Okay yeah. Me again -sighs-
This was actually written forth, but Hikaru asked for a prologue-type thing so I wrote it. –smile-
She's a new reviewer and I don't know her in any way, shape, or form, but I did it for her anyway.
And I'm sorry for picking her out of the crowd like this (yay her!) but you guys are allowed to ask for me for things! I'm more than happy to write something if it strikes my fancy like this did.
Let me make it clear:
This is supposed to be BEFORE part one.
It doesn't matter if you read it last because it's still cute anyway. It adds to the story, so enjoy!
Hope you like it, Hikaru!
Oh, and btw. I love how all of you guys are calling the original fic "WTMCO" now. That's so cute!!! I love it! It totally made my day! You guys rock! Thank you!!!-is giddy-
Conquest: Part Zero
I do not own Avatar: the Last Airbender, or any of the names or characters of the show. I merely control them for my own twisted pleasure from this point in the story on.
Katara sighed as her students filed out of the yard. Three hours, four days a week, and they were finally getting better. The children who'd migrated here from the North Pole had talent, but no drive. Peace had taken its toll on almost everyone, and some better than others.
She looked up at the sky to the half-sun that floated on the horizon. The war had been over for years, and yet some scars remained. The Fire Navy ship that she and Aang had explored their first day together was still sitting out in the ice floe, and was still a bad memory.
She wondered what the Avatar was doing now. Aang sat on the Fire Lord's counsel, second in command only under Uncle Iroh. She smiled at the memory of his laugh and his grin. To think the sixteen year old was that powerful and still managed to get under Zuko's skin almost every day. She had constant letters from both Iroh and Aang himself telling as much.
She was glad the two men had become friends. She hoped that Zuko had at least been able to accept the Avatar has an advisor… but she didn't know. Neither Iroh or Aang spoke much of the Fire Lord, and she wondered why almost daily. How had he changed? Was he okay with his position?
Did he think or talk about her at all?
Her love for the exiled prince had risen to such a level that she'd been more than willing to stay with him in the Fire Nation, to help run his country. But just like when they'd been younger, he'd turned her away, saying she needed to live her own life, not be stuck in his.
She'd understood the sentiment, but she still left him hanging from the ceiling by an ice block.She cried for hours afterwards, thinking he'd turned her away for good. But when Iroh had come to her afterwards, telling her how Zuko had nearly destroyed his room in temper, she realized he'd once again chosen her happiness over his.
She almost gone back and iced him again, but Iroh held her back. The old man told her that it was how it had to be. Katara left that night with her brother to go back home to the South Pole, but only because she didn't want to be in the way.
Years had gone by, and still no word from Zuko. She'd written him once, but never got a reply. She'd begun to think that he'd forgotten about her, maybe even giving up on her. But every time she thought that and wrote to uncle Iroh, the old man reassured her, saying that the Fire Lord would come for her when the time was right. And when he did, their feelings for one another would be as strong as ever.
She'd had plenty of marriage offers since then, but every time they were given, Zuko's face would appear in her head, and she would respectfully decline. It had gotten to the point where Sokka teased her about how she'd never settled down, and she'd begun to think the same.
She wouldn't have anyone but Zuko, and she would wait until she knew what he thought too.
The call from outside the walls that surrounded her and Sokka's house snapped her out of her reverie. The voice belonged to the oldest member of her children's class, the twelve year old Kilaun.The girl showed promise but reminded Katara of Aang at that age; much more interested in fun than work.
But as the girl ran into the yard, Katara noticed that she was running faster than she'd ever seen the girl run before, and that worried her.
"Kilaun? What is it? What's wrong?"
"Sokka says to come to the village meeting house," the girl panted as she stopped about two feet in front of Katara, "and quickly. He says there's something you should see."
All sorts of horrible things rushed through her head. Had one of the hunters gotten hurt? Was one of the children sick? She ran as fast as her legs would carry her before bending a sled to rid down the sloping show drift between the house and the village. She rode around the other small houses quickly before arriving at the meeting house Sokka had rebuilt himself using a few tricks he'd picked up from the Fire Nation's machines.
As she rushed in, she saw her brother standing at back of the building; a few of the other men were around him. Sokka was standing with his back to the entryway and he didn't turn when she raced in.
"Sokka?" she said as she ran between mats and furs on the floor where the rest of the tribe usuallysat during town meetings. She came up behind him, but he didn't speak.
"Master Katara," one of the other men said and she turned to him. Why wasn't Sokka speaking? What'd happened?
"What happened?" she said, directing her question at the man. "Has someone been hurt?"
The man just shook his head. "We got a report from one of the hunting parties today. It says there's a Fire Navy ship heading this direction." He looked over at Sokka, who sill hadn't turned around to look at her. Katara took step forward, and reached out to touch her brother's back.
"It should be here in a couple of days," another man said. She'd heard him but didn't look at him. "We're discussing what to do."
The war had taken its toll on everyone. The men were actually worried that the Fire Nation might stage an attack. If it had been three years ago, the men would already be geared for a fight. It was because they weren't sure that they were waiting for Sokka's decision.
For her decision.
"We wait," her brother said softly, and Katara smiled at him. Her strong brother, leader of her tribe, had a good head on his shoulders, especially when it came to unnecessary fighting. He wouldn't issue an order that would endanger everyone.
Even if Katara knew it was ridiculous to think the ship was here for a fight, she too was worried. Zuko had only been Fire Lord for three years, and Iroh had voiced concerns over the military following his orders before. But even then, she knew he'd never let anything happen to them, angry with her or not.
"Aang would never let anything happen to us," she said because she knew any mention of Zuko would start a battle of opinion.
Sokka nodded slowly and turned around to face her. "We will be waiting for them," he said, and rolled up the piece of parchment he'd been looking at. "If they start anything, we'll be ready for it. If they're just here to visit, we'll be ready for that too."
The men around him nodded in agreement before leaving the siblings alone in the large igloo. "What's really wrong Sokka?" she asked as soon of the other men were out of sight. "What are you worried about?"
Sokka just sighed. "There's been a rumor going around that Zuko's recruiting ambassadors from the other nations."
"That's great!" she exclaimed. "That's an even better sign of peace, right?"
"Yes," he said and walked around her to go toward the doors. "But who do you think he'll ask to sit in for the Water Tribes?"
She thought about it. Sokka would be the ideal choice; he was respected by both tribes and was technically the leader of this one. Sokka's sway with the two Poles would help in any decision making they made. He'd be a big asset to Zuko's counsel.
"You," she said, and knew why Sokka was worried. He'd have to leave home soon. Maybe even stay away for months at a time.
"No," he said and turned to her again. "Not me, Katara. You."
"Me?" Katara had never even assumed that, so why had Sokka?
"Yes," he said and grabbed his hair in his hands, pulling slightly. "You're a living symbol of what's so new about the water tribes. Everyone listens to you, even Master Pakku. If Zuko had a brain in his skull he'd pick you as an ambassador. And I'm not so sure I like that idea, because we both know he's smart."
Her brother turned away from her and looked out through the peon entryway at the frozen oceanthat lay beyond. But Katara wasn't sure he was looking at the ocean anymore.
"Sokka," she said soothingly and he sighed.
"But I can't say it's not a good idea," he finished, and she smiled sadly. "With you in the Fire Nation and Aang at your side, things could go very well for us. I just don't like the idea of sacrificing you to that place just for a better chance at lasting peace."
He sounded so torn and she understood completely. "I doubt the ship is here to take me away," she said quietly, hugging him. "Maybe it's just Aang coming for a visit."
"Yeah right. Like he wouldn't ride Appa?"
"Maybe uncle Iroh's with him?"
Sokka shorted. "Like Uncle wouldn't ride Appa."
Katara laughed and he smiled at her. "We'll just have to wait and see," she said, and walked with him out the doors. "They're been here soon, right? We'll just see what happens when they get here, whoever they are."
Her brother nodded, and she let him go, turning to walk back up the show drift to their small house. "I'll see you at home later," she called and he held up a hand in good bye.
Katara daydreamed her way through two more days before the announcement of the ship's arrival had her barely picking at her food and so nervous she was about to break apart.
What if it was Zuko? She thought. What if it was some one else? What if they were here to attack them, and she lost even more of her people? Her students? As she ran through the village at the time of arrival, she saw that no one was doing chores anymore; everyone was waiting to see what the ship would bring.
She arrived at the newest addition to her South Pole home, the small docks, just as the ship arrived.One good thing about Fire Nation ships, she thought, they were easy to dock.
She and the others members of her tribe watched with pale faces as the ship's nose broke into two and lowered itself down on the ice dock. The sick crunch that had accompanied Zuko's arrival here years ago was all in the past as the ramp gently lowered itself into the ice.
Standing ready to unload was a female firebender in light armor. Her long dark hair and tall stature told just as much about who she was as the glasses at the edge of her nose.
"Hanea!" Katara yelled as she rushed forward towards the ramp, stopping just before touch the metal. All of her fear was gone; Hanae was an old friend and had her greatest trust.
The women nodded slightly, pushing up her glasses and walked down the ramp slowly. She wasn't alone either. Few of her crew members had come along and the filed out into the ice below. Katara couldn't help but smile; this was great. There wouldn't be any problems.
Sokka walked up behind her and put a hand on her arm. "Katara, you know this woman?" he asked, and Katara nodded, smiling brightly.
"Yes! She's an old friend. She's not our enemy, I promise." Katara had barely finished speaking before Hanae arrive at the bottom of the ramp, her men in two solid lines to her sides.
"Master Katara," the older woman said, bowing slightly. "It is good to see you again."
Katara smiled and nodded her head, holding out and hand for Hanae to take in greeting. "Hello Brigmistress," she said and was taken aback by the woman's slight smirk.
"Its Admiral now, I'm afraid," Hanae said matter-of-factly.
Katara felt her smile widen. "Of course," she said and Hanae turned her gaze behind Katara.
"You must be Sokka," the firebender said, pushing up her glasses.
Katara looked around in time to see her brother nod slightly. Hanae was taller than he was, Katara thought amused as the two leaders gave each other a once over. Sokka held out his hand and Hanae took it.
"I don't know you," he said, and didn't let her hand go, "and I'm sure you're trustworthy, but forgive me if I get to the point; why are you here?"
Hanae's hand squeezed tightly, and Sokka didn't filched. Great, Katara thought with a sigh, these two were getting along so well already.
"Then so shall I," Hanae said and Katara couldn't tell who released whose hand first, but they were no longer touching. She turned to Katara and held out a scroll tied together with a red ribbon. Katara reached out for it, all the while thinking that maybe finally, Zuko had written her back. Maybe, he'd finally sent for her.
But Hanea pulled it back at the last second. "Just kidding," she said and side stepped just as Zuko walked up behind her.
All sorts of feeling ran through Katara at once. He'd grown up, was her first thought. His hair was long, was her second.
And finally, he's actually here.
She didn't know what to do. Should she hug him? No, that would freak out everybody. Should she hold out her hand in greeting? It didn't seem enough. He smiled at her as if he could read her thoughts and he held out a hand for her to take.
"Master Katara," he said, and she suppressed the urge to attack him because she knew immediately that he was teasing her. Damn him, she thought as she took his hand.
"Fire Lord Zuko," she growled, but only enough to make her feel better, and he shook his head.
"Just Zuko to you and your brother," he said and Sokka made a slight huffing sound from behind her.She ignored him in place of slowly freezing Zuko's exposed hand.
That bastard had left her to wait on her ass and now he was smiling at her like they'd just left theFire Nation yesterday. He narrowed his eyes and his smile disappeared.
"Uncle Iroh!" her brother called out from behind her and she released Zuko's hand quickly. She wondered how long had they been standing there like that. She looked up to see the old man walking slowly down the ramp, his arms placed inside the sleeves of his robe.
"Master Sokka," Iroh said, his smile as bright as it had been four years ago. "Running things smoothly I see. Had us under watch, what, two days ago?"
Katara watched as the two men grasped hands and she smiled. Iroh hadn't changed much at all. She looked back over at Zuko, who was rubbing is hand lightly, and her anger dimmed. She wondered how much he'd changed in the last couple of years; maybe he wasn't Zuko at all anymore.
Hanae appeared beside the old man and put a hand on his arm. "Let's go, general. We haveimportant matters to discuss with the boy and his sister," she said, and locked eyes with Katara for only a split second before almost dragging Iroh toward the ship. She knew Sokka wasn't inclined to follow, but he did anyway.
"Katara?" her grandmother called from the docks, and she looked back out to the crowd of villagers that had gathered and held up her hand slightly. She suppressed her anger enough to say, "We'll be right back," and turned to see Zuko waiting for her.
She walked past him and onto the ship, never once looking back to see if he was following or not.She passed by the men who were still standing on the ramp, apparently waiting for the Fire Lord to go back inside. When they didn't follow, she wondered why.
She was mad anyway. He'd better know she was mad too, because she wasn't going to apologize for anything she did to him if he pissed her off; he should know better. And it seemed he did because as she stormed off down the corridors following the sounds of her brother and uncle Iroh's voices, he didn't speak to her.
She managed to get through a few more hallways before the rage welled up and she stopped short.
"Damn it, Zuko!" she whispered hotly, and turned around to face him.
But before she could say anything else, he grabbed her and shoved her into the wall before pining her there with his body. She sucked in a breath and then tried to gasp when his mouth covered hers violently and he took from her without warning.
Oh yeah, she thought in shock as her body responded to his kiss with just as much force, he'd changed a lot in those few years since he'd been gone. She reeled at the sudden feeling of loss when he pulled away, placing his head on her shoulder.
She caught her breath in small pants as they stood there in the hallway, his body still pressing against hers. She gulped and took another deep breath, before he raised his eyes to look at her.
"I'm sorry," he said and she titled her head at him.
"For what?" she asked shakily, hoping he hadn't meant their kiss.
"For not writing you. I meant to, but…" his voice sounded hurt, and he shook his head. "Nothing I could write seemed good enough to be an apology."
She stared as he leaned back and stood up, rubbing his hand over the top of his head. He turned away from her, she wondered if he was scared of what she'd do. Her anger had pretty much disappeared, though she was still sore for being left behind for so long. But she'd understood why at the time, and she could accept it now.
"Apology accepted anyway," she said after along while.
He turned to her and smiled slightly before taking her hand in his and kissing her palm. The movement sent shivers up her spine and she suppressed the shudder.
"Come on," she said and took a step sideways to go around him and down the hallways a little further. "Let's go see about making me your Water Tribe ambassador," she said and smiled when he gave her a shocked look.
When he smiled at her and nodded, she smiled back and turned to walk down the hallway, knowing this time, he was following very closely behind.
Here's where my author notes go. Enjoy!
And there you go!! I hope you all enjoyed this little extra!
It took me FOREVER to upload this. I was trying to for about an hour but ff wouldn't let me! In the end I had to upload it as a .txt file and add all the stuff in later -screams- so frustrating!
See you next week with the first chapter of the Sequel!