Disclaimer: We do not, in any way, claim to own Avatar: the Last Airbender and it's characters. They belong to Mike and Bryan.
A month after the fall of Fire Lord Ozai and the ending of the war, Zuko found himself preparing to take the throne as the new Fire Lord. He stood in the high-ceilinged throne room, eyeing the great throne suspiciously.
"It's not going to bite, you know." He cast a sideways glance at Katara, who was standing beside him, and felt her give his hand a gentle, reassuring squeeze. "It is only a chair."
Zuko glanced back at the throne. "My father's chair. My grandfather's chair. It's been the chair of terrible men, Katara."
"But," she said softly, laying a hand on his arm. "Now it is your chair, your throne." She paused, smiling up at him. "Fire Lord Zuko."
He crinkled his nose. "What if I fail, Katara? What if—"
"If you're not good enough?" He looked down at his feet and nodded. She sighed. "What do I have to do to make you see that you are good enough? To get past this foolish notion that you'll never be good at anything?
"You are good enough in my eyes. You are great and you have the potential to be a great Fire Lord, to bring your people into the light. And yet," she paused, raising his chin and forcing him to look at her. "Yet, you don't see yourself as I see you."
He looked into her blue eyes, seeing her hope and wanting so badly to give her a reason to keep hoping, to believe in him. And, seeing her hope gave him some faith in himself. Maybe, just maybe, he could be good enough. And he could fulfill her expectations. At least, as long as she was here, with him, to encourage him.
The smile that had been spreading across his face faltered. How was he going to manage without her? She'd been the only one besides his uncle who had ever encouraged him, ever had any faith in him. Without her at his side to believe in him, would he be able to carry on and become the Fire Lord she wanted him to be?
Her brow furrowed in worry. "What is it?"
"I was thinking about you leaving. How am I—who's going to—I want you to stay, Katara."
She blinked up at him. "Zuko, I—"
He gripped both of her hands in his and hunkered down so he was eyelevel with her. "Please, Katara. I ineed/i you to stay."
"But I've been away so long," she replied, looking down. "I haven't seen my grandmother in a long time. I need to see her again."
He dropped her hands and straightened, taking a step back and facing away from her. "I understand. It was foolish of me to expect you to stay. Of course, you must return to the South Pole with your family."
"Zuko." She took a step forward, reaching out to him. Her hand hovered over his shoulder a moment before resting gently; he tensed under her touch. "I'll return, if you want me to. I promise."
He spun around, his face unguarded. Hope, amazement, awe…so many emotions flitted across his face that Katara couldn't put a name to them. "You'd come back?"
She smiled up at him. "Of course I'd come back. You may think you need me but I need you more."
It was his turn to blink at her, dumbfounded. "You…you need…me?"
Katara stepped up to him, wrapping her arms around his neck. "More than I ever thought I'd ever need anyone."
He leaned closer, inhaling the scent of her. Dipping his head, he nuzzled her neck, breathing more deeply. Katara felt his lips ghost over her jaw, his hair tickling her cheek as he raised his head to look into her eyes. His amber eyes were alight with a fire that scorched her to look at. She blushed under his heated gaze but moved closer.
He said her name softly, tenderly; a hand rose to brush a lock of hair off her face and his gaze slipped to her lips as he inadvertently leaned closer. "Katara."
She could feel his breath on her lips before they ever made the lightest of contact; but that tender touch was all it took for the spark in his eyes to jump into hers. She leaned into the kiss, twining her fingers through his hair and pressing herself against him.
This was nothing like that kiss Aang had given her long ago, on the day of the first invasion. As heartfelt as it had been, it had been one sided. Katara certainly hadn't felt anything quite like this. It was exhilarating, shivers coursing through her limbs, bringing them to life and giving them a mind of their own. Sweet, merciful gods above! She could've died right there in his arms and been so blissfully happy she wouldn't have known.
Too soon, he pulled away, gasping for air and resting his forehead against hers.
She smiled and kissed his lips lightly. "You certainly have a way of convincing a girl."
He grinned. "Do you need more convincing? You don't seem like you're really seeing things my way yet."
"And just what way is that?"
Katara and Zuko sprang apart at the sound of Sokka's voice, each blushing furiously. Zuko opened his mouth to explain but Katara shook her head at him.
Sokka grinned. "I always thought you spent too much time in that room of his back at the air temple. You were bound to form some sort of relationship. But, I'm afraid it'll have to wait for further development. Katara, it's time to leave."
"But Sokka," she started, looking across at Zuko. "We're not going to stay and watch Zuko's coronation?"
Her brother shook his head. "We can't. I'm sorry Katara but we need to get started. Dad's anxious to get back. He's been away from home for far too long."
"But surely a few more days wouldn't make that much of a difference?" Katara felt Zuko's hand come to rest on her shoulder.
"You should go," he whispered with a sad smile. "I'll try to make it through without you."
Katara looked up at him. He seemed to believe in himself, for now. How long would that last? How long before he started to doubt his ability to lead? "I'll write, okay? I'll write so often you'll get tired of hearing from me."
He ran his fingers through her hair, memorizing the texture, the cool silkiness of it. "I doubt that."
Blinking back her tears, Katara threw her arms around him, hugging him tightly. "I'll miss you, Zuko."
"I'll wait," he murmured, pulling her close, crushing her against him. "I'll wait."
Sokka cleared his throat. "Katara, we need to go. Dad's waiting for us down at the docks."
"I'm coming," she replied solemnly. With one last glance at Zuko, she began to follow her brother out of the room.
Not being able to watch her retreating back, Zuko turned away. He heard the door close with a resounding thud and it was almost as though he'd been struck in with a physical blow; he felt the pain of it.
He spun around and there she was, rushing across the room and into his arms. She crushed her lips to his, tears leaking from her eyes.
"Don't forget about me, okay?" she whispered into his ear. "Promise me."
"I promise," he murmured, burying his face in her thick hair. His arms tightened around her. "I'll never forget."
"Katara," Sokka called from the door.
"I'll let you know when I'm coming back, alright?" she said, cupping his face in her hands.
He nodded. "I'll be waiting." He kissed her forehead. "Now, go before your brother comes over to drag you away."
Katara smiled sadly, touching her fingers to his lips, and turned, walking away.
Zuko watched until the door closed then rushed to the window overlooking the harbor. He watched her appear from the palace, walk down to the docks and disappear in the distance.
Simatra: Hey, hey, Lurisa...Yo Mamma's so fat Zhao killed her mistaking her for the Moon!
Lurisa: Simatra, that's not a very nice thing to say about my mother. However, while we're on this topic, Yo Momma's so fat she tried to eat Haru's mustache thinking it was a burt french fry.
Simatra: Hey now! YO mamma's so UGLY even Iroh won't hit on her!
Lurisa: Now, just a minute there! My mother is a very pretty woman! Uncle Iroh would so hit on her... Oo ...that's just weird. Okay, new topic! We finally wrote the Zutara fluffiness! Or, as Simatra would put it, the Zutara smut! Horray for Zutara-ness!!
Simatra: Woot! It's lovely! Gotta lurv that smut!
Lurisa: So, how many of you were severly angered that all you got in the actual story was huggles? Because I just want a head count of the people trying to kill me...
Simatra: Now, now, Lurisa...I'm sure...looks at crowd of people...it was worth it...yeah...
So, thanks for all your reviews and putting up with our craziness at the end of the chapters. We really do love you guys and are way excited that people actually wanted to read this. It means a lot to both of us that you stuck with it for this long. Big, big, humungous thank yous to all of you.