Chapter 1: Stories
“But I’m not tiiiired, Sifu!”The little dark-headed girl squirmed in her bed and squawked like an angry turtleduck. Her nose and cheeks were flushed red. “I’ve got to go tra-“
“Your other teachers will still be there when you’re well.” The old woman’s tone left no room for argument. Katara swept a hand over her face. This child could not possibly be more unlike you, Aang.
“Will you stay and tell me a story? Please?”
That crooked smile with a hint of sadness around the edges cut right through to Katara’s heart. Korra was an individual, so utterly different from Aang that Katara rarely thought of the girl as the former Avatar’s reincarnation. That sweet smile – with a child’s innocence and a weight no child should have to bear – reminded her so strongly of her late husband it took her breath away.
However this girl was not Aang, even with those fleeting moments of similarity. As Katara drew Korra into her lap and wound a heavy fur around them both, she could only think of the new Avatar in one way. After all, her other children had his smile as well.
“Let me tell you a story about a boy and the moon…”
Chapter 2: Whispers to the Moon
Korra had no use for distant, unsympathetic spirits.
Korra didn’t pray to the ancestors. She didn’t care for meditation. They were a waste of time as far as she was concerned.
She always felt the elements. They were a constant presence in her mind like a melody heard by chance. Yet every full moon she found herself bending until her muscles ached, trying to work the burn out of her chest, her heart, her bones. She couldn’t even explain it to other waterbenders.
Every full moon she found herself talking to Yue.
The story of the selfless princess who gave her life to save the world was only a bedtime story for Korra as a child. It wasn’t until she grew up she fully realized the story was real. There really was a girl named Yue, who fell in love with a boy named Sokka. A girl who had a life, hopes, and dreams… and she gave that all up.
Korra had no use for distant, unsympathetic spirits. How long since they last felt the earth breathe beneath them? She needed someone who knew what it meant to be an immortal spirit with a human heart.
She curled up against Naga’s side, pressing her back deep into the warm fur. The sweat chilled rapidly on her skin, but she didn’t feel it. She only had eyes for the sky. What did it feel like to give your life for the world?
Do you ever feel this lonely?
There was no answer. Only the wind raking through her long dark hair. Her eyes prickled as she turned to bury her face in Naga’s shoulder, clinging as if her grip was the only thing keeping her from flying to pieces. I don’t know if I can do this.
Chapter 3: Steam
Air Temple Island has a hot spring bath, and Asami isn’t used to public bathing…
A startled flurry of splashes greeted Korra as she strode into the bath.
”Hey, you okay over there Asami?” Korra settled on the rocky side of the spring to pull the last tie out of her hair and toss her robe on the rack. Without further ceremony she slid into the hot water.
The Avatar stretched luxuriously with a little groan and a soft ‘pop!’ of something sliding back into place, then slumped boneless against the wall. “Aah, that’s good.” Her dark hair pooled around her in the water like tendrils of seaweed.
After a moment’s silence she peered bleary-eyed through the steam and grinned. She could only see an indistinct pale-and-dark form at the far end of the bath. “You’re sitting pretty far away.”
Asami, who got more than an eyeful of the Avatar’s lean muscled form – and was thinking of changing her middle name to “mortified” - slid further down into the water. She fervently hoped the heat would hide her flushed cheeks. Oh my. This was an unexpected development.
Chapter 4: Shadows of Scars
Asami discovers something interesting about Korra. Aang’s death was not without consequences for the Avatar spirit.
There were many secluded beaches on Air Temple Island. It was dumb luck they ended up in the same place at all.
Asami was going for a swim, but what she found was Korra sprawled on her belly on a bench. She didn’t think she’d even seen the girl sit still, but with recent events she wasn’t surprised the Avatar was tired. Korra was only wearing an old fashioned bathing suit – chest wraps and short skirt in her ever-present water tribe blue. She looked so vulnerable like that, even with the scars from her battle with Tarrlok.
The heiress had never seen Korra with so little clothing, aside from that – her face heated at the thought – the incident at the hot springs. Her memories of that particular occasion were a jumble of mortification, muscles playing under dark skin, and other feelings she didn’t want to think about. She didn’t want to think about it, but she found herself irresistibly drawn to the sleeping figure on the bench. Asami crouched and propped her chin on her fist.
Korra’s head was pillowed on her folded arm, the other dangling off the bench to brush the ground. Her dark hair was unbound, softening her face in a way that made her look a lot younger. Asami’s hand froze mid motion. She’d almost tucked a strand of hair behind the girl’s ear, as if she had any right to touch. Korra stirred, and a sliver of blue peered between dark lashes.
“Wat’er… what’er you doing, ‘Sami?”
“Nothing!” Asami’s mouth went dry. She grasped for something, anything as distraction. “What’s this?”
Overcompensating to show her innocence, her hand dropped to trace the irregular star on Korra’s upper back. It was about the size of her spread hand. At the center it was dark red like a burn, but toward the edges it faded to a shade paler than the avatar’s skin. The texture was rougher than she expected.
Korra shivered, a small sound catching in the back of her throat. “Your hands are cold.”
“What is this?” Asami repeated, attempting to ignore the way her heart drummed in her chest, the fact her thoughts were anything but innocent.
“A birthmark.” Korra grimaced. “I know it looks bad.”
“I didn’t mean-“
“No, no… it’s fine. Most people react like that.” She pushed herself up to her elbows and cast Asami a measuring glance. There was a new shadow in her eyes since her narrow escape, and it pained Asami more than she would care to admit. ”What were you doing anyway?”
(to be continued?)