding in Ba Seng Se, pretending to be a refugee of the war. According to his uncle, he was a very different person under that name. Warmer, kinder…less obsessed," she added, a small, secret smile playing over chapped lips.
"I never met anyone more annoying than he was," she continued, not quite looking at Lee as she spoke. "Your great-grandfather was always moody, hated my brother, couldn't cook to save his life, and was as oblivious as I was naïve."
"You loved him," Lee noted, the corners of his lips twitching upwards into a smile. His great-grandfather's smile.
"Yes," Gran-Gran breathed, a sad, heavy look coming to rest in her eyes as she pressed a hand against the heart that had never really healed.
"Why didn't you marry him?" Lee probed, and Gran-Gran looked away.
"He married another woman." At Lee's shocked expression, she smiled grimly. "For political reasons, mind you. I never doubted his love for me, and though it hurt me more deeply than anything else, I understood his reasoning."
"He left you when you were pregnant?" Lee demanded, losing respect for his namesake.
Gran-Gran shook her head. "I never told him. He didn't learn about Kaya until she was sixteen, and that was purely by accident. I made him promise never to tell her that she was his."
"He was an honorable man."
Lee frowned. "Who was he, really?"
Gran-Gran took a moment before answering. "He was my polar opposite: I was water, he was fire. I was calm, he was filled with rage, hurt, and anger. He was a banished prince, a tormented soul, an exile of his people and cast off from the world. He stood for everything I hated, and yet he became everything I loved."
She paused and met her great-grandson's eyes. "His name was Zuko."
In case you couldn't tell, Gran-Gran is Katara.This began as a drabble, but became so much more. It didn't quite turn out how I expected it to, but I'm happy with it. I'd like to know your thoughts on this piece. Please drop me a line or two. Thanks!