This is a rewritten version of my old story, Naomi: A Fire Nation Airbender. I went back and read earlier chapters, and I wrote it back in seventh grade… so the writing skills and Mary-Sue-ishness of it just annoyed me, so I decided to rewrite it! I hope you enjoy!
And yes, this will eventually end up a Zutara. Don't worry, I won't break Aang's heart! Or Mai's for that matter!
Book 4: AIR
Summary: Four years have passed since the end of the war and the Fire Nation is in despair. Young Fire Lord Zuko is on a mission to find his mother, and seek her political advice. Meanwhile, Aang hunts for remaining airbenders, leaving Katara alone. Zutara. HaruxOC. And one-sided ZukoxOC.
Chapter 1: Back to the Future
~5 years ago~Fire Nation Capital: Center Square~
Eleven year old Zuko stood in front of a funeral pyre. His jaw was clenched, his hands fisted. He was trembling, his chin thrust out in front of him, trying not to cry. Still, unbidden, tears leaked out of the corners of his eyes. Standing next to him, a young Azula sniggered behind her palm, until a scathing look from her mother made her shut up.
Fire Lady Ursa stood behind her son, running her fingers though his hair. Tears flowed freely down her face, looking at the burning bodies upon the pyre, one small, and one large. A daughter and her mother. Burning. Crumbling. Like everything in her life.
"Mother." Zuko's voice rang loud in the deserted square. Even the funeral of a General's wife and daughter did not merit much. Ursa, Zuko, and Azula were the only ones remaining. "Why do people have to die?"
Azula scoffed as her brother. "That's easy, Dum-Dum! When people aren't useful anymore, Dad gets rid of them! You know, Dad's gonna get rid of you too soon!"
"Azula!" Ursa spun on her heel, and glared at her daughter. "What is wrong with you! Go to your room!" Azula just smirked and walked off.
"Azula always lies. Azula always lies," Zuko repeated the words like a mantra. Ursa resumed stroking Zuko's hair.
"I don't know, son," she whispered, trying to answer his question.
"Well, it's unfair!" Zuko suddenly screamed, pulling away from his mother. "She was only seven! She was my best friend! Why did she have to die?"
Ursa sighed, "Sometimes… sometimes people leave us. Sometimes…" She sighed again, and started to stroke Zuko's hair with frenzy. Zuko didn't even notice.
"I ask myself that every day." Tears leaked out of Ursa's eyes in memory of the child. She was so young, so joyful. Large brown eyes stared back at Ursa, and she sniffled. Like Mother, like Daughter.
Images of a young, dark-skinned girl with curly black hair assaulted Ursa. Another girl, this one with pale skin and straight black hair skipped around joyfully with the girl in a courtyard. And then, a young Zuko, running around with the same dark-skinned girl. More tears fell from Ursa's eyes.
"It's not fair." His voice wasn't that of a winy child. It was that of an adult, Ursa noted with despair. Her son was growing up, and way too soon.
~Present Day~Ba Sing Se: The Jasmine Dragon~
Long ago, the four nations lived together in harmony
Then, everything changed when the fire nation attacked
Only the Avatar, the master of all four elements could stop them
But when the world needed him most, he vanished
A hundred years passed and my brother and I discovered the new Avatar, and journeyed with him around the world
But although his airbending skills were great,
He had to master the other elements before he was ready to save anyone
But in the end, Aang was able to save the world.
The sound of a throat clearing made Aang quickly step away from Katara. Sokka stood in the doorway, watching with an amused expression. Suki was talking to Mai, the two girls got along surprisingly well. Zuko had taken Sokka's place at the table, trying to fix the "painting" he'd made while Uncle Iroh and Toph loudly gave their opinions.
Katara turned red at the sight of her brother, and Sokka quickly put up his hands in an "I surrender" gesture. "Hey! You could do much worse!" he said.
Suki came up and put her arm through Sokka's. "Plus, he's really not in a place to criticize," she grinned.
"Suki and I are getting married."
Aang turned to Katara, "He's kidding, right?"
"That boy's incapable of fooling me with lying," said Toph, pulling something out of her teeth, spitting. "He's really getting married."
"I asked Dad yesterday, and Suki's dad agreed too!"
"You have a dad?"
Zuko sniggered. "For a second, I almost thought that was Sokka speaking, Aang!"
"Of course I have a dad!" sputtered Suki, "How else could I be born?"
No one seemed to have an answer for this, so after congratulations to the "happy couple" and a couple of dirty comments from a passing water tribe warrior that left Suki sputtering and Zuko holding back a Sokka who was trying to decide between hunting down the warrior or jumping Suki, the friends were left in an amicable silence. Katara pulled Sokka aside.
"Sokka, do you know what you're doing?" she whispered intently.
"Of course I do!" he whispered back.
"… you're fifteen! Are you really sure you want to get married?"
Sokka sighed, running his fingers through his hair. "I love Suki, okay? And… I want to do things right! I mean, I don't want to make any mistakes from the start, and I want her to know exactly how I feel!"
"Marriage is a big commitment!"
"You're my baby sister! You have to trust in my abilities sometimes!"
Katara sighed, "You're sure about this?"
"One hundred percent."
Katara smiled, and hugged her brother. "Just don't do anything stupid! Suki doesn't have my legendary patience!" For a second, Sokka looked like he was going to say something scathing back, but he just grinned and hugged his sister.
Everything was going well until one of the fire sages walked into the room. The atmosphere suddenly changed from that of happiness to that of seriousness. Zuko's face fell as he remembered his responsibilities.
"Uncle," Zuko said, "we should have a council in order to determine our next move."
~Two Days Later~Fire Nation Capital: War Chamber~
Zuko stood outside the meeting room, fidgeting. He smoothed down his robes. He adjusted his armor. He fiddled with his topknot. He brushed a few short strands of hair out of his eyes. He adjusted his wrist guards.
And then he started again.
"You're really driving me nuts, you know that?" Mai had appeared behind Zuko; he hadn't even noticed her. "You'd drive General Iroh crazy with this fidgeting."
Zuko sighed, and pulled Mai close to him. "The war is over now, but yet, I don't know what to do. For years, all I've done is fight, and now that that is gone…" his voice trailed off.
Mai leaned up and softly kissed him. "You have time to be the best boyfriend in the entire world."
The doors to the meeting room opened, and Zuko walked in with Mai, taking his seat at the head of the table. Aang was sitting to his immediate right, and Katara was on his left. Next to Katara sat Sokka, Suki, Hakoda, Chief Arnook of the northern tribe, and multiple water tribe leaders. Next to Aang sat Toph, with Haru, Teo, Mai, and Ty-Lee following. Multiple Kyoshi Warriors were also present, along with the Earth King and his bear. King Bumi, Uncle Iroh, and multiple members of The White Lotus Club were present, including with Master Piandao. Toph's old wrestler friends, The Freedom Fighters, and the Swamp Benders sat further down.
Zuko took a deep breath and stood up. "Um… thank you for being here today. I know in the past, I've tried to kill many of you…"
"True!" quipped Sokka, lightening the atmosphere.
Zuko allowed for a momentary smile. "But today, we gather to decide our future. The war may be over, but our jobs are not finished by a long shot. For the past one-hundred years, the four nations have been immersed in war. Wounds take a while to heal, and only by our combined efforts will the world change.
"The Fire Nation has been a symbol of hatred for the people of the world. In the Fire Nation, many people remain who still believe in their superiority. Discontent is abundant in this nation, and I will do everything I can to restore the Fire Nation, Earth Kingdom, and Water Tribe to their former glory. But I will need your help."
Aang stood up next to Zuko, "As the Avatar, I will do my best to help the nations to heal their wounds. There were many orphans left over from the war, and these children have no home. I'm going to open a bending school and orphanage to be located at the Western Air Temple for all these children. I would need bending teachers, and teachers for the children who cannot bend.
"Katara, I was hoping you could teach waterbending. Haru, I would like you and Toph to teach earthbending, and General Iroh, I was hoping you could teach firebending. I would not ask you to stay at the orphanage all the time, but anything you could do for it would be helpful."
Haru stood up. "I would be honored to teach at the orphanage, Aang. But, I have a few concerns. Who will manage the orphanage?"
"I will." Uncle Iroh stood up, "I grow tired of politics, and Zuko is more than capable of dealing without me. I will manage the orphanage, but I have a request in return. I wish for Toph Bei Fong to act as a diplomat from the Earth Kingd…"
At this point, Sokka couldn't hold back his sniggers. "I'm sorry!" he gasped for breath, "But Toph? A diplomat? Oof!" Sokka was awarded a rock in the gut, curtsy of Toph.
Iroh smiled, and continued. "Toph would be a diplomat from the Earth Kingdom, and Katara would be a diplomat from the Water Tribes. We need levelheaded people to make peace last; Katara and Toph would be very good at this job."
Katara smiled, "I'd be honored to help, Uncle. And I'm sure Toph will behave herself too." She shot the girl a glare with that comment. Toph grinned and mouthed, 'Whatever you want, Sugar Queen." "And Aang, I'd be honored to teach at the orphanage every now and then," she smiled gently at the boy, who in turn, blushed.
Aang turned to Iroh, "Thank you very much, Uncle. I am honored you would do this."
Katara sighed, zoning out of the meeting. It had been a while since she'd just been able to sit without fear. She missed her home, but she forced herself to face the facts. It would probably be many years before she would be able to stay in the Southern Tribe for an extended amount of time. As her new role as a diplomat and ambassador, she would have to split her time between her home and the Fire Nation, not to mention her duties in the new orphanage.
But Katara was happy. She needed the distractions, rather than thinking about… other things. Now that the war was over, ideally, she and Aang would spend their lives together. But Aang was still a child. He hadn't matured, and although he was able to now speak in public, he was still the same little boy she found in the iceberg.
She was conflicted, and rightfully so. In Aang's childlike behavior to keep her, he had endangered the world by blocking the Avatar State. He was still an impulsive child, but Katara still loved him.
And that was the problem.
The sounds of an argument startled her from here revere.
"How are you going to bring back the Air Nomads?" came Sokka's voice. "You can't just gather a bunch of nomads, and hope an airbending baby pops out!"
"I know, but…" Aang floundered helplessly. "There were always four nations! I have to try to bring back the Nomads!"
Haru sighed, "The world needs the Avatar more then ever now, Aang. You can't just disappear again."
Aang sighed, "The world needs four nations again. You will be able to manage without me. And I won't be gone. I'll just be searching, along with my other duties."
Katara reached across the table and put her hand on Aang's. "Are you sure this is what you want to do?" The boy nodded. She sighed, "Okay… But where will you start?"
"In the Fire Nation." All the heads in the room snapped towards Zuko. Questioning looks were on every face. Zuko hid his face in his hands, and mumbled, "You will not like this."
Katara laid her hand on Zuko's arm, looking at him nervously. Blue eyes met with gold, and Katara flinched at the sorrow written all over Zuko's face. His arm burned under her touch, and she worried he had a fever. He took her hand and pushed it away.
"When the Fire Nation invaded the Air Temples, the soldiers were under orders to kill everyone. These orders were rarely followed." Zuko lowered his head, "Many soldiers smuggled young women home from these raids. Once they reached the Fire Nation, they were degraded. A few women were lucky. Because of their exotic looks, they were able to marry into families of high status. But the less lucky ones…" His voice trailed off.
The hall was shrouded in stunned silence. Aang was the first to respond, "We have a lead, no matter how terrible. You cannot blame yourself for the actions of your predecessors, Zuko."
Zuko shook his head. "I can try."
~Six Months Later~
Katara stood on a cliff overlooking Kyoshi Village. Lights were on everywhere, and people ran joyously up and down the paths. Weddings were always a big deal, but the people of Kyoshi loved parties. After three hours, Katara was just about done. She leaned against a tree, and slid down until she was sitting.
"Got tired of the party?"
Katara didn't flinch. She had seen Zuko leave the party from her vantage point. She sighed, "You could say that."
He sat down next to her. "Aang is showing off for the local girls again, isn't he?"
Katara turned, facing Zuko completely. In the moonlight, his scar was only a faint outline. "I don't think the war affected him at all. He's still a little kid."
Zuko undid his topknot and crown, and pulled off his wrist guards. He carelessly tossed them onto the ground. "Isn't that a good thing? So much innocence has been lost in the war…" his voice trailed off, his hand instinctively reached up to his scar.
Katara started, a bit panicked. She had only found out about Zuko's past a few months ago. She had always known of Ozai's cruelty, but Zuko's story shocked her. "I didn't mean that!" she started. "It's a good thing… but… He's the Avatar. He has childish ideals about how this world is, and I'm afraid he'll be broken. The world isn't made of cupcakes and sugar. And… even after what he's been through, I don't think he knows that." She looked intently at Zuko. "I'm worried about him."
The wind blew, ruffling Zuko's hair and pulling Katara's hair out of its bun. She sighed, pulling out the chopsticks holding her hair up. Zuko reached over and brushed her hair out of her eyes. "Don't worry about him. Although you may not know it, he has grown up. You don't need to protect him anymore."
Katara smiled sadly, "I'm so used to it, you know? Taking care of people is all I know."
"Naw," Zuko grinned, moving his hands to hold hers. "You're smart, and you're a great teacher. You cook very well, and you are an amazing bender. You're strong, sophisticated, and beau…" He stopped, pulling his hands away from her.
Katara gently touched his face, pulling her gaze up to hers. "You really mean that?" she whispered, "All of it?" He nodded mutely.
Blue met gold. His hands cupped her face, and they were kissing. Katara let out a moan, and pulled Zuko closer. His fingers tangled in her hair, and her hand stroked his scar and he whispered her name. She found herself in his lap, kissing him. His lips traveled down her neck, and his fingers caught on her necklace.
The spell was broken. Zuko jumped up and scrambled away. In the full moon, he could see the color rising in Katara's cheeks. "I'm sorry!" he scrambled, fearing her bloodbending wrath. "I… I don't know what I was doing!"
Katara sighed, "I don't know either." She looked at Zuko pleadingly, "Don't tell anyone, please!" He nodded mutely, and walked away. Katara simply sat back down on the ground, touching her lips. Her other hand felt something on the ground.
She picked up Zuko's wrist guards and crown. He had dropped them. In the brightly lit night, Katara made out a band sticking out of the side of one of the wrist guards. She pulled it out.
In her hand was a beautifully carved betrothal necklace, similar to hers. It was a band of red, woven to look like waves. The pendant was truly beautiful. It had a carving of a drop of water with flames inside it. But the pendant itself, when held up in the moonlight, glowed softly red, blue, and gold.
Katara pocketed the necklace without thinking, and followed Zuko's footprints back to her brother's wedding.
~End Chapter One~
I hope you enjoyed it! Please review, and feel free to nitpick!