It was softly snowing on the encampment the newest Avatar called home. Being surrounded by snow had always grounded Katara, feeling the energy of the water swirling around her. Even after all these years, all her children grown up and living in the city, having spent most of her life with Aang at Air Temple Island, snow felt like home. So that's where she'd returned to, after losing Aang.
And now here she was, with his next life. Sokka had been so proud when the new Avatar turned out to be from the Southern Water Tribe, and had spent so much time with the toddler, joking and telling her stories and giving her little messages for 'that arrowhead' about how this one is way cooler than you, thanks.
Korra was a very different avatar than Aang and Katara had had a hard time finding him in her, had had a hard time not being resentful towards the child.
Then that child flourished into a young woman, her own woman, and Katara couldn't help but grow fond. She was still nothing like Aang, much more headstrong and confident about her being the Avatar than he ever was, even in his final years.
Sokka would have been proud.
But sometimes, when Katara wasn't really looking for it, the crinkling of her eyes as she grinned, or the way the setting sun caught her face as she sat cross legged on the snow, made Katara's heart wrench in her chest. And it had been long enough that it took her a minute to place that feeling, the longing for him.
Light snowflakes swirled around Katara as she carried the tray of fruits and tea to Korra's room. They settled gently in her hair, her clothes, reminding her of Toph's 'healthy layer of earth'. Reaching the door, she adjusted the tray in one hand and gently pushed in with the other.
Steel tray and glass cup clanged as their contents spilled on the snow.
Katara wasn't breathing. She was staring at the door, the handle in the death grip it had been in since she slammed it close within seconds of opening it. It felt as though she'd physically never be able to let go, not wanting to open it and see that again, and not being able to leave till she'd checked.
In the end, she didn't have to make a choice. The door opened, and Korra's panicked face enter her view.
Korra. Only Korra.
I'm so sorry, she seemed to say. Stepping out and wrapping her hands around Katara. Continuing something about struggling with airbending, wanting to understand it better. Her voice rang around in Katara's mind, not being processed. She stared over Korra's shoulder, through the panel of the room revealed by the half open door, at that spot in the floor.
The spot where he'd been sitting moments ago.
Aang. Younger than he'd been when she last saw him. Young like the best years of their lives, figuring out peace together, maintaining balance, raising children.
The image of Aang meditating is both painfully familiar and so so distant. It has been no time at all, it has been decades.
Her hand is still gripping that goddamn door.
She let it go and hugged Korra back. Closed her eyes and let the image burn itself into her eyelids, and then let it go. Focusing on this girl, the young girl in her arms, shocked and afraid at having upset Katara.
She pulled back and smiled gently at the young Avatar, one hand on her cheek.
"You know, when he was having trouble with something, and wanted to talk to Roku or other past Avatars, he'd meditate for them to appear in front him, and then he could talk to them"
Korra looked a little lost.
"I can talk to the past Avatars? By choice?"
"He used to. I'm sure you can. You said you're having trouble with airbending?"
"Yeah it's just, it's new, and I've been able to bend the other elements for so much longer now. I thought perhaps if I tried to feel for the connection to ..Aang.. I could understand it better."
"Reach out to him. He will come."
Katara saw Korra's eyes soften.
"I really am sorry you saw that. Are you sure you're okay.."
She stroked her thumb on Korra's cheek and smiled a soft and a little too knowing smile.
"I'm okay my love."
As she helped Korra clear up the spilled food, her mind went to 4 children on Roku's Island, holding hands and absorbing the thought -
Some friendships are so strong they can even transcend lifetimes
Katara is realising now that the relation may transcend many lives, but the love each time is new and different. And so she remembers him, and she loves her, and those feelings remain separate yet connected in a way she didn't see coming.