Three Years After
Ai was looking into the full-length mirror with a look of wonder on her face. Her three best friends stood around her, each with beaming smiles on their faces as they looked at her. She was dressed in traditional Fire Nation robes for her wedding day.
Her wedding day. She couldn't believe they were finally getting married. They'd been dating for three years, but it still seemed like they'd met yesterday to her. Her marrying a commoner had created quite a stir among the Fire Nation citizens, especially the older, more traditional ones. Ai was surprised at how well her future husband was taking his transition into royalty. He would make a wonderful prince.
“Are you ready?” Ayame asked. Ai could just feel the excitement in her friend's voice even if it was no where close to matching her own.
“Yes,” Ai said in a determined voice. She was set on making it through the ceremony without puking. So far, that was proving to be a tough task. She grabbed for Ayame and Kazuna's hands as she walked towards the door but avoided touching Ichiko's hand. Ichiko wasn't very touchy-feely, and Ai would rather not have any broken bones on her wedding day. Nonetheless, Ichiko offered her friend a genuine smile that was for once not related to someone being in pain. Then again, Ichiko probably did consider Ai's position painful. She'd never been the romantic type.
As a Ai walked down the hallway towards the large room filled with her family, friends, and various “important people” from around the world, she was relieved to have her three best friends beside her. Without them, she'd probably be back in her room panicking about what she was about to do. At the end of the hallway, she found her father standing outside of a large set of doors. He smiled at her, and although panic washed over her at the thought of walking through the intimidating doorway, she found herself smiling back. She wrapped her arms around his middle and squeezed as tightly as she could. “I love you, Daddy,” she whispered as he hugged her tightly.
“I love you too, sweetheart. Now, let's get you up that aisle.” Ai opened her eyes and pulled away from Zuko to see that her best friends had already started the journey through the crowd. She smiled at her father one last time as she took his arm and started towards her future husband.
7 Years After
“I look stupid,” Ichiko grumbled as she stood next to Ayame. Both were in the traditional wedding dress of a Kiyoshi warrior. It was a lot like their normal uniforms except a little fancier...and girlier. This explained why Ichiko was so uncomfortable. Ayame was sure this was Ichiko's first time ever getting this dressed up.
“You're getting married in just a few minutes,” Ayame told her soon-to-be sister-in-law, “At least pretend to be excited. She shook her head in exasperation at the death glare she received.
“At least you're not as nervous as I was,” Ai spoke up from her spot next to Kazuna.
“This is why I'm glad Kazuna is my maid of honor,” Ichiko muttered, “She doesn't say things in a pathetic attempt to cheer me up.” This time, Ai was the one glaring. She decided that Ichiko was dealing with her nerves by becoming even crabbier than usual, and decided to keep her mouth shut.
“Just shut up and get moving!” Ayame snapped, “I'd like to get married sometime today!”
Ichiko's face showed a brief glimpse of what could have been fear before she moved calmly towards the door. She stopped when she felt something being put into her hand. Looking down, she noticed a white handkerchief. “You may need it,” Kazuna told her quietly. Ichiko scoffed at her best friend and remarked that only sappy people cried at weddings. Later, Ichiko returned the soaking wet handkerchief in embarrassment.
10 Years After
Kazuna squealed in delight as she and Ai jumped off the zeppelin and ran towards their two best friends. They were coming from the Fire Nation where Kazuna had been staying for a few weeks. Ai had decided to accompany them on the return trip in order to surprise Ichiko and Ayame on Kiyoshi Island. Unfortunately, they'd been unable to control their excitement, and the plan slipped out in their letters long before they'd arrived. “I have such exciting news!” Kazuna exclaimed as she finally let go of Ichiko. She glanced conspiratorially at Ai, who was already in on the secret.
“Let me guess,” Ichiko said, “You're finally getting married.”
Kazuna looked at her in shock. “How can you possibly know that already!?”
Ichiko's eyes did their usual rolling motion. “For starters, you two have been dating long enough. It was bound to happen sometime. Secondly,” she paused briefly to smirk at Kazuna, “you're just as bad at keeping secrets in letters as you are in person.”
Kazuna blushed, “I guess the surprise is ruined.”
“Not completely,” Ai smirked, “You still haven't told Ichiko the best news.”
Another smile found it's way to Kazuna's face. “Oh yeah, I almost forgot! I want you to be my maid of honor, of course, and I've been giving a lot of thought about the bridesmaids dresses. I've decided to go with hot pink.” Kazuna, Ai, and Ayame burst into laughter at the horrified look on Ichiko's face.
14 Years After
Kazuna beamed down at her friends. She'd been close to bursting for days in anticipation of sharing the great news with them. She'd sent out letters to each of them a week ago, asking for them to come visit her in the Southern Water Tribe, and they'd only just arrived. Before she could speak, however, Ichiko said loudly, “Let me guess, you're pregnant.”
Kazuna visibly wilted. Then anger seemed to build up inside her. “Why must you always do that!?” she exclaimed. Ichiko's ability to read her like a book got really annoying at times like these.
Ichiko just smirked and leaned back in her chair as she muttered, “Congratulations, Kazuna.” Her tone of voice didn't match her words. She sounded as if it was of no real importance to her whether Kazuna had children or not. Kazuna knew that Ichiko really did care, even if she didn't wish to show it, and that was enough. “At least now you can come along on those stupid 'play dates' Ayame always sets up when we're all together,” Ichiko continued as she sunk back in her seat and crossed her arms.
“They are not stupid,” Ayame defended, “The play dates are an excellent opportunity for our children to have fun and become just as good of friends as we are!”
“But why do we need to plan them,” Ichiko said in exasperation, “Why can't we just say, 'Go do whatever you want,' and be done with it?”
“You don't understand the importance of an official play date,” Ayame sniffed as Ichiko mocked her quietly.
Kazuna glanced at Ai, and they both stifled giggles. Some things never change.
18 Years After
Kazuna glanced around the crowded party in an effort to find her closest friends. She'd left the children with their grandparents. Katara and Aang were always happy to take them off her hands for a bit, and the children loved them. She was hoping to find Ichiko, Ai, and Ayame, so they could go somewhere to talk, just the four of them. It had been a while since the four of them had been in the same place at the same time and didn't have kids hanging off of them. Besides, Kazuna had never been one for parties anyway, so she would use any opportunity she could to escape.
After a few minutes, she spotted Ichiko and Ai conversing next to a long table with a wide array of different foods laid out across it. Ichiko was munching on some type of meat, while Ai surveyed the room. Ai smiled as she caught Kazuna's eye and motioned for her to join them. After a couple of brief hugs and greetings, Kazuna asked if they'd seen Ayame.
“She was here a few minutes ago, but ran off without much of an explanation,” Ai said, once again glancing around the room, “You know how she is. She'll show up again and explain herself.”
Sure enough, Ayame emerged out of the crowd ten minutes later. “Where have you been?” Ichiko asked before sticking a grape in her mouth.
“I needed to check my makeup.” As soon as she said the words, Ichiko's eyes rolled and Ai and Kazuna shook their heads in exasperation.
After catching up about things such as their husbands, children, and life in general, the subject somehow turned to the past.
“Can you believe how long it's been since we were kids?” Ai asked as she glanced wistfully around the Fire Nation palace's courtyard that they had spent so much time in when younger. “We have so many memories of the four of us in the palace, even at Kiyoshi Island, the South Pole, or the Air Temple. It's so weird thinking back on all of that and to realize how much has changed.”
After letting out a burp, Ichiko speaks up, “Things haven't changed that much.” She laughs, and the others join in.
“I guess that's true. Some things will probably never change,” Ai laughed.
Author's Note: Wow, I don't really know what to say now that this is over. I started writing this almost three years ago. It's crazy to go back and read the earlier chapters because I think it's obvious how much my writing style has changed throughout the years. Hopefully, it was for the better, but I'm not really an accurate judge.
I want to think every single person who ever read this, and I especially want to think the people who reviewed. Every single review made me happy to read it. I love hearing what people say about this story and my writing.
My fanfiction.net profile will probably stay quiet for a while. Now that this is finished, I'm going to be working on a piece of original fiction that I kind of put on the back burner in order to get this done. If you're reading this on my writing blog, you guys may be seeing some teasers for that story on there, but it will be a while before you get to actually read it. Once it's done, I'll do one of two things. The first option is post all of it on my writing blog and my Fictionpress account. However, if I think it's good enough, I may attempt to get it published. The second option has about a .000000000000000000000001% chance of happening, so I'd be looking for it on the blog or Fictionpress.
As for fanfiction, after finishing my original story, I plan to write a series of Hunger Games one-shots for the 100 themes challenge (if you want to know more about that, message me and I'll give you the link). I'm definitely not giving up on fanfiction. I don't know when I'll write another Avatar fanfiction though. I'll probably get sentimental at some point and post a one-shot or two that ties into this story. If I do, it'll be posted on fanfiction.net with the other one-shots and on my writing blog. If anyone has any ideas for a one-shot set in this story's universe that you want me to write, please let me know, and I'll probably write it.
I need to stop writing this author's note before it becomes longer than the epilogue itself. I hope all of you guys had as fun a time reading the story as I did writing it, and I look forward to reading your reviews. Thank you so much!