Ten Years After the Comet

Just as she did every day, Nerrivek made her way through the streets of Lumin—though or 'Republic City' as most newer residents were calling it now—towards a particular building by the sea. As she turned the corner, the sight still brought a smile to her face, even after five years. Southern Waterbending School, read the carved stone sign, with the cresting wave symbol of the Southern Water Tribe below it, fish circling about the circle's rim. It had been a gift from Jura when the school was founded. Inside she found more cause to smile. In each of the classrooms and bending practice arenas she passed, she saw many students from all three waterbending tribes and even some from the descendants of the southern waterbenders that had chosen the Fire Nation over the home of their ancestors. And they were all doing their best to learn under the vigilant eye of their instructors. What made Nerrivek smile the most, though, was what she saw when she entered the offices of the school's founder.

"Good morning, Master Hama," she said, nodding a greeting.

"Yes, I thought it was," the elder waterbender agreed. She was basking in the sunlight coming in through the office window, but when her eyes opened, they were as bright as ever and her smile had only grown more kindly with age. "How are you, dear?"

"I'm fine, Master," Nerrivek assured her, sitting down beside the old woman. "I'm sorry to bother you, but I thought I had better come talk to you before my classes this morning. We just got the weekly report from the Fire Nation."

Hama's smile vanished at once and she nodded solemnly, sitting up straighter. The effort cost her, gnarled hands quivering a bit, but she managed it.

"What do they say?" she asked in a low voice. "Is there any progress on getting more people inside the navy?"

"Yes," Nerrivek said, nodding. "Another boy has been accepted into the naval academy. Also, we've finally won approval to let the school in our settlement employ teachers from the southern tribe."

"That's wonderful news!" Hama said, her smile returning. "Make sure to keep pushing on that front, dear. From there, it isn't so far to having a voice in how the revised history is taught. We can't have Katara having the final word on the matter, she'll never get it right. And keep an eye on that Takaji and his daughter. They promised me they'd find a good match for her soon, but they're dragging their heels about it."

"Of course, Master," Nerrivek said.

Hama said nothing more for a little while, then let out a great sigh.

"Nerrivek," she said at length, "I'm not going to see our purpose fulfilled in my life."

The younger waterbender kept quiet at that. There was nothing to say, for it was true.

"I thought once that I might…we could induce the Fire Nation into civil war and then the rest of the world could do the rest and wipe out the remnants…well, you know how that turned out, of course. So all that was left was binding our nations together with blood. Make them kin of a sort while gathering enough power to make sure…oh, dear, there I go rambling on again. I suppose what I'm trying to say, dear, is that I'm very proud of what you've done and what you'll keep doing when I'm gone."

"You've said that many times, Master," Nerrivek said, drawing the old woman into a hug, "but I never get tired of hearing it. Thank you." Drawing back, she blushed slightly. "Um, actually, there was one other thing I meant to tell you."

"Oh?" Hama asked, chuckling. "And what might that be?"

"Well…" Nerrivek said, twiddling her thumbs, "…I'm with child."

Hama's wrinkled features lit up with pure delight.

"Ha!" she crowed. "So you and that man of yours finally got somewhere, did you? I knew it!"

"Master, please, keep it down!" Nerrivek pleaded, but she couldn't keep the smile off her face.

Hama laughed again, though not quite as loudly.

"Of course, dear, but I'm just so happy to hear that. Have you thought about names yet?"

"It's a little early, Master," Nerrivek said, her cheeks as red as they could get. "But, um, yes, we've been talking. If it's a girl, we were hoping to name her after you."

She saw tears gleam in the corners of Hama's eyes and her voice quivered when she replied.

"I'm not sure I deserve that, dear, but I would be honored. And if it's a boy?"

"Well, we aren't really sure yet, actually."

"Whatever you decide, I'm sure it will be fine," Hama assured her. "Now you had better get to your class, dear, and tell them all the good news. I don't want you doing any strenuous bending."

Nerrivek sighed.

"Of course, Master. I'll go and do that right now." She rose, bowed, and departed, leaving Hama to resume her place under the ray of sunlight. Hope for the future. A keeper for my legacy and the power to protect our people. I never would have thought it possible. Life is full of surprises.