It’s the longest she’s been away from the Southern Water Tribe since she was out saving the world with her friends. Despite living in Republic City, Katara made sure to visit the Southern Water Tribe at least a few times a year. Sometimes for business, sometimes for healing, and sometimes just to be surrounded by family at her home.
It had been a whole year since she stepped foot on the snow-packed ground. After Aang died, she was a constant needed presence in Republic City. She, Sokka, and Tenzin formed a task-force. A sort of “The Avatar is gone and we need to make sure the world does not divulge into chaos” task force. Republic City needed balance, and without the Avatar, maintaining that balance was constant work. She often worried about what the new Avatar was inheriting. Aang did a wonderful job of cleaning up after the 100 year war, but there would always be seeds of unrest that needed an Avatar to fix, and in a city as diverse as Republic City, those seeds felt more like a fully grown garden.
Finally, however, the world calmed down and Katara was able to make a trip down South. As the boat docked at the harbor, she smiled as she saw her daughter waiting in the crowd. Kya waved when she saw Katara on the boat deck. With a deep breath, Katara smiled. She was home.
20 minutes later Kya was tugging Katara’s suitcase through the town. Even now, it was hard for Katara to get used to how different the Southern Water Tribe was to the one she grew up in. Gone were the days of knowing the lives of every person intently. Sometimes, people didn’t even know their neighbors. Houses got bigger and people grew further apart. She was occasionally nostalgic for the past, but largely she was just grateful to see her home thriving once again.
“You look tired, Kya. Are you getting plenty of rest? You know you work too hard.” Katara stroked her hand down Kya’s cheek, looking into a mirror of her own eyes. Kya rolled her eyes then. “Yes, mom. I am, in fact, a big girl now and can take care of myself.” Her eyes dropped down, a flash of worry in her eyes. “We have a really bad case of puffin-seal flu going around. I’ve been working nonstop at the healing centers...speaking of which, after I drop you off at my place I am going to have to head back. It’s all hands on deck right now.”
Katara looked into her tired daughter’s eyes, “Why don’t I come with you tonight. I can help out with some healings.”
“Mom, you don’t have to do that. You just got off a long boat ride and I am sure you are beyond tired. This is meant to be relaxing for you. Maybe tomorrow you can come if it is still bad?” Kya looked into her mom’s eyes, hoping she convinced her to stay home, but she knew it was fruitless. If Katara thought someone needed her help, she was going to help. Katara just smiled knowingly back at her and Kya sighed. “Okay, let’s drop your stuff off and head over. I’m sure everyone will be happy to see you.”
The healing centers were packed. Multiple patients crammed into rooms meant for just one, the constant sound of coughing filled the room, and babies cried as mothers and fathers tried to soothe them.
Katara immediately noticed that one baby, however, was wailing her lungs out in the corner while her parents tried hopelessly to calm her down. While other babies took moments of respite and stopped crying, the chubby infant in the corner never stopped. Tears rained down her face in reckless directions. Katara chuckled, that baby was certainly a water-bender, even if the parents didn’t know it yet.
She made her way over to the family and smiled at the parents. The father stood up, “Katara! It’s wonderful to see you back in the Southern Water Tribe!”
Katara let out a small laugh, “It’s wonderful to see you too, Chief Tonraq. But I don’t think your beautiful new baby is enjoying the reunion quite as much.”
Tonraq glowered momentarily, before quickly putting on a friendly face again. “Katara, you have yet to meet our child.” Tonraq took the baby into his arms from Senna, but the baby continued wailing. “This is Korra. She turned 10 months old a few days ago. I’d offer to let you hold her, but she’s not the most pleasant baby right now.” Tonraq and Senna both grimaced as baby Korra continued her assault on everyone’s ears.
Katara smiled, “The poor baby.” She dangled some fingers in front of the baby’s face, trying to distract her, “She has a bad case of the flu.”
“She’s been in healing sessions all day, but it won’t let up. She’s been crying so hard and won’t go to sleep. It feels helpless.” Tonraq admitted, rocking Korra back and forth.
Katara’s eyebrows furrowed, “Why don’t you let me try. Maybe I can get the little otter penguin up and running.”
Tonraq handed Korra to Katara’s arms, and the second she held her a strange familiarity came over her. Korra popped her eyes open, revealing the biggest blue eyes that reminded Katara of when Kya was just a baby. She decided in her mind that that must be what felt so familiar about Korra, but something nagging in the back of her mind told her that wasn’t it.
For the first time in what felt like hours, Korra stopped crying. Senna and Tonraq hitched their breath, grateful for a moment of peace. “Katara, you really can do anything.” Tonraq laughed.
Katara just stared down at the baby, who had her eyes fixed on Katara in return, as if she was investigating a new toy. Katara softly dragged her fingers along Korra’s cheek, and Korra grabbed her finger. Katara smiled, and looked back at the parents, “Let me go try and heal the poor baby, I’ll bring her back to you soon.”
She turned to one of the private rooms, with a pit in her stomach that turning the baby back over to the parents would be easier said than done.
Within ten minutes of healing, Korra fell asleep in Katara’s arms, allowing her to work on the baby easily. Eventually, when she heard her breathing return to slight normalcy, she decided to bring her out to the parents.
“I think she is doing better. I’ll want to check on her tomorrow, but let the little one get the rest she needs tonight and we can check on her tomorrow.”
Tonraq and Senna beamed, “She’s asleep?” Katara nodded, and gathered the strength in her to hand the baby back to her parents.
“A word of warning from me-- your daughter is going to be a very powerful water bender. I could see how her tears were moving earlier. You may want to take extra care during bath time.” Katara laughed, feeling within herself that might be an understatement.
She shook that feeling off, she knew that would happen. Since Aang had died, everyone was wondering who the next Avatar would be, and with the next Avatar in the cycle a water-bender, she was sure she would find multiple babies she got an “Avatar feeling” from.
But as Katara moved on to the next person needing healing, and Tonraq and Senna walked out of the room, she couldn’t help but feel a sense of loss. She laughed inwardly at herself, maybe she just needed grandkids. She would have to remind herself to bother one of her children about that again.
“Korra, you’re not concentrating. Look at the ball of water, it is falling apart.” Katara chided, watching the ten year old Avatar forget about bending lessons to watch a group of birds flow by.
Korra sighed and rolled her eyes, dropping the water completely. She looked over at Katara, “Can I have a snack yet? We’ve been doing this all day.” She pouted, hoping she would get to break for the day. Korra loved bending, she loved being the Avatar, but Master Katara kept trying to teach her forms and poses, Korra just wanted to punch things with water.
Katara pinched her nose and shook her head. “Maybe if you can hold that steady for 10 minutes we can go have a snack.” Korra groaned but returned to the puddle of water and attempted to hold the substantially sized ball for ten minutes. Two minutes in, she got bored. Her mind drifted to chasing otter penguins out of the compound, creating a sled by waterbending and careening down a hill, making a friend her own age and doing something fun.
In some ways, Korra was a prodigy, she picked up offensive-style bending like it was nothing, and could easily take down water-benders with far more training than her. But she lacked any kind of patience or control.
She huffed and dropped the ball of water at the moment Tonraq stepped out to the training grounds.
“I don’t wanna do this anymore. I’m hungry and tired- can I please just go!” Korra could feel the beginning of a tantrum forming and while she knew she was too old to be throwing tantrums anymore, she couldn’t help it. She had reached her limit.
“Korra. You are the Avatar. You have to learn responsibility and control. Whining will get you nowhere. Listen to Master Katara and stop messing around.” Tonraq snapped.
Katara looked at her with care in her eyes, but before she could say anything to the young Avatar, Korra was off, running out past the training grounds.
“Korra!” Tonraq yelled. He sighed and looked at Katara. “I’m sorry, I’ll go get her.” To his surprise, the elderly water bender stood up and touched his shoulder.
“It’s okay, Tonraq. Let me talk to her. I know where she is.” Tonraq nodded and let Katara walk off, watching her until she turned the same corner that Korra did minutes ago.
Katara looked at Korra’s footprints in the snow, and sure enough they led right to the water's edge. She found Korra with her arms wrapped around her knees staring out to the ocean.
“I’m sorry Katara. I know I suck at practicing. I shouldn’t have yelled at you. I’m not a child anymore.” Korra’s cheeks blushed with embarrassment and turned her face away from Katara.
Katara slowly lowered herself down to sit next to Korra, silently cursing her old knees, and placed an arm around the young girl’s shoulders.
“Korra, you are still a child. No one expects you to get everything down perfectly. Most Avatar’s don’t even find out they are the Avatar until they are sixteen. You are balancing a lot for your age.” She comforted her.
Korra scoffed and rolled her eyes. Keeping one arm wrapped around her knees, she started tracing random patterns in the snow with the other, still refusing to look at Katara. “Yeah right. Aang was already out travelling and saving the world at my age. I can’t even concentrate enough to hold a ball of water for five minutes.”
Katara’s heart felt heavier hearing the name of her late husband, remembering the times they spent together when they were so young. She remembered being Korra’s age, thinking you know everything and nothing at the same time. Mostly, however, she always found the image of the wise, noble young Avatar they taught Korra about in her classes so completely in contrast with the goofy kid she found in the iceberg.
“Korra, first of all Aang was twelve when we travelled, and two years may not seem like a lot but at your age it is. Think about how much you’ve improved since you were eight.” Korra shrugged, not convinced by what Katara was saying, so Katara just continued speaking. “And Aang had a lot of trouble accepting being the Avatar. A lot of people don’t know this, but the reason Aang got separated from the Air Nomads, and why he was lost for 100 years, was because he ran away. He hated the pressure of being the Avatar. It took him a long time to fully accept the responsibility.”
Seeing Korra, curled up around her own body, tears threatening to fall from her eyes, she was transported back to being only fourteen years old at the Northern Water Tribe, watching Aang slumped against Appa. “I’m just one kid.” He had sighed, realizing he couldn’t take out every fire nation boat.
Korra looked up at her, wanting to know more. “Korra, there were some times when he was an adult— a big grown up like your dad— where he ignored responsibilities. We had a meeting in the Earth Kingdom but on the way there we got distracted and ended up riding the elephant koi and swimming at the beach.”
Korra laughed, thinking about her elderly teacher riding an elephant koi. Katara sighed and looked Korra in the eyes, “You, like every other Avatar before you, have more responsibility on your shoulders than anyone else your age. But you’re still a child, and lately we’ve all forgotten that. You still need to train, you have a lot to learn,” Korra grimaced at that, “but you should still be having fun.”
Korra wrapped her arms around her mentor and sighed into her chest. “Thanks, Katara.”
Katara rubbed her back, pulling her into a hug. “Now, I don’t know about you, but I am getting cold sitting out here. So why don’t you help pull this old lady up and we can go get a snack together.”
Korra stood up and pulled Katara up with her, choosing to continue holding her hand as they walked back to the compound.
“Katara, am I going to be able to leave the compound soon? I feel so stuck.”
Katara sighed, realizing Korra was right. She didn’t like keeping Korra in the compound. She knew it was for her own safety, but she felt it was doing her a disservice. She still needed a childhood, friends, experiences other than training.
“Korra— what do you know about penguin sledding?” She asked, with a twinkle in her eye. Korra gasped and jumped up and down, excitement brewing within her.
“Can we? Please? I promise I’ll train non stop without complaining I promise!”
Katara chuckled at her excitement. “I don’t know that my bones are up to penguin sledding anymore, but I’ll bring you out tomorrow. That was one of the first things Aang and I did together.” Korra beamed, the cogs in her head turning with a million questions she wanted to ask.
“Were you good at penguin sledding? Did you find it more difficult than surfing with the Elephant Koi? Have you done anything fun with other animals? Can we go and do more fun things with other animals? Can Naga come? Have you ever ridden a Polar-Bear Dog? Naga is really good at running-- we can go for a ride together!” Korra finally took a breath and Katara took the opportunity to interject in the young girl’s exciting ramblings.
“Let's focus on penguin sledding first, Korra, okay?” The two walked hand in hand, Katara telling Korra stories of silly things she had once done with the Avatar. She knew Korra’s life wouldn’t be easy, but if there is one thing she learned with Aang, is that that didn’t necessarily mean it couldn’t be fun.
Whereas Katara used to spend most of her time in Republic City, with visits down to the Southern Water Tribe; she now experienced the opposite schedule.
She didn’t go up to Republic City as often as she used to go down to the Southern Water Tribe, but she cherished each trip up north, remembering her past there and enjoying the company of her grandchildren.
Sitting in the gardens of Air Temple Island, she bounced Rohan in her lap. Smiling as the chubby baby giggled, her attention was suddenly diverted by a large crash elsewhere on the island.
“Asami!” She heard Korra yell, “Are you okay?”
If Asami responded, Katara couldn’t hear it, but she followed the sounds of the commotion until she saw Korra standing over Asami’s body, which was on the ground a few feet from an upside down moped.
Standing back, Katara decided to watch the two, rather than get involved. Something about the scene intrigued her.
Korra reached her hands out to Asami, and Asami laughed as she was pulled off the ground.
“Ok, well maybe that was a bit too fast.” Asami chewed her lip.
Korra blushed and reached her hand behind her head nervously, “I’ll make sure I don’t blow as much air next time I guess. If you wanna go fast, but safely, I could take you on a ride on my glider!”
Katara narrowed her eyes when the blush never faded from Korra’s cheeks, and narrowed her eyes further when Asami blushed in return.
“Thanks, Avatar, but I think I’ll stick to the ground for now.”
Unfortunately, that seemed to egg Korra on, because with a raise of her eyebrow, she spun air around her and raised up multiple feet off the ground.
“Are you sure, Asami? There’s not many people who can take you flying. Unless you asked Tenzin, but something tells me he wouldn’t be down with that.”
Asami rolled her eyes. “Korra, I’ll have you know I am a wonderful pilot and can probably fly better than you.”
Korra blushed harder then returned to the ground. “No, I know! You’re the best pilot I know. I just thought it might be fun.”
A realization hit Katara. Memories of Aang showing off to her flashed through her mind, pictures of incredible bending and his marble trick he was so proud of. Korra was showing off for Asami.
Korra showed off for everyone, of course, as cocky as she was, but this was different. As if her happiness lay in what Asami thought of her.
Asami smiled at Korra, pinching her cheek, causing Korra to grumble. “I’ll let you take me flying, Korra, but I get to take you race car driving again.”
Korra rolled her eyes. “Is that meant to be a bad thing? I’d love to!”
Asami threw her head back in laughter. “Then it’s a plan. You take me up in the glider and I’ll take you for a ride. We still gotta figure out what we are going to do with the moped though.”
Korra held her arms up, flexing her muscles. “Never fear, Miss. Sato. Korra’s repair service is here!”
Asami rolled her eyes. “Repair service? I think we know I will be the one to repair the moped. I would be honored if you could carry it back up the hill for me, however.”
Korra lifted up the moped, checking to see that Asami was watching how strong she was.
They walked up the hill together, laughing and chatting about their plans.
Katara smiled to herself. She wondered if Korra even knew she was flirting, the girl could be clueless sometimes.
A deeper part of her, one with memories of a love so deep that could not be replaced, wondered if every Avatar showed off to their crush with bending. She laughed at herself, of course they did. If you have to be the Avatar, you may as well use it to get the girl.
Looking back at Rohan, she bounced the baby in her arms. “Someone needs to teach the Avatar how to flirt, don’t they?” She blew a raspberry on her grandchild’s belly, laughing along with him.
The typically quiet Sato estate was pulsing with jovial music, while guests of the happy couple danced and celebrated.
Katara watched proudly as her former student twirled her new wife around, beaming at each other as if they had won the lottery. She supposed that, to them, they had won the lottery.
She had been seated at a table with her own children and friends, but one by one, after Katara assured them she would be fine by herself for a few moments, they all left to dance.
And she really was fine taking a moment to just watch the festivities. She loved watching her dearest family and friends take a moment to let their hair down and relax. Closing her eyes for a moment, she remembered her own wedding. A first dance that, quite literally, swept her off her own feet, Sokka’s lengthy best man speech that sounded more like a (bad) stand up comedy routine, visitors from around the world coming to celebrate the Avatar’s marriage.
She was pulled from her memories when she felt a warm hand touch hers.
“Katara—are you doing okay?” Asami’s green eyes looked deep into hers and Katara smiled, realizing Asami had pulled herself away from the celebrations just to check in with her.
“I’m just lost in my own memory, dear.” She laughed. “I promise I’m not asleep.”
Asami giggled at that. “I wouldn’t blame you if you did fall asleep. I’m exhausted.” She sat down in the chair beside Katara. “What memories were you thinking of?”
“My own wedding. It was so long ago but feels like it was only yesterday.” Katara sighed in nostalgia. Asami smiled sweetly and took Katara’s hand in her own, squeezing it lightly. She looked to the dance floor, seeing her wife(which still felt strange to say) laughing with the air bender children.
“Katara, I wanted to ask you something.”
“Anything. Is something wrong?”
Asami blinked quickly and shook her hands. “No, no! Nothing is wrong.” She took a deep breath before continuing, trying to decide how to phrase what she wanted to say. “I just wondered if you had any advice about, you know, being married to the Avatar?”
Katara grinned before letting out a breath. “I wish I could tell you that it’s all easy, Asami, but I’m sure you’re already aware it’s not.”
Asami looked down into her lap while Katara continued.
“She’s always going to be needed somewhere. Someone in the world will always need the Avatar. There were days—weeks, even— when I just wanted to lock the doors and not allow him to leave. In some ways, you have to share your love with the world, and when you just want to wake up to them each morning, watching them leave can be heartbreaking.”
Asami lifted her head to find where Korra was in the crowd. She smirked seeing her holding Meelo in a headlock, messing with his hair as he tried to squirm out. She looked back at Katara who she found also watching Korra. Of course, Asami already knew that. A week before the wedding, Korra had suddenly been needed in the Fire Nation for emergency business and Asami had to deal with last minute preparations by herself. Which is not to say Asami’s role in Future Industries didn’t cause her schedule to be erratic and jammed packed-- but she usually had a bit more warning for business trips than Korra did.
“You two already know about the danger-- but it doesn’t let up. There will be times of peace, of course, but there is always someone who wants to kill you or your family.” Despite the subject matter, Katara laughed. “It becomes second nature honestly, but you have to take precautions, all of our children were trained in self defense as soon as they could.”
Katara snapped back to having a serious look on her face, with the slightest bit of anger or annoyance shining in her eyes before she continued.
“You’re also going to find a lot of people who reduce you down to just being the Avatar’s wife. I found it infuriating when, at a dinner or meeting, I was seen not as a talented individual there to give her opinion on matters, but as the plus one for the Avatar. Of course, Aang never put up with this either, and often didn’t even introduce me as his wife until I had a chance to establish myself as my own figure.” Katara looked at her. “But I can tell you won’t put up with that either, Asami.”
Asami smiled at her. “Thanks for telling me that, Katara. I know I’m meant to be nothing but happy today, and trust me I am very happy, but I can’t help but feel nervous for the future.”
This time, Katara grabbed her hand. “That’s normal. I had butterflies in my stomach all day. But all you need to do is look at her;” she pointed to where Korra was currently twirling Jinora around, “and remember that it’s all worth it. I’ve seen the love Korra has for you and I can promise you she will never let anything come between that.”
Asami wrapped her arms around Katara, embracing her. At which point, Korra walked over, pulling a chair around so she was sitting in front of them.
“You guys having a good conversation?” She asked pleasantly.
“Oh, just talking about what it’s like to be the Avatar’s girl.” Katara chuckled. Korra blushed and reached out to grab Asami’s hand, wrapping her fingers in between hers.
“The Avatar’s girl? I like how that sounds.” Korra said with a goofy smile.
“We should start a club, Katara. Just for ‘the Avatar’s girl’” Asami suggested playfully.
Katara laughed in earnest. “I don’t think I can call myself that anymore,”
Korra cocked her head. “What do you mean?”
“It’s been 25 years, Korra. I don’t think I can call myself the ‘Avatars girl’ anymore.”
Korra stood up, as if she was offended. “Well I disagree wholeheartedly. In fact, I will prove it to you right here and now.” Korra bowed in front of Katara, before extending her hand. “Katara of the Southern Water Tribe, may I have this dance?”
Katara rolled her eyes. “Korra don’t be silly. I’m ancient, I don’t dance anymore.”
“Your feet won’t even have to touch the ground. I promise you, I am very strong, and I will not take no for an answer.”
After some back and forth, Katara eventually put her hand in Korra’s, and let her lead her to the dance floor. Korra turned her head to mouth “You’re next!” to Asami and winking at her.
Asami smiled, watching as Korra picked up Katara and gently pulled her around in a dance, Katara laughing all the while.
Asami knew it wasn’t going to always be easy, but when the prize was a love that surpassed lifetimes, she was willing to put in the effort.