'Rhapsody of Fire and Water'

Summary: This story is set in a world where life is simpler and Zuko isn't hell bent on hunting down Aang. Katara and Sokka have just moved to the Fire Nation with Aang in search of a Fire bending teacher. Katara has only heard of the fiery tempered Prince (who's also rumoured to be quite a hottie!). Fatigued from their move, and desperate to replenish herself in her watery element, Katara goes in search of a river near her new home. Here she encounters a stranger (yep, you know who). She's rather taken by the stranger, until she learns of his true identity. Then the complications begin.


Prologue: The Encounter

"Talk about a fish out of water! What possessed me to come along with Aang and Sokka to the Fire Nation? It's like living in a city made of dessert!" Katara grumbled, wiping sweat from her sun bronzed brow. "I'm surprised my sweat hasn't evaporated into puffs of smoke in this place!" After living her nomadic existence with Sokka, Aang and Appa for countless months, Katara had thought settling in one place for a time was a blessing. "That's sounds absolutely lovely!" she'd nodded happily when Aang brought up the idea.

"A blessing all right. NOT!" The water bender grunted, stomping down a disused dirt path she discovered, wafts of red sand swirling around her. Where the path led she knew not. But at least here, a beaten trail behind the humble adobe Aang had found for them, a faint lingering of flora misted the air. She was female after all, and didn't think the bouquet of cement, dirt and armour oil was as sexy as Aang or Sokka did. As she sauntered down the path, random sprouting saplings hugged to the of hem overgrown trees. The sight afforded Katara's parched mind with hope, that where there was verdant vegetation, there HAD to be life giving water.

The Fire Nation was majestic, impressive above all her sheltered life's expectations. Unfortunately, it was as dry as a prune sitting in the sun for an eternity. "Were you expecting anything else?" Katara quipped testily to herself. "Water! I need water!" The silk length of her hair trailed behind as her feet ate into the dirt path, running down the never ending trail shaded by trees. A shimmer of aqua glinted through a tiny circlet of an opening, marking the end of the path. A familiar, sorely missed scent tickled Katara's nostrils; the fresh, minty fragrance of crisp of cooling MASS water!

"Whoooaa! I can't believe it!" Katara wailed, punching her fists to the sky, exultant. "Water! And not from a tap! A whole lake! And it's all mine!" She wailed eyes ablaze with adulation. The lake sat hidden between a drought ridden valley. Tufts of greenery bloomed around the waters edge. Blushes of perennials hung from moss covered boulders.

"I'm so happy I could pee!" She screamed to the cloudless sky. "Oh my!" The prim voice in Katara squeaked. She darted her eyes around pensively, embarrassed, checking no breathing creature or god forbid, a person heard her speak so crassly. "No one heard me say that, right?" In a heartbeat, Katara's water tribe cerulean robes dropped to her ankles. Feeling safe and confident in this secluded oasis, Katara dived head first into a deep stretch of water, shimmering its invite to her. She sliced through the brisk liquid, undulating as one with her element. Minutes later, she surfaced floating, almost falling asleep on the bed of water. Wrapped up too tightly in her bliss, Katara's usually keen eyes failed to detect a figure watching her from the shore. She dipped under the water, swimming without a care to the shores. She sprang to her feet, waded to the waist deep edge while wringing the excess water from her hair, ready to pull herself out. She planted her hands on the dirt ground. Those two boots weren't there before right?! She asked herself, panicked, unable to pry her gaze from the immaculate, polished boots.

Her glowing turquoise darkened to indigo. In pained slow motion, Katara slid her eyes up the boots, the long lean legs clad in perfectly pressed pants, rushed up to broad shoulders in burgundy robes. An alabaster, chiselled face smiled down to her.

Amber eyes fell on blue.

"Not very modest are we?" The stranger eyes ignited with admiration, casting his glance over Katara's sopped (and see through) white hemp sash covering her chest that left nothing to the imagination.

"AHHHH! Don't look!" She plunged onto her knees into the safety of the waters, covering herself with her arms.

"You shouldn't be here," the stranger informed Katara, his voice a rich timber that made her bones wobble. "It's best you leave before you're discovered," he continued flatly.

Katara's cheeks scorched and seethed under the water. Only her eyes peeped up like wild blue whirlpools, bewildered and chagrined at the stranger, who now held his hand out to her.

"Come, let me help you," he offered, beaming a smile that could have stopped the world's orbit.

"Like this!?" Katara stammered, refusing to budge.

"I don't mind," the stranger smiled without a hint of licentiousness. The lack of sauciness in the man's tone mortified Katara more than when Sokka walked in on her in the bath room.

"In a pig's eye-" she hissed slapping his hand away.

"Did you hear all the talk about the Avatar coming to town? Can you believe it?" said one soldier emerging from the trees.

"Yeah! I wonder what he's doing here?" A second soldier asked eagerly to his friend.

"Move! Now!" The stranger warned Katara in a low, urgent whisper.

"Wai…!" the words flew from Katara's lips as she was unceremoniously dragged from the water. The man had scooped her up in one deft swoop, picked up her clothes, and hauled her by the waist behind a nearby boulder.

"Shhhh!" He hushed, pressing a long slender finger to his lips. Katara had no problems remaining quiet –for once- and found herself staring at the strangers lips. She was shivering from the cold clinging to her skin, and wedged herself hard to the boulder covering her assets up as best she could. Adrenaline and nerves played a hand too. Plus the hunk beside her.

"I heard two Waterbenders came with him too! Who knew? Two Waterbenders!" One soldier continued in astonishment.

"I wonder what they look like? My pappy used to tell me stories about them…" The second soldier chimed.

Katara's nose began to twitch. She started to suck in deep gulps of air, the dust filling her nostrils. "H-Hat-" Her faced pinched, unable to contain the sneeze.

"Don't! Shhhh!" The stranger muttered into her ear, desperately clamping his hands over her mouth and nose.

The soldiers' conversation stalled.

Silence hung in the air.

"Did you hear that?" One of them asked.

Katara's eyes bulged out of her face in fear, staring at the golden-eyed stranger, staring at her. Silence clouded behind them from over the boulder where they hid.

The soldiers scanned over the lake and nearby outcrop of boulders for anything suspicious. "It's probably some crazy critter running in the shrubs," another replied. "Let's go. I'm starved."

A few moments later the man released Katara from his hold. "It's okay. They're gone now,"

"T-Thank you…" Katara stuttered, two thirds grateful, one third mortified at the state she was in. She'd never hear the end of it if Sokka knew.

"Here, you look cold," the man offered, pulling off his richly embroidered jacket and wrapping it around shoulders. "You need this more than me," he smiled, and Katara thought she felt the world's orbit stall, before restarting its rotation.

"I-I don't even know your name," she muttered shyly, pulling the lapel of his jacket closed around her. A small engraved wooden box fell from inside the jacket, thudding to the ground. What looked like seeds scattered to the ground.

"What's this?" Katara asked about to pick up the odd coloured seeds.

"I'll take that," the man said, quickly snatching the box and its spilled contents into his pocket. "Let's keep this our little secret okay?" He suggested, a stern tone to his voice. "Can you do that for me?" He asked, pulling Katara up by the arms as he stood.

Katara, feeling like a Waterbender seven feet out of water, nodded mutely. She saw no harm in his request. He did just save her barely covered backside.

"Thank you," he said, beaming and displaying his perfect white teeth.

"It's the least I could do-" Katara flustered.

Then he kissed her. A hot, liquid embrace that sent her lids fluttering with alarm, before they closed to the sensation of his tenderness. This time the orbit of Katara's world did come to a screeching halt, and crashed in a heap at her feet.

"I must go before I'm missed," the stranger informed Katara as he pulled away. "I apologise for disturbing your swim," were his parting words to her, before the dark haired stranger vanished. Running into a thicket of bushes skirting a large swelling of rocks, that melded to the wall that extended from the portion behind Katara's new home.

"I don't even know your name..." Katara whispered after him, the balls of her fingers trailing over her lips, holding a little longer onto her first kiss.

AN: My first Avatar fic...so I'm a bit intimidated. Heee. I've always wanted to write one but didn't know where to start. I got the idea in my head and well, it just had to come out. I wrote this in three hours starting from midnight. LOL. It's now 3.00am in the morning and I have to get up at 7:00am for work. (T.T) I'm not sure if anyone is interested in reading more. It's an experimental Prologue. I apologize for any silly mistakes you'll find as I have no beta for this fic. It was something I HAD to get done or else I knew I wouldn't be getting any sleep this morning.

If I continue, you'll see the rest of the brood, Aang, Appa, Sokka et al. Zuko may seem a tad out of character but all will be revealed in time.

Disclaimer: I don't own anything to do with Avatar: The Last Airbender. I'm borrowing the characters from the awesome cartoon to try and improve my writing and release my creative juices.