Characters/Pairings- Kataang, fluffy enough to level an elephant
Summary- Ever since she was a little girl, Katara had a tendency to huddle for warmth on chilly nights.
A/N- Heyyyy guys... so I've been MIA on this site for awhile. Sorry about that. Things have been weird these last couple months. I promise I'm working on updates for both Fireflight and K&tA, if you guys can be patient just a little while longer I'll have them posted. In the meanwhile... Kataang fluff, for your pleasure.
This is based on a headcanon by tumblr user kataanged, who posited that Katara was one of those people who huddles for warmth, and that this lead to some rather adorable situations in the course of the Gaang's adventures. This maybe wasn't quite the original intent (I'm not even sure what happened here), but I'm rather pleased with it nonetheless.
Ever since she was a little girl, Katara had had a tendency to huddle for warmth on chilly nights. It was instinctive and automatic. If there was even the slightest nip in the air (a common occurrence in the Southern Water Tribe, even during the brief summer season), she would inevitably curl right up to the nearest source of heat. As a child, this had almost always been her mother. Later, though, Kya was gone and Katara contented herself with sleeping closer than was wise to the hearth-fire or, very rarely, curling up next to Sokka. She was rather like a cat that way, eager to share heat from any available source.
Sokka rather thought she had outgrown the tendency as they grew up, because by the time they had reached their teenage years he stopped finding her somewhere other than where she had fallen asleep. If he was honest, he wasn't really surprised. Katara was so emotionally closed off, and getting more so all the time. The sweet sister he had adored (not that he would have admitted as much out loud) when they were children seemed to be getting further away with each passing day. She'd stopped connecting with people the way she used to. It wasn't all that shocking that she would stop even that simple, unconscious method of reaching out for contact.
Once they started traveling with the Avatar, though, Katara proved him wrong.
The first time it happened, only a month into their travels, Sokka almost couldn't believe what he was seeing. The three of them had fallen asleep all sprawled out on the ground as usual, but it seemed that the temperature had dropped during the night if the frost on the ground was anything to judge by, and Katara... well, Katara had scooted across the space between herself and Aang during the night, just like she used to do with her family members as a child. She was curled up against him with her hand on his chest.
Protective Older Brother Sokka had gone to war then with Loving Brother Who Is Just Happy To See His Sister Coming Back Sokka. Because the thing was, Aang brought Katara back. The real Katara, like she had been before their mom died. She smiled now- hell, she laughed! And Aang had done that. The fact that this little quirk, that Sokka had thought was gone forever, had manifested itself again just seemed like one more sign that his sister was coming back to herself at long last.
And so he deliberately ignored the fact that his baby sister was snuggling with a guy (because really, he wasn't a guy, he was Aang, and that was different somehow), because he didn't want to discourage something that when all was said and done, seemed to be a positive thing. That protective older sibling part of him wanted to freak out over it, but he decided to deliberately ignore that part of himself for the time being.
That first time, it didn't seem like it was a big deal to the two of them. Katara seemed surprised and Aang turned a bit pink, but that was all there was to it. Only then it happened again. And again. And it started to affect them more, and Sokka started paying closer attention. He started noticing things.
Sokka started noticing how Aang tended to fall asleep curled up in a defensive little ball, but how, if Katara cuddled up to him during the night, he always ended up comfortably on his back. Sokka started noticing how it seemed that Katara got closer to him every time it happened, eventually getting to the point where she was practically sleeping on top of him, her head on his chest and an arm thrown over him. The way Aang no longer reacted with a soft flush of pink, but practically turned scarlet when he awoke to discover the waterbender snuggled up to him yet again. Or the way the Avatar, ordinarily an early riser, was much more likely to close his eyes and feign sleep for a few minutes more if he discovered Katara practically in his arms when he awoke. The way Katara, for her part, would turn a pretty shade of pink or two herself when she woke up like that, or the soft smile on her face as she dreamed away cuddled up to Aang. The way they couldn't meet each other's eyes without blushing for several hours afterwards.
It was all little stuff, really. Little details surrounding this seemingly harmless habit of Katara's that, by themselves, didn't mean much. All taken together, though, he couldn't help but wonder if...
But he wasn't sure. Well, obviously Aang had a crush, that much wasn't hard to work out. And he thought that Katara's feelings for the airbender were something other than familial... but he just wasn't sure. She played her cards too close to her chest for him to know anything for certain. It wasn't until Toph joined their little makeshift family that he got any clarity. The very first time Katara pulled her little nighttime snuggling routine on the unsuspecting Avatar, Toph (late riser or not) took notice.
And as the two of them blushed and sputtered and fumbled their way out of the situation that should not have been awkward after the number of times they'd gone through it, Toph watched them with sightless eyes and there was a thoughtful little frown on her face. Later that day, as Katara and Aang raced off to start their waterbending practice, she remarked, "You know they're in love with each other, right?"
Sokka didn't have much reply to that, but that was kind of what he'd thought, too.
Things changed after Ba Sing Se. For those weeks that Aang was unconscious, Katara slept by his side and it wasn't a reflexive habit that drew her to him but a conscious choice, a need to reassure herself that he was still breathing. After he woke up at last... well, whatever Katara's feelings might be, Sokka no longer had any doubt that they were far, far from platonic. She stopped cuddling up next to him at night, though. Most likely it was because of the boiling heat of the Fire Nation summer.
A long time (or only a heartbeat) later, they were back in Ba Sing Se and the war was over and everything was good. Their days flowed together pleasantly as they went about the (relatively) leisurely process of negotiating the terms of peace with Zuko and the Earth King and helped Iroh around his tea shop.
It wasn't until Sokka woke up early one morning and found Aang and Katara curled up together, Katara snuggled as close to the airbender's chest as she possibly could get- it appeared that they had stayed up late talking and simply fallen asleep like that- that he knew for sure that everything really was right in the world. The nations were at peace, he had a girlfriend, their little group wasn't so little anymore, and Katara... Well, Katara was finally the sister he remembered her being once again. The beatific smile on her sleeping face as she shifted just a little bit closer to the slumbering airbender was testament to that.
Sokka smiled and left them to it.