My dear Readers,
this chapter, or better, this tiny shard of what was supposed to be chapter 26, is very probably going to be the last time I will publish anything for this story.
I'm more sorry that it has come to this than you might imagine. I SO wanted to bring this to an end. But this story has not only grown to never imagined proportions, it had also clashed with everything that happened in the series while I was writing this. (For some reasons, the Kataang ending of the series killed my writing spirit in regard to this story.)
And after all those years, I just cannot bring myself to sit down again, get "into" this story and its characters and finish it.
I will - however - give a short synopsis of what was supposed to happen to all those characters and how the story was supposed to end. (I still entertain the notion of maybe sometimes picking this story up again, but then again, I guess I am way too old to lie to myself.)
That being said, I cannot express how important the constant feedback was to me over the years. There was not one single week that went by without someone writing a review (I read all of them!) or writing a PM. All of those messages were incredible encouraging, polite and constructive and I felt like the lowest of beings of not being able to give back all the love and support you have shown me.
It's a very bitter defeat.
I cannot make amends for leaving this unfinished, but I can give you this. (ironically, the chapter title was already planned way back when I was still actively writing this story.)
Chapter 26: Amends
Only in extraordinary situations does time seem to be able to stretch, impossibly prolonging a moment until every detail, every nuance becomes so clear and memorable, one will never be able to forget a single thing.
When Azula had counted to three, time stopped in just that way for Katara.
With horrifying clarity she saw Azula signal Ty Lee, saw Ty Lee lift her sword and let it describe a deadly arch through the air.
Zuko's hand was like an iron band around her arm and although she started forward, not really knowing what she was about to do, she did not get very far with him holding her in place like that.
Aang was similarly held in check by Iroh, who looked rather unconcerned at the prospect of witnessing Sokka getting murdered right in front of his eyes.
Sokka gave her one last, long look and then closed his eyes.
The tip of the sword made a sickening, crunching sound when it buried itself into the gravel at Sokka's feet.
The scream that had almost made it to Katara's lips died on them and she watched, mouth agape as Ty Lee stepped in front of her sword effectively shielding Sokka from Azula.
"I declare Benso-Nori."
At that point, time seemed to want to make up for all its former slowness and sped on so hastily, everything happened at once.
Sokka opened his eyes for a split second before they rolled backwards into his head and he slumped to the ground with all the grace of a sack of potatoes. Aang and Iroh simultaneously fired a blast of fire at Azula, who – somewhat quicker on the uptake than anyone else – had already jumped on her lizard and sped back the way she had so unexpectedly come.
Had it not been for Sokka's unconscious form and Ty Lee standing wide eyed and bewildered in their midst, the last ten minutes could easily have been a very weird hallucination.
For a moment, only the chirping of a few insects was all there could be heard, until the familiar sound of bare, running feet disturbed the silence.
"What happened here and why has no one called me?" Toph demanded morosely.
Katara felt her arm being released and heard Zuko clear his throat.
"Uhm, I guess we'll tell you, once we have it figured out for ourselves," he said and then walked over to Ty Lee who had still not moved.
"Hello Ty Lee," he said while gently taking the arm of the girl who still looked as if she couldn't quite believe what she had done. "Let's find a place to talk, shall we?"
Ty Lee nodded absently and followed his lead.
When she turned back to the others, Iroh was already bent over her still unconscious brother and Aang was nowhere to be seen.
"He's alright," Iroh announced happily. "Just a few scratches, I guess he'll come around soon. I'll make some tea for him when he wakes up."
Toph stood right next to them, fixing Katara with something that would be an angry glare if she wasn't blind. Well, it WAS an angry glare.
"Sokka may be alright," she grumbled, "but Aang certainly is not. So shouldn't you be doing something about that, Sugar Queen?"
SYNOPSIS: (don't read if you want to know)
- Katara talks to Aang and apologizes for the deception, after some fighting (both with words and with elements) he forgives her but is clearly still heartbroken
- TyLee reveals to Zuko that she is in love with Sokka, but after talking to him she has to accept that his heart is given elsewhere
- the invasion of the Fire-Nation goes ahead pretty much as we've seen in "The Day of the Black Sun", including all the additional help (plus a large contingent of White Lotus warriors)
- Katara and Zuko have to confess their marriage to Katara's father
- due to Katara and Zuko being able to "share" their energy, they are able to corner Firelord Ozai (who cannot bend due to the eclipse)
- while Aang is contemplates killing Ozai, a White Lotus warrior steps in front of them, protecting him
- turns out it is Ursa, who is indeed Ozai's "dragon mate" and has suffered so much already being separated from him, that she would rather die than see him killed with her still alive
- Zuko goes nearly crazy at the prospect of seeing both his parents killed right in front of him, but Aang finally decides to show mercy
- they get banished to ember island under heavy guard of the Lotus, tasked to also keep Azula under lock and key (who has meanwhile gone completely crazy)
- Ursa has brought more documents that show that pairings such as Zuko and Katara, sharing power, have once existed
If you have specific questions about how the story was supposed to unfold, pls PM me or leave a review. For the next weeks, I will keep a close look at both PMs and reviews and will answer every question asked.