Prompt #69: Seasons

Winter

She stood with practiced ease in the garden, pinning down the tree trunk with a steady, unwavering gaze. With a single whip of her hand the blades flew, making clean contact with the bark in a satisfying thunk. The cold bit at her exposed wrists and hands, but she didn't care. She figured she might as well let them go numb- the rest of her was already.

A bit of her was alarmed at how well she adapted to the cold when before, it was so undesirable. Maybe it was only an excuse to stay away from the many flames that warmed her house. They reminded her too much. The numbness would fade, melt away, replaced by a throbbing pain. She would see the world again without the clouds and haze, see the bright fire, in his hands, in his eyes. The fire was everywhere and it was so unforgiving.

She reached in her sleeve for another. Another flick of the wrist, another sting of the cold, another flash of memory.

She heard the quick rhythm of his boots as he made his way toward the room. A sigh.

He took her hand in his, nearly out of breath. "I know, I'm late. The councilmen weren't agreeing and—"

"—You're sorry. I know." Looking at him wasn't really an option, but neither was the finely decorated room and extravagant, cold dinner she had arranged.

"I could have the servants send more food." She blinked once and said nothing.

Then, finally, "You forgot what today was, didn't you?" That, or was she just being selfish?

The more she threw, the warmer she was. The tree looked like a pincushion.

"Maybe this was the wrong time to get involved. Your mind has more important things to worry about than me."

His good eye shot open. His grip on her hand tightened. "You know that's not true."

She tried to pull her hand away, but it wouldn't budge. "Zuko, let me go."

He scowled deeply, holding on even tighter. "No."

She was down to four blades.

She rolled her eyes. "Now you want me here?"

"I never said that I didn't," he muttered.

"Could've fooled me."

Now three…

"I can't believe you. You really think I don't care at all?" He let out a mirthless laugh, "You're one to talk."

History was repeating itself, and she would learn from it this time.

"Enough," she snarled. His grip loosened in a heartbeat. Then more quietly, "That's enough."

Two…

Her footsteps echoed against the hard tile. She didn't turn to look back.

"Mai…"

One…

He had caught up now, and had grabbed her wrist once more. She spun around, looking directly at him for the first time that night and seeing nothing but rage flaring up in his golden eyes.

His grip was warm. Much too warm.

She screamed.

The last blade missed the tree by a few feet and landed in the dead grass.

She flinched, lowering her pounding wrist, noting with a small frown that the ruddy, fleshless underside had thawed out.

To be continued…


A/N: A short one for ya'll- probably the shortest thing I've ever written. I'm working on the power in understatements, you see, so I'm hoping the few words I did choose spoke for themselves ;)

And yes, to answer your question from the last chapter- this is what I meant by different. That, and the fact that I'm probably breaking the prompt rules by making 1 into four chapters, haha!

As always, thanks again for your support- I appreciate your patience so very much, considering how long ago I started this series OTL