The waves crashed angrily against the cliff walls, matching her inner turmoil with their cacophonous thundering. The biting wind froze the tears on the corners of her eyes before they could slide down her cheeks. She was losing her mind. She was losing everything. How would it look if her marriage to the Avatar ended so swiftly after it had begun? She would be back to square one... a single, pregnant soon-to-be mother. Her heart cracked at the thought.
It's not supposed to be like this! she thought again. How did things get so messy?
Her hormones had turned her life into a disaster. This entire thing was a disaster. She wished she could start again. She wished she could go back to that day and undo what they had done. They just weren't ready. They weren't ready for sex, they weren't ready to be married, and they most certainly were not ready for a baby. She didn't think she ever would be ready. She was a control freak, this much was true. And yet her entire life had spiraled completely out of her control. Factor in the raging hormones, and her ridiculous mood swings suddenly made sense. It didn't make it any easier, but it made sense.
She wished she had explained this to Aang before... before...
The tears became broken sobs as she bent her head and let her emotions consume her. Why had she been so stubborn and stupid? Why had she allowed their love to become so complicated and destructive?
There had to be a way to fix this. There had to be a way to make things right. She loved him, she really did. But she was so afraid, and so confused. Instead of sharing her feelings with the man who loved her most, she had withdrawn into herself and pushed him away. In the process, she had made a fool of herself. Who knew what the rest of the healers must think of her. She couldn't bear to think of it.
Taking a deep breath, she closed her eyes and struggled to center herself. She sought the peace and calm that had persisted in eluding her as of late. Maybe if she could fix herself, she could fix her marriage. She lifted her arms at her side and let the breeze tangle itself around her, wrapping her in its cold yet soothing hands. For the first time in a long time, she finally felt like everything was going to be okay.
In the corner of her mind, she heard the rapidly approaching footsteps, but they did not register until a familiar voice echoed across the frozen tundra.
"Katara! No! Don't!"
Jarred by that familiar voice ringing with anxiety, she turned with a start. And then she heard a sickening crack.
She gazed into Aang's fearful gray eyes for what felt like the longest second she had ever lived, and then the ice gave out beneath her.
It was such a strange sensation, falling. Fluffy white clouds stretched across the bright blue sky, floating lazily as they watched her steady descent. For a moment, she didn't even think about what awaited her at the end of her free fall. She only felt an odd peace.
And then the air beneath her was moving, and then she was no longer falling. She was flying.
At the cliff's edge, she saw Aang, fiercely bending the air around her in determined concentration as she slowly floated closer to him. The fear in his eyes had been replaced by something much stronger. She suddenly realized she had finally started breathing again, without even realizing she had ever stopped.
He captured her in his open arms, and the two of them fell back onto the snow and ice together. He exhaled heavily as he cradled her like a child in his lap. "Don't you ever do that again," he ordered shakily. "Don't scare me like that."
"I was just... I was..." she tried to explain, but her words sounded leaden and lame.
"I'm so sorry," he apologized fervently, burying his face in her hair. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have said what I did. I didn't expect you to... to..."
Suddenly, she realized what exactly he had thought and why his eyes had been full of such blatant fear. "I wasn't going to jump," she offered sheepishly. "I was... trying to calm down."
He exhaled again, his warm breath a stark contrast against the cold air surrounding them. "I was so afraid. I came to find you because I wanted to apologize," he explained, starting to ramble. "I realize that you're going through so much, and you're afraid, and I'm afraid, and this is hard for both of us, and I should be more patient with you, and I just-"
"It's okay." She reached up to touch his cheek with her gloved hand. "It's okay, Aang."
"No." He shook his head stubbornly. "It's not. We can do better than this. I can do better than this. It's okay that we haven't had sex. I shouldn't expect so much from you. I mean... I realize, this isn't what we had planned. This isn't what you wanted. It's hard on both of us. And I should be supporting you-"
"Stop, Aang." She placed a firm hand on his chest and realized just how badly he was shaking. "You can't blame yourself for everything. I've been keeping you at a safe distance, but I couldn't see the damage I was doing. Can you forgive me?"
"Katara," he breathed, bringing her mouth to his. Her mind immediately went blank at their first real kiss in quite some time. His lips were cold and insistent, and yet she felt warmed to the core. His arms tightened around her as he pulled her closer to him. She put up no resistance when his tongue pressed into her mouth and sent a tingle down her spine. Spirits, she had missed this. She slid her hand down to his neck and nibbled gently at his lower lip, eliciting a small groan from deep in Aang's throat. The sound alone took her breath away.
He broke away from the kiss abruptly, peppering her cheeks with smaller kisses. "I love you, Katara," he promised her with a desperate insistence.
"I love you, too," she promised in return.
"Let's go home," he said. She answered him with a nod, and he carefully helped her to her feet so they could begin the cold journey home.
Katara watched her husband sleep in the flickering candlelight. His muscled chest rose and fell steadily beneath the blanket. She was mesmerized by his handsomeness and chiseled physique. Leisurely, she thought to herself that she had gotten quite lucky when Aang agreed to be hers forever, even before she knew she was pregnant. They had promised themselves to each other long ago, though they had not known they would be married so soon. Reflecting on their long conversation that afternoon, she felt the warmth in her grow. He had been so kind and loving and understanding. They had talked about their fears as newlyweds and soon-to-be parents, and what they each expected from the future. She couldn't have fathomed the depth of his emotions and fears. It made her feel a thousand times better to know that he felt much the same as she did.
If only they had sat down long ago, they could have avoided so much heartache. She had promised him to never be so stubborn again, and he'd laughed, taking her chin in his hands and saying, "If you weren't so stubborn, you wouldn't be the Katara I love so much."
And they still had not consummated their marriage. They had gone to bed as usual, but when he kissed her goodnight, she had let the embrace escalate into something much, much more. Their movements were clumsy and hurried as their limbs tangled in their frantic quest to be close to each other. That was when the contractions had started.
They weren't horribly painful, but they were definitely noticeable. As soon as she'd scrunched her face and clutched her stomach, his hands had fallen from her. He demanded to know what was wrong, and she had to tell him. He adamantly shook his head and declared that they weren't going to do anything to put the baby in danger. She wasn't due for another two months. Part of her had been disappointed, but admittedly there was another part that only felt relief. The relief was what guilted her, until he kissed her forehead gently and said that it was okay, there would be time for lovemaking later. She melted into his arms immediately, and they fell asleep that way.
It wasn't long before she was awoken by the baby's insistent kicks and a sudden urge to pee. She wouldn't miss these moments after the baby was born, though she probably would miss what little sleep she was allowed between kicks. And, at any rate, it gave her time to watch over Aang as he slept. He was so vulnerable and yet so peaceful in his sleep. She wanted to kiss him and hold him, but she loathed to wake him. He would probably be getting just as little sleep as she after the baby arrived.
With a sigh, she ran a finger across his chest muscles, unable to resist the temptation. He stirred beneath her light touch, and she soon found herself looking into his sleepy gray eyes.
"Everything okay?" he asked, rubbing at his eyes.
"Everything is perfect," she whispered with a smile.
He looked up at her for a moment before his face broke into a drowsy grin. "Come here," he demanded gently, and she immediately acquiesced, falling into his strong arms once more. "I love you," he mumbled, very obviously falling back into sleep easily.
She smiled against his chest and snuggled against him. "I know."
Well I figured I'd stop being so dang mean and let the lovins begin. But you know it won't last long so enjoy it! And sorry for the delay. My muse hates me and dumped me for all of NaNoWriMo so I accomplished quite literally nothing. Ironic, eh? Or maybe I'm just neurotic.
Also, I'm tired of thinking of "Unexpected" chapter titles, so I'm doing away with them. All of them. Carry on.