A/N: This is my first ATLA story. I've been a fan of the show for a very long time, and I am a huge supporter of Zutara. Quite frankly, it makes a lot more sense than Kataang, and I was really ticked off by the series finale. I can see where Kataang supporters might be coming from, but honestly it just doesn't make sense. So I decided to write this little story. I have no idea how long it will be, only that things change and people change. I think Zutara would happen in the end, and this is my little version of it. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I am enjoying writing it!
An Important Note Before We Begin: Please excuse the Kataang-iness that happens for a few chapters here. I promise you it will end soon!
Summary: Destiny is a funny thing, you never know how things are going to work out... Things change and people change.
Prologue: One Year Later
It wasn't the voice that startled Katara out of her reverie. It was the owner of the voice sitting down beside her on the dock that did it. She frowned, refusing to meet his curious stare. "No I'm not!"
He chuckled slightly as he watched the Waterbender bite her lip out of the knowledge that her response was just a little too quick, a little too insistent. He let a few moments pass in silence, knowing she would open up eventually.
Katara sighed and her shoulders hunched as though her problems were bearing down on her physically. "How'd you know, Zuko?"
The young Fire Lord grinned sadly, shaking his head, his unruly black hair falling into his eyes. "I'm never happy, Katara."
Katara's frown deepened. "I'm not sure you'd understand."
Zuko watched as Katara glowered down at her reflection, kicking a dainty foot through the water in order to break up her image.
"It's…Aang," she said when the water stopped rippling and their twins settled back into place.
He noticed her eyes jump to his face in the water's reflection, gauging his reaction. He swallowed forcibly, immediately uncomfortable with the direction that the conversation had suddenly taken. "O-oh." He cleared his throat. "Is something, um, wrong?"
"Yeah. I… Well, I'm not exactly sure if I feel…" Her voice trailed off and, suddenly, Zuko understood what the girl sitting next to him was getting at.
"You don't know if you feel the same way anymore," he said, his left hand curling around the edge of the dock. "Yeah. I know what that's like." Zuko watched Katara's eyes slide closed out of the corner of his eye.
"I'm sorry. That was really insensitive of me to say you wouldn't understand."
"No, it's okay," the Firebender replied. He'd brought an end to his crumbling relationship with Mai not even two weeks before. She'd been less than willing to break up for a second time and it had been more than Zuko had bargained for. A lot of tears and some very violent curses had emitted from the usually cool and detached girl before she left the palace in a rage. No small amount of antique vases and other various artifacts had been broken on her way out. Zuko doubted Aang would have any kind of reaction like that if Katara went through what Zuko thought she was thinking of going through with. Not that she had the heart to do it.
"It's been so complicated since the beginning. I feel like he wants this so much more than I do. I told him once-after we saw that horrible play-that I wasn't sure… I'm still not sure."
"You've been feeling like this since that play?!" It took a lot of Zuko's effort to keep the venom out of his voice. That play…it had been nearly a year ago! If Katara still wasn't sure about her relationship with Aang, Zuko felt there was something very wrong with the petite Waterbender. In his own case, well, he'd always liked Mai, even if she was boring; it had just taken him a little while to realize that there was little more to her than a fierce desire to up her social status. That and an obsession with ordering his servants around. Plus, she'd never really understood him.
Zuko shook his head to clear his thoughts, focusing back on what Katara was saying.
"Actually, I've been feeling this way for a while… Ever since y-" Katara suddenly stopped talking, her cheeks flushing.
"Ever since what?" He was really paying attention now. It wasn't often that Katara cut herself off, and when she did it was mostly because she was refraining from voicing her more personal thoughts. He'd learned that through observation. Observing her was so much fun; she was such a complex individual once you got past her hopeful, positive exterior. In fact, Zuko had found that he and the water tribe girl were very much alike.
She was looking at him now, her eyes wide. "By the gods! How could I have been so stupid?!"
And then, out of nowhere, she was muttering to herself about powerful benders and predictions and palm readings. Her voice was too quick and low for Zuko to hear properly, but he still managed to pick up key words like "tall" and "handsome." By Agni, was she relating those words to Aang? The kid was a shrimp! Katara herself had a good few inches on him. And handsome? Well, Zuko personally didn't swing that way, but if you like a bald monk with big ears…
"Uh…Katara? Are you okay?"
"Huh? Oh, yeah. Sorry! Something just dawned on me." She flashed him a brilliant smile that temporarily stopped Zuko's thoughts. But as soon as the smile came, it was gone and Katara sighed miserably. "It really doesn't make sense, does it? I mean, Aang's the Avatar. Most girls would kill to be in my place. And here I am questioning it."
Zuko placed his hand on hers and offered her what he hoped was a comforting smile; this was nearing a very girly area and he was way outside of his comfort zone. "Katara, you can't control the way you feel."
She sighed and leaned against him. "I know. And I like him, I really do. But he's always gone now that the war's over and he's still a kid."
The Firebender looped his arm around the blue-eyed girl's shoulders as she spoke. He had a feeling he was enjoying their closeness a little more than he should have been, considering the fact that Katara was currently taken and he had just broken up with Mai, but, strangely enough, it felt right.
The sun was beginning to set now, casting a delicate glow over the palace grounds. Zuko was thankful that Hakoda had requested that Katara stay in the Fire Nation while he and Sokka took some reinforcement troops out to the more troubling places in the Nations. It was nice to have some company around the palace. Katara was a bubbly person to have around, and she'd proved to be a force to be reckoned with when involved with any political issues. And she was like Zuko's own personal little sun. Even when Mai had been around, Katara had been able to bring him up from the pits of despair he'd often found himself in. Of course, now that Mai was out of the picture, there really were no pits of despair, but now Katara needed him and he was glad to offer any assistance.
"And the worst thing is that Aang just doesn't understand," Katara said suddenly. "No matter how hard he tries, he just doesn't get where I'm coming from or what I'm going through."
"I had the same problem with Mai," Zuko replied.
"I don't want to hurt him."
Please review! Even one word responses are fantastic and keep me going! No flames, though, please.