Bonds of Sea and Fire
Chapter 1: Chapter 1
Bonds of Sea and Fire
Obligatory Disclaimer: Avatar is the property of Bryke, and Nickelodeon.
Written for a one hundred sentence challenge on the katara_zuko comm on LJ.
Reviews are love!
When she said that she was ready to forgive him was when hope began to flare in his heart that perhaps someday, there could be something more between them.
To Zuko, Katara's necklace was nothing more than a means to an end- it wasn't until much later that he found out that it was the most precious thing she owned.
As they began to run low on food, Katara noted that Zuko was starting to lose weight-it was then that she realized that he had been going without so that the others wouldn't.
When Katara becomes Fire Lady and her eyes widen and she gasps when she sees the price for a dress that's caught her eye, Zuko pointedly reminds her that money is no object.
Two of a Kind
It was under the crystal caverns beneath Ba Sing Se that Katara first learned that Zuko knew the pain of losing a mother like she did; and she began to think that maybe he wasn't so different after all.
Zuko is bound and determined to restore the honor of the Fire Nation, to atone for the sins of past tyrants, and he will do it with Katara at his side.
When she's in his arms, time doesn't matter; there's only now, this moment.
"The future doesn't scare me because I'm facing it with you" she says with a serene smile.
Zuko would always remember that Katara was the first and only girl ever allowed to touch his scar.
Each believed the other to be the last person they'd ever fall in love with; and yet both can't quite believe their luck.
When Zuko sees the Avatar with Katara, he begins to question the wisdom of placing honor before reason.
Whenever she sees him reunited, at long last with his beloved mother, having found her alive and well after all these years, for the first time Katara sees Zuko weep openly and without shame, and fights back tears of her own.
The musical sound of her laughter is enough to make his heart skip a beat.
After the way she's treated him, after all she's put him through Katara hopes-prays-that he can find it in himself to forgive her.
As he lays on the ground, crumpled, agony coursing through him from Azula's lightning, he has no fear of death; all that matters is that Katara is safe.
Each loves the other more fiercely and deeply than they can ever put into words; so their love is expressed in touches, caresses, kisses, the intertwining of their fingers, and the movement of their bodies.
With each year that passes Zuko's noticing that Katara's filling out in all the right places.
When she asks him why he took the lightning that was meant for her, she sees the truth reflected in his eyes.
She refuses to believe that he's changed for the better, that he's come to see the error of his ways, she clings to the belief that he's still the monster, the face of the enemy, that he'll turn on them like a rabid wolf-bear, but as time goes on, it becomes harder and harder to convince herself.
When he sees Katara smile, her eyes shining with love for him, Zuko realizes he's never felt more clean and pure.
When she seeks solace in his arms, his kisses, his warmth while visiting the palace (she is married to the Avatar, and this was only supposed to be a diplomatic visit, after all), she thinks that she should feel ashamed, dirty; (she finds that she doesn't.)
"You know, my Gran-gran once told me that you can learn a lot about a person just by looking at their hands" she says as she runs her slender fingers over his own rough, sword-calloused ones.
Katara loves that Zuko's silky black hair is just long enough to run her fingers through.
His golden eyes have always reminded her of a bird of prey's-sharp, piercing, commanding, and fiercely beautiful.
Whenever she is in his arms, she notices that his skin always smells faintly of woodsmoke-it is a smell that she has grown to love, and associates entirely with him.
Whenever she tells him of her bloodbending-of Hama-she shakes and trembles and whispers that she's a monster-he holds her tightly and does his best to reassure her that she isn't-he knows something of monsters; after all he once called one father.
Whenever she tells him of her adventures as the Painted Lady, Zuko learns-much to his surprise-that he wasn't the only one to harbor a secret identity.
Whenever he tells her about his Agni Kai and his banishment, his voice wavers, she realizes that she's never seen him so raw and vulnerable and naked, and so she does the only thing she can do; she holds him tightly to her.
When he enters his room, he discovers that the tears in his clothes have been carefully mended-upon closer examination, he finds that the thread is a delicate blue.
As she watches her daughter exchange wedding vows with the young Fire Lord, face shining, Kya looks on from the Spirit Realm with a mixture of love and pride.
When Katara entrusts him with her mother's necklace, Zuko runs his thumb over the smooth pendant and thinks that now would be a good time to brush up on his carving skills.
As Iroh watches his young nephew and the beautiful young waterbender together, he reflects on the paradox of two complete opposites working in complete harmony and thinks that yes, indeed, destiny is a funny thing.
It is after she's faced Yan Rah that the exhaustion finally catches up to Katara and she collapses in Zuko's arms and weeps, and he simply holds her close without saying a word, offering only his silent understanding.
When he first joins them, her attacks come not in water whips and ice daggers, but in veiled threats and vicious insults.
As the ship pulls into port and Zuko waits patiently on the dock, Katara all but runs to him and throws her arms around him, much to the dismay of his attendants-propriety be damned; she's missed him.
Whenever Zuko kisses her just so, she swears she can feel her insides melt.
Whenever Katara sees the court women ogling her husband while he trains shirtless in the courtyard, she marches right up to him, and kisses him to get her point across: Mine.
When they're first married, even a few hours apart from each other feels like an eternity.
At his coronation ball, Katara fights to hide her jealousy as Mai possessively puts her arms around him-she forces a smile that's tinged with bitterness.
"Sparky's got it bad for Sugar Queen!" announced Toph- that was the moment the pair in question realized that agreeing to a game of Truth or Dare with Toph probably wasn't the wisest of decisions.
As Katara comes down the aisle on their wedding day, dressed resplendently in Fire Nation finery, Zuko nearly forgets his wedding vows.
As Zuko unfolds the blanket and drapes it around them both to keep out the chill, Katara runs her fingers over the delicate embroidery in the fabric, admiring it: "It was my mother's," he says.
As Katara sleeps next to him, her beautiful face serene, he has to fight the urge to pinch himself to make sure that he isn't dreaming.
He knows that they're expecting, but the moment Katara gasps, smiles and grabs his hand to feel the first fluttering kicks of the child that grows in her belly is when it begins to sink in that Zuko is going to be a father.
When there's an ocean between them, letters from her are more precious to him than gold.
There are times when they talk for hours, and others where they simply sit for hours not saying a single word, content to simply enjoy each others company.
"So you can play the Tsungi horn?" Katara asked, tilting her head curiously-to which Zuko blushed, mumbled something in response that might have been "Yes", and shot a heated glare at Uncle, who only smiled in amusement at his nephew's display of embarrassment; which made no sense to him, since the Tsungi horn was a fine instrument.
As Zuko gracefully trails his new bride across the dance floor, he can't help but think that all those years of ballroom dancing lessons in his boyhood have finally paid off.
Katara smiles as she watches Zuko with their tiny infant daughter, softly talking to her and slowly rocking her to sleep; and as the child's eyes close, he plants the gentlest of kisses on her head.
After shattering Katara's fragile trust, Zuko vows to himself that he'll do whatever it takes to rebuild it.
As Zuko watches Katara take care of the others-much like a mother would-he reflects on how Uncle once told him that the Water Tribe has a strong sense of community and love.
"So if Katara's our team mom, does that make Zuko like our team dad?" asks Toph with a sly grin.
"If you're gonna date my baby sister, I'll have you know one thing Zuko; If you ever break her heart, I'll personally hunt you down."
"D-do you think that maybe we could ever be more than friends?" The question is asked with trepidation as his heart does flip-flops in his chest.
Katara can't help but marvel at the fact that Zuko, the sweet, courageous, selfless boy that she so dearly loves-the boy that laid his life down for her, without hesitation-was once her most hated adversary.
When it seems like the burdens of being the Fire Lord feel like too much, Katara wraps her arms around him and says, gently, "Remember; we do this together."
As Katara flits through the masque in her Painted Lady guise, a mysterious figure with a blue opera mask catches her eye-and she raises a delicate eyebrow, intrigued.
After her break up with Aang and Zuko breaking off his engagement with Mai, Katara notes the timing-it almost seems too perfect.
"Toph, is there a reason why my sister and Zuko have been spending so much time together lately?," asks the Water Tribe youth- Toph merely smiles smugly in response; Sokka's paranoia is just too entertaining.
As she sits anxiously by his bedside after the Agni Kai, she frets and worries as she listens to his ragged breathing (it's all her fault, it's because of her that he's like this) she rests her hands over his wound and pours more healing energy into him (he has to live, he has to-she won't let him die) and vows that she won't leave his side until she knows for sure that he will live-she doesn't think she would be able to live with his death on her conscience, especially since he's the one that saved her.
She feels as if the pain will tear her in half, but she breathes through the contractions and perseveres-there's a great release of pressure, of fluid and it's all over-a wail erupts, and a tiny bundle is placed in her arms; she looks down and sees golden eyes, black hair; discovers that she has a baby girl, and weeps with joy.
As Zuko sits by his beloved's bed, refusing to leave her side even for a moment, he hopes, in his own way, that his presence will make death to keep its distance-he cannot lose her.
The sound of her voice is more beautiful than any music he's ever heard.
As he buries his face into her thick tresses and inhales deeply, he smells the ocean in winter.
Zuko made sure to have Sea Prunes imported into the palace because Katara loved them, even though he personally thought they were the most vile things he'd ever tasted.
Katara begins to truly acknowledge his effect on her when even the gentlest of touches from him sends tingles of electricity charging through her.
Whenever her husband was in his full Fire Lord regalia, he truly was a sight to behold-but Katara liked it even better when he trained in the courtyard shirtless.
As he watches her move through her katas in that slow, graceful, beautiful manner of hers, he finds himself willing to concede that water is, indeed, the superior element.
With the passing of the years and the turning of the seasons, the love that binds them grows stronger, richer, and deeper.
Whenever she issues her threat in that deadly calm voice of hers, Zuko sees the maelstrom that sparks behind her sapphire eyes.
For Katara, no matter where she is, be it the Fire Nation or the South Pole, home will always be Zuko's arms-strong and warm and sheltering.
Zuko had earned Katara's forgiveness, but now, as Fire Lord, was the time to seek absolution in the eyes of the rest of the world.
As Zuko ducked to avoid the Ming vase that whizzed past his ear during one of Katara's more violent mood swings, he was left to wonder what it was, exactly, that he had done wrong this time.
To him, she is the light of his soul.
They are forbidden from one another, so their only recourse is brief, clandestine meetings by the moonlight.
"Daddy, where do babies come from?" asks Zuko's golden-eyed, black haired daughter after he and Katara tell her that she's going to have a little brother or sister.
When Katara spots a couple with a small baby, she smiles wistfully and a bit longingly, yearning to be a mother; Zuko, seeing her expression wraps his arms around her waist and says against her ear "Someday" before tenderly kissing her temple.
"Happy birthday," he blurts out as he places the small velvet box into her hand, blushing awkwardly, hoping that she'll like it.
Zuko thought that nothing could replicate the indescribable beauty of the tapestry of colors he saw when visited Ran and Shaw; he was proven wrong when Katara showed him an Aurora for the first time, and he could only stare in speechless wonderment.
They both train the Avatar day after day, passing on their hard-won skills as benders; it's not fair that a twelve year old boy carries such a heavy burden on his shoulders, but he's the best and only weapon they've got.
As Katara and Zuko bear witness to Ozai's public execution and subsequent funeral, as his body burns, so burns away the ashes of an old empire, making way for a new one to rise.
As she lays flush against him, hair messy and struggling to catch her breath is when Katara realizes that yes, indeed, all is fair in love and war. (it had all started with a kiss, and one thing had led to another; what had they been arguing about again?)
When Katara offers him a bowl of rice with a little extra komodo chicken, he meets her blue, blue gaze and sees the unspoken question asking for a truce-albeit, a shaky one.
Katara does her best to smother a giggle as she watches her daughters and two nieces weave chains of Fire Lilies and place them on Zuko's head-much to her poor husband's obvious dismay.
For her compassion, warmth, kindness, and tremendous capacity to love, Zuko knows that Katara is strong in ways he could never be.
Whenever it all gets to be too much for her, the constant work, the strain, the stress, the worry, she turns to Zuko and falls apart in his arms and lets herself feel overwhelmed.
Zuko could rush into battle without a second thought, but when it came to proposing to the girl he loved, he found that he'd never been so anxious, and as a result, tongue tied.
She finds him dead one morning, blood trickling from the side of his mouth and one of his own swords protruding from his chest; she swears to herself that she'll find the coward that took the life of such an honorable man, (the man she loved) and make them pay.
Zuko has learned all too well, the hard way, that angering Katara is borderline suicidal-especially during her "time of the month."
In that moment where he grabs her and rescues her from the crumbling rocks, Katara doesn't realize until later how truly close to death she came, and how she's never met someone more willing to put their personal safety on the line for the sake of another without a second thought.
Katara feels truly privileged and honored to be one of the few people that Zuko has truly opened his heart to.
As Zuko closed his eyes and Katara lightly rests her hand against his scar, she couldn't help but be moved by his vulnerability.
"Who is it gonna be-him or me?," Asks Zuko, challenge flashing in his eyes.
"This is the LAST time I'm babysitting" said Zuko in irritation as he and Katara scoured the palace for their two very active nephews, praying that they'd find where the little troublemakers had gotten off to before Sokka found out and skinned him alive with his boomerang.
Every morning, the Fire Lord and the Fire Lady wake up in each others arms and silently thank the gods they found one another.
The palace holds many memories for him-memories that haunt him, but with Katara, he's determined to make new ones; happy ones.
The palace staff looks at him like he's gone mad when Katara laughs joyously and drags him out to dance in the rain with her, the drought over the Fire Nation broken at long last.
When he gives her one of his rare smiles, it reminds her of the sun's warmth.
When worry or stress clouds his face, Katara surprises him by sneaking up and planting a kiss on his cheek, and at his startled reaction, smiles sweetly.
Katara stares in awe and wonder when she sees that at long last, he has finally learned how to harness the power of lightning.