Ya'll can thank bumbleBEE243 for being my tenth reveiw on chapter eighteen. I wasn't going to update until I got ten and guess what? Now, on with the show.
One year later…
The war was over, of course. Aang had won and Zuko had ascended his throne with the honor due to him.
I hadn't seen the prince since Sokka blew his temper and we had left Zuko alone. Sokka was injured in the final battle, so I had taken him home to tend to him while Aang tended to the world's problems.
There were times that I dreamt of the romance Zuko and I had shared during those three weeks we were alone together, but I doubt if he still cared for me that way. Then the letter came.
I was in the new hospital that the Waterbenders from the North Pole had built (they had gotten a lot done), tending to an Earth Kingdom fighter's broken leg, when my father came in, a scroll in his hand.
"Do you know anyone in the Fire Nation, Katara?" he asked. I smiled.
"You mean other than the Avatar? Why?" He held out the scroll.
"This just came for you in the latest relief supply ship. The man who handed it to me said it was urgent and he was not to leave without your answer."
I motioned to another healer, from the North Pole, to take over for me and I took the scroll from my father. It bore the royal symbol of the Fire Nation. My hands shook in anticipation as I opened and read.
"To Katara of the Southern Water Tribe, from Fire Lord Zuko of the Fire Nation, greetings." I smiled softly. Zuko was forced to write with all the pomp and circumstance that befitted a Fire Lord now, and I could tell it annoyed him. I read on.
"It is my wish that you would honor the Fire Nation with your presence and the presence of your brother if his health would allow. Avatar Aang has expressed a desire to see his old friends again and bade me to send an invitation. Please send your reply back with my messenger."
I smiled. Sokka, who was busy flirting with a healer named Synai, looked over at me. "What?"
"We've been invited to visit the Fire Nation," I said. Sokka would have jumped up if his legs were not heavily bandaged to keep them still. (He had suffered from two badly broken legs. An elderly healer from the North Pole had said Sokka's legs would heal, but he would need rehabilitation exercises.
"When can we leave?" he asked. I laughed.
"Are you sure you can go? You don't have any…plans, do you?" I asked sneakily, looking at Synai. The two blushed. "And what about your legs?"
Sokka scoffed. "There are healers at the Fire Palace, aren't there? I'll be fine. And if it looks like you'll be there for longer than a month, I'm come back, okay?"
I sighed. My brother was still stubborn. I knew it wasn't a good idea for him leave the South Pole when he could barely walk without support, so I was going to have convince him.
"Sokka, look. You can't walk two feet without extreme pain, let alone all over the Fire
Palace (and you know Aang will want to show us around). I'll go and send you letter about everything. I'm sure Aang will understand," I said. Sokka sighed and took Synai's hand.
"You're right. Promise me you'll send me letters?" I laughed and kissed my big brother.
"Of course. Dad, where's the ship?" Dad pointed out the door.
"Where it always is, Katara." I nodded and ran out the door.
I found the ship, along with Zuko's messenger. It was a typical rank-and-file Fire Solider, with the pointed helmet and the faceguard. Why would Zuko trust a regular grunt with a message?
"Tell your Lord I accept his invitation and to expect me on the next supply ship he sends out," I said, bowing. "My brother cannot accompany me, regrettably."
A voice from the ship called out, "That'll probl'y in a week. For some reason, Lord Zuko wanted our departure and that'un's arrival to be extremely close." I looked up to see the captain. I bowed to him.
"Thank you." He shrugged and went about his business. The solider bowed and boarded the ship. I ran back to the hut to get my things together.
A week flew by at amazing speeds. Gran-Gran helped me to do my hair up in a style more suited to young lady. She hugged me and sent me out to await the ship.
Sokka, supported our dad, was there to see me off. "Don't forget to send letters, or I'll send my boomerang after you," Sokka said, squeezing me as the ship hove into view.
"D'you think it'll reach me in the Fire Nation?" I joked. Sokka swatted at me, but I ducked. Soon, I was waving goodbye to my father and brother as I sailed to the Fire Nation.
"Katara!" The wind was knocked out of me as Aang threw himself on me.
"Hey, Aang. Nice robes," I said, slightly breathlessly. Aang stood back and blushed.
"You like them? I kinda outgrew my monk robes, so Zuko had his tailors make me some new robes, in orange and yellow though, not red and black. Speaking of Zuko, you should see what he's done with the palace! It's not the dark, cheerless place it was when you and Sokka were here last," he said excitedly.
Just then, fanfare sounded out and everyone near us on the docks bowed. "Here comes Zuko himself," Aang muttered. "I don't have to bow, being the Avatar, and he told me you don't have to either.
A palanquin with silk covering the sides approached us, carried by who had to be extremely strong men. They kneeled, and another man came rushing around with a small stepladder. He set it down and pulled back the curtains to let Zuko out.
Zuko looked amazing in his new silk robes and his hair back to being in a topknot. It wasn't the traditional topknot of Fire Lords, since Zuko had considerably more hair on is head than past rulers had had. (And no sideburns, thank heaven.) He bowed to Aang, who returned the bowed, and then Zuko bowed to me. I fought to keep a straight face as I bowed in return. Was this the spoiled prince that had chased us over a year ago?
Zuko said nothing, merely motioned for a servant to take my things. The one with the ladder came forward.
"Thank you," I muttered, handing my luggage to him. The servant just bowed and rushed back to his place.
"You ride back with Zuko, Katara," Aang said. "I'm on my way to the Shezun Province of the Earth Kingdom to handle a dispute between the armies there. I'll be back in about…five days, give or take."
I nodded and followed Zuko. He climbed in the palanquin first, then took my hand to help me. At his nod, the curtain fell back, and the men who carried the box started up.
I was silent, not knowing what to say or do. Thankfully, Zuko spoke first.
"I didn't want to bring this thing," he said, motioning to the palanquin, "but there's protocol I didn't know about, apparently."
"I'm kinda glad you did bring it. It's hot in the Fire Nation," I said, taking my handkerchief and wiping the sweat from my face.
"Try wearing many layers of silk, and then complain about the heat," Zuko muttered, handing me a fan. I smiled.
"Sokka wanted to come, but he can hardly walk right now," I explained. Zuko nodded.
"I know. I was the soldier who you gave the reply to," he said, smirking. I swatted him with my fan.
"You may be Fire Lord, but you're still the same sneaky prince you'll always be." The box was filled with cushions and I laid down on them, tired from the long journey across the sea. I didn't ask what happened to Azula, knowing that she was currently chained to a wall in the darkest dungeon. (Rumors get around.)
I must have dozed off because the next thing I knew, I was lying on a bed of the softest red silks imaginable. Sitting up, I saw the entire room was red silk, except for the blue silk dress laid out across the foot of my bed. I got up and set about cleaning the travel's dust off and changing into the dress; in short, making myself look presentable.
I was sitting at the vanity, redoing my hair, when someone knocked on the doorframe, the door being a piece of silk.
"Come in," I called. Zuko entered, out of the heavy robes he had greeted me in. He had changed into a lighter silk robe. The Fire Lord watched as I finished doing my hair.
I stood and went over to him. "What is it, Z-" I was cut off as Zuko's lips pressed against mine. I closed my eyes and opened my mouth to receive his kisses eagerly.
"It's been too long, Katara," he whispered, his lips barely leaving mine.
"It has been, a year to be precise," I murmured, relieved that he, too, had missed me. We kissed again, each kiss feeling like rain filling a river that had been dry for a year. Zuko took the comb from my hair, setting it on the vanity edge, running his hands through my hair. "I missed you."
"I missed you, too." Zuko pulled away slightly. "There's another reason I asked you here."
"I figured as much. You wouldn't have written the invitation yourself otherwise," I said, smiling as I caressed his face. "What else?"
"I need to find a wife," he said, "for…obvious reasons." I nodded. He needed an heir. "I asked you here to see if you would honor me and become Fire Lady Katara."
"Won't there be issues since I'm a Waterbender?" I asked, not daring to believe he had just ask me to marry him. Zuko kissed me softly.
"I'm Fire Lord; I can marry who I want," he murmured, his voice a low growl.
"Doesn't she get a say in it? And what about her parents?" I asked, rubbing his shoulders.
"Who wouldn't want their daughter to marry royalty, even Fire Nation?" Zuko asked. "Your father already gave permission; there was a separate note for him in the scroll from me," he whispered in my ear.
"Well, then, how can I say no?" I said, smiling. Zuko returned my smile and leaned in to kiss me.
"You can't," he said before he claimed my lips for his own in a passionate kiss.
Well, that ends Prisoners of Fate. But fear not! I have already got a new story in the works and it should be up soon. See ya then!