Disclaimer : I don't claim to own Avatar, because I don't.
Zuko sighed. It had been a long year fighting with the Avatar. He felt like the war was never going to end.
Sure, they had killed the Firelord, his father, but they had forgotten about Azula. He growled in anger whenever he thought about the bitch.
The damage and body count was twice that of Ozai's rule, and rising. Ba Sing Se, the once-beautiful capitol of the Earth Kingdom, was completely burned down, destroyed. That was almost fine with Zuko though, it helped him forget what he had done there.
Not that he wanted to forget, ever, death first, but it hurt him to think of her. Rather, it hurt him to think that he had hurt her. It was confusing.
She had stayed away for a whole year. Well, she actually had visited once, but he hadn't been there. So it didn't count. Katara had chronicled it for him when he got back.
She said Avalon had seemed okay. Her hair was blonde again, but very choppy because she had cut it herself on the go. On a face less stunning, it would have looked ridiculous. Avalon hadn't smiled much, and laughed less, but at least she was active. She had gone back to the place she was raised.
And Katara said that nothing else could be said. Sure, it was sad that the sparkle in her eyes and the bounce in her step were gone, but she was on the road to recovery.
Zuko had asked if Avalon had asked about him, and Katara just shook her head, giving Zuko the impression Katara was hiding something from him. He didn't press it though.
The only thing Katara vented on was Avalon's lack of sharing; she was bearing the weight on her own shoulders, not even asking for help.
Zuko nodded, that was just like Avalon. He desperately longed to see her again. He wouldn't say anything; he just wanted to look at her. It was as if she was the sun he could not live without for too long.
Nope, he definitely had to stop thinking like that. But every time he told himself something different, it was unbearable.
And to make his life better, there were rumors that Azula was planning on sweeping the entire country-side in an attempt to find them.
Letters and messages were being sent out frantically, as much help as possible was being gathered. Zuko didn't really have a part in the planning, even after a year they still didn't trust him completely. Only Katara did. But she trusted everyone, so it didn't really count.
He was pulled back into reality suddenly; a gust of wind blew his hair back from his face. Aang was up in the air, and speeding away. Zuko hopped up and dashed right into Sokka.
"Watch it," Sokka yelled at him. Like most things Sokka said, Zuko chose to ignore him.
"Where's Aang going?"
"None of your business."
Zuko didn't bother, and went in search of Katara or Toph, either of which would probably tell him.
He found Toph first.
"Where did Aang go just now?" he asked.
"Huh? Oh, uh, I dunno. He just … like left … I guess."
"Toph, you're mumbling. Where did he go?"
"How should I know? Do I look like his mother?"
"Toph, please. Tell me."
"I … I can't. Sorry, Zuko, it's nothing personal."
Nothing personal. That only meant one thing. Avalon. They protected everything they knew of her current location from him, besides that she was home. They tried to keep it secret that at least one of them went to visit her once a month, but it was obvious.
It annoyed him. It was between him and her, and they shouldn't meddle. Katara wandered over, glancing curiously at Zuko's befuddled look.
"Where did Aang go? Just now?" he tried again.
"He, um, went for …"
"Katara no!" Toph exclaimed, "No!"
"Please, he's going to find out anyway. He is going to find Avalon."
Zuko nodded, he had been right, "Will he find her?"
"I don't know," Katara replied softly, trying not to hurt him. Zuko just nodded again, biting his lip anxiously.
"Anyway …" Toph broke the awkward silence.
"Oh, right," Katara remembered what she had walked over for, "There's going to be a short, mandatory meeting in about an hour. It's about the invasion."
It didn't start for another three hours, because lunch started and nobody wanted to taint the Duke's delicious food discussing war.
They shuffled lethargically to the fire pit, nobody really wanted to do this, especially because Aang wasn't there and it didn't matter without him. Katara assured everyone he would be back soon, maybe even before they were finished. After a few more grumbles, they got under way.
It wasn't very important, and certainly not crucial to the world's survival, but heated arguments sprung up about current living arrangements. Some of the local fighters wanted to go home, and not stay in the earthen shacks Aang and Toph had made. Katara and Sokka tried to keep order as Toph yelled back at the fighters, and, as is customary in all brawls just starting out, someone threw a chair. Now everyone was up on their feet, screaming at each other.
It was escalating quickly, and Katara wished more than anything that Aang would show up and make everything right. She got her wish, but Aang didn't come to the rescue.
"SHUT UP! Everyone just shut up!"
A willowy, lithe figure stood with arms akimbo on the outskirts of the logs that served as seats. The whole camp fell silent, not even crickets dared to chirp in the face of the girl livid with rage.
"I thought that I had come with the Avatar to fight the forces of evil," she began menacingly, "But I must have taken a wrong turn somewhere because I must be in the Fire Nation. No self-respecting freedom fighters would argue like this, am I right?"
A mumbled chorus of "yes, ma'am" rang silently, like muted bells.
"I thought so," she sneered, and turned on heel and walked briskly away.
No one looked at each other for at least a minute. Aang stood by passively, surprised as the rest by Avalon's outburst. Katara was the first to speak.
"Well, I hope you're all pleased with yourselves," and she left to find Avalon.
Katara found her sitting in the top of a tree.
"Avalon," she called up.
Avalon looked down, "Hey, Katara," and she floated gracefully down to the ground to stand in front of one of her best friends, "Long time, no see."
Katara hugged her, and then said, "What were you doing up there?"
"Hmm? Oh, just cooling down. I got a lil … heated."
"Yeah, I noticed. You really cowed those guys."
"Yeah? Well, they needed it, the bunch of … sorry," she smiled apologetically.
"It's alright. So, why did you come?"
"I finally realized something," Avalon began. Katara waited patiently while she got her thoughts in order.
"I realized that eventually this war will destroy my home. And as long as I am able to, I gonna make sure it doesn't."
Katara nodded; finally Avalon had grown up enough to become wise in the ways of the world.
"How is Ruby Lake?"
Ruby Lake was the town that Avalon had spent some of her childhood in. It was a beautiful, homely place on the banks of Ruby Lake. It was called Ruby Lake for two reasons. One was because every night when the sun went down, no matter what time of year, the lake was dappled with varying colors of red from the sun's rays. The other reason was the man who had founded the town had also found a fortune of a ruby quarry, and his name was, ironically, Emerald.
"Eh, the place never changes," Avalon replied with a small smile, "Pappy and Mums where sad to see us go-"
"Us?" Katara interrupted.
"Uh huh, some others are coming to help the cause," and then under her breath, "Though I wish they wouldn't."
"What was that?" Katara had caught it.
"Nothing, it's just, I wish they wouldn't risk their lives like this."
"Nonsense, Avalon. You are, so why can't they?"
Avalon sighed; she had been defeated once again by Katara's ever-growing wisdom.
"I know. It just worries me. That town shouldn't have to lose anymore of its youth."
Katara knew without asking that Avalon was referring to herself and her friend Charlie, who had died some four years ago.
"You can't deny them the choice to fight," Katara reminded her softly.
"I know, I know," Avalon exasperated, "I just worry about them."
"Of course you do. If you didn't I might have to really worry about you," Katara joked, hoping to evoke a laugh, or at least a smile, from Avalon. Avalon smiled weakly, to placate her.
Shrugging off her failed attempt at light-heartedness, Katara plowed forward, "Where are they?"
"They'll be here in a day or so. I just came with Aang."
"Good then. Let's go back and formally introduce you to everyone else."
Here Katara got her laugh, but it was hard and scornful, and slightly worse than Avalon not laughing at all.
"Yeah, I'm positive we'll all become the best of friends," she satirized.
"We'll find out," Katara replied, glancing anxiously at this girl whom she thought she knew so well, but just kept throwing her curveballs.
Author's note – I'm back!! And so is Avalon and the rest! I know you're all very excited, haha, so review and tell me what you thought. Talk to you later
Celtic Goddess of Fertility :