I could resist the urge anymore and i wrote an Avatar fanfic, theres more to come. I hope you enjoy the story, I'd love some reviews on it or a helpful crit, they are always welcome.
"Land on the horizon!"
Katara ran up the stairs to the bow of the ship and hung out over the railing. She could see it, bobbing up and down between the waves. She wondered how much had changed in the time she'd been gone, whether they would all be waiting for her on the pier. She could feel the crew's eyes on her back as she stared over the rails; she sighed and shuffled her feet. Maybe she should have waited until they had arrived before changing into her Fire Nation clothes. They were after all a lot more revealing then the Water Tribes clothes of choice.
'No' she thought to herself. 'If I'm old enough to marry then I'm defiantly old enough to wear what I want to wear.'
They would land soon, the water was moving in their favour, even if it needed a nudge occasionally. She ignored them and went back to her thoughts. It was hard to believe she had been gone for well over a year; everyone would be grown up now. Aang wouldn't be the broken hearted boy she had left behind, he'd be fifteen soon, and so would Toph. Zuko was older then all of them, already a man in his role as Fire Lord. Sokka and Suki were as good as adults as well; maybe her brother had finally asked her to marry him. She smiled at the thought of Suki being her sister and hoped that she hadn't missed the wedding if he had asked. A year was a long time to be gone. Even with their letters going with every incoming ship and hers going out with the next. Sometimes Hawky even mad the flight but in winter the winds had been to strong for him to risk flying in.
"Princess?" The captain was by her side, it was eerie how quiet he moved sometimes.
"I'm not Princess, my name is Katara." She told him, her words snappy; she was tired of repeating that everyday.
"With all due respect Princess your father is the Chief and his daughter holds the title of Princess. We would place our life in place of his, he had our upmost respect and all the loyalty we posses. To give you no title feels an insult to all he has done for us."
"I respect your loyalty to my father, Agwe. But I'm not a Princess; I'm the same as your own daughter, just a girl…just a woman." Katara corrected herself. "Perhaps when I have earned the title I will allow you to call me Princess but until then, please, just Katara."
There was a moment of silence and Katara saw a smile twitch on the Captain's lips. "There is one difference between my daughter and you Miss Katara." Katara smiled softly and turned her head to look at Agwe. "My daughter is married." Upon seeing the scowl on her face Agwe laughed good naturedly. "Any man on this ship would have you, any name back at the poles would have you, and even the men from the Northern Water Tribe would have you."
"The men of the Northern Water Tribe would have me so they might get more then they deserve, the men of my own tribe and of this ship would have me just because of who my father is." Katara told him, his laughter died in the seriousness of her voice. "I am not a fool, nor is my father, he knows I won't be forced into a marriage."
"Pardon me Miss Katara but your father…"
She cut him off, biting back her anger. "My father is my father, as tradition dictates he will choose my husband, I'm aware of the traditions. But I won't be forced to marry just to up someone's status." The boat lurched to the side as the water around the boat churned in answer to her raised emotion.
The captain nodded and began to walk away, pausing only once. "It is not just that you are Princess, Miss Katara. You are possibly the Southern Water Tribes last Bender and you are a creature to behold." He said the words with nothing but honesty in his words, she was his daughter's age after all and he was a happily married man. "Whoever does manage to marry you will be a fortunate man…and a strong one to match yourself."
Katara kept looking out to sea but smiled, he was right. A man who didn't at least match her, if not challenge her would be of no interest. She bent over the side of the boat, enjoying the splash of the water against her skin. Behind her there was the beginning of a wolf whistle that was quickly silence by the sound of someone being cuffed over the head. She shook her head and placed her feet flat on the deck again. It was probably better that she didn't draw attention to herself. The shore was getting closer so slowly that it was making her chest ache. She wanted to see them again, her friends, her other family. She had missed them all year, especially after her father had told her that they weren't visiting because he had told them she needed space. Truthfully he just thought they would influence her choice or that she would just out and out refuse. She had been close to doing that too. Refusing to do as her father had asked, no, not asked, told her to do. It was her duty as the Princess of her tribe and as their last Bender. Sokka was already fulfilling his duty.
"We will arrive at the shore in less then an hour Miss Katara." The captain called from somewhere behind her.
Katara shook her head, that was too long for her to wait. She gripped the rail of the boat and swang her body into the air, tossing her legs over and letting her self drop down. With barely a thought she pulled the water to her, it caressed her skin as it lifted her back to the surface and ahead of the boat. She could hear the crew yell to her but she didn't even turn around. She had offered her help at the start of the long voyage but they had refused, saying it was a mans job. That didn't stop her from coxing the currents to run a little smoother or faster though. What the men didn't know could injure their egos.
With the water on her side she flew forward, moving beyond any speed the boat could match it wouldn't take her long to reach the shore. She shoved the thoughts of her father and her duty from her mind. All she wanted to do was get to the shore, get to the dock. She wanted to see their faces. They would be waiting for her, wouldn't they? For a second the flow of water surging her forward waned with the doubt in her mind but she refused it let it remain. She could see then in her mind, Aang waiting beside Appa, pacing back and forth with Momo on his shoulder. Toph would be standing near the back, further from the water where she could see better. Sokka and Suki would be tangled together, probably sitting in the sand and being lovey dovey. Zuko would be...the picture in her head faltered, would Zuko even be there? He was the Fire Lord; he couldn't just take time off to go and met a friend at the beach.
She sighed, it wasn't going to be the same as before. Aang was the Avatar, fully realised now, he had told her in his letters that Zuko had taught him all he could. He was the Avatar; he was going to be travelling the world making peace where the chaos had created destruction. Zuko would be just as busy getting his people back into order, undoing the damage his father and sister had done. His was probably the hardest task; he had to make the Fire Nation and its people look good to the rest of the world. He had to stop the world from fearing the colour red and hating their gold eyes upon sight. Suki and Sokka would be tangled up together as well, Suki was still hoping to go back to Kyoshi and she wanted Sokka to go with her, it was closer to the South Pole then the Fire Nation at least. It would just be Toph and her, unless Toph went home to her parents. She was so close to the shore now, she could see the edges of houses over the small hills. She desperately searched the shore for any sign of them but it was empty. There was just one person, someone from the Fire Nation. She could see the red of their clothes standing out against the dim sand of the beach. She slowed her pulse, the waves that were being dragged in behind her died just a little, if she left them too big they would wipe out whoever it was on the shore.
"Why aren't they there?" The waves that were pushing her forward ebbed, beginning to fall back into the water. Without her bending she began to sink into the water.
She wasn't far now, she could swim. It gave her time to consider all the reasons they weren't there, she tried to bury her disappointment, telling herself they had gotten the day wrong. The times were different this far away from the poles. She sighed and dove below the water, kicking her legs gently to guide her to the beach.
It was a natural flow in her body that she bent the water to move faster, part of her just joined with the element beyond her conscious thought. She liked it below the surface, in the cool blue of the ocean she let her emotions wash from her. Nothing would be accomplished by bottling them up, especially if they made her angry at her friends when they saw each other in the first time in a year. She brushed the surface of the water every few minutes, taking deep breaths just as her lips brush the air above.
Slowly the ground below her drew closer until she could stand with her head and shoulder above the water. The Fire Nation figure was still on the beach; she sighed and began to step out of the water. Bending the moisture from her clothes as soon as they were above the waves, she didn't need them to cling anymore then they did. After a year of growing her fire nation outfit was in sore need of replacing.
"Katara!" A voice called to her, she turned to face him, she knew that voice.
"Zuko!" Katara laughed and ran across the beach; sand flew up from her feet.
She launched herself at him when she was close enough, clutching her friend tight. He laughed softly and hugged her back. "I didn't think any of you were…" She trailed off, not wanting to say that they didn't care.
"Aang was called away a few days ago, Bumi wanted his help. Toph is with her parents, who insisted that she come to dinner with them and needed the proper clothing for such. Sokka and Suki have been visiting Kyoshi Island, they were meant to be back today." Zuko gently pushed her back and looked her over, his tense smile faded slowly to a true one. "I didn't think you would like to come to an empty beach after a year."
Katara shook her head, she could feel tears well in her eyes and she snuggled back against him. "I missed you all so much; it was weird not having my family with me" She sighed and finally let him go.
Stepping back in the sand she looked at him, taking in a year's difference. He was taller, broader, it was clear he was still training just as hard. His hair was just as shaggy and unkempt as it had been, just a longer now and those few stray strands still hung over his forehead. There were dark patches under his eyes, like he hadn't been sleeping, her eyes were drawn to his scared cheek, as they always had been. Something in her chest thudded as she looked at his gold eyes, she smiled to herself and looked away. Her eyes moved to his chest of their own accord, the scar she had given him lay underneath his shirt. She extended her hand and gently lay it over the spot the scar sat.
"Is it still bad?" She looked up at his face, she may be taller but she still had to lift her head to meet his eyes.
Zuko grimaced, his mouth shifting into a frown. "The Fire Nation's best healers have had their turns looking at it and poking me."
"You didn't answer my question Zuko." She said softly, he sighed and shook his head. "It's my fault you have it so just tell me!."
Zuko took her hand from over his scar and moved it to over his heart. "No, it was you who brought me back, Azula did this to me." He let her hand go and looked out to the sea. "Where's the ship?" He looked sideways at her.
"I left it out there." She made a face when Zuko raised his eyebrows at her. "What! They wouldn't even let me bend the water to help the boat go faster, they'll get here eventually."
Zuko laughed. "I see you haven't changed." He turned away from the sea and began walking inland, Katara followed him. "I'll have my envoys wait for them, I'm sure you're tired after the journey and you'd…"
"I'm not actually, I couldn't wait to get here and see everyone after not being allowed to see you all." Katara caught sight of a small convey on the edge of the beach, there were two Komodo Rhinos with soldiers mounted on them and a single Mongoose Dragon without a rider. Beside the Rhinos there was a small carriage. Two people stood apart from the soldiers.
"I'll take you to the palace, you can rest…" Katara went to interrupt but Zuko silenced her with a wave of his hand. "Or you can explode the grounds and see what we have been doing while you've been gone…" There was a moment's pause and he looked at her again, clearing his throat. "And perhaps change clothes."
Before Katara could speak the two men came striding towards them, gesturing and speaking. Zuko was nodded as though he could hear them but Katara could hear only bits and pieces of what they were saying. When they reached the pair rather then stop them both moved to walk beside Zuko, still speaking to him. Katara could hear Earth Benders, and destruction in their quick words. They didn't stop speaking or even seem to noticed Katara until they reached the convey itself. Only then did they bow to her, faces lit with tense smiles.
"Lady Katara, a pleasure it is to meet you." One clutched her hand, planting a kiss on the back before she could pull it away.
"Indeed, a great pleasure." The other snatched her hand and kissed it as well.
Katara fought back the feeling of slight disgust and embarrassment and smiled thinly. "It is a pleasure to meet you both." She pulled her hand from the second ones grip and took a slight step back.
They lifted their heads and followed her movement, she didn't like the way they looked at her. "Li, Chin, you will remain here and welcome the Water Tribe member to our land and escort them to the palace. Lady Katara and I will go ahead of you." Zuko told them and swept a hand around Katara, leading her towards the Mongoose Dragon. Behind them Li and Chin were muttering softly, Zuko release Katara and went to speak to the Soldiers on the Rhinos.
Katara looked nervously at the Mongoose Dragon, the only time she had been one was when they were being chased by Azula. A memory that didn't make it any easier for her to follow Zuko when he mounted it, motioning for her to follow. She look dubiously at the scaled creature, it stared back at her with large yellow eyes.
"You're not afraid are you Katara?" Zuko leaned towards her, extending his hand to her as he did so.
She scoffed and took his arm, pulling herself into the saddle behind him. The Dragon reared up onto legs, Katara clutched desperately at Zuko, her hand wrapping around his waist. She pulled herself closer to him; the Dragon launched forward, speeding away on its back legs.
"How can you ride this thing?" Katara leant her head on Zuko's shoulder and spoke into his ear, making sure he could hear her.
"You get used to it." Zuko smiled, they rode in silence for a few moments. Katara watched the edge of the city blow past as the Dragon raced along the road. "Are you going to tell me why your father took you away?" He asked, turning his head to try and see her.
"I…" Katara started and faltered, what was she meant to tell him.
"I didn't you would want to talk about it with the soldiers around." He said when she returned to silence. "You don't have to tell me if you don't want to." He added.
"It's not that!" She snapped and frowned, he always brought out the worst in her. "I just…I'm not sure how to tell you." Zuko waited. "My father called me away because he want's me to complete a duty he claims is mine, he wants me to marry."
"You are of marrying age, over it actually." Zuko nodded, Katara frowned, she had a feeling he had just called her old in a roundabout way. "You knew he would want you to marry soon, it's the way the world works. Your Tribe is run by the men, marrying off their daughter is part of a father's life…I didn't think Hakoda would do that to you though."
"Well he is. He's given me three choices and wants me to pick one before the end of the season." Katara scowled, her anger bubbling to the surface.
"Who?" Zuko's voice didn't hold any of the shock she had hoped it would.
"Aang, a warrior from the Northern Water Tribe that I've never met, and…" Katara paused, pushing herself back in the saddle and making space between them. "You."