Save Me

Author: YolandaFriella

Hello avatar fans! I'm back with another Zutara story, yay! Anyway, it's going to go slow and be detailed. This'll probably be the shortest chapter because it's the prologue. Please give me a chance! Once I write up two other chapters, or three, you'll like it. This takes place before Zuko got burned by Ozai, when he was just beginning to be a teenage boy (as well as Katara). If you catch any mistakes, please let me know in either a PM, or review. And if you like it or have something to say, leave a review. I LOVE reviews. :D I do plan on updating three times a week, because obviously, I'm back into avatar baby! Whoo!

Also, I saw the Avatar: Last Airbender movie, and I was strongly disappointed in it. I knew from the beginning I wasn't going to like it, but…..if you're curious to see why, then watch it. I just wouldn't suggest it as a good movie. Thank you for reading, and enjoy!

Prologue: Hope

"What's the meaning of this?" The dragon ordered in a thunderous hiss, the surrounding flames rising with the tone of his voice. I stood vulnerably in the shadows of the looming flames, feeling anything but courageous under his monstrous gaze. I would've felt much better if he wasn't peering down at me, despite the restraints burning my wrist and the guards behind me, watching my every single move strictly. My legs turned wobbly, and my breath seemed to work inappropriately.

I would've scanned the room, if only his eyes didn't infiltrate my living soul and make my insides boil to nothing. I would've struggled if only a stare from this fiend devastated my once gallant plans and undermined me to nothing but a weak, teenage girl. Instead, here I was, thunderstruck, and incapable of looking away from those golden, corrupt eyes. He had me trapped, and I knew it.

The throne room was incalculably noxious, grasping an unnatural welcoming of fuming flames greeting whoever entered it. When I first entered it, my eyes couldn't drink the entire room; they immediately laid on the fire lord, perched over the pulsating flames in an eerie silhouette.

This was his lair.

"My lord," A guard behind me began, his voice guarded to conceal his fright. However, it was only futile because if I could feel it, I'm positive the man in front of me definitely could. "She's a healer."

I cringed. My eyes left the monster's and chose the floor, the crimson tile staring back up at me offering no help. There was probably no drop of water in here—none. For once in my life, I found my natural, gracious element of no further help, even when I needed it most. I could feel myself deplete of power—of strength—just from the view of this dominant and merciless man. Just imagine what he'd make me feel if he actually stood before me.

My superfluous walls of pride crumbled when his eyes switched to the top of my head, and I hunched my head even further, feeling the blistering heat waves emitting from the flames cackling before me. Sweat was beginning to form on my forearms, and my hair was pressing against my neck; inundated with sweat. The room was getting horrendously warm, especially with the enlarging flames. I certainly didn't fit in the room, with my foreign skin or dramatic sapphire eyes. I was an extraterrestrial, and this was terrorizing.

"A healer?" The monster probed, a flabbergasted pause following. "How do you know this?"

"She healed herself." Another guard spoke mildly. "Lady Asami witnessed it when she wounded herself in the garden."

"How did she injure herself?" The monster questioned.

"She claims she tripped and bruised her arm. None of us has even seen the bruise, but from reputation all around, we have a feeling she's being truthful. She said that this girl," they pushed me forward, and I let out a startled gasp, seeing the flames grow larger in my vision. I brought my head up, eyeing the twisted energy dancing before me, gritting my teeth to struggle and endure through this nightmare. "Came to her aid, without being asked, and cured her arm before her eyes. She said it was comparable to a phenomenon, and was too astounded to speak for awhile afterwards. Lady Asami tells the happening briefly on how this girl bended water to the wound and healed it, with no herbs, medicines, or even tools."

"Amazing," The fire lord murmured, and I watched in horror when he began rubbing his chin considerately. "She may be of some use. Relieve her of her prior duty, and show her to the healers. They'll know what to do with her. Can she bring people from the dead?"

"We don't know. All we know is that she can heal in moments, with just her bending only."

"Very well. Take her away."

"We were thinking—"

"—I have plans." The fire lord suddenly boomed, a flame barely brushing against my arm. I jerked back, ignoring the guards as they grabbed me roughly, and my eyes met the fire lord's once more. He had an overconfident, warped smirk on his features, flames noticeable in his eyes. "I have an important meeting soon after this. Leave now."

"Yes, my lord." The guards bowed before him, and for a moment, I stayed in the standing position, feeling a spark of buoyancy, but that was put out when a guard jerked me down with the chains, forcing me to bow before the monster. I hit my chin violently in the process, but nothing was compared to how wounded I was when I first arrived here. When I first came here, I fought and fought without having the consideration of yielding. That is, until they grew irritated. This was nothing more than a mere scrape. Hopefully, I won't ever feel the way I felt when I first came here.

So I prayed to the first being that came to mind: the spirits.

Without the strength to endure the crisis, one will not see the opportunity within. It is within the process of endurance that opportunity reveals itself.

~Chin-Ning Chu

Being a healer in the fire nation was, apparently, a big deal…..

They brought me into a room besieged with the assorted odor of herbs, blood, death, and sweat. At first I felt bothered by how fixed their grasp was on my delicate arms. These past few days have been atrocious. I've only been fed maybe twice a day, and the food they gave us was revolting. Many of the workers grew sick just from eating. My older brother, Sokka, could've cooked better than them, and that's very unusual to even divulge.

At one point, I finally gave in and allowed them to drag me off to this unidentified room. Several women began saying things to me, the guards setting me free in the room, replaced with these women, who whispered chants with eyes closed, and with profound meditation. This was definitely a spiritual room, every women wearing the same hairstyle, garments (which wasn't really humble), and ornaments. I felt overwhelmed with all of them surrounding me, their hands touching my shoulders and head, until finally, they were gone.

A circle was formed around me, and I was too mystified to even respond before an aged woman came to me with a serene smile, hands hidden behind her back, and kind, affectionate eyes. "We've heard of you," She told me. "You are different than us. We haven't had a bender with healing powers before—you're the first."

I said nothing in return, only stared at her with wide, emotional eyes.

"You're young." She said bluntly. "That's good. Can you show us how you heal?"

My eyes glanced around, feeling tons—dozens—of pairs of eyes watching my hurried breathing, or the apprehension swelling in my chest. My mouth was dehydrated, my tongue velvety from lack of water. It took me a moment to actually find my voice.

"I'll need water." I told her, surprising myself by not stammering.

"Hiromi," The woman ordered a girl, who looked up in confirmation. "Do you have the water?"

"Yes," She came forth, bending down to place a small bowl of water in front of me, stepping back immediately. I stared impassively down at the water, seeing its smooth surface….its assurance calming me down instantly. Even with the pressure condemning me, I felt at better ease than before.

"Go on," The old woman urged.

I nibbled on the inside of my lip, my eyes trained on the water. After gaining control over my breathing for a moment, I lifted my hands and focused on the essence. My fingers could almost feel the cold sensation; feel the flow returning to my mouth just from looking at it.

I finally found control over the nourishing element, and heard many women gasp around me as it was raised into mid-air. I allowed it to leisurely rise, thriving in the enjoyment arising inside of me.

I was born in this. Not flames.

I was born on a small iceberg across the entire world, encircled by my family and loved ones. No, I wasn't born in this immoral, lethal place full of intolerable people. I'm from the Southern Water Tribe, and I'll never allow myself to forget than noteworthy factor. I won't allow myself to stoop to this level—never.

I glimpsed the grisly sight of an engraving in my arm from where I brushed aggressively against one of the walls, in the midst of an atrocious fight, and inhaled deeply. I drove the water gradually to my arm, the water unspoken as it obeyed my authority.

"I will do this once," I informed them, fortitude laced my voice. "So watch closely. I refuse to heal the people I hate."

As I began healing my wound, mending the shredded tissue back together, I could hear women whisper amongst themselves. Yes. I currently told them I refused to heal, and I knew I was going to be in trouble.

But I had pride. I was Katara after all, the last waterbender of the Southern Water Tribe.

And even the most agonizing punishments couldn't change that.

I wish I could just sleep, and never wake up.

My dreams are the most favored part of my day. I get the opportunity to see my older brother once more, or to see my village where I once lived. I can feel the arctic sunlight shining on my skin along with the bitter wind chilling my face. Awhile ago, I've even had a moment with my mom. But when I always wake up, I'm reawakened to this living misery. Instead of seeing beautiful, pallid, immaculate snow surrounding me, I find myself staring up at darkness, which holds a crimson color inside of it.

"I won't do it," I told the woman again, who returned to my cell to ask for my meticulous healing. "I'll never do it. Just give up." I've been in here for a whole three days, with no food or water, until I finally compel to this woman's order: to heal.

"We need you," She told me pleadingly. "You must help us."

"Your people deserve nothing more than death." I hissed, not looking in her direction.

"I know you don't want to, but your powers are miraculous, something we desperately need. We have many people coming in deathly ill." Her voice broke. "Including my husband."

I paused for a moment, my heart clenching from her heartbreaking voice. How could anyone humane ignore the sound of a fraught wife? Would that make me just as bad as these people if I declined her once more?

"I've never healed sickness." I told her honestly.

"There's always a first." Her voice turned softer. "I'm begging you. My husband may die any moment. They predict he'll die sometime today."

I finally looked over my shoulder, seeing her whitish and craggy face look deathly scared. Her kind eyes were watery with tears, raw emotion leaking from them onto the valley of her cheeks. It looks as if she didn't bother to secure her hair suitably because there were a great number of stray strands hanging lifelessly in her face.

"What happened to him?" I turned fully around to face her.

"He's been ill for quite awhile," She told me, "ever since he went to the Earth Nation to fight. He's now a retired general, but you would've never known it. So when the general, of the time, lost the siege of Basing Se, he grew deathly ill with something we didn't know how to cure. Those earth benders must've spread a disease to him or something."

I narrowed my eyes. "Has he ever killed someone?"

"Maybe….I don't know. He seldom spoke about his travels."

"I won't heal him if he's killed someone." I snapped sturdily, even though I knew I would eventually give into the woman's upsetting request.

"My husband's a good man. He would never kill a soul without a motive."

"He's fire nation. I'm pretty sure none of them care about who they kill, as long as they gain power."

The woman paused. "I'd hate to see you expire here in this abandoned cell…..for your own personal benefit, won't you just heal my husband to save your life? Being a healer isn't so dire. It's healthier than being a worker."

"I'll choose to rot in here," I said again, "than to give in to helping my enemies."

This time, my voice was indomitable, and the woman knew.

So, she left without another word.

I knew I was close to dying….I could feel it.

I lost track of how many days passed as I lay there, staring blankly up at the ceiling. I found myself being accustomed to the isolation and the stillness. No guards even walked by since I wasn't getting fed. There were no other people in the cells around me; I was the only one.

At first I was sick in the stomach from the lack of nutrients. Deciding promptly, I was strapped in a fetal position, in hope of waning the aching, but it didn't help much. It lurched throughout the night, preventing me from sleeping at times. Even on full moons, the point in which I feel strongest, I've never felt so scrawny.

Even through this disenchantment and fruitless thoughts, I knew I was stronger than them. Not only because I never surrendered, but because I succeeded in keeping something I shall never lose:

My hope.