He stood in his room, looking out the window. The ship swayed back and forth as it sat in the docks of the harbor they had taken refuge for the night. The prince fingered a jewel in his hand, carved with the symbols for water on it. It was round, smooth and flat, attached to a ribbon of silk.
It belonged to the girl that the Avatar traveled with. Her name he couldn't quite remember. But, for so long he had kept the necklace. He really didn't know why, he just did. It had been two years since he found it on that ship the earth benders took over.
Zuko didn't know why he didn't just blackmail the girl into giving him the Avatar. Well, he did somewhat. For one, it hadn't worked when he did it before. And for another, he didn't know where she was. He didn't sell it, it was too priceless for that. He never even told anyone about it, he usually just kept it in a drawer next to his bed.
He never did take it out, but for some reason that day, he did. For two years he'd been searching for the Avatar. In that time, a lot had happened. For one, they kept getting closer to the north pole and with that he was getting closer and closer to the Avatar. He'd chase their small group until he caught them. It was the only way.
At eighteen, he had regrown his hair, it now pulled back into a ponytail like he always kept it. Even with time, the scar around his eye remained, but still, it was faded. Plus, his bone structure had grown, becoming taller and broader, more like the man he was. Other than that, he was the same on the outside. But, on the inside he was the same as he had always been after he'd been banished.
When his uncle came inside, he didn't look up or glance over to him, he didn't even move. He just stayed still, his uncle coming over quietly.
"You missed dinner, Prince Zuko," he said, standing behind him. "Something the matter?"
"Nothing, Uncle," he replied, his voice rough even now. He placed down the necklace and turned. "I just wasn't hungry."
"Not eating isn't very good for anyone," Iroh continued. "Even for one such as yourself."
"I'm fine," he said, turning back to the window.
The older man nodded. "If you say so," he said, turning to go, but then his eye caught on something. He went over to the table next to his bed and picked up the necklace, studying it carefully. "Prince Zuko, do you have any idea what this is?"
Zuko rolled his eyes, a groan escaping his lips. "Not now, Uncle," he stated.
"No, that's not what I meant," he said, turning to him with the jewel in his hands like it was porcelain. "Do you know what it means to own this? What the symbol means?"
He turned to the older man with a raised eyebrow. "What?"
"Katara," Sokka whined, crossing his arms. "What's taking you so long?"
The siblings stood at a vender in the center of a town. The young water bender was looking over fruit, her blue eyes wondering over all the choices there were. Aang was nowhere to be found, so it was just the two of them.
"You don't want me to get the kind of fruit you hate, do you?" she asked, picking up a few things and putting them in a basket.
He sighed. "No, but hurry up. I don't even see Aang anymore," he said, putting his hand above his eyes, looking over the crowd of people.
Katara nodded. "If you insist." She purchased the items and then they started walking again.
Over the years, Katara had developed into a rather beautiful young woman, her features longer and more refined than that of when she was younger. Her hair was even a little bit longer, still kept back like she'd always have it. At sixteen, she was taller, more filled in and just down right pretty, according to some of the young men they ran into. Often it ended up with Sokka being held back by she or Aang, so he wouldn't hurt anyone.
Sokka himself had changed. He was eighteen and looked it, with a tall, slim, yet muscular structure. He was a catch himself, with the way he held himself and some of the ways he acted. Still, he was the same Sokka.
The walked a little bit and Katara counted the coins in her hand. "That's weird," she mumbled.
"What is?" her brother asked.
"He gave me more change than he should have," she said. "It was five copper pieces, not four."
Sokka laughed. "Maybe we're wearing off on everyone," he said, putting his hands behind his head. "Everyone does that for us."
"But we weren't even with Aang this time," she said, brow wrinkled.
He gave her a look. "You honestly have no clue, do you?" he asked.
She blinked. "About what?"
He sighed and shook his head. "Never mind. Let's just find Aang," he replied, moving through the crowds.
It wasn't long before they found the air bender at another stand. Momo was on his shoulder and he held his gilder in his hand as well. He was fourteen and becoming the person he was destined to be. He was taller than when he was younger, becoming taller than Katara actually. He was still thin like he always was, but he still had a slightly broad bone structure. All of his other features stayed the same, including the arrows on his hands and on his head.
He looked over to his friends as they came over. "Oh, there you are," he said, his voice deeper with his age. "Which one should I get, the cat or dog?" he asked, holding up two whistles.
Sokka rolled his eyes. "No offence, pal, but don't you have like twenty already?" he asked, crossing his arms.
"Actually, nineteen," he corrected. "With this it'll be twenty."
Katara smiled, looking at them as her brother shook his head to himself. "Well, why not the dog?" she asked. "You don't have one of those. I think you have a cat."
He smiled. "Alright, I'll get this one," he stated, paying the vender for it. After he did, he blew into it, but it made no sound.
He looked at it. "Maybe it's broken," he said.
"Oh, it's not," the vender said with a smile. "That one is especially for dogs. It's so high pitched, only they can hear it," she went on. "They also can't deny going towards it, so you can always call them with it."
He blinked. "Really?" he asked. "Cool, thanks for the tip." He put it in his sack, before turning to his friends. "Let's get going. It's almost dark soon."
They both nodded, before heading into the forest.