THE DAY OF BLACK SUN, guys. It finally came. I waited and waited, I covered my eyes whenever I saw something that might be a spoiler, and finally it came. And oh. Your. God. I don't even know where to start. So… I wrote a oneshot instead.
Disclaimer: I do not own Avatar
One of Katara's first memories involved asking her mother a question when she was just a little girl. The details were foggy, but the answer was one she would never forget.
"Mom, what does destiny mean?"
Her mother had smiled, taken her into her arms, and replied quietly, "Destiny is something that is going to happen because it has to. It's a connection between all living things, guiding us."
Her mother had laughed, that beautiful laugh that Katara missed so much. "Imagine every living being is like a string," she began lightly. "All of these strings are woven together in a huge web. Some strings are tied together, some never cross each other, some just pass briefly. Like… your father and me for example." She cast an appraising glance at Katara's father as he walked by, tripping on a stray fishing net Sokka had left on the ground. She rolled her eyes. "Our strings are… well… pretty knotted up together." Katara laughed.
"So is my string knotted up with somebody else?" Katara asked eagerly.
Her mother smiled again. "You won't know until you meet him," she whispered confidentially.
Many years later, Katara sighed at the thought. She had believed her mother without a second thought. When she found Aang, she believed it was destiny. Destiny this, destiny that.
The young waterbender sighed again. So when exactly had she stopped believing in destiny?
It must have happened slowly, or she would be able to pinpoint the moment. Destiny was what kept her going through her childhood. She believed it was her destiny to go to the North Pole and become a real waterbender somehow. Who could blame her for thinking fate had brought Aang to her?
Aang… maybe he was the reason she had given up on fate. She glanced at him over the campfire. His knees were drawn up to his chin as he gazed into the flames, silent. Toph and The Duke were sleeping nearby. Toph had taken the young freedom fighter under her wing, filling in for the absence of Pipsqueak. Haru, Teo, and Sokka were talking quietly nearby as they removed Appa's armor, giving the bison a chance to rest. They had only reached the Western Air Temple a few hours ago, and there hadn't been much talking or activity since.
Katara leaned back, lying on the cool stone floor and fixing her gaze on the stars, visible through the crumbling roof.
Yes… it had to be Aang. She had never questioned destiny at home in the South Pole. But as soon as she struck out on her adventure around the world, destiny started to look a little fuzzy.
Maybe it was at the North Pole. He took off on his own to fight the entire navy, and it occurred to Katara that he was just one kid. He came to the same conclusion shortly after, but he still believed in destiny, so why shouldn't she?
So it might have started its slow progress at the North Pole. But that wasn't what did it. No, something big had happened that had convinced her that destiny was a fool's escape.
Then perhaps it was Ba Sing Sei. Lightning from the fingers of a crazed princess had nearly destroyed him. For weeks, Katara never left his side. She realized that though he was the Avatar, he was still only human. His mortality became painfully clear as she labored to heal him.
That had done a number on Katara's belief in destiny. But that wasn't the turning point.
So maybe… it was when he kissed her.
It had taken her by surprise. She wasn't ready. One moment, he was confessing his fear to her. He was afraid he wouldn't return. She had tried to reassure him, more for her own sake than his. But then his lips were against hers, warm and rough and needy, and she had felt, she had tasted that he was just a boy. He was only human.
And in a rush of wind he was gone. Off to face his destiny.
Katara sighed. That was it. He had kissed her, a clear display of real and completely human emotion, and that had been the final straw. He drew back from her. She looked away. She realized then what they were sending him to do. That moment of clarity would haunt her for the rest of her life, and she knew it.
The young waterbender sat up, watching him across the fire. He was so ashamed that he had failed again. She was afraid, more than anything, that he would try to run off again and face the Fire Lord alone. So she would watch him, keep him close. She had to do something.
But how could she ever tell him how sorry she was?
How could she tell him how much she owed him, how wrong she was for doing what she had done to him?
She had convinced him of his destiny. It had been her fault. She was the one who made him excited to be the Avatar, to go out and save the world. She was the one preaching about his destiny, how he had to master all four elements and end the war. Who was she to force him into this so-called destiny? Who was she to push him, a twelve-year-old monk, to face the most powerful megalomaniac in the world?
It was foolish. It was madness. She thought back to their travels, all of the people waiting idly by, insulting Aang for being one-hundred years too late. What had they done to stop this war?
He had pulled her to him and sealed his mouth over hers in one fluid movement, effectively taking her breath away in less than a second. And why? Because he was afraid he would never see her again. So in his last moments with her, he wanted to show her what she meant to him.
He was willing to sacrifice his happiness, his innocence, his soul, his very life for the greater good.
All because of her.
No, Katara no longer believed in destiny. Because of destiny, she could lose Aang.
She didn't want to lose him.
Why, though? She focused intently on the campfire, wondering. Destiny had been her whole life. So what was it about this boy that had given her reason to abandon this comfort zone, this fallback, this wonderful idea of destiny?
Katara looked up at him. He glanced up briefly, eyes meeting hers by accident. The gaze lasted only a second, but it was enough to stop her heart in yet another realization.
She was in love with him.
She felt like she should be more surprised. She had been in love with him for who knows how long and only just fully realized it. Maybe that was it, though. She had known already, it had just taken her a while to see it for what it was.
"Aang," she called softly, careful not to disturb the snoozing Toph and Duke. Aang turned his eyes to her again. She gestured away from the fire. "We uh… we need to talk about something."
The look in his eyes told her he knew. He knew she was going to ask him about the kiss. But judging by the slight look of mortification and dread she saw flicker over his face, he thought the conversation was going in a very different direction.
They both got to their feet and wandered out of the circle of light and warmth provided by the fire. Sokka glanced over, but didn't seem too worried. Katara stopped him as they reached the archway leading from the room they were occupying to a wide balcony. He refused to look at her.
"Aang… I need to tell you…" she began slowly, unsure of how she would go about this.
"Look, Katara," he cut her off quickly, sounding thoroughly miserable and nervous to boot. "About what I did earlier… I'm sorry, I didn't…"
She didn't let him finish. The hurt in his voice was too much on top of everything else. She grabbed him by the front of his robes and pulled his lips to hers. This kiss was not like their first. It was not short. It was not a simple, warm contact of the lips. She was hungry for him, especially after the day's lengthy separation when he went off to fight, leaving her to tend to her father. She took her time, waiting for him to respond, which he did, rather eagerly.
When they pulled away, they were both out of breath. Katara was flushed, Aang was wide-eyed, and neither seemed to know what to say.
"You… you came back," Katara finally said between breaths. Aang nodded silently.
"Good thing, too," he replied, equally breathless.
Katara laughed. She couldn't help it. Even when he was down on himself and shocked beyond measure, he was still Aang. They drew together simultaneously in a tight embrace, neither speaking.
Katara promised herself she wouldn't let him leave her again. When he returned to face the Fire Lord, she would be right by his side. They would fight about it, she knew. They would bicker and shout for days. He would want her to be safe and out of the way, she would want him to be safe by her side, and they would go around in circles for as long as it took. But she would be there with him in the end, no matter what.
Though Katara no longer believed in destiny, there was still one thing her mother had told her that day that seemed entirely possible. She smiled, taking a moment to realize how wonderful it felt to be tight in Aang's arms. If every living being was like a string, she and Aang were pretty knotted up together.