“So, this is what you’ve been hiding from me all this time” Al said, as we walked along the corridor in the complete opposite way to our lessons. I felt like a rebel, skipping lessons; it was a satisfying thrill. I nodded, tugging on a strand of hair out of habit, and slightly from nerves. Al knew about bending. He was going to see me bend for the first time (officially, since I kinda air bended during Quidditch tryouts). It was kind of nerve-racking.

“I wanted to tell you, I really did its just- well republic city wants us to stay hidden, like Wizards are to everyone else. Like the statue of secrecy sort of thing, it was killing me keeping it from you. I couldn’t tell you in case I got arrested and had my bending taken away, and trust me, that’s worse than having your wand snapped in half” I told him, and he nodded in understanding. He thought for a moment, and I saw his face fall a little. I felt a little stab of panic, before it settled, as he looked at me with almost sympathetic eyes.
“That- at Quidditch try outs. Emma took your bending, didn’t she? And your grandpa brought it back?”
“Worst three days of my life” I confirmed. He gasped a little, which surprised me; I didn’t know it had affected him that much.

“Wow, losing your bending was so bad- you didn’t even move Vida, you gave up on everything it- it was scary. I can’t imagine-
“Then don’t try, Al. I’m just happy I got it back. Everything is okay. You’re allowed to know about bending, and I’m about to beat my cousins up for underestimating my supreme air bending power”

He laughed at that, and we reached the next floor, listening to Emma and Nikita bicker about who was the best. I was convinced they would start the match early on the way, and hey ho- I saw a small fireball fly across the space and set Em’s robes on fire. She put it out easily. Hugo and James laughed, both of them with one arm around one of my cousins. It was nice to watch. James had an arm wrapped around Nikita’s waist and they were teasing each other lightly, Nikita setting her hand on fire for James to see, whilst Hugo had thrown his arm around Em’s shoulders and complimenting her on her bending. It was that kind of ‘that is so awesome’ type compliment, but still, Em was a bright red and not looking like she was gonna change back to her normal complexion any time soon. I giggled. How had I not seen this before? She really did like him; and didn’t I feel smug knowing about it. I didn’t tease her as much as ‘Kita did, because I knew that she’d get upset (and the Quidditch try outs reminds me of what happens when Em is upset so I don’t go too far), but I did occasionally give her a sly look when he was around, or wink or something that the oblivious Hugo wouldn’t notice. Nikita was never that discreet.

“Aren’t you bothered that they underestimate you?” Al asked with a frown. I shook my head and smiled.
“Nah, because I have the advantage in our fights. A lot of people underestimate air benders. We’re perceived as very gentle and spiritual, a long time ago we were monks and that made people think we were harmless. Like the Hufflepuffs of bending” I joked. He chuckled, and we went up another floor.

Jinjin squeaked from Al’s shirt and he emerged again, probably not liking sitting in a near-stranger’s shirt for too long. I reached over and patted his head gently, reassuring him that I was still there. Al chuckled.
“But” I continued “when we need to, we can create hurricanes and tornadoes so powerful they can tear cities apart. We can remove the oxygen around people and suffocate them, and we can contact the spirit world much easier than the others”
“The spirit world? Like where your patronus came from?” Al asked, sounding impressed. I was enjoying being able to talk about all this with him. It was like a wall had come down between us; he knew everything now, I didn’t have to keep secrets about bending anymore. It was wonderful. I could tell he liked this new topic of conversation as well; everything I’d avoided talking about, he knew why now. And he understood. He wasn’t being angry or judgemental, and somehow, in a way, I knew he wouldn’t; because I knew Al couldn’t do that.

“Yeah, that’s where they all live. Since most benders aren’t magical at all, they summon their spirit animal through meditation and things like that. Either way it serves the same purpose. Grandpa taught me how over the summer, he was surprised at how quickly I managed; though I think being a witch helped”
“So, if a normal muggle bender went up against a wizard, who would win?” Al asked. I shrugged.
“I guess it depends on how good they are. But I’d say a bender, because they could just bend the wand away; and then what would the wizard do?”
“No way! The wizard could just stun the bender” Al argued, a competitive gleam in his eyes that always appeared when he and Hugo argued over who would win at Quidditch. Al insisted that the Wimbledon Wasps were better than the Tutshill Tornadoes, but Hugo was having none of it.

“But the bender would be too quick” I replied. Al shook his head.
“I don’t think so”
“Well then, have me a duel. I’ll bend, you use magic; I bet I win”
“Vida, you don’t know what you’re getting yourself into” Al warned, and I chuckled.
“Come at me”
“You’re totally going to lose” Al said in a sing-song voice. I rolled my eyes.
“No I’m not. Later, we’ll duel. And I will kick your non-bender arse to republic city and back”

Al laughed and nodded as we reached the wall that the room of requirement was hidden behind. Nikita did the asking and a small ornate door appeared, opening to reveal a sort of arena, a raised platform surrounded by water and with rock discs in the floor. Al, James and Hugo sat in the stands along with Breezy and Jinjin and I climbed onto the huge platform with my cousins, comfortable with such bending-friendly surroundings. The water below us was quite deep, because the object of this exercise was to knock each other into it. Fun, right? It is when you win. Not so much when you hit the water.

Back when the bending world was in its prime this was a top sport, even the avatar played (I feel that I should point this out to Emma as an unfair advantage- she’s been playing for thousands of years more than us), and many people followed it closely, like Quidditch or football. I guess some things never change.

I headed to one corner and Nikita and Emma chose two more, and I took my position. Feet together, arms up, ready to move. I surveyed them calmly, knowing that they would both be straight on the offensive, probably aiming for each other. Who would be the biggest threat? I looked to Emma, deciding that since we were surrounded by water and she could bring all of it up at once, I’d better get her out first. I rocked from side to side. I was ready.

“READY? GO!” Nikita yelled, and immediately began aiming fireballs across the arena at us. Emma bended the water from below us and made a water whip, extinguishing the fire and going for the attack. I began bending the air around me, making cold, powerful gusts to aim at my cousin’s feet.

I dodged Emma’s water whip and sent the gust of air at her legs, knocking them out from under her. I then began performing one of the master moves that I had learned over the summer and not shown them yet; a tornado. They wouldn’t be prepared for this, and it delighted me. I ran in a circle, arms behind me and the wind picked up, funnelling upward into a dangerous swirling mass. It lifted me off the floor and I swung my arms in Emma’s direction, the tornado following the movement and picking her up. Emma tried water bending the tornado away, but that wouldn’t work; grandpa taught me well and she was lifted high off the ground, shrieking very uncharacteristically. Emma barely screamed or squealed, which was weird, since that’s 90% of all noises that Nikita and I make.

Nikita thought that whilst my arms were busy, she’d send a powerful kick my way, which had the flame thrower effect, a jet of fire flying at me across the arena. I began inhaling, and breathed the fire in, holding it in my mouth (grandpa almost killed me whilst we practiced this move- did you know how hot fire was inside your mouth? Pretty damn hot!) She stood in shock for a moment as the heat burned the inside of my cheeks, and when it finally got too much, I let it go, I blew it right back, aiming for her chest so she couldn’t duck or jump up out of the way as easily as aiming for the face or feet. She hit the deck and rolled out of the way and I kicked a few gusts of wind at her; they were sharp and bruised exposed skin. Nikita was fast, like a ninja; she had those chi blocker moves memorised. I kicked my leg high, and she bent right over backwards to dodge the cold wind that whistled toward her, breathing fire at me when she straightened out.

Meanwhile, my hands were pushing the tornado over the edge, making Emma hover over the water, the avatar growling at shouting very rude things at me. Nikita aimed some fire at her for good measure, then I dropped her. Em plummeted into the water and vanished from sight, and I turned, smug. The biggest threat was gone.
“AVATAR DOWN!” I yelled, and grinned at my remaining cousin. She sidestepped slowly, and I did the same, beginning a cautious circling of each other, measuring each other up.
“I see you’ve got a few new tricks up your sleeves” Nikita observed “Thanks for the warning”
“Well you were so sure you were better than us, so I didn’t think you’d need it” I replied, smiling a little. She rolled her eyes, and began moving her arms like windmills, making sparks appear where her arms went; lightning bending. I was in trouble.

Nikita thrust one of her arms in my direction and the lightning followed, shooting at me. I dodged sideways, the heat from the lightning burning my arm, singing my sleeve, and I retaliated with a freezing blast of air. Nikita growled. I took up an offensive stance.

We began a fast paced bending showdown, and my feet barely touched the floor. I was being supported in the air as I sent strong winds at Nikita, one after another after another. Her fire was being blown away, or inhaled and exhaled, or dodged. Occasionally, she’d get a powerful blast through the wind, searing my skin, which would stop the winds until I could pick them up again; but mostly, this game was mine.

When was full of energy and off the floor, where gravity wasn’t slowing me or sabotaging me, I was unbeatable (well, I felt like it- but I bet if this was a serious ‘I want to kill you’ bending battle I would have more of a challenge). Nikita got more and more frustrated as I became elated; I made my bending into a game of sorts. I was laughing as she fumed, her hair slowly lighting on fire. Time to put her out of her misery, I decided, after a few minutes toying with her. I had danced out of reach for too long, letting her wear herself out for a while. Now was the time to win.

I gleefully zipped around her on a swirling ball of air, buffering her back and forth with strong wind. She stumbled backward, toward the edge of the platform, fire flying everywhere, and with one well aimed kick, she tumbled off the edge. I flipped over happily, cheering, finally standing on the floor. It felt like what happens when you get off a trampoline and try to bounce and it feels like someone has stuck you to the floor; I wouldn’t be able to walk straight for the next ten minutes.

“I WIN I WIN I WIN! WHO’S THE BEST? I’M THE BEST!” I yelled in triumph, and Nikita and Emma appeared at the side of the platform. Emma water bended herself dry and Nikita just burst into flame, scowling. She went back to normal as if nothing had happened, and James was staring at her like she was the coolest thing in the world. The boys in the stand were cheering loudly, Al grinning at me. I still couldn’t believe he’d watched me do that. That he was allowed to watch me do that.

“That was incredible!” He mouthed. I went redder than fire bending robes. We made our way over to them, me just zooming over and standing on the protective barrier whilst Nikita made a jetpack with her hands (the coolest thing ever, let me just say), and Emma had the water propel her up. Al high-fived me, Hugo hugged Em tight, and James kissed Nikita as if the world was ending. Ergo, I thought their mouths would stick together if they kissed any longer. Al and I fake vomited over the sides of the stands.

“Don’t worry Em, You’re still my favourite bending cousin. You’d probably whoop their arses if you could use all your power” Hugo reassured, and Em smiled. Al chuckled a little, and I turned to him. Jinjin was curled up on his shoulder again, and he ran a hand through his messy hair. Those pesky birds in my tummy started making a racket again. I wish they wouldn’t, its very distracting.

“You know, I’m thinking that maybe I shouldn’t duel you after all…” He said, and I laughed.
“No way are you backing out. I’ll go easy on you Al, promise” I teased, floating above him with a smile.
“That doesn’t make me feel very manly” He grumbled. I patted his head, feeling how soft his constantly messy hair was. Like freakin’ clouds, and trust me, I knew what clouds felt like. He laughed and I looked out at the arena, floating just above and behind Al because I was wearing a skirt, and I just couldn’t resist the comfort of my spongebob shorts and Al had seen enough of those. Merlin, It would be embarrassing to show those off again.

“I won’t steal your glasses like I planned to do” I bargained.
“You were going to steal my glasses?” He asked, pouting a little. I almost fell out of the air and died of cuteness when I looked down, as he and Jinjin were looking up at me with their Vida-melting eyes and oh my Aang I need to separate them before I explode.

“I-phlenagsn” I spluttered, and mentally facepalmed. Wow, what a good answer that was. I didn’t know that double puppy eyes could affect a girl so badly. Al Potter plus adorable pet should come with a warning sign. I settled back onto the barrier in front of Al, shaking my head to rid myself of the image that would kill me.
“So” I said “What do you think?”
“About what? Your bending? Its incredible” Al said, and I stopped my head shaking to look at him. He looked sincere, with a small smile on his face and eyes full of awe.
“You’re- not freaked out? I just made a tornado with my hands” I pointed out. He shook his head.
“Not in the slightest. I guess in a way I kind of knew. Not all the details, or that you could bend; but I just knew that you and the wind were like some sort of package deal. How can I be mad if I sort of kind of knew?” He asked, and I chuckled.
“I wish I’d have told you sooner”

He smiled and leaned forward, as if letting me in on a secret.
“I don’t care that you didn’t tell me sooner Vida; you told me. This is a huge secret, and you told me. Now I know you trust me more than- well, anyone”

I nodded at that, because I did. He was my best friend, I got birds in my tummy when I was around him, and I trusted him. Now I was just glad that he knew it.
Hello! What do you think of this chapter? It is a wee bit shorter than the others (apologies) but not by that much, I'm sure the next one will be longer :) So, leave a review, tell me what you think, I love reading them!

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