The Letter

By Light-Eco-Sage

Rated: Teen for hints of AangxKatara.

Summary: Post-war. One day, while Aang is cleaning out his old mentor's office, he comes across something that he was never prepared to find.

Disclaimer: I do not own Avatar: The Last Airbender.

LES: This story was inspired by another fanfiction about Aang's unknown mother. In the fanfiction, she wrote a letter to her son, but it was never given to him. I thought it would be nice if I changed one little thing… And, just for the record, Aang is fifteen in this fanfiction, three years after Sozin's Comet. First Avatar fanfiction posted ever. Please be gentle. Oh, and a short note. In this story, I make mention of the 'extended life-span' of the Avatar. This information is based on the animated graphic novel of "Escape from the Spirit World" in the Season 2 Box set. They say that Avatar Kyoshi lived to be 230 years old, and she was the longest living Avatar in the history of the Avatar. Even though that is the extreme, that is pretty extreme. So I'm thinking that Avatars naturally live longer than regular humans.

The Southern Air Temple was in shambles.

There were some days that Aang wondered if trying to clean the place up was even worth it. Sure, he was the Avatar, but there was only so much a person could do on his own.

His friends had offered to help him restore the Temple to its former glory, but he had refused them. Somehow, restoring the Temple of his memories seemed to be something he had to complete alone.

It wasn't one of his more intelligent decisions.

Zuko, who was now the Firelord, had his nation to lead, so he was busy keeping the peace in the Fire Nation while the Avatar went on this personal mission. Katara, Sokka, and Toph had also returned to their respective nations to act as the Avatar's peace-keepers while he was busy.

All alone, it had taken him months just to properly bury all the bodies still scattered around the Temple, mainly because he had buried the Fire Nation soldiers also. None of his friends understood why he felt the need to give the murderers who obliterated his entire culture a decent burial, but that was the way Aang was. He had been raised a monk, and therefore, all life was sacred, even your enemies.

And then he had to fix the structure of the Temple. It was on the verge of falling off the mountain. He induced the Avatar State and used Earthbending to strengthen the foundations of the Temple. That took time and planning. One wrong move could have sent the whole Temple crashing off the mountain top.

But, eventually he managed it. He silently thanked Toph for her training in Earthbending, which allowed him to see the structure of the Temple's foundation without actually seeing it.

But there was still a lot of work to be done. Now that he had assured that the Temple wouldn't fall off the mountain, now came the most tedious part: cleaning up a hundred years of mess.

He had started in the common areas, and then slowly moved on to the private residences. Most of the rooms he didn't touch. He worked his way through the Temple, tackling each room one at a time, until he came to the room he dreaded entering the most.

The office of his mentor: Monk Gyatso. Aang had been raised in the Temple for as long as he could remember, having no memory of his parents. But Monk Gyatso became like a father to him. When the other monks were only interested in his status as the Avatar, Monk Gyatso alone remembered that he was a person, and a twelve year old boy.

It was his love for his mentor that was the reason for Aang's quick mastery of Airbending. When the other monks became frustrated at Aang for his 'childish behavior', Monk Gyatso made his lessons in Airbending fun. Like, instead of sending blasts of air at stuffed dummies, they practiced his aim by shooting cakes at the stuffy old monks.

Monk Gyatso had always been with him, even through the painful ceremony when he received his tattoos upon his mastery of Airbending at the tender age of ten. The procedure had taken hours of nauseating pain, since pain relievers were not allowed in the ceremony. But Monk Gyatso had sat next to him the whole time, muttering words of comfort, and telling him how proud he was that he had mastered Airbending so young when most others didn't do it until they were men.

Monk Gyatso had been his whole world, and it had broken his heart when he overheard the other monks talk about separating him from the man who cared for him more than any other.

So he had run away. Yes, it was irrational and childish; and an act of utter cowardice from the Avatar. But, when he ran away, it wasn't as the Avatar; it was as a scared twelve year old boy, who felt lost in the world.

Aang shook his head. That was so many years ago… quite literally. One hundred and three years ago to be precise, although he had been frozen in a block of ice for one hundred of those years. And it was far too late to take back his mistakes.

But, looking back, he wasn't sure if he'd want to take back his mistakes. As bad as things had gone, if he had stayed, he probably would have been killed or captured by the Fire Nation one hundred years ago. And the time he spent in the ice berg allowed him to survive undiscovered for one hundred years so that he could bring about the end of the Century War. He had been given a chance to right all the wrongs he did when he ran away, and had done so. He had met new friends. And he had Katara, his girlfriend of three years, who he was planning to marry when he came of Age next year.

Aang sighed, and opened the door. The room was almost exactly as he remembered it, except the whole place was covered with a century's worth of dust.

The desk was covered with various scrolls, things he must've been working on during his last day. Aang walked over curiously. The scroll on top seemed to be an edict for all the Air Nomads, to look for the missing twelve year old Avatar.

A lump formed in Aang's throat. Monk Gyatso had spent his last days searching for him. Perhaps if he wasn't so focused on finding him, he would have been aware of the Fire Nation's invasion sooner.

Behind the desk was an open aired window that looked down upon the courtyard. Aang remembered that place well. He had spent many hours after he discovered he was the Avatar staring down at the other Airbending boys his age playing, upset that they refused to play with him because he was the Avatar… because being the Avatar gave him an 'unfair advantage'.

The rest of the walls were taken up by bookshelves, containing Airbending scrolls sacred to his people. The entire history of the Air Nomads was probably in this room, an entire culture of which he was the last living member.

He decided that saving the scrolls were his first priority in this room. I have a duty as the last Airbender to save my nation. Not just by repopulating it, but by saving our history for future generations.

He could sense the water in the room, and walked around quickly, Waterbending the water out of the scrolls. He wouldn't be able to save them all, but he could at least stop further destruction.

After Bending the water out the window, offering it to the planets growing outside, he went to Monk Gyatso's desk again, and paused in his stride.

He hadn't noticed before, but one of the drawers had an Airbender lock on it. This confused Aang. Having grown up in the Temple, he learned early on that there were never any locked doors in the Temple, with the exception of the Secret Chamber, which only the Avatar could enter. Secrets were forbidden in the Temple, since information was a gift, and should be free to everyone.

But Monk Gyatso obviously didn't want just anyone to see what was in this drawer.

The lock was much smaller than the one on the Secret Chamber, so Aang only needed a tiny puff of air from the tip of his finger to unlock it. The lock gave away, and he opened the drawer easily.

He wasn't sure what he was expecting to find, but it probably wasn't what he saw.

Inside the drawer was one rolled up scroll and a small note with only a few words on it. Aang grabbed the note first. He recognized it as Monk Gyatso's handwriting instantly.

It read very simply:

"In the hope you will come back. A gift to Avatar Aang, who was a son to me."

Aang stared at the small note for several long minutes. Monk Gyatso had such faith in me when I didn't even have faith in myself. He knew that I'd come back. "I'm one hundred years too late…" Aang whispered. "But I have come back, Master."

He reached back into the drawer and withdrew the scroll. It was addressed very simply: "To Aang".

This struck him as strange. Since the moment he found out he was the Avatar, all the Air Nomads insisted on calling him Avatar Aang. Even Monk Gyatso, had addressed him as 'Avatar Aang' on his note.

He carefully checked the scroll for any sign of damage, but it seemed to have escaped the fate of the ruined scrolls on the bookshelf inside its locked drawer.

He carefully broke the wax seal holding the scroll and unrolled it as he sat down in his old mentor's seat. And he began to read.

"To my beloved…"

Aang paused here. It was the first sentence, and he already had no idea what this letter was about or who it was from. That phrase only seemed right coming out of one person's mouth, and that was Katara. And even Katara had never called him 'beloved' before.

He knew that he'd only get answers if he continued to read, so he started over again.

"To my beloved,

It breaks my heart to know that when you read this, you will be a young man with no memory of who I am and what I mean to you. I'm writing this now, as the monks are only giving me one last day with you, so that you will know who I am. Aang. My beautiful Aang. I am your mother."

Aang's heart skipped a beat. His mother? Could it really be true? He had never known either of his parents. As was tradition in the Air Nomad nation, all the children who had been born in the week following the Fire Nation Avatar's death were brought before the monks on the two year anniversary of the Avatar's death, and given the test to determine which one of them was the new Avatar. The one determined to be the new Avatar was taken from his or her parents to be trained by the monks for the trials the child would face as the Avatar.

It was a tradition that he had always known about, but didn't realize that he was the one who had lived it. But all that happened when he was just two years old and he had no memory of it.

He quickly began to read again, now savoring the words.

"You were born five days after Avatar Roku's death, so your father and I always knew it was a possibility that you were the Avatar reincarnated. But it wasn't until today that all my fears are realized. There were three other children who might be the Avatar. But out of the room of a thousand toys, the other children didn't choose a single holy artifact. You choose all four. You are the Avatar. And now you are to be taken away from me by the monks. My greatest fear is that I will never see you again.

The monks tell me that once you become fully realized, you will be given the chance to see me. But I think I dread such a meeting even more than never seeing you again. Will you grow up loved, loved as I would have wanted? Do you hate your father and me for giving you away to the monks? These questions burden my heart. My Airbending has gone. The spirit is gone from me. I can no longer feel the air move around me like I used to. The thought of losing you has broken me."

Aang stared at the words. He had never known someone to simply lose their Bending abilities out of pure grief. Three years ago, he had forcefully taken Firelord Ozai's Firebending powers by bending his soul in such a way that he could no longer access the spark within him. Could the same thing have happened to his mother?

"Your father is my only consolation. His arms are around me now, just as they were the day you were born, and he reminds me that you are the savior of our people, the one who will maintain the balance in the world. That you will be loved by the whole world. But, you are more to me than the Avatar… you are my only son. And in the two years that you were mine, I loved you with the very depths of my soul.

Your father and I looked forward to teaching you how to Airbend, to soar through the sky as free as any bird to the envy of other nations. I looked forward to seeing you grow into a man. You will have your father's build, but my eyes.

I think you know something is wrong. You are clinging to my dress right now. I can tell from the look in your eyes that you are scared, just as scared as I am at the thought of losing you. You have always been so in tune with my emotions, a bond that exists only between a mother and her child."

From there, Aang noticed that some of the words got blurry. As if his mother had been crying as she wrote the last few sentences.

"The monks tell me that it's time now, that you are to be taken away from me to learn Airbending from them in preparation to be the Avatar. As the Avatar, life will be difficult for you. But I want you to know that your father and I love you, and if we could, we would keep you with us. We may never meet, but always know that we will watch your feats from afar. And know that every time someone speaks of the accomplishments of Avatar Aang, we will smile secretly with the knowledge that you are our son.

I know you will make us proud."

The letter ended there, with one last tear mark on the page. Another fresh tear mark joined it. A tear flowed down Aang's face, his heart breaking with the knowledge that his mother and father had wanted him, and were proud of him. That his mother wanted to hold him, but couldn't, because he was the Avatar.

She must've been so heartbroken when she realized that her son was the Avatar. Aang had never really given a lot of thought to his parents before. Mostly because the other Airbenders that he trained with at the Temple were either orphans or cast-aways. So he always assumed that he was one too.

But his parents hadn't given him to the Temple because they wanted to… they had to.

Aang wondered for a moment: What would my life have been like if I hadn't chosen the four holy objects? What if I had been raised by my parents? Had learned Airbending from them?

The answer was painfully clear. He would have died with them in the Fire Nation invasion.

It was because he ran away from the Temple that he was able to survive the last one hundred years and end a devastating war, that he had been able to meet the love of his life, and that his parent's legacy could live on through him.

He was the Avatar, and soon, he would become the father of an entire nation. That was the legacy this one woman left upon the world.

She and her husband were long-since dead. But their child would restore the balance of the world and rebuild their nation anew.

Aang glanced out the window, and into the sky. "Mother… I hope I've made you proud. And I love you, too."

LES: Man, this was really cheesy! Well, now to get back to work on my multi-chapter Avatar fic which isn't even close to being done. It's only in the second chapter, for goodness sake. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this rather pointless story.