Zutara Week 2008 Challenges

Author: Jade Sabre

Author's Note: So way back in July of '08 (has it really been that long?), someone (apparently named Greenifyme) over at DeviantArt suggested that the week preceding Avatar Finale Week be dubbed Zutara Week, and that the entirety of the Zutara fandom would thus follow a series of prompts and upload a work of art (or an AMV or a fanfic, etc. etc. etc.), thus creating a joyous fandom party week for Zutara, leading up to the finale week, which many of us suspected would spell the canon doom of our ship (but hey, we still have post-canon!).

I sadly did not get myself in gear for Zutara week proper, but during the few days of Finale Week leading up to the premier of "Souther Raiders" I buckled down and came up with my contributions…which I then sat on, because my beta was in the throes of Kataang delight and I didn't want to spoil her fun. Finally, though, we have both achieved enough distance from the finale for me to get her to beta my shorts, and so here they are.

I should add that while I had seen "Boiling Rock" at the time of writing these, all of them (except for "denim") are set pre-Boiling Rock, and I wrote all of them before seeing "Southern Raiders." (Wow, that brings back spoiled-versus-non-spoiled memories, doesn't it?)

I've missed writing for Avatar; with any luck, posting these will get my muse in gear and convince me to write more.

Future author's notes will not be this long, I promise. :-)

Reviews, as always, are treasured and appreciated long after you've finished submitting them.

challenge 1: denim

Katara has sailed the world and seen its wonders: sunrise at the Northern Air Temple, where the sun comes to eye level, rather than simply passing overhead; the walls of Ba Sing Sei, ultimately indestructible even when the government was not; Aang's smile, after so many weeks and months of hardship, of setbacks and failures, a sign that perhaps they might survive this intact, if not unscathed.

She has seen smaller wonders, as well, and it is one of these that comes to her mind, unbidden: standing in a backroom of a dusty Earth Kingdom shop, listening to a weaver explain the process that creates the tough, durable fabric in her hands, the only blue fabric they have available. It didn't match her clothing, and yet she couldn't stop running her hands over it, feeling the minute twill weaving, the diagonal ridges, marveling at its strength as the weaver demonstrated its resilience. The weaver had spent most of her life attempting to develop something that would withstand the mining conditions her husband endured; the one bolt that Katara held in her hands was her ultimate result, too late to save her husband from a rockslide, and offered freely to the companion of the Avatar. She refused, of course; she left it for the other miners, and kept for herself the texture, and the look in the weaver's eyes.

The dust billows in clouds around her, and the sun blazes brightly in the sky, and Ozai is defeated and the Fire Nation soldiers are in retreat and Aang is—somewhere—and Sokka is—somewhere else—and she stands in the middle of a ruined hallway in the Fire Nation palace and thinks of clothing, as if she is nothing more than one of the girls cowering in the large houses outside, a girl whose life consists only in shopping and wondering what style will be fashionable in the coming months. Her clothes are ripped and bloodstained, and a year old, and will probably not survive the boiling necessary to clean them; but she does not think of them. The incongruity of her surroundings and her memory confuses her, and for a moment she loses all sense of place and time and finds herself floundering in a sea of endless violence, rock slides and waterbending and firebending colliding in her head, and she shudders, unable to latch onto any one image in the cacophony of her mind.

A light touch against her cheek returns her to the weaver's shop—I wanted to help him, but I was too late—and then she is aware, instantly and completely, that she is standing in the middle of a ruined hallway in the Fire Nation palace, and that more importantly, she is standing in Zuko's arms, and he in hers, and it isn't fabric against her cheek, it's his scar, tough and soft all at once, just as she remembers it, brushing her neck as he buries his face in her shoulder and breathes her name, and she tightens her grip on him, solid and warm and resilient against her, and alive.