By Tempests Never Shaken

Disclaimer: Avatar:the Last Airbender duly belongs to Bryke. No profit is made from this story other than the sheer gratification of reviews.

NOTE: You've all seen this coming. But humor me a while.

This last part is quite lighthearted since most of the story has been serious anyway. The charm in Avatar has always been its mix of humor and drama. And while that balance was not apparent in this story, I'd still like a little humor before we go.

And I have some little announcements at the end if you're interested in future works.

Thank you all.

EPILOGUE

Weeks after the battle and there were still large remnants of ice from when the ocean froze over.

Things had settled down in the village and everyone was at last able to relax after the series of trials that had beset them. Life fell back into its familiar, comfortable pattern, and for the time being, no one wanted to think that it could be otherwise.

Sokka had taken greater responsibility for organizing the village and putting things in better order. He was no longer the smug and overconfident warrior chieftain which he had believed himself to be and yet, he was growing closer to becoming the wise and strong leader that his father was. Kanna and Katara were proud of how far he had grown.

The two firebenders continued to do their share in helping the villagers and leading simple lives although at night, the uncle and nephew would gravely discuss what course of action to take next. They were fairly certain that Zhao's soldiers would say nothing of their existence or of the attack on the South Pole.

However, it was only matter of time before they would have to face the realities of the war again. For now, they would try and come up with a plan.

This was the perfect time for the others to recuperate from injuries, rest from all hard labor, and simply enjoy the simple, quiet, undisturbed life.

But restless hearts never can be stilled.

And on this most auspicious morning, a pair of eager benders had sailed out to sea on the pretext of fixing the ice.

But of course, they really just wanted to get out of the confines of the village. They needed some time away to think about the future, about what they would do next.

Zuko and Katara were silent as they let their small boat be carried away by the slight current, enjoying the solitude and silence.

They had come to an even better understanding after the past series of events and it had become perfectly clear that what fate brought together no other force could tear asunder.

Whenever the two would be seen together in the village, everyone else would merely smile. There were other reactions as well. Some of the younger children would either snicker or pout with slight disgust at what their "older brother dragon" had reduced himself to.

Some of the older women would giggle like young girls and others would wink at Katara, always eliciting blushes from the waterbender.

Iroh would nudge his nephew every now and then causing Zuko to roll his eyes.

And secretly, Kanna and Iroh were already gleefully discussing the not so distant possibility of grandchildren/grand-nephews or nieces. At least there was one other good thing to expect after the war ends.

But such things were for the future.

For now, the two master benders busied themselves melting the remaining excess icebergs and talking of the amusing things that happened in the village.

Zuko and Sokka had continued their sword fights but this time Sokka acted more like a sport. And sometimes, the Water Tribe boy was lucky enough to have a draw with his opponent although Katara always suspected that Zuko was also trying to be kind to her brother.

The two benders had also engaged in duels of their own, showing their bending prowess in such elaborate displays that their sparring sessions were always like big shows for children and adults alike.

They talked of forming a strong force of resistance against the Fire Lord, of forging alliances with the Earth Kingdom, Northern Water Tribe, and Fire Nation deserters. Although the war had dragged on for so long, they felt hopeful about the future.

They just had a feeling that something was going to go right for them this time, but they could not be sure of what it would be.

But they trusted in the Spirits, who had proven to be on their side all along.

--

"AAAACHHHHHHHHHHOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!"

Katara quickly jumped out of the way as a blast of fire hit the nearest iceberg, a huge mass that she had not even begun to melt.

"Well, that saves us some time," the waterbender remarked with amusement.

Zuko glared at her, rubbing his nose.

She then looked at him with some concern.

"Don't tell me you're coming down with a cold?" she asked.

The firebender immediately straightened up and folded his arms.

"Of course not," he replied adamantly.

Katara narrowed her eyes skeptically. His nose was looking a bit red.

"Are you sure?" she inquired further, "you have been tiring yourself out lately. Even if I've been telling you not to."

"It's no big deal, Katara, I'm fine."

"You just sneezed a fireball into a glacier."

"That's how firebenders sneeze."

"Come on, Zuko. You've been poisoned, unconscious, struck by lightning, and involved in a lot of heavy fighting and in severely cold weather that you aren't accustomed to. It's only natural if you come down with a cold."

"I think you underestimate my immune system."

"How could I? I've repaired it so many times already."

Zuko frowned at Katara's amusement. Unfortunately for him, he sneezed another fireball into the large glacier, melting a bit of the ice off.

"Let's just call it a day," the waterbender suggested.

"No, the sun's still up, we can still do some work."

"Just because you rise with the sun doesn't mean you have to work while it shines."

"This is nothing. We can still get things done."

"No. We're going back. Now."

"Stop treating me like a child."

"Stop acting like one."

"And when have I ever done that?"

"Ha? If I only had the time.."

"What's that supposed to mean?" Zuko asked, still rubbing his itching nose.

"Oh, come on, Zuko, you can be so stubborn, pigheaded, immature, ..."

And as she struggled to complete the sentence, he interrupted her slyly.

"So are you," he said with a mischievous grin.

Caught off her guard, Katara raised her hands in exasperation and gave a soft growl.

In her emotion, she had inadvertently cracked the melted glacier in two, and as the large chunks of ice fell away, another large ice ball was revealed.

The two bender instantly forgot their argument and looked at each other in surprise.

The ice ball seemed to have two figures trapped in it. But Zuko and Katara could not clearly see what these were.

Although they had a pretty good idea.

They held each other's hands in excitement. The realization of all their hopes and dreams had been right in front of them, and they had been arguing like children.

"Oh, Zuko," Katara whispered excitedly, "could this really be him?"

"I have no doubt about it," Zuko replied with a smile.

And Katara instantly threw her arms around him with joy. Zuko's eyes widened slightly and returned the embrace before breaking away and pulling Katara towards the iceberg.

As they stood before it, they nodded to each other.

Unleashing a fury of firebending and waterbending, Zuko and Katara released the two prisoners from their icy dungeon.

Waves of water and ice washed upon them, which Katara easily diverted. Once all this had cleared, they waited in bated breath.

A small figure with glowing eyes slowly climbed out of the iceberg and then fainted and slid towards the two astonished benders.

Katara and Zuko rushed to his side.

There was no longer any doubt in their mind about what they would have to do. The mission was clear and they were determined to see it through to the end, together.

They understood that every road they had taken, all they had had to endure, everything led to this one, glorious moment.

So it happened that two smiling faces were the first things the young Avatar saw when he opened his eyes again after a hundred years.

-FIN-

And so ends my own epic journey.

The story that began in Germany, continued somewhat in Paris and London, now ends aptly back home, in good old Manila.

I say this because I started writing this during my summer European tour and I am now back home, squeezing writing between school work.

Again, a HUGE THANK YOU to all those who have supported this story.

Bigger THANKS to those who have been reading my work since "Sojourn in Solitude" or even "A Path Strewn with Thorns." I really LOVE you all. And all your reviews have been the food to help me get through another story in spite of my hellish school year.

This was hardly a perfect story, and shorter than my others. But still complete. I wanted a lighthearted pre-series Zutara but it turned out to be darker and more eventful than I had anticipated. I hope you enjoyed the ride, nevertheless.

INSPIRATIONS:

You may have noticed these already from some of the chapters:

Pocahontas: the Spirits arc, the dream, a girl wanting more, love between two people from different worlds, specifically the songs "Listen with your Heart" and mostly "Just Around the Riverbend".

I just have to mention that a greater influence was the French version of "Just Around the Riverbend." The lyrics fit the story more, I think because they speak of waiting for an unknown voyager, of yearning for adventure and love, that comes only for the singer (Katara). For those who speak French:

Ce que je préfère dans les rivières,
C'est que printemps, été ou hiver,
Elles changent toujours d'humeur et de couleur.
Mais combien de cœurs dans la nature,
Ont rêvé d'aventure,
En laissant fuir les années, sans se demander :

Au détour de la rivière,
Sera-t-il au détour de la rivière ?
Bravant les flots,
Ce voyageur de la mer,
Sur son bateau.

Et toujours je crois,
Toujours j'espère,
Que cet inconnu viendra.
Au détour de la rivière ...
Pour moi, rien que pour moi ...

En badinant, le vent balade
Des torrents de rires en cascade.
Les tambours nuit et jour,
Résonnent d'amour.
Mais celui que je voudrais choisir,
Pour construire l'avenir,
Viendra-t-il de la terre,
Ou du bleu des mers ?
Au détour de la rivière ...
Au détour de la rivière ...

J'attends, j'espère,
Qu'au détour de la rivière,
Il sera là,
Venant de la mer,
Rien que pour moi,
Dans un rêve de lumière.
Au détour de la rivière ...
Au détour de la rivière ...

Faut-il éteindre la flamme,
Dans le lit d'un fleuve calme,
En épousant Kocoum,
Pour ne plus rêver à cet homme ?
Je voudrais tant m'évader, Voyageur,
Sur la rivière de ton cœur...

Once on this Island: specifically the song "Waiting for Life" and the interference of the Gods, the love story between two people from different ways of life

Mulan: the Avalanche (I wrote those chapters while listening to the soundtrack

And the inspiration for the title came from that great poet and a favorite of mine, William Wordsworth! (I am almost unworthy to mention his name!)

Here is the poem, if you care to read it:

"to the moon "

Queen of the stars! - so gentle, so benign,
That ancient Fable did to thee assign,
When darkness creeping o'er thy silver brow
Warned thee these upper regions to forego,
Alternate empire in the shades below -
A Bard, who, lately near the wide-spread sea
Traversed by gleaming ships, looked up to thee
With grateful thoughts, doth now thy rising hail
From the close confines of a shadowy vale.

Glory of night, conspicuous yet serene,
Nor less attractive when by glimpses seen
Through cloudy umbrage, well might that fair face,
And all those attributes of modest grace,
In days when Fancy wrought unchecked by fear,
Down to the green earth fetch thee from thy sphere,
To sit in leafy woods by fountains clear!

O still beloved (for thine, meek Power, are charms
That fascinate the very Babe in arms,
While he, uplifted towards thee, laughs outright,
Spreading his little palms in his glad Mother's sight)

O still beloved, once worshipped! Time, that frowns
In his destructive flight on earthly crowns,
Spares thy mild splendour; still those far-shot beams

Tremble on dancing waves and rippling streams
With stainless touch, as chaste as when thy praise
Was sung by Virgin-choirs in festal lays;
And through dark trials still dost thou explore
Thy way for increase punctual as of yore,
When teeming Matrons - yielding to rude faith
In mysteries of birth and life and death
And painful struggle and deliverance - prayed
Of thee to visit them with lenient aid.

What though the rites be swept away, the fanes
Extinct that echoed to the votive strains;
Yet thy mild aspect does not, cannot, cease
Love to promote and purity and peace;
And Fancy, unreproved, even yet may trace
Faint types of suffering in thy beamless face.

Then silent Monitress! let us - not blind
To worlds unthought of till the searching mind
Of Science laid them open to mankind -
Told, also, how the voiceless heavens declare
God's glory; and acknowledging thy share
In that blest charge; let us - without offence
To aught of highest, holiest, influence -
Receive whatever good 'tis given thee to dispense.

May sage and simple, catching with one eye
The moral intimations of the sky,
Learn from thy course, where'er their own be taken,
"To look on tempests, and be never shaken;"

To keep with faithful step the appointed way
Eclipsing or eclipsed, by night or day,
And from example of thy monthly range
Gently to brook decline and fatal change;
Meek, patient, stedfast, and with loftier scope,
Than thy revival yields, for gladsome hope!

William Wordsworth 1770-1850

--

I really do not have the strength or time to make longer stories but you can be assured that I will keep writing.

Especially if you keep reading.

First off, the usual acknowledgments:

Thanks for adding this story to the C2 for "The Best Avatar Fics." I'm deeply flattered.

Thank you to all those who ever reviewed this story: Kaydreams, zukoxluver, Manola3, xyzisme, Liooness, JJJ, Luiz4200, violet eyes, LiiLu, fortitude rising, NorthernLights25, Tara, merlyn1382, LinaStar, Kristoshi Warrior, Saucebender, janedoe401, spinners0end, Moussahijinx, zukoxluver, sokkantylee, lazyguy90, JC, BrilliantGreenEyes, something like human, thegypsy, funnyjunkie, Ogro, Midori Aoi, GalacticEmpireDragon, The Coyote, maybeSammy, Nani, dwelian, StarHarp, Reva, Natalia, Joseph Santiago, TheMightyErrg, ConnerK, mars, Darkness's Daughter, toby, Egyptian Kat, J, Tessa, Swim-in-Fire41, MrUley, artFULLYoutuvit, lady kae, Maladory Canrei, Rya Three Saber, NathanJames23, Aimracer, Ace, Riza44, the scatterbrained oracle, CandelaIncendiendo, Kafira Dalila, Kim, Maned WolfGoddess, Caellach Tiger Eye, dracula-key, King of the World500, Just-a-Reader, Mya84, K-naille, and Someone.

Thank you for all the Story Alerts: -AlittleDifferentFromTheRest-, A Future Unknown Author, Aimracer, Aralys, ArrayePL, artFULLYoutuvit, Bonnie5572, boylover19, Bri285536, CandelaIncendiendo, Chibi Orochi-kun, crossxavier, DanceToTheCadence, Darkness's Daughter, dwelian, Egyptian Kat, Firelover92, Flying Through Infinity, fortitude rising, funnyjunkie, gred18850, HPGal3, ju97ju97, K-naille, Kafira Dalila, karrafear, Kaydreams, Kurodarkness, lalaland81985, love4anime, Lucrezia6565, Luiz4200, Maladory Canrei, Manola3, maybeSammy, merlyn1382, MetalBlade56, missaw, NathanJames23, newangel08, Ogro, phantomviola, Phenominal22, PurpleBalletSlippers, RachieM, Reiuko, Sandra Evans, Saucebender, Schwimmschik, shortness11cat5, slayerstoryguy, Smashing Stars, something like human, Sophophobic, Sylver Skye, The Coyote, thegypsy, varjak, whatsername911, xyzisme, Zatarafreak, Zorroami, zukoxluver, and zutararocks1416.

Thank you for all the Favorites: -AlittleDifferentFromTheRest-, a blinding summer light, Alaksandra, Blackcat90, BlueHeavensAngel, Bonnie5572,BrilliantGreenEyes, charzar, Chibi Orochi-kun, Crystal Violeta, Damion Knight, daragon10, Darkness's Daughter, dracula-key, dwelian, Eswin, Firelover92, Foxflame, Geminidragon, Helen Racine, janedoe401, ju97ju97, K-naille, Kaydreams, King Of the World500, lady kae, Maned Wolf Goddess, Manola3, merlyn1382, MetalBlade56, Midori Aoi, MoonTears8, Moussahijinx, , NovaWolf, Okami no Yume, PhantomWriter2.0, roxxienica, Rya Three Saber, Sealed-Dynasty, skog2947, slayerstoryguy, sokkantylee, SweetFhawn, Zatarafreak, NorthernLights25, Ogro, Egyptian Kat, zukoxluver, and zutararocks1416.

(Sorry if I mistyped your usernames and if I missed anyone.)

And thank you for those who added me to either Author Alert or Favorite Authors after reading this story.

Thank you in advance to all those who review or add this story to your favorites even after I've completed the story.

And special thank you to those who still supported my "Zutara Week 2009" entries even in the middle of this story.

Next, the issue of a sequel. Definitely NONE. You all know basically what happens after this epilogue, albeit in a different way. The events will probably be similar to those in "An Alliance of Traitors".

And a sequel would essentially be a rewrite of the WHOLE SERIES. O_O No strength for that.

So, sorry. No sequel at all to this one.

BUT...

I will be posting a new story after this which will serve as a "companion piece" to this story. Not a sequel in the conventional sense of being a continuation of a story, but a story that contains similar themes but set in very different circumstances. Here are some things to expect (without spoilers):

Zutara (of course!)

set during and after "The Day of Black Sun"

more characters

Bitter!Katara (I'd like to write her again after writing so much of kind and gentle Katara in this one)

Katara healing Zuko (but it won't be easy or safe at all)

That's all I will be revealing.

I will be posting a one-shot today called "A Flicker of Light". Set from an original character's point of view, it can stand on its own and also introduce my next story, sort of like a movie trailer.

I don't know how soon the Prologue will be posted but you can be sure it will be within this month, so I hope you can check it out if you're interested.

Updates I will try to work on as fast as I can but no guarantee that they can be very fast. I implore your patience, as usual, and I thank you for it. But I will see it through the end.

In the meantime, I might be posting some one-shots for other fandoms as well as some long-needed updates for my other stories. You can be assured that I will always be writing.

For the nth time, THANK YOU, everyone! That's pretty much all I can say.

:)