He couldn’t understand how he knew where to go before he reached the beach, his footprints marked on the cold sand as his bare feet walked through the shore searching for her. Something in his blood told him she would be near the rocks where the waves crush and the foam bathes the stone.
He blessed his senses for being right. She was sitting on a rock, her feet swinging near the water and she looked like a spirit; glowing and magnificent, her silhouette cropped by the moonlight.
He came to a halt and stood a few minutes observing her in awe, taking in every single detail of her form, memorising her dark skin, her dark hair and the way her hand waved the water underneath her. He always loved the way she moved when she waterbend.
Katara shivered and he was brought back to where he was by her face turning to him, her eyes meeting his in surprise.
“I need to talk to you.” He said as he approached her and sat next to her, his eyes now fixed on the calm waves.
The sounds of the birds above them and the waves pulling and pushing, crushing on the shore and stone, cleared his mind of dark, hatred thoughts and he glanced at her.
She was shivering, her visible skin pale as she tried to warm herself with her hands and he instinctively took off monk tunic and placed it around her shoulders.
Katara looked at him in surprise; her lips parted and ready to argue.
“I’m a firebender. I can warm myself.” He said before closing his eyes for a moment. He left the energy of his deep breath rush its way up his chest and when he exhaled it, a small puff of fire came out of his mouth immediately warming him.
He looked at her and smiled widely and she returned it whilst she tightened his tunic around her.
Aang searched for the right words to say, the silence between them obviously uncomfortable. He felt the cold wind from the sea like a caress on his naked upper body and he looked at her.
“I’m sorry.” He finally said, the courage burning now within him. She looked back at him, her expression confused. “I’m sorry for my attitude at the theatre. I was completely blind by that stupid play I just let my emotions control me and didn’t even thought about your feelings. I know it was a reckless thing to do after you’ve warned me that you were confused.”
“Aang…” she started but he raised a hand toward her, his gesture a clear sign he wasn’t finished.
“I was so focused on my own sentiments, thinking that you could at least feel the same, I just took everything for granted. The play tricked me; it led me to believe I was nothing more to you than a little brother, a sweet guy you cared about. I’m not going to lie to you; it hurt.”
Katara’s eyes widened at his last words and for a moment they were clouded. He just looked away, focusing his attention on his feet and he left another puff of fire warm him.
“It also hurt me seeing you upset, clearly displeased with my attitude. But I needed to know if I had a chance to be with you, if you loved me the same way I love you.”
He didn’t need to look at her to know that she had held her breath and was staring at him with a shock expression. He had showed her his feelings but this was the first time he was actually saying the words, declaring himself.
She moved and his face was abruptly turned to face her, her eyes filled with tears. He couldn’t understand what she was thinking, what she was feeling for her face was a mixture of several emotions. As for him, being that close to her with his heart open was good enough.
“Aang, I didn’t want to hurt you.” She said calmly. “Believe me when I tell you that is the last thing I want. But…”
She lowered her head and closed her eyes, taking a deep and long breath.
“I’m just scare.”
Her affirmation confused him but at the same time sent a wave of relief through his body when he recognised she wasn’t denying him.
“Scare of what?” he asked in a whisper.
Katara sobbed and she washed a tear before murmur her answer.
“Scare of losing you.”
That only sentence, those four words made Aang’s heart race speed and he placed a hand on Katara’s chin and lifted her face to him, her eyes still closed and the trail of a silent tear still on her pale cheeks.
“I’m scare of admitting my true feelings for you and then… and then lose you.” At her last words she opened her eyelids, her blue eyes foggy with more silent tears and she looked right at him. “Aang, I don’t want to lose you.”
Aang smiled vaguely and wrapped his arms around her, the heat of her body warming him as her words echoed inside his mind, each sentence she pronounced a pure delight to him.
“You won’t lose me, Katara.” He whispered as he kissed her head and she sobbed.
He let her cry; feeling her cold, salty tears on his chest as she slowly let all her pain out. Then, she pulled away from him, washing the remains of her tears as she looked back at him, her face red and wet. He placed a hand on her cheek and caressed it with his thumb, his own eyes wanting to be filled with tears but he swallowed them.
“I wouldn’t bear losing you, Aang.” She said placing her hand on top of his and squeezing his fingers. “I almost lost you once and it broke my heart. When I thought the Spirit Water didn’t work, when I thought you were dead, I felt something being ripped from me. I guess that was the moment when I truly understood what I was feeling, when I’ve realised that you were more than just a sweet little guy.”
Aang felt his cheeks burn and Katara giggled at his embarrassed but overwhelmed expression. She caressed his face briefly before taking his hand and look down at them.
“At the invasion, when you kissed me, a part of me felt so happy and relieved for knowing you felt the same it overcast the fear for a while. But then, the realisation of your words and reason why you had kissed me struck me and somehow I’ve decided not to let my feelings overcome me.”
“So, you really are the Avatar’s girl?” he asked with a grin, the question overpowering all his senses as Katara smiled back at him and chuckled at his words. “At the invasion everything seemed so right, so easy like it was just defeating the Fire Lord and then come back to you. Then we never spoke of what had happened and I didn’t want to push you, to make you decide before you were ready. But this stupid play made me realise that I needed to tell you my feelings before it was too late.”
“Somehow we were both scared. You were scared of being too late and I was scared of being too soon.” Katara said looking back at the moon. “I guess this is the perfect time though.”
She turned to face him with a wide smile on her lips and he felt his insides twist and turn at her sight. They moved at the same time, leaning forward and slowly closing the gap between them, their lips now touching in a soft and tender kiss.
In Aang’s mind this was their fourth kiss, although one of them was his fantasy during a very hard day before the invasion, but in some way it felt like their first kiss or at least what their first kiss should be like.
She wrapped her arms around his neck and his hands were framing her face, both deepening the kiss. For Aang, a bolt of fire exploded inside him creating a firework of new feelings that begun boiling in his veins.
For him, the war seemed too far away, lost in time for he thought it had stopped in that moment only for them. He had to make sure he would survive the final battle, to be back in her arms and kiss her. He felt blessed for having such a wonderful person who loved him back, who knew him more than anything and who believed in him. He could feel the way she was afraid of losing him by her grip, her arms tightening them closer.
He stopped cursing himself for being a jerk that night. If he hadn’t kissed her on the balcony, if he hadn’t seen that stupid and somehow wonderful play, perhaps he would never be kissing Katara like that, would never have heard her saying that she did had feelings for him. In some way he blessed that play for opening his eyes and he thanked Zuko for his words.
“Baby, you’re my forever girl.”