Author's Notes: Okay this is my first Zutara fic, so please be gentle. Constructive criticism, especially about characterization, will be appreciated. This takes place during "The Crossroads of Destiny". Please read and review.


Beautiful

Zuko always loved beautiful things.

His mother had been beautiful and she had loved him; she had been the one to teach him the value of life and how very beautiful and unique it was not just for humans, but every creature.

She had taught him another thing though.

Beautiful things were fragile.

She had just disappeared and he had no idea if she was dead, or alive, or just out there biding her time for whatever reason she could have.

He missed her deeply but tried to never let it show. He was a prince of the Fire Nation, exiled or not, and princes were supposed to be proud, and strong, and noble. And giving in to feelings like sorrow was just not princely behavior.

His sister, Azula, was beautiful.

But Azula was a cold, predatory kind of beautiful. She was like a wild animal. Azula could appear as beautiful and harmless as she wanted, but he knew from personal experience that she was about as harmless as the most experienced of assassins.

Azula taught him several things, mostly about deceit and betrayal, but one thing in particular.

Beautiful things were the most dangerous.

Katara was beautiful. Even in the dim lightening she shown with some sort of radiance that deeply appealed to him; he had noticed her attractiveness before, but he had always brushed it off as unimportant, except now he found it impossible to ignore since all of his plans, all of his intelligence, all of his will, had failed him and he was imprisoned alone with her.

Her dusky eyes were burning with hatred, for him, for the Fire Nation, and for whatever crimes either or both had committed. Her soothing voice had risen a few decibels as she screamed at him, releasing prejudice and anger pent up over countless years.

And he was her unfortunate target.

Why did anger always make things more beautiful? Why was it that people always appear their best when their eyes and faces were lit up by the embers of hatred? He didn't know the answer, and he doubted there was one.

"You have no idea what this war has put me through! Me personally! The Fire Nation took my mother from me."

Katara was beautiful when her eyes were wide and fighting off an unavoidable film of tears.

"I'm sorry. That's something we have in common."

He forgot one lesson.

Beautiful things always hurt the most.