Howrra FTW. Warning: there are feels in here. Originally inspired by Blutengel's song "Why Did You", even though I drifted from the meaning of the song a lot, I kept the title. This follows the canon plot, mostly.
Darkness enveloped the skies, the land, and the sea. Choppy frigid waves grayed and blackened from sapphire, white shone brighter, and the sky loomed over the alien landscape. The temperatures– low– plummeted further. Yet there he stood. Layers upon layers of cloth, of capes and coats. Hats: fuzzy knits, stitched pelts. Atop them all, blocking billowing snow, rested a sentry's plate-like hat. Constant coldness clung to the man; the waiting, patient, man. Beneath the hats, beneath the cloths and furs, a lean, muscled frame topped in slightly knotted hair of the darkest brown struggled with his thoughts. A boat swayed far in the unseen horizon, heading for the wonders and lights of Republic City. Inside, a piece of the man's heart stowed in silence, accompanied by her fluffy companion. Perhaps she snored lightly, her sleep never silent. Maybe she tossed slightly, unused to the discomforts of resting without a bed. It was possible that she was cold, having packed no blankets. Regret claimed the guard– the caress of his layers weighing on his mind. They belonged not on the patient sentry, not on the mass of ice; but in the ship, atop or below and around the adventuress. Briefly, a thought flashed across the man's mind from possibility to madness: he would swim and give her his layers. A sigh signified the realization: a swim in the choppy death-bath led to a certain end. Sinking– into snow and sadness– the sentry slowly walked back toward the azure compound.
Days melted into weeks and months. Howl patrolled the southern water tribe's main village, semi-resting after looking to the skies and seas for any sign of invading Equalists (or Korra). The White Lotus' south-pole compound guards found themselves mainly out of things to do– the avatar was gone and only a select few fit on Air Temple island. So: the Lotus Council granted the remaining guards the meaningless task of looking out for Amon's minions. Slowing his pace, the sentry crossed before Tonraq and Senna's home, and after a brief pause, entered. A small fire in the center slightly warmed the main room. The avatar's mother stood before it, warming her hands. Noticing his presence, her deep blue eyes made contact with his obsidian.
"Howl– nice to see you," she smiled. He nodded. Senna's first priority– after the introduction of sentries into the compound– had been to meet each one and remember his or her name. She wanted trust between herself and the guards, unlike her husband, who merely decided that if any failed in keeping his daughter safe or in any way hurt her, he would deliver them death. "Tonraq and I miss Korra, and we are going to see her this coming new moon,"
"I'm sure she misses you as well," conversationally, he stated.
"The revolution, though, it worries me. It worries us. It would soothe my worries if some guards accompanied us," her words elicited a tendril of hope.
"Have you spoken yet with the council members? I can't freely volunteer–"
"Yes," she paused. "You're always here– you and Pachu– asking us– me, if I need any help while Tonraq prepares some defenses with his brother, the help isn't always necessary– but the thought is nice. Tonraq and I, we're benders. This revolution frightens us and the fact that our daughter is in the middle of it– Howl, you and Pachu are nonbenders. You are not in as much danger, and it would soothe our worries if you accompanied us and assisted Korra in her struggle." she finished, smiling at the guard. Heart beating faster, he anticipated, needed to stand on the same continent as the avatar again.
"I would be honored, but I cannot go unless the elder white lotus give consent." his mouth said as his soul screamed.
Glee threatening to invade his face, he struggled to hide his happiness as the train lurched forward. Pachu glared next to him, train sickness taking hold and causing the burly old guard discomfort and nausea– along with a grumpy disposition. Near the sentry pair, the avatar's parents sat in conversation, dressed in toned-down blue water tribe garb. The need for pelts and furs gone, as the earth kingdom contained a light breeze and no snow. The ascent to the middle level of the world by ship through frigid waters and then the train travel wore the group down. Silver-specked black-haired Pachu showed the travel's effects the most, as he was the oldest. Senna and Tonraq's excitement over seeing their only daughter overcame any sickness, and unbeknownst to them, the same occurred in Howl. Stretching, the younger sentry rested his boot-encased feet atop the vibrant green seat across him. Clad in black boots, gray pants, and a light white shirt, the sentry seemed blandly civilian, blending into any nation, his dark hair and eyes declaring no affiliation with any nation. Pachu appeared vaguely earth-kingdom, his green eyes and burly form betraying him. But this only sought to blend him in more than the nondescript Howl– the train did clatter through the Earth Kingdom. Senna and Tonraq stood out the most– their dark skin, vibrant eyes and blue dress screamed "water tribe".
The sentry allowed his thoughts to wander as Pachu attempted sleep. Finally, he sat atop a train, riding closer and closer to the avatar with every jarring move.
A train attendant shook him violently, willing him to waken. Howl yawned and rubbed at his eyes, the movements below him ceasing. Scrambling, he sat properly and strained beyond Pachu's groggy face into the city outside the window. It was grandiose and beautiful. It was in turmoil. Standing, he looked across the aisle for Senna and Tonraq, whose grogginess plainly showed. The train attendant moved beyond, looking for more sleeping passengers. Howl stretched his legs and arms, reaching toward the train's ceiling as he violently fell forward when the train stopped at the station. Tonraq's amused chuckle followed by Senna and Pachu's silent laughter embarrassed the sentry, as he hastily stood back up and righted his clothes.
Regaining seriousness, the group filed out of the train, Howl leading the way and Pachu trailing at the end. Exiting the train, Howl looked for someone wearing the white lotus symbol to lead them to a safe place from which they would eventually find Korra– with Air Temple Island down, finding her would be a slight problem. But the group held confidence in the white lotus working in the city. Republic City Station shined in a combination of reds and greens, displaying the historic melding of firebenders and earthbenders. Few travelers exited or entered the trains, Amon's looming discrimination driving tourists and potential visitors away. In the very center of the paved gray station, a boy stood, declaring to all of the newspaper's shocking headline. Dressed in drab, shabby clothing and head adorned in a beret, the boy held a stack of papers against his chest, exclaiming to the few passerby in desperation of the serious importance of the day's headline. The boy needed sales. Pachu approached the boy, exchanging yuans for paper between dry and grubby hands. The guard's eyes briefly danced across the headline as horror embedded itself in his features.
Gentle shades of white and gray composed the room. Simple flooring and the scent of tea expanded endlessly. Untouched pai sho scattered across a series of tables. Her forehead rested against his collar bone as sobs erupted from her body. His soothing hand, cupping her head, held her close to him as silent tears slipped from him as well. Both trembled with worry. Golden rays from the setting sun punctured the room, alighting everything with hues of orange. Pachu sat aside, somberly speaking with other white lotus, game tiles pushed aside. The younger guard sat alone, at a distance from the planning and the consoling.
Times ticked slowly, painfully. Howl rose from his solitary chair and walked outdoors, leaving the door ajar. Standing before a wooden railing, he peered at the city. Buildings and homes and businesses and stands, along with monuments– he saw. Equalists, even. But he didn't see the avatar. And he couldn't see her now, with her loss intact, either. Briefly he wondered who consoled her: who held her as she slumped, all light from her eyes evaporated. Horror filled him past the brim as he imagined her alone. The sun settled past the buildings, blocking the sun. A section of Republic City cast into darkness. Senna's cries broke any silence possible in the now quiet– fearful– city. The raven-haired lotus lowered his face into the support of his hands, resting his elbows on a splintery railing. He commenced waiting and waiting– this time impatiently– for his avatar to be found.
They were triumphant– Amon successfully shattered. But the avatar was broken. Sleeping fitfully between her parents, she dreamt of and dealt with horrors he could only imagine. It hurt, now. To see her was a blessed curse. Howl could offer no comfort to his friend, to his love. To do so would mean discovery. Not a hug or a handshake or a smile passed. Charcoal eyes never contacted azure ones. The avatar– former avatar?– remained cocooned by her parents. The dark haired guard did not dispute this: she needed familial comfort.
Howl often stood atop, behind, and before the avatar, guarding and watching– generally fulfilling his requirements as a sentry. Atop the train, she mostly slept and held her parents. But it was atop the ship, the massive, wooden ship, that Howl's heart developed cracks and chips around the edges. Still nestled between her parents, she looked. Her eyes searched for golden ones and emitted volumes. A tug. A crack and a chip. Howl left the cabin. The briskness of the waves rocked him like a cradle. Pachu appeared, questioning. "Seasickness," mumbled the sentry. But it was atop the billowing white expanse of ice, the glistening sparkle of snow, that his heart finally shattered.
It was the nudges, the touches, and expressions which passed from the broken avatar and the firebender. All while those blue eyes of her's never once made one solitary connection with black ones. Howl the White Lotus Sentry did not exist.
It was mid-afternoon when he sought her. She languished in her compound's bedroom, lying on her bed, lost in thought. Knocking lightly, he entered. Even as he stood before her, even as he spoke to her, her eyes did not touch his. "Korra. I– don't know all that happened in the city. I don't understand your pain. Please– speak to me. I–" she continued to stare at the ceiling after briefly looking beyond him. His dark eyes filled and overflowed. Silently, he left. Anything beyond a guard-charge relationship prior to her departure did not exist. He sank further into the snow.
His fragmented heart's death knell arrived after the avatar mended herself. He stood atop a tower, guarding. His patch of snow included an area writhing with confessions of love between yellow and blue. The patchless fragments withered and crumbled, dusting the sentry in aches. He lowered himself slowly to the cold floor of the tower, clutching himself, holding his physical existence together as his inner existence broke and contorted wretchedly.
Hands tangled together, they whispered their goodbyes amid the whipping, dancing snow. The ship would soon prepare to depart, and she needed to stow away quickly. But he held her, keeping her close as long as possible, as the impending truth of their separation loomed. She noticed his tears: "I'm coming back a fully realized avatar, don't worry about me," she grinned at him, excitement and adventure calling her name. "The whole world will deal with me then, Howl. And you'll be behind me–mostly just praising my bending– but also as an important member of my awesome avatar duties team. So far I have you and Naga." He reminded her that the previous avatar did not include a nonbender in his team. "Then he's going to have to deal with it," she stated, a fire in her veins. It was then that he lowered his lips to her's for the last time.
Invigorated, refreshed, re-bending, she shined. And then she remembered. Leaving Mako to practice his bending alone, she followed a familiar secret path through the sentry's living quarters, bursting into a familiar room with extra zeal. A color of embarrassment flushed her face as she almost trampled an old burly guard. The one which accompanied her parents to see her. She raised her eyebrows in askance, shortly after briefly examining the bare room. The old man gave her a sad look before stating: "Howl is no longer with us,".
I'm an evil, vile person. But no, Howl did not kill himself unless you like that ending. For now the ending is open to interpretation. I know in my head what my ideas are for what happened afterwards, but I will only express them via fanfic as a second chapter, effectively making this a twoshot, if enough interest exists. Or if I suddenly feel like it.
Please review: I'm feeling weird about the writing in this fic. I really need feedback. Thanks for reading.