A/N Okay, okay. I know it's been FOREVER since I've last updated, but winterguard's started and I have practice and all this other jazz so ya, I don't have a lot of time on my hands. But! The good news is I've mapped out the rest of this story and let me tell you, it's pretty climactic! So enjoy and review. P.S. I'm sorry it took so long!
After three weeks at sea with Zuko, it was easy to tell when something new was happening. I was awoken by a strange energy in the air. It hummed all around me and caused me to sit up straight. The lower half of my body was envelope in warmth and comfort, the bed practically cradling me. Every since music night, I'd slept with Zuko in his bed. Of course I stayed on my side, or at least tried to, but somehow we always ended up holding each other. Which led to a lot of embarrassment in the morning but he never made me leave. I was happy about that, because the floor had nothing on this bed from heaven. Still there was something very different about today. My upper half almost matched my lower half, even though I wasn't laying down any more. It was warm. Normally by now I'd have goose bumps that I would have to ignore while getting ready for training. Another thing out of place, why wasn't Zuko in here yelling at me to get up? Surely it was after sunrise.
All of the strange events finally drove me from the warm bed. Not that the temperature was much different or anything, it was even border-line hot. And it felt great. I shuffled down the long hallway, not passing a soul. Where was everybody? Just as I was beginning to worry, I broke out into the bright sunshine. It seemed as if the whole crew was out on the deck of the ship. As I made my way through the mass of people, I was greeted by warm 'hello!'s and things similar to that. I replied respectfully back, a little confused but still smiling. Who couldn't help but smile and be genuinely happy when the weather was as beautiful as this. It was true Fire Nation weather, giving me a sense of homesickness.
As if I had a home in the Fire Nation. I thought to myself, having to stop from frowning. No, I shouldn't think of things like that today, today was a happy day for some reason. Which brought me back to my original intent, finding Zuko. Taking a "wild" guess, I made my way over to the staircase and climbed up to the second deck of the ship. Sure enough I was graced by the sight of the Prince's back as he gazed out over the ocean. I approached him and gently laid my hand on his shoulder, not wanting to startle him but knowing I wouldn't be rebuked.
As soon as he felt my touch Zuko turned around, a wide smile on his face. Well, half of his face. Though his mouth still smiled on the left, nothing but hatred ever reached his scarred eye. His right eye, on the other had, was currently lit up with excitement. "I have a surprise for you." He said, pointing out to the sea. I made my way to the rail and gasped. About a mile away was an island, Ember Island. Though I grew up on the mainland, the island had been my birthplace, or so I'd been told. Just seeing it gave me a connection to my past.
"What are we doing here?" I breathed out, taking one last look at the magnificent shoreline before turning back to Zuko.
"We're here for you, Zeph." He replied, brushing past me to lean his elbows on the railing. "You're going to become a master firebender on this island." His word's had a ring of finality to them that I couldn't question. But the exact reason why we were stopping on the island wasn't my main concern.
"But, it's clearly in the Fire Nation, and last I heard you were still banished." I tried to say it a gently as I could but I could still see a flash of resentment go through his left eye.
"Oh, we'll go undercover, of course." Zuko tried to keep the tone light, even playful. "We'll get to be super spies!" Such a childish sentence deserved some credit, and I found myself laughing at the new prince.
"Super spies! I like that." I smiled warmly at him before turning eagerly back to the railing. I couldn't wait to get on shore!
It was hot. And that was an understatement. The sun beat viciously down on my hat covered head. I was already beginning to sweat under my heavy dress with long sleeves and a high neck, and we had just stepped off the ship! But I couldn't complain. We were on land, not to mention that said land was my birth place. That enough was to make any girl happy. Zuko and I were strolling arm-in-arm through the lazy port town. He was dressed similar to me, and his ponytail had been let down under his hat. We could not be recognized. Behind us some of Zuko's guards trailed us, out of uniform, keeping an eye out for trouble but at the same time trying to look like they weren't with us.
Even though no one could tell who we were, we still attracted a lot of stares. After all, we were covered from head to toe while most were in shorts and short sleeved shirts. I felt a strange connection with the banished prince as we wandered through the town, both of us were so easily recognizable. Zuko had his scarred face and all one had to do was look in my eyes and see that they were green. Just the thought that we could be recognized made me shiver with fear, but also suppress a giggle of excitement. We were super spies!
"Zeph." Zuko murmured out of the corner of his mouth. My eyes slid over to him but I didn't raise my head. "We are going to my father's house here on the island." The prince must have felt me tense at the mention of the Fire Lord because he began to reassure me. "It's been abandoned for years. Besides, it's the perfect hide out. Full of ghosts and irony." The last sentence flew from his lips with a hard edge of bitterness to it. I squeezed his arm a little tighter but kept silent until we were out of the town.
"Zuko! I'm hot!" I whined. We were currently shuffling up a large hill. Apparently, all we had to do was make it over the hill, go around the base of a volcano, and then descend a little more till we were at the beach on the opposite shore than the one we landed on to reach the Fire Lord's old family get-away. Piece. Of. Cake. Ya right. Zuko and I had dropped arms long ago out of the rising temperature and now we were standing a good length apart. "Can't I at least take off this shawl thing?" I tugged at the itchy fabric that was made for the dead of winter.
"What if someone sees you?" Zuko hissed back, glancing around and seeming overly-paranoid.
"So what? Are they gonna know about my eyes from my arms?"
"Fine do what you like." He amended. Before he had even finished his sentence I'd started ripping the accursed thing off of my body and ended up tossing it to the ground in triumph. The prince rolled his eyes at me before we started back up the hill. "If you're so hot, why don't you try lowering the temperature of your internal fire? That's what I'm doing right now."
"Well that's easy for you, Mr. Normal firebender. I, on the other hand, have a slightly larger internal fire, therefore it'd be extremely hard for me to lower it's temperature." Sarcasm leaked through my teeth like acid as I felt the sun's hot rays beat down all around me. I glanced over at Zuko only to end up staring at him. The sun was shining down just right, and when he lifted his head to meet my gaze it illuminated his whole face. "Hey, your eyes are gold, not amber." I whispered, feeling stupefied.
"Uh, ya." Zuko rubbed the back of his neck and looked down. "It's because I'm royalty."
"How does being a prince constitute having gold eyes?" I asked, thoroughly confused.
"Well, it's only found when someone's ancestors were both green-eyed." I felt my eyes widened as I heard this. "My great great grandfather was the last green-eyed Fire Lord, before his son took the throne instead of another green-eyed. And his wife, my great great grandmother, had green eyes too. Since green eyes are so rare, it was and still is the only time that two green-eyed firebenders have fallen in love. As a result, my great grandfather had gold eyes. The trait's passed down through the father's genes so my grandfather got it, then my father, and now me." Zuko had been staring off into the distance as he told this to me, but now he was staring into my eyes.
Slowly, as if I was approaching a wild animal, I reached out and cupped the good side of his face, searching his gold eyes. I didn't know what was to come, but I knew that as long as I had Zuko with me, I'd be okay. After a silent moment, I dropped my hand and we continued up the large hill.