Floating icebergs surrounding Korra, she gazed at them sadly, still too numb to feel. All the noise of the city was lost on the boat, and only the gentle swooshing of waves, silent strokes of waterbenders, and the occasional groaning of the ship disrupted the usual mournful quiet. They were nearing Noatok's homeland, a place that she had once assumed to not exist, a place that deeply surprised her when she found out his dark secret. A small world turned dark. Korra moved slowly shifting eyes at the chunks of ice that slowly bobbed by, usually covered in gleeful penguins. Males and females dancing in the water, chirping happily, and Korra had sudden urges to hunt them all down, envious of their happiness when she had none to have herself. It had taken all her strength to not stare at the covered corpse in the middle of the boat, covered in moon lilies and water tribe symbols decorating the expensive cloth, a gift from the city. It was relieving, that after all Amon had destroyed, the better half of society paid homage to his memory just for her, it seemed. But, then again, an individual in that city had stolen him away from her. They had caught him, yes, and when Korra first saw the broken man again, numbness had relinquished for a split second. Sitting in the chair, right after Lin instructed them to travel to the docks again, the doors of the station ringed open, and she saw the bloodied, tattered clothing of the once seemingly proud equalist man. At first, she did not care, did not realize who he was, still shell shocked in the chair. What sent her over the edge was his laughing when he spotted her. This shattered man, laughing at her misfortune. Who gave him the right? What excuse did he have for causing such pain? Before she could stop herself, in a fluster of tears and chokes she engulfed the man in a rocky prison with a simple stomp of her foot, and flew from the blankets. Just inches from knocking his skull off his spine, Lin had caught her in iron arms as Korra growled furiously at the now terrified man, wails escaping from her throat. All the deadened nerves came alive, and the pain of loss was crippling. She felt her heart seize and convulse inside of her, and she turned away from the trapped creature that just a few moments before she had wished to behead gruesomely. The metalbenders released him immediately and, just for good measure, gave him a few blows to his stomach, hoping that his groans of pain would relieve her suffering. Nothing helped, but she nodded appreciatively, somewhat satisfied that the man had some physical hurt, and she partially wished that he could have an ounce of her pain, and understand the heaviness of loss, the cruelty of death amplified to such extremes in her. Imagining the monster's face, she snarled out of her memories, refusing to shed a tear until the funeral. She had requested a private burial, with her only, no one else. Amon and Noatok had not made great friends, and she did not wish to start a turf war between the newly powerless equalists and cocky council fanatics. All she desired was a private moment atop the massive cliffs of the North Pole, to witness with him the Northern lights, the crashing of sparkling waves against a star scattered sky, the full moon filling the black, the spirits weeping for the erase of Noatok whose life was tainted in tragedy since he was born. A current of salty water splashed onto the boat, spraying the wood. The ice was becoming more prevalent, and Korra understood that they were almost there, a day before the new full moon cycle, just as Lin promised. Life became more prevalent. Fish circled in the clearing water, polar bear dog pups barking excitedly at the arrival of newcomers as their fishermen twisted around at the coming of such a prestigious, well designed ship, and gave low whistles. One of the waterbenders propelling the ship sauntered softly over to Korra and tapped her on the shoulder compassionately. Shifting her face just enough to see his mouth stretch and sink in a "We'll be there in about five minutes, avatar." She nodded, and turned to the crystalline features of the North Pole. Minutes passed in seconds, and she had to face gliding past the covering of Noatok. They had allowed her to glimpse at his corpse just before they left, and she barely shed a tear. He looked so peaceful, so at rest with his death, like he had wanted it for a long time. His usually wild black hair was smoothed back, revealing the entirety of his features, the once glowing, elegant lines clear on his too pale skin. In preparation for his esteemed burial, they had dressed him robes of soft seal skin dyed in traditional water tribe colors of blue and white. They had wrapped a wolf pelt across his neck, covering the gruesome wound, and she shuttered at the thought of it under the fur. It was a quick glance, and she turned away to sit calmly, hollowly back in the chair in the main lobby, the apathy of death anchoring her emotions to the lowest level imaginable. The ship stopped abruptly, and they were docked. Memories sank into shadow, and she stood from her kneeling position by the edge of the boat, and quickly, almost in a sprint, strode off the ship, not even acknowledging the eyesore, the haunting sheet that fluttered as she passed it hurriedly. Landing solidly on the snowy ground, she whistled. After she was no longer a refugee, Naga had been returned to her side, yet her friends, even Tenzin, had not met with her, sent her a message, or anything, Naga just showed up randomly at the station leashed to a somber man who had the difficult job of guiding the excitable polar bear dog through the city. When she first saw her best friend, they both ran to each other, luckily the man had let go of the leash in time as to not be dragged along by the massive creature. Holding Naga's massive chest and barely able to reconnect her hands around the animal's thick, furry neck, her face was dug into the soft, warm fur of a long lost friend. Naga slobbered onto her hair affectionately, and Korra's sadness ebbed away for a minute as the two embraced.
"Oh, Naga," she muffled into the fur. "I've been so stupid."
Naga whimpered in response, comforting the depressed girl. Korra laughed as Naga's vibrating stomach buzzed her entire body, which was followed by a massive lick to Korra's face.
"I missed you too, girl."
Now, in a different yet familiar land, the always jaded Naga came bounding out of the ship, her tail wagging furiously. With expertise, Korra leapt onto the polar bear dog's saddle, and called to the pristine waterbenders, instructing them that they should start the funeral immediately, every second Noatok remained on the same ground as her, it sent crushing waves of depression, and she simply wished to lay him to sleep in the snowy earth. Although, she would never move on. The city had been saved, for now, and she would retire to the Northern Water Tribe, always staying near him. Avatar Korra was in charge of Republic City no longer, and she wanted to end her life by her beloved. Maybe the next avatar would care more for the world than she, but it did not matter, and she did not care. Her emotions were frozen, just like him now. She saw no impetus for protecting such selfish people, the ones who had manipulated her into heartfelt compassion, then killed off the one thing in her life that made perfect sense to her, that brought her some happiness. Naga trotted with her up into the mountains, just gliding by the main water tribe city, but then obstructed by massive cliffs. It took no more than thirty minutes, and Korra found the perfect spot, high in the air, almost fifty above the crashing waves. An expansive sky stretching out into forever, the edge of the world, the cliff solid and quaking majestically, and it almost seemed like a surreal area snatched from the spirit world itself. No huts, no life, nothing but nature, and it seemed rather perfect. As she waited for the slow caravan carrying his body up the hill, she dismounted from Naga and sat in the snow, pulling out a sharpened knife, the paint that she and Noatok had stolen earlier, and a piece of smooth wood.
It seemed as though the waterbenders would never come, but hours later their darkened forms straggled up the mound with the massive plank carrying Noatok's covered body. As she spotted them, she quickly put away her supplies, and stood from her stiff position in the wet ice which she was almost covered in. The benders trudged, almost moving every moment or so, and after ten long minutes of mournful hiking, gently placed Noatok by her and Naga's side, atop the cliff. Still refusing to directly peer at his body, she gave her full attention to the benders and bowed graciously.
"Thank you," she sighed heavily.
They nodded, bowed back, and quickly walked back down the large hill. The moment had come, the witching hour of his burial, and she didn't know what to say to him. Still staring away from his corpse, at the ever rising moon, she gave another pained groan, and kneeled next to him. Stay strong for him.
"Well, here we are," she whispered casually, eyeing the blanket that still shielded him from her view.
Sighing in defeat, she slowly pawed at the meddlesome cloth, pulling it away from his feet and working up. Smiling at his toes, which she almost expected to wiggle cutely, the blanket shed away. Strong legs clothed in white shorts, hands, stomach, chest, shoulders, neck… She gave a deep breath. You can do this. The blanket fell next to her.
"Noatok…" she choked out, her lungs compressing tightly.
Just like he'd been in the station, but now, the light of moon and stars shined across his pale features. He had once been tan, the glow of life and power illuminating off of him in light waves, but now, he was just a lifeless heap, an empty shell that had once been filled with dreams, thoughts, and her love. The suppressed wolf, her feelings, his bending still remaining, howled in grief. Naga nuzzled the snow, and gave a slight whimper, as if she could sense the being inside Korra.
"Well, um," she began again, her voice rasping with incoming sobs. "I made something for you. Something that I thought you should take to the Spirit World with you, no one should ever go alone."
Twisting around in the snow, she reached to the object that lay softly in the snow. Brushing off the ice, she brought it close to her chest.
"I know your old mask was destroyed, but," she coughed. "I still thought you may want to have one while you're there, just in case the face stealer should come around."
The white piece of wood, now revealed to be his new mask, was decorated intricately with swooshing and swirling lines of black, blue, and gray. Instead of a menacing red dot in the center of his forehead, a lovely black crescent moon, lined by icy blue took the place of the bloody circle, a eulogy to his lost bending. The guise had a mix of his own features and that of a feral wolf, fierce blue and gray under the larger eyeholes, which she believed to enhance the sparkling of his gaze. Curling and waving black lines slid down one cheek with the marking of a brave warrior, yet the other side had the other familiar symbol of the black wolf, a small dot centered under a thick upturning curve, thus acknowledging his different sides, the murderous tyrant and the brilliant, affectionate friend. The mouth opening was miniscule, yet thin dark lines set the lips in the middle of a cocky grin and serious grimace, the two emotions he shifted into easily. The nose impression seemed to snarl softly, slight indentations on the bridge. The outer edges of the mask were splattered with different shadings of blue, giving the inkling of waves encompassing his face. Finally, deft gray, black, and blue strokes mirrored the scars, a reminder of his healing and rebirth. All in all, the new mask was magnificent in symbolism and design, and Korra was proud that he could show off her work to the spirits, and hoped he would appreciate and remember her while in the afterlife. Carefully she tore pieces of her own clothes and used the knife to create holes in the wood. Weaving the strip of cloth into something more practical and ornate, she looped the strap through the punctures in the mask, and wished that when he traveled through the swamps and terrain of the spirits that he had something from her to help him. She plucked a hair from her head, and interlaced it into the strap. Finally, she bent down to his face, gently lifted his heavy lids revealing the ink stained eyes, and tied the new guise around him. The wood beneath was incredibly soft, and she made sure it was comfortable for him. Splinters would be annoying, she thought lightly.
"So," she said vaguely as she sat back on her legs. "I hope that helps."
The moon was high in the sky, and the stars were in full bloom as the shimmering of colored lights sprinkled across the black. The sounding of waves increased, and even the massive splashes sprinkled her gently.
"Oh, Noatok," she stated, knowing the time to honor him was nigh. "I picked this place just for you. I know that you wouldn't have wanted to be buried in the city, but here, your home, even with the bad memories."
Her lip began to tremble, and her strength for him corroded, she couldn't go on like this. Numbness was inappropriate now.
"I j-just don't know how I'll be able to get along without you," she admitted guiltily, tears welling up in her eyes. "We've been together so long, and you're so much different than you were. I just thought that we'd always be together after this, that, somehow, this world would allow you some comfort, some mercy, but no. They didn't and you paid the price for my mistakes. Spirits, you must hate me now."
Tears leaked freely, and her shoulders crumpled in sobs, dripping onto his cold body.
"Tui and La, I'm so sorry, Noatok," she cried, her mourning turning to anger. "But why did you step in front? Why? I should have never let you, I should have paid more attention and none of this would have happened. Spirits know I deserve death for all the trouble I caused you."
The crashing of the waves intensified, and the sprinkling of water turned to full splashes, the sky thundered in incoming rain.
"Of course," she sniffled, and looked up to the sky. "You couldn't grant me one good night of weather? You had to ruin it all?"
Fat drops exploded, and she glared at the ground, tears being mixed with rain streaming down her face in rivers. She could talk to her beloved no longer, and she curled up, holding her knees to her chest and sobbing blatantly. The release of her sadness, her anger, stress, and numbness was erased from her nerves, feeling being washed through her without reprisal. Footsteps sounded in the crunching snow, fluttering robes of white gliding softly over ice. The brewing, chaotic storm ceased, not even a breeze swayed against her skin. She didn't look up at the silence or the obvious tip toes that came closer, assuming it to be a part of her broken sanity.
"Korra," a silvery light voice sung behind her.
"Go away," she snapped into her body.
Airy laughter and a hand as pale as the moon and glowing with immortal youth gently impressed into her shoulder. Korra eyed the graceful fingers, and peered up.
The moon spirit shown beside her, a calm, peaceful smile placed perfectly upon her lips.
"Hello, Korra," she hummed, her white eyes twinkling lovingly.
"What are you doing here?" Korra questioned, rubbing her nose and wiping her eyes, humbled by the powerful spirit's presence.
"I've come to help you," the spirit explained, her fluttering white robes always swaying even in still air. "It was not long ago that I, too, lost the love of my life for the safety of the world, Sokka."
The spirit became increasingly saddened, and Korra had to stop herself from giving the beautiful being an embrace. Composing herself, Yue snapped her emotions back into perfection and another affectionate grin stretched across her face.
"Korra," she begun again, and the avatar widened her eyes at the harmonious, holy sound of the immortal's voice. "I have come to bring him back to you. His time is not over."
"He's…he's…" Korra hyperventilated then squeaked. "Coming back? You mean…? You…you can? Save him?"
The girl that looked not much older than the avatar gave a confident eyebrow raise, conveying the perfect joking face as she giggled.
"Who's a better healer than the moon?"
Korra gulped, and shifted her eyes away from the gaze of Yue, blushing deeply that she actually doubted the spirit for a second, but she furrowed her brows in confusion.
"But, what about Aang and the rest of the Spirits? Won't they be mad that you're sorta breaking the rules by raising the dead?" Korra inquired.
Yue's grin deepened and she gave a resounding chuckle that rung like bells in the night.
"Who do you think sent me here, Korra?"
Korra smiled excitedly in return and remembered to give Aang a whopping kiss the next time she saw him. Wasting no more time, for she could not stay and pacify Korra forever, Yue gracefully kneeled down next to Noatok. Korra assumed she would use some kind of waterbending from the snow or air or something to raise him, but instead, her hands shined all the brighter, no water needed for she was the epitome of water and healing, life and rebirth, and Korra's eyes watered as Yue's fingers lowered to the body, placing a familiar fingertip in the middle of his chest. Then, removing Korra's mask and softly placing it in the snow next to her, Yue poked the middle of his forehead above his glassy eyes, which Korra could not look directly into. The moon spirit's body twinkled, and Korra noticed the linking of constellations shimmering under translucent skin, the power of night sparkling brilliantly under the spirit's shell, and Korra's mouth dropped in awe. Yue's elegant robes swirled around Noatok, wrapping him in a life giving embrace as the ghost cloth turned into white water. The currents of life flowing, engulfing, caressing his entire body as it was raised into the air with Yue, her hands still firmly rooted in his body. Yue's gaze shifted to Korra, and the avatar's own being convulsed in response. A howl erupting from her soul, a shimmering animal split from Korra and ran through the air to Yue, its' true master, the Goddess of all waterbending. Her hands were uprooted from Noatok and she laughed happily as the wolf and the spirit embraced, the wolf was simply a sliver of Yue, a part of her that graced Noatok when he was first born and the powerful wolf was just a beginning pup. She remembered this animal, she remembered blessing it with unusual grace and strength, and was pleased that it had come so far along, even if the man who had once loved it, rejected it now. After a variety of whimpers and clucks, Yue turned to Korra once again.
"This power should have never gone to waste," Yue critiqued, her once airy chords deepening with authority.
The wolf obeyed its' Goddess immediately and returned into Noatok once again, and Korra understood it was not wise to have taken it in the first place, even if Noatok hated that portion of his spirit. The reuniting of bending and man, and Noatok's shell gave a reflex, making Korra's chest swell in hope, bright blue eyes widening in anticipation. Yue reattached her fingers into Noatok as the water brightly swirled and crashed upon him, his body twirling faster and faster, Yue's gaze glaring into deeper concentration as she tried to stitch his body and soul back together, much like what happened when she was just a small child placed in the holy waters of the oasis. Suddenly, an explosion of water, a break of light in the orb snapping the droplets, which fell and faded into the night, never falling, never influenced by gravity of the earth. Yue lowered with Noatok in her motherly arms, stroking his hair softly, which was no longer pitch black. Korra gave a bark of laughter and sprinted toward the two.
"White hair!" Korra exclaimed, giggling madly as she noticed the glow of life come back into Noatok. "Just like yours!"
Yue retorted with a chuckle, and shifted Noatok in her arms, extending the man to Korra like a fragile child. Not wanting to appear weak, Korra foolishly tried to carry Noatok in her arms, but sank into the snow, her muscles shaking with his weight. Yue giggled again and sighed. Korra felt a slight heartbeat in his chest and peered up at Yue and back down.
"He's alive!" Korra almost shouted, tracing the lines of his face warmly.
Yue nodded softly, and leaned in upon Korra and Noatok, placing a maternal kiss on each of their foreheads.
"I give you these words of wisdom, Korra," Yue announced as her body faded back into night, her voice like a winter chill. "Do not give up on the world so easily, there is much good as well as evil. Remember, both are illusions, and both will try to deter you from a destined path. I leave you now with my blessing, avatar."
Yue was gone, and the moon seemed to grow in the sky. Korra lifted her face to the night and smiled, whispering her many thanks. As she peered up in extreme happiness, a soft finger brushed her jaw, and she slowly lowered her gaze back down. Deep blue eyes, the bottom of an ocean, the sparkling of currents alight in his eyes. His weight couldn't be held stable any longer, and she sat in the snow, Noatok still held tightly in her arms.
"Korra…" he whispered out, the stiffness of death shedding away as his voice escaped.
"Noatok," she answered, a massive smile entrenched in her features.
"I've…I've," he stumbled, still finding new muscles to communicate. "I've been dead. Now… is this a dream?"
Korra let out a vibrating, ringing laugh and shook her head. His eyes widened, and his memories flooded into his mind. I'm alive, he thought obviously. His legs remained somewhat numb, but he began to kneel in the snow, trying to dislodge himself from her grip, to which she released him hesitantly. His hands reaching into the snow, he felt again, and an eyebrow rose as he felt a strange sensation return to him. A flick of fingertips, the snow was shot in icicles away from him.
"I can bend again? But, how?" he questioned, a look of nervous contentment flashed in her direction.
Korra shifted uncomfortably and didn't know exactly how to explain to him what happened while he was a corpse, until, suddenly, a sparkle glimmered in his palm, just as he noticed a mask laying in the snow.
"What's that?" they asked in sync, and stared in confusion at each other, as if discovering the world for the first time again.
She crept closer to his hand, while he extended to the object in the powdery white. Korra snatched the strap that connected to the glimmering stone, and gasped in shock. A betrothal necklace.
"Noatok!" Korra exclaimed. "When did you make this?"
Returning his attention to her, he plucked the necklace from her palm again, gazing at it in wonder.
"I made this in the Spirit World," he mumbled, his brow furrowing in awe. "How is it that it's here?"
Noatok peered worriedly at the necklace, believing it to be some sort of tangible ghost. Korra gave a giggle.
"I guess the Spirits sent it with you," she suggested, a massive, confident grin expanding.
He peered back up after rubbing his fingers over the exquisite carving in the stone. Unlike the standard symbols of their tribe, Noatok had artfully cut the sapphire stone into literal images. Two wolves howling into the massive crescent moon together. One of them was massive and strong, clearly a male, while the other was slender and curved eloquently but rigid enough to equal the other's physique, representing a female. Each hair was purposely done, each curve perfect in the lamentation of the animals. Korra scooted closer to him, and studied it along with him, to which he smiled and peered up at her.
"Korra, I didn't deserve to come back," he admitted. "I really did deserve to die there, in your defense. Why did you bring me back?"
Somewhat hurt, but understanding completely, Korra nodded solemnly, her huge light blue eyes twinkling into his.
"Noatok, you are just as important to me as I am to you," she said, a smirk firmly intact. "I would have gone to the ends of the world just to see you again. I was so numb to everything when you died and it took all my strength to not join you. I don't think you know how much I love you."
Finally, his corruption over her had been completed; she had fallen for the equalist tyrant. But, in return, she had done the same to him, bent his hate into submission, saving him from the slippery slope of violence and vengeance, and both were brought to humble beginnings in love. Noatok smiled through his now, bleached white hair.
"Even in death, Korra," he reminded. "I'm always with you."
Relief flooded her eyes and she wished to portray her immense love to him in some way. She glanced over at the white guise, crawled over to it, brought the mask back gently in her grasp, and extended it to him. His grin stretched from ear to ear, and he accepted the masterful piece willingly.
"Korra, this is amazing!" he whispered happily, tracing the elegant patterns.
She simply grinned back at him, their eyes equal in love and pleasure. With a pleasant idea, Noatok softly returned the mask to the snow, and motioned for her to turn around. Immediately obeying, she twisted around in the snow. His face came over his shoulder, his breathing quivering against the back of her neck. With betrothal necklace firmly in hand, he stretched it over her head, and tied it around her throat, avoiding her chocolate ponytail. The stone lay perfectly against trachea, glimmering in midnight. She fingered it, and stroked the smooth stone as he sat back, pleased. Turning back around with an impish grin, she snatched the mask out of the snow.
Noatok nodded playfully, and allowed Korra to tie the straps around his purified head. It fit aptly, and Korra sucked in a breath at how well it amplified his eyes which shimmered like a North Pole star with the illumination of black and blue, his new white hair just seemed to make the mask stand alone as if it was really swaying in clear waters. They had given one another a token of their love, relics of their future together. To complete the transaction, Korra leaned into Noatok, who brought his mask halfway up and their lips connected as they sat atop the massive cliff, new snow fluttering down from the sky, Spirits shedding happy tears that the tragedy of Korra and Amon, had actually turned out to be an incredible ending, that their plans for the headstrong girl and the disillusioned boy did not fail, but succeeded in the best way possible. For, although it was their intent to save the world first and foremost, love had been created and something much more alive had sprouted from the seeds they sewed. Connection in turbulence, Noatok and Korra threw caution to the icy wind and remained, the simple water tribe girl and boy, the tyrant and the avatar, the star crossed lovers united under the full moon.
That's all folks! Thank you all SO much for reading! I hope you enjoyed it! It's been a pleasure writing, and I did not deserve such amazing reviews for all of you. :D Thanks again!