So, I decided to dabble a bit in post-finale Zutara. Flames will be ignored, but please, enjoy :)
She was naive to think he would love her forever.
She would lie awake some nights and simply stare. Ponder. Wonder if she truly did make the right choice and if he truly did see her as a prize. Aang saved the world, gave people hope, mammoth accomplishments for one so young. Yet while his heart was wizened beyond his years, it was the little things – the way he smiled, laughed, kissed her – that gave away his true age. Aang was a boy of fifteen and she a girl of seventeen, so young for their relationship, caught between the gates of adulthood and childhood. Katara had stepped beyond that gate months ago, while Aang remained on the cusp, unsure and needing guidance.
And, as she looked at him sleeping, he looked less The Avatar and more like Aang. Simply Aang, the boy she had laughed, cried, suffered with. He was her friend and she wouldn't trade it for any worldly or unworldly possession. Katara hated herself for wishing to do just that when dark thoughts crept into her sleeping mind. She would have dreams, terrible and spectacular dreams of gray nights, firelight and skin. Terrible because the dreams featured Zuko, kissing her, loving her, in every way Aang couldn't; at the same time, that made her visions spectacular. She would wake gasping, a familiar heat coiled deep in her belly, and Aang would stir beside her but not wake.
His skin was soft and pale as she stroked his cheek. Aang would smile and mumble her name sleepily. It was a routine, like clockwork, it had happened every night since the defeat of Ozai. Katara would never admit to herself that it had occurred many times before as well. Come morning, he would wake to kiss her on the cheek and she would smile, pretend she hadn't imagined his lips as Zuko's. The day would pass without a worry. She never imagined the routine to break. Aang took her aside one night, the moonlight reflecting bright and omnipotent in his wide eyes. His mouth was set in an expressionless line, though a hint of worry lingered on the edges.
He asked her if she loved him. Not as a brother. Not as The Avatar. As Aang.
He knew she lied as she said yes. He tried to hide the sadness in his smile, but she saw it anyway.
The next morning Zuko was at the doorstep. He was invited in without protest, given food and drink, neither Katara nor Aang questioning the absence of Mai. All three shared stories, memories, laughter. As if Zuko wasn't crowned Fire Lord at all. He was just Zuko, as Aang was just Aang. Duties as The Avatar and Fire Lord waited for the day. It was Zuko who pulled Katara aside after dinner, asking if it was true. Katara wanted nothing more than to say no and let her dreams become reality. She wanted to stop as her lips slowly formed around the words 'yes, Aang and I will be married in three weeks.'
Zuko dropped her hand, turned his back, and wished her a stiff goodnight.
Katara didn't sleep, afraid to dream of wet skin and admit they had occurred many times before Ozai's defeat. Beside her, Aang stirred beneath the covers. She knew he was awake, yet pretended not to know. For Aang's sake. She had done all this for Aang's sake, not because she felt he deserved her, but because she thought he would love her forever. Zuko was gone when she awoke and opened his door. Just like that, three weeks passed in a rush of thoughts and congratulations, wishes for a happy life together with many children. She was given fine gowns, flowers, jewelry.
And Katara didn't care less.
The night before their wedding, Katara and Aang sat watching the stars. No words were exchanged. Their hands didn't touch. Only the sound of midnight creatures stirred the air. Then Aang spoke. He didn't look at her, stared into some unknown world he wasn't welcomed to. A mere spectator watching happiness roll by with the moon. He gave up happiness with a few pained words and a sigh. Katara could feel the weight of it all escape his body with that breath. She didn't hug him, didn't put a hand on his shoulder. Katara thanked him, rose, and left.
That morning, it was Katara at Zuko's doorstep. He took her hand, smiled, and wished her a good morning.