I've waited ages to write this chapter. You better like it.
Zuko found her first, his fist full of flowers and his face staring at her as though he was a small child with his hand caught in the cookie jar.
"I'm not falling for the same trick again." She told him sternly, though secretly prayed that, yes, those flowers were for her.
"Actually, they're for Aang." He said with complete seriousness. "I figured I owed him some since I kinda broke his nose."
Under his breath, he muttered "Again."
If Katara heard him, she didn't act like it. "Oh," She said quietly, and tried to hide her disappointment.
It didn't work.
Zuko noticed. "Um…you can have them, if you want."
She glared at him. "What makes you think I want your stupid flowers? They'll probably explode as soon as I touch them, anyway."
Zuko frowned. "That wasn't my fault. It was Aang's. He even admitted it."
She crossed her arms and huffed.
He handed the flowers to her.
"Take the flowers." He said sharply, mildly annoyed. "I want you to have them."
Bitterly defeated, she took the blasted flowers in her hand. Panda lilies, she thought softly, and sniffed them gently. Of course, they smelled heavenly, and made her just a bit suspicious.
"You were going to give Aang Panda Lilies?" She asked, an eyebrow raised.
He shrugged. "They were convenient."
"They grow in volcanoes."
"I like volcanoes." He said plainly. "I'm a firebender, remember?"
"They're pretty." She said awkwardly, unsure of how to act around a Zuko she consciously knew she didn't hate.
He smiled warmly. "I thought you might like them."
A sudden thought occurred to her. "Wait a minute…why did you get me flowers in the first place?"
"To apologize," he began, his voice squeaking a bit. "For vomiting on your dress."
Of course. He was being his usual chivalrous self. He didn't like her, he was just being nice.
"—And," he added, and her heart soared just a bit. "Because, well…"
"Yes?" she asked patiently.
He rubbed the back of his head anxiously. "You and I didn't start out on very good term. I know you're still angry about Bai Sing Sei—"
("And stealing my mother's necklace," she added cheekily in her mind, "And not trusting me to heal your Uncle. And I'm a bit miffed about the whole 'capture the Avatar' bit, too, you know.")
"—but, well," he sighed heavily, grabbing her arms to pull her closer. "I want a second chance. I want—to start over. I…I like you, Katara, and I want…"
Quietly, he moved in closer. Subconsciously, she did as well. Suddenly her eyes were closed and she could feel his breath on her face and then---
Reality had to rear it's ugly head into things.
Kissing Zuko's probably a bad thing, she thought objectively. On the contrary, the action of kissing Zuko wouldn't be bad. In fact, she'd probably like it. And yet, what of the consequences? After all, he was fire. She was water. The two simply didn't mix. Yes, she was attracted to him, but did that mean she had to kiss him?
I mean, good gods, what if she had liked it? What if she—wanted to kiss him—more? What would happen then?
Could she really have a relationship with him? Would it ever work out? I mean, he was a Prince. If the war ended, he would be Fire Lord. That was a frightening thought in and of itself, but imagining herself in a relationship with Fire Lord Zuko was even more so.
In the deep part of her mind, she knew it would never last.
The Fire Nation would never accept her as Fire Lady. They could never marry, never 'court' openly, never have children.
She pulled back abruptly at the thought, tears threatening to spread. Out of instinct, she punched him in the gut.
"If you ever come near me again," she threatened, "I'll freeze your man-parts off."
She then froze him to a nearby tree and ran wildly in the opposite direction, hoping he hadn't seen her cry.
A/N: I've wanted to write this scene for a long time now. Also, for those of you wondering how Katara could have such deep thoughts when she's about to be kissed, I imagine that there's this five-minute-long pause in the middle there, the two of them with their eyes closed making fishy-faces at each other, both of them too sacred to actually make the move to kiss. Hence Katara's deep thinking.