Disclaimer: I don't own anything.
Author's Note: I find myself amazed with how much you guys have done for this story. Honestly, I couldn't have done it without you.
Secondly, I'd like to point out, for my own amusement, how many of the people who were practically begging me to murder Sen in a painful way turned around and lamented her death with so much emotion. Remember that, though she was a really fun character, she wasa villain, and a minor villain at that.The story here is of Zuko and Katara, and it is finally finished. This story isn't mine-more than the disclaimer can say-stories write themselves. Authors justwrite themdown. And this storyhasdeclared itself finished, and I must yeild to that.
In regards to Sen, I'm sorry, buther death was decidedfrom the firstlineshe said, as was her inner good side. To you, my dear readers, I offer this advice:You must never assume that a person is evil. Nobody goes around twiddling thier thumbs, trying to think up ways to be mean to people. There is always a reason, if you are only willing to find it.
Once again, thank you dearly.
Your humble servant,
"Wow, Katara," Aang breathed as she turned to face him. Ling Xi stood on a chair beside her, helping two women weave roses into the Waterbender's hair. The crimson flowers seemed to glow in beautiful contrast to the indigo gown she wore- the same one Iroh had bought for her, so long ago, and had taken such immaculate care in transporting with him. Katara smiled hopefully.
"Does it look all right?" she asked, a tint of nervousness flecking her voice. She was answered by a surprised whistle.
"Whoa...Hey, Katara, since when have you been pretty?" Sokka asked. She playfully wrinkled her nose at her brother before absently touching her hair.
"Hsh!" one of the women chided gently. "Don't do that, dear. You'll upset it.
"Sorry," the Waterbender said.
"Here," Ling Xi said, fixing a few loose strands. "That's better." She grinned, but Katara saw her touch the onyx necklace that the little girl now wore. It had been given to her by King Bumi, as a mourning band for her late sister.
Sen's actions in the battle had not gone unreported, and the people of Omashu wasted no time in adding their own twists to the tale, until the cold bounty hunter that Katara had once feared became known as a martyred hero, who had nobly sacrificed herself while summoning an army of spirits to save Omashu from their attackers. Those who knew the truth made no effort to correct such rumors.
But Sen wasn't the only one who had gained a fine reputation from the battle. Sokka, Aang, and Katara became war heroes, and even Zuko had been welcomed into the city with praise and songs. He was quickly rising from royalty to legendary- the current rumor seemed to reveal that a demon, more widely known as Zhao, had bewitched Zuko into appearing as a terrible beast, and had only been returned to his true form when he killed the demon to save his true love. Clearly, nobody seemed to remember attacking Zuko as he had first entered the city.
Still, nobody bothered to correct them. Zuko was now free to go wherever he wished, Sokka and Aang were regularly crowded by every available girl in the city.
And the War was...over.
It was so strange to think about it. But shortly after the battle, Iroh had sent a message to the Fire Lord. He had informed Ozai that four teenagers had killed Zhao, destroyed dozens of siege engines, and almost single handedly defeated an army of ten thousand trained soldiers. Along with the revelation came an ultimatum: the War was to end immediately, as was Zuko's exile. All armies were to be withdrawn immediately, and all future decisions made by the Fire Lord required the direct approval the Avatar. After those five months, technicalities were still being sorted out, but a grudging decision had finally been made. Mainly, because the alternative was made clear: if Ozai refused, he would face the wrath of the four most powerful people in the world. Even Ozai's conceit had given way, and he finally submitted, if only to spare himself from another humiliating defeat. He even proclaimed that if Zuko so chose, he would inherit the throne of the Fire Nation once his father died.
But the Prince had a more immediate goal in mind.
Once again, he had proposed to Katara, in front of Sokka, Aang, and most of Omashu. Sokka gave his permission with feigned reluctance, and the wedding was set.
Iroh popped his head into he door with a grin.
"Ah, my dear Katara," he cried jovially. "Is that you? Or has an angel come down to whisk me away?" his grin only widened as a soft blush began to stain her cheeks.
"But come now," he continued. "It's about to begin. You mustn't be late!" He ushered her away from the other women, and Sokka and Aang disappeared to take their own places.
Iroh made pleasant conversation as he led Katara down several halls to a large doorway, equipped with two Earthbending guards to open it. Even through the stone, Katara could hear hundreds of people eagerly buzzing as they waited for the ceremony to begin.
A few moments passed before hurried footsteps resonated through the hall. An instant later, she saw Zuko, clad in traditional armor that he had never quite grown unaccustomed to, the finally accepted symbol of his restored heritage. And it looked very good on him.
"Sorry," he muttered, his head down as he focused on something else. Sokka had promised to keep him as busy as possible, as playful retribution for marrying his sister. Clearly whatever plot he and Aang and Ling Xi had devised was effective, because Zuko's tone proved that he had been bothered with enough minor squabbles. "I came as fast as..." He looked up, and for the first time that day, saw Katara. "Oh." His eyes had widened slightly, his mouth hung agape- it was subtle, and his shattered composure would have gone unnoticed by anyone else. But Katara saw it. As did Iroh.
"Katara..." An apology, a promise, an exclamation, a prayer. Iroh grinned.
"Now, now, Prince Zuko," he chided cheerfully. "After the ceremony. Which, by the way, is supposed to start now. Hurry!"
An instant later, the doors fell away, revealing a thousand spectators, vainly trying to hush themselves as the bride and groom began their journey down the long aisle. But Zuko and Katara barely saw their audience.
"I love you, Katara," Zuko whispered, so only she could hear it.
"I love you, Zuko."
Love is a symbol of eternity. It wipes out all sense of time, destroying all memory of a beginning and all fear of an end.