LES: Sorry, guys. When I tried to upload this chapter this morning, I guess I got glitched and you guys couldn't see it. I apologize for this. Hopefully you can see it now. This chapter contains a removed lemon. If you want to see the lemon, just read this chapter and when you get to the part that says "Lemon Removed", go to my profile and follow the Link Out to my Smut Pieces on Tumblr. Just find this specific chapter and off you go!

Chapter XI: Together As One

Zuko had all ready given the young couple permission to step away from the party, so they gratefully accepted it. They both knew that if they went back they wouldn't be leaving for hours and they both had other things on their mind.

They had just confessed to each other that they were in love! Both their hearts were beating rapidly at the thought. There was one hurtle down, and still one more to go: one that was nerve-racking in its own way.

Despite having been married for some time now, they had not made love. Aang had told her on their wedding night that he wanted to wait until they were in love, and that time had now come.

All the excitement, nerves, and fear from that night had returned, but they both knew that they could not let that stop them. Sex was the most fundamental expression of love that husband and wife could show one another. It was going to happen, and it is going to happen tonight.

They both stepped inside their small manor, closing the door after them, and gazing at each other, waiting for the other to make the first move. After a moment's hesitation, Aang took the initiative. He moved closer to her, infolded her in his arms, and pulled her into a passionate kiss.

Katara sighed against his mouth. It was every bit as passionate as the one that they shared early on the dance floor, if not more so. Now there were the words 'I love you' backing it up rather than just the feelings.

Katara gasped loudly as his hand cupped her rear, and he pulled away from her, staring at her in concern. "Katara… just because I said that I wanted to wait until we were in love doesn't mean that we have to go through with this right now." He said. "If you want to wait, then…"

"No, Aang." Katara whispered, gripping his wrist and returning his hand to its former position on her backside. "I'm not doing this because it's a duty anymore. It's because I love you. I don't just want to have sex with you… I want to make love with you. I want this every bit as much as I know you do." She gave a coy grin as she moved her hips against his tented pants, causing him to gasp loudly and dig his fingers into the flesh of her rear.

Without waiting another moment, Katara attacked the fabric of his tunic. It is a fact of life that any sort of formal wear is much more complex than it really needs to be, and Aang's Avatar robes are no exception. It was mostly her arousal that caused her to lose her patience so quickly, which became clear to Aang when she fisted her hands in his tunic and tore it right down the middle.

Aang gasped loudly as the fabric that had now been torn asunder fell off his shoulders and onto the floor. "Whoa, Katara…"

"I'll fix it tomorrow." Katara promised, pressing her lips against his neck. Aang's concern for his nearly ruined shirt took the back burner as Katara's lips nipped and sucked from his collarbone, up the line of his neck, and to his chin. He groaned, hoisting her up against his body. Katara eagerly followed his wordless command, wrapping her legs around his waist while his hand supported her against him.

He pressed her against the wall, drawing yet another gasp from her lips before he crushed his to hers in an earth-shattering kiss. When they pulled apart, Aang knew that it was time to relocate. If this went on for much longer where they were, he'd end up taking her right there on the floor. And, although he was pretty sure that she wouldn't object to that, he still felt that his love and wife deserved something better than that. So he began to carry them back towards their room. It would have been an easy trip if Katara would stop grinding against him like she was. As it was, it was all he could do to stop his knees from buckling.

What Aang felt in the moment that he first saw their bed was both relief and trepidation. Katara, having sensed his momentary hesitation loosened her legs from around his waist, and not a moment too soon, allowing her feet to touch the ground again.

She smiled at him and began to undo the ties of her own dress. She didn't really trust Aang to do it. She didn't really care that she'd end up repairing the tear that she made into Aang's tunic, but she didn't feel like fixing two sets of clothes. Her fingers worked at the ties as quickly as humanly possible and she was soon standing before him in just her underclothes.

Aang smiled softly, his eyes taking a hungry once-over of her body. "You are beautiful." He whispered, as though saying it any louder would destroy the mood between them.

(Lemon Removed. Follow the link in my profile for the lemon.)

Once Katara caught her breath, she pressed a kiss to Aang's temple and he groaned in acknowledgement. "You know…" She whispered, "I don't think you'll ever have a problem with me not wanting to make love with you." Aang laughed tiredly.

It was the middle of the night. Both Aang and Katara were very tired, but they couldn't sleep. The thrill of being together as lovers rather than just husband and wife was more than enough to chase away sleep. So they were up talking. Or, at least, they were mostly talking. They also spent a fair amount of time kissing and touching each other, memorizing their bodies for the next time they made love.

There were two things that Katara noticed about Aang's body right away. The first and foremost thing was his tattoos. She had never seen the full extent of them before, but now that she had, she was beyond shocked. The main body of his tattoo started with the arrow on his forehead and went over the back of his head and down the center of his back. Once it reached his backside, the line flared into two lines so that they could travel down his legs, curving around the outside, and down to his feet. The tattoos on his arms didn't connect with the main one. That was obvious whenever he took his shirt off. The tattoo started again in the pit of his arms, curving down his arm on the outside, just like his legs, and ending at his hands.

"It took three days, non-stop." Aang commented when she asked him about it. "I was only ten years old and I had to lie down in the prayer chamber of the Southern Air Temple, completely naked, the whole time with no food and limited water."

"How where you able to do it?" Katara asked in amazement. She couldn't imagine going through such an ordeal.

"Intense mediation." Aang replied. "I can't honestly say that the procedure hurt because I spent those three days disconnected from my body so I couldn't feel my pain, hunger, or thirst. But the recovery was the worst part. I could hardly move and even carrying me on a stretcher was painful."

"Why does it have to be so painful?" Katara asked, concerned.

"Tattoos are painful." Aang replied. "But I was proud to receive them. It's also an ordeal because it is a Manhood ceremony."

"Boys and their need to invent painful rituals for becoming men." Katara laughed with a roll of her eyes. She was, no doubt, thinking about her own tribe's Manhood ceremony: Ice Dodging. Even though it was not physically painful in the way that Aang's tattooing ceremony was, it was still highly dangerous because people died as a direct result of it.

"We're just trying to make things fair." Aang said, and Katara gazed at him, confused. "Well, women have the ultimate painful ritual, don't they?"


"Childbirth." Aang clarified.

For a while, Katara didn't reply. "I suppose that's true." She finally commented. "Obviously, I don't have any first-hand experience…"

"Obviously." Aang agreed.

"But I have helped my Gran-Gran deliver some of the babies back in my tribe. I suppose you could call it the ultimate in painful Womanhood rituals."

"Do you… want children?" Aang asked.

Katara turned and smiled at him, pressing a kiss to his lips. "Yes." She replied. "I've always loved children, and I've always wanted some of my own. Do you?"

"I want children too." Aang confessed with a smile, glad that they were on the same page.

The second thing that Katara noticed about Aang's body was the scars. Of course, no one could get through life without picking up a few scars along the way. But Aang's scars told the story of someone who had been training in Martial Arts extensively his whole life. His body bore the unmistakable signs of cuts, injuries, and broken bones.

At first, Katara thought that the worst scar was one where it seemed like he'd broken a rib (perhaps during an Earthbending lesson) and punctured the skin. But that was until she glanced down his thigh and saw an old burn scar.

It was not the size of the burn that gave her pause, but the shape. After training in Firebending, Katara would naturally assume that he'd been burned a few times, but this burn was in the perfect shape of a hand print. Closer inspection made her throat close up in horror. The hand print was from a male, but with slender fingers. Firebenders tended to have stockier hands, not the long, slender digits of the burn.

She wordlessly took Aang's right hand and pressed it to the scar. It was a perfect match. Katara couldn't understand why, but he'd done that to himself.

Aang watched as the realization dawned on her face, and she met his eyes, utterly confused. "Why?" She asked.

"To learn the most fundamental lesson of Firebending." Aang replied softly. "When you are training in Firebending, you burn yourself a few times. It is only natural. Most young Firebenders burn themselves by making a mistake and they learn the lesson with no need for the instructor to intervene. But I… I was beyond most mistakes when I started my Firebending training. So my instructor told me to burn myself, so I did."

"But… why? Why would he force you to burn yourself?" Katara asked in horror.

"Because fire is dangerous, Katara." Aang said. "Because if you do not understand the pain that mishandled fire can cause, you might underestimate its destructive power and the pain that it can cause others. Better to burn myself and learn my lesson then allow me to grow careless and hurt someone that I care about. I know the pain that fire can cause now, so I will never needlessly inflict that pain on another, even if I have to maintain that self control my whole life."

Katara nodded after a moment. "Then will you at least let me heal it a little?"

"No." Aang said. "I feel better with the scar there, as a constant reminder. Please, leave it."

Katara sighed. "Okay."

After they had talked themselves out, they rested against one another, reveling in the sacredness of their new closeness.

LES: Aang's burn is the device I used in this story to teach Aang the same lesson he learned in "The Deserter", that you don't screw around with fire or Firebending, except he burned himself rather than Katara.