Hope you guys enjoy, 'cause this is the first ATLA story I've ever written, and it was a fun challenge to do so...the only things I've really written for are Power Rangers and Inuyasha. However, I love Avatar 10x more than any of those, so yeah...anyway, please read on!

Katara ran through the lonely and musty deserted hallways of the air temple, her arms crossed tightly against her flimsy nightgown covered chest. Azure blue eyes were clouded over with tears, giving them the quality of the ocean during a rainstorm, while long chocolate brown hair fell freely down her back, lightly stirring in the faint breeze whistling through the halls. The tears continued to fall as Katara darted down a flight of steps and entered the courtyard, the fountain at the courtyard's center gushing luminescent blue tinted water. High in the midnight black sky rose the full moon, its pale pearly light washing down on her and the gleaming courtyard tiles, surrounding her in an angelic white glow.

"No..." Katara whispered, collapsing into a heap by the fountain, running her fingers through the cool waters. "Not again," she moaned, tears rolling off her face and dropping into the waters below, her reflection bouncing back from the smooth surface.

"Katara?" A little gasp escaped her lips, and in a flurry of chocolate hair Katara whirled her face around, her eyes widening as she saw Zuko emerge from the shadowed archway leading into the temple. He stopped and leaned against one of the arch's pillars, his posture lazy and yet still retaining a regal air. "What're you doing out here?"

"None of your business," Katara whispered, furiously wiping away the tears trickling down her cheeks, turning her gaze back to the gleaming waters of the fountain. Frowning at her, Zuko straightened up and brushed a strand of dark hair out of his intense gold eyes.

"I'm making it my business." At that Katara stiffened, her hands gripping the edges of the fountain so hard that her knuckles were bleached a pale white. Suddenly her eyes widened as she felt a wave of dark power rushing through her body, the sensation eerie...and yet Katara shivered as she felt the tingling it sent down her spine, collecting in her hands, just urging her to

"Katara." A warm hand touched her shoulder, the heat seeping through her nightgown and warming her chilled flesh. "Tell me what's wrong," Zuko demanded, kneeling down beside her on the courtyard. She glared at him, but the facade broke as a jolt of pain smashed through her, bringing more tears streaming down her face. Katara brought a quivering hand to her chest, her breathing erratic, free hand still clutching the fountain with inhumane force.

"Leave...me...alone..." she gasped, gritting her teeth as the pain in her chest increased, the tingling in her fingers growing as well. Quickly the waterbender clenched her hand, nails cutting so deep into supple flesh that blood began to ooze in her palm, seeping through fingers and coating them in red stickiness. Katara choked back a scream, instead releasing a growl as she felt Zuko's hand reach down to hers, prying open the slick fingers and revealing the blood soaked palm.

"I'm not going anywhere until you tell me what's wrong," she heard him murmur, and drew her head up, misty blue eyes narrowing in anger...and pain. Zuko stared right back, but unlike her his eyes held only concern, unusual for the quiet yet handsome firebender. "Please Katara..." he added, brushing a strand of hair out of her pasty face. Katara bit her lip, ignoring the shooting pain coursing down her body.

"Why should I...I tell you anything..." she panted, "when I can't even...even trust you?" That hit like a knife, and Zuko visibly flinched; why should she trust him when all he had done was betray her time after time?

"Your right...you have no reason to trust me." Katara frowned, for once meeting his fiery gold gaze. Zuko clutched her bloodstained hand, strong fingers entwining with hers. "But I want to earn back your trust, no matter how long it takes. I know you probably hate me, and I honestly can't say I blame you...but Katara, I have truly decided to join your friends and fight against my father, and I honestly do care for you." Zuko smiled faintly, gripping her hurt hand and staring into her oceanic blue eyes. "What's wrong with you?" Katara glanced down at their entwined hands, a small smile of her own forming. "Please..." he prodded, nodding as Katara began to speak, clutching his hand a bit tighter. Right that second her hand froze, her mouth dropping open in a seemingly soundless scream. Zuko jumped as she jerked away from him, stumbling to her feet and nearly collapsing again to the cold ground. Her eyes widened as she stared up into the dark sky, a small scream escaping her lips; the full moon hovered directly above her, the pearly light shining directly down on her and the surrounding courtyard. "Katara, what's wrong," Zuko cried, running over and barely catching her as Katara began to collapse, a grimace of pain evident on her features.

"Its...it's the bloo...bloodben...bloodbender's cur...curse..." she moaned. Zuko frowned, confusion gleaming in his eyes. Katara grimaced as another wave of pain racked through her, stinging her skin and burning her blood. "I learned how to...how to bend the water in someone's...someone's body." Within a few minutes she relayed the whole story to the former prince, finally gasping for breath at the end of her tale. Zuko, his shocked expression seemingly etched on his face, stared at the waterbender with wide eyes.

"So, this woman...Hamma...she taught you to bloodbend against your will," he said, staring sympathetically down at the pain-stricken girl, all the while wrapping a torn piece of cloth around the bloody mess that was her hand. "That's horrible and all, but what does it have to do with what's happening to you now? Katara, it looks like somethings killing you! And what's all this about a bloodbender's curse," he frowned, clutching her tighter in his arms. Katara let out a ragged sigh, a lone tear trickling its way down her cheek.

"Zuko, I never told Aang and the others this...but after that whole incident, I...I went and saw Hamma in the jail where she was being held," Katara murmured. "She laughed at me, mocked me and threw insults in my face, and she told me all about the bloo...bloodbender's curse. A bloodbender must use their power at least once every few months, or else the...the power will backfire and infli...inflict pain on themself. That is the bloodbender's curse," she whispered, "and that is why Hamma was so happy, so thrilled to see my horror when she was...when she was taken away. Hamma knew that in the long...long run I would have no choice, that I would have to bloodbend, or else the sheer power...the power itself would kill me!" Zuko gazed down at the girl cradled in his arms in sheer horror, watching as another jolt of pain made her grimace, this time bringing more tears to her eyes.

"Oh Katara..." he whispered, "you kept this from everybody else? Katara, what if you were seriously hurt?!" The firebender paused, a thought instantly coming to mind...he cared! He cared if something happened to this girl!

"Zuko, I'm never going to bloodbend again...I can't. I can't stand holding that kind of power over someone, no matter how useful it..." she broke off, stiffening as she felt another wave of energy course through her and bringing a low moan of pain to her lips.

"Katara, you have to! You could die if you don't," Zuko gently hauled her to her feet, looping an arm around her waist and holding the pain ridden waterbender steady. With his free hand he tilted Katara's face up, staring into eyes haunted by pain and grief Zuko couldn't even begin to imagine.

"No..." she grabbed his wrist, jerking his hand away from her face. "I...I can't! Don't you understand," Katara whispered, "don't you realize what it does to me?! I can't stand knowing that I bended someone to my will...it feels so wrong, and it makes me feel so...so..." she bit her lips, the tears flowing freely down her cheeks. Zuko quickly pulled the teen closer to him, embracing her in his strong arms and holding her tightly against his chest.

"I understand how you feel, but Katara...just think about what this is doing to you. If you died from this, so many people here would be lost without you. By the gods woman, don't you get how many people care about you, how I care about you?!" Katara immediately looked up at him, her shocked face all Zuko needed to realize what he had just blurted out.

"You...you care for me," she repeated, ignoring the jolts of pain that were coursing through her skin. Zuko let out a long sigh, then finally gave her a short nod, a smile teasing the edges of his lips.

"Yes. I've liked you for a while now, though I gotta admit, for most of that time I was too busy to dwell on it." Katara grinned, but the smile was short lived; the pain building up in her body finally exploded in what she felt was the worse pain the young waterbender had ever experienced. A look of anguish masked her beautiful features, her mouth dropping open into a shrill scream laced with pure terror and shock. She pulled away from the firebender and fell in a boneless heap to the ground, grabbing her chest and squeezing her eyes shut as yet another torrent of pain racked the young waterbender's body.

"KATARA!" Weakly she glanced up, wincing in pain; Zuko towered over her, the concern on his face so touching that Katara nearly smiled. "Katara, please! If you don't do something you're going to kill yourself," he cried. She felt a whimper tear loose from her lips, but Katara held back a choking scream as the firebender dropped down on one knee before her, grasping her chin and tilting her face up to look at his.

"I won't bloodbend Zuko..." she said flatly, ignoring the dark look he shot at her. Zuko's dark gold eyes lit up as if fueled by hell's eternal flames, and with a snarl he grabbed her roughly by the arms and tugged her to her feet, shaggy hair falling around his pale face. He stared into Katara's face, tear stained and yet still unearthly beautiful.

"And if you don't? What do you think'll happen to Aang and Sokka, Toph and the others? What do you think'll happen to me," Zuko added. "We'll be devastated. Katara, bloodbending is a part of who you are now, so accept it dammit! Are you going to cower and suffer every time the full moon comes around, or are you gonna take charge and be the strong and powerful girl I know you are?!" He dropped his hands, moving so that she stood lonely in the pearly moonlight, her thin frame and gaunt eyes a sight for sore eyes. Slowly Zuko turned his back to her, walking up to the steps and FROZE. Gold eyes widened, and Zuko let out a grunt as he felt his body turn back around and woosh through the air over to the waterbender; Katara stared at him, smirking as she let her arms fall to her side, the firebender gawking at her as he fell to his knees on the courtyard.

"You're right...bloodbending is a part of who I am, even though I still wish I'd never learned this cursed skill," she said, her voice stoic. "I am not weak, and I refuse to do anything that says or insinuates that I am." Katara raised her arms and Zuko rose back to his feet, arms locked securely by his side. "If practicing bloodbending means that my loved ones are kept safe and aren't hurt, then maybe it's not such a bad thing after all." She smiled, a faint but true smile that positively lit up Zuko's heart. Katara smiled up at him, and then lowered her arms so that the firebender was free to move. "Thank you Zuko..." she lightly pressed a kiss to his lips, her chocolate hair dancing as she danced away from him, running up the steps to the shadowed hallways.

"Katara." The waterbender smiled as she felt warm arms encircle her waist, and slowly Katara turned around to stare up into the handsome face with entrancing gold eyes, her hand splayed across his muscular chest. "Next month I'll be here," Zuko touched his forehead to hers, his fingers curling in her dark curling hair. "You can bloodbend on me all you want...just as long as the ending results are the same," he smirked, and then leaned down and placed a kiss on her lips, pulling her closer to his chest. After several seconds he pulled away, a cheeky grin on his handsome face. Quickly Zuko placed another quick kiss on her cheek, finally darting away into the inky shadows without a single noise. Katara watched his disappear, suddenly realizing that a large and yet extremely warm cloak was thrown over her shoulders, the material a rich ruby red. Pulling the cloak tightly around her shoulders Katara glanced up once more into the sky, blue eyes illuminated by the irridescent moonlight. She smiled up at the glowing orb, a beautiful smile forming on her lips, a lone hand reaching up to touch the pendant and necklace hanging once again around her neck, the other stroking the cloak's soft material.

"Thank you Zuko..."

Ok, I'm tired, cranky, caffeine deprived, and am now going to stop this story in hopes that you guys liked it. If you didn't, then quite honestly that's your problem and right now I really couldn't give a fuck...sorry, I wrote the majority of this damned thing from 12-7 AM, without a good amount of caffeine in my system. Oh well, I'll live. Anway, I hope you guys liked the story, and just to let you know I'm thinking about writing another one-shot describing the encounter between Hamma and Katara I wrote about above. First I'll wait and see if I get any good reviews! Heehee...geez, I must be fucking bipolar or something...actually, now I think on it, all my friends say I am...oh well. Blablabla, whatever, please review (and please ignore my attitude, I honetly love it when people review my stories...if they're good)!