Have you ever seen La Belle et La Bête? It's black and white and all in French (means Beauty and the Beast). It's simply beautiful. Watch it. It has English subtitles, so even my French I class can watch it. (Sorry, I've been thinking about that movie all day.)
Katara spent the rest of the day daydreaming about what had conspired on the balcony. True, now that she thought about it, the whole metaphor thing was kinda cheesy. But that was beside the point. Zuko had kissed her. That was like Sokka not falling over a rock; nice, but not something you'd expect.
It seemed to her that Suki and Toph knew, but that was impossible. Right?
Great, one kiss and I'm paranoid! Katara thought. I need to talk to Zuko tonight.
That night at supper, Aang returned. "I'm done! I mastered the Avatar State! Guru Pathik said all I need to do now is master Firebending and I'm good! But right now, I'm hungry. He kept me on onion and banana juice. What's cooking?"
Toph smirked. "You seem hyper for someone who just got done with shookra training."
"Chakra." Toph nodded.
"Whatever. What's for dinner?"
The night passed relatively pleasantly. Iroh brought a dish from the Fire Nation he had made, which brought on "I remember when Zuko" tales. Zuko merely ignored him, and countered with his own embarrassing stories of Iroh.
"Don't get me started. You were the one who bought out half the market."
"I lost my lotus tile!"
"And a lot of good it did us."
Katara sat next to Zuko the entire time, smiling. If Sokka noticed she seemed happier next to him than usual, he didn't respond. If he were to look under the table, though, he'd have seen Katara's hand resting on Zuko's knee.
After dinner, Katara excused herself, followed shortly by Zuko. Once a reasonable distance away from the others, Zuko took Katara's arm and led her to the room.
"I heard from Uncle Iroh that we might be moving on soon. The atmosphere isn't good to teach Aang Firebending, apparently. There's a small town not far from this place that he says will be better for Aang's lessons."
"Oh, yeah. He won't do anything if feng shui is bad enough," Zuko scoffed. Katara sighed and leaned up against Zuko.
"Come on. Let's go to the room." Zuko nodded and they went the rest of the way in silence.
"Is it just me, or does it seem like people who shouldn't know about what happened this morning know about what happened this morning?" Katara asked as soon they were alone and the door was shut.
"My uncle seems more know-it-all than normal, if that's what you're talking about," Zuko said, turning around and unfastening his shirt. It had been ripped during the course of the day and needed repairing. Katara giggled.
"I'm talking about Suki and Toph. It honestly wouldn't surprise me if they set us up, keeping Sokka occupied somewhere else.
(Outside the room, a certain blind Earthbender became thirty copper pieces richer.)
Zuko snorted. "I highly doubt that."
(Said Earthbender lost ten copper pieces.)
Katara argued back. "They knew I had a crush on you! At least Suki knew."
(Ten silver gained. How Fan Girl had ten silver was beyond her.)
"And I'm telling you that no one could have known where we'd be, unless Suki read the note."
(Fan Girl had gained five coppers.)
"Toph can sense things from at least two miles away maybe three if there is no interference," Katara pointed out. To that, Zuko had no reply.
(Yes! Toph had gotten all of Suki's money.)
"So what if they know? I highly doubt Suki will tell your brother. Besides, does it really matter?" Zuko asked, coming up to Katara and taking her in his arms. Katara flushed when she realized Zuko hadn't put another shirt on. She really took in how toned Zuko had become since Ba Sing Se, when he had be comparable to Sokka. Ignoring it, Katara embraced Zuko back.
"That's true, but I just don't want to know what my brother will do when and if he finds out." Zuko brushed Katara's face gently.
"Well, if Suki, Toph, and my uncle really do know, they obviously are okay with it," he pointed out. "I don't think we have to worry."
"Just wait until Aang finds out. He's had this crush on me forever, apparently. Suki and Toph only told me a few days ago," Katara said. "I really hope he doesn't use his new Avatar powers on you." Zuko winced
"He used them on me when he had just been found, remember? He wasn't half as strong, yet I think I still have the mark." Zuko absently placed a hand on his hip, feeling for the mark. Katara giggled and placed her hand on his.
"I wonder…are you ticklish?"
"What? Katara, are you-" Zuko didn't get any further because Katara promptly started tickling him and, much to Zuko's dismay, he started laughing.
"Knew it! Hey, Zuko's ticklish!" Katara mock-yelled. Zuko, actually enjoying himself, decided to get back at the Waterbender and grab her arms. She fought, but Zuko was too strong. They ended collapsed on Zuko's bed, breathless.
"I didn't know you were capable of having fun," Katara panted, looking at Zuko. The Firebender smirked.
Sunlight hit Katara's face, reminded the young girl she had fallen asleep…in Zuko's bed.
Looking around, she realized that it was just dawn, so no one would be awake to see her and Zuko in a compromising situation.
Though, personally, Katara didn't see anything compromising about it. She was fully clothed, sleeping on the same bed as her…how would you describe the relationship between her and Zuko? Friend didn't cover it, but lover sounded too accusing.
Beloved, I guess, she thought, rolling over.
Zuko was apparently awake, because his arms instantly surrounded her. "About time," he murmured. "I think Uncle is going to make us relocate today." Katara groaned.
Unfortunately, that is precisely what Iroh proceeded to do once everyone was awake. "If I am to properly teach the Avatar Firebending, I need to be near a Fire Temple or Shrine, or in a Fire Nation town," he informed them. Sokka shook his head.
"Are you telling us that we have to go into the Fire Nation just so you can teach Aang how to light a candle without a match?" he asked. Iroh paused.
"No. There is a small town not far from here. They might have the required supplies to construct a small, portable Fire Shrine. We can take it with us when we need to. Most Firebenders don't follow the old practice of praying before practice, but I do when I can." Toph cocked her head.
"So you want to make a pocket-shrine? Hmm…where ya gonna get a statue? Don't most shrines have statues?" Iroh smiled.
"I still have a small statue of Avatar Roku I received one year for my birthday in my pocket," he told them. Zuko couldn't resist a jibe at his uncle.
"Did you get it when Roku was still alive?" he taunted. Iroh seemed shocked, but broke out into laughter.
"No, Zuko. I was born roughly fifty years after Roku's death. But the statue is one that the Avatar actually sat for." Aang perked up.
"Lemme see. I am Roku reincarnation, after all." Iroh held up his hand.
"You shall see it when the shrine is built." Aang nodded.
"Well, come on guys!" He dashed off on an Air Scooter to load up Appa. Toph shook her head, following her star pupil. Suki smiled and led Sokka away from the remains of breakfast. The remaining teens returned to the shared room. Katara flopped down on her bed.
"Just when I was getting used to a real bed again, we get dragged away," she complained. Zuko smirked and looked down at her.
"We'll combine sleeping mats while we're on the road," he promised. "Now come on."
I left this chapter like this for a reason.
I'm always getting requests to do sequels, and I thought I might try to do one with TWSH. If enough people wouldn't mind me doing a sequel instead of another 30+ chapter fic, I'll do that. I really think the handbag has done all it can do for this Zutara episode. Otherwise...well, this fic will be looooong.