A/N: Gah! Sorry sorry… I know this is REALLY overdue (as usual). I started a critical care residency about a month ago and I've been incredibly busy. So excuse my lateness upon getting out this last chapter. I hope it lives up the hype that everyone's been giving it!! You guys have rocked my world with all the reviews I've gotten for this story! Ya'll are awesome!!
Oh, and speaking of reviewers… An anonymous reviewer that went by the name Evmoy15 said something to effect of "my dad's band wrote that song" on the last chapter. I'm not really sure what you are implying Evmoy15, but I can assure you that I did not steal any lyrics from another song. There is an old jazz rock song that was written by Van Morrison back in the late 70s that is entitled "Moondance", but the words are nothing like what I wrote for my lyrics in the previous chapter. I hope this clears up any misunderstandings…
Something Old, Something New
It was all dark. Comforting and soothing, the way she liked it. Her mind was at ease in her familiar environment of quiet blackness and broken wavelengths of the surrounding vibrations. Her pallet on the ground was comfortable against the wooden planks, and she reveled in her element as bleariness drifted to reality. The sounds of bustling feet and panicked voices broke through the silence and Toph groaned, turning on her side and clamping her pillow around her head to block out the disturbances just outside the bedroom door. For several moments, the blind Earthbender just lay on her wooden planks, "watching" the morning unfurl around her.
Strange… She had been expected today to seem, different… (After all, it was her wedding day). But it seemed that morning was unfolding just as it would on any other day. Peasants and warriors could be heard outside making their way to the market and trading centers, their vibrations and muffled footsteps taking back seat in Toph's mind. The new blanket of snow that yesterday had left behind frosted the cold air in little sprays of crystal footsteps in their wake, the freezing temperature several degrees lower than she had hoped for. Birds fluttered by the window on determined wing, heading to the coast for fish and seed, and artic wolves barked and howled at each other as they romped in the snow.
She shivered as she turned her attention inside the house… Sokka paced back and forth in his adjoining room, his familiar footsteps that were always so determined and strong now seemed nervous and flittering. She listened intently as he paused his pacing to grumble to himself about who-knows-what. His heartbeat matched his motions, and she found herself giggled quietly at his quickening pulse.
Her parents' footsteps seemed more hurried and unwavering, rumbling through the kitchen no doubt throwing together last minute preparations for the reception. More than once, she felt her mother sigh in exasperation and mutter something under her breath about "lazy kids" and "nothing getting done without her".
As her mind adjusted in clarity and responsiveness, she could feel the early sun warming her face through the eastern window, calling her to the day. Toph sighed in resignation, breathing in the crisp clean air of the South Pole and rising to a sitting position. She smacked her lips, planting her palms soundly on the ground behind her to feel better for the number of bodies occupying the small ice hut. She silently thanked Sokka for installing the hardwood floors when he had built the house over three years ago. It made "seeing" so much easier for her…
Sokka's heartbeat in the adjoining room had calmed to a more normal rhythm. Her parents' footsteps had paused long enough for her to easily decipher both their feet planted firmly against the ground.
"Hm…" Toph muttered to herself as she stood up, brushing the blankets aside. "That's strange…" The absence of two very recognizable pairs of footsteps was painfully obvious.
Before she could voice anymore questions to herself, she paused with her usual smirk and called through the closed bedroom door, "Sokka, you aren't supposed to see me until the ceremony…"
Sokka hesitated, his hand held stiffly at the other side of the door. He was still a little unnerved by her ability to foretell anyone's entrance into a room before it ever really happened. He sighed, calling back through the closed door, "Toph I need to talk to you!"
Toph smiled as she crossed the room and pulled the door open, leaning against the open frame with her arms crossed casually. "When have I ever been one for tradition? I thought you knew me better than that…"
Sokka kissed her forehead in a 'good-morning' gesture and brushed by her into the small bedroom. "Close the door before your mother sees us. You might not be one for tradition, but something tells me that she is…"
With a careful observation, Toph obliged, "They're too busy arguing over the table arrangements to worry about it anyways." With the soft click of the door, she took a spot next to the young warrior on Katara's bed. "What's wrong with you? You feel like you just ran a marathon," she asked with a laugh as she placed a small hand just over Sokka's heart.
"You haven't seen Katara or Aang this morning have you?" Sokka asked hurriedly.
"Seen them?" Toph asked with a smirk as her hand dropped to the mattress. "No, I don't think I've seen them this morning."
"Toph," Sokka scolded, "I'm being serious. Aang took her to the Southern Air Temple yesterday afternoon and I haven't seen either one of them since then. What if something happened to them?!" Sokka's expression changed from concern to annoyance as he pounded a fist into an open palm, "I swear, if Aang did anything…"
Toph laughed, earning her a sideways glare from the groom. She stayed his frown with an assuring hand on his shoulder, "It'll be fine. Don't worry about them." She smiled a knowing smile, "The ceremony doesn't start until this evening. I'm sure they'll be home before lunch."
Sokka sighed, his fists softening as he turned his attention to the window, hoping to catch a glimpse of his sister's return. "Yeah, you're probably right…" he resigned at the sight of only glittering snow peaks and smoking chimneys of neighboring huts.
Toph snorted and nudged him in the ribs, "Don't you have more important things to be worrying about today anyway?"
Sokka grinned and narrowed his gaze at her, "Why? Should I be worried about today?"
With an apathetic shrug Toph stood up. "Only if you're afraid of seeing me in a dress," she responded through a cracked smile.
At the thought of Toph in a dress Sokka's grin widened, "Now that's something worth waiting to see," he chuckled as he pulled her towards him at the hips.
"Yeah well…" Toph wrapped her fingers through Sokka's "ponytail", tugging softly at the loose ends absentmindedly as she always did, "I'm not so sure about that… If it looks stupid, you can blame your sister for it. It was all her idea."
"You'll look beautiful and I can't wait to see it," Sokka shook his head out of her grasp before stealing a kiss and moving back towards the door. "Speaking of my sister… I'm going to go see if I can't find them in town."
Toph sighed, shaking her head as she followed him to the door, "Are you going to be this protective over me after we're married?" she paused to smile, "Because you know that I'm not one for wanting protection…"
Knowing that she was mostly joking (mostly…), Sokka grinned, "Are you kidding? Like the greatest Earthbender in the world needs protection…" he scoffed.
She laughed as he kissed her on the cheek and took off down the hall. "Just checking!" she called as she closed the door behind him.
Katara was blissfully unaware of the cooler wind that breezed across her skin as Appa entered the colder climate of the South Pole. Her dreams played in her mind's eye, a shadow of sorts in that state of consciousness that's not really asleep… but not yet fully awake. She could feel Aang's presence, but couldn't quite comprehend it. Even so, it was enough to drive her into a feeling of contentedness she'd not felt in a long, long time.
She smiled in her dreamy state, humming softly and drumming her fingers across Aang's open palm if only to feel his skin against hers. She had resided to her parka over an hour ago, and she already missed the natural heat his body brought to hers with the smallest of contacts. Aang chuckled, wrapping his fingers around hers. "You're awake," he stated simply.
She sighed, snuggling deeper into his chest and nudging her shoulder further into the crease of his armpit, his parka soft against her cheek and his grip firm around her waist. "No I'm not."
She smiled as another chuckle jostled his shoulders. It was a different feeling to feel someone laugh rather than hear it…
"But you are awake," he said matter-of-factly. "And do you know how I can tell?"
"Mmm?" she hummed softly sinking further into his warmth.
"Because if you were asleep, how would you be able to do this?!" he said as he jabbed at her ribs mercilessly, fingers tickling at her sides and sending her sprawling in laughter away from her very comfortable spot under his arm.
"Ah!" she shrieked, giggling and knocking away his hands. "Cheap shot!"
He grinned triumphantly as he resituated himself against Appa's saddle, "See? Awake…"
She pouted playfully for a few seconds, which only made his grin widen.
"And I was so comfortable…" she said smiling as she sat next to him, pulling her knees up to her chin and wrapping her arms around her legs.
Aang returned her smile, wrapping one arm across her shoulders and pulling her back up against him. She chuckled and rested her head against his shoulder to prove there were no hard feelings. After a few silent moments he leaned his head against hers and started pulling his fingers through her hair, "I can't believe Toph and Sokka are getting married today! What do you think they're doing right now?"
Katara smirked, "I don't know about Toph, but I know exactly what Sokka's doing…"
"Freaking out…" they said in unison with a laugh.
Aang paused, smiling at Sokka's overprotective nature. "He's going to kill me when I finally get you home… you know that right?" he said suddenly.
Katara chuckled as Appa began the descent towards the Southern Water Tribe, "Are you kidding? Something tells me he's had this planned for a long time…"
The rest of the day went by rather uneventfully, save for the overdramatic reunion of the water tribe siblings and the nervous Avatar… After he made it well known how worried he had been about them, Sokka expressed how thrilled he was that he and Aang's plan had apparently gone off without a hitch (Aang had pointedly left out the near-fatal unexpected meeting with Avatar Yangchen's statue). He beamed proudly at their affectionate behavior towards one another and when he couldn't contain himself anymore, he wrapped his sister up in a platypus-bear hug with compliments of how excited her was to see her so happy… Hugs, smiles, and testimonies then commenced until Sokka got the point of awkwardness and finally left to attend to wedding day matters…
Which finally led to Katara tending to the bride, leaving Aang to help Sokka prepare for the ceremony...
"Are you nervous?" Aang asked nonchalantly as he adjusted his navy tunic (navy to give heritage to the ceremonial dress of Watertribe weddings) across his shoulders and dusted the imaginary dust from his trousers. "It's getting pretty crowded down there," he commented as he peered through the curtain into the courtyard below.
"Nervous?! I'm not nervous," Sokka let out a frustrated groan as he pulled at the stiff collar of his dark blue ceremonial anorak, "I just wish they didn't have to make these stupid things so uncomfortable." He paused to catch a glimpse of himself in the tall mirror of ice Aang had frozen for him, "It looks okay, right?"
Aang chuckled and nudged Sokka in the shoulder, "Sokka, you look great. Why does it even matter?"
The tall warrior took to pulling at the hairs on his chin in a nervous gesture as he paced the floor in little circles. "It's not Toph, I know she doesn't care what I look like," he paused to appreciate the irony in his words. "She is blind after all…"
"You don't want to disappoint Katara," Aang commented as he peered through the curtain again, eyes gazing through the crowd of dignitaries, forgotten family members, and dozens of friends below. It was a wonder Katara had found a place in the Southern village to accommodate such a crowd.
"She's put a lot of work into planning this wedding," Sokka answered. "I just hope it lives up to the effort she's given it."
Aang continued searched through the crowd, eyes darting among the sea of unfamiliar faces, hoping to catch a glimpse of the current subject of their conversation. He sighed in disappointment, "She must still be with Toph…" he mumbled out loud to himself.
"You know…" Sokka interrupted suddenly, "I always knew that you two would be together." He paused to chuckle, "Since day one…"
Aang laughed jokingly, "Don't sound so disappointed!"
"Hey man," Sokka smiled, pulling Aang into a brotherly hug, "I'm happy for you."
Aang grinned, slapping Sokka on the back a few times in a gesture of brotherly love, "Thanks man, I'm happy for you too."
Sokka drew a deep breath, pulling out of the hug. Aang grinned "Hey buddy," he commented as the band below started playing, "I think that's your cue."
The music grew steadily louder as he put a reassuring hand on the warrior's shoulder, "You ready?"
Sokka paused to take another deep breath as the realization sunk in as to what was about to happen. He smiled as he met his friend's eyes in earnest, "I'm ready."
"Toph would you please be still!" Katara muttered in frustration. "I'll never get this right if you don't stop fidgeting with it," she said as she shooed Toph's fingers away from the sash.
Toph huffed, causing the bangs encircling her face to bounce from her breath. "Are you sure this is really worth it?" she asked for the millionth time. "I don't think Sokka could less what I'm wearing."
Katara stepped back to admire her handy work, a sudden smile of appreciation for her younger friend's natural beauty gracing her features. The pale green overlay that graced the white dress below billowed from Toph's waist, grazing the ground in wisps of fabric and beads. Naked toes peaked from the front hem, Katara had not even attempted to try and get the blind Earthbender to wear shoes. Ornate bead work danced along the bodice where the dress met with Toph's bare shoulders, and her handmade engagement necklace wrapped around her neck in a blur of sea foam green, the delicate pendant resting between her collar bones.
Katara grinned, "Toph, you look… amazing!"
Toph smiled, despite herself, her petite fingers moving along her hips and then her waistline, "Really?"
"Sokka won't know what hit him," Katara confirmed as she watched Toph continue to explore the seams of the dress.
Toph paused and before Katara really knew what was happening, she was wrapped in a tight hug with the young Earthbender. Toph sighed with tears in her eyes, "I don't think I've told you this yet," she said into the Waterbender's shoulder before puling back and looking eerily straight into her eyes, "but…. Thanks Katara. For everything."
Katara smiled, tears forming behind her own oceanic eyes. "You're welcome Toph," she said before returning the hug. It was a rare sight to see Toph in such an uncommon mood, but Katara was more than appreciative for her gratitude.
After a few silent moments, the girls pulled out of their embrace, Toph smiling serenely. "So how did things go with Twinkle Toes?" she asked suddenly.
Katara felt herself blushing warmly, her mouth spreading into a truthful smile, "Things went… perfect."
Toph laughed, "So it was fairytale after all?"
Katara continued smiling, "Like you said, there's not a story more fairytale than mine and Aang's."
Suddenly the sound of music wafting from the courtyard interrupted the girl's conversation, the bride's expression gradually getting grim. "Something wrong, Toph?" Katara asked as she smoothed out invisible wrinkles from the front of her blue satin dress.
Toph drew a deep breath. "Just nervous I guess," she said after several seconds.
Katara nodded understandingly as the music grew in volume, "Well, are you ready?" she asked with a smile.
Toph returned her smile, her toes wiggling beneath her dress in anticipation. "I'm ready…"
When the last note has played
And the band has long since gone
The air is still and silent
The moon is the only one
Left to light the way
The vows have been said
The glasses toasted high
Every hug and kiss given
And all that's left is the sky
To point ahead
Bride and groom retired
Their night has just begun
Years of life ahead for them
A path of love to run
And not too tired
Soon the sun will rise
The whole world's disguise
And give the night goodbyes
Elevating stars surprise
What a show
So blooms and moon and sky
Lead to water told lullabies
And the wind that breezes by
Holds a tender swollen sigh
To all below
Every peaceful year
A lifetime of smiles
A promise not forgotten
A/N: Well… It's been a fun ride kids:) Hope you all enjoyed it as much as I did! And sorry again for taking so long to get this last chapter up!!
I'm not really sure I liked how it ended… but I couldn't really think of another way to give it a definite conclusion. I may put up a oneshot later of the actual ceremony, but I just felt that if I included that part in this story it might open up a whole can of worms and I wouldn't know where to end it!! Anywho… as always, I'd love to hear what you all have to say about it!