"Why don't you write to her anyway? I need to put an emphasis on that she is the best pen pal I've ever had." Bolin asserted in the dinner with the crew, taking a fork from his cub of noddle in Mako's grumpily glancing at him.
"You only had two pen pal: Korra and her." Bolin gazed at him yet his answer immediately came.
"I know and she is way better than Korra. At least she responses me back." With air-bending, Korra sullenly threw the strawberry pie to Bolin's face. Now, they were all amusingly deriding Bolin's struggle to clean himself.
"She wrote me about you." Korra nudged Mako right beside her that his eyes suddenly widened, impatiently waited for Korra's answer.
"She asked how you were, why you didn't write to her." With Korra's statement, Opal kindly barged into the conversation subtly blinking an eye at Korra.
"She must have been waiting for a letter from you the most." Both chuckled together that disturb Mako.
"Why is that?" He grumpily asked giving a look to them.
How could a princess wait for something from me?
"I don't know you should tell us. In festival, dinner, or her farewell, you two seemed close." Asami subtlety giggled joining other women as she now finished her food. Mako sulked his face, and as usual, rapidly attempted counterclaim with a raising voice.
"We don't even know each other, we're not that close!" Korra put a hand on his shoulder to calm him down advising him to write even a few words. He just nodded looking down not sure if he could or if she would accept.
At home, with blank papers on the left side of the desk, Mako struggled to write to the paper right towards him. Except for Korra, he'd never written a letter with anyone before and he couldn't consider himself as good at it.
In a few hours, he hardly achieved to pen a few words, but in each paper, he found a flaw, and, with rolling eyes furiously, all his efforts resulted in throwing them away.
He had no idea how to begin or what to tell.
She was the Princess of the Fire Nation. Everything he could possibly write would be in vain with her greatest stories and so many friends.
He leaned back to his chair hopelessly, shortly stood up vexed, and went to bed with his mind filled with their memories.
The whole week passed like that. Every night, in his room, he tried to pen even a few words to her, which always ended in bed lying down thinking of her with thrown papers all over the ground.
As at the end of the week today, Mako drove to the usual place for the crew dinner. After Korra's coming back to Republic City, Asami shared an idea of arranging such dinners with each other at least once a week, willingly accepted by everyone. Each of their life was proceeding in its own way not allowing them to spend time together. Hence, to keep their connection vivid, these meetings were the best wellsprings for them.
As being usually the latest one, today he was the first. In the room booked for them, he waited for the others, viewing movements of the wine in his glass with thoughts evaluating if he should ask others about what to write to the Princess.
With the footsteps sound, he looked up at the inner entrance, grouched with muttering as being late. However, instead of his friends, General Iroh entered the room. Mako instantly stood up and bowed to greet him in confusion, questioning his presence in here from inside.
General, with a formal but intimate tone, asked the others.
"They must be on their way, sir." General nodded sitting right opposite of him, ordered the same vine as his.
Mako slowly sat, took the last sip of his glass. In silence, the General waited for him finishing to open up a conversation. They both inquired after each other's health.
"Can I ask what you're doing here General?" Mako hesitantly started making General smile slightly.
"You already did. There is something I need to tell you." He nodded his head still not having an exact answer but he knew he shouldn't ask more.
Till the others came, they continued a formal mundane conversation about their works or Republic City. As Iroh deliberately wasn't bringing the topic to the Fire Nation or his sister, Mako deliberately didn't ask about her too. After all arrivals and the settling, the meals were ordered.
Korra waited until the waiter's leaving to ask if there was a problem worriedly. Iroh sincerely smiled at her and made a contact with each pair of eyes.
"Not at all. I have been talking with my sister and she has been telling me so many good pieces of stuff about you. I wanted to thank you all for treating her nicely till now. She doesn't have any friends and observing her building a friendship with the team Avatar just gladdens me." With his softened well-tuned voice, Team Avatar for the first time saw the loving man inside of the mighty cold General outside.
"How?" With risen brows, Mako couldn't help himself asking absentmindedly. Iroh glimpsed at Mako sitting opposite of him, shortly explained.
"Let's say, she is just not very good at trusting people but it seems like she trusts you."
Bolin erected his stance, put a hand on his breast, handed down the conversation.
"You don't need to worry sir, now she had five friends and I don't think we could lose the best pen pal we have." He humorously stated.
"She has a way with words, doesn't she?" Iroh chuckled but shortly coughed to spin the conversation.
"Now, let me explain the true reason for my presence with you today. Next month, I'll go to the Fire Nation for the Fire Lily Festival, and yesterday, my sister asked me to suggest you coming with me since you all have never been there."
The crew instantly accepted and declared their enthusiasm, before thanking the General for his kind offer. All couples sitting beside each other hugged each other and Mako joined them with grinning radiantly as feeling excited for this journey like others.
Then, in dinner, Opal eclectically asked the General about the fire lilies that he patiently answered each of her questions without any objection. Listening to their conversation, Mako remembered the princess in their first dinner in Fire Nation District while answering all questions about the funds for the Republic City. Mako noticed the similarities between General Iroh and Princess Senna: first the amber eyes and the authoritarian stance. Even without an effort, with the emotionless faces, body language, and sound of voices, both could easily spread fear making people shun from them but also admiration making people wonder about them more.
After all the statements of them having never seen a fire lilies before by the crew, Iroh chuckled explicating the reason.
"The fire lily is a flower to grow only in greeneries of the Fire Nation. Around the middle of the summer every year, it blooms just for a few weeks. Moreover, for generations, each year of its blooming period is celebrated as festival...As an image let's say It is a red version of the panda lily flower in the Earth Kingdom."
Passing the part of drinks, Iroh expounded the traditional celebration customs of the festival but not all of them since he had to leave early due to his hard work in the morning but strongly advised them to ask for details to Senna.
"She really loves exposing people with Fire Nation." Which made Mako smile recalling their last day in the Fire Nation District together.
Even after the General gone, the crew enthusiastically kept chatting about Fire Nation still without any idea. However, Mako wasn't with them. He was in deep thoughts all about seeing her again. His heartbeats accelerated combined with the whim. He suddenly squeezed the table cloth a little. He desperately wished to leave. No! He had to go home now!
In the middle of the conversation, he rapidly stood up with all turning eyes to him. He made an excuse with his so-called tiredness and moved to the exit after paying for his food.
Even without changing clothes, he quickly sat on the chair. Just like in the last few days, he tried to visualize her with closed eyes. However, this time was different. Instead of blankness, he heard her voice talking to him, viewed her laughing at him, he felt her hand touching him. Now he felt fullness with an extreme whim.
Suddenly, he recalled the pictures of her he drew. He groaned a little enraging himself for not calling up them sooner. He opened the drawer under the right side of the desk, took out pictures, Inspected each carefully, he took the pencil, and started drawing absentmindedly on empty paper.
When he was finished, he realized that he'd drew every detail of her features. He smiled as surprised how he could remember those all. He put the picture next to the other ones and in a new paper and he began writing as if somehow like words just wrote themselves, and with the drawing, he put them into an envelope to send it in the morning.
After her usual morning meditation session with her grandfather and short chitchat, Princess Senna was, now, walking throughout the parlor to join one of the parliamentary interviews with the Fire Lord.
The meeting would be with presidents of the Fire Nation cities and colonies, under the Fire Lord, about the presidents' governing in their districts depending on the report, Senna and the Fire Lord prepared together with hours of work last night.
First, the Firelord greeted all the presidents with a slight smile; they bowed as an answer. Then, she began with asking after them and chatting about mundane matters that meanwhile, Senna had time to brood.
Today was the day she was supposed to receive letters from the Team Avatar. Strangely, she enjoyed chatting with all of them. Each one had different characteristics inside of themselves, made her discover various worlds that pleased her.
Firstly Bolin, as Senna first observed in their first encountering, was quite funny; hence, with his attentively literal language, he generally wrote the most amusing letters that she couldn't help herself bursting into a laugh.
As a businesswoman, Asami's letters were just like how they were supposed to be: formal but Senna could still sense intimacy. They generally chatted about politics or economy that she could easily comprehend her intelligence, making her think throughly each of her responding letters.
Just like how Senna designated about with their interactions with her helping during the festival, Opal's letters were soft, sweet, and optimistic almost opposite of her. She generally wrote about her hometown and really good at making observations. Senna liked her nature to pay an attention to details just like her.
Korra's letters generally touched Senna's powers as a fire-bender with her being the Avatar. She usually preferred telling her details about the responsibilities of being the Avatar that reminded herself. She told her the fights she had to endure in the last few years, Senna always admired her strength after everything she had been through.
For Mako, as she remembered their gently saying goodbyes after a few fights all of which were solved that she was sure, he hadn't written to her yet, making her put an effort to designate a reason, till now she couldn't find any. Also, she knew he wasn't good with talking and probably in words but still it shouldn't be so hard to say a few words, like "Hello" or maybe a story. As she kept telling herself from the first day she'd met he really had no manners.
"Are you here Senna?" Firelord Izumi teasingly asked a third time to her daughter, and this time she finally heard. With confusion, she turned to her mother, quickly came to her senses as Fire Lord Izumi pointed the presidents with her brows.
"Huh?...Yes, totally Firelord."
With her mother's orders, Senna showed them files including flaws in the president's governing. She gave them some advice to correct those mistakes which were listened carefully by everyone except one person: President Eichi.
"Is there a problem President Eichi? I guess you know best how to govern your district better than the others." Senna asked annoyed if him, teasingly with a risen brow as he gazed at her because of hearing his name announced.
"Of course, princess...Also, I found it ridiculous of princess giving us orders instead of the Fire Lord." He disdainfully stated smirking slightly looking right into the princess's eyes. For him, the princess was just a spoiled child only causing others to suffer and she certainly not deserving to become the next Fire Lord.
Fire Lord Izumi angrily attempted to plead but with eye contact with her daughter, she let her daughter answer. Senna coughed to be heard clearly.
"First of all I'm not giving you orders; we prepared these files with Fire Lord, and she will participate in to the conversation in her right place since right now we're just arguing what should be done for our people." Senna glanced down the files, found a chance to teach him a lesson that made her subtly smile.
"I just saw your district is the first on the list with the most problems. Would you like to explain that instead of teasing the princess?" As soon as her statement with the cynical tone, he surprisedly looked down to the files, he hadn't even attempted to open till now. After a few minutes of browsing, he furiously raised his voice, raising the file.
"This file is a lie! My people are happy!" Senna put her hands on the table united, continued with the same attitude.
"For sure but not with your governmental system depending on polls," Senna answered smirking, which ignited him to stand up wagging his finger at her furiously.
"You...you plotted this!"
"Watch your language, President." Fire Lord strictly interrupted the conversation making him bowed to apologize.
"I'm not accepting this. I want open voting in my district." This seemingly naive stance and his request made Senna chuckle first, soon objected with a strict voice.
"So that you could get rid of everyone rejecting you? I don't think so." He didn't wait to answer back.
"Princess, you have no right to give the last orders." He looked back to the Fire Lord, softened his language.
"I need to know who has problems in my district so that I could solve with their help, Fire Lord."
Senna opened her mouth to answer but before her, other presidents stated the ridiculousness of this idea and began arguing clamorously. Shortly, Fire Lord stood up to silence everyone.
"That's enough! I'm the one who makes decisions here not you." With her shouting, all presidents bowed and stated their apologies. Then she continued calmly.
"I think other presidents and Princess Senna are right Eichi. You can't expect open polling to be objective and fair. Your request is rejected." Fire Lord paused to observe his reaction better. He sullenly opened his mouth first, but shortly closed with obediently nodding and sitting down on his seat. "And this interview is over. I hope you consider what we talked about and take necessary actions till the next meeting. Thanks for coming." With Fire Lord farewell all presidents up-stood and bowed to her and the princess as they walked away from the parlor together.
Fire Lord put her hand over her daughter's shoulder proudly praised her for today. “You were so good in there darling. You put the Eichi in his place." Senna looked at her confused.
"I know he annoys you, so why are you keeping him around mum? He is obviously an useless greedy person...and idiot." Senna’s tone became furious till the end of the sentence, since deeply she hated him due to his attitude against her and her family.
"Because of Gaya." Senna looked beside at Firelord's ruthful face due to the cause of her death. She felt remorse just like in the last seven years.
"I'm the one who should be making up not you. She died because of me." Senna hardly stated with remembering her death. She looked down, her eyes slowly began filling up with tears
Fire Lord Izumi put her hand on her shoulder stopped Senna. She tenderheartedly placed other hand on her chin lifted till aligning their eyes, fondling.
"Stop blaming yourself, Senna. It wasn't your fault."
Senna sorrowfully exhaled a breath, closed her eyes, and a few tears fell. She was about to answer when staff came to their side bowed respectfully. Senna pulled herself together and looked upon him stiffly.
"Princess Senna, as you'd requested, I came here to let you know that the letters came from the Republic City." He reached the letters out to her. She thanked him and took the letters. As the staff was withdrawing, she saw the title on the upper envelope.
FROM DETECTIVE MAKO
Her sorrowful mood seconds ago, suddenly changed that now she was over the moon. She automatically put a radiant smile on her face, not questioning the reason for now. He speedily just said goodbye to her mother and fire-jetted to her room regardless of her mother's warnings not to do it inside of the palace.
Senna sat on the table on the right side of the room, rapidly opened his envelope first, already forgetting the others.
Senna took out two papers. Firstly encountering a well-drawn picture she looked at it. Senna saw a woman laughing, couldn't figure who she was. She shrunk her eyes, began to examine it.
Shortly, Senna realized the girl in the picture was herself smiling radiantly, in the Air Temple Island, while feeding the bisons. She giggled, admiring his skills to draw. She kept viewing picture for a while, remembering that day.
Then,Senna reached out the other paper with a wide smile on her face she began reading.
I hope this letter finds you well. I know you've been corresponding with everyone regularly and I believe I should apologize for not writing you sooner. I didn't know what to write or where to start. Each time I attempted resulted with failure since it is hard to find the truest words for you. Bolin is a lot better in this kind of stuffs you probably designated from letters. Maybe it is because he doesn't think too much and just states what's in his mind whether it is proper or not...Whatever that's not the point.
General Iroh told today that you invited us to your home, and I sincerely want to thank you for that. It's such a kind thoughtful offer. I'm looking forward to seeing the Fire Nation and learn new things about it, but on a lighter note, I am looking forward to seeing you again, hoping this time is filled with you laughing at me more instead of yelling.
Also, I drew a picture of you. You can assume as a price for not writing you sooner. I'm not sure if you like it, but I'll just hope so.
I still would like to know what you like, do, and hear an interesting story or stories that you have to share. I know this letter is little short but I'm hoping our conversation will become better quality and letters longer once we started sharing things.
Until then, I eagerly await your response, and for the day we can see each other again.