Characters: Sokka, Katara, Kanna
Summary: Stories about the Avatar are supposed to uplift, not irritate. No one told Sokka, however.
Notes: I originally wrote this foravatar_500, but it got too long and I found I couldn't cut anything. So here it is anyway!
Once upon a time...
...there was a time without an Avatar. A time that was spent in confusion and chaos. A time that was spent in fear.
Once upon a time...
...the Avatar faded from the collective memory, becoming a figure of myth told to children to entertain them while waiting for better days. Everyone knew that the Avatar was legend. Everyone knew that the Avatar was dead.
"...and when the people saw that Avatar Kyoshi was at their side, the will to fight ignited within their hearts and they stood up and helped her win." Kanna's voice was always so resonant with story-telling. Her age dropped away when she spoke.
"Wooow," Katara breathed out, her small face alight with her awe. "The Earth Kingdom warriors are really brave."
"Pfft," Sokka snorted, his arms crossed. He didn't like being away from the other boys for what he perceived as a stupid reason - mainly, that he was still too little for it. "They were wusses who didn't fight until some girl nagged them into it."
"Sokka, she wasn't just some girl, she was the Avatar!" Katara snapped back.
"She probably didn't even exist anyway! Everyone knows that the Avatar isn't real!"
"Sokka," Kanna broke in, sounding stern. "The Avatar may not be real now, but she - and he, at some points - used to be."
That seemed to quiet him, but only for a moment. "Well, then where is he now?" he answered, refusing to acknowledge that the Avatar may in fact be female.
"Stupid," Katara scoffed. "The Avatar is probably just waiting for when the time is right to appear again!"
"Oh, and when is the right time, when the Fire Nation kills everyone?"
"Sokka!" Kanna snapped. She rarely raised her voice to her two granchildren, but he had gone too far this time, especially when she realised that he had gone too far even for him; his voice had cracked at the end, and his face darkened with anger and sadness. Katara's face fell, and she looked away, dangerously close to tears.
There was a small silence before Katara spoke again, her voice tight. "You're so stupid, Sokka. Don't you ever get anything?" She rose to her feet and ran from the tent, a hand already to her face.
Sokka sat for a moment, his cheeks red, his glare directed at his knees. Kanna kept quiet for another moment, wanting her grandson's actions to sink in deep enough for him to realise just what he did.
"Fine," he said finally. "Maybe I don't get it. What am I supposed to even get?"
Kanna couldn't help but take pity on him, now. "The stories we tell about the Avatar," she said softly, placing a hand gently on the top of his head. He made a face, but didn't move. "They're not just to kill time during the long winter nights. Especially after what happened a few months ago..." He eyes darkened, and Sokka looked up at her, for the first time seeing pain on his grandmother's face. "We tell these stories to bring us hope."
"Hope," Sokka echoed, his eyes dark. "How can there be hope, Gran-Gran? The Fire Nation is going to win."
"Yes, I imagine that if everyone spoke and thought that way, they will win," she chided gently, giving his head a light nudge. The gesture brought a tiny smile to his lips, which brought one to hers. Sokka was always the cynic of the two siblings, always the one who found dreaming hard and reality harder. Out of the two, he was the one she worried about the most.
"They may be stories, grandson," she continued, cupping his face into her hands and staring right into his eyes. "But they are also history, not myth. Keep that deep in your heart, and you will find things easier to bear."
For a moment, Sokka looked as if he wanted to answer derisively, so that he could dismiss her words and laugh them off. But then his eyes wavered, just a bit, and he nodded against her hands. "Yeah," he murmured. "You're right, Gran-Gran."
She released him and smiled. "Now go find your sister and apologise," she commanded. Now he made a face, rolling his eyes and getting to his feet with a groan. He trudged out of the tent, and Kanna sat with her hands folded in her lap, her eyes on the closed flaps.
Once upon a time…
…the Avatar would be found in the middle of nowhere, by two children whose hearts needed him the most.