Title: Ever After
Summary: Zuko and Katara's married years, because happily ever after is vastly over rated.
Coupling: Zuko/Katara, obviously.
Genre: Angst/Romance
Rating: M/R
Warnings: Language, character death, slight sexual content.
Disclaimer: If I owned it, it would have been canon. The song belongs to Hinder.
Slight AU Note: Iroh became Fire Lord before Zuko, because I do not believe Zuko was prepared to rule the nation when the war ended. Everything else is canon.


I just wanna be alone tonight
I just wanna take a little breather
Cause lately all we do is fight
And every time it cuts me deeper
Cause something's changed

Without You – Hinder

--Part One--

It was the one year anniversary of Fire Lord Zuko's reign on the throne, the mark of ten years of peace, and he was supposed to be happy, celebrating, on top of the fucking world. It was everything he had ever dreamed of. But Zuko had never felt so miserable in his life.

It had never quite clicked in his head that the start of one Fire Lord's reign meant the end of another's - one could only take the throne once their predecessor had passed it down. It had never quite clicked in Zuko's head that he could only take the throne when Iroh passed it on to him. Once Iroh passed on. So as far as he could see it, one year of his reign was nothing more than the one year mark of his Uncle's death.

So on that day, he cut himself off from everyone as much as he could. He needed to be alone. He didn't want to hear the same old blabber coming out of everyone's mouth, didn't want to hear everyone's constant praise for his one year reign, didn't want to hear the underlying meaning of their words: Congratulations Fire Lord Zuko, you didn't completely screw up everything your Uncle did. Because that was all he really had to do – his uncle had brought the Fire Nation back to its feet and taught a nation that had lived on bloodshed the ways of peace – all Zuko had to do was not screw it up now.

Today, he decided, shouldn't be a day of celebrating. It should be one mourning the best Fire Lord, the best man, the Nation would ever know.

A knock interrupted his thoughts. "Fire Lord Zuko," a servant spoke through closed doors, "Are you in need of assistance? Fire Lady Katara is ready."

"I am fine, but please let the Fire Lady know I will be out momentarily."

"Yes, your Highness."

Zuko let out a soft sigh and glanced at the full bottle of liquor in his hand. It was only the risk of someone smelling the alcohol on his breath that stopped him. Shaking his head, he put the bottle into the bottom drawer of his desk. It would still be there when the celebration ended. He'd probably need it more then, Zuko realized as he put the crown on his top knot.

---

The night after his coronation, Zuko couldn't sleep. Every time his eyes closed, he would see his uncle. So finally, when he was unable to take anymore, he crept out of bed. He almost expected Katara to wake, but was thankful when she didn't. His eyes glazed over her face and a frown tugged at his mouth; her lips were pressed together and she was fidgeting slightly, possibly from a nightmare. Instinctively, he reached out to her, but stopped before his hand could brush against her cheek. If she woke, he realized, he wouldn't be able to leave; she would want him to stay, she would want to talk and he wasn't ready for that. Not yet.

"I'm sorry, Katara." He whispered, pulling his hand back.

And as he escaped from the room, he swore that he heard her cry.

---

By the time Zuko finally made his way to meet Katara, the celebration had already begun, which was perfectly fine by him, the less people he would have to see (Agni, did he hate the small talk).

"Are you alright?" He heard her ask as he took his place beside in front of the door they would enter the ballroom from.

No.

"Yes." He replied without hesitation. She knew he was lying. He could feel her glancing at him out of the corner of the eye, probably biting on her bottom lip. But she wouldn't press him any further. Not anymore. This he knew all too well. "You look lovely." He added.

There was a slight pause and Zuko heard their introduction begin through closed doors. "Thank you." She mumbled back.

It wasn't technically a lie, he decided as he took Katara's arm in his; she did look lovely, he just didn't have to look at her to know. He assumed that, given the occasion, she would have been dressed up. It was expected for a Fire Lady to look eloquent at any celebration.

Zuko fought back a mental sigh as the doors swung open before them and the couple walked through. There had once been a time when their relationship had been completely different, when he hadn't known she looked lovely because he assumed she would. A time when he hadn't lied to her, not only because he knew that she would know and would get the truth out of him, but because he hated doing it. There had once been a time when Zuko was head over heels in love with his wife.

That had been quite a while ago.

He supposed part of it was his fault, he had shut her out after Iroh's death, but he knew that things had been changing even before then. He didn't know what it was, but as time passed, they began to drift, things began to change. There was no passion in their relationship, no drive like they had once had. He wanted to say it was because their life was so boring, with the same schedule day after day, but somehow, he doubted that was it. Over the years, something had died off leaving nothing but their awkward moments together.

No one knew, of course. No one could know. There was just too much at stake with their marriage. Their relationship was living proof that, even after all of the hate and all of the pointless bloodshed, nations could not only coexist, but they could intermingle. Their marriage, though it had been formed out of love, was a political statement. It was a sign of goodwill and faith in what peace could do – what forgiveness could do. So it became an unsaid agreement between them – in public they would act as if nothing had happened, as if the years had done nothing and they were still the very much in love newlyweds.

No one, not even their closest of friends, could ever know the truth.

---

Katara found him in his study hours later, a half empty bottle in hand and another empty one abandoned on his desk. It was the first night Zuko had ever drunk more than the glass of wine served with dinner, as he knew Katara was well aware of.

"Zuko? Are you alright? I woke up and you were gone."

"Go away, Katara."

She paused for a moment. "Have…have you been drinking?"

He took a deep breath and his fingers tightened around the bottle. "Go back to bed."

Katara stepped forward, and Zuko shouldn't have been surprised that her eyes could adjust to the darkness so quickly (she was a Child of the Moon – the night was more of her element he supposed), and grabbed the bottle as well. "I think maybe you've had enough."

His eyes narrowed and he tugged the bottle back. "I'm fine."

"No, you're not." She pulled the bottle.

"Yes, I am." He pulled the bottle back (what was this – a fucking tug-a-war?!).

"Zuko, you're drunk!" She snapped.

"I am not." His fist clenched the bottle tighter causing it to shatter in his hand. "Fuck!" He cursed, pulling his hand back. Before he could think, Katara was beside him, examining his hand. Her lips moved as if she was mumbling, but he couldn't tell what. Her fingers brushed against the glass and Zuko immediately pulled his hand back. "Fuck, Katara!"

Her eyes narrowed at him. "I have to pull the glass out, Zuko."

He glared at her for a moment, before grudgingly holding out his hand again. This was all her fault, he decided, the damn woman didn't know when to back off. His eyes followed her hand, encased with water (where the fuck did she even get that?), as it covered his hand. "This is your fault."

Her head shot up. "What?!"

"None of this would have happened if you had just left when I told you to."

She took a deep breath and looked back down at his now healed hand. "I'm going to ignore that because I know that's the alcohol talking."

"It's the truth." He snapped back. "I left the room so that I could be alone, not so that you could follow me!"

"Excuse me for being worried about you!"

"Well don't!" He practically jumped up from his chair, the quick motion causing him to stumble a little. He pushed Katara's hands off when she tried to help him. "I don't need you hovering over every little thing I do, Katara! I can take care of my fucking self!"

Blue eyes met his golden ones and his glare didn't back down. It was finally Katara who broke the gaze. "Fine. Have it your way. See if I care anymore."

And with that, Katara left.

And Zuko let her.

---

"Fire Lord Zuko, Master Katara." Chief Arnook greeted them, a glass of wine in hand.

"Chief Arnook." Zuko nodded in acknowledgement.

"Arnook!" Katara smiled. "I'm so glad that you could make it. How are things in the Northern Water Tribe?"

"All is well. I am still in search of an heir; I'm afraid there may not be much left in this old man." He laughed.

Zuko fought the urge to glare. The topic was vastly unappreciated given the day.

"I'm sure you will find somebody." Katara seemed to sense the tension and changed the subject. "How are you enjoying the celebration?"

"It is spectacular." He took a sip of his wine, his eyes shifting to another corner of the room where guests had gathered to watch a traditional Fire Nation dance. "Although, I must admit that the entertainment is a bit…mature. I don't believe I've seen anything quite like it."

Zuko's eyes narrowed at the older man; he didn't like was the Water Tribe Chief was implying. But before he could even open his mouth the reply, he felt Katara's arm tighten around his, reminding him of where they were.

"Actually Chief Arnook," Katara replied for him, "This particular performance was based off of a dance that originated from the Northern Water Tribe centuries, before they took to their more backward ways. It's actually one of my favorites."

Despite every basic rule of etiquette he had been taught, Zuko smirked.

"Now, I wouldn't say our ways are backwards, Master Katara."

"Fire Lady Katara." She corrected.

Arnook glanced from Katara to Zuko and back to Katara before breaking his gaze. "Fire Lady." He nodded slightly. "Forgive me."

Later, once all the guests had been greeted and the celebration had begun to die down, Zuko pulled Katara aside.

"Katara…I…" He took a deep breath and looked down to the floor. "Thank you. For earlier. With Chief Arnook."

There was a slight silence that followed before she spoke. "You don't need to thank me, Zuko. The Fire Nation is my home now too."

He snapped his head up. He supposed he had known that the Fire Nation was technically her home, but to actually hear the words come from her lips was a completely different matter. Yet, her standing in front of him dressed in the deep red robes with the golden fire emblem resting on her top knot, it just seemed right.

"Right." He nodded.

---

The hour was late by the time celebration officially ended, but very few actually retired. Most, instead, gathered in groups throughout the palace to continue socializing in a more comfortable environment. Even Katara gathered their old 'Gaang' to a room near their chambers, but it didn't take Zuko long to excuse himself from the group on the pretext that the day's events had finally gotten to him and he was in need of his rest. Any other night he would have loved to catch up with the friends he so rarely saw, but not tonight. So he pretended to retire for the night and instead slipped (slipped, not snuck, because Fire Lords did not sneak) into his study.

It was there Katara found him an hour later.

"You're here." Her tone was neutral. Her eyes glanced to the half empty bottle in his hand. "And drunk."

Zuko snorted. "I'm not drunk."

Blue eyes narrowed. "I'm sure."

His eyes narrowed back. "Is there a reason you're here?" He had expected her to spend the rest of the night conversing with their old friends and her Tribe.

"Looking for you, obviously. You weren't there when I went to bed."

"That isn't anything new." He mentally winced, he hadn't meant for that to come out quite so harshly, but it was the truth - he often spent late nights working in his study.

"You shouldn't be working. Not tonight."

Zuko decided against pointing out that there was never a time when a Fire Lord shouldn't be working to better his nation, but decided against it. "I'm not." He wasn't sure whether he actually expected that to dismiss her or if he was just hoping. Either way, she didn't budge.

"You shouldn't be drinking either."

"I told you, I'm fine."

An awkward silence followed. It was the first time in a year that Katara had stepped into his study, and he had a feeling that neither really wanted to repeat what happened the time before. There were several moments where Zuko almost opened his mouth to ask her if she had a particular reason for being there or if she was just trying to be irritating, but he stopped himself. This time he was sober enough to know that the latter was untrue.

"What are you doing, Zuko?" She finally blurted.

He stared at her for a moment. "I would think it obvious."

She almost sighed. "No, I meant Why are you doing it? Do you really think this is what Iroh would have wanted?"

Zuko glared. "Uncle wouldn't want me to forget him."

"I'm not saying he would." She paused for a moment. "Look, Zuko, I may not have known him as long as you, but the Iroh I know wouldn't want you to waste your days cooped up in your study drinking."

"It's not like I do this on a day to day basis."

This time Katara did sigh. "I know and I know this is your way of mourning for him, but there's a difference between remembering someone and hurting yourself. Would you really want Iroh to see you the way you are now?"

He didn't reply, but the answer rang in his head.

No.

"Moving on doesn't mean forgetting him, Zuko. But Iroh wouldn't want you to live like this, you know that. He would want you to be happy and we both know you're not happy like this."

He stared at her for a moment, trying to figure out if she was being honest or was just trying to get him to stop. Finally he sighed and took another swig of his drink.

"Zuko!" She hissed.

He ignored her and put the cap back on the bottle before putting it back into the bottom drawer of his desk. Taking a deep breath, he stood up from his seat. "It's late Katara, let's go back to bed."

A smile brushed across her lips and she nodded.

---

The next morning Zuko woke to a pounding head. Knowing better than to open his eyes, he groaned, rolled over, and buried his face in his pillow. It was on rare mornings like this when he wished the run wouldn't rise so early.

A chuckle reached his ears. "Headache, Zuko?"

He would have glared at her if it hadn't meant lifting his head. He settled with grunting instead.

Katara chuckled again (which, mind you, sounded obnoxiously loud at the moment), but, thankfully, she said nothing more; instead he felt her moving closer to his side of the bed. Soon enough, he felt a gentle wave of coolness (that he assumed to be her bending) on either side of his head and the pain faded.

"How's that?"

Zuko lifted his head to look up at her. "A lot better, thanks."

She nodded and her eyes met his. It didn't take long for him to break the gaze, though; he hated seeing her pity. He could only imagine how much of a mess he looked like now.

Katara shifted slightly on the bed so that she wasn't as close and towering above him as much. "Are you okay?"

Not really.

"Sort of." But he would be. "I think so."

Either she understood what he meant or pretended to (his bet was on the latter, he barely got what he was saying), but she seemed content with his answer. She pulled herself off of the bed and straightened her hair.

"I'm going to see if the others are awake yet. The bath's already set, if you want."

It was only then that he noticed she was dressed in her Fire Lady robes and looked as if she had already bathed. A frown tugged at his lips; he was usually the first one up and ready. "What time is it?" He hadn't slept in that much, had he?

"Not late. I woke up early." Katara pulled a top knot into her hair and placed her crown on it. It was improper for a member of the royal family to be seen without their crown, even if it was just to walk from one end of the hall to the next; it was only removed in the privacy of friends and family. "Do you want your breakfast here?"

Zuko shook his head. "I'll be there shortly." With all of the guests still present, it would not be appropriate for him to not be there.

"Alright." She hesitated as if she had something more she wanted to say or do, but shook her head slightly instead, and left the room.

The Fire Lord sighed once she had gone and swung his legs off the side of the bed. And, thankfully, did not stumble on his way to the bath.

---

Zuko decided to make it a point to avoid Arnook for the rest of his stay, but it turned out he had no need. Arnook, "unfortunately," had business he had to attend to in the Northern Water Tribe and had to cut his stay short, which suit Zuko perfectly fine. The less of the old man he had to see, the better. However, seeing as he was the Chief of an ally nation (not to mention of Katara's Sister Tribe), he couldn't avoid going with her to see him off.

They stood on the dock as the crew made their final inspections before they were to leave. "Thank you for your hospitality." He bowed as it was customarily done in the Fire Nation.

Katara smiled a smile that he was fairly sure wasn't real. "Of course, Chief Arnook. Next time you must stay longer." She was lying and they all knew it.

The older man chuckled slightly. "Of course, Lady Katara." He then turned to Zuko and gripped his arm as it was done in the Water Tribes. Zuko returned the gesture, but said nothing. Arnook returned his attention to Katara. "And remember what I said."

Said? It took all of Zuko's restraint to not furrow his brows in confusion and he made a mental note to ask her later.

Katara hesitated for a moment, her eyes meeting Arnook's. "I…I will think about it."

He smiled. "Thank you, Lady Katara." Arnook left the Fire Nation without another word, but even after he left, Zuko couldn't shake the feeling that Arnook's leave hadn't really changed much.

It wouldn't be until later that Zuko would wish he had confronted Arnook right then and there. Peace treaty be damned (not that he would really mean that, but Agni that man was walking a very fine line). It wouldn't be until later that Zuko would, for the first time, wonder where Katara's alliance truly lied. It would only be much, much later that Zuko would realize that if he hadn't let their marriage fall into pieces, he would have had nothing to worry about. Much, much later, Zuko would realize that it was probably all his fault.

But first, Zuko had to be Zuko.

And nobody ever loses their tempter the way Zuko does.

---

Katara was hiding something from him, this much he knew. He didn't know how much she was hiding or how significant it was, but there was something that was even more off between them than usual. Her eyes weren't anymore distant, she didn't avoid his touch, but there was just something that was not right. Zuko didn't know how he knew, but he knew.

It had never occurred to him how much her hiding something from him would really affect him, but it did. He didn't doubt that she had things he didn't know about now, but he wasn't sure she had ever purposely kept something from him. Zuko knew he was being rash – he kept things from her all the time now – but he hated not knowing what was going on. She owed it to him to tell (he wasn't sure why she owed it to him, but damnit, he wanted to know).

He was waiting in their chambers when she retired for the evening. His back was against the headboard of the bed and he had a scroll in his hand (some random one that had been laying on the floor of his study – he honestly had no idea what it said), making it seem as if he were actually preoccupied with something and not really watching her out of the corner of his eye. It took her a couple of moments to even notice he was there.

"Zuko," her breath hitched. "You scared me. I didn't expect you to be there."

A frown tugged at his lips. She hadn't noticed him there? Katara was usually very aware of her surroundings; it was hard to break a habit that had developed that comes from a time of war; he knew this because he was the same way. Her mind must have been preoccupied with something else.

"I finished my work for the night." A lie and not a very good one on top of that – Zuko never not had something to do – but he didn't care enough to think of a better excuse. It was his room as well, and he had every damn right to be there.

She stared at him for a moment and he knew she could see through his pitiful excuse. "Well, good. You need a break from working too late." She forced a smile at him before turning towards the washing area.

"Katara." She froze

"Hm?" She didn't turn to face him. He sighed and he put the scroll down and stepped off of the bed.

"What was it that Arnook was talking to you about at the dock?"

There was a pause and she still wouldn't turn to face him. He wondered if she had even heard him, but she finally spoke before he could repeat himself. "Nothing important, Zuko. Don't worry about it."

His eyes narrowed. "Katara, what was it that he wanted you to consider?"

"I told you it's nothing you need to worry about." Her tone was hard.

"Damnit, why won't you just tell me?!"

She finally spun to face him, glaring. "Because you won't want to know."

"Obviously I do!"

"Oh no, you don't." Katara had somehow ended up right in front of him and was glaring up at him. "If I tell you, you're just going to go insane and not even listen to anything else I have to say. You don't want to know."

"I think I have a right to decide that!" He clenched his fist. His body was heating and it was taking all lot of concentration to keep his bending under control.

Her eyes met his and they stayed that way for a moment, her waiting from him to back down and drop the whole situation, which was like expecting Agni to airbend.

"Fine, but don't say I didn't warn you, and for Spirit's sake Zuko, listen to the whole thing before you lose your mind." He glared and she must have taken that as an agreement, because she continued. "Arnook… Arnook…wants to claim me as his heir. It makes sense when you think about it, I guess. After Yue died, he had no heirs to take the throne, and dad is Chief of their sister tribe so Sokka and I are the only ones of, uh, nobility, I guess, between the Southern Tribes. He's only trying to do what he thinks is best for his Tribe…"

Zuko stared at the waterbender for a moment. "His heir? But how does he expect that to happen if you're and the North Pole is…" His eyes widened as the realization began to come to him.

Katara was no longer looking at him, but rather fiddling with the stone on her necklace, her eyes on the floor. "Arnook…he, uh, wants me to…"

"Leave the Fire Nation."

She flinched slightly. "I suppose that's one way to look at it."

He could feel the steam coming from is nostrils. "One way? What's the other way, Katara? Leave your people? Leave me?!" He stormed past her, towards the door. "That old man doesn't know what he just got himself into - "

He hadn't noticed her following him or grabbing his arm until she pulled him back. "Don't start, Zuko."

The Fire Lord spun to face her. "Start? You're telling me not to start? Katara, he's the one who is asking you to leave, and you you're telling me not to start?!"

"Zuko, stop it."

"What is he expecting? That you just run off, leave everything behind, and marry some noble he picked out for you?!"

"He's only trying to do what he thinks is best for his Tribe, for our people!"

Zuko froze. "Our people? Those are his people, Katara, ours are here in the Fire Nation."

"Yes, but don't forget that I was a waterbender before I was Fire Lady."

He paused, his eyes trying to read on hers. "Katara, don't tell me that you're actually considering what Arnook is proposing."

"What? Of course not! I mean I did, but - "

"You did?!"

She was saying something but Zuko couldn't hear it.

Katara wanted to leave him.

And suddenly everything was red.

The next thing he knew, his fist was full of fire and slammed against the wall beside them. Beside her head. "Why don't you just go then? Return to your precious icebergs!"

She seemed intimidated for the slightest moment, so slight that Zuko wondered if he had just imagined it. Katara glared at, her voice full of so much fire that Agni himself would have been proud. "Maybe I will!"

He stared at her for what felt like the millionth time in the past hour, trying to figure out what she was really thinking. She didn't back down. "Fine! Go if you want to, I don't want you here anyway!" He didn't give her a chance to reply. He was out the door before she could even comprehend what he had said.

---

Left. Right. Punch.

Sweat trickled down from his head and dissolved into steam before it reached his brows. Somewhere in the back of his mind, he knew this was the wrong way to get his anger out, that meditation was probably better for his current state of mind, but he didn't really give a damn.

Kick. Punch. Left.

Zuko had known the old man was dancing a very fine line, but not to such an extent. Arnook had crossed a line Zuko hadn't even known existed before today. Of all the insane things he had thought the old man meant when he spoke to Katara, he had never thought Arnook would (literally) propose something so…insane. To even suggest that the Fire Lady leave her Lord for another nation was a probable cause for war. The recent peace was the only thing keeping Zuko from sending an army to the Northern Water Tribe, and even that was up in the air at the moment.

Jump. Right. Kick.

And then there was Katara.

Kick. Punch. Right.

It completely boggled Zuko that she would not only keep something so important from him, but that she was also actually considering leaving the Fire Nation, who had just begun to overlook their prejudices for her, to return to a land that had barely acknowledged her bending because she was female a decade ago. He didn't understand how she could just abandon their marriage like that.

He froze mid way through a punch, because it suddenly all made sense.

What was holding Katara to the Fire Nation? The Fire Nation was not her home. Sure technically she lived there, but it would never be the same as the tribe she grew up in. The people, though they were warming up to her, did not trust her and probably never would – in their eyes she was an outsider who had snuck her way into their royalty. The only thing left was their marriage, but even that no longer held the same meaning it had once had – it had all but died over the years.

He wanted to hate her for thinking about leaving him, but he couldn't. He couldn't even blame her for it, because Zuko wasn't even sure he would stay if he was in her position.

---

It was late, the crescent moon was at its peak, by the time he snuck (snuck, like the coward he felt like) back into their chambers. He had fully expected Katara to be asleep, but it wouldn't have surprised him if she had gone off somewhere to bend, to release her frustration, the way he had. Agni, he wouldn't have even been surprised if she had packed a bag and taken off. What he didn't expect, however, was for her to be sitting on the edge of their bed, her feet dangling, her eyes staring off into space.

He took a step closer and her head snapped up to his direction. "Zuko…" Her voice was soft and he noticed the frown tugging at her lips.

He took a breath and swallowed his pride to apologize for the way he acted. "I don't really want you to leave." He blurted instead. Katara's eyes widened as did his and he quickly tried to cover up his spill. "But if you do, the Fire Nation – I – will support you as Arnook's heir."

She stared at him for a moment before smiling softly. "It's not that I haven't thought about it before. It's so different here, Zuko. And while different isn't necessarily bad, I do miss my Tribe from time to time. When Arnook came to me, the idea of going back to a tribe – not even my tribe – and being in a more familiar land just seemed so nice, do you understand?"

He nodded. "I'll inform Arnook and the council of your decision."

"Zuko." She hissed. "Will you just let me finish?"

"But you just said - "

"I said that it seemed nice. I never said that I was going to do it."

"You're not?" (And Zuko wondered when he had become so damn inarticulate.) "But you said that you had considered it."

"It was a tempting offer, Zuko. I mean, logically it makes sense. Arnook has no heirs and Sokka is in line to be Chief of the Southern Tribe. Can you see why he would come to me, the only other heir from royalty in the Water Tribes?"

He did, but he would bend rocks before he actually admitted it, because though he understood why Katara would accept it, he was still pissed that Arnook had offered. "Then why aren't you going?"

For the second time, Katara smiled at him. "It's like I told you at the celebration, the Tribes may be my roots, but the Fire Nation is my home now. They are my people too and it's my duty to serve them. I would never abandon them." At some point she had moved from the bed to stand in front of him. "I'm not going anywhere, Zuko."

It was in that exact moment that something, everything changed; standing there, gazing back into Katara's soft eyes, Zuko could feel it stirring in the pit of his stomach. It wasn't love, but it was powerful. He had always known her to be strong, but even after his behavior (because let's face it, Zuko hadn't exactly been the world's best husband recently), and even after being given an out, Katara was going to stay in the Fire Nation, she was going to stay with him.

So never had he felt more respect for her than he did in that very moment.

"Good." And, for the first time in a very long time, a real smile brushed against his lips.


Note: I had this idea since I wrote Surmount, sometime ago, but I had a hard time incorporating the idea into this. This is going to be a four part story. I had a harder time with older Zuko and Katara with this fic, so I hope they sounded alright. Also, Arnook is not meant to be a villain, he is doing what HE feels is best for his tribe, which is why I didn't have Katara completely hating him. I hope that makes sense.

Review, please. =]