He heard her stomping before he saw her.
Toph had been staying at the palace for quite some time. He wasn't really sure why, but she made good company and his uncle liked her, so he didn't mind.
He got used to hearing her footfalls around the palace, soft in comparison to every other person, everyone else who wore shoes. The maids hated the fact that she tracked her muddy feet in, but he didn't mind. It was kind of nice, and made him feel a little more regular.
He could usually tell how she felt by how she walked, unless she was being careful. Today, she sounded angry by the way she was stomping, but he could never be sure.
"Zuko!" The yell rang through the halls, and he gave a soft roll of his eyes. She slammed the door open, looking hurried and bothered about something.
She'd stayed there for the last year, of his uncle's request. Her parents had completely disregarded her since the arrival of their healthy son (something he rather despised them for) so Iroh wanted her to know she always had a place here, in the Fire Nation.
She'd grown, too. Not so much in height, which was nice, and Zuko enjoyed lording that over her at least, but she'd filled out, soft curves covering muscles from earth bending.
She'd also cut off most of her hair, saying that if she wore it up everyday that should have told her something years ago. If it was a couple years back (and he'd never admit this, even if he was paid) and she'd done it, she would have looked like a boy, but now it hung soft around her ears and her clothes clung tightly to her, so anyone would be hard pressed to make that mistake. She wasn't pretty in a general way, but she had a tomboyish roughness around the edges that he found somewhat attractive.
"Are you listening to me at all?" He didn't need to see her in order to know she was smirking. She knew she distracted him. She had a lot of fun with it, and both she and Iroh would make fun.
Well, no huge surprise there.
"I overheard some maids talking about you."
Oh? He raised a brow, knowing she couldn't see it anyway.
"They said you'd be very handsome if you didn't have a scar."
Ouch. He raised a hand unconsciously to his face and made himself put it down.
She nodded, knowing she had been blunt. "Are they right?" Her brows furrowed a little and she looked at him.
"I don't know. I guess so. Probably."
"Oh, Zuko, you are no help at all. Here, let me." A small hand, callused and pale reached up to him. "Can I see?"
They both cringed at the joke. But he was never very good at that anyway. He brought her small hand towards his face, placing it on the unscarred cheek. "Go ahead."
Her hand felt along his jaw bone, her eyes squinting in concentration. It was a weird feeling. Despite the calluses, and the callousness of her behavior from time to time, her hand across his cheek was soft and almost unsure.
She felt up to his hair line and ruffled his hair, a grin breaking out across her face. Then her hand traveled downwards, feeling his eyebrow, skimming lightly across his eyelashes, and going down the smooth plane of his nose. She came down to his lip, and bit onto her own softly, brushing against his lips, and outlining them in an almost unconscious way.
When her fingers first brushed against his scar, he gave a soft shiver. He didn't often let people touch it, and it was a strange feeling, almost sensitive. Her eyes widened a little, but there was no gasp of fear, or ripping her hand away from his face. She followed along it gently, following the planes of his scar, going up along his face, around his eye, and back up into his hair.
She smiled and he let go of the breath he hadn't known he was holding.
The smile widened into a smirk, a more familiar expression on her. "Not bad."
"My scar?" He thought it was pretty bad, and apparently those maids did, too.
"No, Princess, I was just saying those maids don't have bad taste. But, I don't know. Handsome? Might be a stretch."
He gaped at her. "What?"
"Well, I'd probably need to see more in order to have a whole opinion." Her small fingers trailed down his face to his collar and began nimbly opening his shirt.
"You know," she said, her smirk turning into what would have been a leer if she were not blind. "Got to make sure they know what they're talking about."
He was still gaping when his shirt slid to the floor and two hands started feeling across his chest and shoulders.
"Mmhmm, nice, yep." She mumbled as she went, hands pressing more firmly against the skin here. Her thumb brushed against a nipple once by accident, and then again with more purpose, as her other hand ran down his abs, to a hip bone. One hand grazed against his body as it went to bury itself in his hair.
"No, they're right. Though, I like the scar. It's beautiful, tells your story."
He sucked in a breath and began to thank her, as she interrupted with a "but that's as nice as I'm getting, Princess. Don't complain," and she pulled him down to her and kissed him hard and raw, completely the antithesis of what her hands had been doing on his face just minutes ago. Only seconds later, she turned, leaving him wide eyed and confused.
"Oh, and Zuko? These maids have also said a few things about you probably being good in bed, if it weren't for your lack of patience. You might want to prove that wrong, too. I'll be in my room."
He gawked at her as she left, and then grabbed his shirt off the floor to hurry after her.