Monthly Archives: March 2016

Το φως

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Όντας φοιτήτρια με ρωτάνε συχνά
Απο χώρα σε χώρα, ποια η διάφορα;
Είναι η γλώσσα, οι τρόποι, τα σπίτια
(κοντά ή ψηλά;)
Κι εγώ γελαω και λέω πως όχι,
Ή μάλλον ναι, είναι όλα αυτά,
Και τα χαμόγελα που άλλοι δίνουν απλόχερα,
Και η κουζίνα και οι τρόποι μεταφοράς.
Μα πανω απ’ολα είναι το φως.
Το φως που ρέει χρυσο στα μάρμαρα της Αττικής
Και σ’αγγαλιάζει σαν παλιός φίλος,
Που παιζει κρυφτό στις ελιές και κανει την θάλασσα να λάμπει.
Το φως στην Αγγλία (κρύο ή ζέστη κι αν κανει)
Το βρίσκω ψυχρό, λευκό κι αστραφτερό σαν πάγο.
Φωτίζει τα παντα, καίει τις σκιές σαν προβολέας σε σκηνή.
Απόμακρος ο βόρειος ήλιος δεν σταματά
Με αυτους που τον καλωσοριζουν λιγα λεπτα να περάσει.

The view from up high

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I went for a walk a couple of days ago. No surprise there. When it comes to walking I’m a bit like abridged!Alucard (mum DON’T look it up!). Veeeeery enthusiastic. Now,  can’t remember if I’ve mentioned this here before but one of my favourite places to walk in is the area around the Acropolis in Athens. And contrary to my habit I actually took some half-decent pictures this time! Here we go then, photo album time!

The Acropolis rock from the Acropolis Museum veranda.

The Acropolis rock from the Acropolis Museum veranda.

Again the view from the Museum veranda. But from the other side. So much green and blue, I <3 it!

Again the view from the Museum veranda. But from the other side. So much green and blue, I

Aaaand that's the front of the museum. With it's modern look and see-through floor, because you cannot dig anywhere in this city and not find something of archaeological value.

Aaaand that’s the front of the museum. With it’s modern look and see-through floor, because you cannot dig anywhere in this city and not find something of archaeological value.

Apparently this was the top piece of the decorations on the front of the Parthenon. Am I the only one thinking it would make a WICKED cake decoration?

Apparently this was the top piece of the decorations on the front of the Parthenon. Am I the only one thinking it would make a WICKED cake decoration?

And this kids is what a receipt used to look like the 5th century BCE.

And this kids is what a receipt used to look like the 5th century BCE.

Went to visit my favourite girls. They miss they're sister who's off on an extended visit in London.

Went to visit my favourite girls. They miss they’re sister who’s off on an extended visit in London.

And here's the mother of all braid hairstyles. One that I will figure out on day....

And here’s the mother of all braid hairstyles. One that I will figure out on day….

Aaaand that's the front of the museum. With it's modern look and see-through floor, because you cannot dig anywhere in this city and not find something of archaeological value.

Aaaand that’s the front of the museum. With it’s modern look and see-through floor, because you cannot dig anywhere in this city and not find something of archaeological value.

Odeon of Herodes Atticus and it's fancy entrance. I've actually gone to a performance there. Acoustics to die for, seats...not so much.

Odeon of Herodes Atticus and it’s fancy entrance. I’ve actually gone to a performance there. Acoustics to die for, seats…not so much.

The road from the Odeon up to the Acropolis and the Areios Pagos hill.

The road from the Odeon up to the Acropolis and the Areios Pagos hill.

Bit of a stop on the way. I speak from experience when I say that this is a climb you don't want to do with bad shoes. The street is made of marble, polished and slippery from years and years of walkers.

Bit of a stop on the way. I speak from experience when I say that this is a climb you don’t want to do with bad shoes. The street is made of marble, polished and slippery from years and years of walkers.

There's actually two ways up the hill. This is the older (and significantly harder) one.

There’s actually two ways up the hill. This is the older (and significantly harder) one.

And this is the easier one.  Providing you're not wearing heals.

And this is the easier one. Providing you’re not wearing heels.

The view from the hill. And a photobomber!

The view from the hill. And a photobomber!

And the view from the other side.If you're ever in Athens in the late spring or summer, it's worth the climb if only to watch the sunset.

And the view from the other side.If you’re ever in Athens in the late spring or summer, it’s worth the climb if only to watch the sunset.

The flea market of Monastiraki, another favourite haunt of mine. If you like antiques of any kind it's just the place for you!

The flea market of Monastiraki, another favourite haunt of mine. If you like antiques of any kind it’s just the place for you!

One of the shops there, the Bead Shop (I just love translating), a hive if you like jewellery making. Beads, cords, clips... Whatever you wish for they have.

One of the shops there, the Bead Shop (I just love translating), a hive if you like jewellery making. Beads, cords, clips… Whatever you wish for they have.

All in all it was a wonderful day. There was music on the streets, smiles in the faces of the people, a warm sun above (and a fresh sunburn on my shoulders by the end of the day). All in all a wonderful day, the kind of I wish more would come more often.

Twilight of the Spirit World: Epilogue

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Author’s note: In which a short “x years later” snapshot is offered, the author teases the Korra canon in a hopefully subtle way and for once happy endings do not have strings attached to them. It’s been a journey and a half everyone!

Previous chapter: link

***Epilogue***

The summer sun heated gently the sandy beach and a gentle breeze caused small waves in the sapphire blue sea. It was a truly beautiful place, serene and picturesque, a place that would certainly calm the most troubled of minds.

“MOM! SUYIN AND BATO TOOK MY SCROLL!”

“Suyin Bei Fong give your sister her scroll back!”

“Bato! Start acting your age or your father will NOT be taking you ice-dodging anytime soon!”

Well, perhaps not all minds.

 

Not far from the seashore Toph and Suki were berating their more mischievous offspring, much to the amusement of their friends. With a huff Lin snatched the scroll that her pouting twin held and marched off to sit next to Zuko and Katara’s eldest, Izumi. Next to them, and closer to their parents was Izumi’s younger sister, Kya, and Suki and Sokka’s youngest (for the time being), Yue. The two little girls were watching in fascination Lin and Suyin’s little brother, Bumi, as he re-enacted an over-the-top rendition of the epic tale of “The Bear of Ba Sing Se”. If in the process he raised more sand than his sisters’ attempts at sandbending that was certainly not intentional.

 

With a huff the two women sat back down, Toph taking baby Tenzin from Aang. Suki turned exasperated to Katara.

“Was Sokka like that too at that age?” Katara chuckled.

“More or less,” she said, ignoring her brother’s indignant look.

“Is that true Councilman Sokka?” Zuko asked laughing. Sokka glared at him.

“I’m sure if Azula was visiting Fire Lord Zuko she would have some interesting stories to say for you too.” Zuko raised an eyebrow.

“No doubt about it,” he said dryly.

 

Before ribbing between the two men could escalate, or Toph could get involved, Kya happened to look up. Seeing a familiar portal opening in the distance she jumped to her feet, dragging her cousin up excitedly.

“Aunt Azula!” the two girls squealed in delight as a very pregnant Azula stepped out of the portal, with Ao on her side looking very much like he would prefer to be carrying his lover rather than letting her walk through the sand. The little girls were almost instantly at their sides, seemingly determined to drag them were the rest of their family was standing and approaching them at a more sedate pace.

“Wait little ones,” Azula said as she carefully kneeled to hug them. Yue giggled, feeling the baby kicked. “We have a surprise for everyone.”

“And what would that be?” Zuko asked, hugging his sister carefully and giving a friendly nod to Ao. The couple smiled mysteriously.

“Turns out that when Agni and Lia went up to that mountain of theirs, they weren’t just coming up with new firebending moves,” Ao said mischievously. Katara’s eyes widened.

“You don’t mean?” she asked. It had been nearly a year since Lia and Agni had last visited the mortal plane after all…

“Oh, yes!” Azula said enthusiastically. Zuko paled slightly. Two daughters and several nieces and nephews later this kind of code was no longer lost to him. That did not mean he cared much for the implications. When Azula and Ao had first told them they were expecting he had been torn between wanting to congratulate them and wanting to punch Ao. Sokka had actually punched him when they had announced they were expecting Izumi! Ao turned towards the portal.

“Well?” he called. “What are you lot waiting for?” Almost as if cued Agni and Lia stepped through, both with wide smiled on their faces. In Lia’s arms, wrapped in a white-gold blanket, was a new-born baby.

“Everyone, meet Kōjin,” Agni said softly as the portal closed silently behind them. Even little Tenzin turned curiously in his mother’s arms towards the new centre of attention.

 

The children immediately surrounded Lia, the shorter ones standing on their tip-toes in order to peer at the latest addition to the family.

“He’s so small!” Lin whispered, her eyes widening when Kōjin opened his eyes and turned slightly towards the sound of her voice. Lia smiled at the girl. Of all of Aang and Toph’s children she had been the one to inherit most of the blind earthbender’s brash attitude. And, like her mother, Lin tended to melt when around babies.

“Let’s go sit down,” the redhead said, “and you can hold him if you want.” Lin nodded eagerly and the group moved back to where they had originally been sitting.

 

Much later, when the sun was setting over the sea, bathing everything in a soft red glow, the entire second generation of the gaang was sat around Izumi as she read to them, with the occasional interruption from Bato, an account of General Iroh’s travels through the Earth Kingdom. Tenzin was napping in a blanket next to his father, too young to stay awake after a day of excitement, while the adults were talking quietly among themselves. Zuko turned to Lia, who was leaning against him contently.

“Are you happy?” he asked her. Lia looked around thoughtfully for a moment, her eyes resting at Agni, who was rocking Kōjin gently, lulling the baby to sleep, and gave her brother a soft smile.

“Yes,” she said. “I am.”

The End

Finding the one

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It was the best of times

It was the worst of days

But in the end

So long as we stood together

We could watch the world burn…

 

That’s what he told her with a smile

As she handed him the match,

And at their feet there stood

Piles of old photographs,

Letters, mementos of people they knew.

 

There were no tears-

There need not be.

As the smoke spiralled upward

They left the past behind

And hand in hand they walked,

Out to the sunlight,

Out to their own new world.

In which I ponder the word home

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Haven’t used this tag in a while, have I? Honestly I only stopped because I was having trouble coming up with names. I know mine a hardly the most imaginative of titles most of the time but let’s just say that usually they are what takes the most time in a post…. Also, this will be one of my all-over-the-place posts. I’ve been slingshotting between angry and hyper all day. Sometimes it sucks being a girl… So what’s with the title? Lately I’ve been doing a lot of interpreting of (sometimes badly) translated texts and that’s got me thinking of how concepts transfer from one language to another, from one time period to another. To use a hopefully not-cliché example, an elf in medieval England would invoke veeeeery different images than what Tolkien immortalised in his work….

  

Shrink the scale significantly (I love alliteration!) and you have a 20-something student wondering what exactly it entails to call a place your home. Is it where you come from? Can’t be because eventually you leave your parents’ house. Is it what official forms, rather unimaginatively, call “permanent address”? Can’t be that either. Students (or at least Yours Truly) have the habits of migratory birds: moving around a lot. Yes, you say, but even migratory birds have patterns. Ok, not my best metaphor but you get the point. Is it the place you feel most comfortable in? I suppose there’s a point there. But how can you feel comfortable in a place where you know you will only be for a very limited amount of time?

One of my flatmates was surprised at the amount of things in my room when she first saw it (posters, throws, books, decorative skulls…) I suppose that over the last few years things accumulated but strangely when my room was still undecorated, although it looked bigger, it also felt kind of…claustrophobic. Like a box… I guess turning it to an explosion of colours and patterns was my attempt to make it feel like a safe place if not a home. I’ve always been the kind of girl who will curl up under three blankets and half a dozen pillows when feeling down. I still remember waking from nightmares and hiding under my duvet not to hide from the shadows but because that was my little burrow and no one but me could enter without my permission. Ironic that I grew up to the girl who watched Rise of the Guardians and wanted to hug the Boogie-man…

But back to my point…(I had a point? Right?) Remember the inevitable playing-Sims phase when you’d spend more time designing houses than actually playing with your characters. Like this I’ve been daydreaming my first home for the last four years. By no means the castles I used to build in Sims 2, it’d be a one-bedroom flat, maybe with a tiny garden I can realistically take care of, but it’d be mine. Everything about it would scream me, because for once I wouldn’t have to co-ordinate with someone else’s preferences. True, I can only afford pre-furnished flats at this point, but the positive of incredibly generic flats is that you don’t need to work someone else’s sense of style. You get a simple basic (like good make-up) and work your way up. Also, the right combination of pillows, trinkets and fresh flowers can transform a room. I would know…

And who knows? Maybe it won’t take me a decade before I can afford to rent (no chance on buying and I’d like to avoid going in debt for as long as possible, thank you very much!) an unfurnished apartment and really let loose creatively. A girl can dream. Until then, that’s what Amazon wishlists are for. I’d stick to Sims, but unfortunately my laptop is not able to support the graphics.

Do I have a conclusion? Some sort of last minute revelation? I suppose if I were truly pressed for an answer I’d say that home is where you truly feel safe. Whether this is your parents’ place, the tiny studio you first rented with your own money, a mansion or the tiny coffee shop that you go to when you’re feeling down because the owner reminds you of your grandmother (and no, for once the example is not taken out of my life) it doesn’t matter. Bottom line, we all need a place to be ourselves and when we actually find it, it’s just beautiful.

In a fugue

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It’s been a…weird day. I woke up and fell asleep three times (no thanks to the assholes that thought loud music and open windows are appropriate in fucking midnight), got tenderly reminded by my bank of both my distressingly low account balance and jobless state and realised that my end-of-term o’clock mini-depression arrived just on time. What do I mean by that? Well, you know that state of constant hyper-awareness that you live in when you have a looming deadline, when everything is super intense and you begin to wonder exactly how many shots of espresso are in that cup anyway? To paraphrase Count Dooku, “Twice the high, double the fall”. Suddenly I don’t have deadlines (except for the blog-related ones). Suddenly my readings are for mid-April rather than mid-next week. Suddenly I realise I’m not quite sure what to do with myself now. Oh, I have ideas, things I want to do, things I kind of have to do (like laundry). But how?

All these thoughts in my brain before even breakfast, they just made me want to crawl back under the blankets and pretend the world ended. But if I’ve picked anything after four years in England is that the best thing to do is to ignore what the whining in my head says. So I pulled myself out of bed and in a half-decent attire and walked to town. Maybe a nice breakfast would help…To give credit where credit is due Aubrey’s  vanilla ice-cream, caramel biscuit, espresso crepe made me feel a little better. But not for long. 😦 So I moved on to the next thing on the list of things that usually work: walking around with music. And then the next: bookstore browsing. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. I’d feel better for a few minutes and then go back to wanting to cry in a corner. Or lay down and stare at the ceiling/sky. So I gave up. Yup! Don’t expect a miracle to happen. Not this time.

I walked home, fixed me some lunch and sat down to watch Hocus Pocus and the Witches of Eastwick back to back. And here I am now, still in that damn fugue state, only with two more movies to quote from and more dishes that need washing. I guess I’ll just have to chuck today in the Life-sucks bin and hope that tomorrow will be a little better. Or that a miracle will land on my lap. Hm….I wonder if I could get away with lighting anything bigger than a tea-light….-suspicious glance at ceiling fire alarm-  You gotta admit, sometimes you have to use the less conventional methods…

 

 

 

 

 

 

P.S. And before anyone panics, no, that does not mean I’m planning on setting anything/one on fire. I’m not the freaking Joker!

Twilight of the Spirit World: Homecoming

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Author’s note: In which the story is almost over, hints are dropped (some more subtly than others) and everyone slowly finds their own place.

Previous chapter: link

Next chapter: link

***Homecoming***

The morning that dawned was glorious, the sky awash with shades of red and gold that gave way to a vibrant blue. The whole Council City was buzzing with an inexplicable euphoria and people found themselves laughing and smiling without even being sure why. And in the centre of it all Lia could be seen walking around, looking more like her old cheerful self than ever. Sokka, the first to come across her in one of the gardens, had to make a double-take to make certain he wasn’t seeing things.

“Are you…alright?” he called after her uncertainly. The fact that fire lilies were spontaneously blooming around her was a little distracting. Lia turned to look at him with a bright smile.

“Just fine!” she said. “All is good in the world!” Sokka frowned and moved closer to look in her eyes.

“You haven’t been drinking sake again, have you?” he asked cautiously. She didn’t look drunk, but then again… Lia laughed.

“No,” she assured him. “Just had a really good night is all. Oh, and I passed Suki on my way here. She said that if she doesn’t have her leachy nuts soon there will be hell to pay.” Sokka gulped, appropriately fearful of his fiancé’s recent mood-swings and hurried back inside. Lia only chuckled and turned back to her original mission of finding her brother and assuring him she wasn’t about to lock herself away from the world.

 

In another part of the palace Zuko had decided that pulling the protective brother act when it came to Azula and Ao’s budding relationship would no doubt cause more trouble than it was worth. Azula didn’t take kindly people telling her what she can and cannot do and, to be fair, Ao had been nothing if not a gentleman. There was someone else however, with a close relationship to one of Zuko’s sisters who could use a grilling. The Blue Spirit was more than happy to help him with that plan and that was how the two of them ended up prowling the corridors, looking for a certain, recently-awakened Fire Spirit, hopefully before Lia came across him.

 

Agni, oblivious to the plans of his impending pain, had also been strolling around, too wrapped up in blissful memories to notice the two overprotective men closing in on him. Until his back was slammed against a wall that is…

“Seriously, why can’t anyone just call out when they want my attention?” he complained, wincing at the bruises that were no doubt forming.

“We just wanted to have a little chat,” Zuko said pleasantly and Agni decided that the bruises were probably the least of his worries.

“You see,” Ao continued, “we both view Lia as our sister.”

“And you have made her cry more than once,” Zuko picked up the speech, his smile replaced by a threatening look. “So, if you ever think of…”

“Boys,” a feminine voice cut through the string of threats about to be unleashed. “I think he gets it.” Agni gave Lia a relieved smile and easily shrugged off Ao’s and Zuko’s hands.

“I have never been happier to see you love,” he said, walking up to her side and wrapping an arm around her waist. “Well, last night excluded,” he added with a mischievous look and teleported the two of them to the other side of the palace before what he said sank in the younger men’s brain.

 

Too his surprise Lia didn’t even call him out on possibly traumatising her two adoptive brothers. Instead she waited until they had materialised in a different room before leaning against him and laughing hysterically. Agni started chuckling as well, too happy with life at that moment to bother finding an explanation as to why they were laughing. The sound of someone delicately clearing their throat cut through their mirth.

“So I take it you too have figured things out?” Toph asked sweetly, in a tone that everyone who knew her agree that was scarier than any yell could ever be. The two Fire Spirits looked up, although neither bothered disentangling from the other, to see not only the earthbender, but also Aang, Sokka, Suki and Katara sitting there, looking at them in amused confusion.

“Something like that…”Agni smirked, “Shorty,” he added for good measure. Toph raised an eyebrow and drummed her fingers against the floor. A faint ripple followed her movement and the two Spirits stumbled a little before regaining their footing.

“Nicknames are my shtick Lover-Boy,” she said. “Get your own.”

“What Toph means,” Suki cut in, pausing to sprinkle her bowl of grapes with a liberal amount of curry dust, “is that it is great to see you both well and happy again.” The others looked at her nervously as she popped some grapes in her mouth.

“Um…sweetheart,” Sokka said nervously, “Are you sure this won’t upset your stomach?” Suki looked at him and then at her bowl confused.

“No,” she said, “They taste great!” Katara and Lia exchange a suspicious look, even as everyone else gagged at the idea.

 

Short of Suki’s increasingly bizarre food combinations during mealtimes (and her increasingly violent reactions when it was pointed out to her that maybe rice and melted rock candy should not go together…) the next few days were peaceful. Everyone was aware that their time at the Spirit World was drawing to a close, even if they were not eager to acknowledge the fact. This however didn’t change the fact that they had responsibilities in their own world, responsibilities they could not ignore for much longer. So it was decided that at the end of the week, they would return. No one was surprised when Lia said that she would stay behind. There was much that still needed to be fixed in the Spirit World, and even if there hadn’t, it was obvious to everyone that she was not letting Agni out of her sight anytime soon. Although she did promise to Suki, in a tone that had the women in the group smiling in secret understanding and the men looking at them incredibly confused, to be there when the time came.

 

What did cause some surprise was Ao formally asking Zuko’s permission to court his sister. Azula had already talked with her brother (in what must have been the most awkward conversation the siblings had ever had) and told him that she wanted to stay behind just a little longer, explore the Spirit World like she hadn’t had the chance with a battle for all reality looming over everyone’s head. Zuko had grudgingly agreed to allow it, but only if she didn’t travel alone. Now, with Ao’s request, his mind could rest a little easier, not that that stopped him from tagging a threatening “and you had better be a perfect gentleman” to his assent.

 

In the end, it was a smaller group than had started that stood in front of the glowing portal that would take them back to the mortal world. Toph and Katara had returned their respective Crystals to the elementals they belonged to and Aang had said his farewells to Roku, so that it was only Agni, Lia, Ao and Azula that saw them off. With last minute hugs and solemn promises for regular visits by those who stayed behind, Zuko and Katara, Aang and Toph, Sokka and Suki stepped through the glowing energy to find themselves standing under a blazing sunset in front of the Fire Nation palace, with Ursa and Iroh there to welcome them back. And it would have been a bold-faced lie if any of them said that this didn’t feel like coming home.

Καμβάς

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1.

Το παράθυρο είναι ένας πίνακας

Και ο ουρανός είναι ο καμβάς μου,

Άσπρος, χιονάτος, απλώνεται παντού.

Που και που φως και χρώμα τυλίγονται

Σαν μανόλιες που χορεύουν ανθισμένες,

Ροζ και κίτρινες, στο τραγούδι των πουλιών.

 

2.

Βρέχει σήμερα κι όλα είναι κρυμμένα

Σ’ένα γκρίζο πέπλο μεταξωτό.

Στον βορρά οι βροντές βρυχώνται,

Όμως εδώ η σιωπή σπάει

Σαν τις σταγόνες στο τζάμι

Η μία μετά την

Άλλη.

3.

Η άνοιξη μας ξέχασε μα τα λουλούδια ανθίζουν,

Κροίκοι και νάρκισσοι και κερασιες,

Που το κουράγιο βρίσκουν,

Να ονειρευτούν τον μπλε ουρανό,

Την ζέστη στον αέρα;

Ποιο σιωπηλό ένστικτο τα καθοδηγεί,

Τι ξέρουν μα μας κρύβουν,

Όταν στην μέση του χιονιά φυτρώνουν και ανθίζουν;

#JustShowerThoughts

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Or late-night-insomnia thoughts really… You know, all those strange philosophical realisations that come to you at the most inopportune of moments. Here’s a selection of my most recent wut!moments, in hopes that if I type them I’ll stop thinking about them…

  • Why do all my great writing ideas come when I have nothing (or no time) to write them on?
  • Why do candidate posters for any sort of election make me less inclined to vote? Aren’t they meant to fire me up?
  • Why does Disney think that lime green in the colour of evil? No, seriously!

DR_FACILIER maleficent Scar ursula

  • How come I feel less cold when I go out on a sweater and flip-flops than when I’m all bundled up properly?
  • Why is basic maintenance so hard to do in student accommodation?
  • Is being Uchiha Madara like being the Dread Pirate Roberts, only with more explosions?
  • Why is “evil head turn” a thing? And why does nobody ever lampshade it?
  • Why does the Library catalogue computer show different results from the Library catalogue we have access through Moodle? (English student problems…)
  • Why are T&Cs written in such a small font?
  • I can’t be the only one morbidly afraid of answering phones, can I?
  • Is there some sort of (paying) job that mostly involves looking at beautiful landscapes and writing poetic descriptions about them?
  • If I am constantly sleep-deprived, why do I feel guilty when I wake up after eight in the morning?

Twilight of the Spirit World: Ever After

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A.N.: In which the various sub-plots begin to conclude, characters discover that sometimes good things do come out of terrible situations and Agni…well, I’m not spoiling this for you even more than I already have!

Previous chapter: link

Next chapter: link

***Ever After***

As it turned out the Council did not have any back-up armies hidden somewhere. In fact, it seemed they had bet everything on one decisive battle, much like the Avatars and their followers had. In the aftermath an uneasy peace had settled as those well enough to travel left for their domains and to inform those that had remained neutral of the situation. Some tentative talks of establishing a new Council had started but the consensus was that it wasn’t a first priority. Most Spirits were old and experienced enough to know how to fulfil their responsibilities without someone breathing down their necks after all. Nearly a week later and in the Council’s palace only a small number of the original arrivals remained, mostly those connected to the Elementals or the more seriously injured.

 

Among the last were also those hit by the black energy. The water Spirits, led by Yue, and Katara (who was holding on to the Water Crystal until the time came to return to the mortal world) were trying everything in their power and, while some progress had been made, most of the victims remained unconscious. Not being able to help much the rest of the gaang had taken to exploring, taking turns to make sure that Katara would remember to eat and rest every once in a while. And, amidst all that, Lia had completely disappeared. Zuko had gone to check on her the morning after she woke to find her room empty. They figured she was still somewhere in the city, but when the redhead didn’t want to be found then she would not be found even by the most determined tracker –not that Toph or Zuko had given up….–.

 

It was therefore no one’s fault really when some of those hit opened their eyes and the news didn’t reach her. Those that did hear however were relieved to learn that, other than complete exhaustion, no other side effects seemed to be lingering. Yue was hesitant to let them out of her sight just yet but she was confident that soon they would be well enough to be moved out of the healing chambers. Agni wasn’t among those first to wake, probably he had been hit in a much closer range but for the last couple of days his aura had been spiking and calming at odd intervals so they figured he would be up and about soon enough.

 

As it happened, when he woke up it was Azula who was the closest, having come to the chambers for some peace and quiet, away from the spontaneous parties that seemed to be springing up everywhere with no warning lately. So deeply she was absorbed in her thoughts, thoughts that centred on a certain lightning Spirit, that she didn’t notice Agni’s eyes opening until he spoke.

“Who rained on your parade Princess?” Azula turned her head so sharply, she could have sworn she heard something crack.

“You’re awake?” she squeaked surprised, wincing at how high her voice came out. Agni managed a small smile.

“Surprisingly yes,” he said, before pausing for a few deep breaths. He still felt so damned tired… “And surprisingly I found you of all people at my bedside.” Azula blushed a little. He had a point. While she didn’t fear his presence anymore, she didn’t go out of her way to be in his company either.

“It was quiet in here,” she explained awkwardly. Agni hummed in agreement.

“I suppose this means we won?” he asked, closing his eyes tiredly. Azula nodded and, realising he couldn’t see her, she added,

“Yes. Everyone’s been celebrating since those hit with the dark energy started waking.”

“What…about…Lily?” Agni asked, his words slurred by the sleepiness that caught him again. Azula turned hesitantly to answer and stopped herself. He had fallen asleep again. With a sigh the Princess stood and went to inform the healers. And if she was relieved not to have to explain to Agni that no one had seen his partner, well, who could blame her?

 

As it was Lia had spent the last few days in a non-corporeal state, floating around the palace and its extensive gardens. She had once told Katara that she didn’t much like to take her Spirit form, considering it impractical, and while she had been confined in the mortal world that had been true. Even in the Spirit world she tended to remain in her more human-looking state, in part to remind herself who she had been before she became fire incarnate. It was exactly these memories that she sought to avoid now, drifting around, visible only as the wispiest of smoke trails, only aware of the different incarnations of her element surrounding her. It was a serene, detached state of being, one that she would have easily made permanent if it weren’t for the most persistent memories and emotions still clinging to her psyche. Much as it hurt sometimes, she still couldn’t leave those she cared about completely behind….

 

It was with that thought being acknowledged that she forced her body and consciousness to be condensed back to her human-shaped form. As her senses slowly returned to her she saw that she was in one of the gardens, one of the older ones, with ancient trees shading the ground and Fire Lilies gently swaying at the breeze, reminding to the morose Spirit of drops of fresh blood. With a despondent sigh Lia sat against a tree, closing her eyes and momentarily blocking her Spirit-nearby-sense. Maybe if she tricked her mind in thinking that she just couldn’t feel him nearby, she could trick her heart into believe he’d come back…

 

A pleasant haze came over her, like sleepiness but not quite, and with it the sensation of warm arms embracing her. She smiled softly at what she was certain was a daydream, if not a hallucination, when a very real pair of lips brushed against her own. Immediately she pushed the person, not even pausing to see who it was, away from her, jumping to her feet and preparing to blast them away. Then her brain caught with her wide-open eyes and as fast as it had come her rage washed away. Agni was laying on his back in front of her, rubbing the back of his head, looking half-amused and half-exasperated and all-together alive.

“You really need to work on the way you greet people!” he grumbled. “You can’t still be mad at me!”

 

He really shouldn’t have snuck out of the healing chambers just yet. He still felt bone-tired and even trying to conjure the smallest flame took more effort than it should. But Agni hadn’t survived for millennia by listening to what others told him to do. And more than the fact he had nearly died he was worried about no one knowing –or knowing and not telling him – where Lia was. So the moment the chamber was empty of healers he snuck out. He had sensed her the moment she condensed back to her human form and headed straight for the gardens. When he saw her resting against the tree he had acted on impulse, not knowing what her reaction would be, and not particularly hopeful either. After all, he had foiled her attempts to save his life in saving hers… Lia had never taken kindly to people helping her without permission… And yet, even with knowing all this, Agni found himself surprised when he ended up on his back…

 

For once in her life Lia found that his snark could not get under her skin. Heck, she’d listen to him snark about anything and everything if it meant that she could have him by her side without worrying about omens. With a trembling laugh she threw herself in his arms, pressing her ear against his chest just to make certain that his heart was beating again. Agni looked at her bemused, but just as he began to ask her what was going on she looked up at him determinedly.

“I love you too, you know,” she said before leaning in to kiss him. For once Agni was more than happy to remain silent. The two Spirits were too absorbed by each other’s presence to notice the petite, green-clad figure that walked away quietly with a smile.

 

Toph nodded to herself, satisfied she hadn’t needed to take any drastic measures to make those two idiots talk properly to each other. Now all she had to do was to let the rest of her friends know. And collect the bet money from Sokka. It had taken them less than a century (starting at the making of the bet, Toph would insist later) to get their acts together. And really, the Water Tribesman had known her for what? Five years now? And he still thought he could win on a bet against her? The earthbender laughed at the silliness of men in general and went off to find Aang. With all that had happened they had had hardly any time to spend alone. And she had a few ideas regarding the restoration of the Southern Air Temple…

 

On her way to where she could sense Sokka and Suki sitting together, and no doubt saying sickeningly sweet things to one another, Toph paused at the sound of quiet talking. Walking closer to the half-open door, she leaned against the wall, unnoticed by Ao and Azula who were too engrossed in their discussion of travel plans to notice much of anything going on around them. It would seem the pull of the Spirit World had caught both the royal siblings even if it was in different ways.

 

Speaking of Fire Nation royalty, when Toph finally found Sokka (Aang was heading over in their direction anyway), Suki and him where sitting with Zuko and Katara, enthusiastically planning something. Toph filled the words “Earthbending police” for later before interrupting the impromptu meeting in her signature way.

“Pay up Snoozles!” she yelled, marching in the room triumphantly.

“What?” Sokka exclaimed startled. “No way!”

“Sokka!” Katara looked at her older brother disapprovingly. “What did you bet on this time?”

“Nothing!” he said in a high-pitched tone that fooled no one. Toph decided to stir his memory.

“Lia and Agni sitting under a tree…” she started singing. Katara and Suki forgot their annoyance with Sokka, instantly turning on the younger girl excited.

“Really?” Suki asked even as Katara exclaimed “Finally!” Toph nodded, satisfied at the reaction her news caused. Grumbling Sokka reached for his purse even as Zuko stood up and headed for the door.
“Zuko?” Aang said confused as the Fire Lord bypassed him on his way out. “Where are going?”

“To find Ao,” Zuko called over his shoulder.

“Last I saw, he was talking with Azula,” Toph called after him, cackling as she sensed the firebender’s steps speeding up. Aang looked at his girlfriend confused.

“What’s going on?” Laughing, Toph pulled him to sit next to her.

“Oh, Twinkle-Toes!” she chuckled. “Where to start?”

 

As it was the two overprotective brothers of Lia didn’t get a chance to corner either her or Agni that day, and by the time everyone had turned in for the night, their drafts on the Talk they would give to the male Fire Spirit had become more elaborate and significantly more violent to the amusement of everyone else. Lia herself had gone to bed in blissful ignorance of the schemes the two hot-heads were concocting. A few hours later she was torn out of her slumber by a nightmare. At least she hoped it was a nightmare…. With everything that happened during and after the battle she was having a hard time distinguishing reality from her visions and her visions from the simple nightmares that played on her fears. Nervously she jumped out of bed and, not wanting to bother with walking, teleported herself to Agni’s room.

 

Instantly a wave of sweltering heat hit her, relaxing her tense muscles. Agni, secure in the knowledge that most people wouldn’t be barging in his room uninvited, kept the temperature in there just shy of that of a lit fireplace, with small clusters of fire floating around the room, seemingly out of their own free will. Lia gently pushed one of them away as it came a little too close to her loose hair. With steadier steps than she would have thought likely she approached the bed, observing the man sleeping there deeply and peacefully. Or maybe not so deeply, she amended in her mind, when Agni cracked an eye open and smiled to her mischievously.

“You’re welcome to join me, you know,” he said, moving closer to the middle of the bed invitingly.

“You know,” Lia said with a smile, “I think I will.”