I'm tearing up. Seriously. I've been writing this fanfic since my 8th grade year, and I graduated high school this year... So.. it means a lot to me.
To all my reviewers; thank you so much for giving me the drive to continue and the love that this story needed!
To everyone else who read my words, thank you. I really do appreciate that it was enjoyed by the people on this site.
So here you have it, guys, my last chapter.
I love you all.
As soon as the crown was placed atop my head by my new husband himself, I felt a new sense of purpose in my life. Zuko lead me by the hand to sit at the throne. He smiled at me, tears in his eyes.
"Fire Lady Katara." Zuko whispered, so quietly that I barely heard him.
As the guests began to come forward to meet us, I reached over to grasp Zuko's hand in mine. My friends, Toph, Aang, Sokka, and Suki were standing in the front row, smiling at us. My family was next to them.
Yes, we were all going to be just fine.
Zuko's hand was tightening around my fingers as he lead me down the hall. It was dark, and quiet, and electricity was everywhere.
It was nearing midnight.
All the guests were still downstairs celebrating, becoming slightly rowdy with all the fire whiskey that had been served. I could hear the music and the laughing still.
But we, as the Royal couple, were excused for the evening.
I'd never walked down this hall before. Zuko's room had always stayed the same, he'd refused to take up the Fire Lord's chambers unless he'd had someone to share them with. My room, the beautiful blue room that Iroh and he had decorated just for me, was locked tight. It was always there for me if I were to need it, but I had a feeling I wouldn't be sleeping in there ever again.
This hall was incredibly ornate. There were enormous paintings on the walls, mostly of past Fire Lord's and their families. The chandeliers on the ceiling were only lit enough to cast a low light upon us.
"So now is when you get to see the official royal suite for the first time." Zuko murmured in my ear, huskily. I could only swallow noisily as a tremor worked its way down my spine. This feeling was new. We'd always been affectionate and loving, but this... this was different.
I looked up at him, fear in my heart, doubting myself. But when my eyes met his golden ones, my heart dropped into my stomach and I remembered why I was standing here, with him, on this night. We stopped in front of the massive double doors that were gilded with gold and inlaid with rubies. I stood there, shaking, my massive white dress quivering around me. I was finding it hard to breathe. Zuko's hand found mine, soothing me for the moment.
"Katara. I love you." He whispered, bending down to press a quiet kiss to my forehead. I closed my eyes, a sigh escaping my lips. The ceremony had been easy for me. I'd faced thousands of people before, and I'd even faced thousands of people who wanted to kill me before. I was strong. I'd taken it well. But this...
I'd never been faced with physical love before. It scared me. It reminded me of the attachment I had to Zuko, of the bond that held me to him in a way that was entirely new to me.
"Don't be scared." The words were calming, and he pushed open the double doors before placing his hand gently on my hip. Beyond them was a sight that scared me even further.
A king size bed, clothed in elaborate gold and red sheets, was scattered with rose petals. The doors to a balcony were open, and the slightest of breezes were floating through, caressing my face with another reminder of how much I loved the man beside me.
As Katara entered our suite, I watched her every move. My eyes followed how her hair was falling out of its elaborate updo, how the strands tickled her bare shoulders before falling to her waist. They followed the lines of her wedding dress, and how it accentuated the dip in her waist and the flow of her physique. She moved like a dancer. The breeze stirred her hair, and it carried her scent to where I stood in the doorway.
Suddenly, she turned, her dress sweeping around and gathering rose petals in its wake. Her eyes were wide and filled with the shimmer of the moonlight.
"I will always love you, Zuko. I promise." Katara whispered, walking towards me with her hand outstretched. When her fingers skimmed across my scar, I felt myself begin to relax.
Our eyes met.
Our lips met.
And the doors closed behind us.
(1 year later)
"It's good to see you, Zuko. What's it been, since the wedding? Wayyyy too long. You know I've been meaning to check up on Katara in forever, but Suki and I have just been so BUSY... and you know how that is..." Sokka rambled, his wife perched delicately on his lap. I grinned at him, raking a hand through my untidy hair and waving over a servant.
"I believe my guests would care for some of our finest lunch trays, if you wouldn't mind." I said, smiling at the man before he bowed and scurried off. Unlike my father, I treated all of our attendants like actual people. Katara had befriended most of them by now, and they all adored her.
"Where is Katara, anyways?" Suki questioned, sliding off of her fiance's knee to pull up a chair.
"She'll be joining us soon, I'm pretty sure." I said casually.
"Hey! Sparky! It's good to see you again, Mr. Fire Lord!"
"Oh come on, Toph, enough with the blind jokes." Everyone rolled their eyes at the girl entering the patio. Toph had grown quite a bit taller in the past year, and I had to say, she was looking much more like a girl and much less like a mud pie.
Accompanying her was Aang, smiling bashfully and snapping his glider shut. I tensed. The last time we'd seen Aang had been the wedding, and he'd left early.
We'd all known why.
His eyes hadn't strayed from Katara the entire time he'd been there.
"You know you missed me." Toph chuckled, leaning against a tree next to us. Aang stood beside her, and to all of our surprise, took her hand in his.
"Hey, guys." He said quietly, a grin so giant bursting across his face I was afraid he'd explode.
"Hi, Aang. Looks like you've got quite a bit to tell us, haven't you?" Suki teased, waggling her finger at the two of them. Toph blushed.
"Well from the sounds of it, Sugar Queen has some interesting stuff to tell us too. I think she's coming." Toph's face lit with the usual, meddling smirk, and I shook my head in amusement.
Yes, Katara and I did have some news to share.
Some very interesting news.
As she entered the garden, her cheeks were flushed with joy and her eyes sparkled. She'd filled out in the past year, and over all, had recovered completely from Xai.
She still, every now and then, gazed off into the distance for a few moments, and I could tell she was remembering something new. It came in small bursts. It bothered her, sometimes, but other times she said it was nice to see him as an old friend and not as an enemy.
A gasp came from Sokka.
"Katara!" He exclaimed, banging his hands on the table in front of him. Suki was giggling. Toph was flat out laughing. And Aang, well, he wasn't really looking at any of us.
Even if he was holding Toph's hand, everyone knew he would never fully let go of his feelings for Katara.
Katara, who was now carrying my child.
She was starting to show, hence the cry of shock from Sokka.
"How far along are you?" Suki squealed, jumping out of her chair to hug my wife. Katara threw her arms around her friend, laughing, and played with the ends of her forever long hair.
"Just about 4 months in."
Sokka glared at me.
"Don't think I have to be okay with this just because you guys are married and all. What's with the Fire Nation and popping out kids in the first year of marriage? That's kinda twisted." He scowled. A bubble of water hovered over his head before falling on him, drenching him and causing a string of curses to burst from his mouth.
"Kataraaa! Ugh, seriously?" Sokka frowned.
Katara walked to my side, and wrapped her arm around me at the same time I wrapped my arm around her.
"I couldn't be happier, Sokka." Her voice was so calm in that moment that everyone just stared at her. It had been years since anyone had heard Katara so happy, and I took great pride in the fact that it was mostly due to me.
"Well...fine." He spluttered, crossing his arms and pouting. Our lunch had arrived, so he focused on guzzling as much of it as possible in as little time as he could manage. Katara cast her glance towards Toph and Aang, and smiled warmly.
"It's so good to see you all." She had noticed Toph and Aang's hands, and relaxed into me.
"It's good to see you too, sweetness. I guess I have to hug you and all and say congrats." Toph grumbled, pushing away from her spot on the tree to awkwardly hug Katara. I tried to hide my laugh as Katara separated from me to grab up the girl in a massive bear hug, typical of her.
"I'm so happy for you." Katara whispered in Toph's ear, quiet enough so that only we could hear.
Toph blushed again before pulling away.
As she returned to my side, we looked around at all of the people surrounding us.
"I like this. I like this a lot." She murmured.
"I do too, Katara." I pressed a kiss to the top of her head.
I do too.
It was a whisper on the wind, the faintest sound, and maybe I'd imagined it, but maybe I hadn't.
That night, as we lay in bed together, I ran my fingers across Katara's belly.
"I'm so glad everybody's staying here for a week." She said quietly, nuzzling my shoulder. I nodded.
"I'm so glad you married me." I leaned over to kiss her, brushing our noses together lovingly. As I looked at her, at my Fire Lady, my Queen, my wife, and now the bearer of my children, I felt a deep sense of joy resonating within me.
She was amazing with my advisers, a real charmer when it came to the politicians, and smart as a whip when it came to strategy. New ideas poured out of her faster than a raging waterfall. Every day was something new, something radical, something to help people.
And the people loved her; almost as much as I loved her.
I admired her, too. She was so strong.
It had been an amazing first year together, so incredible that sometimes I was afraid it was just a dream. But I woke up every morning with her next to me, and I couldn't ask for anything more.
"I love you."
I would never get tired of how she said those three words.
I trembled inside.
"I love you too, Katara."
I was ready for our lives together. I was ready to be with this powerhouse of a woman for the rest of my days, ready to be there when she was vulnerable and ready to see the eyes of my first child gazing up at me.
I was ready to die beside her when it was our time.
Love her always, and she will be the best part of your life.
I hadn't been imagining it. Xai was still here, somehow, somewhere, drifting about as a gentle ghost.
I kissed my wife's forehead, listening to the sound of her breathing as she fell asleep.
Don't worry, Xai. Katara is my life.
Every time I visited Katara and Zuko over the next 70 years, I marveled at their connection. They always loved each other with a passion that never died out, a flame that never extinguished, a tide that never went out to sea.
I was jealous for a while.
When I'd seen Katara round and flushed with their first child, I'd hated Zuko secretly.
When I'd seen her with their second child, I hated him less, because by this time, I was about to marry Toph.
By the time child number three rolled around, I had grown to respect the love that they shared. Of course, I'd always wonder what life would be like if Katara had chosen me instead, but because of Toph, that was a fleeting daydream now.
Their three children were all grown now.
Today was the day I was going to check on them for what felt like the last time.
I glided over the clouds, feeling stiff, feeling the age for not the first time. I was having trouble getting around.
But as I reached the palace of the Fire Nation, a bad feeling swept over me.
I landed by the window of their bedroom.
I looked inside.
My breath caught in my throat, my heart stopped for a brief moment of agony.
I looked away.
They were laying next to each other in quiet, eternal sleep, fingers interlocked and smiles on their faces. Zuko's scar had faded slightly with age.
They looked at peace.
The Spirit World would be good to them. They had always been good to each other. As I hovered away, I closed my eyes in grief. It wouldn't be long before their firstborn would be crowned, and he and his wife would take up the throne.
Their firstborn had Katara's eyes.
The Nations hadn't been at war for a very long time, and I knew that their son would keep the peace as effortlessly as they had.
Even still, a great sadness had taken over me.
It wouldn't be long until it was my turn to reunite with them, as well as my wife Toph, in the Spirit World.
But for now, I'd watch over the beautiful peace that they had brought to this world and keep it safe as long as I could.
A love like theirs was rare.
I had to make sure their story would never die.
Again, I love you all.
Thank you for an amazing journey.