The Friday after prom, there was a day off from school since graduation was that night. Even though she had the chance to sleep in, Katara still woke up early. Deciding she didn’t want to just lay in bed, she got up and went to the kitchen. Grabbing a bowl of cereal, Katara decided to pull a Sokka, and watch ‘Queer Eye’ without him.
Smirking, she sat down on the couch with her cereal, turning on the next episode. Seems like Zuko was awake too, since he was now texting her.
Z > why is it the only day I can sleep in, I’m awake
K > haha me too, babe, no worries. How you feeling?
Z > nervous for some reason. Is that weird?
K > not weird at all! Completely normal if you ask me!
K > it’ll be okay
Z > Iroh will be there, so that’s good! Not sure about my dad and sister though….
K > do you even want them there?
Z > I don’t really know honestly.
Katara sighed, placing her now empty cereal bowl on the coffee table.
K > it’s okay you don’t know. But if they’re not there, they’re missing out.
Z > thanks, Katara. You’re the best
K > love you, babe.
Z > love you too ❤️
Katara smiled, texting Zuko as she continued watching ‘Queer Eye’. At one point, she forgot to answer Zuko, since Karamo was now having a deep heart to heart with the current hero and Katara was sobbing.
At around 8:00, both Gran Gran and Hakoda’s bedroom doors opened, and Katara quickly wiped her tears.
“Katara, what are you doing?” Hakoda asked, walking in the room and looking at Katara.
“Uh, watching ‘Queer Eye’,” Katara answered, pointing at the TV. When Hakoda smiled, Katara quickly said, “It’s emotional!”
“Did you eat?” Gran Gran called from the kitchen.
“Yep!” Katara called back.
She continued watching as Gran Gran and Hakoda talked in the kitchen.
About an hour later, Sokka walked in. “Hey, you’re watching ‘Queer Eye’ without me!”
“NOW YOU KNOW HOW I FEEL!” Katara yelled, standing up and pointing at him.
“ON THIS DAY! OF MY HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATION?!” Sokka yelled back, throwing his hands up.
Hakoda stuck his head out of the kitchen. “If you two wolves are done?”
“Sorry, Dad,” they mumbled in unison.
“Pause this,” Sokka said, walking towards the kitchen. “I saw this episode already, but you know what we’re doing for the next seven hours.”
“Deal.” Katara replied.
Katara liked it, sitting with her brother, watching Netflix. In the middle of their third episode together, Katara realized that when Sokka leaves, there won’t be moments like this for a while.
“Hey, we’ll still talk when you’re gone, right?” Katara asked, looking at Sokka.
“Uh, duh, Katara, of course we’ll still talk,” replied Sokka, giving her a look. “Now shut up, Antoni is cooking.”
Around 5:30, Katara took a seat with her dad and Gran Gran on the school bleachers, a graduation pamphlet in her hand. Uncle Iroh sat next to her, Aang and Toph in front with Suki’s parents.
“How long is this going to be?” Toph asked, propping her head on her hand. “I’m bored already.”
“Come on, Toph, be supportive,” Katara said, giving her a poke.
“We can just whisper about people we know,” Aang suggested. Toph beamed.
Katara rolled her eyes just as she saw Mai and Ty Lee shuffling along the bleachers. She stood up, giving them a small wave. When Iroh saw who she was waving to, he gave the girls a smile and motioned for them to sit next to him.
“Hello, girls, how are you?” Iroh asked when they sat down.
“Great, thank you Uncle Iroh!” Ty Lee exclaimed.
“Fine,” Mai replied, biting a nail. “Just wanted to see Zuko.”
“Azula?” Katara asked.
Mai shook her head. “No, she’s ‘busy’. Won’t even see her own brother graduate, what a joke.”
“And Ozai?” Iroh asked.
Mai shifted uncomfortably, but that was all Iroh needed.
“Despicable. Both of them,” Iroh said, shaking his head. “They don’t know what they’re missing. He’s been working so hard.”
“Well, Iroh, Zuko has you,” Hakoda told him, “You’ve raised a fine boy.”
Iroh gave him a small smile. “As did you, Hakoda. And a wonderful daughter as well.”
Katara felt herself blush.
Finally the ceremony started; Katara and Aang couldn’t help but giggle when Toph groaned loudly.
They all followed along to the principal’s speech, senior class president, salutatorian, and valedictorian. Before calling out the names, the principal informed the audience to hold their applause until after all the names had been called. Of course, no one followed the rules. For Zuko, Sokka, and Suki, everyone cheered as loudly as they could.
After posing with their diplomas, their parents, and friends, everyone headed back to Katara and Sokka’s for a cookout in the backyard. Hakoda grilled as everyone sat around chatting with each other.
Katara and the rest of the crew sat around a table, all joking.
“Everything is going to be so different,” Aang stated, leaning back in his chair.
“What do you mean, Aang?” Sokka asked. “I mean, we have all summer.”
“Yeah, but you guys won’t be here next year,” Toph added. “Weird.”
“You guys will get used to it,” Suki told them.
“I dunno, guys,” Toph replied, shrugging. “Maybe. Maybe not.”
“You have a phone, right, Toph?” Zuko asked.
“Then there you go,” Zuko replied, clapping hands a bit. “Call us when you need to. It’s like we’re there.”
“What about lunch?” Toph asked. “No phones allowed during school hours.”
“Make new friends?” Zuko teased.
“Easy for you to say!” Toph exclaimed, banging her hands on the table.
Zuko laughed. “Okay, Toph, I’m sorry. We’ll all figure it out, don’t worry.”
“Better,” Toph replied.
They sat there the rest of the night, occasionally an adult butting in to tell a funny story or ask a question. At one point, Sokka connected his phone to a speaker, blasting music. He and Suki stood up, dancing around the yard, others laughing.
“Come on, Toph,” Aang said, getting up and grabbing her hand, “let’s dance.”
“Twinkle toes, no!” Toph exclaimed, but still allowed Aang to drag her towards Sokka and Suki.
Katara and Zuko laughed as they watched their friends.
“I mean it, you know,” Zuko said, looking at her and taking her hand in his.
“What?” Katara asked.
“That even though I’m gone, nothing will change,” Zuko replied. “You call me when you need to.”
“Oh, Zuko,” Katara said, leaning into him, her head now resting on his shoulder.
“We’ll be okay,” Zuko told her, his head resting on hers. “We’ll always be okay.”
“Yeah, I know we will,” Katara replied.
The end of the year came quickly, Katara relieved it was finally summer vacation even though she was still going to be working.
The gang spent as much time as they could together: beach trips, movie nights, cookouts, and even shopping for college.
Though Zuko was absolutely nervous about moving to college, Katara could tell he was trying to hold in his excitement as well. She helped him and Iroh choose different lamps and even new clothes for him to take. At one point, she sat on her phone in the middle of Target as Zuko and Sokka argued about the right kind of shower caddy to bring and if they should bring more than one towel.
“Oh, please bring more than one towel!” Katara stated, tuning in at that part. “Guys, gross.”
“See?” Zuko exclaimed. “Your sister agrees.”
“I can just do laundry,” Sokka replied.
Katara slid her phone in her pocket, went over to the shelf, grabbed two towles, and shoved them into Sokka’s hands.
“Two towels,” Katara told him.
Thus was summer.
Katara started writing her college essay, Zuko reading over it for her. Though they were both working, they made time for FaceTime dates. They also knew that they didn’t have to be attached at the hip, or talk to each other everyday. Katara thought doing so will make it easier for when he moves to school.
Though it was hard saying goodbye to Sokka, Suki and Zuko, Katara found herself feeling excited for her friends’ new beginnings.
Sokka moved first, Katara in the backseat as Hakoda drove into Omashu, the car packed with Sokka’s belongings.
“You nervous, Sokka?” Hakoda askeg, eying Sokka from the corner of his eye.
Sokka was staring at the window. “I’m fine.”
Katara knew it was hard for Sokka to say goodbye to everyone. He kept it together for his friends and Suki, but when he said goodbye to Gran Gran that morning, he almost lost it. Katara had to promise him she wouldn’t tell anyone.
Once everything was unpacked and Sokka met his roommate, a boy named Teo, he seemed eager for Hakoda and Katara to leave.
“Call after your first class!” Hakoda said as Sokka shuffled him out of his room.
“Text me everyday!” Katara stated.
“Yep, yep, okay, bye guys!” Sokka said. “I need to call Suki soon, so see ya!”
Back in the car, Hakoda and Katara laughed. Sokka will be okay.
When it was time for Suki and Zuko to leave, Katara wasn’t able to go with them. The night before, the remaining crew gathered at Iroh’s for one last time.
“This time tomorrow, Zuko, we’re going to be college kids,” Suki said.
“Cheers,” Zuko stated, raising the soda can he was drinking.
When Suki, Toph and Aang left, Katara sat with Zuko outside, staring at the stars.
“You think she’s proud of me?” Zuko asked.
“Your mom?” Katara asked. Zuko nodded. “Yeah, I know she is.”
Zuko looked at her, a smile on his face. “I know your mom is too.”
“You’re an amazing guy, Zuko,” Katara told him. “You’re going to be an awesome teacher one day.”
“How about we just stay here for now?” Zuko suggested. “Here in the present.”
Katara laughed. “Yeah, here in the present.”
So they sat, in the present, staring at the stars together. They didn’t think about tomorrow, or the next day, or the next week, month, year. They just sat, enjoying each other’s quiet company. Nothing needed to be said between them, but Katara knew whatever life throws at them? They can handle it.