AN: Yes, this is another essentially pointless oneshot from me. No, I don't really like this one either. Yes, there will be some fluffy moments. At least I thought they were fluffy. Yes, reviews will be adored. Yes, I will tolerate flames because, again, I'm not very sure this even deserved to be published.
Written for euphoenix who was my 600th reviewer. Thank you so, so, so very much to each and every person who has ever reviewed. You guys make my day. Sorry that this is so lame. PLEASE feel free to request me to rewrite some/all of it. I mean that with utter sincerity.
Rating: T for some pretty strong innuendos in places
Disclaimer: No owno.
It was the sun that woke her. Warm rays slowly crept across her bare arm and the pleasant sensation finally dragged her from her dreams to the land of the living. Her waking, however, did not dispel the happiness her dreams had allowed her mind to sink into. The simple reason for that was that her life was just as amazing as her dreams. She smiled and, without opening her eyes, rolled over so she was facing the other side of the bed. Her searching arms found nothing but mattress, however, and with a frown she finally woke up entirely.
Blearily she took in the sight of the tussled blankets and dented pillow that proved somebody had been beside her earlier. Sitting up and rubbing her wild hair, she glanced around the room, searching for any other signs of life. The only other moving thing she found was her reflection in the huge and ornate mirror directly opposite the bed. Her reflection frowned, dark skin furrowing, as she realized Zuko had- once again- left before she'd woken. Damn him and his 'rising with the sun' tendencies! Couldn't he sleep until a normal time so they could at least cuddle in the mornings?
With a loud groan, Katara allowed herself to flop back ungracefully onto the pillows, disappointment lacing her entire body. Lazily she allowed herself to pick at the threads of the blue pillow coverings. They were only three of the various blue items that were scattered around the predominantly red room. Even before she'd married Zuko she'd made it perfectly clear that she was not going to leave her heritage behind. He'd agreed to her demands concerning the topic, and when they had married Water Tribe and Fire Nation had merged in more ways than one. She'd wanted to take her old quilt from back home with her, but while it was amazingly snug in the cold South Pole, the fleecy blanket was a deathtrap in the warm Fire Nation. So she'd settled for the pillows instead.
The Waterbender absentmindedly traced the patterns on the pillow, smiling softly as she remembered. In just a few days' time, when the moon was exactly half full, it would be sixty-four months since she wed Zuko. Dreamily she let herself remember that day, the one she'd sworn she'd cherish. Some of the finer details were hazy or completely missing- she'd been in a sort of frantic daze that only grew bigger the closer she got to the actual ceremony. But she could remember being walked to Zuko with her father and Master Pakku on either side of her, Zuko's dashing wedding robe, the feeling of her father's hands resting on top of her and Zuko's linked fingers. And, most of all, she could remember the way his eyes had burned when he looked at her and proclaimed her to be his. She would never, ever forget that burning. It was brighter than when he'd first told her he loved her, or when he proposed, or when their son had been born or even their wedding night.
With the memories of the adorned hall and her smiling friends and family still playing through her mind Katara rose and dressed herself. Her clothes leaned towards the common style of the Fire Nation and they had added blue adornments. When the occasion called for her to be very formal she usually wore plain Fire Nation royalty robes with just an added blue sash or Water Tribe beads in her hair because, as much as she loved her nation and was proud of it to her core, she recognized that she had become Fire Nation. And she had done it oh so willingly. Fingering her mother's old pendant- which now hung proudly on the finest Fire Nation silk and had an added eclipse carved carefully on the rear side- she made her way down the hall and to her son's room.
The curtains were already open and the bed was vacant. She had hardly finished scanning the room for any signs of the boy when he suddenly appeared and launched himself at her legs.
With a laugh Katara bent down and scooped the four-year-old into her arms. Zuko's gold eyes shone happily at her from a face that was a shade darker than those of most Fire Nation people. Somehow his hair was already in the short ponytail that reminded Katara very forcefully of the Zuko she'd first met. But her attention was not on the hair mystery but rather on the mystery of the sticky substance that was lining his mouth.
"Who gave you a Moonpeach before breakfast?" she asked sternly.
"Daddy did," he replied innocently, licking some of the remaining juice off his fingers.
A flash of warmth followed by a pang of disappointment flared through her. Warmth at the news that Zuko had gone to see his son- who, to Katara's great displeasure, woke as early as his father- before tending to his kingdom or anything else. Disappointment because she hadn't been there to witness the exchange, something she made an effort to do because seeing Zuko with the young prince… It was beyond description and price.
"Well Daddy is very naughty," Katara sighed, shaking her head as she turned towards the washbasin in the corner so she could wipe his mouth.
One of the traditions Katara had broken was the necessity of servants around the palace. While she still allowed them to do most of the cooking and cleaning (she forced them to let her do some once in a while just because she actually missed it) she refused any help with trivial things such as dressing or looking after her son, even when he was a baby. She'd expected opposition on the matter, but what she hadn't expected was Zuko to be wholly on her side. It turned out that the Firelord had grown accustomed to doing things by himself over the years, and that the servants' constant fussing had started to grow on his nerves.
And so both of them dressed themselves from almost the very start of their marriage. And when their son had come along they'd taken it in turns to care for him, although Katara had done most of the night-work as Zuko late at night was half dead. And it was also thus that Katara wiped her sticky son clean and dressed him for the day by herself, laughing at his innocent questions about why birds flew in the first place- didn't they miss running around? Eating breakfast alone with the little prince Katara was stuck with the question of whether Zuko had had breakfast. She highly doubted it, knowing his habits. The Waterbender made a mental note to make sure he ate lunch, even if she had to force the food down his throat.
It took Katara a while to gather up the resolve to head towards the study instead of the garden. The day was glorious outside, the only flaws being the heat and the clouds creeping slowly from the horizon that promised a storm later on in the evening. But she, as the Firelady, had duties to attend to as well and so she regretfully turned her back on the glorious outdoors and seated herself amongst the towering racks of scrolls instead. While she worked on the letters and documents that demanded her attention her son sat beside her at the desk, his concentration completely fixed on the task his mother had set him. He was picking up writing very quickly, much to his parents' delight, and he was truly excited to start proper schooling in a year.
"Mommy, how do you write 'I love you'?"
Smiling, Katara took the scroll from him and wrote the phrase in big, careful writing. Her son stared at the characters curiously for a while before he began to attempt to copy it. Again the study lapsed into a silence broken only by the sound of swishing brushes. After a long while the young Fire Prince stopped his work, rubbed some ink onto his face unconsciously and held up his work proudly for his mother to inspect. Katara's heart warmed at the clumsy and slightly incorrect lettering. There were strokes missing and one or two strokes added but the intention was clear. And she was very proud indeed.
"It's beautiful, darling. Who are you going to give it to?"
"Daddy," came the proud reply. "To read when his mewtings are no fun."
The Firelady laughed at the simple logic and his cute variation of the word 'meeting'. The masterpiece was allowed to dry and was then carefully folded into the pocket of his shirt. For a while he busied himself with going over his newly learned phrase, but he soon began to get restless.
"Mommy, can you tell me a story?"
"I'm sorry, sweetie, but Mommy has to finish this first."
"How about I tell you stories instead?" came an amused male voice from the doorway.
Both members of the royal family looked around, and both of them smiled at the sight of their friend.
"Morning, Aang," Katara greeted, grinning in response to the wide laugh on her friend's face.
The Avatar had grown into a very handsome young man, something the ladies of the world had not failed to notice. He still kept his head shaved but had taken to wearing clothes from the other nations, as Air Nomad robes in his size were close to impossible to find. But even though he'd matured, there was still a child-like innocence that radiated from him and sparked in his eyes.
"Morning, Katara," he replied cheerfully. "So how about it, little man? You wanna hear Avatar stories?"
The little prince was at the tall Avatar's side in almost record-quick time making both the adults laugh. Aang gently took the little hand in his own tattooed one and began to lead his student out of the study. Katara's voice made him hesitate before leaving.
"Don't teach him anything he shouldn't learn," she warned sternly, glaring at her friend from the top of her scroll.
Aang laughed. "Who, me?" he asked innocently. "I think you're confusing me with Toph!"
"Ever since you married her she's rubbed off on you more and more," came the amused reply.
Aang didn't deny it- just kept grinning widely. "Don't worry, I won't say anything you don't want me to. I don't want Zuko on my back. I had enough of that sixteen years ago during the war, thanks very much."
And with that Katara found herself in peace once again. She finished her last signature with a relived sigh, and then gathered up all the scrolls she'd need and went to give them to the appropriate messengers. When she was done with the delivering and polite conversation that went along with it, the sun was already past its midway point in the sky. Smiling at her great timing, the Waterbender made her way toward the meeting hall. Just before the hall itself stood a storage closet that she was rather fond of. It was very large, but held few objects that were of little importance. This, and the fact that it was almost tucked away into the wall, made it the perfect place for her plan. Slipping inside and closing the door partly, she patiently waited.
Not long after she'd taken up her post, the doors to the hall opened and Fire Nation noblemen and generals filed out. Zuko was, predictably, the last one out. He was deep in conversation with Mai's father, talking about the affairs in Omashu, of which the man was part of the parliament. To Katara's great delight the pair's conversation brought them slowly yet surely closer and closer to her. By the time the nobleman bowed to Zuko and took his leave the Firelord was almost directly in front of her. Zuko sighed, rubbing his eyes tiredly, and began to head off. Katara's Waterwhip stopped him in his tracks and yanked him backwards. At once the Firelord's body stiffened, ready for battle. But when the suspected attack came in the form of Katara crushing her lips to his, the fight left him almost instantly. Pushing her further into the storage room he roughly kicked the door closed- his hands were too busy entwining themselves into his wife's hair.
"Morning," Zuko breathed against her neck, making her shiver in delight.
He picked her up with ease and placed her on top of one of the empty shelves. Almost hungrily Katara wrapped her legs around his middle, dragging him closer as she kissed him passionately. His hands were fiddling suggestively with the sash to her clothes when they both heard footsteps and froze. It took one moment to discern that the person, whoever it was, was indeed coming to the storeroom they were in. Quickly Katara jumped to the ground, both of them smoothing their clothes and hair down and trying not to look guilty. They'd barely finished when the door opened and an unsuspecting servant girl entered. She stopped dead in her tracks when she saw the two.
"As you can see," Katara said quickly, "we can definitely put the… stuff… in here- there's plenty of space."
"Yes, it seems highly adequate," Zuko agreed, catching on. "Now let's go- lunch is waiting."
He took Katara's hand and the two walked out past the bowing, still-shocked servant girl. It took all of their willpower not to burst out laughing like a pair of teenagers. Their son latched on to them before long, Aang nowhere in sight.
"Hey, little man." Zuko's smile was almost impossibly soft. "What have you been up to today?"
"Avatar Aang told me stories! He told me how he learnt to move water like Mommy!"
"And, what else did you do?" Katara prompted him.
For a moment, he stared at her blankly. Then, suddenly remembering, he dove into his pocket and proudly produced the rather scrupled scroll. He held it out to Zuko, who stopped walking so he could read it. Unreadable emotions flashed across Zuko's face, and Katara felt her heart swell in warmth.
"Did you get Aang to write this for you?" Zuko finally teased.
"No!" the little prince laughed. "I did it!"
"You did!" Zuko put a very surprised expression on his face. "That's very good!"
The scroll was placed carefully into Zuko's pocket before the Firelord took his beaming son's hand in his free one. The three walked to the dining hall together, all happy because of different aspects of the same situation. As she had suspected, Katara had to half bribe, half threaten Zuko to eat a decent meal. He kept insisting he wasn't hungry, but Katara was having none of it. Just before the meal was over a messenger bowed his way over to Katara and handed her a letter. Her eyes lit up as she read the first bit.
"It's from Uncle Sokka and Aunt Suki!" she exclaimed.
Her son scrambled onto her lap at once; curious to see the letter he could not read. Zuko shifted in closer so he could see too, but Katara still read it out loud.
Dear Katara, Zuko and the young prince
We're in Ba Sing Se at the moment, and you won't believe how big it looks now that all the inner walls have finally been taken down! It's lovely this time of year- all the blossoming trees are starting to lose their flowers. The zoo Aang started all those years ago is also still going great. There are so many animals inside, it took us a good four hours to walk all the way through!
Sokka nearly spent the night in jail. He got tossed out of a poetry house where he was apparently causing trouble. All he'd tell me is that he had a score to settle there. I don't even think I want to know. The kids are adoring the food of the great city, and they're too busy to even fight as much as usual. That's a relief, I can tell you.
Iroh sends all his love. The Jasmine Dragon now has no less than five different outlets all over the city, and they're always packed. He still runs the original one, though, and everybody says his tea is still better than the tea of those he trained. He's still going strong despite his age- he kicked Sokka's butt the other day. He specifically told me to put that in the letter, because he knows Zuko worries. He's a real riot to stay with, and the kids actually sit quietly when he tells them stories.
We'll be sure to get you guys some presents here. Keep safe, and send our love to Aang and Toph as well.
Hugs and kisses
Suki, Sokka and the Terrible Two
Zuko's finger stroked the lines about his uncle almost subconsciously, a small smile tugging at the corners of his mouth. Katara kissed his cheek lightly, knowing that Iroh's suspicions about Zuko's worry were correct. Even though the idea of the old general getting older alarmed her as well, she couldn't help but remember Bumi who had still been very frisky at the age of a hundred and twelve. She had the sneaking suspicion that Iroh might live longer than the famed Earth King.
"Mommy, Daddy, can I go play?"
"Let's see your plate first."
He held up his clean plate for inspection, trying hard to hide a stray pair of peas with his thumb. Katara had to laugh at his innocent face.
"Alright, you can go. If it starts raining you must come in, okay?"
"Storm on the way?" Zuko asked her as their son scampered happily away.
"Yep. Looks like a pretty big one too."
"Maybe it will delay the arrival of those dignitaries I have a meeting with tomorrow morning…"
"I could always aid it a little bit," Katara smirked, making Zuko mirror her expression and kiss her firmly on the lips.
"It's very tempting," he promised truthfully.
They finished eating and then both moved into the meeting room, where servants brought on map after map of the different cities of the Fire Nation. They started discussing what changes could be made, drawing out a wide list first and then cutting the options down to only a handful which would later be discussed with the full council and governors of each city. But as the time wore on, the discussions became debates. Then the debates turned to arguments. By the end of the afternoon, they were having a full on fight, not even seeming to notice the servants glancing wearily at the flaming torches on the walls or flickering their eyes from one to the other like they were watching a volleyball match.
"If you just think about it logically, you'll see you're being completely and utterly irrational! And rather stupid!"
"Well, maybe you should think about how stupid you're sounding. Tonight, while sleeping on the couch!"
"Maybe I will!"
"Good for you!"
She stormed out angrily, blue eyes spitting fire. Timidly, the servants cleared up the maps and then excused themselves from the seething Firelord's presence. In the beginning, a servant had always readied sheets and blankets for the couch that the Firelord was being banished to for the night. But after five years of being around the pair they just didn't bother anymore- they knew the sheets would never be used. They'd all picked up very quickly that arguments between their Firelord and Firelady could very adequately be compared to the rising of the sun: It was a certainty that it would happen every day. Some days were hotter than others, and some days it lasted longer than others. But it always set, just as the arguments rarely lasted for more than a few hours. Arguing was their 'thing', just as Toph still punched everybody to show affection.
Zuko was stalking moodily towards his study when a tremor ran through the palace. He would have thought it was an earthquake if being friends with Toph for so many years hadn't taught him otherwise. Groaning out loud, he turned around and headed instead towards the courtyard, experiencing several more tremors as he walked. The little prince was sitting on the steps on the outskirts of the courtyard, eyes wide as he watched the Earthbender do a little 're-modeling'.
"Toph! I told you not to break my palace!" Zuko barked, still managing to ruffle his son's hair as he passed.
The Earthbender turned her sightless eyes towards him, loose black bangs waving gently across her face. Her expression was pouty.
"Well I have to do something!" she cried, exasperated. "Aang's practically forbidden me from doing any training. All I do is step wrong and he basically has an aneurysm!"
"You are carrying his child," Zuko said fairly, remembering back to his own dull panic when Katara had been pregnant.
"That doesn't mean I'm cripple!" she argued back hotly. "I can't sit around and do nothing! Ugh he's already driving me nuts, and I'm only four months into this thing!"
A smile twitched at the corners of Zuko's mouth. "You can train with us, if you want?"
"Us?" Toph was instantly hopeful, obviously picturing the entire Fire Nation guard or something.
Zuko beckoned to his son, who gleefully scampered to his side at once, eager to train. Toph's face fell, and Zuko had to try very hard not to laugh. He didn't want his nose broken.
"Come on. It's relaxing, and there's no way Aang can protest to this."
Grumbling, Toph glumly gave in and came to stand next to Zuko. Slowly the Firelord went through the steps of a general bending form. The little prince had shown no signs of being any type of bender yet, but it was still early days and both his parents were confident he would be able to control an element. Clumsily, the little prince followed, lapping up all the gentle correction his father gave him. Toph, despite her grumbling, found the familiar moves relaxing, and was soon calmly moving along. Her peace could only last so long, however.
"Come on, Sparky. Spar with me?" When he didn't answer, she turned her tone to pleading. "Just a quick one, please. It doesn't even have to be intense. Nobody needs to know."
Sighing and rubbing his face, Zuko gave in. With a whoop Toph happily positioned herself on the opposite side of the courtyard. Zuko made sure his son was safely on the sidelines before he attacked. He found out very soon that Toph had no intention of keeping her promise- she by no means held back. He, on the other hand, refused to attack her full on and thus he had the disadvantage all the way through. He also had to keep yelling reminders at her that the rock she was using so happily as a battering ram was, in fact, part of his house. Both benders were sweating and panting and in the full heat of the battle when it happened.
The warning was small- barely there. If Zuko hadn't already been in the habit of checking on his son from time to time he might not have noticed it. One of the pillars Toph had been moving around had started to crack at the top. And with the thumping going on because of the battle, a slab of stone had begun to slip off. And it was heading straight for the little prince. Zuko swore his heart stopped beating at the sight. For a second he was completely frozen in place, horror sapping him of all breath. Then he was moving, forgetting everything except his son.
"Toph!" he roared, trying to pull her attention towards the disaster.
She turned, but her face was confused, and he knew she would not catch on in time. Desperately he dove forwards, snatching the little boy and throwing him out of the way. The Fire Nation prince skidded across the floor, out of danger, but Zuko's leap had carried him into the path of the falling slab. For one moment there was nothing, then he felt the breath literally being knocked out of him. Through the dazed feeling of no air, he swore he heard his ribs break.
Before he could register much, the weight had been lifted off of him and Toph face was above his, the expression very anxious.
"Zuko? You okay?" The Earthebder swore. "I'm so sorry."
"It's fine. You've done worse."
His joking reply fell flat when he winced and moaned as he sat up. Toph bit her lip, all the usual bravado gone. He was suddenly reminded of how he'd felt after he'd burnt her feet. She grasped his arm and pulled him up, putting out both arms to steady him when he swayed slightly. Standing up hurt a lot more than sitting, but it was still bearable and the world was starting to return to normal.
"Toph? Fix my courtyard, please."
Looking abashed she complied, carefully putting everything back in its exact original place and making sure there wasn't a crack anywhere. Zuko, meanwhile, was inspecting his son. There were a few scrapes across the prince's face and a cut on his hand but he was otherwise unharmed.
"You alright?" Zuko had to ask anyway. The little prince nodded, looking ashen. "Next time stand further back, okay?"
The little boy began to cry, flinging himself at his father. Katara was the one who was best at the whole hugging comfort thing, and Zuko's patting was rather awkward and forced. It had the desired effect, however- his son stopped crying. Gently wiping the tears away, whilst trying not to stoop too much, Zuko calmly continued to erratically pat the little boy's back. Toph was just finishing her renovations when Aang came around the corner. The Avatar took one look at the dusty floor, his guilty wife and the crying child, and his expression turned exasperated.
The Earthbender, for her part, drew herself up stubbornly and Zuko saw his cue to leave. Allowing his son to take his hand he led the little boy inside. Finding Katara wasn't hard, and it only took a few minutes for him to explain what had happened and for her to whisk their son off to the bathroom to be healed. It was quick work, and by the end of it the little prince was once again his cheery self. Kissing his palm gently, Katara told him to go and sit down for supper already. When he was gone, she turned to her husband.
"I'm fine," he said at once.
"Let me see," she insisted, moving toward him.
She began to tug at his shirt, trying to pull it up. His hands grabbed her writs in an all too familiar hold.
"Zuko," she warned, eyes narrowing.
"After supper." Her lips pressed into a thin line. "They're all waiting for us. And I'm fine until then."
Giving up, she let out a frustrated growl and turned to stop out. Zuko caught her hand in his and held on, entwining their fingers. She calmed slightly at his touch and they made their way to dinner together. She tried hard not to notice the way he was hobbling slightly, worry gnawing at her insides every time he winced. Neither of them seemed to remember they were still supposed to be fighting. Supper passed quickly and still happily, despite Aang and Toph's little tiff and Katara's worry. After supper Katara took her son out onto a balcony to see some stars. There were none to see, however, as the dark storm clouds had finally arrived. She then ran a deep, warm bath for him and played some soldier game while she washed him. Zuko materialized from wherever he'd been lurking to avoid his wife and the two tucked their son in before heading towards their own room. Katara noticed the difference in his gait at once.
"You've gone and made it worse!" she accused.
When Zuko didn't bother to deny it, the worry became even louder in her gut. Before Zuko even had time to light the lamps she was already pushing him gently onto the couch that was so regularly the threat of punishment between the two. She hissed when she saw the bruised state of his ribs, clenching his shirt tighter than necessary.
"I'm not going to be able to heal it all tonight," she told him, brow furrowed.
His finger tried to smooth away her worry. "It's fine."
Gently, she did what she could for him before bandaging his side and helping him into his nightclothes. She offered to help him to the bed too, but he argued against 'lying there like a cripple' and she just threw her hands up in defeat and went to bathe. When she returned, fresh and slightly wrinkled, she found to her surprise that Zuko was lying in bed.
"And now? I thought you had an aversion towards the bed."
"It shows a better reflection in the mirror," came the reply.
She frowned and looked into the mirror herself, trying to see what drew his attention enough to make him swallow his stubbornness. Her eyes caught sight of the reflection of the bathtub in the bathroom beyond and realization struck.
"Were you watching me bath?"
"It was more occasionally peeping." There was no shame in his smirk.
She couldn't stop her giggle, slipping onto the bed beside him at once. "Bring back memories?" she asked silkily.
He grinned. "Hey that first time was an accident. How was I to know you'd be bathing in that fountain as I walked by?"
"I don't think I've ever seen you blush that hard since," she laughed, shifting so that she was seated with her back facing the same way as his legs.
"You nearly killed me," he remembered.
"I was a fifteen-year-old girl and the new Firelord had just seen me naked in a Western Air Temple fountain!"
"It was dark out- it's not like I saw anything!"
"So you say," she purred, leaning over him with a smirk. "I, on the other hand, remember the moon to be quite full."
He just smirked and shook his head. "Speaking of the moon- it's nearly been sixty four months."
"I know," she beamed. "I was actually thinking about it this morning. And remembering the wedding."
He laughed lightly. "I don't remember much about the wedding- it was all just a blur or butterflies and slight confusion." A deep smirk crossed his face, one that made her stomach tighten. "But I can remember that night."
She leant down and kissed him, smirking against the warm lips she was so familiar with. His fingers tickled her sides lightly and she moved closer, leaning more and more over him. Her long hair was falling like a curtain over his chest, her hands gripping the side of his face in bliss. He nibbled her bottom lip gently and she sighed. Suddenly he was moving to sit up with her, the promise of more heat filling the air. But as soon as he moved a groan of an entirely different sort left his lips. Immediately, Katara slipped away from him, eyes anxious.
"Come back here, woman," he grumbled, forcing the wince away.
"Nuh-uh. You're hurt."
"I don't mind."
"Zuko! You're not up for it tonight. No!" she said firmly, slapping his hand away as it reached for her.
He scowled deeply. "You started it, led me on a pretty dance and then…"
She fought down a laugh at his expression, kissing the corners of his mouth over and over again. "When you're better," she whispered. "I promise."
His reply was drowned out by the first boom of thunder. Both of them jumped slightly and turned to look out the window. A few long pauses later, a bolt of lightning struck out across the sky. Subconsciously Katara's fingers gently stroked the scar on Zuko's chest as she watched the brilliant light tear open the clouds. Zuko pulled her down next to him as another roll of thunder sounded.
"I wish it would rain already," she sighed.
"It will. Be patient."
She opened her mouth to respond when their door crashed open. The prince stood for a moment, trembling, in the doorframe before more lightning lit up the sky and he flinched into the room, eyes wide.
"Aww, baby, are you scared? Come up here with us. Just be careful of Daddy."
Zuko growled in annoyance at the last sentence and, just to spite her, he grabbed his son and hauled him onto the bed as roughly as he possibly could, ignoring the protests of his ribs. Katara sent him a death glare but could do nothing more with her son present. The little boy wormed his way under the blankets, cuddling closer to his father as the thunder continued to scream its song to the Fire Nation.
"Mommy, why does it do that?" he half whimpered.
She thought for a bit, and then began to tell him the story her grandmother had told her when she'd asked the same question years ago. She told of the naughty wolf spirit who had angered the loud drums of the spirit world, of the pranks and their consequences. In her mind's eye she saw the images of the icehouse in the South Pole, the ice turning jagged blue as the lightning streaked across the sky.
"And then the Great Wolf Spirit-"
She broke off and a wide warm smile spread across her face. Both her boys were asleep, heads almost touching as they snoozed. Gently, she tucked both of them in and placed a kiss on each of their foreheads before dousing the light. Then she snuggled down so her stomach touched her son's back. Linking her finger's loosely with Zuko's, she smiled and allowed herself to drift off into dreams that were not necessarily better than her reality.
AN 2: I intentionally left out their son's name because I don't like naming the next generation in any fics. In fact, I hardly ever like writing next gen fics. You can probably tell, right? Sorry for the lameness. Anyway, feel free to insert your own favourite Steam Baby name wherever the little prince is mentioned.
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