Old Wives Tales

By Light-Eco-Sage

Rated: Teen for romance; which means Kataang, of course.

Summary: Katara's Grandmother had taught her those old wives tales: about what to look for in a husband. Don't marry an Airbender, the saying went. But Katara finds the loop-hole.

Timeline: 3 Years Post-Series

Disclaimer: "Avatar: The Last Airbender" and all its wonderful characters are created and owned by Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko.

LES: In our world, there's a ton of old wives tales concerning marriage. There's even one that says meeting a monk or nun on your wedding day will foretell barrenness. (But what if you marry one?) (JK!) So, why shouldn't the Avatar world have some of those too? Written for Kataang Festival 2010!

Katara remembered well the day that she first became a woman in her Tribe, the first day she bled. Thankfully, she had been warned well in advance what to expect from her body, so the sight of blood did not scare her. It made her feel gross, but she wasn't scared of the changes happening within her body.

She had gone straight to her Gran-Gran.

The old woman looked up briefly from the food that she was tending to in the center fire. "Katara, dear, what is it?"

"I'm bleeding, Gran-Gran." Katara said simply.

The old woman's eyes brightened and she beheld her granddaughter. "Congratulations on becoming a woman, my dear!" She said, standing up to give her granddaughter an embrace. "Are you sore?"

"Yes." Katara admitted, running her hands over her lower abdomen and thighs where the ache was most intense.

"It's all right, dear. Becoming a woman is often not pleasant." Gran-Gran said kindly. "I'll go get some supplies for you to help your aches and help you stay clean." She got up and bustled around the hut, collecting the things that would help Katara in the transition from girlhood to womanhood.

Once Katara had been cleaned up and had taken the medicine to ease her aches, she felt a little better. "Thank you, Gran-Gran." The young Waterbender said gratefully.

"Katara, I believe that it's time that we had another talk." Gran-Gran said, sitting down once again.

"What do you want to talk about?" Katara said, sitting down.

"We need to talk about your future husband." Gran-Gran answered.

"But… Gran-Gran, I'm not old enough to get married yet." Katara said truthfully. She was only thirteen years old, soon to be fourteen. It was much too soon to be thinking about marriage. She did need some time to adjust to the whole 'being a woman' thing.

"It's never too early to think about your future, Katara." Gran-Gran said. "Now listen carefully…" Gran-Gran paused, and then recited from memory.

"Marry an Earthbender and your love will be strong and true

Marry a Waterbender and your life will never be boring

Marry a Firebender, for passion and fire will be yours

Marry not the Airbender, for theirs is a fleeting love."

"But, Gran-Gran, there aren't any Airbenders anymore." Katara said, pointing out the obvious.

"Of course not, dear, but you still need to watch out for men who are like the Airbenders of old." Gran-Gran said. "An Earthbender is true to his wife. Earth makes a man strong and stable. An Earthbender would be able to support you and your children with his strength, integrity, and determination. A Waterbender constantly changes. Water allows a man to ebb and flow with the challenges of life. A Waterbender would be able to handle any sort of stress and strife that comes your way. A Firebender…"

"I'm never marrying a Firebender!" Katara said firmly.

Gran-Gran laughed. "You never know, dear. A Firebender is passionate to his wife. Fire is the element of heat, passion, and lust. A Firebender is the master of romance and satisfying a woman's physical lust."

"Eww." Katara said simply.

"In a few more years, you won't think of sex as something to be avoided, but something to be desired." Gran-Gran told her. "And as for Airbenders and the men who are like Airbenders… you cannot trust these men. They are flighty like the wind, blowing from one woman to the other with barely a thought. The Airbenders did not marry, but took on various lovers as it pleased them. This is not the ideal husband for anyone. Avoid these men, Katara. Don't fall in love with an Airbender."

(Four Years Later)

Katara gazed into her reflection in the mirror, hardly able to recognize herself. She could never quite get over the fact that when she looked in a mirror now-a-days, she saw her mother's reflection looking back at her.

Hakoda often said that Katara would grow into a rare beauty just like her mother, but now Katara was starting to see it in herself. It only seemed appropriate that she would see her mother's reflection today since it was her wedding day. It was just Katara's little way of imagining that her mother was here with her.

Katara carefully inspected her dress one last time, looking for any flaws or imperfections. The young Waterbender sighed to herself. It was perfect. It was a silken dress in the style of Earth Kingdom wedding dresses; pure white, draping, and elegant. It showed just enough of her smooth skin that she knew it would please Aang, but not so much that it would make him jealous for other men to look at her. Satisfied with the dress, she reached over towards the table and put on the finishing touch, the betrothal necklace that was made by the man who was soon to be her husband.

It was a wonderfully designed piece that almost made Katara cry when she first beheld it. It was very much like the necklace that had belonged to her mother, except the design was different. The basis of the carving was the sign of Yin Yang. The Yin of the carving was filled with the stylized image of the ocean, to represent Katara; and the Yang side was carved with the stylized image of the wind, to represent her future husband. Together, they balanced each other, literally and symbolically. That was the nature of their relationship and the nature of their love; thus, it was the perfect image to represent them.

Katara carefully pinned the necklace around her neck. She admired herself one more time in the mirror's reflection before a voice spoke behind her.

"Hey, Katara, are you ready?" Katara turned around, grinning. It was Aang, the man that she was going to marry in just a few minutes.

Katara smiled at him. "I'll be ready in just one moment, Aang. I just need to make sure that I've made the right decision." Aang stared at her, fairly concerned and Katara began to recite:

"Marry an Earthbender and your love will be strong and true

Marry a Waterbender and your life will never be boring

Marry a Firebender, for passion and fire will be yours

Marry not the Airbender, for theirs is a fleeting love."

Aang didn't say anything for several moments. "I don't think I like that one. Whatever happened to: "Married when the year is new, he'll be loving, kind and true…"

"On the contrary, Aang, I like that one very much." Katara said, moving over to him and kissing him. "It's convinced me that I've made the right choice in my husband."

"Katara, I don't want a simple fleeting romance with you…" Aang began, but Katara cut him off.

"Aang…" Katara began. "When we first met, you were an Airbender. The feelings that you had for me… they were nothing more than a crush. Crushes don't last, Aang."


"But then, you began to learn Waterbending." Katara continued, finally silencing her future husband. "Your feelings for me began to change and develop into something much deeper than a crush. Next, you learned Earthbending. Your feelings for me began to strengthen and stabilize into something that could not be broken. Finally, you learned Firebending. Your love grew hot with the fires of passion and physical lust. I am marrying a man whose good qualities of the elements balance out the bad qualities of the others. You are the right man for me, Aang."

"Then I promise to be strong, flowing, and passionate in my love for you for all the days of my life." Aang said, pulling her into a kiss. "And, Katara… an Airbender's love might be flighty, but it is also intense. I will love you with the intensity of an Airbender forever."

"I know you will, Aang." Katara said, giving him one last kiss.

When they pulled apart, Aang grinned at her. "So, where did you hear that old wives tale?"

"Gran-Gran told it to me when I was a younger." Katara answered.

Suddenly, to Katara's shock, Aang began to laugh out loud.

"What? What is it, Aang?" Katara asked.

Aang slowly calmed down, and wiped away some of the laughter-tears that had formed in the corners of his eyes. "I'm sorry, Katara. That was just funny… Now I understand why your Grandmother just tried to beat the 'Airbender' out of me with her cane!"

Aang and Katara started laughing, and together they left the small room to go and face the beginning of their new lives together.

LES: The necklace design was from my first attempted Kataang Festival Story. The story didn't work out, but the design was too good to pass us. I had to reuse it!