Woot! Sequel! Really, you need to read Flying with the Sun first. Honestly, you'll be so confused otherwise. But, if you want to try...sure XD Otherwise ENJOY!
Zoe shuffled through the racks of tea in the overly large pantry in the Palace kitchen in annoyed frustration. Having gone through a million piles of jasmine, sencha and green tea without out having found what she was looking for in her current state frustrated her beyond belief.
But, then finally her eyes locked on a small little brown container right at the back of the shelves.
Her heart skipping a beat in excitement she grabbed the container making a small sound of success.
Zoe started, dropping the tin and causing a havoc of tea leaves to fly everywhere.
"Uncle!" she yelped, practically jumping out of her skin as she hastened to kick her treasure into the mess of scattered tea leaves so it would avoid her Uncle's keen eye.
Iroh surveyed Zoe sceptically. "A little jumpy aren't we?" he said curiously, walking forward and blood rushed to Zoe's face.
"What…uh, no you just scared me…" she laughed nervously then threw her hands out as Iroh bent down to begin cleaning up the mess of tea leaves. "No, no!" she cried, "Leave it, I'll fix it! It's my mess." She yanked at Iroh's arm, attempting to pull him from the ground, but to no avail. He stood up by himself and observed Zoe's face closely.
"Were you looking for anything in particular?" he questioned, glancing at the shelves, his eyes scanning the different teas.
"Just…checking out the collection… It doesn't compare to your teashop at all." She said meekly, and then she pulled on his arm once more. "How about you go wait in in the tea room while I clean this up, I'll make you a pot of tea too, you know some of these servants aren't very good brewers. You taught me well." She practically had to push him out the door while he continued to look suspicious.
"I'll have Gin Seng thank you." He hollered as he finally left her alone.
Zoe breathed a sigh of relief, and then rushed back over to the spilled tea. Shuffling through the leaves she picked up the little tin then glanced round quickly before slipping inside her robes. It was full of a mix of peculiar herbs. Herbs that tasted quite foul when mixed together, but acted as a generally safe contraceptive.
She stood up, stretched, and then blew the scattered tea leaves out the window with a single gust. They scattered like rain, falling to the paved path outside…and right into the faces of two passers by.
"Hey!" cried Toph and Sokka in unison.
"What did you do that for?" whined Sokka, brushing the leaves from his hair.
Zoe stifled a giggle. "Sorry," she mumbled, "I didn't see you two there."
"Yeah, great work Fancy Pants." said Toph, her right eyes twitching and fluttering, "Argh, you got it in my eye!"
She tried to get it out, but Sokka pulled her hand away. Silently he leant forward carefully, peering into Tophs cloudy, mint coloured eyes. The little earth bender remained stock-still as Sokka carefully plucked the tiny speck of tea-leaf from between her lashes, his finger brushing across her cheek as he did so. A cheek that had a small, red blush colouring the pale skin.
Zoe smiled smugly, carefully backing away into the kitchen and leaving the pair alone. Deciding to talk to Sokka later about what he was doing with his relationship with Suki, she hastened to make her Uncle's tea.
Meanwhile, Zuko was having his own predicaments.
"Right." He said clearing his throat and running a hand through his messy, black locks, currently free of their royal up do. "Well, you know we have known each other for a long time now." He was saying in a rush, "and, well I know not many people approve, but, I'm working on fixing that! And don't worry, I'm not talking about your foster parents again…I don't really want to go flying out of a window today."
He paused giving a nervous half-chuckle. "But, anyway. What I'm trying to say is. I love you…well you already know that, I mean we've shown each other that quite a lot recently…" he broke off his eyes glazing over as heated memories taunted his mind and his heart sped up.
He shook his head quickly, "But, that's what I'm trying to say. Well not that, but, along those lines. Well not those lines, but you know what I mean?" There was a pause, "Of course you don't, I haven't said it yet, right. Uh, well what I mean to say…or meant to say, before getting completely off track- which I'm doing again. Sorry." He cleared his throat. "What I'm trying to ask is: will you marry me?"
There was a long moment of silence before the turtle-duck that Zuko was kneeling before gave a loud 'quack'. Zuko hung his head, "Yeah…I really need to work on that…"
Zuko jumped up, spinning round to see his Uncle walking toward him, sipping tea. "Uh, good morning Uncle."
"How was your meeting with the generals this morning?" asked his Uncle, his eyes twinkling knowingly. "You seem down; did the turtle-duck refuse your proposal?"
Zuko's face flushed furiously, but he ignored his Uncle's statement. "The meeting was terrible. Trying to fish out all of the Ozai supporters is…challenging. I can't tell whether half of those generals support me or not."
"You have a difficult job. Taking over after the end of a century long war is a challenging task. But, I believe you, Zuko, are the only one who can complete the task." said Iroh, now standing beside Zuko and watching the turtle-ducks swimming happily in their simple world.
"Thanks Uncle." Said Zuko, though a feeling of nervousness swelled in his stomach. "I'm trying."
They stood for a moment longer, both deep in thought when Zuko spoke again, "I still haven't found any leads on my mother's whereabouts." He said. "Ozai won't talk. He won't eat or drink either without it forced on him…" Zuko broke off, unwilling to voice his thoughts.
But, Iroh nodded knowingly. "We will find Ursa, Zuko. Whether through your father or by other means. I am certain we will find her."
Zuko nodded, wishing his Uncle was right. He heaved a sigh, "No one will even listen to anything on the subject of marriage either."
"I'm not surprised." Commented his Uncle and Zuko growled angrily.
"What can I do, Uncle?" he demanded, kicking the ground in frustration.
"Wait for her." replied Iroh, attempting to take another sip of tea, but no liquid poured out.
"She has yet to face the shadows of her past." explained Iroh, peering into his empty cup sadly for any remnants of tea. "Once she is willing to confront her shame I am sure she will search out her previous family. You must wait until she is ready."
"What is she ashamed of?" asked Zuko, his brow puckering. Did his Uncle know more than he did about Zoe?
"I have no idea." Replied Iroh and Zuko huffed in annoyance. "But, it is clear she's not proud of something that happened."
"Are you leaving tomorrow with the others?" asked Zuko after a moment of silence. Everyone from the gang, except Zoe, were leaving the next day to return home or to take care of certain things.
"Yes…" replied Iroh, setting his completely empty tea cup down dejectedly. "The reopening of my tea shop is in two days." He turned to smile at his nephew. "But as your advisor I will be sure to keep you updated on the happenings of the great Earth Kingdom city."
He patted his nephew on the back and then turned to head back to the palace for more tea.
Zoe would have known that hair do anywhere. Why she hadn't registered it the first time she had seen it again just a few weeks ago she wasn't sure. Though, it was possibly because that time she had been full of unbelievable, green-eyed, anger.
The noble woman before her stared at her, and Zoe stared back, blood pounding in her head. "What are you doing in the palace?" demanded Zoe, the words tumbling out of her mouth before she had a chance to stop them.
The woman's eyes narrowed. "I was invited to the dinner this evening." She replied icily.
"That's not for another two hours." retorted Zoe, her own eyes narrowing suspiciously.
"Well, you're just a simple commoner; what would you know of manners and equity?" replied the noble woman tonelessly, looking at her nails in boredom.
Zoe swallowed down her feisty retort. "Funny that you say that." She said, her fists clenching under her silken, red sleeves of her kimono. "When you know it's not true…Mai."
A flicker of anger crossed Mai's dull eyes before she composed her expression to boredom once more. "Oh sorry." she said sarcastically, "I didn't realise you counted being hidden in the basement of a noblemen's home as being a noble yourself."
"So you do remember me." snarled Zoe, anger flaring within her, but she tried to withhold it.
"How could I forget?" sneered Mai, "It's not everyday you go to a dinner party with your parents to find something like you hidden away in the apparently 'upstanding' nobleman's home."
"They are upstanding." hissed Zoe furiously.
"If anyone had found out about you their name would have been ruined. You should be pleased that I was a naïve little girl who listened to their explanations and kept her mouth shut."
"You would do well to continue to keep it shut right now." snapped Zoe, "You make me want to retch at the mere sound of your voice."
"You were a filthy thief. A plague to all of-"
"You don't know a thing about what you're saying." hissed Zoe dangerously, her eyes darkening. "Who are you to even dare talk to me about that when all you are is a talentless, emotionless, dagger throwing-"
"Keep talking peasant," cut in Mai, her voice still monotone. "And I can introduce you to my daggers much more personally. I bet Zuko has no idea about your past. You've been happily keeping him in the dark have you?"
"Oh that's a touchy spot for you isn't it, Mai?" taunted Zoe, her blood boiling. "You can't stand that fact that Zuko doesn't want you. That he wants me. A filthy thief. At least I learned from my past. You haven't changed one bit."
Mai stepped forward suddenly, reaching into her sleeve, but then,
"Oh, hi guys!" said Ty Lee, rounding the corner cheerfully. She looked between them, "Great! You two have met!"
There was silence for a moment, and Ty Lee's smile started to slip off her face as she noticed the overbearing tension in the air. Zoe threw one last glare to Mai, and then turned to her friend. "Yes, wonderful isn't it?" she said stiffly. "I'll see you at dinner; I have some things to attend to."
With that she swung round and walked furiously toward her room.
Growling in anger she slammed her door shut with a ferocious gust of wind, furious that she had let that woman get to her so easily. She stormed over to her window, making the shutters fly open before she reached it. She was so angry that she had not even noticed the Fire Lord who was sitting at her dresser in the corner of her room. He stood up quietly, struggling not to smirk; he always found it attractive when Zoe was angry.
Zoe clutched her windowsill furiously, closing her eyes and willing the breeze to take her anger away. It wasn't just anger at the noblewoman though, and she knew that. It was anger at herself. At her cowardice…at her shame.
She stiffened suddenly as a pair of warm hands slipped around her waist and shaggy, black hair tickled her cheek. "Is it my fault?" asked Zuko huskily and a shiver went down Zoe's spine. He pressed himself against Zoe's back hard and she took a quick breath.
"No, for once it isn't your fault." she snapped, her heart speeding up as Zuko's hands began to roam.
"That's lucky." continued Zuko as one hand slid firmly down Zoe's hip bone while the other continued up her body. "What's wrong then?"
Zoe sighed, tilting her head to the side as Zuko pressed his warm lips against her neck. "It's nothing." She mumbled, her heart stuttering in her chest and she held her breath as one of Zuko's remarkably hot hands slid through the gap in her kimono to cup her breast.
"You seemed very angry." He continued lowly, kneading the mound through the binding, noticing with pride that her nipples were already hard. Zoe let go of her breath raggedly and Zuko's heart sped up, his blood heating beneath his skin.
"You distracted me from it. It wasn't important…" muttered Zoe, pushing herself back into Zuko harder and he growled lowly.
Suddenly, Zoe spun round in Zuko's grasp to face him straight on. He pushed her back against the window sill immediately, pressing his hips against hers and heat pooled in her stomach as she felt Zuko's hardened groin against her. His hands moved to hold her low on her hips and he leaned in, his eyes filled with desire.
He paused, inches from her lips and her heart pounded in her chest. "Would you like me to continue to distract you?"
But, Zoe didn't answer; instead she grabbed the front of his robes roughly and pulled his head down to hers to capture his lips herself. A low growl erupted from the back of his throat and Zoe pulled herself closer, her breasts crushed firmly against his chest and one of her hands delved into his mass of dark hair, clutching at the locks.
Zuko's hand travelled quickly and firmly up Zoe's body, sending a thrill of excitement through her, and he began to pull out the pins of her elegant up do. Her, currently well brushed, silken mass of hair fell down her back, free of its confines and Zuko ran a hand through the locks, relishing the thick texture.
Zoe moaned lowly and jumped up suddenly, wrapping her legs around Zuko's waist, her arms linking around his neck as she pulled herself closer and they stumbled backwards. Zuko's knees hit Zoe's bed and he fell onto her mattress with a thud, Zoe remaining on top of him, straddling his waist.
Zoe pushed him to his back, her hands on his chest, her breasts heaving with each heavy breath. "And how exactly are you planning on distracting me?" she whispered, a cheeky smiling toying with the corner of her mouth.
Zuko smirked, his hands moving to hold her soft hips. Then, quite suddenly, he flipped them over. Zoe's back hitting the bed with a small thud and Zuko leant over her, his arousal pressing firmly against her hip. "With something that requires far fewer clothes..."
Sorry this took a few days to come out...I rewrote it three times lol... Would love your opinions of the first chap!