Chapter 1 : The one with the brownies, air bending training and a Welcoming ceremony
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"Okay Emma, are you ready?" Grandpa called from his balcony, looking down over the iron railings at my cousin and I on the ground. It was weird to see my cousin in the orange and yellows of air bending clothes, I was so used to seeing her in water bending colours- blue definitely suited her better than orange, but we couldn't all look good in Orange like I did. After three weeks of air bending training, we'd finally got Em to try on the traditional clothes. She wasn't happy, but she'd have to lump it. I didn't like the clothes at first.
"Grandpa, shouldn't we do something a little...easier?" Em replied, eyeing the wall in front of us with a look of deep suspicion.
"Its best to just dive right in with air bending Em, and I know you can do this. Plus with the spirit welcoming coming up, you need to be ready" I said wisely.
"Vida is right child. The spirits are easy to displease, miscommunications can lead to trouble- trouble that you, as the Avatar will need to straighten out. You have trained to master the other elements, but for the welcoming air bending is more important than ever. Your job will be easier the more you learn" Grandpa told her, and Em sighed, knowing that no matter how much she tried to argue with us, she'd be running up that wall whether she liked it or not.
Spirits and humans have had a very long and rocky history. In the very beginning Spirits and humans shared the world; well, not really shared. Humans lived atop the Lion Turtles for safety, and spirits roamed.
Then things changed when the first Avatar came around and Spirits and humans were separated onto the two different planes. Only the Avatar could bridge them. And then of course the spirit world was opened once more and all-in-all it was a little chaotic.
The new age, that was born from the actions of Avatar June, seemed to be working better than the last. The spirit portals were very weak; spiritual people could access the spirit world too, spirits could enter our plain if they were strong enough, and once every half-century, the Avatar would open the spirit portal, and spirit and human would be fully reunited once more. Benders would perform dances and rituals to please the spirits, and if all went well the next fifty years would be peaceful. If not...well I wouldn't be visiting the spirit world, that's for sure.
"Grandpa, what if I can't open the spirit portal?" Emma had asked when we were first told about the welcoming.
"Calm your emotions child; though you may not remember, you have done this many times. When the welcoming comes, Rava will guide you" Grandpa soothed, smiling warmly "But I cannot train you for that. I can however train you to be an air bender. So, we must begin the hard work!"
"Ugh, air bending is hard. I thought it would be easier than the other elements" Em groaned, collapsing in an ungraceful heap on my bed, nearly squishing Jinjin and scaring him senseless. I scooped up my pet, who was grumpy from growing pains, and deposited him on my chest of drawers. He twitched his wings, which had turned jewel bright and bold for the summer months, and tucked his head under his little paws.
"you're doing great Em; It took me four tries and a broken finger to get up that wall" I told her breezily, grabbing the stack of clean washing that Mum had brought up earlier and sending it around the room to it's rightful places with a flick of my wrist and a funny whooshing noise. Emma gave me a dirty look and I laughed.
"I'm so not going to be ready for this spirit welcoming ceremony; It was a little short notice" She grumbled, and I shrugged.
"I know, but you're the Avatar! You’ve got Rava to guide you, as well as all your past lives!"
"That's not reassuring when I haven't seen any of them before. Knowing my luck they'll all bugger off to the pub and leave me to it" Emma muttered, and I sat on the box at the foot of my bed, rolling my eyes at her dramatics.
"How about we don't think about the ceremony stuff; we have a full week in the city to explore! We could go and see the firebending acrobatics, the pro-bending- we could show our plus ones the bison sanctuary and the parks and-"
"Vida, the second we get there the council and the master air benders will be all over us like a rash; do you really think we'll be able to go and watch pro-bending?" Em asked, and I huffed.
"Must you rain on my parade like that?" I demanded, and she smirked.
"I'm the Avatar; I'll flood your parade if I feel like it" She told me.
"Well, It'll be fun anyway, and look at it this way; If you mess up the welcoming and the spirits get all annoyed, everyone has like fifty years to forget about it"
For some reason Em was not reassured by this, and made an excuse to go and 'pack' before rolling off my bed and leaving the room. I knew she'd gone to sulk, since she and I had both been packed for days.
"I think she's overthinking things" I said to the room at large. A soft snoring noise told me that Jinjin wasn't listening.
"Are you excited for your trip Vida?" Gran gran asked, sitting next to me on the grass. With the welcoming so close the spirit world had gotten so much clearer; the thick white mist had faded and I could see a massive field, full of strange plants that glowed and swayed in the windless air, flowers that weaved through the long grass, and mountains in the distance.
"Of course; every bender who can is trying to find and get into the city, and we were personally invited. I mean I know that's because Emma is needed for the ceremony to start, but still..." I grinned, and Gran gran chuckled.
"Your Grandfather let me know that you will be leaving early, and taking a friend with you. I remember the city very well; I hope the Eastern park is still as romantic as it was in my time"
I blushed, knowing what she was thinking.
"Did Granpa tell you who I was taking?" I asked. She looked very smug.
"No, but your expression did child. Who else would you take besides your best friend? Though he's a little more than that now...your grandpa did tell me that"
I focused on a little spirit that was running through the grass, trying not to turn red like fire bending robes. Grandpa had been the first person I told about Al becoming my boyfriend, I should've expected him to let Gran gran know.
"Gran Gran, what's the spirit welcoming like?" I asked curiously. Grandpa hadn't really gone into much detail about the welcoming itself; he'd been far too busy preparing Emma for the technicalities of it. Gran gran's expression turned slightly dreamy.
"Well, let's see how much I can remember. Now I'd just given birth to your Aunt; we were in the city, and your Grandpa wanted me to stay put and rest, but I was far too stubborn, so I strapped Allison to my chest and snuck out. I missed the morning meditation and preparations, but I was just in time to watch as the people lit lanterns above their doors, paint arrows and patterns on their homes to remind the spirits of their history together. When night fell, the city fell silent; no one spoke. People returned to their homes, ate a meal in silence together, dressed in brightly coloured clothes, and then we waited"
"Waited for what?" I asked, eager to hear the rest of the story.
"For the spirits. The Avatar and a group of spirit masters had travelled to the highest point of the world, where the spirit portal has ended up, and they opened it. Oh, it was so beautiful. The sky lit up as if the sun had doubled back on us, and spirits exploded upwards into the sky, all dancing and glowing. They began to spread across the globe, and some came down to dance with us. They made their songs, and we were able to speak again, and that's all I remember"
"That sounds...incredible" I breathed "But what if the non-benders see?"
"They will see child. Some will see the spirits for what they are and won't be afraid. However some won't, as it always is, and for those the council have been working with non-bending leaders to come up with an excuse as to why this is happening so it won't cause wide-spread panic" Gran gran explained, and I nodded, watching the little cat-like spirit as it pounced on a flower nearby.
"Gran gran, when the spirit world opens, will you be able to come through?"
Gran Gran was silent for a moment, watching the sky, and I watched her. She seemed to be younger than I remembered her in life; her hair wasn't white, but steely grey, flecks of brown here and there as if it was turning back to it's old colouring. Her wrinkles had faded a little, freckles more prominent on her skin, and I could see her youthful beauty returning to her. Maybe the old stories of the spirit world were true; you de-aged, right back to being a child, and then a baby, and then even younger, and then you were re-born into the world. I wondered how long it would take for Gran Gran to reach the point of returning to the living as someone new.
"I don't think so, Child. The affairs of these spirits have nothing to do with me. But you can always see me here" She said, and I smiled.
"It is. Now, go back to your own world, where you belong; remember to visit the eastern park!"
"Vida, have you packed everything you need? Robes? Staff? Pyjamas? do you need a toothbrush, I have spares? What about-"
"MUM. You asked me all this two days ago! Can I please go now?" I interrupted, and Mum frowned.
"I did, didn't I? Oh spirits, this trip will be the end of me. Yes, go and get your guests, we're leaving at nine so don't you even think about being late!" She called, and I bolted toward the door, grabbing Emma along the way.
"Onward, noble steed, we have been in this dragon keep for too long!" I said dramatically, and Emma made a noise of offense.
"Oi, I'm not a steed!" She complained.
"Fine, be a dragon, I don't care. Just please can you apparate us to Al's, I haven't seen him since we got home"
"Wow, obsessed much?" Em teased, and I scowled.
"Kidding. Fine, I'll take you to your boyfriends, I'd hate to see you get arrested since you're not of-
"Oh thank you Emma bear! I owe you one!" I cried, and she rolled her eyes, though I could tell she was trying not to smile. We linked arms and turned on the spot, and for a moment I felt as if all my limbs were only attached to me with velcro and there was a rubber band around my insides, before the familiar deck of the Potter's back yard appeared under my feet.
"There, though this is the last time- you'll be seventeen on Sunday, I'm not being your taxi anymore"
"Don't worry, if it weren't for me being too young I would've got here just fine. Now, don’t you have someone to pick up?" I said sweetly, and Em raised an eyebrow.
"What's that tone for?" She asked suspiciously.
"Oh you know, you taking the lad you fancy to the most romantic city in the world...You didn't think you could hide Hugo coming with us from me, did you?"
Em scowled, and I giggled.
"I hate you sometimes" She said.
"No you don’t, you love me! I am your favourite cousin!" I chimed.
"You sure about that?" A voice asked from the house. Lily Potter was stood watching us, grinning mischievously, and Em's eyes went as round as saucers.
"You didn't- how long have you been stood there?" She asked.
"Only to hear Vida in denial. Come on in girls, Nan's just brought brownies over- they're sure to summon everyone in the house down, so you better get some whilst you can"
I was sold by then, and Em sighed as she followed me inside. The smell of brownies had infiltrated the entire house, and all three of us gravitated towards the kitchen, where Nana Weasley and Harry were sat at the table, holding mugs of tea and chatting cheerfully. We joined them gladly, and both adults smiled in greeting.
"Hello you lot, do you want a brownie?" Nana Weasley asked. I nodded and claimed the plate, taking a square of chocolaty heaven and tucking in. They reminded me of Gran Gran's baking; mum had tried to recreate her recipes with little success, but Nana Weasley mastered it effortlessly. Maybe it was a grandmotherly thing.
"These are amazing" I complimented, and Harry laughed.
"I can tell you don't get home made brownies at home" He said.
"Nope, Mum's given up and gone for smoothies and fruit cakes instead"
I'm pretty sure Harry pushed the plate closer to me in pity, and I remembered just how much I loved the Potter household.
As Lily predicted, the smell of amazing food did summon the residents of the house. Ginny appeared not long after we arrived, her nose buried in a half-written article on the match between the Holy Head Harpies and the Wimbledon wasps. She was muttering to herself as she flicked the kettle on, about 'shocking performances' and 'how the bloody hell did the wasps even reach the league'. Harry smiled and took the article from her hands.
"Take a break Gin, come and sit down" He offered. She nodded and joined the table, greeting her mother and grabbing a brownie.
"Hiya girls, are you here for the lads?" She asked, and Em and I nodded. Harry chuckled.
"Great; Al's been a right grumpy sod for ages, we were hoping you two would come and save us from it"
We laughed and Nana Weasley scolded Harry, who looked outraged.
"you don't understand! He's been mopier than Ron!"
"You're joking" Nana Weasley laughed. She stopped at the looks on the Potter's faces. Even Lily looked a little traumatised after remembering Al's moping. Em and I snickered.
"So, Al's the one that is clingy then" Em muttered, and I shoved her off her stool.
"Neither of us are clingy!" I whined. Everyone laughed.
"What’s all this noise about?" James' voice called, and he and Nikita sauntered into the kitchen, James immediately going for the plate of brownies, which had gotten a lot emptier than it was five minutes ago. I saw Ginny's eyebrow arch impressively.
"And where have you two been lurking?" She asked suspiciously.
"Garden" James said.
"Lounge" Nikita blurted simultaneously. Everyone at the table exchanged knowing glances and in Lily's case, grinned like a madwoman and made throat-slitting motions at James across the room. Lovely.
"So you were upstairs. What's the rule, James?" Harry asked. James hung his head in shame.
"No girls in our rooms. But Dad-"
"No excuses. I'm letting you and Al go on this trip with your girlfriends; I'm trusting you to be responsible. You've not even left yet and you're proving that It's a bad idea"
"Harry I swear we weren't doing anything. Doofus here wouldn't stop taking the mick out of Al, I had to separate them before they tore the house down" Nikita said, and Ginny smiled.
"What do you think?" Harry asked, turning to his wife. She looked pleased to be the one to give the verdict.
"Well I trust Nikita, and we broke the rules plenty of times when we were young, It’s a but hypocritical to punish them too harshly" Ginny said, and Lily pouted whilst James grinned.
"Thanks Mum, I promise not to break the rule again" He said, and Ginny laughed.
"Yeah right. Now sit down the pair of you where we can keep an eye on you. Hopefully we can keep you out of trouble long enough to see you off on this trip" She said, and the pair sat down, passing the plate of brownies around and everyone bullying James into making us all a cup of tea. He looked sulky about it, but with both Ginny and Nana Weasley giving him their signature looks, he didn't really have a choice.
Hello! So, first chapter of the sequel, ooh exciting! I was working on this over the summer before my netbook reached it's end- and I lost everything, which was slightly traumatising I'm not going to lie. But anyway, I re-wrote it, and I hope you enjoy it as much as you enjoyed Bending the Wind!
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