Epilogue/close up chapter. Not very long but I think it concludes things nicely. Thanks for reading!
"We have a valid marriage!" Chief Hakoda declared loudly outside of the consummation hut, his hand lifting Aang's into the air.
The airbender, still smudged with the evidence of his night of passion, smiled awkwardly as the entire Southern Water Tribe rose to their feet, cheering and jumping at the news. Calls and songs rang up from the people. The warriors brandished their spears, beat their drums and chanted. The women and children threw arctic flower petals into the air.
Up front, a grinning Iroh shouted: "Kiss her!"
So Aang did just that. When he deepened the kiss to the demands of Katara's people, Iroh shouted: "Go back inside! Go do it again! Do it a couple of times! We'll wait for you!"
Aang checked him with a laugh and a shake of his head.
The rest of the Southern Water Tribe uttered similar things, some which were much more graphic than the old General's goading. But the newlyweds ignored them and started to make their way to the Great Hall for breakfast.
Katara kissed Aang chastely before going off to gossip with Toph, Suki, and Ty Lee. Unbeknownst to Aang, she had promised them details.
Sokka and Zuko sat to the right of Aang at another table. Zuko remained preoccupied with his wife Mai, while Sokka poured Aang some tea. "You're yawning too much," the Water Tribe Warrior noted. "You need some caffeine."
"Naah, " Aang said, though he sipped the tea anyway, "I just didn't get much sleep last night!" He grinned proudly at Sokka.
"Ugg, " Sokka groaned, burying his face in his hands. "How did you do it, Aang?" he mumbled through them.
Aang laughed. "I don't think you want me to go into details, Sokka."
"No!" Sokka grumbled, looking at him again. "I mean how did you get through all of this? How are you getting through all of this?"
Aang shrugged. He looked across Sokka to where Zuko was enjoying his breakfast. He was grinning ear to ear, which was unusual for Zuko. Aang also noticed that Mai was snuggled fully against his side and giggling. It was common knowledge that the couple loved each other, but they usually stood at a respectful distance while in public. Their behavior didn't make sense until Aang caught site of it: a small smudge of blue on Zuko's left ear. He laughed inwardly as he nodded toward his other groomsman. "The same way they are, by embracing the culture!"
Sokka stole a puzzled glance at Zuko, then back at Aang. When Sokka still didn't get it, Aang pointed at his ear. Sokka looked at Zuko again, this time focusing on his ear. When Sokka's eyes met Aang's again, they were wide with realization and horror.
"Anyway," Aang chuckled. "Why do you ask?"
Before Sokka could fill Aang in, Chief Hakoda stood up.
"People of the South Pole!" Hakoda announced loudly, "I am a very blessed man! I have a worthy and loyal Tribe, and a daughter whose husband truly loves her…."
Some catcalls and clanging silverware interrupted the chief.
Hakoda couldn't help but laugh. "Yes I wish all of you could have seen the conclusion of the blanket ceremony this morning and witness what I witnessed, but let's just say that I am sure I will be a grandfather very soon!"
More catcalls and drumming interrupted the Chief. Some warriors whooped in the back. Aang felt himself flush.
Smiling, Hakoda put his hand up to silence the ruckus. "At any rate, I am blessed because of all of these things, and more! With my daughter's gracious permission, I will give this announcement early. I have one more thing to praise the Great Spirit for!"
"Oh no," Aang heard Sokka whisper.
"My son, Sokka is engaged! The engagement ceremony will take place three days from now before the elders, and myself, and a special friend of mine who has agreed to represent the males of this young woman's family, since they now rest with the Great Spirit!"
"Praise be to the Great Spirit!" The Great Hall exploded into more catcalls, laughter, and cheering. Several warriors came by to clap Sokka on the back, who was beat red and sweating profusely.
Of course, Zuko and Aang already knew that Sokk and Suki were engaged, so it was no surprise to them. But what the two men hadn't counted on was the rites that would go with this engagement, given Sokka's borderline hostile attitude towards his own culture.
Suddenly a hush fell on the people, and Aang looked up to see Suki being led by Bato to the stage of the Great Hall. Hakoda stepped aside respectfully. Bato stepped forward, his arm in Suki's. He waited until the murmurs died down before announcing: "Today I adopt this daughter as my own for her marriage rites, as she has no father or living males in her family. Therefore, with the blessing of my Chief and the elders, I will ensure that she is properly honored, and judge the engagement ceremony in unison with the elders the following morning."
Aang and Zuko's eyes were on Sokka so fast their necks could have snapped from the movement.
"What's that you said about getting married Earth Kingdom style Sokka?" Aang teased.
# # # #
Three days later, when Sokka and Suki emerged from their own consummation hut, brandished in smudges of blue paint, Aang and Katara grinned at them.
Bato announced: "Sokka may marry my daughter Suki. He has proven that he loves her and took her virginity prior to marriage out of love!"
The people dotting the lawn of their consummation hut cheered.
Mai and Zuko asked if they had any leftover paint.
Iroh told them to go back inside and do it three more times.
Sokka glared at his friends. "I really don't like any of you guys right now," Sokka deadpanned, even as Suki leaned up to kiss him. "I really, really don't."
THE END :)
I would like to give a shout out to the tribal cultures of the world. I borrowed from many to make this story possible:
Pacific Islanders: The dance Katara and her bridesmaids perform to bring up the moon is basically Hula. The movements are generally slow and used to tell a story. The dancing drums is something extra I added.
African Tribes: Taught their girls to perform Kegel's exercises to strengthen their vaginal muscles in preparation for marriage. Today these are encouraged in older women or women who have just given birth). Google them or PM me if you want to learn more about them.
Native Americans(Various Tribes): Blanket Ceremony, Katara's Dress, the respect Hakoda and Bato show their kill. Referring to God or the Universe as the "Great Spirit" is also very Native American.
Air Nomad Nuptial Tattoos: I cannot take credit for this one. I got this idea from a fanfic by Whirleeq called "Fragile." Please read it; it's on my favorites list. Very minor smut at the end but if you can read my smut you can definitely read this. It's tame by comparison.
Katara's Paint: From the episode….wait for it….THE PAINTED LADY!
For all those out there who invest a ton of time, love, and communication into their cross cultural marriages to make them work, my heart and respect goes out to you.
Mike and Brian of course! For without M and B, these awesome characters would not exist.