A/N: I shouldn't even be writing this. I should be updating my other stories. But, I couldn't hold this one back. Why?
THEY ARE GIVING RERUNS OF AVATAR: THE LAST AIRBENDER.
-squeals- I know, this is amazing! It all just made me feel so nostalgic that I had to write a story! Anyway, this is going to be a regular, ole "Avatar goes Disney princess/fairy tale/storybook" 'fic and I thought Toph was the perfect candidate to be the princess. -insert preferred brand of evil laughter here-
Get ready for the cheesiest thing you'll ever encounter. This is going to be sooooooo much fun, haha! I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoy writing it!
Once Upon a Time: Chapter One
Toph wasn't running away - honest, she wasn't. That just wasn't her thing. Frankly, the very idea of anyone running from their problems made her scoff in disgust. Toph Beifong faced everything like the Earthbender she was: head on. Back straight. No fear.
So, she - Toph BeifreakingFong - the greatest Earthbender in the world, teacher of the Avatar, war veteran by age 12, the inventor of Metalbending and seismic sense was not running away. Nope. She wasn't. Once again, that just wasn't what she did.
Toph was merely escapi- preparing herself for the prospect of marriage.
- Flashback -
"Toph, you're turning 18 pretty soon."
Sitting on the floor and in between her mother's legs, Toph's nose scrunched up in suspicion. She leaned forward as her mother put her hair into two thick braids. After the war, Poppy had made it absolutely imperative that she and her daughter should catch up on all of the mother/daughter bonding that they missed out on. Since Poppy couldn't bend and Toph refused anything girly, they agreed that this was easier.
("As long as I don't end up with disgustingly elaborate hairstyles that only fall apart and get in my way when I train," Toph said so eloquently once.)
Toph raised a brow. "So what?"
Poppy, ever so casually, tied the end of a braid. "You're nearing marrying age."
- End of Flashback -
And that was all she needed to hear. Marriage? Seriously? She had already been trapped by her parents in her own house long enough. Why would she agree to having it done again legally? Toph scoffed. She couldn't believe how serene and casual her mother sounded. As if she were talking about the weather. Ew.
Toph grunted as she sneake- climbed - she was climbing out of her window and landed on the earth. She tapped her foot on the ground and waited. Once she sensed no one, she climbed over the brick wall that encased the Beifong estate and ran into the night.
As soon as Iroh felt the ground shake, he smiled. He was getting a visit from a good friend and he would always appreciate those - no matter how late it was. He sighed, got out of bed, and made his way into the kitchen to brew a pot of tea. Honestly, he might as well have relocated and built the tea shop on the Beifong grounds so her temper wouldn't affect everyone within a 25 mile radius.
The tea pot danced, jumping up and down, and he heard a baby cry. He frowned. This must be big.
The pot whistled and he smiled to himself at the smell. He poured two cups and sat at a table before he heard the door open and slam.
Very slowly, he raised his cup to his mouth as to not spill it in the midst of all the shaking. As Toph stomped up the stairs, the whole shop shook; even a few portraits and glasses fell in her wake.
He shrugged. He needed to go shopping anyway.
Finally, she appeared and the trembling ceased. She walked over to his table and plopped herself down in a chair. Iroh's eyes widened when she went straight for the tea pot and drank from the brim, downing it all in one gulp. "I have to get married."
Iroh's heart swelled in pity for the man who would try to tame Toph Beifong. "When?"
She shrugged. "I actually don't know. I kind of ran out before I could get any specifics."
Iroh's low, rumbling chuckle made her smile and relax a bit. "Who's the lucky guy?"
Toph scoffed and slammed the pot down onto the table. ("That's my good tea pot," Iroh restrained himself from screaming out in horror.) She stomped her foot and the shop jumped for a second. "Oh, please. Just because they said I have to get married doesn't mean I'm actually going to."
The old man shook his head and set his cup down with a smile. "So, what's the plan?"
Then, her shoulders slumped and she frowned. "I don't know."
Iroh's smile fell at the sight. He knew how important her freedom and independence was to her, but he had never seen Toph look so defeated. "Do you need a place to stay?"
A sigh. "Yes, please."
The old man grinned and stood. "Well, you know that you'll always have a room here!"
The next morning, Toph laid in her bed, wide awake and listening to the hustle and bustle that was going on in the tea shop downstairs. She should have at least gone down to see if Iroh needed any help, but for the first time in her life, she just didn't have any motivation.
What was she going to do? She couldn't get married! But, she couldn't just hide out in Iroh's tea shop for the rest of her life, either. If she went back, they would bombard her with rich, stuffy old suitors to choose from. And if she didn't choose, they would probably choose for her. But, if she didn't go back then she always be on the run.
Toph grabbed a pillow and threw it across the room with a screech.
"Flameo, Iroh! This is some great tea," Aang exclaimed with smile.
Iroh grinned pridefully at the compliment. It was safe to say that he missed the young Avatar. A few weeks after the war ended, Aang was called by the Spirits to train to become a fully realized Avatar. Of course, everyone thought that it was a bit ridiculous since he had ended a 100 year long war at age 12, but who were they to argue with Spirits?
Now, sitting in front of Iroh was an 18 year old Aang. Complimenting his tea. If that wasn't being fully realized, he didn't know what was. "Well, did you expect anything less?"
Aang chuckled and shook his head. "No, of course not. I guess I just missed your tea, is all."
Iroh nodded with a soft smile. "Have you gotten a chance to see everyone else yet?"
"I got to see Sokka and Katara down South," he said. "I'm going to visit Toph today since I'm already in the Earth Kingdom."
The tea shop trembled a bit and Iroh paled. "Actually, that might not be necessary."
Aang raised a brow. "What do you mean?"
The trembling grew and a few people rushed out of the shop. Iroh ran after them. "No! She's awake and chasing my customers away!"
Aang grabbed the table to steady himself in the midst of the earthquake. "Who?! The earth?! What's going on?!"
More and more people fled from the tea shop and Aang could only watch in pity as Iroh tried to persuade them to stay. The earthquake seemed to grow even more tremulous and Aang panicked. He looked to the top of the staircase and saw a young woman walking down, seemingly unaffected by the earthquake. How could she be so calm?!
She merely walked over to his table, sat down, and nodded towards Iroh. "What's his problem?"
That seemed to set Iroh off. "You! You are my problem!"
She blinked. "Me?"
Aang was confused. "Her?"
Iroh was livid. "Her!"
What was going on? Who was she? Aang felt so out of place. "Who is she?"
The young woman scoffed and punched him in the chest. She ignored his groan. "Who am I? Who are you?!"
This time, it was Aang who scoffed. He wasn't proud or anything, it was just that everyone knew who the Avatar was. "I'm the Avatar!"
Then, the earthquake ceased. "Twinkletoes?"
Aang sputtered. "Toph?!"
To say that he was surprised was a great understatement. Not that Toph was ugly the last time he saw her, she was cute. But, this Toph in front of him was...different. He didn't expect her to grow up to be so beautiful.
Iroh interrupted his thoughts with a frantic nod. "Toph!"
Toph couldn't believe that she didn't know it was Aang. His heartbeat was different - stronger and louder than before. But, she wouldn't tell him anything prissy like that. Instead, she snorted.
"Your voice finally dropped." She smirked when he started sputtering again.
Aang hadn't realized how much he missed Toph until she punched him for the forty fifth time that afternoon. Sure, he would have a bruise, but punches were how she showed affection and judging from how numb his arm felt, she missed him, too. He smiled when she laughed and punched him again. He could bear with the pain for a little longer.
"So, how long are you staying, Twinkletoes," she asked with a grin.
He narrowed his eyes. "You know, I'd appreciate it if you would call me something a little more appropriate. I am a man now."
Toph blinked with a shrug. "Sparkles?"
"Toph," he screeched and she started another bout of laughter. Aang's face reddened in embarrassment. He couldn't remember the last time his voice cracked like that. To avoid further embarrassment, he decided to answer her question. "If you must know, I'm leaving tonight for the Fire Nation to go see Zuko."
That caught Toph's attention. The Fire Nation. Her parents wouldn't dare to step foot on Fire Nation land, would they? They would send people for her, but she would be under the protection of Zuko. Her good old friend. The Fire Lord.
She sat up. "Hey, do you mind if I come with you?"
Aang shook his head. It would be nice to have human companionship during his travels. "I don't mind at all. But, what about your family?"
Behind them, Iroh snorted.
Toph shook her head. "What about them?" She needed to get out of the Earth Kingdom as soon as she could.
Iroh snorted even louder.
Aang looked back and forth between the two in suspicion. "Is there something you guys aren't telling me?"
Aang smacked his forehead and sighed. It seemed that every time he visited Toph, she was in some type of trouble. "Toph."
"Trust me. It's nothing big."
Translation: This is definitely something big.
She continued frantically. "Promise! I swear, Aang. I just need to get away for a while."
"You mean the rest of your life," Iroh offered.
The rest of her life? Toph couldn't stay away from home for the rest of her life, could she? Not when things between her and her parents were getting especially good. She sighed and frowned. But, she couldn't get married. "Yeah. The rest of my life."
Both men noticed the quiet and dejected tone in Toph's voice and face. Aang frowned. What were her parents putting her through? Toph definitely told him that their relationship had gotten better. But, sitting there, she looked so sad and downcast. Before he could stop himself, he placed his hand over hers with a smile. "I'm sure Zuko wouldn't mind seeing one more friend."
He laughed when she actually jumped up and threw a fist into the air. "Yes," she hissed before she grabbed Aang by the collar and drew him in for a hug. His eyes widened. Honestly, he was expecting a full barrage of punches after his statement. This must have meant that she was really happy. With this revelation in mind, he smiled and hugged her back.
Iroh walked into the scene with a smile as the two pulled apart. "So, when are you two leaving?"
Aang stood and shrugged. "I guess we can leave now since it's getting pretty late."
This was amazing. More than amazing, even. Not only was Toph escapi- carefully evading marriage, but she got to travel with one of her best friends while doing so. "Great! Let's go!"
Iroh cleared his throat and patted his pocket. "Before you leave, I have something for Toph."
Toph pouted a bit at her trip being put off for a bit longer, then she relented. "Fine. Go ahead, Aang. I'll meet you outside." When Aang walked off, she crossed her arms in expectance. "Well?"
Iroh took a paper out and tapped her nose with it. "Your mother sent you a letter this morning."
Toph froze then, quickly, shook herself. "What does it say?" She heard him unravel the letter and clear his throat.
I was sure that what I told you last night would disturb you, but I didn't think that you would run away again.
Your father and I have come to an agreement.
We won't put you through an arranged marriage. Instead, the young man will be of your choosing - social status and all. We don't want you to have to endure a miserable marriage for the rest of your life. However, you'll still need to marry by next year. (I couldn't talk your father out of that one. Tradition and what not.)
Anyway, I wish you traveling mercies and a great trip! I'll miss braiding your hair every night and your sassiness.
P.S. Bring a nice boy home. I know that you have good taste!
Toph's eyebrows knitted together. "What's that supposed to mean?"
Iroh laughed as he rolled the letter up and he placed it into her hand. "I think it means that she's on your side."