Disclaimer: Avatar: The Last Airbender belongs to Nickelodeon, and other types, wealthier than I.

"For this Love is enraged with me,
Yet kills not; if I must example be
To future rebels, if th' unborn
Must learn by my being cut up and torn,
Kill, and dissect me, Love ; for this
Torture against thine own end is ;
Rack'd carcasses make ill anatomies."
-John Donne,
Love's Exchange

The first time he had encountered her, Zuko had not even spared the child a second glance. She had been in his way, a roadblock in the glorious capture of the Avatar, a minor one, at that. But that night, as his crew worked on removing the battered freight, he thought of her, much to his own confusion.

She was possessed features like none he had never seen before: dark eyes, dark skin, azure eyes that burned with a passion. She moved with a surety of movement that with time and womanhood would transform into grace. But her physical attributes were not what had captured his eye in the first place. It was the fact that she had risked life and limb to free the Avatar from a power much greater than herself. She had no hope for success, but she had come to the aid of the Avatar, regardless.

The girl intrigued him. Zuko attempted to dismiss it, as the furthest thing from his mind in his grand quest for the Avatar. Despite this effort, she continued to haunt him. He found he was unable to rid himself of her.

Again, and again, he encountered the little waterbender. She was always by the boy's side, providing a support that did not relate to her bending abilities in the least. Spirit, courage, unselfish love, and power all ensconced in a lovely form.

Slowly, but surely, that allure around her wrapped him in its sweet, entrancing waves, and would not let him go. Thoughts of her began to assail his dreams, and his waking hours alike. There was no escape from her intoxicating presence. She became his ideal, his perfection.

In his mind, she was everything he had ever wanted.

He craved her, he craved that love she gave so freely to those two whelps. He wanted to know her, know every part of her. He did not wish to have only her attention. He was not one to take only a fraction of what he desired. He wanted to own her. It became a selfish, uncaring emotion that consumed the prince and overwhelmed him. The firebender did all things passionately, and this was no exception. It set a fire in his blood that fueled his anger toward those who already possessed her more than he ever could. This uncontrollable desire disturbed him. What if he lost control, and with it, the honor he had strived to maintain?

He did not know how to love, as it was difficult to present something without an example to go by. So it became that enemy of love, which resembles it so nearly: infatuation. Such a sentiment is unruly, and therefore acted in direct opposition to his nature. Thus, he tried to eliminate it, purge it from his very being, to no avail. It had sank it's claws into him, and now refused him freedom.

The cynicism he had worked long and hard to form, eagerly reminded Zuko that his chances of acquiring the heart of the girl were next to nil. But the newly created lover in his veins screamed for her, begged for her touch, and affection. He silenced them both, as best as humanly possible. After all, such things were matters for weaker mortals, he had better things to achieve than the ownership of some woman. However, if the capture of the airbender meant the acquisition of the lovely Katara, as well...so be it.

Warning: Author-y rambling ahead.

All right now, before all of the Aang/Katara fandom sends me off to the guillotine, hear me out. I AM ONE OF YOU, DON'T EXECUTE ME! Now, moving on, allow me to explain myself. Zuko has been striving for the majority of his life to earn the love and respect of his father. I think Zuko would be attracted to someone like Katara, as she gives love and trust so readily. While I don't believe any permanent relationship would succeed, I could see Zuko becoming infatuated with her. Also, people have the odd habit of becoming entranced by the exotic. And what could be more exotic to a firebender than a waterbender?

A/N: Shakes plot bunny angrily Why did you sound so much better in my head! I was originally intending to do a little series as a spinoff of this, but I won't be able to do so for a while. At least until after the play, AP exams, and SATs.