Something Old, Something New
Disclaimer: I don't own Avatar: The Last Airbender. Sadly enough.
Warnings: AU-ish, Speculation, Spoilers
AN: For AtLA Land's fic-prompting challenge. Prompt was "I told you so."
Zuko said nothing. He was in fact completely silent. She couldn't even hear him breathing he was that quiet.
But somehow, the silence spoke volumes. Somehow, it said all the words that Zuko hadn't.
Katara fought not to fidget in her seat, but her foot tapped on the wooden floor. The people around them were all talking, laughing, and no one noticed her odd behavior. But their table was silent, and only Katara and Zuko remained. He'd already been up to give his blessings, and now, it was his appointed duty to get her to do the same. He was just taking his time about it.
But finally, Zuko stirred.
"Don't say it," Katara put in before he could even open his mouth, and no, she wasn't frowning. She wasn't!
Zuko just held up his hands. "I haven't said anything."
She shot him a look of pure disbelief.
"I haven't," he defended, but his eyes were a bit too wide and his smile a bit too open. "It isn't my fault that your-"
"I told you not to say it," she stated. As if having him not utter the words would make it all a bizarre dream and not really happening.
It was silly; Katara knew that. But she just wasn't ready. They hardly knew each other at all. Had barely known each other for a few months. And they were already getting married. Getting married. Here! In the Fire Nation! In the palace less than three months from now!
It was so surreal that she was sure to be hallucinating the whole thing. But she wasn't. It wasn't a dream. It was real.
Her dad. Zuko's mom. Were getting married.
Katara didn't get it. She didn't understand it. She didn't. There wasn't anything wrong with Ursa. She was actually very nice. But she wasn't Katara's mom. She wasn't Kya. And it wasn't right.
But somehow, she was the only one to get that. Sokka was thrilled; now, he'd really have a brother of his very own. Iroh was actually planning the wedding with Gran Gran's help. Even Pakku wasn't frowning about the whole thing.
That only left Zuko. And that traitor was the one paying for everything. He was the first one up there to wish them well, too.
Katara didn't get that at all.
"Why aren't you angry about this?" she demanded in a low tone, unable to keep quiet anymore. "Why aren't you furious?"
And no, she didn't have to clarify what she meant. But Zuko just looked at her. Just looked at her face and her blue eyes. At the way she didn't let her gaze go to the front of the room. At the way she hadn't even smiled the whole night.
Then, he sighed.
"At first, I was," he said, and his tone wasn't flat, just contemplative. "I mean, she's been gone for years, and I barely got her back, and now, this man I really don't know is trying to take her away." His hands weren't fists, but his fingers still curled just a bit. "But my mom hasn't been happy for a long time. Not when she was married to Ozai. Not when she was on the run. She deserves to be though. She deserves to be loved. To have someone who sees her and not the former Fire Lord's wife. Not some rich noble. But her."
His face was soft then. Soft but familiar and maybe Katara felt herself relaxing in her seat. She didn't even tense when out of the corner of her eye when she saw Aang and her brother approaching the couple at the head of the room.
"And your dad… He's… He's not like my dad," Zuko added, and his voice was so soft that she had to lean forward to hear him. "He's a good man. He loves you and your brother both, even if you're a bender and Sokka isn't. He doesn't care about that. He doesn't care that my mom's a firebender. Or that her son is the Fire Lord now. Or that her daughter is crazy. He's even nice to Azula. He goes with my mom to see her!"
Zuko shook his head and then shrugged his shoulders helplessly. Katara could only stare. She could only sit there as her thoughts swirled and much of what she'd believed up until that point rearranged itself. And suddenly, even Sokka's recent behavior made sense.
Ursa wasn't Kya. But maybe she wasn't a replacement either.
He stopped her before she could say anything more.
"Don't. Just don't." He made a small motion that she couldn't really interpret. "Now's not the time." But his tone was warm and not harsh. "We've something we need to do first anyway."
He pointed to something then, and Katara tracked the gesture all the way to her father. He looked handsome sitting in the place of honor at the very front of the room, and his soon-to-be bride was radiant next to him. Both were smiling. Both were so very happy as they greeted their well-wishers. Both were still holding hands.
Katara turned back to Zuko then, but he just gave her his own little smile. Zuko offered her is hand then. Katara stared at him for a second before reaching forward and allowing him to pull her up. She even managed a small smile as he arranged their arms like a lady and her escort, but his hand lingered on hers in a way that wasn't quite proper. She didn't comment as he gave her a reassuring squeeze, and they walked up together to welcome the newly engaged couple.