So here it is. The last chapter of I Promise You. I hope you enjoy!

*NOTE* For the smutty version of this chapter please follow the link on my profile as this is the 'milder' version.

Disclaimer- Avatar: the Last Airbender does not belong to me.

Chapter XVII


Golden eyes stared fondly at the bright golden doors that led into his Royal Bedchamber. How long had he wished to return home, to return to the comfort of his room, to return to the loving embrace of his wife? Zuko stood before the magnificent doors for a moment as the realization that he was truly home and that he was going to see his wife again, be with Katara again, struck him full force that he had to close his eyes for a second to allow the many emotions that went through him melt gently away.

He felt his heart pounding rapidly in his chest as he quickly opened one of the golden doors before closing it softly behind him as he stepped into the opulent bedchamber. His eyes roamed around the room, taking in familiar furnishings and objects with a smile. However, when he did not see the one person that he had longed for and went through so many obstacles to see again for almost more than an entire year, he felt a bit of panic go through him and his heart clenched. Moving quickly away from the doors, he walked further into the room with a frown.

Where was she?

His eyes darted around the room once again, moving away from his wife's deserted vanity set and away from their empty bed, before he slowed down in his strides when he finally noticed that the balcony doors were opened and the thick, dark curtains were swaying gently with the breeze that blew into the room. He paused as his eyes settled on Katara standing silently outside in the balcony, staring out into the starry, night sky. He let out a deep sigh of relief and a small smile appeared on his face as he walked toward the balcony. He stopped beneath the doorframe in order to admire his wife's luscious form covered by a long blue robe that was held closed by a silver sash tied around her waist. Her long chocolate hair was loose. It swirled around her as a gentle wind blew by, and it glistened, just like her caramel skin did, under the soft light of the moon.

Agni, she was beautiful and he had missed her terribly.

"Katara," he called out softly.

Katara gasped at the sound of his voice and she turned away from the star filled sky in order to gaze upon her beloved husband whom she had missed for so long and had despaired of never seeing again.

They stared into each other's eyes for a long moment, both afraid that they could be dreaming again, yet at the same time overjoyed at the thought that they were truly, finally together.

"Zuko," Katara whispered.

At the sound of his name falling so sweetly from his wife's lips, Zuko stepped into the balcony and swiftly made his way toward her, but Katara did not wait for him to reach her, and instead raced toward him and met him halfway. Zuko opened his arms and Katara eagerly jumped into them with a cry of joy, wrapping her arms tightly around his neck while Zuko wound his arms firmly around her body and pulled her up to him until only the tips of her toes touched the floor. Their lips crashed into each other's instantly, and they kissed hungrily, tenderly, fiercely, conveying their emotions of relief, happiness, longing, and love that both could not find the words to express at the moment.

They pulled apart and they stared at each other affectionately, intensely, as if they were once again memorizing and branding each other's features into their brains. Katara had tears of relief and happiness in her azure eyes, and Zuko smiled gently at her as he softly brushed a tear that had escaped from her eye with his thumb. Katara sniffled softly and wound her arms tighter around his neck, burying her face against his throat as a few more joyful tears fell down her cheeks. Zuko buried his face in his wife's soft tresses and inhaled her scent. The familiar feminine fragrance that was Katara made his heart pounded hard in his chest, and his arms tightened around her body, as if he would never let her go ever again.

After a while, Katara lifted her head and placed a deep kiss on her husband's lips. With a groan, Zuko pressed his wife's soft body closer to his tall frame, but he was unable to curb a hiss of pain when she accidently touched a sore spot on his back. Zuko frowned deeply when Katara quickly pulled away from his mouth with a gasp, but he refused to let her go when she tried to step away from him.

"Zuko, I need to heal your injuries," Katara told him with a small frown as she tried to remove his arms from around her.

Zuko cursed his luck since what he had wanted to do from the moment he arrived at the palace was make sweet love to his wife until they both passed out from sated exhaustion. But he knew she was right, and so with a reluctant sigh, he let her go and gently settled her on her feet.

"How about you heal me while I take a bath since I'm all sweaty and bloody?" he suggested. His voice came out a bit husky and he cleared his throat as he smiled at her.

Katara returned the smile with a bright one of her own. She reached out a hand and gently traced her fingers along the rough edges of his scar before she glided them across his lips. Zuko leaned into her touch and kissed her fingers, but Katara slowly, reluctantly, pulled away when his eyes darkened again in arousal, those golden eyes she loved so much. First, she had to make sure her husband's injuries were taken care of before they indulged in their desires.

"I had your bath ready ever since Toph left me at the entrance of our room," she said with a giggle.

"I would have thought she would've stayed to badger me some more," he commented with a small grin.

"Oh, she wanted to, but…" Katara trailed off and blushed. "She said she'd do so later because…she didn't want to be caught in the middle of…" she trailed off again only to mummer, "'two horny squirrel-rabbits going at each other.'"

Zuko smiled as her becoming blush deepened in color across her cheeks before he chuckled.

"How considerate of her," he said amusedly before his eyes darkened and his voice turned deep and velvety, "Because I plan for us to 'go at each other' for the entire night and days to come."

The blush on Katara's face was for an entire different reason and she gave her husband a sultry smile.

"I hope that is true, my Lord," she purred as she reached a hand out to stroke his chest.

"It is a promise, my Lady," he growled huskily at her.

He leaned down to kiss her again, but Katara moved away a few seconds later and grinned when he gave her a frustrated frown.

"First your injuries and your bath and then…" she trailed off suggestively.

When he sighed and gave a reluctant nod of his head, she grabbed his hand and gently led him after her and back inside the warmth of their room.

"You will have to warm up the water again, though, since it's probably cold now," she told him.

"Alright," Zuko said as he followed after his wife, admiring the way her long hair swished with her movements and the way her hips gently swayed as she walked. He suppressed a groan as heat flared straight to his loins.

Once they both entered the grand bathing room, Zuko smiled as he noticed that Katarahad indeed had his bath ready for him. The tub was filled with water and there were lit candles around the room and on the far end of one of the edges of the black marble bathtub while soaps aligned one side of it. He turned to glide his fingers gratefully along Katara's soft cheek and Katara sighed as she leaned into his touch, tilting her head to the side to brush her lips against his fingers, causing a tremor to go down Zuko's spine. Unable to resist tasting her again, Zuko dipped his head down and captured his wife's plump lips in a passionate kiss. They moaned against each other's mouths, their tongues grazed and twined together, and their hands desperately roamed along the other's bodies, until they pulled apart to catch their breaths.

"Your injuries have to be seen to first," Katara reminded him again, panting heavily as she smiled at Zuko who was panting equally as hard.

She noticed the golden fire crown resting on his head and gestured at it. "Let me place your fire crown in its box," she told him.

Zuko nodded and he bent his head so his wife could reach before he straightened once she had removed it from his sloppy topknot. She untied his hair so it was loose before she ran her fingers through the dark locks.

"Please heat up the water while I take this to our room and get some towels," she instructed with a smile.

She stepped away from him with the fire crown in her hands and entered the bedroom before returning and walking toward a cabinet that stood against one of the walls of the large bathing chambers. Zuko watched her as she rummaged inside the cabinet before he ripped his gaze away from her body and placed his attention on the now tepid bathwater.

Dipping his hand into the water, Zuko warmed it with firebending before pulling his arm away once he was satisfied with the temperature. Steam rose from the bathtub and curled up toward the high ceiling, warming the room nicely. Just as he took off his pointy boots and his semi-formal robe, Katara returned and settled the towels on a small stool beside the tub before she moved toward him to help him out of his dirty and damaged clothes. Zuko watched intently as Katara slowly removed his shirt away from his battered torso, his longing for his wife's lovely body once again surfacing within him. He winced slightly as the cloth touched the large burn on his arm that Fu had inflicted on him, effectively calming down his heated blood for the moment. He schooled his features into an impassive mask when Katara lifted her eyes to his face so he did not worry her too much.

Once Zuko was standing completely nude before her, Katara bit her lip as her eyes raked down his perfect, pale body that at the moment was covered with bruises and cuts in some areas. She quickly averted her eyes and moved toward the soaps in order to stop herself from begging him to take her.

A smirk curled Zuko's lips as he moved closer to the bathtub since he had seen the desire and need in Katara's eyes as she glanced at his arousal, and he vowed that soon he will have her and will satisfy her desires as well as his own. He brushed his hand against her firm behind as he passed her, eliciting a gasp from her, before he stepped into the warm water and sat down, his back leaning against the edge of the marble tub. He sighed as the soothing water seeped into his tired muscles, his eyes drooping slightly in contentment, and waited for his wife to attend his wounds and his bath like she wanted to.

Recovering herself, Katara raised the sleeves of her robe above her elbows before she moved toward the bathtub and sat on its edge behind Zuko, her legs resting on either side of him and dipping into the warm water. Zuko let out another sigh as he leaned back against her, soaking up her comforting body and presence, before he groaned softly when his body warmed at the feeling of her soft thighs.

He snapped out of his haze when he felt the water ripple, and he watched as two thin streams of liquid rose from the bathtub and gathered around Katara's small hands like gloves. Then the water his lower body was submerged in and the liquid gloves around Katara's hands began to glow in that bluish-green light he had become used to after all these years being married to the Master Waterbending woman. He closed his eyes in pleasure as the glowing water tingled against his skin as it began to heal his bruises and seal his cuts. He was reminded of that time when Katara had used the same healing method to heal him when he had risked his life to save her from Azula's lightning. It was so long ago yet it felt like only yesterday when the crippling fear that he might lose Katara rose within him. Zuko shoved those memories away and concentrated instead on the soothing healing water and Katara's smooth legs touching his skin.

Moving her glowing hands over Zuko's upper body, Katara's heart constricted in her chest as she took in all the cuts and dark bruises that marred her husband's alabaster skin, and the memory of what Zuko had told them about of all the hardships he had gone through made tears gather in her eyes. What she would give in order that Zuko had not suffered so much!

A small smile began to form on Zuko's face as all the pain and aches melted away from his body and the water stopped glowing and returned to his original state. Just as he opened his mouth to thank Katara, he felt her wrap her arms around his now healed torso before her face pressed against his back. He frowned when he felt her body shaking and warm liquid touching the skin of his back before his eyes widened in alarm when he realized his beloved was crying.

"Katara! What's wrong?" he asked in concern as he turned around in her embrace so he could look at her. He felt his heart clench at the sight of her tears falling down her cheeks.

Katara reached a hand out to touch the smooth scar on his chest, the evidence of his love for her, before she raised her head to look into Zuko's worried eyes.

"I can't imagine all the pain you went through," she whispered, her tone laced with pain and sadness, "And I can't stand the thought that you…died! The thought that I would never see you again and that I was unable to help you, makes me feel so miserable! Oh, Zuko!" She let out a soft sob.

Zuko brushed her tears away with his thumbs before he cupped her face between his large hands so they could maintain eye contact before he leaned down to press a soothing kiss to her lips. He pulled away and again ran his thumbs below her eyes to wipe away her new tears.

"Do not worry, Katara, for I never gave up nor did I allow anything to stop me from reaching you. No amount of pain, not even death, can stop me from my desire to be with you" he told her softly. "I would endure everything again as long as it means that I remain by your side."

Zuko gently gathered her in his arms and pressed her close to him as he ran his fingers through her soft hair before he pressed his lips against her head.

"What matters now is that I am alive, I am well, and we are together," he told her firmly yet gently.

Katara pulled slightly away from his chest so she could lift her head to see him and a smile spread across her face as she hastily wiped the moisture from her cheeks.

"You're right, my love," Katara told him happily as she pecked her lips against his before she smiled radiantly at him. "We're together now and nothing will ever separate us again."

Zuko's breath hitched at the beatific smile she sent him before he crushed her to him and claimed her mouth, earning himself a moan from her. Katara shivered as Zuko's wet, nude body touched her dry, covered one. The Fire Lord growled in disappointment, however, when his waterbender pulled away from him and told him to turn back around so she could bathe him. If it weren't for the gritty feeling of his hair and skin, he would have pounced on her and taken her wildly on the marble floor. He watched as Katara gathered the soap in her hands and he sat still as she began to wash his body. A pleased sigh escaped him.

"I wanted to thank you for sparing Nobleman Chen from the deserving fate you dealt upon the others," Katara spoke up after a while of comfortable silence.

"Nobleman Chen is a good man," Zuko commented with a small shrug before his body tensed. "It was the least I could do for him since he did save you from Fu," he growled out.

Katara felt a disgusted shiver go through her at the reminder of what Fu tried to do to her before she shoved the horrible memory away. She felt Zuko tense and she sensed his rage rise, so she ran the soapy sponge soothingly along his tense muscles.

"We don't have to worry about Fu anymore," she said.

"I know, but just the thought that he could have hurt you makes me want to kill him again," Zuko responded, his tone dark and angry. The water turned a bit hotter as his temper rose and more steam swirled around their forms.

"But he didn't hurt me, Chen stopped him, and you ended his life for even trying," Katara told him softly, hoping to calm him down.

Zuko remained stiff for a moment before he relaxed against her as she continued to wash him. Gods, he had missed his wife's tender care of him and his needs so much. After being alone and without her for so long, being in her presence now caused him to feel overwhelmed with so many emotions.

"Tell me about your time with Agni," Katara's excited voice brought him out of his thoughts. "How is he like? What does he look like?" she asked rapidly.

Smiling, Zuko leaned forward when Katara began to wash his back as memories of the God of Fire surfaced in his mind.

"You know, whenever I thought about the Fire God I always imagined a frightening-looking and harsh being," Zuko began with a chuckle, "But I was surprised to see that, not only did he not look much older than me, but when he wasn't being serious, he had an almost dry sense of humor that took me completely off guard."

"I wish I could have met him," Katara said with a giggle.

She listened in rapt attention as Zuko described what Agni looked like before he recounted everything that he had seen and experienced during his time in the Spirit World. Katara still found such a thing hard to believe, but she was glad that Zuko managed to get out of it and return to the world of the living.

"It must have been so incredible to be able to ride on the back of the dragon god!" she exclaimed in amazement once Zuko finished his story before she giggled. "I can't believe I am married to a god's descendant! So does that make you a half god?" she teased.

"Well, I don't really know," Zuko admitted before he turned his head back to smirk at her, "But you can worship me anytime you like, love."

"Ha! Wipe that smug smirk off you face before it gets stuck there!" Katara huffed at him, but she was unable to stop her amused laughter.

Zuko chuckled before he sighed softly.

"I'm the lucky one to be married to you," he confessed tenderly.

A deep blush blossomed across Katara's cheeks and she smiled shyly at him before she turned away so she could continue washing him.

"I saw the mourning blanket in the Fire Lords' Hall," Zuko spoke up after a while. "It is a very beautiful piece of art and it depicts exactly what and who I am now, but I hope I don't upset you when I say that I wish to take it down. I am alive and I plan to live many more years with you."

Katara smiled and she leaned down to press a kiss against his wet shoulder.

"I won't be upset if you take it down," she told him sincerely, "I didn't plan to finish it at all, and if it weren't because of Fu and the advisors, I would have never completed it for I knew you were alive and would return to me."

"Then what do you want to do with it?" he asked curiously.

Katara shrugged.

"I could always unravel the threads and begin something new," she began with a pensive frown before she smiled. "I could depict the day you proposed to me, or perhaps our wedding day, and we could hang it in our room."

"I like the idea of our wedding day. You looked so beautiful on that day you finally became my wife," Zuko reminisced as he turned his head to give her a small smile before a wicked smirk curled his lips. "My second choice would've been our wedding night."

"Zuko!" Katara exclaimed with wide eyes.

She scowled when Zuko chuckled before she turned away so she could gather the liquid soap in order to wash Zuko's hair. She sat back down behind him and grinned when Zuko let out a groan as she scratched his head and lathered the soap in his dark hair before she rinsed it with some waterbending. She repeated the process one more time before she ran her fingers through his slick, short hair to see if she got rid of all the soap.

"Your hair is almost as shaggy as how you had it during the end of the war," Katara commented with a giggle.

"I'll get a proper haircut later," the young lord grumbled, causing his waterbender wife to laugh.

"How did Oma and Shu help you?" he asked quietly once she had calmed down.

Katara paused in her task and looked down at the sponge in her hand with a soft sigh.

"After I felt that you had…died," she began before she swallowed the painful lump that formed in her throat at the agonizing memory, "I was in so much pain and anguish that my body and mind went into shock." She felt him tense again and so she hurried to finish. "But I was led into a dreamless sleep by Tui and La in order for me to be able to handle the pain until your return."

The Fire Lord closed his eyes and grimaced before he turned slightly so he could touch her face and look into her cobalt eyes.

"I am sorry for causing you hurt," he said quietly, remorse and pain heavy in his voice.

Katara shook her head and smiled gently down at him as she grabbed his hand and rubbed her face against it.

"It isn't your fault, Zuko," she told him firmly. "Besides, love will always bring pain as well as immense happiness."

"You're right," Zuko consented with a small smile.

"Anyway," Katara continued lightly in order to dispel the sadness that lingered in Zuko's eyes, "As I slept, Oma and Shu came to me in a dream and reassured me that you were going to do everything in your power to find a way back to the living world so you could return to me, and I believed them. And so once I woke up from the deep sleep, I eagerly awaited your return and the day I would see you again and be in your arms once more."

"The main reason I was able to keep travelling through the Spirit World, the reason I passed Agni's final test and was able to return to the mortal world was because of you, Katara," Zuko told her softly, "It was because of the love I hold for you. The immense love we hold for each other."

Katara smiled blissfully at him and tilted her head so she could kiss his fingers that were still caressing her cheek before she pulled away.

"Let me finish bathing you," she said as she guided him back into his previous position in the bathtub.

Zuko obeyed quickly since he really wanted to end his bath and find a much more pleasurable way his wife's hands could be used. He felt her arms go around him so she could wash his chest and he groaned when her breasts pressed against his back and her cool breath coasted along the skin of his neck. He could feel himself getting aroused again as her hands continued to gently touch his body before a deep groan escaped his throat when she moved her hand and the soapy sponge slowly down his stomach before she rubbed them against his navel, so close to where he wanted her to touch him.

Unable to take it any longer, Zuko grabbed her upper arms and swiftly brought her around him and into the water until she was sitting down on his lap with her back pressed against his chest.

"Ah, Zuko!" Katara moaned.

"I need you, Katara!" Zuko growled out, almost desperately.

"Oh!" Katara groaned.

She was desperate to have Zuko take her too, but there was something that was bothering her that she had not been able to stop agonizing over since she had left the throne room, even though she really wanted to ignore it and continue with what both urgently wanted.

Sensing that Katara's mood had changed slightly, Zuko slowed down as he gave her a questioning squeeze, nuzzling his face against her slightly damp hair.

"What's wrong?" he asked huskily as he brushed his lips against her cheek.

"I…I want to know something before we continue," Katara spoke up softly as she sat still on his lap.

"What is it?" Zuko questioned curiously, though there was an undercurrent of impatience and need in his tone.

Katara swallowed nervously before she gathered her courage, and with a trembling exhale, she resumed silently.

"You were very vague when you recounted the time you spent at that earthbending woman's home," she began slowly, hesitantly. She took a deep breath before she let it out shakily.

"Zuko? Did…did you and Daiyu…sleep together?" she asked quietly and bit her lip.

She felt Zuko stiffened against her back, and she tensed in anxiety when he did not immediately respond. Zuko leaned slightly away from her and she turned her head so she could see him and hear what he had to say. Aang's previous words about Zuko's infidelity surfaced in her mind and her heart clenched at the thought that she might have been wrong about her husband's enduring faithfulness.

Zuko frowned at the anxious look his tensed wife was sending him and he sighed as he ran a hand through his wet dark hair.

"The reason I was vague when I mentioned about my time with Daiyu was because I did not want you to react the way you are now," he began slowly, as if trying to choose his words carefully.

Katara gasped softly as her heart wrenched painfully in her chest, and she felt her eyes begin to sting with tears at his words. So he decided not to say anything about what happened so she would not nag him about his infidelity? She felt a sense of sadness, pain, betrayal, and anger all swell within her.

"So then that means that you did sleep with her," she interrupted him with a quivering voice.

Zuko's heart constricted at the pain laced in her voice and he frowned at her misunderstanding. Katara turned away from him and clenched her hands tightly on her lap, the bathwater rippling slightly with her emotions. She made to move away from his lap and stand up, but Zuko swiftly tightened his hold on her and firmly pressed her close against him.

"Let me go, Zuko!" she hissed between clenched teeth and the water around them quivered more strongly as she tried to get out of his strong hold.

"Katara, listen to me!" Zuko ordered firmly as he once again tightened his arms around her while he ignored her attempts to get away from him. "You didn't let me finished! Perhaps the way I said it came out wrong, but what I meant to say was that I didn't want you to come to the wrong conclusions about Daiyu just like you are at the moment!

"So you're saying that I'm overreacting?!" Katara asked angrily, but she ceased in her struggles so she could listen to him.

"Katara," Zuko growled at her stubbornness before he sighed. An argument with his wife was not what he had anticipated when he stepped into the room. He pressed his cheek against hers and inhaled her scent before he continued.

"I have to be honest with you and say that I almost…did do something stupid," he told her truthfully. He felt her tense again and he squeezed her middle gently. "But that was only because I was caught off guard while I was sleeping and I thought it was you. Daiyu tried to persuade me to give into my needs, but the thought of seeing your hurt and betrayed eyes stopped me, and I firmly refused her offer."

Katara felt her heart begin to ease at his words and she relaxed slightly in his warm arms.

"So…does that mean that…" she trailed off, now embarrassed for her jealous outburst.

"I didn't sleep with her, Katara. I couldn't," he told her honestly. "You are the only woman that I want and need," he continued as his voice became soft and husky, "Not only do you have such a delicious and tempting body but you have such a beautiful soul and heart that I sometimes wonder if I truly deserve you."

"Zuko," Katara began, trying to return the sentiment, but her words were cut off by a gasp when Zuko gently sucked at the skin below her ear.

His arms loosened slightly from around her so he could trace her curves from her shoulders, to her slim waist, over her flared hips, and down her thighs. He raised one hand to gently grasp her chin before he turned and tilted her head back so he could bestow an astounding kiss on her mouth that had them breathing hard against each other. When it seemed they were about to passed out from lack of oxygen, they pulled apart.

Panting hard, both from trying to get some air into her lungs as well from her fierce arousal, Katara stared intently into Zuko's darkening, amber eyes and she found that he was being truly sincere in everything he had told her. Her heart constricted and she felt ashamed that she had doubted her husband's honor and fidelity. What kind of wife was she that she would begin fighting with her husband just as he finally returned home after suffering so much pain and hardships just to return to where he belonged? She felt her eyes water, but this time out of shame and anger at herself, and she lowered her head, her long unbound hair covering her face, so she did not see his honest and handsome features.

"I'm sorry, Zuko. I never should have doubted you," she said almost in a whisper.

She felt Zuko's fingers press gently against her chin, and she reluctantly lifted her head, preparing herself for his righteous anger at her doubts. But she was confused when Zuko's face was not contorted with displeasure, and instead, he was frowning slightly at her.

"You don't have to feel so bad about it," Zuko chided her gently, "It's understandable why you would think such a thing, but promise me that you would never doubt my loyalty and love for you, Katara. Promise me."

"I promise you that I will never doubt you again, Zuko," Katara replied quickly, sincerely.

Twisting her body so that she was sitting sideways on Zuko's lap, she threw her arms around his neck and kissed him fiercely, as if to seal her promise. Zuko growled in approval at her fervent display of affection and returned the kiss just as ardently, gripping her soft hair in his hand and tilting her head to the side so he could slant his mouth against hers and hungrily devour her mouth. When the need for air became too great, Zuko pulled back only enough to have some space for them to be able to gather some air, and his dark, golden eyes stared intently into her dazed, blue orbs.

"You are the only woman who can aroused me so much that I think I'd go insane with passion," he groaned lustfully against her lips.

Zuko let out a fierce growl as he crushed her to him and again captured her mouth in a mind-blowing kiss that conveyed all his feelings and desires he had for the beautiful woman he was married to. Gathering her in his arms, Zuko swiftly stood up and stepped out of the bathtub, the water splashing onto the black marble floor in his haste to get Katara to their bed. Bending the water from Zuko's body and her long robe, Katara wrapped her legs around his waist.

Without parting from each other's mouths, lips, and tongues, Zuko made his way back into their opulent room and quickly walked toward their massive bed. They both fell onto the soft mattress, limbs intertwined with each other's and mouths devouring the other's, as hands roamed over soft curves and hard planes and fingers curled through long, wavy tresses and short, dark hair.

In one swift tug, he had the silver sash around her waist untied and forgotten on the floor next to the bed. Panting heavily, Zuko parted the folds of her blue robe and groaned when he saw that she had been completely nude under the robe all this time.

"I see you were waiting for me already, my lovely wife," he growled out with a pleased smirk as he looked up to see her flushed face.

Katara returned his smirk with one of her own as she wrapped her arms around his neck so she could pull him up for a kiss.

"Just like I promised you I would be when you returned, my dear husband," she purred against his mouth.

Zuko smiled at her before he pressed his lips to hers in a soft kiss that conveyed his gratitude and appreciation.

"Oh, Zuko, I missed you so much," Katara whispered softly near his ear, panting and trembling with emotions and arousal.

"You have no idea how much I longed and needed you, Katara," he confessed just as softly, nuzzling his face against her soft throat.

With a soft sigh, he lifted his head slightly so they could see each other before he gave her a small smile.

"I never thought I would miss a person so much it hurt, I never thought that I would long for someone so intensely, I never imagine loving someone so immensely, but it's what I felt and feel when I am away from you," Zuko confessed truthfully.

"Oh, Zuko!" Katara cried out as she gently touched his face, "The way you describe it is the same way I felt this past year, the same way I feel. I don't ever want to be separated from you again. I won't be able to bear it a second time."

"You won't. I will never leave your side ever again," Zuko told her intensely as he gazed deeply and definitely into her loving eyes. "We will be together forever, love."

"You promise me, Zuko?" she asked him softly.

"I promise you, Katara," he responded firmly.

Their lips met again, gently at first, and then wildly, passionately, as if they were trying to infuse their lips together as they began to make passionate love to one another.

When they were done, they laid together wrapped in each other's arms. A soft breeze blew in from the opened balcony and they shivered slightly. Zuko rose his body temperature in order to warm his wife and he smiled when she sighed contentedly within the protection of his embrace. After a long moment, when it seemed that her liquefied body could move again, Katara pressed her face against Zuko's strong chest and nuzzled against his sweaty and warm skin. She felt Zuko squeeze his arms around her and she smiled happily when she felt him press a kiss to her head. She returned the gesture by placing a kiss on his skin right on the light scar on his chest before she tightened her hold of him.

"Thank you," she heard Zuko say and she raised her head to look at him.

"For what?" she asked softly.

"For waiting for me, for loving me," he told her tenderly as he ran his fingers through her chocolate tresses.

"I promised you that I would wait for your return and would have still waited even if it took my entire life," she replied truthfully as she gazed softly into his eyes, "And I will love you always."

Zuko smiled down at her before he brought her close to his chest again, whispering the same words into her hair.

"I don't ever want to live without you, Zuko," Katara spoke up softly after a while, almost in a whisper, as if afraid if she said it too loudly her fears would come true.

"I don't want to live without you either," Zuko responded firmly, "But you will never have to fear about that, my little waterbender."

Katara smiled at the endearment and she again kissed his skin.

"Promise?" she asked again, only to be able to hear his reassurance and confidence once again.

"I promise," he replied resolutely as he gave her a small squeeze.

He reached out a hand to brush her rich brown hair away from her face and caress her cheek before he lifted her head so he could look intently into those cobalt eyes of hers he loved so much and swore he will see for the rest of his life. He bent his head down to place a kiss full of promise and love on her plump and parted lips. He pulled away and pressed his forehead against hers, their eyes still maintaining contact.

"Nothing will separate us ever again. We will always be together, even beyond death, for we are soul mates, Agni has told me so, and we will always find each other," Zuko whispered fervently, "This, I promise you, my love."

"I know," Katara replied with a radiant smile before she pressed her lips against his to convey her trust in him and the great love she held for him. When they pulled apart, she reached a hand out to caress his own face just as he did hers a moment ago.

"I love so much, Zuko," Katara told him softly, "So, so much."

Zuko grabbed her smaller hand gently in his, bringing it to his lips so he could kiss the soft skin on her knuckles as his golden eyes stared with a burning intensity into her shining blue orbs.

"And I love you, Katara," Zuko replied fiercely, "More than you can imagine."

Their mouths found each other's again as the love they held for the other expanded within them.

Shivering at her cool breath coasting along his warm skin and the sweet way she said his name, Zuko promised himself that he will send a message to his advisors to informed them that he will look into the urgent documents in the privacy of his rooms and that he would not be attending the meeting in three days like they had said. He planned to spend his time with his wife for more than just three short days.

All throughout the night and well into dawn, the sounds that were heard within the Royal Bedchamber were moans and groans, pleasured screams and growls, giggles and chuckles, and the whispered promises of eternal love.


Exactly nine months after the Fire Lord's return, the Royal Couple was blessed and overjoyed with the birth of a healthy baby boy, who looked like the spitting image of his father except for his blue eyes. The entire Fire Nation and the Southern Water Tribe celebrated the birth of an heir and they never had to worry about the royal bloodline ending. Katara always found joy as well as amusement at the doting way Zuko behaved toward their son despite the fact he tried to retain his cold and impassive mask.

Iroh decided to place his teashop in Ba Sing Se in someone else's capable hands so he could live permanently in the Fire Nation with his nephew and his growing family. The Dragon of the West took it upon himself to teach his great-nephew everything he had taught Zuko about firebending whenever the Fire Lord was too busy to train his son. Iroh had no qualms in spoiling the little prince—even though the Fire Lord had vehemently ordered him not to. But Zuko finally listened to Katara and gave up after a while since he knew his uncle would never listen to him. He especially could not do anything about it when Katara's family pampered his son whenever they visited the Fire Nation or Zuko took his family to visit the Southern Water Tribe.

Chief Hakoda was beyond please to see his daughter and son find the happiness that he himself was unable to fully enjoy when his beloved Kya was ripped away from him. Due to the war, he was unable to be there when his children grew up, so he tried to make it up by doting upon his numerous grandchildren. Poor Suki now realized that when Sokka had told her once they got married that he wished for many children he had not been kidding. Sokka and Suki were the proud parents of ten boisterous and adventurous children who terrorized their tribe and the Fire Nation Palace whenever they visited.

Chen was able to expand his father's business in only a few years and he became one of the most powerful and influential noblemen in the Fire Nation—of course, that had a lot to do with the friendship he held with the Royal Couple. He began to frequent the young noblewoman who had been in love with him since they were children, and it was not long before he realized that he had fallen deeply in love with the sweet woman. They were married the following year and lived happily for the rest of their lives.

Many of the banished noblemen suffered a much worse fate. With no name or money, they were forced to either look for work or live in absolute misery. Many were unable to handle their circumstances and ended their lives. A few tried to revolt against the Fire Lord, but they were quickly apprehended or killed for trying to bring harm to his family.

Toph had decided to move back to her family's estate, but she quickly moved out of the house when they wanted to marry her off to one of the idiot Earth Kingdom noblemen in order to unite their families. The rough earthbender refused to be confined like the other meek noblewomen whose only duty was to be submissive to their husbands and give them children, and instead, she traveled throughout the Earth Kingdom to hone in her skills and enjoy her freedom. She would occasionally visit her friends in the Southern Water Tribe and the Fire Nation, but she always returned to her travels. It was a few years later that she caught the eye of a young wealthy merchant off the coast of Kyoshi Island, who left everything behind in order to follow her. Toph threatened him many times for him to quit following her, but he would only laugh and declare his undying devotion to her, so she gave up and allowed him to do what he wanted, though inwardly she was pleased. It only took a few years before she finally stopped being stubborn and accepted his affections wholeheartedly.

As for Aang, he continued to travel around the world, settling disputes, saving villages, and giving aid to whoever needed his help. It was years later that he finally visited the Fire Nation Palace where he apologized for his previous behavior and promised never to interfere with the love between Katara and Zuko. A sort of truce and a tense friendship settled between the Avatar and the Fire Lord in order to keep the woman they both cared for happy. Aang never married, although he did sire a son with an Earth Kingdom woman he had met and who had unfortunately died during labor. Aang doted on his only child and taught him everything there was to know about airbending. Katara had tried to persuade him to find another woman to marry and love, but he had refused. Although the reason he gave his worried friends was that he was too busy to be able to keep a wife and make her happy, the real reason, one he kept secretly hidden deep within his heart, was that he would always be in love with Katara until the end of his current life.

Zuko kept his promise of never missing a day of making love to his wife and showing her the love he held for her. So it came as no surprise when his wish to fill their palace with the laughter of children came true, much to the annoyance of his wife since it was she who had to give birth to them. But nonetheless, the Fire Lady loved her husband and their children and never stopped showering them with her love. And she especially had nothing to complain about in those passionate moments she shared with her husband that never diminished even as the years passed by.

Zuko was relieved to see that all of his children got along quite well, unlike the hostile relationship he had shared with his crazed sister, and he was proud to know that his eldest son took his duty as older brother seriously. So when his children were old enough not to be constantly at their parents' side, Zuko would take Katara on vacation so they could spend time alone, just the two of them.

Wherever the Fire Lord went, either to sign a treaty with another nation or to inspect his lands and colonies, his Fire Lady was always at his side. Nobody ever saw the Royal Couple far from each other, and when it was necessary for them to be apart, everybody could see that their separation affected them deeply.

And that is how their legend began. The legend of Fire Lord Zuko's amazing journey to return to his wife, of Fire Lady Katara's faithful anticipation of her husband's return, of the everlasting love they shared with each other that not even death could dissolve, and of the importance of unbreakable promises.

The End

A/N: Aww! It's over! *sob* I hope I didn't disappoint. T-T

I'm sad to end it, but now I must focus on other projects. I might come back to this to fix all the errors and revise it in the future.

Thank you so much to those who have reviewed and placed this story in their favorites and alerts!