Chapter 20 The Greatest Gift
Aang was finishing his lunch in his house in Ba Sing Se. He had let Appa sleep for most of the day and now as late afternoon was approaching he was getting ready to head back to his true home at the Southern Air Temple with his girlfriend Azula. While he was putting the dishes he had used away he heard a knock at the front door. Aang wasn't sure who knew he was here, so he figured it must be Toph checking to see if he was still here. He walked towards the door and opened it, surprised to see Katara standing there, Momo sitting on her shoulder.
Katara said, "Hello Aang, please can I come in." Aang stepped back and motioned Katara to come in. As Katara moved through the door past Aang, Momo jumped from her shoulder to his head. Katara said, "I heard you were in town and I thought I'd drop Momo by, he's been missing you." Momo plopped down on Aang's head, Aang rubbed his ear and smiled saying; "Is that true buddy, did you miss me?" Momo just made some sort of chirping sound and nodded. Katara smiled at him and locked her ocean blue eyes on Aang's and said, "You know Aang he's not the only one who misses you."
Katara took a step towards Aang and he backed up saying; "Katara, don't." She stopped but kept her gaze intently on him. She said, "Aang I know what happened hurt you, but you never let me explain." Aang snorted and replied, "My eyes saw all the explanation I needed." Katara started to tear up and she said meekly, "Aang, I swear I don't know how or why you saw what you saw. I would never betray you, I love you so much. You're the only man I ever want or wanted to be with." Aang saw the hurt pleading look in her tear soaked eyes, he also saw a desperate longing, a longing for him. He looked down as she continued, "Look at me Aang, look at me and tell me you don't love me anymore." Aang turned away and said, "Katara I told you I didn't want to see you, now please leave."
She shouted back; "No Aang I won't leave, I won't let you ignore me like this. It's our destiny to be together, that's why it was me who saved you from that iceberg, that's why it was me who you kissed on that submarine when you thought you might die." She grabbed Aang's hand and spun him around. She put her hand on his cheek and turned his head to line up with hers. Aang's eyes met the vast blueness of hers and he saw her smile, the bright beautiful smile that he fell in love with. She said, "Aang I know we've had our problems, I know that you've been with someone else. But I still love you and I know that you love me, we can go back to the way it was, you forgive and forget, I'll forgive and forget, and we'll be in love again, be the couple that we were always meant to be, I'll be your forever girl again."
She leaned in and kissed him, Aang felt her lips meet his, felt them open and her tongue start to move towards his. His mind suddenly kicked in and told him this was wrong. He pulled back saying; "No Katara, we can't do this, we're not together anymore, I'm with Azula." Katara looked angry as she said, "Why Aang, why are you with her. She is an evil bitch, you're supposed to be with me." Aang shouted back, "She's not evil, and she's also my girlfriend. You hurt me Katara, but I've moved on and I'm with Azula now, she makes me happy." Katara said, "Aang please just don't go back to her, let's work this out I'm sure we can."
Aang replied, "I'm sorry Katara, but I love Azula, it's not just a short term thing. I want to be with her forever, I hope that someday you and I can be friends again but Azula is the only girl I want to be with."
Katara dropped to her knees crying as Aang turned away and said, "Goodbye Katara." Aang, with Momo looking puzzled on his head, left the house and ran over to Appa. He hopped on top of the sky bison as Momo flew in front of Appa and said his helloes. Aang said, "Let's go buddy, Yip Yip." Momo flew back up into the saddle and settled as Appa took off into the sky.
Aang was upset about what had just transpired. Now that time had passed and he was happy being with Azula his anger at Katara had faded. The last two times seeing her crying and upset was easier because he was mad at her, but now he just felt bad for his friend. It seemed like she was genuinely upset about what happened between them and she also seemed honestly confused about what happened that night with Zuko.
It was so strange how much Aang had changed in the past months. He would never have believed that he could turn his back on a pleading Katara, his first love, the girl he saved the world for, but he did. The last encounter had really cemented in his brain that Katara and he were done for good as a couple. When she kissed him the spark that was there had turned into nothing. Kissing Katara only made him miss Azula even more. He needed to get back to Azula, he needed to come clean to her about what had happened, and he never wanted to hold anything back from her.
Aang looked at the setting sun, the amber color reminding him of the entrancing eyes of his Princess. His mind was flooded with memories of all the great times they had together. He smiled as he remembered the dream he had when they got married in the Firelord's Palace. His mind next went to the dream when Azula was pregnant and they were a happy couple as the royal family. Aang smiled, he looked forward to the day when this was a reality. Suddenly the question popped into his head, "Why wait?"
He was now surer then ever that Katara was his past and Azula was his present, his future, his everything. He was going to ask her to marry him. He knew that this was a huge step and he was still a very young man but he was sure that he wanted to be with Azula. He told Appa to head to Caldera, the Fire Nation Capitol, he was going to get her an engagement ring. He was filled with excitement and nervousness. He really wanted to be with her, and expose her to the world again not as a fugitive anymore, but as the wife of the avatar. A part of him was scared that this was all happening fast and that she might turn him down, but he just had to trust in love and believe that she felt as strongly about him as he did for her.
Getting the engagement ring would be the easiest part of this whole process. He was unsure of how he was going to ask her, and he still had to tell her about kissing Katara, he hoped she wouldn't get too mad. He hoped that what he planned on doing for her as his first present for his new fiancé would smooth out some of the edges, he was going to support her bid to become the next Firelord. He had been thinking about this ever since Zuko attacked them at the temple. He once thought that Zuko was his friend and he could trust him, but his actions recently convinced Aang that Zuko was nothing more then the unsatisfied, unhappy, and treacherous boy he had always seemed to be. The most unsettling thing was if Aang believed Katara about their affair, Zuko had manipulated or taken advantage of her and that was unforgivable. Aang could no longer support Zuko and as much as she tried to hide it from him he knew Azula still was boiling inside with her ambition to be Firelord.
It did hurt Aang a little that Azula felt that she had to hide her ambition from him, but he knew that she really struggled with trust. She was afraid that he might think she was falling to her old ways if he found out that she still had desire for power. She felt vulnerable because Aang had become such a large part of her life, so he had noticed that at times she acted like she thought he wanted her to act and would suppress her true fiery nature. He loves her at all times, even when she was trying to be the girl she thinks he wants, but what he really loves is when the intense, fiery, passionate side of her shines through, like when they battle and especially when they make love. He always wants to make her happy and he knows that what she wants more than anything is to be The Firelord, so he would bring her to the palace and if his understanding of Fire Nation Succession rules were correct, when she beat her brother in an Agni Kai she would take over as the new Firelord. Then his dreams of getting married in the royal palace and living as the royal family would come true. Being a member of Fire Nation royalty didn't matter at all to Aang, but he knew it's the only way Azula would ever be fully satisfied and happy.
The rest of the night went by with Aang planning out conversations with Azula once he got back to the temple. He was trying to decide how to best approach revealing his minor slip up with Katara, and then transition into a marriage proposal. Aang was worried, he was never the best with words and he knew there was a great risk of freezing up in front of Azula. Hours went by, countless scenarios playing out in Aang's head till eventually he fell asleep. Appa kept flying through the night and in the late morning they reached Caldera.
Appa landed near the fire palace and gave his customary groan to alert Aang to wake up because they had reached the destination. Aang stretched as he hopped down from the saddle and let out a big yawn. He turned to Appa and said, "You can go for a quick nap boy, but we're going to take off soon." Aang made his way through the streets of the palace city towards the royal jewelers. He knew where it was because he had once bought a bracelet for Katara there.
He saw the door and walked in. The proprietor saw him and said, "Hello young avatar, what can I do for you this morning." Aang looked down sheepishly and said, "Uhm I'd like to buy a very traditional Royal Family engagement ring." The shop owner asked, "Engagement ring?" Aang nodded and said, "Yes sir." The man smiled and said, "Congratulations, who is the lucky young lady, wait could it be, I heard rumors that you were with our Princess is that who it's for." Aang smiled and replied, "Yup, it's for Azula." The shop owner clapped excitedly and said, "Well avatar I have just the thing." With that he turned and went into the back of his shop and was gone for a few minutes. He came back out carrying a glass case that had a pillow in it and sitting on that pillow was a beautiful golden ring with a giant ruby cut to look like a flame.
The shopkeeper set it down and said, "This is a very special ring, it is not only an heirloom of the royal family, but it also relates to the avatar cycle. This is the ring that Avatar Roku used to propose." Aang smiled, the ring was perfect that was just what he needed. He said, "Thank you sir it's perfect, how much." The older man smiled and said, "Nothing for you avatar, it once belonged to you and I am just glad to return it to the avatar, just let me take it back and size it for our princess, I know her sizes because she often shopped here before she was sent into exile."
Aang sat in the jeweler's for about an hour as he went back and fixed the ring. He saw the man come out with a purple velvet box and say, "Here you go avatar it is all ready, I'm glad that you will be joining the Royal Family." He bowed and handed the box to Aang. Aang took it and bowed back saying, "Thank you sir, now I just hope she says yes." The old man laughed and said, "Of course she will say yes, Fire Princess Azula and Avatar Aang will be the greatest couple the world has ever known." Aang thanked him again as he exited the shop and made his way back towards Appa. He found Appa sleeping in the stables he usually stayed at so Aang decided to go get lunch while he let Appa get a little more sleep. After enjoying some Fire Nation delicacies he woke up Appa and Momo and the three of them were off to there home at The Southern Air Temple.
The trip took the rest of the day and it was a few hours before midnight when Aang saw the mountains approaching that indicated he was a few minutes from the temple. He started to get really nervous, he had never been so afraid of Azula, even when she was trying to kill him and mostly succeeding.
Appa landed in the courtyard and Momo flew off into the night sky as Aang slid down Appa's tail. Once Aang landed on the ground Appa yawned very loudly and slumped off towards his room for some much needed sleep. Aang walked towards the temple door and opened it. He took in a deep breath as he tried to mentally prep himself for the massive task that lay ahead of him. He laughed thinking about how he was pretty sure he was way more calmed and relaxed as he watched the Firelord's airship armada approach him. He'd give anything to be stepping into a battle rather than asking the woman he loved to marry him.
Finally he took a step into the temple and started his trek up the stairs. He took every step one at a time, still very nervous about what he was about to do. The door to his room made its way into his field of vision, he could see a flickering light, which must mean that Azula was up and reading. Aang walked into the doorway and saw her laying in his bed in a gold silk nightie reading a book.
Aang said, "Hello Beautiful, I missed you." She looked up and smiled a confident grin as she replied, "Huh, took you long enough. I was starting to worry that maybe my uncle convinced you to break it off with me." Aang laughed a nervous laugh as he moved over to the bed and sat next to her. He leaned in and gave her a quick kiss on the lips. She tried to deepen it but Aang pulled back. She gave him a puzzled look and asked, "Is something wrong?" He shook his head and said, "No, it's just I've got some stuff I want to talk about." She said simply, "Oh, well let's hear it."
Aang took a deep breath and said, "First I've got a confession." She looked at him still with a confused expression. Aang continued, "So when I was in Ba Sing Se I went to meet your uncle and it all went down like we expected he told me you were no good and to stay away from you. So I told him off and then stormed out, but when I got back to my house Katara was there and uhhm." He swallowed nervously as he continued super fast; "So she kinda kissed me, I didn't want it to happen, and I pulled back pretty much as soon as it happened, I'm sorry Azula, I still love you, it didn't mean anything to me, I'm really sorry."
Azula started to laugh and Aang got a horrified and confused look on his face as she continued laughing. Aang said in a shaky voice; "Azula why are you laughing?" She stopped and replied, "I just think it's funny how nervous and worried you are. Do you still love me and want to be with me?" He said, "Of course Azula, you are my princess, you're my forever girl." She smiled then leaned in and kissed him. She pulled back smirking. She looked him in the eyes and then said, "I knew that, I'm not worried Aang. I'm confident in our relationship, she blew her chance with you, I don't plan on doing that."
He smiled and laughed then said, "Wow Azula, you took that well, I had a million nightmare scenarios running through my head including you kicking my ass." She smiled and said, "I still can if you want, so was that all you wanted to talk to me about?" He swallowed again nervously and said, "Actually there is one more thing it's kind of big. Don't feel any pressure and take all the time you need to answer." He reached into his robes and pulled out the purple box and opened it. Her golden eyes focused on the ring and Aang with sweat starting to form on his brow said, "Azula I love you. I know we're both very young but these past weeks have been the best of my life and I want it to continue for the rest of my days. This is a big step and I'll understand if you're not ready but…." Aang dropped down to his knee as he said, "Azula will you marry me."
She looked down at the ring, then looked in Aang's eyes as he was still on his knee shaking nervously as he awaited some sort of answer. She said, "Wow Aang, I never expected this." She held her hand out and said, "Well what are you waiting for avatar, get that ring on my finger, I accept." Aang felt like the weight of the world had been lifted from his shoulders as he heard her say yes. His mouth widened with the biggest grin of his life as he took the ring out of the box and slid it on Azula's finger.
She looked at the ring intently and said, "Wow Aang this ring is perfect where did you get it?" He smiled at her and said, "The Royal Jeweler in Caldera, it was the ring that Avatar Roku used to propose." She kept looking at it and said, "A royal family and avatar heirloom, how fitting for our relationship." He got up and pulled her into a tight hug, then kissed her very passionately on the lips. He pulled back and said, "Thanks Azula, you've made me so happy. I want to give you an early engagement present." She looked at him and said, "That's good Aang, I like presents, and it's a positive portent for our marriage." Aang grinned at her and said, "I doubt I'll ever have another one as good as this." She got an excited look on her face and said, "Ok avatar out with it I'm not good at waiting."
He kept the wide beaming smile on his face as he said, "Well it's not actually a present, but I know that more than anything you want to be Firelord so tomorrow we're going to fly to the palace and you're going to beat Zuko in an Agni Kai, then you'll be the Firelord, like you always should have been." He saw her eyes light up as one of those confident victorious grins that used to scare him but now he found devastatingly beautiful cross her face. She said, "Your right Aang, you'll never top that." She kissed him and then pulled him down on top of her onto the bed. His hand reached inside of her nightie as her legs wrapped around his waist and she whispered in his ear; "Now Avatar let's celebrate."The End
AN: So that's it for Dreambending, my first foray into writing in several years. (Since I got out of college and got a job, yuck!) Thanks to everyone who had an interest in my story, I had a lot of fun writing it and I was glad to see so many people thought it was at least somewhat interesting and entertaining and really happy for those of you who raved about it. As I mentioned in earlier author's notes there will be a second part to this story I'll be starting to post in the near future, probably the first or second week of October. I haven't decided on the title yet, but if you just keep your eye out for new Aangzula romance stories I'm sure you'll find it. The next part will be a little different from this story. It will still mainly focus on Aang and Azula's engagement and perhaps wedding but there will be a B story line of Katara trying to find out why Aang and Azula are together, and she'll be actively trying to break them up. Once I get going on that I should be updating more frequently as I already have the plans for the first several chapters. Thanks everyone again, I hope since you finished this story you'll give my next one a read.