A/N: Hey there readers. I hate Aiden's name, so I'm running a poll. Check my profile to vote!
The wedding was held outside, at midnight. The celebrations had continued throughout the day, with all but the wedding party enjoying the festivities. This meant that Zuko, Toph, Suki, and Aang had seen neither hide nor hair of Sokka and Katara since the first night of the festivities. Zuko had been willingly accepted into the Water Tribe's community, learning much about their way of life. He was eager to return home with his new ideas, and to discuss them with Aiden. His grin turned to a grimace as he thought of his conversation with Sokka the previous night. Sokka. The thought was a curse. Why does he feel the need to turn everything into a joke? I mention that I've made a friend and the first thing he does is twist it into something he can... he can lord over me! It's enough to drive me mad. I shouldn't ever take anything he says seriously, but -
Suddenly, a heavy drum beat sounded. It reverberated through his chest. His head snapped toward the sound, and he hurriedly pushed his shaggy hair from his eyes as the procession began.
Master Pakku emerged first, accompanied by the young male Warriors and Water-Benders of the Tribe. Heavy drum beats accented their movements. It was a fierce display or power, pride, and prestige that had Zuko nearly out of his seat in excitement. However, the others gathered for the ceremony remained solemn. He followed their lead, controlling his excitement.
Master Pakku moved fluidly through the throngs of warriors and Benders, striving to reach the altar that was prepared for the ceremony. The men kept him at bay. Zuko leaned forward in his seat, his eyebrows pulling together.
"It's a performance," Aang whispered beside him. Zuko's head twitched in his direction. The young Air-Bender's eyes were alight. "Katara explained it all to me while we were flying here. It's supposed to represent the man's struggles, and the turmoil until she was a part of his life." Zuko's attention immediately snapped back to the ceremonies as all the pounding ceased.
A beautiful, haunting flute melody began, and from the top of a hill emerged a maiden, dressed all in white. Her hair was tied back with ribbons and flowers. Zuko recognized Kanna, though he had met her only once before. She was accompanied by many young women, and Zuko spied Katara among them. On closer inspection, Zuko recognized Sokka among the Warrior men as well.
Kanna carved a winding path through the men, never stopping. "This is a special part of the ceremony," Aang said. Zuko's head twitched in his direction, but he could not take his eyes off the ceremony. "Usually, the woman and the man simply walk to each other, then they walk to the alter. This represents how they were separated, and their longing for one another." Zuko saw Kanna reach Pakku. They took hands and then proceeded with the ceremony as normal.
Zuko was enraptured with the beauty of the ceremony. He took in every tiny detail, creating a special place for the memory, storing it lovingly inside his mind. He watched as Pakku and Kanna recited their vows, looking at one another with love.
"We are all witness to their love." Chief Arnook, presiding over the ceremony, called out to the gathered people. "May this day always be a reminder. Though trials may separate us, love brings us together again." Arnook smiled, turning back to the newly married couple. "Go into the world and celebrate your love! I pronounce you one!" A cheer rattled in Zuko's chest, and he grinned and rose to his feet as everyone ran from their seats to escort the newlyweds to their reception. Zuko was swept into the throng, powerless against the tide of celebrants. He didn't mind though - the spirit of the occasion had finally gotten to him. He hooted and called with everyone else, his spirits soaring.
The reception was decorated beautifully, with small flowers covering nearly every surface. The color theme was bright, with purple, white, and orange flowers secreting a fresh scent. Katara quickly gathered everyone together. She looked beautiful, and Aang blushed madly as she took his hand. Zuko looked around for Sokka and Suki, and saw them together. They drifted from his mind easily as he threw himself into the celebrations, all thoughts of the outside world forgotten.
Sokka stared at the moon, his face a mask. His mind turned and roiled with conflict, but no one could have seen that by looking at him.
No one except Suki. She had learned to recognize the warrior's various 'moods', but this was one she rarely saw. His hands curled into fists, and his jaw clenched and unclenched. He only stared at the moon, unmoving. Suki remembered their first reunion, when he had acted so protectively. He had never told her anything more beyond that explanation, but he had been staring at the moon then, too. She approached him slowly, biting her lip. She touched his arm lightly. "Hey," she whispered.
He smiled back sadly. "Hey." He took her hand and continued staring at the moon.
"Is there something you want to talk about?" Suki asked hesitantly, afraid she was going to upset him.
Sighing, Sokka turned to face her. "Did I ever tell you about Yue?" Suki only shook her head. She had never heard Sokka's explanation of their relationship."I didn't think so. I should have told you a long time ago." He paused before continuing. "I met Yue the first time I came here. She's...She was the Princess, Chief Arnook's daughter. She was engaged, but she hated him. It was an arranged marriage, for political power." Sokka swallowed hard. "She was very beautiful, and very wise. She would have made a very good leader."
"What happened to her?" Though Suki had expected to feel jealous upon hearing more about their relationship, she felt only sympathy for his pain.
Though it was painful, Sokka explained Yue's short life, and their even shorter relationship. Suki listened, tightening her grip on his hand when tears came to his eyes.
"And then she was gone. One moment she was here, and the next she was gone. It was so...sad." The word fell short compared to the grief expressed in Sokka's voice. "When I saw you again, I was happy, but I was too scared to let myself show it. Yue was a Princess, but she was always so strong. She gave up her life so easily...I knew you wouldn't hesitate if you had to do the same for any of us. So I..." A rueful smile as he looked at Suki. "I was a jerk. I did everything I could to try and control something that wasn't up to me." Sokka's smile faded slowly. Neither of them spoke. Suki wasn't sure what to say, and Sokka didn't want to say anything else. He only returned his gaze to the moon. She stared at his face, his eyes already miles away. He looked guilty. She took his other hand. She couldn't stand to see him torturing himself like this.
"She would want you to be happy, you know," Suki whispered, urging him to look at her, if only for a moment. She felt that she knew enough of their relationship to be able to console him.
"Why? I let her die. I didn't protect her." More tears slipped down his face.
"Sokka, you know that's not true." She wrapped her arms around his neck, speaking fervently into his ear. His strong arms pulled her closer. "You're wrong. She knew what she was doing, and it was the right choice. Just because it hurts doesn't make it wrong. She wanted to stay with you - even though I never once even spoke to her I'm sure of that." She paused. "You've got too much of your life ahead of you to let this hold you back." She kissed his cheek. "I love you, Sokka. And I respect your relationship with Yue as much as I respect ours. But you've got to move past it. Not forget it - only understand that there was nothing you could do. So please...if not for yourself, then for me...and Yue too. She can still see you, you know." She pulled back and looked at the moon herself. "She wants you to be happy - I know it." She squeezed his torso. "So for both of us. Be happy, please."
Sokka pulled away, and stared deeply into Suki's chocolate eyes. Somehow, the way Suki explained it made everything seem all right. He smiled at her with more love than ever. "Thank you," he whispered, pulling her close again. Their eyes closed, enjoying their moment of solitude.
Sokka sensed a presence with them. He pulled back, and a ghostly figure was standing next to them.
"Yue?" Sokka's whisper was feather light as he stared at the beautiful moon spirit before him. Suki was intimidated, but stood her ground. She hoped that Yue had not been angered by her words.
Yue took one of Sokka's hands, and joined it with one of Suki's. "I'm glad you two have found each other," she said, smiling. "Suki is very wise, Sokka. You should listen to her." Yue turned her attention to Suki. "Take care of him. He needs it." The girls shared a smile, though Suki's was clouded with tears.
And as quickly as she was there, again she was gone. However, Sokka's smile was firm as he gazed at the moon.
"Thank you, Yue," Suki whispered.
A/N: I know that last Soki moment was completely unrelated, but enjoy it anyway. :D