I don't know how it happened. One moment I'm flying away from Ba Sing Se with a newly revived, but unconscious, Aang and the next – I'm falling. I couldn't tell you what happened after that either – I blacked out. When I came to I was chained to a wall and after a few minutes a guard came in.
Of course. Just my luck. The Fire Nation.
The guard came towards me with a cup in hand.
"Here," she said. She sounded sympathetic. I realized then that I was parched and my lips were about to crack. I took the cup without hesitation. The contents were gone in a matter of seconds. I looked down into the cup regretfully and notice herbs.
"What did you? What did you…put…in my…cup?" My words were slow and my eyes started to droop. The guard just gave me another sad half smile as she got up to leave. Everything went black.
*3 days later*
The next time I awoke I was in the Fire Nation. By the looks of it I was being taken to the palace far behind Zuko and Azula. It was a long trek to the palace, especially since I'd been asleep for approximately four days. I would have run away but a) I was too exhausted already, b) the guards would quickly catch me, and c) I was wearing blue in a sea of red.
The air was stifling; making me glad I'd abandoned my overcoat after we left the North Pole. The crowds parted for the guards while they stared at their new prisoner. I did my best to ignore them and look like the proud Waterbending master I was. After about an hour of walking up the winding path we reached the palace city where I received more odd stares. Once we crossed the city we were ushered into the palace. I heard a servant mumbling about the Fire Lord already waiting.
As we walked I looked around, keeping track of which way we turned and what was next to the corner so I wouldn't get lost when I make my escape. I made sure to walk taller and prouder when we reached a door that I assumed led the way to the Fire Lord's hall.
The guards on either side of the large, ornate door rushed forward to grab the handles and heaved. Apparently the doors were heavy. Bang goes that plan. I'll just have to find another way out of here. The guards escorting me pushed me forward into the dark hall, or so I thought. Once my eyes adjusted to the darkness just inside the doorway I saw a wall of fire at the other end. Behind it sat three figures. Zuko, Ozai, and Azula. Great, it's a family reunion for a family of liars, I thought bitterly. We walked right up to the wall and stopped. I saw Zuko's eyes widen when he saw me but the returned to the cold stare. The guards bowed briefly beside me. I guess they expected me to do the same.
"Kneel in the presence of the Fire Lord," one of the guards behind me hissed.
I just stared Ozai right in the eyes. If only looks could kill, I thought regretfully.
"Kneel!" The guard kicked the back of my leg but I righted myself before I could go down.
"I said kneel!" the guard yelled. I saw amusement in the Fire Lord's eyes before there was a sharp pain across my back. I gasped at the unexpected pain but then clenched my teeth, refusing to show my pain. I still didn't kneel and was then whipped again. I flinched and grit my teeth. Zuko had a mix of horror and admiration in his eyes. After taking several more hits, I felt blood soaking my back. The Fire Lord finally spoke.
"Enough. She will learn soon enough. What is your name girl?"
"Why does my name matter if you're just going to kill me anyways?" I countered defiantly. I felt another whip hit me. I swirled around. "Tui and La! Didn't he say ENOUGH!" I gestured back to the Fire Lord, hiding a wince at the motion. Behind me the Fire Lord laughed.
"You have fire girl, I'll give you that. But who said anything about killing you? Prince Zuko? Say 'hello' to your new servant. Welcome home."
"Thank you Father. Take her to my chambers. I will be there shortly." I balled my fists in anger but let the guards lead me out.
We walked the opposite way from were we came in. The way to Zuko's chamber was pretty simple but as we walked I could feel the fatigue of blood loss overwhelming me. We reached a simple black door on the right side of the hallway and stopped. Everything was getting dizzy so I stepped over to the wall and leaned against it. Zuko's servant? I don't think so!
"Catch her!" I heard a voice in the distance. Then I felt arms on me to keep me from hitting the floor. "Bring her in here. Lay her on her stomach." I felt relieved to be off my feet and resting on something soft. "You may leave," the voice commanded and the door shut.
"Katara? Katara, it's Zuko. I know you're mad at me and you have every right to be. But right now we need to get fixed up. I sent for the doctor but I have a feeling you'll want to heal yourself. I'll be right back." His voice sounded gentle and apologetic. A few minutes later Zuko came back and kneeled down next to me.
"Katara? Wake up." I opened my eyes and was greeted by gold ones. "Can you sit up?" he asked. I nodded my head and sat up.
"Alright let's get you to the bathroom." Zuko helped me stand and kept his hands on my forearms. I held his as he walked backwards, looking over his shoulder every so often. It was hard for me to keep my eyes open; all I want to do is go back to sleep. I didn't realize that Zuko stopped and ran into his chest.
"Hey, stay awake. If I put you in the water will you attack me?"
I hung my head, tired of holding it up. "No," I mumbled and he helped me forward again.
"I'm sorry if this hurts but I need to pick you up." I felt his arm behind my knees and his other arm at the top of my shoulders. I hissed in pain. There was one lash there. "I'm sorry," he said again. "Here we go." I heard a splash then the water rushed around me. I gasped as it hit my wounds.
"I'm going to get you some dry clothes. I'll put them next to the towels for when you're done." With that he got out of the tub and closed the door.
The water was cold and woke me up. I concentrated on the lashes on my back and moved my hands; the water followed obediently. After a few seconds I could feel my skin come back together and sew itself without leaving a trace that it was there at all. I felt refreshed and started practicing by making shapes out of ice before finally getting out. I bended the water out of my clothes and back into the tub. I looked around for the towels and didn't see any.
Clothes next to the towels my butt. I cracked open the door and looked out. Oh. There they are. In the next room was a "powder" room. I hadn't seen one this nice since we left Toph's home. I stepped into the blue room. It was a very calming color with white trimmings. I grabbed a baby yellow towel off the rack and wrapped my hair with it. The clothes on the counter were baggy looking and red, so I assumed they were Zuko's. I took off my robe and saw the red remains of it. My breast bindings fell off themselves from being ripped so many times.
"Great," I said aloud. When I picked up Zuko's shirt I noticed black fabric tucked under it so I picked that up first. They were breast bindings. And underwear to match. How thoughtful of Zuko. I quickly put the under clothes and shirt on. The pants I had to tighten almost all the way. I've lost a lot of weight since the South Pole. Wow. I stopped reflecting and walked out of the blue room.
"Zuko? Do you have a brush?" I asked. He looked up.
"Yeah. It's in the top drawer on the right."
"Thank you," I responded and walked back in. He followed.
"The doctor's going to come in to give you some bandages. I told him that I'd help you."
"Why would he do that?" I asked, looking at him through the mirror.
"For show. I don't want my father or Azula to know you can heal."
"Why would you care?" I asked bitterly, glaring.
"Because I regret my decision already. My uncle is in jail, you were captured, and the Avatar is dead. I need to make things right." I wasn't going to tell him he was wrong until I was sure I could trust him, if at all.
"I'm not just going to trust you, you know? But for what it's worth, that's a good start," I said as I tied my hair in a high pony tail.
In my story, Mai doesn't have any romantic interest in Zuko so there won't be any cliché drama between her and Katara. I hope you liked the first chapter and I would appreciate reviews. :D