How To Be A Prattish Noblewoman
"…Katara be a total tomboy and tough girl. Zuko is still...you know Zuko but not angry and he's quiet not sullen. Zuko softens Katara up and gets her to act more girlie. And of course, in the end they get together."
That was the prompt I got from rezmutt for the prize I owe because she was my 200th reviewer. Whoooop! *random streamers fall from the sky* So this one is not nearly as long as "La Giustizia Audace" and I'm terribly, terribly sorry for that. Also, I really, really hate this fic. With a passion. It's plotless and lame and it sucks. But I owe so I must post.
But seriously, even EPIC, EPIC FAAAAAAAIL is too good for this. Nice piece of shet, WP. AND it's supposed to be a prize. *strangles self*
Disclaimer: I do not own Avatar: The Last Airbender or anything related ( you guys should thank your lucky stars)
It wasn't that he didn't like her, really. She was… sweet, in her own way. But she always, always caused him problems whenever she came with her father to visit the Fire Nation palace. The first time he had met her was when he was six and she was four. Both her and her older brother, Sokka, had come with her father then on his business trip to the Fire Nation Capitol. All three of them had been pretty miserable at that stage; they had all lost their mothers recently. Katara and Sokka were left to be raised by their father and grandmother, while Zuko now had nobody but his Uncle Iroh, who had taken the throne forcefully from his father after Ozai had revolted, killing Ursa in the process. The loss of their mothers was what had caused Zuko and Katara to form a tentative bond of friendship, one that had grown steadily stronger during the years.
At first they had only communicated when they found themselves at the same meetings or celebrations but when Katara turned ten they started sending letters to each other. Sokka had long since accepted the strange friendship between his sister and the prince of the Fire Nation, and he and Zuko had a polite respect for each other now. The Water Tribe girl had been the one to instigate the letter writing, as she had said that Zuko told her more in a letter than he ever did in person. She was constantly complaining about the quietness and reserved nature of her friend, trying to get him to open up and just go wild. Her attempts never worked, but they provided some pretty amusing situations.
Zuko's quiet nature was as a result of his mother dying. She had always been quiet and gentle, watching and seeing so she could know all. Iroh was exactly the same, although he was more outspoken about his views on things. Zuko molded his personality from both of them, although he couldn't get rid of the temper he still had. On the rare occasion somebody angered him, his attack was as brutal as real fire. Katara's reaction to her mother leaving was, as her father wearily told Iroh once, to be expected. With the absence of a close female figure in her life, Katara had grown up to be a tough, fun-loving tomboy. On insistence from her father she let her brown hair grow long and wore the traditional Water Tribe clothes for women. But after only five minutes of being around her the noblewomen of the different nations would all stare and whisper at her strangeness. She was nothing like them and was not afraid to prove it.
In the beginning everybody had just let her be, but as the years wore on and she changed from girl to young woman, her father started to worry. By the time she was sixteen, marrying age in the customs of the Water Tribe, and had absolutely no suitors at all her father was distraught. In a desperate attempt to ensure his daughter did not end up alone for the rest of her life he arranged a huge ball in the palace of King Bumi, inviting practically every eligible young man in the world. He warned Katara that if she didn't find somebody who would marry her there, she would be given to the great Warrior Hahn, the only one to not openly refuse to marry Katara.
She was not happy about the news.
That was why Zuko found her throwing icicles around the Fire Nation gardens, her face red and filled with utter anger. For a time the prince just stood by and watched her, knowing it was a good idea to let her relieve her anger. He also wondered why Hakoda had not waited until they were home before telling his daughter of the ball that would only take place in three months. From the things Katara muttered as she attacked the empty pond, he gathered they had had a fight and Hakoda had let it slip in his anger.
"Why are you destroying my garden?" he asked her calmly, not moving from where he was leaning against a tree.
She started in surprise, then scowled at him, melting her last icicle back into the pond.
"Did you hear what he's doing to me? A ball! Of all things! He knows it won't make any difference! All those wusses who call themselves guys are too intimidated by me to care a stuff. So basically I'm going to get married to that prat Hahn."
Zuko raised his eyebrow. "Isn't Hahn about seven years older than you?"
"Tell that to my father!" Katara yelled, causing the water to churn dangerously in the pond.
Zuko looked cautiously at the water and fretfully wondered what had happened to the turtleducks. He hoped she hadn't accidently hurt them. To calm her he pushed himself away from the tree and walked towards her, keeping a close eye on her expression. When he was a meter away from her, the anger somewhat drained from her face.
"Zuko, what do I do? There's no easy answer to this. Nobody's butt I can kick to make it okay… I'm totally out of my depth here."
"Katara, I think that's your problem." She looked at him, and he sighed. "Look, guys don't was to court you because none of them bother to get to know you; they always judge you by the way you act. So just allow them to get to know you. Act like a noblewoman and they'll come flocking."
"Only one problem, genius. I don't know how to act like a noblewoman. And nobody will teach me; they've all given up by now." Her face was miserable. "I'm doomed."
"I haven't given up."
Katara gaped at Zuko and he bowed formally, extending his hand.
"Welcome, Miss Katara, to Zuko's School on 'How To Be A Prattish Noblewoman.'" Katara couldn't help but giggle. "If you'll follow me, we can begin with lesson one: Walking." He dropped his formal manner and gave her a grin. "Come on. At least try. You really don't want to get married to Hahn."
The first lesson ended like almost every one of their conversations: in an argument. Somehow they just seemed to know exactly how to set each other off. Zuko quietly fumed for the rest of the evening and it took Katara three tries before she could fully apologize and get him to try again. It was a mark of how desperate she was that she didn't try and blame Zuko once for what had happened in her apology. After a week Katara was walking more like a lady and less of what Zuko called A Bison With Backache. After walking they progressed onto talking, which had both of them in stitches of laughter most of the time. Together even discussing the weather turned into a joke, and not a very clean joke at that.
Talking turned to eating, which gave Zuko more of a headache than he had ever experienced during a meal. Katara ate as well as her brother did, which was not well at all. When he voiced this fact, comparing Sokka's eating to that of a starved hogmonkey, she got mad and threw a fish at him. He had in turn poured sauce all over her hair and they had had a fantastic food fight, acting like they were both seven. Katara, of course, won partly because she had taught herself to win every fight she got into and partially because Zuko let her. After that and the dirty looks the servants responsible for cleanup duty gave them for the next week they quieted down and the Waterbender started paying more attention and trying harder. Some of the dishes were trickier, and so Zuko, to spare himself from whacking his head against something solid in frustration, demonstrated the right way to eat by feeding her. Once food had messed on his fingers and Katara licked it off, so unexpectedly he had just gaped at her. The feeling had been utterly foreign to both of them the first time but after it had happened seven times they were used to it. Neither admitted that they messed the food on purpose. When Katara had gotten the hang of it, she started to feed Zuko to further better herself. She only messed once, on her own cheek and Zuko gently wiped it off with his thumb before sucking his thumb with a grin at her that for some reason sent her stomach flip-flopping.
Because time had started to run out they started the lessons of dancing and dressing together. At first Zuko had refused to do the dressing part with her- "What makes you think I want to spend my afternoons looking at dresses?"- but after Katara had threatened, begged and bribed him he reluctantly gave in. It turned out that both of them despised the first range of dresses they were shown and spent the afternoon making crude remarks about the items of clothing before the seamstress got mad and threw them out. On the way home Katara bought them each a commoner's hat which, Zuko pointed out, would not help her as she needed clothes for the ball. Katara got back at him by commenting relentlessly about his hat, which he kept on just to spite her. In the afternoons after that while they waited for more dresses to arrive from an Earth Kingdom seamstress Zuko attempted to teach Katara to dance. As a result he limped around, his toes black and bruised, and also got hit through the face a lot. Katara apologized every time, but he was slightly suspicious that she was, in fact, enjoying it. After a long, very painful three weeks she finally began to click and the dancing became much, much easier. Once Zuko caught on to what she responded to best he was also able to teach her easier, and they progressed to the harder dances with ease before the month was done. The most of the harder dances required closer contact, but Katara found she didn't mind as much as she thought she would. Instead of feeling weird and violated she felt safer with Zuko's arms around her and she found, to her intense surprise, that she liked dancing.
In fact, she found she enjoyed being a lady. She did not let go of her old, tough self entirely but she merged it with the things Zuko taught her to form a new self that, if she was honest with herself, she utterly adored. Zuko teased her about it, even when they danced the now-familiar steps, but she could tell he liked the new her too. And that made it even better, somehow. A week before the ball she was still looking for a dress and was starting to panic just a bit. Finally, she found one that was perfect; it was midnight blue in colour and had sky-blue gems embroidered in as well as sky-blue hair clips to match. Zuko had watched, utterly bemused, as she had squealed and danced around it in glee. As a result Katara made him wait so he could see her in it. It fit perfectly and even with her hair untidy and her face smudged with dirt Zuko's eyes widened when he saw her. His reaction made her flush in pleasure. Then an idiotic, stupid, brash idea came to her and she acted on it before she could think better or wonder why she had it.
Zuko nearly had a heart attack when she came out from behind the curtains for a second time not in her normal clothes but in a pair of blue underwear. She was blushing as badly as he was, but feigned ignorance as she twirled and asked him what he thought. He spluttered for a while, bright red and gwaping, before hurriedly shutting his eyes and telling her, in a very strangled voice, to put some clothes on. Her blush of embarrassment had turned to one of pleasure and she couldn't help but reflect on how cute he was when he was awkward. As she changed back to her normal clothes Zuko busied himself with useless and boring history of the Fire Nation so he would not keep picturing her bare skin.
Finally the big day came and Katara's stomach was nothing but a bundle of nerves. She didn't eat the whole day and instead paced up and down the guest room she was staying in. The anxiety was totally new to her and she longed to have somebody she knew with her. She found herself wondering, more than once, if Zuko had arrived yet and if she could ask him to sit with her until the evening. He calmed her down, or at least riled her up enough for her to forget her fear. But she knew the journey from the Fire Nation was a long one and left Zuko alone to sleep. She would really need him around that evening; there was no way she could do it without him. It took half an hour to do Katara's hair and makeup, and it was all she could do not to jump up and run away screaming. In fact, the only thing that kept her calmly standing while servants adjusted her clothes was the fact that Zuko was downstairs waiting for her and that he would never let anything bad happen.
As she reached the top of the stairs the music and chatter she had heard on her way there stopped, and all the people in the hall gaped at her in utter surprise. She glanced at herself in an ice sculpture to make sure she didn't have anything on her face but only saw a sixteen-year-old girl with big blue eyes and brown hair piled up on her head and held by tiny little blue clips while the ends cascaded in curls down her neck. Luckily, she found Zuko quickly, and he smiled reassuringly at her, making her able to move down the stairs. To stop herself thinking of the many eyes staring at her she occupied herself by wondering what the expression on Zuko's face had been before he made himself smile at her. He had looked sort of like he had been hit round the head with something heavy. Her first dance was with him, and his easy conversation made her relax and able to not freak out when some random man asked her for the next dance. It wasn't the same as dancing with the Firebender, but it wasn't completely horrible.
In fact, she found herself having fun until she spotted Zuko dancing with a Fire Nation noblewoman she had seen before. It had taken several minutes to remember the girl's name was Mai and during those minutes the black-haired girl had moved in very close to Zuko. Katara wandered vaguely why, when Mai touched Zuko's arm, she wanted to push the noble right off the edge of a very high cliff. It was a completely irrational response to what was obviously flirting but she could not let it slide. She eventually stopped dancing so she could sort out her thoughts properly. But that turned out to just make things worse as she overheard Mai's friends whispering to each other and wondering if Zuko would kiss Mai that night. After that she felt like not bothering with a cliff and just 'accidentally' freezing her to death.
Zuko noticed her sulking outside.
"Come on, it's not that bad," he said, leaning against the wall where she was sitting.
"Yes, it is," she growled, refusing to look at him.
"Hahn danced with you? Some creepy old guy tried to pull a move?" Zuko guessed.
Katara mutely shook her head.
"Nobody's shown any interest? No wait, that can't be it… They're all staring at you, even now."
Dispassionately Katara glanced behind her to see several guys quickly look away and busy themselves with something else. It didn't even cause her to smile.
"Is it freaking you out?" Zuko asked her gently.
"Yes," she answered reluctantly. "Not the attention I'm getting, though. I can handle that."
"Then what?" He looked utterly confused.
She refused to answer and after a long silence he sighed, looking up at the stars instead.
"How serious are you about Mai?" Katara suddenly burst.
"Wha…? Mai?" Zuko laughed. "She's nice… I suppose… But I just don't…" Zuko scratched the back of his neck. "I don't see her that way. And I never will."
Relief and a smug feeling spread through her, quickly cut off when Zuko asked, "Why is that bothering you?"
"Uh… I just… don't like her," she answered truthfully. "And you're my friend so I only want what's best for you."
"Uh-huh…" He didn't look convinced, but let it drop. A new song started and he held out his hand. "Want another dance?"
She grinned and allowed him to pull her back inside. This dance was one of the harder ones; the ones that required her to be close to him. He was warmer than usual because of the fullness of the hall, but she found it nice. Around them, couples began to stop dancing to kiss each other lovingly. Katara watched them, her head slightly resting on Zuko's shoulder. Then, so suddenly she didn't know how it happened, she was looking up and his face was inches from hers. They both stopped dead and everybody else in the world disappeared.
"You didn't teach me this part," she whispered.
He traced her cheek with the tips of his fingers, making her blush and feel ready to fly.
"It's never too late to start teaching you," he whispered.
Then he was kissing her, and she found that all those times she had imagined a kiss to be a horrible, wet, sloppy, uncomfortable thing she had been terribly, terribly wrong. She could taste him with every particle of her body, and she loved it. It took all her self-restraint not to clutch him to her and deepen the sweet kiss to something much more powerful. Zuko was the first one to pull away, sensing the danger of doing something they would regret later. His eyes were shining in a way that made her feel as light as air inside.
"You're good at this," he murmured.
"Maybe, but I'll need a lot more help. Maybe even for the rest of my life. Are you willing to spend that long teaching me?"
"I'll spend eternity teaching you this," he whispered in her ear.
It took her a while to find her voice.
"And in return I'll teach you."
"What can you possibly teach me?" he scoffed lightly.
"How to stop my dad and brother killing you."
Zuko paled slightly and looked around nervously, obviously expecting Sokka to rush at him out of the crowds. Katara giggled and wrapped her arms around him.
"Don't worry, I'll protect you," she murmured.
She didn't hear his laugh but felt it tremble through his body. His lips touched her hair.
"Thank you, Lady Katara."