Hi, this is Libros! I hope you like my story.
Katara smiled softly, the past week had been peaceful. She had made a definite effort to not argue with Zuko, and it was paying off.
"What are you so happy about?" Toph asked, leaning against the courtyard doorway.
"Nothing," Katara responded quickly, returning her attention to the pot she was stirring with her bending.
"Liar," Toph responded. "Your heartbeat just sped up and you want me to believe that you're not lying?"
"I'm just happy!" Katara exclaimed. They spent a few seconds in silence before Toph spoke up suddenly,
"So, how do you feel about Zuko?"
Katara, who had just taken a trial sip of her broth, spit it out onto the ground in surprise.
"What do you mean?!" She cried out, and then added in a quieter voice, "What could I be feeling for him? I just got over hating him a couple of days ago now!"
"You're such a bad liar Katara. I've noticed how your heart always speeds up when he walks into a room, even sometimes when he just talks to you," Toph informed her cheerfully. "You do know the value of what I've learned, don't you?"
"What do you mean?" Katara asked wearily, glancing at Toph with suspicion.
"Well, you wouldn't want to have this becoming common knowledge," Toph said. "How would you manage to survive when Zuko knows?"
"You wouldn't!" Katara exclaimed, her eyes going wide in shock.
"Well, there are ways to prevent it," Toph said, smiling sneakily.
"I'd do anything!" Katara said, not bothering to hide her panic. Her life was weird enough without Zuko thinking that she liked him as more than a wary friend.
"You're going to do all my laundry for me, and you're going to stop taking Aang away from his earthbending practicing so much," Toph offered. "Is it a deal?"
"You're cruel," Katara muttered, before continuing, "Not like I have much of a choice, it's a deal."
"Good, well, I'll see you at dinner!" Toph said cheerily, waving as she walked off.
Katara took a deep breath and then called everyone to dinner. They came quickly, it had been hours since they had last eaten, and they were starving. Zuko was the last one in, and he was walking nervously, still not sure of his position in the group. Katara found Toph smiling to herself, and realized that her heart was beating faster than normal, and all she was doing was watching him.
Katara handed everyone their soup, eating hers in a morose fashion, thinking about her rotten luck with guys in general. Haru and her had never become anything more than friends, and Jet had betrayed her. Now she was supposedly, (she didn't believe what Toph had told her) being attracted to Zuko of all people! As soon as she was done eating, she excused herself and went to her room to get to sleep. By the time she reached her room, she couldn't get her mind to slow down enough to let her sleep. The prospect of having to wash Toph's dirty clothes in the morning wasn't very appealing, even if she normally ended up doing it anyway.
The knock at her door surprised her, but she got up, expecting it to be Aang or even Toph, but instead she saw Zuko, who looked extremely nervous.
"What do you need?" Katara asked, trying to keep her voice civil, she was sleepy, and he was intruding.
Zuko visibly winced at the snap in her voice, and she felt bad. Just because she was having a bad day didn't mean she had the right to take it out on him. Before Katara had the chance to apologize, Zuko spoke up,
"I was wondering if you're feeling okay. You don't usually leave before everyone else is done. Especially not before the dishes are washed," Zuko said, a slight note of teasing in his voice.
"Oh, I forgot! I guess I'm more tired than I thought!" Katara exclaimed, moving to walk past him and out the door, but he grabbed her arm.
"Don't worry," Zuko said soothingly, "I have Aang and Toph working on it right now, she'll keep him from breaking anything, and he'll do all the work."
Katara was surprised that he'd been so thorough in arranging a break for her, and she smiled thankfully.
"I'm tired, I've been busy, so I think I'll go to sleep now." Katara said, removing her arm only to have it grabbed again.
"Why don't you just tell me what's wrong?" Zuko asked suddenly, confusing Katara.
"What are you talking about?" Katara hissed, starting to get annoyed, she was tired after all, and being nice to Zuko was a new thing for her.
"I'm talking about the fact that you just sat there through dinner, and no matter how many times they said your name, you didn't answer them once!" Zuko said, a little annoyance slipping into his voice, but he quickly regained control. "Aang kept trying to show you a new move, and you just kept muttering, uh-huh without even looking up!"
"Was he upset?" Katara asked, worried that her not paying attention to him might bring him to do something dumb, like ride an Oonagi.
"Yeah, at first, but Sokka offered to watch instead of you," Zuko told her. "But it all comes back to why you were out of it in the first place?"
Katara bit her lip anxiously, a dark red blush spreading across her dark face. It was one thing to admit something like that to a friend, but to the very guy it involved, impossible!
"Well, you see, Toph has something she can sort of blackmail against me, and I was worrying about that," Katara said, choosing her words carefully.
"And you won't tell me what it is," Zuko stated, and Katara nodded. Sighing, he continued, "Well, we'll have to come up with something."
"What do you mean?" Katara asked, confused. They walked over and sat down on her bed as he began to explain,
"I can't just let this go. What if you stay distracted and someone get's hurt? Plus, if it's so important to you that you are this worried about it getting out, than I won't let Toph tell anyone."
Katara's mouth dropped open in surprise at the sincerity of his comment, but he continued,
"So let's get to planning, shall we?"
Katara yawned, Zuko and herself had been up late the previous night, plotting. Now it was time to set their plan into motion. Toph stomped in, and glared in her direction.
"Sugar Queen! Why wasn't I in my bed when I woke up this morning?!" Toph accused.
"I don't know what you're talking about Toph. Oh, by the way, you're laundry is done," Katara said calmly.
Toph grabbed her clothes and stomped off.
For the next five days, each morning Toph came to Katara having had something worse occur, and every morning Katara would deny the accusation and give Toph her clothes. Finally, on the sixth day, something changed.
Toph stomped in, grumpy. This was the last straw.
"Fine!" She yelled. "Your secret is safe! Just leave me alone!"
"Okay," Katara said cheerfully. "You're laundry's done."
Toph glared and grabbed them, off to complain to whoever would listen about Katara's cruelty.
"That went well," Zuko said from where he was hiding in a stream of water.
"Your plan was genius," Katara admitted, and Zuko blushed at her rare compliment.
These past few days had taught Katara something. Zuko had changed, and she liked that. He'd told her more of his past as they'd planned out their revenge, and she in turn had shared some of hers. She had even gotten to the point that she thought Toph might just be right. Admitting it, however, was a totally different matter.
"Zuko, come over here, I need to tell you something." Katara's lips spoke without her consent. He looked surprised, but he did what she asked and came over still dripping. Trying to delay, she waterbended the water out of his clothes.
"Well," Zuko encouraged her.
"IthinkTophmighthavebeenrightaboutmelikingyouandIdon'tknowhowtotell you." Katara said, all in one breath.
"Repeat that?" Zuko asked, only catching the words, Toph, like, and you. "But first, I need to tell you that I really like you. There, I said it. Feel free to kill me any time."
Katara almost leaped for joy. He like her back, even after everything she did! But still he didn't make a move, and Katara realized that he didn't want to force her to kiss him, or even to like him. Slowly, her face moved towards his, and they kissed.
High above them, Toph and Aang were holding hands and watching (or in Toph's case, feeling the vibrations) of Zuko and Katara kissing.
"Hah! They thought they could out play me!" Toph laughed. "I'm brilliant!"
Well, I hope you liked it! This was brought on by Black-footed Ferret's review of A Water Tribes Valentines Day. They said that they thought Katara should be the one to kiss someone instead of being kissed. So, this is dedicated to you!