Prompt: Amorra 30 theme challenge #29 - WINGS

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"Daddy, what's that man doing to the bird?"

"He's clipping its wings, so it won't fly away."

"But isn't that mean?"

Amon paused as his son looked up at him, his large blue eyes questioning. He glanced back up, watching as the handler finished the job and let the bird go. The poor thing flapped hard, trying to rise up. It managed to get up a few feet before it was forced back to the ground. The other birds in the garden simply stared on, most likely reliving their own memories of being permanently grounded. The bird continued to struggle in vain, squawking out as if calling for help.

"I suppose it is. But if we didn't clip their wings, then we wouldn't be able to have them in our garden." He finally explained to his son, who was watching the bird intently now. His mother's pout crossed his face. "I don't think we should clip their wings daddy. They shouldn't be forced to stay here if they don't want to."

"No. I suppose not." he mused. The beautiful blue bird finally collapsed on the ground, its small chest heaving, a few more desperate squawks leaving it. His son released his hands and slowly approached the bird. The bird, sensing a threat, began to struggle again, this time making it off the air. The attempt was no better than the first except this time when it fell, his son caught it. He came back, holding the thing close to his chest. "Maybe mommy can heal it, so it can fly again." he glanced towards his father, a small smile of hope on his face. Amon just sighed, following behind as his son ran in, determination driving him. He had his mother's spirit for sure. Everything about him made him think of Korra, so much that Amon sometimes wondered if he had even helped in his conception.

Korra glanced up from nursing her daughter as her son came running in, clutching a bird to his chest. Poor creature looked beyond frightened and she wondered what sort of trouble he had caused this time. "Mommy, mommy!" he cried out. "What's the matter?" She soothed, reaching out and brushing down his hair, eyeing the bird lightly. Her eyes darted up as Amon came walking in behind, hands stuffed in his pockets. His face was neutral and her brows furrowed. "Mommy, can you heal this bird? The mean handler clipped its wings and it can't fly anymore!" Korra looked down at the bird and for a moment, a familiar pain of entrapment overcame her. Her fingers tightened on her daughter, making the child squeal in hurt from her breast. She instantly softened her grip, stroking and soothing the infant as she began to cry.

"See! Even Ai doesn't think its nice!" His little fingers were stroking over the head of the bird with such tenderness that she almost cried. Most days were good, with Ai and Taki making things bearable. The little bird made a sound of distress but did not struggle in Taki's arms. "I will see what I can do." she promised, kissing her son gently on his head. Her daughter had slowed down on nursing and was drifting off to sleep. Korra looked up as Amon moved over and she easily handed her off to him. He tucked her in his arms carefully and Korra gave a faint smile at his gentleness. It was always like this. One moment, she hated her life here. The next, she wouldn't give it up for the world.

"Here, let me hold the bird while you go get some water." Taki handed over the creature before disappearing out of the room eagerly. As Korra stroked the bird, attempting to calm it, Amon spoke. "I love you." his voice was soft, worried. "I know." She didn't look at him. She knew that he loved her. Ever since her capture, he had loved her. Always treated her kindly and with respect. Never once had attempted to hurt her. Sure, he had been forceful sometimes in order to gain some sense of control, but he had always patched up her wounds, telling her, 'it doesn't have to be like this.'

Seeing this bird had reminded her of her own struggles for freedom. The constant plans for escape. The trying to fly but never getting far.

Amon had kept her in a gilded cage while the war had raged in the city too far beyond her reach. One night he came to her, after so many months, bloody and beaten. He had told her that he had never wanted to hurt so many, but that he couldn't stand to live under the oppression of the benders. She merely turned her shoulder away from him, thinking that he deserved it. He reached through, touching her almost like a lover, saying that she would never understand his pain. The pain of the non-benders. She only shoved him away, saying that she hoped he perished painfully. She could remember the hurt in his eyes as he confessed, 'I hoped the Avatar would have more sympathy for those who could not defend themselves. But I see I was wrong now. You are selfish and blinded by your own gift.'

She raged over those words. She was not selfish! She did defend those who were unable to protect themselves. How dare he say such things! He had left her then, in the dark and alone with her anger. Eventually the anger had left and she was forced to evaluate her own thoughts and beliefs. Was she really that selfish and blinded? She remembered praying to the spirits for guidance, for affirmation that she was indeed a sympathetic avatar. The voices spoke to her in only single words, calling for balance, harmony, and sacrifices. She had questioned what sort of sacrifices, but no answer was given.

Amon had stayed away for several more nights, coming back only when she was sure he was dead and she was forgotten. He looked stronger, but more grim. She remembered looking up at him, the words of the spirits whispering through her ears. "Avatar." "Amon." Their voices were cool and neutral. "I present an offer to you." He pulled from his pocket a traditional water tribe betrothal necklace. "Marry me to show that we can show unity to the world. That benders and non benders may come together in harmony and bring balance." Harmony, balance. Was she willing to sacrifice her freedom for those whom he persecuted?

"Mommy, are you okay?" Taki's voice brought her back. He was standing there, holding a bowl of water. The bird had considerably calmed in her arms and was resting comfortably against her chest. Amon was near the window, his back turned as he rocked their daughter. "Sorry darling," she ruffled his hair gently before drawing the water from the bowl and gently encasing the tips of the bird's wings. She had never attempted anything like this before and she hoped that she was able to do something so she didn't dash her son's hopes. The water glowed and she put all of her concentration into healing the cut wings.

After a second, she withdrew the water and let the bird go. It walked around for a second before flapping its wings. A squeal of delight left her son as the bird took flight around the room. Amon opened up the window and the bird darted out, disappearing into the clear skies. Taki ran over to the window, his dimpled face alight with joy. Amon placed a hand on his shoulder, looking down.

"You were right son. Creatures are more beautiful when they're allowed to be freed."

—-

Amon was waiting for her in the bedroom as she finished tucking in Ai and Taki. She looked up at his scarred face and could read the question he was holding in. "I don't regret it." she stated softly as she began to undress. "Some days are harder than others, but I always realize that I made the right choice. Republic City has been at peace and I have two beautiful children." She slipped a silk gown over her head and moved over to the bed as he drew back the covers for her. "Marrying you freed me. Sure, I wonder what things would have been like if I hadn't accepted. But then I remember that I wouldn't have our children and that perhaps the war would still be going on, both of us locked in eternal struggle. We both made sacrifices, but I'm glad I did." She curled up to him, resting her head on his chest.

"Some days I still think you're going to fly away from me." his voice was quiet.

She smiled lightly. "I don't think I could even if I tried." she lifted her head and rose up so she could place a gentle kiss on his lips. "I love you Amon." she whispered, stroking back his hair. She felt his tense body slowly relax. He may have clipped her wings, but he had never clipped her spirit and heart. He had given her anything and everything, even reversing the block he had put on her dear bender friends. He made sacrifices too, so accepting him as her husband had been easier. As she lay against him with the cool night breeze floating through the windows, she was reassured that she still could fly but now had a reason stay.

Amon watched as she fell asleep with a smile on her face and he held her tight. He heard the gentle calling of a bird and he looked out the window. In the moonlight, he saw the bird that had flown away, perched one one of the melon trees. A smile drifted across his face as the gentle cooing lulled him to sleep.