Disclaimer: I do not own anything Avatar: The Last Airbender, only my situations or something like that…..
Lucios smells wafted through the air in tendrils around Zuko's nose making him tremble under the weight building from his tight stomach. How long had it been since he had last eaten? Iroh pushed him through the crowd himself quietly resenting it. They were in Ba-Sing-Sai the land of Iroh's loss and where they would find, possibly, a long lasting refuge. It was a mid-summer's night and crowds gathered around long tables gathered in the streets where cooks, musicians, and actors performed their trade, lively screams of children erupted close by as an elderly story-teller finished his tale.
Embracing the moment was rubbing salt into a wound. Why did it pain him to see so many people…happy? Smiles were contagious and Zuko was apparently the only one immune. Finally Iroh pulled him into a tight corner behind a traveling fortune teller who was gathering little attention.
Resisting the temptation to make a snide remark about his uncle's failure here, or even comment about how foolish he was to bring him here to cheer him up he asked him, "Alright, what is it here that you want me to see, Uncle?"
A small smile, embedded with a mocking delight came from his uncle's weathered face.
"We are here for the Midsummer's Ball."
"Ball. You know…."
Iroh began to spin in circles dipping and lifting an imaginary partner.
"No, no, no, no, no……!" Suddenly Zuko was pushed around the corner into a wave of couples who scattered at his interruption. At that moment a rainbow feathered hippy jumped onto the roof behind him, temporarily keeping his attention. Abruptly his band joined him and the people around, his….peers, he noticed, and started to cheer and whoop.
All tension fled and suddenly the band played melodies and exotic sounds leaping from their instruments. His good ear tingled to the rupture of sound and his feet leapt surprisingly to the steady beat. He retreated back to the corner where his uncle left him but he was not found. Turning helplessly to the floor he noticed the other teens, about one-hundred or so….dancing. How long ago had he danced?
The tune was boisterous and lively, making his heart ache for the same energetic passion-filled songs from diplomatic balls he had attended long ago…
Suddenly a flock of girls flooded his vision and he was being coaxed by to girls each dressed in light purple gowns. He blushed unexpectedly, shocking himself and he quickly turned away and again checked the corner where his uncle had left him, working hard now to avoid the swinging couples as they danced.
He approached the corner and turned the corner to receive a face-full of a sharp smelling perfume. He gasped and doubled over, choking and coughing uncontrollably. He heard his uncles piercing laughter and then his fleeing feet but he was too weak to do anything.
What is this? Cologne?
Taking a moment to get his bearings and adjust to the smell he dived back into the ball. He would play his uncle's game, it was only a ball. Surely an hour of fraternizing, or ignoring, the others and participating, or evading, in their dance wouldn't be…that horrible.
In the Fire Nation there was some honor in learning and performing this, graceful art. Slowly but steadily he made his way around the perimeter. Well, he thought with relief, everyone's taken. He let out a quick sigh of relief and turned to make his way back to the northern side of the outdoor ballroom. Then a hand fell across his shoulder, banishing his instincts to catch and twist it, leaving it's owner in an awkward fatal position, he examined it lightly before turning around.
The hand was draped in a black lace glove covering to the knuckles where it stopped, showing long pale fingers, nails painted in a shocking black. Turning he let his eyes fall upon the girl he stopped him. Her face was draped in the same black lace and hair was done up in a manner that reminded him of someone….
She wore a black sheath that hugged her figure, the silky fabric hanging at feet covered in boots. A dark red sheath of more silky cloth hung around her shoulders and folded along her chest the be stopped with a wide black, leather belt around her waist.
Ancient aristocratic instincts came over Zuko and he took her tender hand and lead her to the floor.
They melded into the dance, Zuko suddenly coming back to his senses and he quickly slid his hands, fortunately this dance was quick and required the partners to hold nothing else but each other's arms, from her shoulders and her forearm and they spun quickly around and around with the others. The pace quickened and he challenged his unseen partner, swirling ever more fast through the complicated steps. Impressed by his partners resiliency and ability to keep up to his dizzying pace he moved faster. They now found themselves the center of attention, each glaring into each others eyes, challenging the other. Even though the girl's were hidden, he could have sworn he saw the fire burning in her eyes.
The danced slowed and so did they, now each trying to catch their breath, the girl let go and placed he hands on her hip, head cocked. She still remained silent. An invisible force kept Zuko glued to the spot, unable to flee back to his uncle to which he had proven he was not afraid of a dance. The next song began and they each looked to each other expectantly until Zuko stepped forward and took her waist in one hand and placed the other on her shoulder. She followed suit and soon they were gracefully twirling to the slower song, both happily remaining the same pace as the others. After many minutes, maybe hours, he couldn't tell he fell from the trance the veiled tall figure had set upon him and as the song grew ever slower he began to have thoughts of leaving.
As the second chorus of the song began he lead them to the outside edge of the crowd and lifted his hand from her shoulder and back up to bow. Lifting from his show of courtesy the girl surprised him and spoke.
The command shocked him and left his face hung in an animated suspension but he felt himself unable to declaim the request. He didn't have anywhere to go, nothing to do, why not stay and continue the dance with this intoxicating dark girl.
The next song stepped up pace, like the first, the song exotic and passion-full, unlike any other he had ever heard and struggled to match the steps so well known by the other couples.
"No, like this." She said in a soft voice, like she was meaning to keep her true voice hidden. She once again placed his hands back to her waist and he tried to look comfortable as the main part of the dance came again. She whispered, "Lift, switch, spin, walk, pivot, sway…again." They went through the dance and it began to began to intensely gain speed and more rolling steps were added. In parts other's bodies melded closely and they spun, the dance becoming more and more intimate. Zuko shied away becoming uncomfortable dancing with the stranger who was becoming strangely closer. His eyes scanned the crowd for his uncle-just incase-but to his surprise almost everyone was dancing, in the alleys everyone was dancing. None tended the booths and none where lined up to eat, everyone-everyone-danced.
As they rolled through a turn again her body brushed his, sending a jolt of electricity through him and he let his grasp fall. Instead of letting go she pushed harder. Now eyes locked to where her eyes must be under the black veil they let all previous walls between them fall and took off. The passionate dance they now performed lasted a long while it becoming all the faster until the music abruptly stopped and moans escaped from the others and they shouted requests to the band. They now played another light, soft song and some couples began to break off and others lead each other of to other parts of the festival that were becoming suddenly interesting. He noticed they had stopped and caught out of the corner of his eye a couple close by kissing. He turned back to his partner.
It happened so quick he did not know what was happening. She had lifted the lace and they were now….kissing. He lips were warm against his and he gave into the comfort they gave him. The kiss deepened and it seemed to him that he had lost all sanity, but it felt so good. They finally broke for air and Zuko brought his face from under the lace, eyes still closed.
He opened them, her lace had been brushed upon her hair.
"Surprise." She whispered.
So, what do you think? This just hit me the other day and I figured I should write about it, only it wasn't originally Mae though. : )
Second chapter, maybe. It depends upon YOU!