|PTB's Writing Challenge 2013
Author: xsecretxkeeperx PM
By the end of 2013, this will be a collection of 52 one-shots (some interconnected, some stand-alone) based on prompts given every week of this year. So far, my fandoms include: Harry Potter, Original Fiction, Avatar: The Last Airbender. Ratings and genres range the spectrum.Rated: Fiction T - English - Drama/Humor - Chapters: 3 - Words: 6,450 - Reviews: 4 - Favs: 2 - Follows: 3 - Updated: 03-14-13 - Published: 01-06-13 - id: 8881329
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
A/N: I saw the word "cabbage" and I couldn't resist. I'm not usually a comedy writer, so if this is lame, I apologize in advance. But I like it, haha. The chapter will refer to some canon events, but my little tale has strayed from canon in a big way to allow for a Zutara pairing.
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
Challenge 03: Word Play
Fandom: Avatar: The Last Airbender
Content Descriptors: Romance/Friendship
The bitter chill in the air complemented Zuko's sour mood, though he thought it better matched Katara's infuriatingly cold shoulder. They had been traveling together for several weeks, along with her friends and brother, and he could get nothing save negative reactions from her. So he had tricked her and killed Aang—the Avatar had lived, hadn't he? It was in the past! Was the self-righteous Water Tribe girl so perfect she had never made a mistake?
Her hair is perfect, Zuko thought as he watched her brush a loose strand behind her ear. And her lips, and skin, and eyes, and…. The boy sighed and decided to try one more time to get her to notice him with more than unrestrained disdain.
He strolled casually up beside her and kicked the dirt a little with the toe of his boot. "So, I was thinking that once we get to the next city—"
"Not going to happen," Katara said tersely.
"Aargh! Why not?!"
"Why not? Why not?" Katara's chest heaved, as the angrier she got the closer to leaned toward Zuko. "You can't seriously tell me you don't know 'Why not?'!"
"Everyone has forgiven me except for you. You are so frustrating!"
"I'm so sorry for the inconvenience," she said, chuckling sarcastically. "It's not like anyone else around here is frustrated by someone who can not take a hint."
"I just want you to like me!"
Despite her anger, and maybe a little because of it, Katara blushed. Taking a modest step back—much to Zuko's displeasure—to reestablish the distance she had lost, she said, "That's never going to happen."
Zuko huffed, his breath creating an angry cloud of steam, and scraped his hands through his hair. "There must be something. What do I have to do to get you on my side?"
As Katara opened her mouth to undoubtedly give him another piece of her mind, Zuko stiffened his spine, readying himself for the blow. It came as a surprise when her narrowed eyes softened, just slightly, into an expression of curious calculation.
"All right," she said. "Go to the top of the mountain and get me the ice flower that grows there."
"You want… flowers?" said Zuko, perplexed. Of all the things he might have guessed, the ridiculously common act of giving a girl flowers was not one of them.
"Flower. As in one. Jeez, I don't want you to ask me out on a date!"
Zuko felt his ears go red and noticed that Katara's cheeks burned bright, as well. He grabbed the back of his neck and turned away.
"Uh, right. Flower. I can do that."
Ten minutes later, not another word having been spoken between the two, Zuko made his way toward the edge of the small mountain village the group was staying in, his pack heavy with the food and water he would need for the short trip.
What was so important about this flower? he wondered. Katara being a water bender, he figured it had something to do with that. Or maybe she was sending him on a wild turtlegoose chase. By the time the village was but a pinprick of light in the distance, Zuko was sure Katara had tricked him into leaving her alone for the day, but he would be a fire ferret's uncle before he'd let that stop him from doing exactly what he had promised.
The air turned more frigid the higher he climbed, the snow trying its very hardest to numb him into an eternal sleep. If it weren't for the fire burning deep from within him, the mountain would have surely claimed Zuko, the ice and rock becoming an impromptu tomb, forever undisturbed lest the trespasser wish a similar fate. After two agonizing hours, the summit was finally in reach, and Zuko let out a tiny cheer, almost losing his balance and toppling all the way back down the mountain.
It was an interesting feeling, being burned by air colder than any ice Katara had ever thrown at him. Zuko hadn't known before today that ice could be deadly in just the same way as fire could. It was invigorating. Though Zuko carried a torch for Katara, there had always been a small part of him that doubted they could come of anything. A firebender and a waterbender? Unheard of! But now, experiencing a familiarity in the burning ice, realizing how it complemented his fire, Zuko felt like a king. Somehow, some way, Katara would be his, and they would reign magnificent.
The ice flower Katara had requested was not difficult to find. In fact, the enchanting crystalline flowers littered the peak of the mountain—a forgotten race, thriving where no one dared to conquer. He tried pulling at one, but the stem was unbreakable. He tried melting it, but again, no luck. Just how was he supposed to get the flower to Katara if the stubborn thing didn't wish to be taken? Zuko tried everything he could thing of with no success, finally losing his temper with a mighty blaze. The flower did not melt.
"Are you kidding me?" yelled Zuko, kicking a charred clump of dirt.
Zuko paused, suddenly aware of his actions. He had kicked dirt. Dirt he had unfrozen with his blast. Dirt that could now be dug up around the root of the flower. A triumphant whoop left Zuko's lungs as he buried his hands in the Earth, and in no time at all, he had the flower firmly in his grasp.
With the flower strapped to his pack and a smile plastered on his face, Zuko made his way down the side of the mountain, visions of his upcoming reunion with Katara playing on repeat in his mind. He would march right on up to her, present the flower, and she would throw her arms around him in gratitude. If only Zuko's life ever went so smoothly….
As he neared the pass on which the village was nestled, a mere thirty feet below him, Zuko felt a jerking tug at his backpack. He'd heard the lizardhalk's hissing shriek several minutes before, and had foolishly thought nothing of it. Now he payed for that mistake with a painful tumble down the side of the mountain, using a blast of fire to counteract gravity with propulsion to save him a from the final impact.
He took off after the beast, barely keeping up with its speed and agility. They raced through the pass, bouncing off the sides of the mountain and kicking snow up behind them. As he neared town, people and buildings added themselves to the obstacles of nature. Though Zuko avoided them as best he could, he would not, under any circumstances, let that lizardhalk get away with his prize. Just as he was closing in on the beast a cart cut into his path and Zuko blasted it out of his way.
The smell of roasting vegetables filled the air, as well as a cry of desperation from the vendor, "Not my cabbages!"
Zuko would have to remember to apologize.
One more blast, one more dig into the soft ground, and Zuko launched into the air tackling the bird and detaching it from the flower. He rolled several times and came to a stop at someone's feet. Upon looking up, Zuko blushed.
Katara's eyes traveled the length of Zuko's disheveled appearance, a host of emotions from shocked and awed to amused and perturbed dancing behind their blue. He thrust the flower into the air, an offering, a hopeful request for friendship. For a moment, Zuko thought Katara might have been messing with him and didn't want the flower at all, she was so still. But then she lifted a decorative bottle from a pocket in her coat.
"I'll need your help," she said, suddenly unsure of herself.
"Anything," said Zuko.
She cupped each of his hands and moved them one at a time to the bloom of the flower, so that it was completely covered. "I need you to get it as hot as you can," she said.
Zuko was skeptical. He had already blasted the flower. Nothing had happened. But with Katara standing over him, her eyes gently pleading and not hateful, he could not find his voice to tell her. He took the proper stance, localizing the fire burning within him to his hands. As he did so, he watched the grace of Katara's waterbending, and drop by drop the blossom melted into the bottle.
"It takes both bending," Katara said. "Water and fire working together. The gift it yields is a strengthening potion, of sorts. It doesn't last long, but it gives the taker a clearer mind and a sounder body."
"It is," Katara agreed, not realizing Zuko was talking about her.
When the flower was gone and the roots fell to the ground and shattered, Zuko held his breath. He half expected Katara to throw out a barb and turn on her heel. She took her time screwing the cap of her bottle and replacing it in her pocket. Zuko's face was going to turn blue from lack of air. And then she smiled. At him. Looking directly into his eyes. He let out his breath and smiled back. This feeling, one of mutual respect, of possibilities, was nothing compared to what he had felt on top of the mountain. Zuko vowed to one day feel this all the time, Katara at his side.
A/N: There you have it! The prompt this week was to use these words at least once in the chapter, in no particular order: Summit, Cabbage, Tomb, King. I'm a big fan of constructive criticism and I know this chapter was verging on grimace-worthy, so any feedback is greatly appreciated. Unless you like it, haha. If you liked it, THANK YOU. And thanks all for reading!