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ATLA: Outcast on the World (Katara & Mai)

[personal profile] sohotrightnow organized [community profile] avatar_minis: Katara. I was assigned [personal profile] qwertyuiop, who requested Mai and Katara, diplomatic relations, and secret ninja-ing.

Title: Outcast on the World
Author: voleuse
Fandom: Avatar: The Last Airbender
Pairing: Katara and Mai
Rating: PG
Summary: And we too are glad, making ourselves at home among the averted gaze.
Notes: Post-series.



Home, Katara found, was colder than she remembered, and smaller. The village was being rebuilt, a shining, solid spiral expanding past the horizon, but she retreated to her grandmother's tent, gifted to her after Kanna had married Pakku, months ago.

In the afternoons, she shuffled through ships' manifests, logs of supplies and reparations traveling that long passage from the rest of the world. Three of the younger children started following her, hiding as if she couldn't hear their giggles. One of them carried a stick in her belt, brandishing it as she dashed under tent walls. Two of them would be waterbenders; Katara could feel their talent, like an ice floe splintering under the summer sun.

And one day, a scroll came to her hand, the seal marked with a series of slashes Katara didn't recognize. She broke the wax, read the message, and smiled.

One of the children bumped her writing table, and Katara flicked her hand to gather the ink that splashed from its bowl. Little Nukka popped up, her eyes wide with apology.

"It's okay," Katara said. The girl crowded close to Katara, watching the ink twist in the air. Katara gently guided Nukka's arm into a bending pose. "Can you feel it?"

Nukka squinted for a moment, then squeaked. "Uh-huh."

"Try to follow it," Katara instructed, and she let the ink swirl, curl into a tight ball, before it splashed back into its bowl. "Did you feel it move?"

"Uh-huh," Nukka repeated, smiling wide. "Will you teach me more?"

"Soon," Katara promised, "but not now." She returned her gaze to the scroll. "I'm going to visit the Fire Nation."

*


The journey was longer than she remembered, though both ship and airship were faster than Appa, though the war balloon was not. She landed on the shore of Roku's Island, desolate even in the kind evening light.

"Katara," Mai said, emerging from a makeshift pavilion. Her robes were less elaborate than before, but something gold glinted in her hair. A dagger, or a slivered crown.

"Hello, Mai," Katara replied. The balloon had settled, and at Mai's wave, the scant crew went about the business of disassembling it, hiding it from plain view. When they were fully distracted, Katara stepped closer. "It's good to see you, but I'm not sure why you needed my help here."

Mai shrugged, though a smile flickered across her lips. "They've been told we're brokering marriage contracts for the nobility."

"Marriage?" Katara blinked. "Why would you need me for that?"

"You're the only Water Tribe princess," Mai said. She shifted. "I mean, since--"

"I know." Katara folded her arms together. "I forget, sometimes." She gazed up at the moon, barely risen. "Why here?"

"Officially," Mai said, "this was Avatar Roku's home. It's to honor the Avatar."

Katara's attention snapped back to the present. "Is he--"

"Not yet," Mai said.

"Then why am I here?" Katara asked again. "Why aren't there more people?"

"You passed another island as you flew here." Mai stepped closer, the blades in her belt barely scraping together. "There are pirates hiding there."

Katara frowned. "More of them?"

"Some of them are escaped Fire Navy officers, but others are from the Earth Kingdom." Mai's voice was hushed, her eyes on the crew, now relaxing around a fire.

"Oh," Katara responded, considering the political implications. "Zuko can't send the Fire Navy after Earth Kingdom sailors."

"No," Mai said.

"But the two of us could," Katara observed.

"Yes," Mai said, and the glint in her eyes matched Katara's. "For modesty's sake," she said, in a louder, rounder voice, "we should take our rest far from the crew."

"Definitely." The moon shone bright above them, and Katara felt the ocean tugging at her skin. "We are very modest, after all."

The crew nodded respectfully as Katara and Mai walked round the bend of the island. When they were finally out of sight, Mai wrapped her arm around Katara's waist, and then the waves rose up to meet them.

*


They returned before dawn broke, but only just. Katara willed the seawater from their robes, and Mai cursed as she discovered she'd lost a blade. Katara giggled.

"We'll have to return again," Mai said. "That other ship might return."

"Sure," Katara said. They strolled back around the island, and in the distance, the crew members were stretching. One of them was casting a fishing line into the water, singing a ballad Katara didn't recognize. "What'll we do until then?"

Mai shot a wry glance at her. "Negotiate marriage contracts," she said.

"What?" Katara choked. "You weren't joking about that?"

"We never joke about alliances," Mai replied. She paused, her hands disappearing into the sleeves of her robe. "Here." She grasped Katara's wrist, pressing something in against her palm. "Uncle Iroh asked me to give this to you."

Katara uncurled her fingers. The White Lotus tile was cool and heavy in her hand.


###

A/N: Title and summary adapted from David Wheatley's Gable End. Link courtesy of breathe_poetry.

Originally posted here.

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