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Fanfic / Strings

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Art by Eva-Black
Strings by Lantur is a Legend of Korra For Want of a Nail AU, taking place after episode 9 where Tarrlok's plan for leaving Republic City succeeds and takes Korra as his hostage since Korra was never rescued by the Equalists. They leave Republic City and Tarrlok forces Korra to marry him to give a cover story to why they are together.

Settling in a backwater in the Earth Kingdom posing as Northern Water Tribe husband and wife, Taruq and Senna, Tarrlok tries to keep Korra from escaping the threat of bloodbending over her head. Korra is forced to rely on her wits and not her strength if they are survive each other. Korra hopes for her chance to escape but she and Tarrlok may be more in over their heads then they realize.

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This fanfic provides examples of:

  • Abduction Is Love: After Tarrlok grows to care for Korra, he is hoping for this.
  • Adaptational Angst Upgrade: Tarrlok's canon backstory was already a Tear Jerker but in the fic his mother committed suicide due to Noatok's disappearance and Yakone's increased abuse. The fic also added more details of Yakone's abuse. It also revealed that Tarrlok had issues with alcohol due to his past.
  • Affably Evil: Tarrlok shifts into this over time, becoming a genuinely motivated teacher and loving husband.
  • A Date with Rosie Palms: Korra does this while have a dream about Tarrlok.
  • And Now You Must Marry Me: Tarrlok decided marriage would make a good cover story for them. He even brought the marriage certificates.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: The premise is that Tarrlok successfully kidnaps Korra
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  • Becoming the Mask: At first Korra and Tarrlok hated each other, Korra seeing Tarrlok as her prison guard and Tarrlok seeing her as his "Get out of Jail Free" Card. Slowly their facade of a happy marriage evolves into something. Not exactly happy, but genuine.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Amon is defeated,Republic City is saved and even Tarrlok is still alive but Korra didn't regain her bending and therefore no one else regains their bending. Korra decides to go on a break with Tarrlok because of their emotional baggage and along with the fact that they lost their bending. Things do get better though. Korra still acts as the Avatar and it's implied that her loss of her bending maybe temporary. Tarrlok opens a women and children's shelter. Korra and Asami became best friends and are now roommates in their new apartment. Korra still keeps in contact with Emi and Roumei. Korra then calls Tarrlok and asks if he wants to go out for some tea.
  • Book Dumb: Korra
  • Brains and Brawn: In their new lives, Tarrlok is an elementary school teacher while Korra hunts wild game for the town butcher
  • Break the Cutie: Poor, poor Korra.
  • Character Development: Both Korra and Tarrlok go through this.
  • The Chain of Harm: Tarrlok goes from being an abused son to an abusive husband, and has to take steps on his own to change.
  • Completed Fic: Completed as of May 5, 2015.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Tarrlok, which is a given since he's Yakone's son.
  • Domestic Abuse: Tarrlok's mother was Driven to Suicide by Yakone, what Korra's initial interactions with Tarrlok read as early in their "marriage" but he stopped when he realized it make just like his father.
  • Downer Beginning: The story starts with Korra being successfully kidnapped by Tarrlok.
  • Driven to Suicide: Tarrlok fears Korra taking that way out when he realized he pushed her too far and sent her to her Despair Event Horizon. It was also later revealed that Tarrlok's mother committed suicide due to Noatok's disappearance and Yakone's increased abuse afterwards.
  • Elopement: What regular non Republic City citizens thought what happened to Tarrlok and Korra; they aren't far from the truth.
  • Femininity Failure: Korra has no idea on how to put on makeup or make feminine hairstyles. Tarrlok had to do it for her.
  • Fish out of Water: Korra and Tarrlok have to adapt to living in a backwater Earth Kingdom town pretending to be non-benders.
  • Foreshadowing: When Tarrlok puts on Korra's makeup and styles her hair, she notes his experience at doing both. She put two and two together and theorizes that Tarrlok must have did it for his mother, if she was married to Yakone. She is more right than she realizes.
  • A Form You Are Comfortable With: Aang shows up in Korra's vision as his twelve-year old self to comfort her.
  • Girlfriend in Canada: Tarrlok's students are shocked that he was telling the truth that he has a pretty wife.
  • Gilded Cage: Korra and Tarrlok's new home is nicely furnished and homey...It's just was initially Korra's prison.
  • The Guards Must Be Crazy: Lampshaded In-Universe by Korra as she notes that the Order of the White Lotus failed to do their job.
  • Happy Marriage Charade: Tarrlok forced Korra into this so no one would ask questions.
  • Heel Realization: When Korra hides from him in despair, Tarrlok realizes he is no better than his father. It happens again when he was captured by Amon and realizes how Korra must have felt when she was his prisoner.
  • Jerkass: Tarrlok, although he changes after he bloodbended Korra from escaping, making him realize he's no different from his father.
  • In Spite of a Nail: Tarrlok was still imprisoned and his bending was taken away by Amon but it was during a raid on an Equalist factory. Korra also loses her bending like in the canon series but she doesn't get bending at end of the fic but it is said to be temporary. Amon still dies from a gas explosion on his getaway boat except he went alone and the explosion was presumably an accident.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Korra resents the Order of the White Lotus for not finding her, but realizes that she wasn't being fair to them. Although she has a point, the elite order failed to meet all their objectives throughout the series, including protecting the Avatar.
  • Jerkass Realization: Korra realizes when she makes friends, Emi and Roumei, that she has been a jerk to Asami. Korra realizes she has been looking down on Asami for being more feminine that her and for dating Mako. She later apologizes to Asami for it when she and Tarrlok return to Republic City.
  • Lima Syndrome: Tarrlok grew to genuinely care for Korra and hopes that she will grow to love him. Helps that he already had feelings for her since they met.
  • A Match Made in Stockholm: Korra and Tarrlok.
  • May–December Romance: Korra's 17 and Tarrlok is 38. Lampshaded throughout the fic.
  • Misplaced Kindergarten Teacher: Inverted, Tarrlok is over-qualified to be an elementary school teacher and trying to teach his students the advanced stuff goes over their heads. This ends up working for him as his students improve due to his higher standards and determination to get them to learn. Many of the children now read better than their parents.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Once Tarrlok sees the desperation that he's driven Korra to during captivity, he's horrified at how he's turned out so much like his father and tries to improve his treatment of her. He gets a second instance of this when he finally understands thanks to a verbal dressing-down from Yue that forcing Korra to stay with him in hiding will never result in a healthy relationship.
  • No-Tell Motel: Tarrlok takes Korra to one after they escape Republic City, where Tarrlok formulates their new cover identities.
  • Patricide: Tarrlok is implied to have killed his father in this fic.
  • Parental Marriage Veto: Korra and Tarrlok's cover story is that Korra's Overprotective Dad refused to let them get married and they ran away together.
  • Plot-Irrelevant Villain: While Amon is still responsible for what happened in Republic City and still has to be stopped, the story focuses mostly on Tarrlok and Korra.
  • Put on a Bus: Pema and the airbending children went into hiding with the Fire Lady and Zuko for their safety after they couldn't find Korra.
  • Questionable Consent: Even though their relationship had drastically improved and already developed into a romantic one by this point, when Tarrlok and Korra sleep together it is still essentially an older man sleeping with a seventeen-year-old girl that he's been holding prisoner for months, and whom he'd previously bloodbended into submission multiple times beforehand when they were still hostile to each other. Korra is herself only going through with it, despite not being ready for such a step, because she hopes the closer intimacy that results will help convince Tarrlok to let her go. Tarrlok, who isn't aware that this is Korra's true intention, does at least try to make sure that this is really what Korra wants and makes clear that she doesn't have to sleep with him if she doesn't want to.
  • Replacement Goldfish: Sitka is one to Korra for Naga.
  • Savvy Guy, Energetic Girl: Tarrlok and Korra
  • Secret Relationship: Tarrlok and Korra kept their relationship secret when they return to Republic City. Justified since Tarrlok kidnapped Korra and he is still a fugitive.
  • Self-Made Orphan: It wasn't outright stated by Tarrlok but it's heavily implied that he killed his father, Yakone, with bloodbending after his mother committed suicide due to Yakone's abuse.
  • Slowly Slipping Into Evil: Korra feels she may have done this after successfully learning bloodbending.
  • Start X to Stop X: Korra attempts to learn bloodbending to fight against Tarrlok.
  • Stern Teacher: Tarrlok has really high standards for his students and is a strict teacher. His students end up loving him and were saddened that he had to quit his job to take "care of his mother".
  • Stockholm Syndrome: Korra develops this over the course of the fic. Although she never stops desiring to escape, she becomes sympathetic to Tarrlok after learning about his backstory of abuse and sharing more civil moments with him.
  • Talking in Your Sleep
  • There Is Only One Bed:
    • Korra was perfectly fine with sleeping on the floor in their No-Tell Motel, until she found the spider-roaches.
    • Repeated when they move to the new town. She gets over it.
  • Those Two Girls: Emi and Roumei, important because they are Korra's first real female friends. They are natives of the town she's hiding in and don't know that Korra's the Avatar.
  • Turn Out Like His Father: Tarrlok fears that he's becoming his father and later tries to change it.
  • Undercover as Lovers: Tarrlok has Korra and himself disguise themselves as a married couple, because any other explanation would make no sense.
  • Villainous Crush: Tarrlok had one on Korra ever since he met her.
  • Wants a Prize for Basic Decency: Early on Tarrlok is continually frustrated and angry about how rebellious Korra is in captivity, trying to make a point about how he hasn't treated her that badly as a captor. In one particular instance, he briefly tortures her with bloodbending—including implying that he could use his bloodbending to make her sleep with him if he wanted—to make the point that since he doesn't do those things, she should be grateful to him.
  • You Can't Go Home Again: Tarrlok and Korra can't go back to Republic City or Tarrlok will be executed. They go back anyway.