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Written for halfamoon: 14 Days Celebrating Women.

Title: Grief Arrives Delayed
Author: voleuse
Fandom: Avatar: The Last Airbender
Characters: Dangerous Ladies
Rating: PG
Disclaimer: Not mine.
Summary: Before you know it, you are another femme fatality.
Notes: Spoilers through 3.11

i. Azula

Azula didn't remember the first person she killed. Sometimes, she wished she did--it seemed like she should keep track of these things, if only so the palace historians could record her glorious past in accuracy.

Most of the time, however, she didn't care. One life was the same as another, and obstacles were meant to be obliterated.

She knew, however, that she must have been very young. She couldn't remember a time when her mother hadn't looked at her with fear behind her eyes.

ii. Toph

Toph knew she scared people sometimes, because she could feel their heartbeats quicken, thump-thump-thump, when she turned her face towards them. If they didn't know her, she scowled, because she was blind, not an idiot. She couldn't see into the future, couldn't see into the past, couldn't see into their thoughts.


She tapped her toes against the earth, felt the grains shift against her skin. If they knew her, she clapped her hands together, sent a ripple over to them. Made them jump, because it made her laugh.

They knew her, but only a little. Toph waggled her fingers at them, and only the dirt understood her meaning.

iii. Mai

Mai learned to play with knives at an early age, because at one point, her nurse told her she shouldn't. They had watched her father's guard drill in the courtyard, and though her nurse had stilled her shivers until they were out of sight, Mai remembered the disgust in her eyes. (She disappeared a few weeks later. Mai never bothered to ask why.) "Stay out of their way, Mai," she had said. "Those blades are dangerous."

Mai snuck into her father's study that evening, her head bowed.

He rifled through the papers on his desk for a long while before looking at her. "Yes?"

She raised her eyes, and her gaze landed on a letter opener, the edge glinting. "I would like to learn how to fight," she murmured.

He stared at her, tapped his fingers against the desk, falling into a slow stutter. He tilted his head. "I think that would be wise," he mused, his voice indistinct.

She began training the next day, and within the month, her father introduced her to the princess.

iv. Suki

The iron bit into Suki's wrists every time she struggled. She saved her movements for when the guard brought in her meal, spooned slop into her mouth with a smirk. She swallowed the food because she needed the strength, and she let blood trickle down her palms because they had not broken her.

When the guard disappeared again, she leaned against the wall.

She kept waiting.

v. Ty Lee

At night, Ty Lee danced.

Azula and Mai sparred, their expressions matched, though they never spoke their anger. Ty Lee spurned the flame and the blade. She flipped over the boundaries of their fight, pinwheeled past the guards, who faced inward. Azula shouted after her, but Ty Lee escaped--she could disable Azula, but she also knew what would happen after that.

She still had nightmares about it, sometimes.

At night, Ty Lee wandered the corridors of the palace, marveled at the way her feet squeaked against the polished floors. She put her hands against the walls and wished somebody, anybody would smile at her. She wished for music, and the sky.

At night, Ty Lee burrowed into the plush comforter draped over her mattress. She stared up at the rich, red canopy over bed, and she missed living in a tent.

vi. Katara

Katara could hear Hama's laughter in her ears, could hear her taunting voice every time she looked at someone with anger, with frustration, with hurt.

She wished she had never met Hama, because before, when she spread her arms, she could feel only water: the rush of underground rivers, the gathering clouds above, and always the thrumming patience of oceans afar. Water was pure song in her mind.

Now, when she opened her hands, she felt sweat underneath her companions' skins, blood wending through their veins. Even the slosh of their bellies, and she swore she would never let them eat soup around her again.

It was so clear to her now, despite her reluctance, and she wondered if Hama had been the first to learn this forbidden art. She wondered if she would dare ask Gran Gran when she next saw her.

Then, Katara moved her thoughts to something else, because the next question was one she didn't dare ask herself.


A/N: Title and summary adapted from El Alacrán Güero by Sandra Cisneros. Link courtesy of breathe_poetry.

Linked on halfamoon.


( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 14th, 2008 11:56 pm (UTC)
The ladies of Avatar are all pure awesome, and you captured the essence of why they're so compelling. Lovely fic.
Feb. 18th, 2008 06:32 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much!
Feb. 15th, 2008 12:14 am (UTC)
That's really excellent. I love all the ladies of Avatar, and I especially love the way you've brought out Ty Lee and Mai here.

And I'm waiting for canon to show us how Katara deals with bloodbending.

(That's a great poem. I love Sandra Cisneros. Thanks for the link to that, too.)
Feb. 18th, 2008 06:36 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much! I'm glad you liked it.

And I ♥ the poem as well--her poetry was a wonderful surprise.
Feb. 15th, 2008 03:00 am (UTC)
This is great! V. creepy. I especially like Azula's, the way it hints at layers beneath layers of her personality. (I'm normally not a big fan of Azula, but that bit just struck something.)
Feb. 18th, 2008 06:40 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much!
Feb. 15th, 2008 10:22 pm (UTC)
You write Avatar fic! I love this. I love the way you brought each of them to life. Well done!
Feb. 18th, 2008 06:41 pm (UTC)
Just a couple so far, but yes! =)

Thank you so much! I'm glad you liked it.
Feb. 16th, 2008 01:58 am (UTC)
Oh girls on tv.
Feb. 18th, 2008 06:41 pm (UTC)
I know, right?
Jul. 13th, 2008 05:26 am (UTC)
How insightful! You definitely have captured their voices and characteristics beautifully. Great job!
Jul. 14th, 2009 11:26 pm (UTC)
These are nice, distinct, sketched portraits of the characters.
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )

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