Title: The Happier We'll Be
Author: Jedi Buttercup
Disclaimer: The words are mine; the world is not.
Notes: 7 x 100 words. Spoilers through A:tLA 3.21 "Avatar Aang". (Canon pairings included, as I finish the series; all bets off in future stories).
After it's all over- after she's sure Zuko will be all right- Katara sneaks out to the facility where Azula's being kept.
The princess looks fretful even in drugged sleep, wracked with paranoia and fury. Katara swallows, then wreathes her fingertips in water and frames Azula's face.
She'd done this for Jet almost instinctively; it's harder now, the damage more deeply rooted. But she has to try. And not just for Zuko, who saved her; who still loves his family, despite everything.
She can imagine no fitter fate for Azula than endless imprisonment, fully aware of everything that she's lost.
Several days pass before the Order finishes settling Ba Sing Se and tracking down its wayward king.
Bumi might have to keep 'homeless and wandering' in mind as a punishment in future, if it seasons everyone as well as Iroh's nephew, and now Kuei. Bumi hadn't thought much of the other Earth King before, but now he actually cares about his people.
It's got Bumi to thinking about his own throne, and lack of successor. He's rejected all possibilities before for lacking in neutral jing. But now...
He pictures that fierce little metalbender as Mad King of Omashu, and grins.
If it strikes Zuko as ironic that more Earth Kingdom soldiers and Water Tribe sailors are attending his coronation than loyal Fire Nation subjects, he knows better than to say so aloud.
He needs every ally he can get, after all. It's going to be nearly impossible to repair the damage his ancestors wreaked abroad without also triggering a civil war at home.
Good thing he's had plenty of practice surviving impossible tasks.
He takes heart from the warmth of Aang's hug, Mai's gaze, and the cheers of his friends, and turns to address the gathered crowd with a smile.
It takes awhile to find Space Sword again, and for his leg to heal. Sokka doesn't mind. There's the winning and the celebrating and the reuniting to occupy him, and in the meantime he kinda appreciates having an excuse to sit around.
He doesn't know why he'd thought it would all be over when the war ended. Now, there's Suki; rebuilding with Dad; Piandao's offer of training; Zuko needing trustworthy advisors; and his sister and Aang...
He wants it all; these choices he could never have imagined a year ago.
But first, he's going to seize the opportunity to relax.
"So. Just a tea shop proprietor in Ba Sing Se, huh?" Toph says knowingly, the moment she has Iroh alone in his kitchen.
The former general's reply is calm and assured. "My presence would only distract from my nephew at a time when the Fire Nation must be united. And I do so enjoy making tea."
Toph snorts, amused. He's good. "So you don't know anything about why the Dai Li are suddenly everywhere, being helpful, obviously answering to someone new...?"
She can sense his satisfaction under the bland reply: "I'm sure I don't know what you mean."
Aang is surprised but delighted by the kiss: he knows it means Katara's decided she's not confused anymore, or she'd never have approached him. She's not that kind of girl.
Maybe it's because she's not afraid he'll die on her anymore. Maybe it's because Zuko's happy with Mai, and she's not that kind of girl either. Or maybe it's just time.
Aang won't deny he's been jealous; or that they're very young, and have a lot to learn about love and about each other. But now they'll walk that path together.
He leans into the kiss with a happy sigh.
Aunt Wu remembers the Water girl who'd asked about her future; the boy who'd bent the clouds in warning; the brother who'd supported them; and the angry prince who'd followed after.
She'd told the Avatar he would make his own destiny; and he has, illuminating a new path for the world to follow. They all have, replacing previous Avatars' ideas of separate-but-friendly nations and Sozin's vision of Fire over all with a new balance, mixing and mingling.
It will bring more change; but also plenty of love and prosperity.
Wu casts the oracle bones again and nods to herself, content.