"She was lying. She was protecting the last waterbender."


"ME!" Katara faced the man who had murdered her mother in her very home. With her arms extended, she stopped the droplets of rain that were falling from the sky. Out of the corner of her eye, she could see Zuko's face. His mouth slightly agape, his eyebrow raised high, his eyes opened wide but she didn't care. She only cared about this man in front of her. The rage she felt inside towards him was almost unbearable. "Oh how I've dreamed of this day for years." Her eyebrows furrowed in anger, and she took several steps closer to him. His arms were held in a defensive stance covering his face. "And now, I shall finally have what I've always wanted. With your death, and with the rest of the Fire Nations', my mother and I will finally have peace." With a twist of her arms above her head the droplets of rain followed her movements, but formed together into ice daggers. "Die!!" She screamed at him, whipping her arms at him with the daggers following suit.

Zuko couldn't watch as the man was impaled by Katara's will. He had seen many soldiers go down in battle, sometimes in the most gruesome way. He himself suffered from burns on his own face. However, for reasons unknown to him, he did not have the stomach for this. Fifty ice daggers protruded from almost every inch of the man's body. The rain continued, droplets cascading down Katara's cheeks as she stared at the carnage she just caused. Zuko watched her as she stood, motionless. She didn't even seem to blink. Just when he was about to reach out and touch her shoulder she turned to face him, her blue eyes steely.

"Let's go." She walked past him, on her way back to where they had Appa hide. Zuko walked behind her, careful to remain out of her line of vision. She marched forward, never turning back. Zuko did however just to get one last look at the man, who in his opinion did deserve what he got. The ice daggers had melted away due to the warm rain that continued to pour from the dark clouds. The man's blood had begun to pool around his lifeless body; his red clothes now stained even darker. He turned front again, Katara still striding toward Appa, who was now eating the very bushes meant to conceal him.

"Let's go Appa!" Katara kipped up onto the crevice of his neck. Zuko quickly jogged, and with a small running head start, leapt into the saddle. "Yip-Yip," Katara snapped the reins to which Appa took flight. They flew for hours without speaking a word. Zuko stared at the back of Katara's head, her dark brown hair blowing behind her.

"Katara…" Zuko crept closer to the edge of the saddle. She cocked her head slightly to the side. He could see her blue eye, the contour of her cheekbones, a single tear rolling down her tanned skin. He wrapped his arms around her waist, and pulled her into the saddle with him. She immediately buried her face into his chest, finally letting out all the grief, and possibly regrets that had been building for the past several hours. He whispered quietly to Appa to land. Katara continued to cry, gripping his tunic tightly. He held her, feeling her pain. Although a small part of his mind questioned "How long will she actually let me hold her like this?" The idea of him even sitting next to her a few days ago was unthinkable. Now here he was holding her with her even returning the favor, as her arms were now encircling his waist instead of clutching his shirt.

"Zuko," she sniffled after crying for several minutes. "I- -I'm so sorry," her voice was cracking.

"Why are you sorry?" He whispered into her hair, stroking the loose strands back into place.

"I- -I killed him Zuko. I murdered another human being, without mercy, for no liable cause."

"No liable cause? Katara, the man killed your mother." He pried her face away from his damp shirt and stared deep into her eyes. He expected to be met with blue eyes, but saw nothing but pink moist ones.

"I shouldn't have taken his life though Zuko. I'm a killer." She licked her lips sniffling and wiping her nose even more. "I don't even know what to do with myself. How am I supposed to tell the gang? Oh spirits! How am I supposed to tell Aang?" Upon saying his name, she broke down even more. He could only pat her back. He honestly didn't know how the bald Avatar would react to this. He had been completely against the idea of her going out and getting her justice. Zuko felt that the only reason Aang let her go was because deep in his innocent heart he hoped she wouldn't kill him. But she had.

"Katara I can't believe you!" Aang's young voice screamed at the waterbender. Sokka stood in amazement, his mouth open in shock. Toph sat on the biggest rock, with Momo on her shoulder, cowering at Aang's wrath. Katara stood and took the verbal abuse, trying to hold back her tears of regret. "You killed a man. You took his life! You should have forgiven him! What is wrong with you?" he asked incredulously.

"HEY!" Zuko barked when he heard those words slip from Aang's mouth. Aang took a step back as Zuko stood between the airbender and waterbender. "That wasn't just an ordinary man. That man killed their mother," he gestured to both Katara and Sokka. "She had every right to seek her revenge on him. He deserved everything he got. If I had a chance to get the same revenge against the man who took my mother away, I would take it, without hesitation, without mercy!"

"And is that what Katara did? Take this man's life without mercy? Show him what a big, strong waterbender she has become?" Katara's mouth moved faintly, her voice insufferably quiet. "What did you say Katara?"

"DON'T TALK ABOUT ME AS IF I'M NOT HERE!" She screamed at him, pushing her way past Zuko to stare into the dark gray orbs of the Avatar. "I killed him, and since then I have regretted my actions more than I can bear! But one part of me, possibly the scariest part of all, is that I am also glad. Glad that my mother's killer is also dead, by my hand. That he may have felt the pain in the instant of his death that I have felt my entire LIFE! You do not understand Aang, Zuko was right! You were raised by monks, and do not know what a parent truly is! It is not the same thing, and I cannot believe you stand here and chastise me for my actions when you do not even fully understand them!"

Silence filled the space, not even Appa or Momo made a groan or squawk or even think to beg for food. Aang's face never faltered neither did Toph's. Zuko and Sokka held their breath, awaiting his response. "Katara," he spoke quietly. "I forbid you from ever waterbending again, and do not want you to accompany us against Fire Lord Ozai. Your recklessness is too much of a burden." Katara's mouth dropped as soon as he gave his conclusion.

"You cannot be serious."

"I am, one hundred percent. If you waterbend again, I will have to take serious action against you."

"Aang," Sokka stepped forth. "You can't do that. Waterbending is who Katara is!"

"And her waterbending took the life of another."

"What do you expect to do against my father?" Zuko yelled suddenly. "Hm? What Aang? Talk him down, reason with him? You reprimand Katara for delivering her own taste of justice, and yet you know deep down in your heart you must kill my father." He shoved past Katara and put his face right in front of Aang's indignant one. "And even though it is the Avatar's destiny to kill the Fire Lord, mark my words, if you don't do it…I will!"

Zuko stomped away from the Avatar, the waterbender, the earthbender and the swordsman back to his tent. When he got there he found Suki, who hadn't been part of the welcoming party, gathering sticks for the night's fire. She caught sight of him, but before she could wave a quick 'hello' she noticed the look on his face. Instead, she turned the other way, with her back to him until he disappeared inside his red tent. Zuko had to admit that Sokka was lucky to have such a smart girl. Talking to him right now would have been a bad move on her part.

Night quickly fell, and the fire in the center of the camp cracked fiercely. Even though Zuko did not ignite this fire, it was still affected by his emotions that were still boiling. His sense of hearing had picked up earlier that Sokka and Suki were spending the night together. Toph had long since built her rock tent and continued to stay there. Aang hadn't come back with everybody, and still hadn't returned from wherever he went. Katara was the only one who didn't recluse herself to a tent, but actually sat in front of the burning fire. Zuko peered outside his tent, and saw her sitting by herself. He exited his tent, and made his way to the rock next to her.

"How are you?" He sat next to her, huffing at the strands of hair getting in his eyes. She continued to stare at the twisting red and orange flames.

"I don't know," her voice was a mere whisper. He cautiously laid his hand on her back, trying his best to rub it soothingly. His mother always used to rub his back to calm him down; he hoped it would have a similar affect on Katara. Her eyes suddenly shifted upward, attempting to restrain the tears that wanted to fall to her eyes. Her dark lips exhaled a shaky breath. "I- -I do not think I can even bear to look at myself, Zuko." His name on her lips made him smile slightly, but the smirk faded almost as quickly as it formed. With his other hand, he lightly turned her face to stare at his.

"I can bear to look at you." Her hand took hold of his, and he thought for only a moment that she leered.

"That may be so, but neither Aang, nor my own brother can."

"Sokka is too busy looking at Suki," Zuko attempted to joke. Now he knew she smirked at that one.

"Even still, I am at a loss." She dropped his hand and faced the fire.

"A loss for what," he attempted to catch her gaze once again.

"My gran-gran commanded that I remain loyal to the Avatar, to Aang. He- -he has ordered that I refrain from waterbending. Sokka was correct, waterbending is who I am. I cannot stop, and I know it. I cannot obey Aang, not as hard as I may want to try, which I do not."

"You will continue to waterbend?"

"Zuko, I must. I- -I had a teacher, besides Master Pakku, who taught me things that would make me even more of a Master than I already am becoming."

"What kind of techniques?" Zuko shifted his body to face hers.

"Terrible, cruel, yet-useful"

"Why would you want to learn such maneuvers?"

"I don't know. I had felt helpless against Hama when she used her techniques against me. I never wanted to feel that way again, just as I feel helpless against Aang right now."

"You dare to defy him outright?"

"Yes. I do. A life without waterbending is no life at all for me. My mother died protecting me. To give it all up would be shaming her memory." Zuko sat stunned. He never had really put two and two together. Of course Katara could not give up waterbending. It was that very gift that her mother would have and did give her life for. Katara did not strive to become a Master Waterbender for herself, or the power. She wanted to become a Master for her mother. As he stared down at his hands, contemplating this, he heard her sniffle. She was trying to hold back the tears again.

"Katara-Don't cry," he stroked her brown hair. She turned to face him, one lone tear escaping her restraint.

"Would you like to see?"

"See what?"

"The waterbending Hama taught me. I can show you two of the methods. The third, I kind of already did," her cheeks blushed slightly. Zuko nodded in agreement, and she grasped his rough hand in hers. Her skin was incredibly soft and smooth. He had never felt anything like it. Not even the silkiest sheets on his large Fire Nation bed could compare. She led him far away from camp to a secluded area. He looked around slightly confused.

"Katara- there's no water here, and you forgot your skin pouch back at the tents," he gestured with his thumb. She grinned.

"Just watch," she instructed. Taking several deep breaths, and closing her eyes she held her hands straight down in front of her. Zuko sat watching, but wasn't sure what he was supposed to be looking at. Then suddenly, she spun around slowly, water ripping away from the grass around her. Zuko's mouth dropped. He had never seen such waterbending! She then manipulated the water in the air around her forming shapes before splashing it in his direction. He jumped back, narrowly missing getting soaked. For the first time, she giggled outright.

"That-that was amazing Katara!" He was still positive that his face was in awe.

"There's something else, but I really need to concentrate for it." She took a similar stance before, but unlike earlier, her hands were almost straight in front of her, not downcast. Her face was scrunched up, and Zuko held back a small laugh at the way her nose crinkled. He found himself thinking that it was entirely adorable, as much as he did not want to admit it. But then, it was almost like a miracle. Water began forming out of, well, thin air! Katara's face held the same scrunched up appearance of concentration, while Zuko almost fell flat on his ass in surprise. A sizable amount of water seemed to materialize, before Katara opened her eyes pleased with what she had just done.

"You see, there's water in the air all around us. Hama showed me how to extract it." She played with the water, again creating shapes. A small smile graced her lips. Zuko admired how truly happy waterbending made Katara.

"KATARA!" The water plummeted to the dead grass at her feet, her face changed from pleasant to horrify. She and Zuko turned slowly to see a very angry Airbender standing watching in disbelief. "I thought I told you not to waterbend!"

"She's her own person Aang; she can do as she pleases!" Zuko stared down upon the bald boy.

"Not as long as she travels with the Avatar."

"Oh what, now you're talking about yourself in the third person?"

"Zuko," Katara whispered, surprised by his defense of her.

"Katara, if you choose to stay with me then you will do as I say. If not, then LEAVE!" He spun around wildly, sending a strong gust of wind at the pair who were knocked off their feet. Katara, shocked and hurt, quickly stood up and ran in the opposite direction. Zuko shot Aang an irate glare before setting foot after her, them both disappearing into the night.

A/N: Well, that is chapter 1 in what I hope will be a small trilogy. Please leave reviews so I know if I should continue this. If I don't get reviews, this story will probably just be taken down. So sorry I haven't posted in such a long time! The ending of Avatar upset me so greatly that I couldn't bring myself to write Zutara. I've even been getting into a new show, One Piece. {Love Zoro x Nami}. However, for some reason, I still think I write Zutara well. Let me know what you all think! Xoxo Vessa.