DISCLAIMER: I don't own Avatar: The Last Airbender nor am I affiliated in any way with Michael Dante DiMartino or Bryan Konietzko. This story is purely fan made.
This oneshot is set during the early days of Zuko joining the Gaang at the Western Air Temple. Enjoy!
The stars lit up the dark sky, small pinpricks of hope in an otherwise black existence. There was no moon out tonight.
Lying on her back on the concrete floor, Katara could associate with the stars. Every night they shone valiantly alongside the moon, whose mere presence could light up the whole sky. They showed that, although darkness could be suffocating, it could never take hold of everything at once. Of course, without the moon the night would be at its blackest.
Her friends were like those stars. They worked alongside a shining hope to give the world reassurance. And when their moon had been obliterated - however momentarily - they paled in comparison.
"It's a beautiful night," a voice murmured nearby.
Katara sat up so quickly that her head spun, not a good thing when she was as close to the edge of the temple as she currently was. She tried to regain composure long enough to answer in her usual dismissive and scathing manner to the unwelcome newcomer.
"It'd be better if I could spend it alone," she hinted coldly. Not exactly her finest comeback, but it would do for the time being.
"Spend it alone or spend it without me?" Zuko asked as he sat down beside her.
Katara stared stonily ahead, her legs swinging slightly over the edge of the floor. The space below mirrored that of above: a black abyss. Their surroundings weren't exactly inspiring but they were easier to look at than the traitorous Fire Prince.
"Either," Katara answered. "Both."
"Are you off on your own to spite everyone else or to spite me?" Zuko asked, glancing sideways at her.
"You're very self-centred," Katara muttered. "But of course, I already knew that." She looked at him out of the corner of her eyes before quickly snapping her gaze forward when she found he was watching her. "I'm on my own because I want to be, not to spite anyone." She paused. "Although if I'm spiting you then it's an unexpected bonus."
"You're not," Zuko assured, finally turning his eyes away from her and towards the ever-stretching night in front of them. "Which I know is a load off your mind."
Katara bit the insides of her cheeks to stop herself from smiling, something she realized in absolute horror. She shouldn't be talking to Zuko, let alone laughing at his stupid, sarcastic comments. She should get up and go to bed like sensible people were.
She shifted her legs, meaning to get up and walk away without a word.
"I got you something today," Zuko said suddenly, noticing that she was about to leave.
"What?" Katara frowned, her cerulean eyes locking with his golden ones.
He looked away awkwardly. "We went to the market, Sokka and I, to see if we could get supplies."
"What? You could've been seen!" Katara told him furiously.
"Which is why we didn't tell you beforehand," he said with a slight smile that made Katara look away. He shrugged. "Well, I don't have to give you the gift."
Katara was silent for a moment, desperately wrestling with her curiosity.
"You want it, don't you?" he asked her, his voice making her heart beat that little bit faster.
"What?" she asked, her eyes wide.
"The thing I got you," Zuko clarified as though she was an idiot. "Also, that's like the third time you've said 'what?' in less than a minute."
"You're mumbling," Katara lied. "Speak up next time."
"I'll be sure to do that," Zuko said slowly, his forehead creasing as he frowned.
This is going sensationally well, Katara thought sardonically, praying that the darkness hid her blushing cheeks. She was annoyed at herself for feeling embarrassed and even more annoyed that Zuko was the one making her feel that way.
"Anyway, it's nothing much," Zuko said, suddenly sounding nervous. "I noticed that you'd been arranging your hair differently recently and I thought that it might be nice if you had something to help keep it in place ever since you got rid of those…things that you had in your hair."
"Hair loopies?" Katara suggested, raising her eyebrows as Zuko took a breath.
"Right. Hair loopies." He paused and glanced at her. "Hair loopies?"
"Sokka's words, not mine," Katara shrugged before her expression hardened. "And I can't be bought, you should know that."
"I didn't do it to get you to like me," Zuko told her, suddenly irritated. "Although it'd be nice if you could at least try and forgive me."
"Then why did you do it?" Katara asked, turning to him, skipping her pointless explanation of why she couldn't forgive him just yet.
Zuko didn't answer for a long time. The light breeze around them lifted his long raven hair ever so slightly as Katara watched him, waiting for his reply.
After a minute and a half had passed in silence, she sighed angrily and made to stand up again.
"Just forget it," she scowled. "This is stupid."
It wasn't the harsh commands that she had been used to from him. It was a soft request with more than a small hint of pleading. He tilted his head to look at her, his eyes like melted gold.
"Please," he added as she looked down at him.
She didn't know why she sat back down, but she did.
Zuko smiled at her briefly before he withdrew the small gift from a pocket in his shirt. Katara watched him cautiously and hesitantly reached forwards as he opened his palm.
A beautiful azure hair clip lay there, managing to gleam through the darkness. Katara studied it closely, finding that it matched the color of her eyes almost exactly. Her fingers grazed Zuko's soft palm as she picked it up, causing him to drop the hair clip and her grip on it to loosen. It clattered to the stone floor, narrowly missing falling over the edge and into the abyss.
"Sorry," Zuko murmured as he reached to pick it up.
"It's okay," Katara replied quietly, also about to pick it up.
Their hands brushed again but neither managed to retrieve the clip.
"I'll get it," Katara told him quickly, although she had moved her hand back sharply the moment it had touched Zuko's.
After making sure that Zuko had gotten the message, she snatched the clip up from the ground and cradled it softly in her hands.
"Is it okay?" Zuko asked, peering anxiously at it.
"It isn't broken," Katara assured him.
"Actually, I meant…do you like it?"
"It's nice," she answered, her voice barely above a whisper. "It's more than nice. It matches my eyes."
"I know." Zuko cleared his throat awkwardly. "I mean…what a lucky coincidence."
Katara glanced up at him with a smile she couldn't conceal. It was hard to hate him when he was like this. It was a side she had never seen to the banished Prince before, apart from a brief glimpse in the catacombs of Ba Sing Se. It was a side she wanted to see more of, although she wouldn't admit it.
Instead of speaking, she drew her hands to her hair and, after fiddling with it for a moment, fastened the clip just above where her hair became tied. She turned her head so that the back of her hair was visible.
"Does it look alright?" she asked.
Zuko only smiled.
"I…thanks," Katara managed as she turned her head back around to face the night sky.
"You're welcome," Zuko murmured in reply, also looking forward. "For what it's worth, I really am sorry about what happened. I hope that, one day soon, you can forgive me."
When Katara only sighed lightly, he nodded and stood up.
"It's getting late," he explained. "Will you be alright on your own? Stupid question, of course you will be. Well…goodnight."
"Goodnight," Katara answered softly.
With a last glance at her, Zuko began to walk away, his heart heavy and confused.
"Oh, and Zuko? This doesn't change anything. I still don't like you."
But when Zuko turned to look at her, her eyes were averted and there was a small smile on her face.
Hello, hope you all enjoyed my oneshot.
After the cast was announced for the Avatar film, "The Last Airbender" I found that I really missed writing Avatar and Zutara. So here is my remedy. For anyone reading my HP fic 'Echo' don't worry, an update will be coming along soon.
I'd appreciate it if you reviewed, thanks for reading! (:
By the way, if you don't know the cast list for "The Last Airbender" then you will (in my opinion) die of shock when you find out who's playing Zuko. And not in a good way.
On that ominous note, I bid you farewell and a Merry (early) Christmas!