Chapter 3: The Heir Apparent.

AN: Okay, I haven't done anything with Avatar in a while. This was the last Avatar fic I worked on; and for quite awhile, it only had two reviews, both from the same person. So, I switched venues. I've been into Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles lately, but TwilightG sent in six different reviews asking for an expansion of this story. So, I'm going to give it a go.

It had been two months since the Fire Lord locked up his daughter, and he had been thinking about it ever since. It wasn't that he felt bad for his daughter. Ozai was above such petty affect. What was bothering the lord of fire was that he now had no heir to succeed him. Zuko was banished. Azula was imprisoned, and Ursa wouldn't be giving him anymore children. Ozai considered just getting a new wife or maybe a concubine, but he decided against it. The dragon's blood that had for so long flowed through the veins of his family was cooling. There had been to much inbreeding and selection of week counter parts. That's why Ozai had chosen Ursa in the first place. He knew that she was the granddaughter of Avatar Roku; and although she was not a bender, fire flowed strongly through her blood. No, any child born of another woman would be inferior to his first two.

So it was with great reservations that Ozai decided to pardon his son and welcome him home. However, there was still one problem. No one knew where Zuko was. The fleet that had once searched the earth for the Avatar, now searched for the prince of flame.

The ships scoured the Earth Kingdom rivers, searched in the frigid polar waters and combed the shores of the flaming isles. A few even went further than that. They got completely lost and ended up at Kyoshi Island. Where, as luck would have it, Zuko was enjoying a picnic with his new wife, Katara.

Katara "This day is so beautiful. I wish it would never end."

Zuko "It's not half as beautiful as you."

Katara laughed. Zuko could be so corny sometimes, but she found that she enjoyed it. "Talk is cheap. Actions speak louder." And with that she pounced on him. They rolled down the grass covered hill, both enjoying themselves, and came to rest at the bottom. Zuko ended up on top. He began to lightly kiss the bottom of his wife's neck. She giggled. "Zuko, stop. You know I'm ticklish there."

Zuko laughed. "Hey, you're the one who started this. I think I should just…"

Zuko's voice trailed off and Katara became nervous. "Zuko, Honey. What's wrong?"

Zuko rolled off of Katara and recomposed himself. He pointed out to the sea. "Fire Nation ships."

Katara gasped. "We've got to warn everyone." Zuko nodded. He and Katara both started running back to the village.

They reached the village too late. The Fire Nation ships had already landed. The admiral in charge of the ships had demanded the towns food to resupply their ship's store. The town had refused, and the fire benders had begun burning everything in site. The Kyoshi Warriors had mobilized and were trying to hold the fire benders back, but their were just too many of them. Sokka and Suki were standing back to back and holding their own against eight, but as soon as they took one out two more were waiting to fill the gap.

Katara saw that her brother and his girlfriend were surrounded. She summoned up all the water around her and formed a large wave. The wave swept a section of the enemy benders away. Katara ran to Sokka and Suki's side. Zuko just rushed the other fire benders. He began to cut through them like a knife through butter. Fire bending was an expression of the bender's inner rage. And Zuko now had more of that than anyone on the island.

He had finally found happiness and inner peace. He had truly wanted nothing more than to live a quiet life with his beautiful wife, maybe raise some kids together. But his father just wouldn't let him be happy. Of course, Zuko had no idea that the fire benders were actually looking for him, to bring him home. However, he knew that whatever there purpose was, it was ordained by his father. So, Zuko displaced all the rage he felt for his father toward the fire benders that he was fighting now.

Sokka wasn't too pleased with his sister's choice of husband, but he had to admit that Zuko was useful in a tight spot. They were actually gaining some ground. Zuko was leading the attack and the rest of them were just following and cleaning up what he missed or left behind.

One of the captains noticed the display and called the Admirals attention to it. "Look sir! They have a fire bender."

The Admiral looked at the advancing enemy and replied, "What? Where did they get a… Wait a minute." He grabbed his spyglass and zoomed in on the enemy leader's face. "That's Zuko!" He turned to his captains. "tell your men to charge the enemy fire bender, but not to kill him. We must capture him alive. Huh, there'll be promotions in this for all of us."

Zuko was tiring. That was the problem with just giving into rage. It made a fire bender much more powerful, but it drained their stamina quicker. He was starting to slow down just as all the remaining enemy began to direct their attacks at him. It was too much. Zuko kept trying to fight, but he ended up passing out from the exhaustion. He was captured, but the fight had had a terrible price for the other fire benders. They had lost too many men. Even without Zuko, their enemy was still advancing, albeit at a slower pace. The admiral ordered a retreat.

The doors to the inner chamber opened up and Zuko was escorted forward.

Ozai stood up. "Ah, my son. Welcome home." Ozai noticed that Zuko's hands were bound. He turned to one of the escorts. "Why are has hands tied?"

"Well, he sort of killed a hundred of us. Sir."

"Really? Exhalent!"

"You're pleased that we got killed?"

Ozai replied in the same tone as a teacher trying to explain something that should've been apparent. "Of course. It means that my son has grown strong in his exile." Ozai turned to his son. "See, it was for your own good."

"Whatever."

Ozai snapped, "I see that you've also grown insolent. Be careful. I will forgive it this time, but I may not next. You've just returned home. You wouldn't want to be banished again."

"I haven't returned home. I've been kidnapped. I don't want to be here. I just want to go back to my wife."

"You, you have a wife?"

"Yes. Katara, and she's the most beautiful water bender in the whole world."

"But I'm offering you power, riches, a throne. Don't you get it? I'm restoring your honor."

"No thanks. I'd rather just go back to my exile."

"What's wrong with you?"

"Nothing's wrong with me. I just want to go back to Katara."

"But you're the prince. You can have your pick of any woman in the land. Tell you what, you can even have Azula."

Zuko's face turns green. "What the heck is wrong with you? She's my sister!"

"Oh, drop the innocent act. I already know that you slept with her at least once."

"You're deranged! I've never slept with Azula! That's just so wrong."

"Deranged! How dare you speak to me like that! Oh, I get it. You're trying to make me mad so that I'll exile you again. Well, I will not be manipulated. You're the fire prince and that's all there is to it."

Zuko stops his foot. "I don't want to be the fire prince. I just want Katara."

Ozai walks back to his throne and turns to his most trusted adviser. They begin to whisper.

"What's wrong with my son?"

"Well, he said that this Katara was a water bender. Maybe she's bewitched him."

"Can they do that?"

"Some ancient texts say that they have the ability to invade another's mind. So I think it's possible."

"Is there any cure?"

"I don't know, but the doctors claim that leaches will cure just about anything."

Ozai turns around and proclaims, in a loud voice, "This is a sad day for the Fire Nation. Although my son has returned stronger and more powerful, he has been bewitched by the spell of a water bender. He must be treated. Sequester him in his old room and send for the doctors. Tell them to bring their leaches and whatever else they can think of."

The guards begin to carry Zuko away. He is kicking and screaming, "No! Wait! You don't understand! She didn't bewitch me! I just love her! Would someone please just listen to me!"

Ozai just shakes his head as his son is dragged away. "So sad. I do hope the doctors can help him."