"Tell me a story, Grandpa!" came the voice of a little girl at the old man's feet. With a slight, fond smile, the old man lifted the little girl into his arms, wincing when the arthritis made his joints ache at the motion.
"Which one?" he asked, his voice raspy with age and bearing the weariness of life. Blue eyes peered up at him, wide, innocent, and untarnished. When he was her age, his situation had been different. He had been a victim of the war; had been made an orphan by its brutality before he had achieved his seventeenth year.
The little girl on his lap, oblivious to the horrors that he had experienced, chewed on her lower lip for a moment. Then, she reached up to him and tugged on the white beard he had begun growing over twenty years past. "The Moon and the Warrior!" she exclaimed finally, a bright smile tugging the corner of her mouth up into a replica of her great-grandfather's when he had been her age.
"Ah…" the old man sighed. The legend had become popular in this generation, where truth had begun to loose its place in this new world and fiction had begun to become far more prevalent. The identity of the moon spirit and the warrior she had loved had been forgotten long ago. They were now myths that were spoken of in hushed tones before the fire on cold winter nights.
But for the old man, the truth had not yet been clouded. Not even when his memory had begun to slip from the sickness of age; not when he had lost his wife the winter before. He remembered the tale of the moon and the warrior with painful clarity. "…I know that one well," he murmured, glancing down at the child in his arms.
"The moon spirit was not always so…" he began. "…At one time, she was the Princess of the Northern Water Tribe. She was born small and sickly, but the moon spirit gave her life. She grew up under the tender watch of the moon and the care of devoted parents, and eventually blossomed into a kind and caring young woman. In those days, there was no greater beauty to be found than her. Dark of skin, light of hair, blue of eyes; she was a muse for poets, inspiration for song…" the giggle of the little girl on his lap made him pause, and the old man gently stroked her hair.
"Suffice to say, every man who saw her fell in love with her. The warrior boy was no different. He was a traveler from a ruined country, and kept company with his sister and the Avatar…"
"No! Grandpa, that isn't right! The avatar hadn't come back yet. This story happened a long time ago," the child reminded him. "It happened just after Sozin sent the air benders to the Spirit World, remember?"
The old man frowned before realizing that his great granddaughter must have heard a different tale weaved by one younger and less knowledgeable than he. "No, darling, Sozin came a hundred years before the story," he replied gently, and the child went to protest again.
The old man pressed a finger to her lips and smiled. "Let an old man tell his story, dear," he said, and the little girl nodded reluctantly. "Where was I?" he pondered aloud, and then remembered. "Oh yes, the Avatar. He was traveling with the Avatar, bringing him to his sister tribe to aid in the boy's water bending training when he first saw the princess. She was riding on a gondola, white hair gleaming in the light, and when she looked at him, the Warrior knew that she was the girl he had been waiting for."
"Did she love him back?" his great granddaughter asked, and the old man smiled, knowing that she was just asking questions for the sake of asking them.
"Not at first," he replied, and from the way her brow scrunched up he knew that this was yet another twist to the tale that evolved over the past seventy years to the legend that the child now knew. "But the more time they spent together, the more she began to realize how much she cared for him. However, the Princess had a secret. She was betrothed."
"No she wasn't!" The little girl protested. "The warrior was her first and only love."
"Her only love, this is true, but in those days, women didn't marry for love," the old man patiently explained. "They married who their fathers wanted them to; the men that could support them, not those who would cherish them."
"That's dumb," the child muttered, her lip protruding in evidence of her stubborn streak, much the same way her great grandfather's had before the wisdom of many years could replace the nature of his youth.
"The warrior thought so too," the old man continued, a smile turning a corner of his lips upwards from beneath his beard. "And he didn't let that stand in his way. He loved her despite the fact that honor dictated to let her go; pursued the relationship when a good man would have walked away. He was young and he was selfish, but most importantly, he was in love.
"But their world was at war. In the wake of their tender feelings, the conflict emerged from the shadows and came to her kingdom. A power hungry admiral killed the moon spirit, and left the world in shadow. The Princess, though in love, had a greater destiny than to become the wide of a warrior. The moon spirit had given her life when she had been an infant near death, and so she was the moon spirit.
"Although her warrior pleaded with her to stay with him, begged her to allow their love to mature, she left him. The spirits had laid a great path before her, and the Princess was strong enough to ignore the urgings of her heart, and wise enough to do as fate had dictated."
The old man sighed softly. "The warrior was not quite so strong, nor nearly as wise. But in then end, he knew that what she had done was good and right, and he loved her all the more for her dedication to her people."
The little girl smiled from her seat on his lap, and tugged on his beard again. "Whatever happened to the warrior?" she asked, and from the expression on her face had clearly believed that he would tell her the typical answer… 'nobody knows.'
"He moved on, married another woman, had children of his own. The world soon forgot about him, even his name has been forgotten. Long ago, the tale was known as the Ballad of Sokka and Yue. Now, their names have been lost to the waves of time, and all that remains is the story of their star crossed love."
The little girl blinked, then smiled, then kissed her great grandfather's cheek. "Thank you Grandpa!" the little girl exclaimed, jumping off of his lap and dashing from the room with all of the spontaneity and liveliness of childhood.
Sokka watched his great granddaughter go with a smile on his face. One day, she would learn the meaning of love. If the spirits were kind, hers would end in happiness. Sokka turned his weathered, wrinkled old cheeks to the moon, his eyes sliding closed as the gentle light bathed his skin.
The moonbeams were the touch of a lover, and the whisper of a friend. They were the caresses of his Princess, and with each night, Sokka was reminded that he was the one she had loved. One day he would return to her, and she would welcome him. Moonbeams would solidify, and he would hold her once more.
The Moon and her Warrior. Tui and La. Yue and Sokka. History had forgotten their names, and yet, they were remembered.
In the last chapter of my story, Eclipse, there was a moment between Zuko and Katara in which Zuko observed that Sokka would be forgotten, and only his story would be remembered. After re-reading that chapter, I was inspired to write a one shot of Sokka and Yue's story seventy years after she had become the moon spirit.
I actually really like how this one turned out.
Please review! Thank you so much for taking the time to read.