Zuko led Katara through the hallways of the palace to show her where she would be sleeping. Even though she had been given herbs to keep her from bending, the waterbender's hands were still chained together. Both teens didn't speak a word as they walked. Katara glared at the floor, every now and then shooting Zuko a dirty look before glaring down again. Zuko just looked ahead and tried to avoid Katara's eyes. They stopped when they reached a door.
"This is where you'll be sleeping." Zuko informed Katara.
She just glared at him. Zuko knocked on the door and it opened to reveal a young woman who looked to be in her late twenties, early thirties. She wore a red gown that reached her shins. The dress had thick straps, was low cut, and hugged her curves. Her brown hair was in an elegant bun. She wore a large amount of jewelry.
"Prince Zuko!" The woman bowed low, "What brings you here?"
"I have a newcomer for you." Zuko said to the woman, pointing at Katara.
The woman gave Katara a friendly smile.
"Welcome, young one." She said, "My name is Sela, the head mistress of the harem. I have been expecting you. I think you'll be very happy here." She then noticed the chains Katara wore. "Once you get used to this place, I mean." She added, scratching the back of her head.
Zuko took out the key one of the guards from the throne room gave him and freed Katara from her chains. She rubbed her wrists where the metal chafed her skin and glared at Zuko. Sela reached out, took Katara's arm, and pulled her inside.
"Come child," she said, "I must give you the tour of your new home."
This place is anything but home. Katara thought. It's not even close to being home.
"Good night." said Zuko.
When Katara looked back at Zuko before the door shut she expected to see a smirk but instead he wore a sad frown and she could've sworn she saw something in his eyes. Was it guilt? She shook the thought out of her head. Zuko? Feeling guilty? That'll happen when Hell freezes over.
"What is your name?" asked Sela, making Katara come back down to earth.
"It's Katara." answered the waterbender grudgingly.
"Are you from one of the Water Tribes, Katara?"
"You're the first member of the Water Tribe to ever come here. We only have members of the Fire Nation and Earth Kingdom here." She took Katara's hand, "Now come. I have to introduce you."
The woman led Katara to a very large brightly lit room. It was filled with large red comfortable looking cushions. Occupying those cushions were young women. Most of them either looked to be Sela's or Katara's age while some of them were slightly younger than the latter. Katara hardly believed that this could have been a harem because the clothes the women wore weren't that revealing compared to the outfit she was wearing. The room also held many tables with chairs that stood against the walls where mirrors hung. On the tables were some face paint and jewelry. The girls in the room chatted and giggled with one another. Some of them were painting their nails. Bowls of a variety of fruit sat by every other cushion for the girls to eat.
The girls all stopped what they were doing and looked up when Sela and Katara entered the room. Some of them looked at Katara with sympathy while some of them looked her from head to toe and smirked.
"Girls, we have a newcomer with us." said Sela, "This is Katara of one of the Water Tribes, Prince Zuko's new personal servant. I want you all to treat her the same way you treat me, each other, and the men who come for company. With respect."
One of the girls smiled at Katara and waved. The waterbender smiled back halfheartedly. She turned to Sela.
"I am very tired," she told the woman, "Could I please go to bed?"
"Oh yes, of course." said Sela with a smile. She took Katara's hand again and led her into the next room.
This one was dimly lit due to the lack of candles and there were many beds. Sela led Katara to a bed with red silk covers that looked brand new. A wardrobe stood next to it. The woman opened the doors to the wardrobe and searched through it until she found what she was looking for and pulled it out; it was a silk robe that was, as Katara would expect it to be, red. Sela handed the young girl the robe and pointed to a closed door. "The bathroom is just over there. If you need anything let me know."
Sela left the room, leaving Katara alone. The waterbender sighed before going into the bathroom to change. She was very glad to remove the revealing outfit she wore. She slipped on the red robe and couldn't help but admire the silk. She went to the sink and turned on the warm water to wash her face of the heavy make up. She removed her hair loopies and brushed her hair with the red comb that was sitting on the counter. When she was finished, she left the bathroom and returned to the bedroom. It was still empty. She placed her slave outfit in the wardrobe and laid in her bed, the covers pulled up to her chin. She curled up in the bed, fingered her mother's necklace, and cried herself to sleep.
Zuko laid in his bed, still mulling over what had just happened. Tonight had been a crazy night for him. First his father believes that he, Zuko, had killed the Avatar back in Ba Sing Se. Then, as a reward, he was given his enemy as a slave. To end it all, Azula tells him about how she lied to their father about the Avatar so that if it turned out he was alive, she would not be the one looking foolish and ashamed of.
Zuko rolled onto his side and looked out the window. The moon looked back at him. The moon reminded him of a certain someone he was not looking forward to seeing the next day.
"I'm sorry." he whispered before he drifted off into an uneasy sleep.