HOORAY! My first update of 2012! :D Oh, this is so exciting! *Ahem* Anyways, just a nice, sweet little fanfic to kick off the year. Just so you all know, "The Promise: Part One" will be updated on Friday, so be sure to keep an eye out. Anyways, enjoy and review! :D

DISCLAIMER: I do not own Avatar: The Last Airbender. The show and its characters belong to Mike and Bryan, the brillant geniuses behind one of the greatest cartoon shows in the history of cartoons. Their work is legendary, and I salute them for it.

How I Met Your Father

"Mommy! Mommy!" cried out the little girl, giggling as she streamed the excited water around her small body, her young tan face beaming with joyous pride and excitement. "Look at me!"

"I'm looking, Makima," chuckled Katara from her rocking chair, holding her slightly bulging midsection as she reveled in the dark moonlight around them, the frigid South Pole air both comforting her and nipping at her with icy claws. Katara was dressed in a heavy blue parka, which was meant to keep her and her little passenger nice and cozy. Her daughter Makima, a bright young girl of four, also dressed in a parka, giggled and laughed with glee as she continued to Waterbend, taking in all the life-giving energy that the moonbeams were pumping into her small body.

It had been fourteen years since the end of the Hundred Year War, and Aang and Katara were happily married and living in the South Pole. Shortly after their wedding, Katara had discovered that she was pregnant with her and Aang's first child. Nine months later, little Makima was born, a silver-eyed innocent baby with tan skin like her mother and black hair like her father. When Makima was two, Aang and Katara found her melting snow and collecting it into a tiny ball of water, confirming that she was a Waterbender.

Katara was currently expecting her second child, being a few months into her new pregnancy. However, shortly after she and Aang had discovered this wonderful news, her husband had been called away to the Earth Kingdom, summoned by Fire Lord Zuko to help oversee the continuing construction of Republic City, which had begun nearly twelve or thirteen years ago. Republic City was intended to be the capital of the United Republic of Nations, a territory in the Earth Kingdom that was formed by Avatar Aang and Fire Lord Zuko from the old Fire Nation colonies.

"Come on, Makima," called Katara as she slowly stood up from her seat, pressing her hand into her back to support her forward weight. "Time for bed."

"But, Mommy," protested Makima as she sunk her water back into the snow, "I wanted to stay out here and wait for Daddy to get home." Makima frowned and looked up at the night sky, her black braid bobbing slightly as she turned her head toward the heavens.

Katara softly smiled at her daughter, knowing of the pain that her little girl held in her young heart. It had been three months since Aang had left the South Pole, and Makima was still trying to get used to not having him around all the time. After Makima had been born, Aang had taken some time off of his Avatar duties to be with his family so that he could raise his new daughter. This was the first time that Aang had ever left Makima's side, and his young daughter dearly wanted her daddy to come home so she could throw her small arms around his big, strong neck and laugh like she had never laughed before.

Katara held a hand up to her necklace, which was the one Aang had made for her when he proposed to her over four years ago, touching reverent, loving fingers to the symbolic stone. The necklace consisted of a dark blue choker with a pure white stone, engraved with the combined images of Airbending and Waterbending, the darkly etched lines of sky and sea coming together in an unbreakable vow of everlasting love. She remembered how hard Makima had cried in the first few weeks of her father's departure, and how she herself would go to sleep with tear-filled eyes, whispering ghost-like words of love to Aang, hoping dearly that somehow, someway, her beloved husband would hear her words and smile, knowing that he was indeed missed back home.

Dropping her fingers, Katara kindly called out, "Makima, sweetie." Her daughter looked back at her with glistening silver eyes, which seemed to quiver in the moonlight, telling of untold yet understood pain. Warmly smiling, Katara held out her arms and said, "Come here." Makima ran over to Katara, stopping just in front of her so that her mother could pick her up and prop her up on her hip. Walking inside of their frozen home, Katara entered Makima's room and set her down on the bed so that they could sit side-by-side. Running her fingers through Makima's hair, Katara asked, "Have I ever told you the story of how I met your father?"

"No, Mommy," murmured Makima, her voice full of sadness as she leaned against her mother's arm. Katara smiled down at Makima, kissing her head in order to try and help alleviate the heaviness in her daughter's heart.

Wrapping an arm around Makima's shoulder, Katara placed her free hand on her bulging stomach as she said, "Well, you know that he's the Avatar, right?"

"Mmhmm," nodded Makima, whose shaking eyes made it seem as if they would burst out with tears at any moment.

"Well," said Katara in a bright tone, "what would you say if I told you that it was me who helped him return to the world so that he could defeat the Fire Nation?"

Makima's head instantly whipped up to look at Katara, her sharp eyes full of surprise. Makima had heard the story of how her father and his friends had ended the Hundred Year War, but not how he had gotten to that point. "You're the reason why Daddy's here?"

"In a way," admitted Katara with a small laugh and slight shrug of her shoulders. Seeing Makima giddily smile in anticipation, Katara chuckled and kissed her head again, saying, "But it's too late to tell stories. It's time for sleep."

"No it's not, Mommy!" protested Makima, throwing her small arms around Katara to keep herself from going anywhere. Looking up at her mother with just the cutest look in the history of the world, Makima urgently pleaded, "Please, Mommy, tell me how you met Daddy! I wanna know!"

"Maybe in the morning, my little sweetie," teased Katara, warmly smiling down at her frantic daughter.

"No!" retorted Makima with a shake of her head. "I wanna hear the story now!"

"All right," sighed Katara, feigning defeat for the sake of her daughter but still smiling all the same, "but you have to promise that you'll go to sleep as soon as I'm done."

"I promise!" quickly assured Makima, holding up her little pinky for Katara to grasp. Katara affectionately chuckled, remembering that this was her daughter's way of ensuring that her promises would be fulfilled. Katara held up her own pinky and interlaced it with her daughter's, eliciting a wide smile from the toddler. Makima threw herself back into the bed, hastily covering herself up with the fur-lined blankets and expectantly looking at her mother, her sterling eyes just begging for the story to be told already.

"Long ago," began Katara, sidling up so that she could better support her unborn child, "when I just a young girl of fourteen, your Uncle Sokka and I went on a fishing trip to the Southern Floes to get some food for our village. This was about two years after your Grandpa Hakoda left with the rest of the men of our village to go fight in the Earth Kingdom against the Fire Nation."

"Was it because of what happened to Grandma Kya?" timidly asked Makima, knowing how sensitive that subject was to her mother. Katara sadly glanced down at the floor, her heart throbbing with mournful contractions as she remembered her beloved mother. Just a month before, on the anniversary of Kya's death, Makima had found her mother sobbing in her room. When her daughter had asked why she was crying, Katara told her the story of the day that her mother had died. As a result, Makima felt very much closer to Katara, not even daring to bring up the subject of Grandma Kya for fear of upsetting her mother. Seeing a few tears leak into her mother's eyes, Makima guiltily murmured, "I'm sorry, Mommy. I didn't mean to make you cry."

Katara gently smiled, giving off a small, soft laugh and wiping away her tears as she looked back at Makima with quavering eyes. Taking Makima's hand in hers, Katara kindly said, "You don't need to be sorry about anything, Makima. I…I just don't you to go through the same pain that I did." Lightly squeezing her hand, she added, "You mean so much to me and your father, and I couldn't live with myself if you were in that much pain because of me."

"But you could never hurt me, Mommy," truthfully protested Makima. Brightly smiling, she added, "I'm always happy when you're around."

Grateful for Makima's words, Katara smiled before she continued. "As I was saying, your Uncle and I were fishing, and I ended up catching one with my Waterbending." Katara heartily chuckled as she said, "The only problem was that his spear had burst the bubble the fish was in, and it ended up getting away, leaving him completely soaked." Her heart reveled in the laughter that burst out of Makima, such a pure and innocent sound full of nothing but happiness and mirth.

"Uncle Sokka's so silly," giggled Makima, squirming under her covers with glee.

"That he is," mirthfully agreed Katara. "Anyways, your Uncle and I ended up getting caught in some nasty rapids, and we ended up stranded on an ice floe after our canoe got smashed. Of course, your Uncle blamed me for getting us into that mess." Chuckling, Katara added, "Needless to say, I was less than happy with him, and I ended up yelling at him for being such an immature blockhead. I got so mad, in fact, that my Waterbending got out of control and I ended up smashing a glacier behind us."

"Whoa," said Makima in amazement, her young eyes full of wonder and awe. "I wish I could Waterbend like that."

"Maybe one day, my little sweetie," lovingly smiled Katara. "After the glacier had fallen apart, a domed iceberg rose out of the waves, glowing this strange blue light that neither of us had seen before. Inside, I could see this big, six-legged beast."

"Appa!" cried out Makima, knowing who Katara was referring to.

"Are you going to let me tell the story or not?" jokingly asked Katara. Seeing Makima settle down and quiet herself, Katara smiled and said, "And underneath the creature, I could see a boy sitting cross-legged, both his fists touching each other. The strange thing, however, was that he was completely bald, and he had glowing arrow tattoos on his hands and on his head. When he opened his eyes, they were glowing pure white, much whiter than even the crispest snowfall that the South Pole has ever seen."

"I knew that the boy needed help, so I grabbed your Uncle's club and ran for the iceberg, frantic to free the boy from his icy prison. I smashed the club as hard as I could against the ice dome, but it wouldn't budge. Suddenly, the ice cracked open, sending out a blast of air that knocked me into your Uncle. When we looked back up, we saw a great beam of light shoot into the sky, destroying the ice dome and crumbling it to pieces."

Makima was silent the entire time, taking great interest in the perhaps the greatest tale of her mother's life: the day that the Avatar returned to the world, rekindling hope in the hearts of the despondent and desolate.

"There was this strange blue aurora above the remains of the ice dome, and that's when we saw the boy stand up. His eyes and tattoos were still glowing with that strange light. I wasn't sure who or what he was, but I knew that he was special in some way. Suddenly, the light faded away along with the aurora, and the boy crumpled and fell. I caught him just before he hit the ground, though your Uncle was very suspicious of the boy, poking in the head with the end of his spear. After I told your Uncle to stop that, I looked back down at the boy."

For some strange reason, Katara thought she felt another presence in the room, watching her as she interacted with her daughter. The presence seemed familiar even though she couldn't feel it, but her heart began to pound nonetheless. Deciding to ignore the sensation, she continued on with her story.

"The boy groaned as he opened his eyes, which were this startling, handsome gray, and I smiled, knowing that he was going to be okay. He told me that he needed to ask me something, and he told me to come closer so that I could hear him."

"What did he ask you, Mommy?" curiously asked Makima, her eyes full of excitement and anxiety, just dying to know what had happened on that fateful day.

Just as Katara was about to answer, a strong, confident voice behind her said, "Will you go penguin sledding with me?" Both females suddenly whipped around, seeing a man lean in the doorway, his orange Master Airbender robe making a stark contrast to the blue and white around them. His bald head was adorned with a single blue arrow, his magnificent gray eyes full of pride, love, confidence, gentleness, and countless other emotions that made Katara's heart flutter as soon as her sapphire eyes fell on him, making her smile and blush with great affection.

Makima gasped, her face spreading into a humungous smile as she happily exclaimed, "Daddy!" She threw herself out of the bed, sprinting the short distance from the bed to the door and leaping into Aang's arms, which enveloped her as he belted a mighty laugh. Makima squeezed her father with all her small might, giggling like the child she was as she said, "I missed you, Daddy!"

"I missed you too, my little sweetie," warmly said Aang, holding onto his beloved daughter and never wanting to let her go. He kissed her sweet little head, making her giggle as Katara got up from the bed. Katara walked over to her husband, whose smile widened at the sight of her. "And I can't forget the lovely lady of the house," charmingly said Aang as he propped Makima on his hip, freeing up his hand so that he could interlace it with Katara's fingers, bringing her in for a longing kiss that she whole-heartedly returned.

Separating from their kiss, Katara warmly chuckled as she nuzzled into Aang's cheek, affectionately saying, "Welcome home, dear."

Aang kissed her forehead, happily saying, "It's great to be home, my love." She blushed against him, craving to sleep beside him once more, bringing an end to all those restless nights that she had spent without him. Turning his attention to Makima, Aang asked, "So how's your Waterbending going, my little penguin?"

"It's going great, Daddy!" jubilantly announced Makima, practically bouncing in her father's arms. "Mommy taught me a lot after you left, but I don't think she can do so much Waterbending now because of the new baby."

"I see," nodded Aang, happy to hear the news. Setting Makima down, he said, "Why don't you get into bed? I want to talk to Mommy for a little bit."

"Promise me that you'll tuck me in?" meekly asked Makima, holding up her little pinky for Aang to grasp.

"Promise," Aang chuckled as he reached out with his own hand, intertwining his pinky with his daughter's, making her smile with joy. The toddler ran back to her bedside, jumping into the bed and pulling up the covers, sitting up as she patiently waited for her parents to finished talking.

"We'll be back in a bit," assured Aang, leading Katara out of Makima's room, leading her down the hall to their own room. Making their way inside, they sat on the bed, hands still connected and hearts still bonded, smiling with the brightest and purest of love in their eyes. Aang contentedly sighed, saying, "You're as beautiful as ever, Katara."

"And you're still as handsome as ever, Aang," pleasurably retorted Katara, lightly squeezing her hand against his, the very touch of his skin making her feel young again. His eyes sparkled in the moonlight that streamed through their window, his entire being glowing a healthy light as he fondly stared into her eyes, gazing through the cerulean windows into her wondrous soul. Finally, Katara asked, "How are things going in Republic City?"

"Better than expected," confidently said Aang with a certain smile. "The construction is on schedule and everyone's getting along just fine. They don't even need my help that much."

"That's great," said Katara with a smile, sincerely meaning each word both her voice and her heart was telling him. Placing a hand on her stomach, she chuckled and said, "This little one right here missed you a lot these past few months."

"Is that so?" jokingly chuckled Aang. He leaned down and tenderly pressed his ear to her stomach, softly whispering, "Hey, little buddy. Have you been giving Mommy much trouble while I was gone?" Katara chuckled as Aang listened to the silence of her womb, smiling and nodding as if their unborn child were speaking to him.

"Not really," said Katara, "but I know that our little baby did miss you."

"Just as I missed you and Makima," warmly replied Aang, tilting his head up towards Katara and resting his chin on her stomach, reaching up with his free hand and smiling as he cupped her cheek in his firm yet gentle palm. Katara smiled and placed her free hand on his, pressing his hand closer to her face so that she could have more of him than she was allowed these past few months. "Have you and Makima been getting along well?" he asked as he sat back up, dropping his hand from her face and resting it on her stomach, feeling the tiny life that lay within the skin that he loved to caress in precious times.

"We've really bonded these past few months," replied Katara. Holding her head down and looking down at their hands, she sighed and added, "Last month, on the anniversary of my mother's death, Makima saw me crying." She closed her eyes, trying to conceal the pain that threatened to consume her, knowing that Aang was looking at her with utmost concern and worry.

"I'm sorry I wasn't here to comfort you," he guiltily said, his voice heavy with shame and self-disappointment.

"Aang," softly said Katara as she opened her eyes and looked up at him, "you don't have to be sorry about anything. I told Makima why I was crying, the story of how my mother died, and ever since, she's been much closer to me than before."

"Because she doesn't want to lose you," reasoned Aang, his voice still berating himself for not being there for the partner of his heart in one of her greatest times of need.

"Just like we don't want to lose you," quietly murmured Katara, her voice carrying a great truthfulness and sincerity to her words. "We can never abandon our children, Aang. Not before they're ready to take on the world."

"And we won't abandon them," assured Aang, "not as long as we have each other." Husband and wife smiled at one another, reminded of the vows that they had given each other on that momentous day so long ago, remembering them day after day as they held each other in their hearts, never forgetting how close their lives were intertwined, how inseparable they had become with the passage of time. As much as he didn't want to leave Katara's side, he still had his young daughter to tuck in. Giving Katara a sweet, but nonetheless heartwarming, kiss on the lips, he softly whispered, "I'll be back in a moment."

"And I'll be waiting," promised Katara, returning the gentle peck to his lips, watching as he left her side, throwing her one last wink before he slipped out the door, his gorgeous smile making her skin tingle with love. She looked out at the window, watching the moonbeams as they streamed in, happily sighing as she said, "If you could only see me now, Mom, living the life you always wanted for me: a loving husband and the sweetest little girl to call my own, plus another baby on the way for me to hold and love just like you did with Sokka and I."

Her mother's words echoed in her mind, a distant memory brought to life as a result of this magical evening: Your children will be your most precious gifts in life, Katara, just as your future husband will be. Never let them go and never leave them, for you and your husband will take an incredible journey as you watch them grow up, making you ever so proud of them from day to day. Never forget your family, my little angel; never forget…

After almost ten minutes, Aang came back in, quietly saying, "She's finally asleep."

"Perfect," whispered Katara, moving over in the bed so that Aang could lie next to her. She nestled her head in the crook of his neck, humming as they nuzzled into each other, holding each other closer than ever before in these past few months. "I love you so much, Aang," she whispered, delicately kissing his chin, snuggling ever closer to her eternal love.

"I love you even more, Katara," he whispered in reply, kissing her head in a tender manner. "And I'll always love you, now until the end of time."

"Even longer than that, my love," smiled Katara, closing her eyes as she felt her soul meld with his. "Always, now and forever, we'll be together."

"I wouldn't have it any other way," said Aang, sighing as he rested against his Forever Girl, closing his eyes as he felt his heart sing with exuberant joy at having been reunited with Katara again. "I wouldn't have it any other way…"