A/N: The story is meant to be part of the Avatar Big Bang (which I am shamed to admit I completely failed it. Reached the word count goal, but not the completed work goal). It was inspired my numerous works of genius such as the anime 'Mirage of Blaze', and the manga 'Sakura Gari'. But really, I heard the song 'Cold (But I'm Still Here)' by Evan's Blue and just had to write a SOMETHING when I looked up the lyrics.

Acknowledgements: B-chan, the beta who pushes and questions and demands the best! Thank you so, so much!

CHAPTER WARNING: Dark themes.

With that warning, read and enjoy!

HONOR AND PRIDE

Prologue: When the Fire Nation Came…

Even if she tried, Katara could never recall how many times the Fire Nation came to her village. The snow covered in soot and ash almost always preceded their arrival, sometimes with enough time to make rally up their defenses and hide their goods, other times not so much. The brutality of the attacks varied though, depending on the mission objective of the Fire Nation. Most of the time they came to destroy and pillage, decimating the once flourishing village to nothing but mounds of ice and piles of furs and leathers where once stood large homes. They took everything with them, food, clothes, jewelry, and pottery, leaving the village destitute and scrambling to feed itself. However, the loss of their village goods was nothing compared to when someone was killed or taken away by the Fire Nation soldiers. The dead left behind were the fortunate ones, for they could be laid to rest in the land they had been born into, by the hands of their loved ones. No one who was taken away ever made it back, their fates a heavy burden that weighed the hearts of those who knew and loved them, for there wasn't even a body to bury and mourn.

Katara grew up with those harsh lessons. To be a waterbender meant to be killed or taken away when the Fire Nation came. She had to stay hidden, to stay quiet and obedient. No matter what, do not fight back, her mother whispered to her these words night after night. Her father held her close and whispered the same words into her hair. Her grandmother held her gaze, and aged eyes that had seen loved ones taken repeated the warning. Over, and over, without realizing it, she too started to repeat the words of her elders: No matter what, do not fight back. To waterbend meant to be taken away. No matter what, do not fight back. Don't be taken away.

True to their words, when the Fire Nation came at the rumor of a waterbender in the village, they took her mother; murdered her in the very hut that Katara had been born in. Murdered, because they had heard word of a living waterbender and to protect her, her mother played the part. Hakoda could not forgive himself for the loss of his wife, his complete failure in protecting his family. Time did not ease his pain or rage, and a few years after Kya's death, her chieftain father gathered his warriors and left to make their mark on the war. To fight. For revenge.

Yet, his final words to her before his departure were the very same warning that he had given her since she was a babe. "No matter what, Katara," he spoke into her hair, and she could almost hear the tears in his voice. "No matter what, do not fight back. Never let them know you are a waterbender."

Then he was gone, sailing away into the black night of the South Pole.

Sokka stood beside her that night, watching with the rest of the villagers as the warriors disappeared. One hand held a lantern aloft, and the other wrapped warmly around her. Sokka's arms were always warm, and she had pressed against him for comfort. She knew he wanted to go, and if there was a chance he would swim through the icy waters to join them, but like her he had been left behind, for a child had no place in a war.

She was thinking this when suddenly she heard him whisper, "Don't worry, Katara, I'm not going to let them take you."

When everyone had retired, Sokka was climbing into his sleeping pallet with its layers of animals furs to when Katara had crawled in beside him, clinging to the front of his sleeping shirt. "Just for tonight," she said, unable to lift her head to look into her brother's eyes.

"You can bed down with Gran-Gran," he said to her, but his hand was on the back of her head, holding her close just as she could not let him go.

She shook her head. "It isn't the same," she kept her voice quiet, just in case their grandmother was lurking just outside the tent flaps. "Just for tonight, Sokka," she pleaded, "just tonight."

She felt his thin chest rise and fall against her cheek, and then he laid back down, keeping his hand on her head and letting his chest serve as a pillow for her. Katara felt the sting of tears in her eyes, so she shut them tight, and clenched her jaw.

Sokka must have sensed her distress, for his voice was strong and sure when he repeated what he had said earlier that evening, "Don't worry, Katara, I'll won't let anything happen to you."

Stupid, and foolish. They all were; every last one of them. Katara had to force herself not to scream into his face, to tell her brother what she really thought, and how she really felt. If the Fire Nation wanted her so badly they could take her, rip her to shreds, leave her in pieces for surely that pain was nothing to the ice that was encasing her heart every time she closed her eyes and remembered mother's face, and now every time she saw the blue sails fading into the night. Why was everyone else allowed to fight and sacrifice themselves except her? Because she was the last waterbender of the South Pole? Because she was the chieftain's daughter? Because she was the last of the shattered Water Tribe's pride?

Why?

"I'm thinking of building a watch tower," Sokka was talking, oblivious to her dark thoughts. "Yeah, something high enough so I can spot the Fire Nation ships before they reach us. We won't be caught by surprise again if we have that. And tunnels! We've gotta have some kind of tunnel system…"

Blinking, Katara raised her head from her brother's chest, and stared into Sokka's bright blue eyes. They were alight with possibilities and dreams, something magical like the water and ice she managed to manipulate and bend. Beautiful and alive, unbreakable. Sokka's face was pulled into a huge smile, brave, his teeth showing, and cheeks flushed in excitement over his own words and imaginings.

Mother killed. Father gone to war. Abandoned with the women and children, a child himself, but Sokka was still fighting. In his own way, fighting his war.

Katara stared, memorizing, and let his image slowly warm her skin, and slowly melt the ice that froze her within.

And the next day, Sokka started mapping the village, and strategized on the position of his watchtower. The women shook their heads at him; Gran-Gran pulled him away from his self-proclaimed mission by the ear to help with the chores. "Get your head out of the clouds," she lectured him, and he nodded his head, pouted and did everything that was asked of him. Then the next morning again, he worked on his watchtower until pulled away. It became a habit for Sokka to rise earlier than anyone in the village to work on the 'village's defenses'. Soon, a small little tower was crafted, and then it had to be stocked by weapons, even though the only one who knew how to use one was him.

"But we have to be ready," he argued with Gran-Gran one morning. "The kids are going to grow big enough for me to teach them, Gran-Gran. We can't just roll over and let the Fire Nation do what they want with us. We've got to defend ourselves!"

"Defend what, Sokka?" Their grandmother's voice was sharp and severe. "Fight for what? Our tents? Our land? What do we have to defend here?"

"Everything!" Sokka's voice was so young compared to Gran-Gran's, so inexperienced and lost. "I won't let them take anyone else! I won't let them kill anyone else! I'll protect everyone."

Gran-Gran laughed, a low tortured sound that Katara wanted to cover her ears to, "You? You're just a child Sokka. What will you do when a Fire Nation ship comes and destroys that little castle you've built? What will you do when you come face-to-face with a firebender whose intent is to burn you alive?"

"I'll fight them! Just 'cause they can firebend doesn't mean they are invincible! We can set traps with the tunnel system I've been thinking about, we can…"

"And anger them more? Draw attention to ourselves? Think Sokka!" Gran-Gran's gloved hand shot forward and grabbed Sokka by the chin, bringing him close. He was of equal height to her, but somehow she seemed to tower over him. "You plan to get yourself and everyone else killed with these foolish ideas of yours. When the Fire Nation comes we will do nothing, because we have nothing. As long as your sister does not waterbend they will have no reason to attack us with the intent to kill. However, if we fight then they will punish, and child you have not seen what the Fire Nation is capable of when they want to punish us. It's not only your life, or the life of your sister that hangs in the balance, Sokka."

Sokka's face crumbled at her words, yet still when he opened his mouth, he said "But Gran-Gran…I just can't stand and do nothing."

Angrily, their grandmother shoved him away with such force that he stumbled and fell back into the snowy ground. "Stubborn, foolish boy," she said, fustrated as she turned away from him. "Do what you want if you don't want to listen. But don't expect me to cry for you when I'm forced to bury your remains after the Fire Nation soldiers are done with you."

Her voice was steel, and not a note wavered, but Sokka did not see the expression on her face as she stomped away. No, Katara saw it, clear and sorrowful, the grief in her grandmother's eyes. Gran-Gran was already crying, dry tears that no one could see nor touch. She had shed every last one so long ago, her tear-ducts dry and hollow.

As the months passed by Sokka and her grandmother argued often, yet every night he ate his fill of the food Gran-Gran made and hugged her tight and boasted about his height before going to sleep. Another lesson they had learned: to never go to bed with harsh words, for you never knew who would still be there come morning.

"He's like your father," Gran-Gran said one day as the two of them sat sewing some extra parkas. Both Sokka and Katara were outgrowing their old ones, and Gran-Gran's hands and fingers were getting stiffer with age, and Katara was never one to let a task go unchallenged. She was horrible at it, but one day she would master it.

Katara paused at her work and looked at the aged woman.

"There is no doubt about it, Hakoda is a brilliant man. The perfect chieftain for our people." Gran-Gran did not pause in her work as she spoke, her thick dark fingers maneuvering the needle and thread through the skinned furs with sharp precision. "But was idealistic, a dreamer, his head and mind somewhere that isn't in the here and now. Worse, he never feared the Fire Nation, despite all that they had done to us. Never cared who was listening when he spoke, and didn't think thoroughly before he acted."

"That's definitely like Sokka," chuckled Katara.

Gran-Gran snorted, and used her teeth to cut a piece her thread. Katara looked back at her work, but her head shot up at her grandmother's next words:

"Kya's death nearly ruined him," the words were low, and sad, the pain of outliving her own daughter weighing every syllable as the woman continued to speak. "She was his everything, and he is broken without her. I thought for sure that one night he'd walk out into a snowstorm and let himself die out in the wilderness. "

"Gran-Gran…" she did not know how to respond to this, trying not to think about those cold days after her mother's death, her father's broad back hunched, head down in defeat.

Gran-Gran shook her head, and then looked up, holding her gaze, "Your father is doing a great thing, Katara, no doubt about it. But he hasn't learned yet the true power of the Fire Nation…he doesn't understand their ruthlessness. Hakoda is a proud man, and will not hide his identity when he fights. The Fire Nation will notice him, and in turn notice us. It's not a matter of if, but when they will come back.

"Watch Katara, the Fire Nation will return, and your brother, just like his father, won't stand idle. He'll let them know that he's here, and that he does not fear them. And he will be punished for it."

Katara understood what her grandmother was saying, trying to teach her, but despite those words, Katara was also the daughter of Hakoda, and she too could not let herself stay idle. Whenever she found a moment to herself she practiced what she could of waterbending, feeling the water flow around her, trying to manipulate it and bend it to her will. Her attempts were frustrating, she found little control in the water; it ebbed and flowed as it willed with no heed to her desires. The only time it seemed to react according to her was when she lost her temper, and only then would she truly feel like a true waterbender…if one with no control.

"You're wasting your time, you know," Sokka had the audacity to tell her as he sat sharpening a spearhead one morning. He was going to hunt some meat for the village, and was not happy with the dullness of the spearhead he was to use. "I mean, what good is your magic water anyway? It's not going to get food into the village, it's not going to change the temperature, nor is it going to help when the Fire Nation soldiers come. You might as well forget that you're a bender. Just be a regular girl and do girl stuff with the rest of the women."

Infuriated, Katara had to grip at her furred coat to keep herself from going for Sokka's warrior's tail. "Can you forget that you're a man?" she asked bitingly. "Or that you're a warrior?"

"Hey," he defended, "at least what I'm doing is for the good of the village!"

"For the good of the village, or to feed your own ego, Sokka?" Below the belt, but Sokka had hit first.

He stood up, gripping the spear angrily, "What has your waterbending ever accomplished? It's not like you even know what you're doing! What are you going to try to do when the Fire Nation comes, huh? Wave your hands, throw a tantrum and hope that the water does what you want?"

"As if your watchtower is going to accomplish anything! It's not going to change anything in the long run, so you're just wasting your time with all your stupid plans and stupid building and stupid warrior practice!"

The end result was always the same, with the two of them at each other's throats until Katara lost her temper and the water responded violently in her defense. Sokka always ended up either buried in snow or drenched, and his dislike for her 'magic water' grew. Katara knew if her father was still present he would never let Sokka insult her waterbending. But he wasn't, nor would he be coming back anytime soon, if ever. Hakoda had made his choice. So what if only his young son was left to defend the remains of the village. Sokka was a child, just like her. If the Fire Nation did come, who would defend him? Just like Gran-Gran said, Sokka would catch their attention and there would be no one to stop them.

As the months dragged on Katara found herself thinking of her father's absence more and more, until one day she caught glimpse of her brother sitting alone in their tent, carefully fingering his boomerang. Hakoda have given it to him before leaving, and every day Sokka practiced throwing and catching it. Every day he lived with the hope to see their father again, to make him proud. Watching Sokka lovingly caress the weapon suddenly made her stomach turn, made her head fuzzy and she was forced to look away for fear of how she would act.

Stupid Sokka did not realize he had been abandoned. All of them. The great Southern Water Tribe chieftain had abandoned his village, abandoned his family.

Why?

The village soldiered on, and as the little toddlers grew Sokka prematurely began trying to train them in the art of war and battle. To his great frustration, he could not teach a single one to hold a spear properly; he couldn't even get them to stay silent through a single one of his instructions. Still so young, but Sokka continued with the single minded stubbornness of a polar bear trekking through a snow storm.

Of all the children in the village, Sokka and Katara were the eldest. Third had been Mikka, a girl less than a year younger than Katara. An orphan; her father had been a waterbender, taken before she was born. There were rumors that her mother, a sensitive woman named My, had tried to stop her pregnancy by taking poisonous herbs. Then the night Mikka had been born, My wandered into the wilderness and frozen to death. Whatever the reason, Mikka was slow, never seeming to mature beyond young childhood. She had fits like a little toddler, did not speak, and laughed when there was no time for laughter. The young children did not mind her, for they loved how Mikka never hesitated in lifting them high and throwing them into soft snow mounds.

It was Katara that Mikka had admired the most. She emulated her in the style of dress, the color of beads in her hair, and the single braid of her hair. She smiled the most when Katara was with her, giggling when the older girl gave her the attention she craved, and Katara gladly gave it as often as she could. However, Katara noticed that after her father left, she lost her temper with the girl, Mikka's shadowing tiresome and suffocating. Even the awe the other girl showed to the simplest of waterbending made Katara's stomach grow cold with a rage. If Mikka could only understand how amateur and inadequate her bending really was – she would not look at Katara with such worshipful eyes.

Yet there was Mikka, following her footsteps in the snow, clapping her hands as water was bent out of her drinking cup, Mikka laughing, crying, and expressing her desires and hates with open abandonment.

One night, a year after the warrior's departure, no one could ever get her to say why, Mikka wandered out in the middle of a storm. The village feared her dead like her mother, but she returned, nearly blue and extremely ill. Within a day she developed a horrible hacking cough that seemed to shake her whole body. She did not cry; merely lay whimpering as her body burned with fever. By the fourth day she succumbed and was gone.

Gran-Gran and the elder women cleansed her body, and dressed her in an elegant blue dress. Her hair was combed and braided in two tails that rested over her shoulders, and then she was placed in a small canoe to be later sent adrift in the water.

It was the day of mourning; all the villagers took turns leaving small gifts to accompany Mikka on her final journey into the sea. Katara had carved a little pendant very much like hers and tied it around the dead girl's neck. Sokka had helped her pick the stone, knowing which one would be the best to carve into.

Sokka left the women to mourn after depositing his own gift – a small ball made of seal skin - and climbed into his watchtower. He was not in there long before he came sprinting out, spear in hand and practically tumbling over his own feet in his haste.

"Fire Nation! The Fire Nation is here!" He shouted his voice loud and carrying across the small village.

The mothers' immediately went looking for their little ones, calling their names out in panic and ushering them into the tents. One woman began to let out a terrified wail, and two others harshly told her to keep silent. Everyone knew what to do without being guided, quickly going to their homes to collect valuables to bury and hide. Katara ran to their tent, quickly collecting pottery and the clothes she and her Gran-Gran had worked hard to make for when the cold became harsh. She was bundling these in a bag when she heard Sokka come in behind her.

"They're coming for you," he said, his voice soft.

Katara felt her whole body stiffen, the hairs on her neck coming to stand on end as if Sokka had dumped ice in her coat. She swallowed hard, "You don't know that."

He came closer, his snow caked boots stepping into the polar seal hide that separated them from the ice ground. "There's no one else here that's worth them coming back for. There's nothing here that they could want."

"No one knows what I am!" she snarled, shoving the bundle away and turning to glare up at her brother angrily. "There is no way they can know that I'm a -" She nearly bit her tongue when Sokka bent down and grabbed her arm, yanking her up harshly.

"Listen," her brother's eyes were the same shade of blue as hers, yet whenever she looked at her reflection in the water, her eyes lacked the clarity and passion that she always saw shimmering in her brother. Sokka shook her, "They were coming for you when they killed mom, Katara. If they knew about you then, then there is a good chance they know about you now."

There, again, deep in her stomach it coiled and cut into her, that last moment when she looked at her mother on her knees before the Fire Nation soldier. The sails of her father's ship disappearing into the night. The despair in her grandmother's dry eyes. Her brother's back as he caressed his most cherished weapon. Cold, cold, burning her insides and trying to bleed out of her.

Katara tried to yank herself away, her voice loud when she asked, "What do you want me to do?"

Sokka turned and pulled her behind him, nearly charging out of the tent. Katara stumbled with an angry yell, but he jerked her onward. He did not stop when Gran-Gran demanded to know where they were going, nor when Katara furiously clawed at his hand, wanting him to just stop. He dragged her to the outskirts of the small village, where a small igloo that housed the village tools stood. He pushed her in, crowding behind her. She finally fell to her knees, and he too came down, hands now on both her shoulders, squeezing hard.

Trembling.

"Listen," Sokka was trembling, she hear it in his voice, felt it with every pore of her skin beneath the layers of fur. Despite this he whispered, "I know it's crazy, but I've been working on the tunnels. Barely started, really, but got one done. It goes up to that hill that looks over the ocean and the village, next to the abandoned Fire Nation ship."

Katara blinked, barely following him. "Where we used to go penguin sledding?"

"Yeah, that's the one," he laughed, hushed, like those times when they stayed up and whispered stories to each other instead of sleeping. He let his hands fall from her shoulders, and he turned to the side where a large wooden crate filled with hammers sat. Using his shoulder he shoved it out of the way, and Katara could not help but gape. A small hole, narrow enough for one person to fit through at a time had been dug right underneath the crate, carefully hidden and kept secret.

She was shaking her head before she could even form any words. "No," she shifted away from the dark hole, "No, Sokka, NO!"

Once again she was in her brother's hold, being manhandled against her will – always against her will – so that she was facing the cool depths of her brother's hard work. She felt a roaring in her ears, her eyes hot and burning, but her stomach was so cold. "Just crawl to the other end," he was telling her. "That's all you need to do. Stop fighting me, stop arguing, and just crawl to the other end. There's nothing to be afraid of, as long as you are gone there's nothing for them to take."

Nothing to take. Nothing to lose. She was pushed head first into the darkness, the tunnel so narrow she was unable to look back at her brother. "Sokka…" her voice sobbed against her will.

"Keep going," his voice jolted her. Strong and assuring. There was no doubt in her brother's voice. There was never doubt. "Don't stop until you get to the other end!"

Taking halting breaths, she brought one elbow in front of the other, digging her knees and feet into the ice. It was dark, black, and she shut her eyes, pushing onward. She could smell the water in its solid form; she could taste it on her tongue as she breathed it in and out. Her muscles were hot and sweaty underneath the parka, and she crawled onward in the darkness, one arm over the other, one knee before the next, pushing, pulling, seeming to crawl upwards to the place her brother spoke of.

She felt the daylight before she saw it through her closed eyes. Something warm gently caressing her chilled cheeks.

The ice encased Fire Nation ship was the first thing she saw through the opening of Sokka's tunnel. It lay stranded, like a giant whale forever pierced by a hunter's harpoon, old, black and letting out hollowed moans in the air. Katara pulled herself out of the tunnel, pushing herself to her knees as she dazedly stared at the massive machine that was used to terrorize her people. How many like it had come to this icy shore? How many lay sunken under the water and ice? How many over the last hundred years had left carrying away all the waterbenders in the South Pole? Did they reach their destination? Was there revolt and all went down with the ship in the vast waters of the ocean?

Was it her fate to one day be taken away in one of those monstrosities?

Katara turned away from the nauseating site, and started walking up a small snowy hill to look down at the village. She went down to her hands and knees, staying hidden as she peaked over the edge, able to see a clear view of the village and beyond. The Fire Nation ship was just as big as the one at her back, thick black smoke came from large pipes at its helm. She could see men in red and black armor on the metal deck, some armed with large spears. The front of the ship had hit the shore hard, breaking hard ice, large cracks reached so far as the middle of the village where Katara could see the villagers had been gathered to the middle.

Gran-Gran stood at the front of the huddling women and children, Sokka beside her with a spear in one hand and boomerang in the other. Fire Nation soldiers, armed with weapons and their even more lethal fists surrounded everyone. One soldier with a thick black topknot on his helmet seemed to be speaking to Gran-Gran. Whether threats of inquiries Katara could not hear nor tell what. This went on for awhile, then the leader made a gesture and two broke away from the circle. Wherever they were going Sokka was not going to allow them full reign of the village, and he leapt from Gran-Gran's side after them. Within seconds, Katara was barely able to see how, Sokka was pinned by another soldier. Katara felt herself jerked upward then she froze.

No. Listen.

Swallowing down rising bile, she let herself sink low, never taking her eyes off the scene below.

The two soldiers returned, but between them they carried the small mourners raft that housed Mikka. They dropped it before their leader, who threw the hood open and stared at the Water Tribe girl's corpse. He turned away, and made a motion with his hand, and all the soldiers stepped back.

For a second, Katara let herself sigh, but then she saw the soldier holding Sokka pull her brother to his feet and pull him towards the ship. A shrill wail rose from the women, and Gran-Gran stumbled forward, grabbing at the arm of leader of the soldiers, going to her knees. Begging. She was harshly shaken off, but she would not let him go, wrapping her arms around his leg. Other women took snow into their hands and threw them at the soldiers, screaming, crying. One brave child ran forward towards Sokka, reaching for him with small hands.

Don't, Don't, DON'T.

She could not hear them, but their cries rang in her ears, piercing her. So loud their voices reverberated in the snow walls, traveled into the water so high so strong she could feel the echoes in her blood.

Fire then rose, silencing all the cries, all the pride. Everyone lay flattened on the ground, arms around each other as if their flesh could protect those beneath them.

Katara stood.

The Fire Nation soldiers hastily withdrew with Sokka struggling between three soldiers as the dragged him into the ship. Katara took a step forward, opened her mouth to scream out, anything, anything…then impossibly, for a moment, so brief that it could be her imagination…Sokka looked over his shoulder. Fearless, dauntless, Sokka stared right at her.

I will NEVER let them take you.

So Katara stayed with her feet unmoving as the metal door to the ship was shut, the soldiers gone. Her brother with them. The women started to stand, rushing towards the black machine as it started to pull away from shore. They were wailing. Wailing on their knees, wailing as they stood, wailing as they held each other. Hands covering their faces.

She turned her eyes away from their grief, her eyes locking on the Fire Nation ship in front of her, taking away her brother. Whenever they left they always took away. That was the fate of the Water Tribe; the stranded Fire Nation ship behind her attested to it. The Fire Nation would always be there, would always steal away from her those she loved. Would continue to pick at her till there was nothing left.

WHY?

Was it hate, she wondered as her brother disappeared into the horizon. Was it fear, arrogance, or mere inability to feel loss that drove the Fire Nation to steal so much, so selfishly. Was it true that they were so powerful that no one could defeat them? Not the legendary Air Nomads who had been the first in the Fire Nation's genocide. Not the proud Water Tribe. Not the stubborn Earthbenders of the Earth Kingdom. Was it fate, preordained that the Fire Nation would reign supreme over the world?

Were they fighting a lost war?

The sun sank into the ocean, casting a horrible red light across the sky. Katara still stood, staring at the water. Why had she been born a waterbender if her powers were so useless, if it caused so much pain? Why did she have to be the one to survive when everyone died or was taken away? Why was she the only one not allowed to fight, when everyone else fought to their very last breaths?

Katara fell to her knees, snow and ice erupted around her, a loud explosion consuming her as she gasped out a breath, voiceless, helpless, powerless. Her hands came up and slammed down, and she heard the ice crack around her, breaking apart. She did not look, keeping her eyes trained at the water, the ocean, the vastness that Sokka had disappeared into. Her heart pounded, loud, fast. She could hear the snow in the wind, the black clouds in the sky above, the bright cold moon beginning to glow blue at her back.

Sokka liked to stare up into the night sky. He had given different stars names, and mapped them out and drew them for Katara to see. Father had taught him how to read them so he would never get lost, and Sokka had memorized them all. Katara did not have such a mind, and relied on the maps, but they were easier to remember by the stories her brother told for each group. But most of all, Sokka loved the moon.

"Wherever you go, it's always the same moon. The people of the Earth Kingdom and our sister tribe at the North Pole are all seeing the same moon we are," he had said once, staring up loving at the illuminating object above, the moon's silver glow reflecting in his bright eyes.

Katara felt her pulse in her blood, the water in her very living tissues. Alive, flowing. Katara raised her harms up, her gloves falling without concern. She stared forward, never looking away from the black ocean. She could feel it moving in her, so powerful. She could feel the solidness of it beneath her feet. She could feel the touch of the moon behind her.

So bright, like the moon, like the ocean, her brother's eyes.

Her vision blurred, and bitter tears finally came out of her frozen heart. They slid down her cheeks and off her chin to join in the morning of the snow of ice. Wretched sobs finally shaking through her rigid body, weak, fragile thing that she was. Voiceless, pitiless, she could not even beg…

Bring him back, bring him BACK!

She would never forgive them. The Fire Nation and their ruthlessness. She would make them pay dearly for everything they had done. Her fingers spread even as her wrists bent, and she could see them, the Fire Nation in a single soldier from long ago, she could hear his poisonous heart beating just as his toxic blood seemed to call to her, red, flowing, just like the ocean.

She would bend them all, one by one, bend them till they had nothing left. It was in her blood, this power, and she would train, masterless, train until she could slice through their fire and pierce them through their metal armor. She would train until she could drown them and watch their fire try to save them. She would train until she was a master, until she played them like a puppets they were.

The moon was so bright, and Katara breathed her vow, moist from her breath into the air.

A vow to the moon, from its forever separated lover in the water below.

A vow to Sokka; her brother taken so far, far away.

She would avenge them all. Without pity, without mercy for anyone who tried to get in her way. She would strike without hesitation. Without doubt. The pride of thousands slaughtered waterbenders and Water Trine warriors lay within her, and she would heed their cries.

Till the moment she would be taken down, Katara would fight.