Title: Nothing in the Light
Summary: "I don't love you." He says, his voice cold, hard, and so much like the Zuko she had fought against once upon a time that it almost made her shudder. "I don't think I ever will. But I am asking you for the sake of your nation, mine, and for the pease we fought for, Katara of the Southern Water Tribe, will you marry me?"
Disclaimer: If I owned Avatar M. Night. Shyamalan would not have done the movies. The song belongs to Paramore.
Warnings: None for this chapter.
Word count: 1586.
Found a demon in my safest haven
Year One, Summer
Katara was five years old when she first heard the story of the Avatar.
She had heard of him before that, of course, how could she not? But it was on her fifth birthday that her parents and Gran-Gran sat her and Sokka down to tell them the story of the Avatar. They told her of his abilities and how, when he came, he would save them all. And even when they grew older and Sokka and everyone else stopped believing he would come, she still believed. She always believed.
And she was right.
Sometimes it's strange though, to think of Aang as the Avatar. He isn't the old man, full of old incoherent wisdom, she had expected. He's young, free, and when he smiles her heart can't help but skip a beat. He represents everything that is right with the world and everything it will become now that they have won the war.
And on that evening they all meet at Iroh's café, she follows him away from everyone else. She smiles at him, but doesn't say anything. She doesn't have to, because knows that somehow he knows everything she wants to tell him. And when they kiss, she just knows that now everything will be right. Because the war is over, they've won, and now she and Aang can have their happy ending.
Year Two, Summer
"I have to go somewhere." Aang tells her one morning. "Roku came to me last night." He explains, his voice a bit hesitant.
And Katara suddenly has a horrible feeling. "Oh? What did he say?" She forces a smile when she asks him.
"I…I need to go and see Guru Pathik."
"Isn't that the man you went to see while we were in Ba Sing Se?"
"Yes, but there a few…things we need to deal with." He says. Katara takes another sip of her tea and pretends not to be upset that he doesn't elaborate on what exactly it is that he needs to get done. "I don't know how long it will take, but," His hand covers hers and he gives her a loving smile. "I'll come back as soon as I can." He promises, his grey eyes shining so bright that she can't help but believe him.
"Alright." She says.
Year Two, Fall
Over a season has passed since he left, so when Katara sees Aang standing at the doorway as they are having breakfast, she is pretty sure she must be imagining things. She blinks once, twice, even shakes her head a couple of times, but still he stands there. He's lost a little weight, there are circles under his eyes, and a sad smile on his lips, but there is no doubt that the boy before her is him.
"Aang!" Someone else cries out, reacting before her. And the next thing she knows, everyone is gathered around him, welcoming him back.
When they finally step back, Katara stands before him. He stares at her in this weird way that she can't quite understand, but she doesn't have the chance to consider it, because her body reacts without her. And the next thing she knows, she's in his arms and tears burning in her eyes.
"I missed you." She mumbles, holding him tighter.
She pretends that she doesn't notice the slight hesitation before he mummers. "I missed you too." And when she pulls back, their eyes meet for the first time since his arrival, but they do not connect.
(She tries to shake the feeling that this won't be the last time.)
Year Three, Late Winter
"Katara." He comes to her one evening as she's preparing their dinner. "Can I talk to you?"
"Sure, Aang." She looks up and smiles at him. But the moment her eyes meet his, her heart drops into her stomach and she wishes she had made up some excuse to avoid the conversation, because she knows she won't like what she's about to hear.
"It's about us."
"Wh-what about us?"
Aang takes a deep breath and sits on a log near the campfire. Without thinking about it, she sits beside him, desperate to get off her knees which seem to be getting weaker and weaker by the moment. "You're my best friend. I don't think there is anyone who knows me better than you."
"It's the same for me." She forces a smile.
"I do love you. I always have and I always will."
And for a moment, Katara allows herself to hope. Because maybe this isn't going to turn out the way she thinks. Maybe there is a chance that this is about something else and she's just assuming the worst. Maybe, just maybe.
"But I don't think it's in the same way as before." He says instead.
Her heart stops beating. "Wh-What are you saying?"
"I think that maybe we should take some sort of break."
He says other things – like how he needs some time to sort out some things and it isn't fair to make her wait, that he is setting her free. He tells her that he will always be glad about the time they spent together, that he wants her to stay in his life, and that really he is doing this for her – but she doesn't really hear them. Because all she hears are the words he said before.
"I don't think it's in the same way as before."
It feels as if the floor beneath her has shifted and Katara is incredibly glad she had the sense to sit, because even though the distance he has been putting between them for the past four seasons suddenly makes so much more sense, she can't believe what he's saying. But she just nods and smiles and says that she understands. And then he grins at her in this way that reminds her so much of her Aang – the one she had found in the iceberg, the one who loved her completely and unconditionally – that it hurts so much she can't breathe and she's pretty sure her heart has stopped working.
"I'm glad you understand." He tells her.
"I do." She assures him.
Only she doesn't.
Year Four, Fall
The news of the attack spreads quickly and within days the whole world knows of the Fire Nation soldiers who attacked a small Earth Kingdom village. Only they aren't really Fire Nation soldiers, they're renegades – reactionaries who still believe in Fire Nation supremacy and want the war back. And Fire Lord Zuko will not have it.
The Fire Nation is dedicated to helping the Avatar to restore peace. Anyone who acts otherwise will be considered traitors to their nation and the cause of peace, and will be dealt the utmost of punishments.
And really, it should be enough to show that the Fire Nation does not want war. Zuko is, after all, the firebending teacher and a close friend of the Avatar himself. He has done more than enough to prove his loyalty to the cause of peace. So Katara thinks nothing of it, believing his word and assumes that everyone else will be reasonable enough to do the same.
So when she stumbles upon a meeting of some of the members of the Tribe, planning to attack a Fire Nation vessel, she's more than shocked. She's furious.
"What in Yue's name are you all thinking? This is treachery!" Katara yells. "Do you have any idea how much it took to end the war – how much had to be sacrificed – and you all want to start it again just like that!" It is only then that she notices the man sitting at the head of the meeting table. Bato – her father's best friend.
His eyes narrow at her. "Katara, they are Fire Nation; they don't believe in peace."
"That's funny, seeing as how their leader helped to end the war."
"Don't let that fool you, Katara. They are firebenders, they don't know the meaning of peace. Violence is in their nature. They are only stalling until they have the chance for another attack."
"No, it's all of you who don't understand peace. You were raised in wartime, just as much as them or me, but the time has changed, and you need to too!" Her eyes narrow at Bato and she continues before he has the chance to. "And if I ever hear of any of this again, I won't hesitate to tell my father and the Avatar. Then it will be all of you who will be considered traitors to the peace." Her voice is hard, icy.
The men glance at each other as if they are debating the threat of her words. In the end, however, they prove to be strong enough, because the men gather their things and one by one leave. Even Bato. And when they are all gone, Katara lets out a sigh of relief and tells herself that now that it's stopped, it won't happen again.
But she knows that it is far from over. Because she may have stopped them this time, but the idea has been planted in their minds, and it won't be long before it grows and takes control.
Note: I feel like I'm shooting myself in the foot by posting this, but it's been sitting in my stories folder for far too long. I started writing this fic back on February and by the end of March I had over 25,000 words. And I'm still NOT done with this. I haven't worked on it since then, but I think it's time that I post it. I do not have the first chapter written, but I have pretty much everything else up through the eighth chapter done. This fic is estimated to be about twelve chapters (every is all laid out) with about 40,000 words total. Maybe even longer. But updates for this fic will be pretty sporadic, I'm not gonna lie. Maybe they'll be pretty often once I can get myself to write the next chapter.
Note about Katara's character in this fic: I've noticed a trend between Zutara and Kataang based on how Katara's character is viewed. When she is with Aang, Katara is a gentler and kinder person. But when she is paired with Zuko, she is very much headstrong and shorter tempered. While I think both of these are true of her, I usually see her character more as the second, which is part of the reason I ship Zutara instead of Kataang. However, as this story (which follows canon!characters instead of fanon, which I usually write) has Katara in love with Aang, I am trying to write her personality more in the first. For this reason, I am making her more (what fellow Zutara fans would consider) soft, hopeful, and innocent. (Transitioning from this to a more Zutara friendly Katara will be a large theme throughout the story.) I have a feeling many of you will find Katara's character almost weak at points, but I don't think that's what she is. At first I did think Kataang's Katara to be weak, but then I realized that innocent is a much better word. To be with someone like Aang, who (as we saw in the finale with his unwillingness to kill Fire Lord Ozai) is very hopeful and innocent in the ways of war and battle and quite possibly politics, she too would have to be like that. Please note that this is not how I see Katara's character, but from my understanding, this is more of her canon as she is with Aang and not her fanon as she is not with Zuko. I hope this clears up a couple of things.
Review, please. =]