Disclaimer: I do not own Avatar: The Last Airbender or anything pertaining to it.
Epilogue: The Glacierlands Revisited
"Should you listen to your heart, you will know the answer of how to break the Sun's curse." - The Moon Spirit to Katara
Winter Solstice, Year 100
My grandmother suggested I begin writing to keep a record of my discoveries into the history of sirens. However, I believe I will probably repurpose this journal for my own thoughts and concerns of a more personal matter, hence I am writing it in the ancient language.
Let me begin by telling you I didn't believe in love, and even today, I don't think I fully believe in it. I like the idea, but it's still foreign. Of course, sirens aren't known for falling in love. Zuko asks me if I love him, but I always respond by asking if he loves me. I suppose that's our way of admitting we're not ready for that kind of commitment.
He ended his betrothal to Mai, or rather, she ended it to him. She was exhausted of him sneaking off in the night, making unplanned trips, excluding her from his life. I could tell it hurt him, but I knew he had hurt her plenty in his ways.
Zuko likes to say I'm ethereal, that I can't "be controlled," or "explained." But I believe that I lie at the core of everyone of us - I'm the doubt, I'm the free spirit, I'm the part of every person that terrifies us. It's not that I can't be controlled, but I don't want to be controlled. It's not that I can't be explained, it's that I don't want to be explained.
When he showed up at my brother and father's village, telling me he was looking for me, I told him to leave. Part of me was angry - he wasn't supposed to come until next year. There was still so much that needed to be fixed, there was a lot I needed to learn. And there was plenty more I needed to see.
He and I exchange letters occasionally, always very cordial about it as well. I think he's worried about whether or not someone will read his letters to me; he tends to be a bit paranoid. Actually, he's begun learning how to read and write my language. I've yet to hear him speak it, but I look forward to teasing him the way he teases me.
Spring Equinox, Year 100
Zuko came to Glacierlands again; I could tell he didn't like the cold, but I appreciated his efforts to come to an environment I was more comfortable in. I think he believes I don't trust the Volcanic Islands entirely; truthfully, I don't. But I don't believe he entirely trusts me either.
He kissed me as well. At first, I was afraid he would lose control. Most men are driven to insanity from the lust they feel after a siren's kiss. I dreaded the thought of such a thing, so I had fought my own carnal desires for so long.
While I had high expectations for what it would feel like when our lips finally met, I regret to inform you that I was ultimately disappointed. It was kind, it was submissive. Almost like a child asking permission. The moment I realized he had kissed me, it was over.
The second kiss was a drastic improvement: his lips tasted like cinnamon, and my lips tingled with the warmth that was shared. His hands cupped my face gently, and his fingertips made my frozen skin feel alive. I felt alive, I felt like I did when I was in the water. When he pulled away, he looked in my eyes and I knew I would never want to kiss another pair of lips.
Katara hadn't seen Zuko since that night. Part of her worried that for this one and only time, the siren had become obsessed with the man. It had been nearly two months, and though she continued to write him letters, his letters grew fewer in number and briefer in content.
Maybe he would come back - she doubted it. Maybe she could go to him - she didn't want to go to the Volcanic Islands.
She made her way to the edge of the glacier before she begun to strip herself of her heavy clothing. She had been out of the water for a few days, and needed to rehydrate her body. She had just pulled off her parka and boots when a young girl came running to her.
"Katara!" she screamed.
The siren turned, concerned for what could be ailing the child. "What's wrong?"
"A letter, it just came." she said, handing the siren the parchment. It was dark, but the siren was able to make out the writing.
"Child, can you see?"
"Yes, ma'am," she replied to the siren.
"What's this character mean?"
The girl took the parchment and examined it carefully. "Oh, it means, 'enemy.'"
"Thank you," Katara replied, continuing to read. A smile broke out over her face. "Child, go to my father. Tell him to prepare for King Zuko's arrival."
The girl nodded, going to run back and the siren clutched the letter to her gently.
I know what the two halves of the enemies are. The Moon is right - th ey must be made whole. It has come to my attention I am in possession of one of the halves, and I am going to collect the other. I worry it will not want me to take it at first, it will not want to unite with its other half, but I won't take no for an answer. After we unite the two halves, I will take you to see the world you deserve to see.
Half of an Enemy Waiting to Be Made Whole.
A/N: This story ended up turning a lot different than I ever imagined it would; I can't say if there will be a sequel, mostly because I doubt my own writing abilities.
It ended up being very short, but I think that part of the charm to the story was its brevity. I wanted this to be Katara's story, which is why it was mostly told from her perspective, and I wanted to show a transformation of her from blind faith and selflessness towards the gods to a deep respect and devotion to both the gods and herself.
The end, I really wanted to be ambiguous, because while I believe the events of the story to be compelling, I don't think they were ever enough to make the two fall in love. But I think it was enough to form a strong connection, and I leave it to you - the reader - to decide how things played out after Zuko's letter to Katara.
Thank you all for your reviews, support, and kind words throughout this story - it was plenty of motivation. I look forward to seeing you at my next Zutara works, Polar Nights and Wild. Polar Nights (which I include the full summary at the bottom of this page) has already begun and I am also working on a LoK fic (that is developing slowly; there are a lot of things I'm not pleased with in terms of character development, so I have to pioneer that on my own). Truthfully, I am excited for both of my new Zutara fics in a way I never was with Ethereal, and I believe you all will enjoy reading them as much as I do writing them.
Polar Nights: In order to end a long standing war between the Fire Nation and Water Tribe, Prince Zuko is sent to the frigid desert of the South Pole by his cousin Fire Lord Lu Ten, where he is greeted by subzero temperatures, polar nights, igloos, and lots and lots of sea prunes. Of course, it is also when he finds out he's to be wed to the hard headed, spiritual leader Katara. And if that wasn't hard enough, he has to do it all with her overbearing brother leaning over his shoulder. Inspired by the question, "Why does Katara always have to go to Zuko/the Fire Nation in an arranged marriage fic?" AU. Zutara.