Ursa peeked outside, looking for the two, expecting to see them sparring or arguing. Instead, she found them talking, laying on a patch of grass beneath the cherry tree. Keeping very quiet, as to not alert them of her presence; she sat on the cold, stone stairs that led to the garden and listened to their conversation, able to see through the garden gate. It felt wrong, but she was curious. Having not seen Zuko for many years, it made her curious as to what he was like with other people—particularly pretty girls. She trusted both of them, but it was the motherly instinct that kept the doubts constantly wavering in the front of her mind.
"What do you think Sokka would do if he found us out here?" he asks, giving a nervous laugh.
Ursa could hear the truth lingering behind that question, and Katara's answer proved it.
"It's not like we're doing anything," she argues. "He can yell at you, but what for?"
"Yeah, but it's the fact that I'm out here, alone with you," he says. "It's the opportunity."
"But Sokka likes you," Katara insists. "So, even if he did find us, Sokka's so oblivious that I doubt he could put two and two together."
"I don't know," Zuko said, sounding unsure. "Not everyone really has full trust in me."
"I trust you," she said as he pulled her legs to rest on his lap when she lay down on the ground.
"How much?" he whispered, soft enough so that if Ursa hadn't been leaning forward at the time, she would not have heard.
"Why does it matter?"
"Because," he said. His fingers traveled from her toes—which she giggled lightly when he touched—to her knees, "This," he continued his path upward, stopping at her hip, lifting her shirt a little to see her skin. "Or this," he leaned down and pressed his lips to her now exposed stomach, and she squirmed beneath him, her eyes never leaving his gaze. "Or maybe even this," he whispered as he unbuttoned her top, revealing underclothes that could not hide her body's recent changes. He put his lips on the top of her chest, traveling downward, her hands moving to grab his hair.
"Is this some kind of sexed up version of the nervous game?" she asks breathlessly.
"No," he simply states. "It's me showing you how I feel."
She doesn't answer, but instead she pulls him back down on top of her, his head resting on her shoulder. They stay like that for sometime. She couldn't tell how long it had been before either of them said anything, but it was what he said next that made her even forget that they hadn't spoken in several minutes.
Zuko lifted his head up from her shoulder, and looked at her in the eyes, his gaze reflecting something Ursa had never seen before. Was it fear? Or was it love?
"I love you," he whispers.
Katara swallows hard, keeping a steady gaze. She reached a finger up to his lips, tracing their outline. His eyes closed at her touch, unable to keep himself under control.
"Do you want to?" Katara asks, sounding unsure.
"More than anything," Zuko says, his breathing still staggered. "But you don't."
She bit her lip. "I don't, but I know you've been wanting to…"
"Not until both of us are ready," he says reassuringly. "Promise me you won't lie about it."
She reaches up to kiss him, pulling their combined weight back down on the grass. Ursa blushed, now starting to feel ashamed that she was eavesdropping. Zuko began to kiss her neck, his lips never breaking contact with her skin, just leaving traces of his breath behind. She sighed delightfully as he kissed farther down her chest, leaving her desiring more, even though she didn't want it.
"When I grow up, I'm going to marry you," she whispers.
"We should just get married now," he chuckles, bringing his head back to meet her lips in a quick kiss.
"That wouldn't make either of our parents happy," she frowns. "Let alone the world."
"I love you and that's all that matters," he says briskly. "Unfortunately, the world doesn't think so."
She looks at him, absent-mindingly twirling a piece of his dark hair. "I love you," she whispers. "I don't think this is completely normal, though," she confesses.
"Why?" he asks, his concerned voice echoing through the garden.
"Because every second I'm not with you, my body aches with deprivation. It's like a disease. I need you everywhere, surrounding me, so I can breathe you in like a drug. I need you to touch me so I know it's not all an illusion. My mind is somehow connected with yours in a way that it thinks you are a necessity for me to survive. I've never had this kind of feeling towards anyone before. It's ridiculous," she whispers, a stray tear making its way down her face.
He wipes it away with his thumb, kissing the spot where it had been. "I'll touch you everywhere you want me to," he whispers against her face. "I'll do whatever it takes to be with you. I need you more than you can ever know."
They embrace, and Ursa wipes away the tears that had started falling out of her own eyes. She turns around to go back to the palace, giving them their trusted privacy now. When she stands up, a child's voice is ringing out through the night, calling Katara's name. When the bald monk asks Ursa where Katara his—although hating to separate them after what she just over heard—she directs Aang to the gardens, seeing the Panda-Lily he is holding makes Ursa's heart wretch, sympathizing the young Avatar.
In her head, she imagines a passionate kiss before getting up and pretending to be having a casual conversation. Ursa imagines the Avatar's face falling when he sees them together, his heart picking up at the hints but his mind unwilling to believe the truth. A silent pain probably tugs at his heart due to the amount of torture it takes to love someone with so much passion that it hurts to think about.
Only Ursa can't bring herself to make the Avatar happy.