She doesn't like it. Despises it. She turns in bed. Dark coarse hair obscures the rest of the small bedroom.
Her hand goes for the woman's lengthy tresses and she quickly stops herself. She hates touching her and yet she longs for it. She turns on her side and dreams of death and sadly of her living Mother.
She does not like waking up and being told it's just a dream, it's just a dream. Because she doesn't want it to be a dream. She deserves to be punished. She failed her nation, she failed Father.
Katara makes sure she takes her medicine every morning and she hates that about her. The way she tries to help her with everything. She makes everything perfect. She makes everyone be nice to her and hides books and newspapers. Anything that links to her past.
One night when she decides to put an end to this hell she calls a life. Katara presses against her back and slides the bloody knife from her shaking hands. She whispers sweet nothings and impossible promises. She takes her to the bedroom and kisses her head until she falls asleep. In the morning the cuts are gone. They always are.
The heat in the room is almost unbearable but she stays in her arms the rest of the early morning.
Most days she is quiet. She has overcome the habitual temptations to scream and destroy everyone and everything around her. In its wake, a solemn, quiet Azula was born.
Katara never seemed to mind her silence but it disturbs the others. The way she stares out the window and says nothing. Doesn't even react to Sokka's words of petty insults or Aang’s childish anecdotes or Zuko’s awkward push for a normal relationship. But today Katara does mind. She's screaming at her to speak, to "say anything!"
She leaves the room crying as Azula continues to look out the window.
Katara is crying when she enters the small bedroom. She's sitting on the edge of the bed, hunched over with a paper crushed in her hand.
Usually she would just put a hand on her shoulder but this time Azula pulls her further into bed and holds her tight.
Some time in the night Katara's breathing softens and the obituary slips from her fingers.
"I think we need to get out, you know... to enjoy the summer."
Azula can see through her lie but she gives a soft nod.
Over the next two weeks they spend their days in the earth kingdom. A place she thought she would never see again, but here she is grabbing a cold drink for her and Katara as they lay by the beach.
It is their last night before they head back to the fire nation. So they sit under the stars in silence as the tides lap softly on the sand.
Soft sniffles break their comfortable silence and Azula pulls her in close. Katara breaks, she shudders hard as waves of agony leave her through her heated tears and open-mouthed wails.
Azula wishes to calm her. To tell her everything will be ok but she only sits there and allows herself to be Katara’s anchor.
Because although everything will be ok, that part of Katara will never be the same.
The tide has been forced forward and cold water slams against the shore, showering them in a mist of freezing water. Azula shivers at the immense power of the water bender and Katara only cries harder.
Katara clutches her hard, nails nearly breaking skin as if she was afraid to lose her as well.
Azula holds her even tighter.
The next day she is the complete opposite, all smiles and back to coddling Azula. They talk of anything but the previous night.
Everything goes back to ‘normal.’ Katara showers her in happiness and shields her from the past, the hurting and Azula stops fighting it. She embraces it, allows Katara to brush her hair, bath her, hide the ugliness of the world from her, in hope that just maybe she could help Katara. Bring her some semblance of happiness as well.
A fake happiness. A facade to hide the pain of losing a brother.