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love is brightest in the dark

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The dreams have always been a part of her. As much as the water that runs through her veins and the green lights that dance above her head. They were otherworldly and oddly spiritual. They always start out the same.

She’s stumbling through the woods, her lamp guiding a path that needs no light, a path that she has walked and ran a thousand times over, an unknown sense of urgency guiding her forward, dragging her along to her destiny, or at least what feels like her destiny.

Then she’s underground, dim and cold and more than a little afraid. And then it’s just the two of them. And she isn’t as afraid anymore and the urgency that guided her feet is gone and replaced with the urgency that is them. Being together. The love that they both are controlled and moved by. Having and holding, the both of them clothed in their destinies that shouldn’t be intertwined, that shouldn’t be threaded together, but are.

And then their guiding lights are cast aside and the lights of her home are above her once again but they’re not the same. They’re different. They are fragmented and still. But none of that matters. All that matters is that the two of them are there and for the moment, they are safe. They are protected by destiny and their hearts and a gentle green glow that echoes back to the future somehow, she just knows that it does. But that safety never lasts. The love never lasts. She is ripped from it.

And then she wakes up feeling ancient and mysterious and like a part of her is missing. She has always felt like a part of her is missing. And she has given up the hope that she would ever find it.

The dreams aren’t always the same. They used to be darker and more dizzying, but over the years more of the pieces have fallen into place. The images have become clearer and the sense of urgency that follows her around is less intimidating. She still doesn’t have all the answers, she doesn’t have any of the answers if she’s being honest, but it doesn’t bother her as much as it used to.

And then everything comes together and falls apart all at the same time. It starts with the boy in the iceberg and then with the angry boy in the armor that he doesn’t quite fit in, or that doesn’t quite fit him, she thinks.

She doesn’t put the pieces together then, of course. But the dreams come more often after she leaves her home of ice and she thinks that she has found her destiny. After she has found herself. After she has found him. And after he finds them. Over and over and over again.

And then it all comes together. Right in front of her.

She’s pacing and thinking and feeling like she’s been here before and then she sees a light.

“You’ve got company.”

And there he is. Looking as surprised and bewildered as she feels.

“Zuko.”

And then the darkness is back, clawing at her with its familiarity and mystery.

And then she’s overwhelmed with a force like a tidal wave, no like a tsunami, and the force is so strong that it makes her physically ache and she drops to her knees, head in hands gasping for air. And when she finally manages to pry her eyes open after the surprise of the wave she is shocked to see Zuko is a mirror image.

Zuko opens his eyes and sees her and she feels unbelievably vulnerable. He’s illuminated by the green glow that has chased her dreams and her life and she feels something shifting within her and she tries to fight it, but she knows deep down that there is no fighting whatever is about to happen.

“Are you, are you okay?” He rasps, sounding worse for wear and she swears on her life and all the spirits above and below that she’s heard him say that to her before.

“I just-“ she begins but then falters. Weighing her options, weighing her trust in the strangely familiar enemy boy before her. What would happen if she told him? What would happen if she told him that she’s been having these anciently prophetic dreams for as long as she could remember and ever since she met him they’ve been happening more often and now he’s there and she’s there and all of this feels like it’s happened a thousand times before in a thousand lives before them?

But she’s feeling that wave, that tsunami, that same pull that she feels in her dreams and she wants to. She wants to tell him. So she does.

“I’ve had these dreams for as long what feels like my whole life. For what feels like lives before mine.” She tries to figure out exactly how to phrase it from there, knowing, just knowing that she sounds crazy and that he probably thinks that she’s crazy and that doesn’t even matter because he’s the enemy and regardless of what she feels right now, regardless of the monsoon happening in her mind and her heart and her chest, regardless of the onslaught of waves that have taken up residence in her body, it doesn’t matter what she tells him.

“And all of this, just, feels, just feels familiar?” He asks in a voice so quiet that she doesn’t think that he meant for her to hear him. But of course, she heard him. Of course.
She looks at him, actually looks at him for what feels like that first time and although she’s seen his face a dozen times before, she feels as if though this is the first and the thousandth time seeing him. And she finds herself gasping for air once again.

She sees his eyes go wide and he moves closer to her and she knows that she should move, that she shouldn’t allow the enemy to get so close, but she’s grounded, she’s rooted and she knows that she couldn't and that she wouldn’t move for anything in the world right now.

“I’ve had dreams for a long time, too.” He whispers, staring at her, at her soul it feels like. It’s unnerving and exhilarating all in the same breath.

And then in the same quiet voice that he’s used since being thrown down here with her, the same voice that is a far cry from the boy that she knows but is an astounding echo to the dreams that have chased her, he tells her.

He tells her of a war-torn town. He tells her of darkness and a green glow and a love that is always ripped from him no matter how many times he tries to stop it. He tells her of the pull, of the draw to what he calls his “personal sun.” He tells her how he is woken up after being thrown into perpetual darkness after that sun is eclipsed.
And then she thinks that maybe he’s always been a part of her. Or that maybe she’s always been a part of him. Looking at him for the first time, even through the lens of fear, she felt something tugging at her, tugging at her brain. He was familiar, like walking through her threshold after a long day- or seeking much needed respite in her furs on a cold day. He was familiar and foggy and fearsome and ferocious and fierce. And she felt, no she knew, that he was hers and she was his. Bound by something ancient and transcendent.

Katara feels like she’s falling, like she’s falling but it’s okay because she knows that he’s there and that he’s going to catch her.
“Oma?” She whispers, not sure if she believes herself.

“Shu.” He responds, closing eyes that look on the verge of overflowing.

So fall she does and then she moves closer to him, she doesn’t even realize that she’s doing it, she is outside and inside her body and that same ancient force is moving her forward and pulling her closer to this boy that suddenly realizes she’s known her entire life. And then he moves closer and then his lips are on hers.

And it’s soft and gentle and sweet and everything she’s ever known. It sets the kindling in her to soul afire. It sets her ablaze. And she knows that she will let it consume her. She knows that it already has. But it does not burn, it only warms. And she knows in that instant that she has found her sun.

And then they’re both catapulted into their mountain. And they’re surrounded by that warm green light and she opens her eyes and for a moment she knows that she isn’t looking at Zuko, but Oma and her body feels like it’s going to explode.

And then a voice as old as time, as familiar as the stars in the sky and the heat of the sun and that waves of the ocean whispers “Love is brightest in the dark.” And then they’re back in the catacombs, stumbling away from each other.

And she has no idea what just happened. That’s what she tells herself. But she’s lying. She knows. She knows that her destiny is not what she thought. She knows that her destiny is standing in front of her. She knows that the sun to her moon is right there and before she can say anything about what just happened, what they just discovered her friends are there and she’s whisked away and so is Zuko.

And then, just as everything has come together, it all falls apart. Just like her dreams. Like his dreams. Like their dreams.

And then he betrays her and even though she knew she couldn’t trust him it hurts. It feels like her heart has been ripped out. Like her sun has dimmed. Like her moon and her stars have gone missing from the sky. And she can swear that she sees that regret and dread in his eyes. She can see the sorrow weighing down his limbs as he fights with his sister, as he fights against them.

Then Aang is hurt and they are gone and he’s gone and she’s sure that she’ll never forgive him.

But just as she knows that the Northern lights are dancing in her home’s nighttime sky and in her heart, that he will come back and that she won’t lose him again.