Katara watched her son as he slept, snuggled deep in the furs. His little chest moving the white furs slightly as he breathed in and out. Hakoda leaned down and pressed a finger to his grandchild’s head, smoothing a nonexistent wrinkle in the 6-month old’s brow. “He is dying, Katara. He cannot survive in the south. There is not enough sun.”
“But I can’t leave him.” She said, not quite able to stifle the sob that left her. She felt like her heart had been ripped out and stabbed in front of her. Hakoda reached out to his daughter and held her in a tight embrace. Katara felt the hot tears slip down her cheeks as she felt the warmth of her father’s chest reaching out to her.
“Not forever, Katara.” Her father said softly. Age had wrinkled his face if she was looking Katara could tell which lines were of war, the others of love, misery and laughing too hard over a bottle of gin. Each wrinkled made him more loveable than the last. Hakoda had never remarried after the war, only encouraging his children to find their own love. Katara thought she found that more comforting than she should have.
“But I can’t tell him…with the rumors.” She whispered.
“I know. But he will die here and you are needed here. We need to rebuild.”
Katara looked down at the snowy floor of their igloo. “Just until this threat is over, then…then I will go live with him in the Earth Kingdom.” She wondered how long it would take for her to help with the rebuilding. Bending only helped so much but with the new inventions coming out of the Earth Kingdom she had to wonder how long. Katara hugged her father tighter, her mind opening instinctively to scan him for injuries. She found it then, a large lump on his spine.
“Dad!” She pulled away looking at his abdomen. She summoned water automatically to her hands to help at least ease the pain he must be in.
“I have been feeling it for a while, let it go.” And she understood, he wanted to die. He didn’t want to be plagued by the war anymore, or the paid if the loss of his wife. Katara’s heart which was already on the floor shattered into a million pieces. She nodded, respecting his decision.
Hakoda nodded, “I will send a message to Suki to come visit. Your brother would not take this well.” Katara Flinched at the thought of her brother’s reaction, as she thought about Aang’s reaction. How would they view her? Loose? Immoral? She had always been the one to play by the rules, and now this. One drunken decision and led to her little boy.
She nodded silently unable to speak, the pain of having to give him up was almost as bad as watching him die in front of her eyes. Hakoda continued to speak. “Its high summer in the earth kingdom, he will recover quickly.” He looked at her then, fatherly love in his face. “You need to tell him.”
“There is too much on his plate as it is Dad.” She leaned down and touched her son. His little warm body only snuggled deeper into the furs.
“Kazza will be okay Katara. Sokka has a son about his age, they will grow up as brothers.”
A sob ripped from her throat, “But that means I’m not his mom anymore.”
“Katara, you will always be Kazza’s Mom, help us get situated with the new delegates and the rebuilding. You know that will though suspicion off of you and Kazza.” And help his into his passing she thought. From the size of the tumor and where it was located, it would spread fast ending his ability to see, or breath. Finally, the last of his words penetrated her grief-addled mind.
Katara looked up at him in surprise, what had her father’s network of spies heard, had she found Katara? Never had her name come up in any reports. Now that the avatar had left her she simply was not that interesting. “Rumors?”
“Yes, my three favorite ones are you are going to rule the Northern pole, you are marrying the earth king, and that you are a concubine to a high-ranking minister in the fire nation.”
“What can I say I have a very active social life.” Memories of the night she fled the Fire Nation attempted to take her attention, she ruthlessly shoved them down. If they remained on the surface too long then she would tell and that would put Kazza and his father in greater danger than they were already in. “Send for Suki then.” She said softly and hardened her heart.