Disclaimer: I don't own Avatar: The Last Airbender. Sadly enough.
Warnings: Speculation, Spoilers up to Season Three
AN: For AtLA Land's lottery writing challenge. Prompt was "Past Avatar."
She is air. Her love is fire. Their child could be either. Perhaps even a little of both. Her belly is warm and swollen as they lie side by side in their bed, and he hums to her a tune his own mother taught him.
Monks and nuns don't marry. They come together for children and then drift away on the winds. They don't have families. They don't have firm ties to anyone or anything.
Yangchen doesn't care. She has plans, so many plans. Things she wants to change, things she will change.
But that's before her womb lurches and the blood comes. Before a hand squeezing hers and pain and screaming and an infant's cries in the dead of night. Before she's weak and pale. Before the healer arrives and her vision grows dim.
Her son is air. Her love is fire. Yangchen lives to see neither.
He's born on a boat two days out from the island his parents call home. His mother laughs and wonders why he's a firebender and not a fish, and she's the first person Ryuuren tells when he bends water by accident a week after his eighth birthday. She doesn't believe him; his father does. The last he sees of either of them is their teary faces when he's taken away for special training.
Ryuuren doesn't want to go; he isn't given a choice. But by the time he's an adult, they come to regret that. He's powerful then where he wasn't before, and he puts a fierce and deadly end to the idea that the Avatar must be taken immediately from his or her family once discovered. Every child deserves parents. Deserves to be loved. To be cherished and nurtured regardless of power or destiny.
He marries afterward. He travels. He learns. But Ryuuren never forgets the sound of his mother's voice or the feel of his father's hand on his shoulder or the fact that he still doesn't know what happened to either of them or his two sisters.
He grows old. Has children and grandchildren and even great grandchildren. His wife is beautiful until the day she dies and so are all his daughters. But he keeps living. Keeps going. Keeps their memory dear even as he grows to cherish newer ones.
Then, a star streaks across the sky one day and grows larger and larger until it falls into the ocean off the east Earth Kingdom coast. Ryuuren fights the resulting tsunamis and eruptions and earthquakes. He wins.
Unfortunately, so does the meteor.
Shuurei sings as she works. Earth is strong and resolute and implacable. Steadfast. Firm. Unbending. But she's also gentle with her embrace. Nurturing and soothing. Mother to them all.
Not that she even knows her own mother. Either of her parents. She's taken from them before she can even walk. Too many people were frightened by what the last Avatar's family had led her to become. But Shuurei doesn't blame them; she knows what she's capable of even more than they do. She knows what she can so easily be once more.
Himiko pounds against the walls of her spirit every now and then. But Shuurei brushes her aside as easily as the wind blows away a leaf.
She may be soft. She may be gentle. She may even be kind. But Shuurei isn't weak. She locks Himiko away where she belongs. Banished from the other Avatars just as she once banished them while she wreaked havoc on their world.
Shuurei uses water to heal what water was once used to break. Someday, she knows the cycle will repeat. Just as it has before. Just as it will again.
Perhaps it'll be air next time. Maybe the nomads so distant and uncaring will blow over the world like a hurricane.
Or it could be her own earth or even fire.
But that's a matter for another day and another Avatar. Her duty right now is to put to rights what her predecessor destroyed. To ease the hurts of the injured and support the sick.
She spends her entire life doing just that. She never marries nor has kids of her own, and she wears her nun's robes even on her death bed. But she leaves the world with a smile and the knowledge that she did what was right and just.
She breathes her last, and a fisherman's son takes his first.
Her name is Himiko, and she's a murderer. Her past self, her last self screams inside of her, but she quiets Jizang with a sharp spiritual slap and sends him reeling. Puts him back in his place where he belongs.
She's the Avatar. All that's good and right with the world.
She's Southern Water Tribe. A princess. The high chief's only daughter. The best. The brightest. The strongest. The purest. The true keeper of this world.
Their whispers reach her ears from the cradle, and she never once forgets. Their benders are the greatest. Even without Tui and La a snowball's throw away, they can heal fatal injuries or send entire cities beneath the sea.
Himiko can and does both with a smile on her face and laughter in her heart. Until all bow before her tribe or face her wrath. Balance be damned. She's the Avatar. Her word is final. Her judgment is absolute.
She never sees the terror that she brings or the tears; she wouldn't care either way. Nor does she glimpse the young man who ends her. He's a powerless thing. Weak. Not even a bender. Some broad-faced peasant not even worth her time. But his arrows are sharp and true, and the Yu Yan never miss. Not when it really counts.
Afterwards, he cleans her up as best he can and places a lotus blossom tile in her hands before he buries her at sea. He tells no one of what he did or what happened, but the world breathes a sigh of relief either way.
And in Gaoling, a baby girl is born with ancient eyes.