Hey guys! This is the last chapter :( I really wanted to keep this story weaved in between what actually happened in the show, and ending it like this felt like the perfect way to do that in my head. I also really wanted to keep this story mostly Zuko and Katara only, with very little appearances from other characters, as they established their relationship. So, the story ends as their relationship "officially" begins. Thank you to all who read and reviewed, and those who have it on your alert or favorites, now that it's finished I'd love to hear from you :) I'll be starting a new story soon, which I plan to be longer than this one. And now on to the final part!
Ba Sing Se was so different that to Katara, it almost felt foreign. She'd never felt at home there, and she'd certainly never felt at peace there. But since the war had finally come to an end, and the world was slowly beginning to heal, suddenly she was able to see the city in a new light. It wasn't the evil metropolis that it once was.
A few weeks had passed since Aang had fought Ozai and won, since Zuko had become the new Fire Lord and since Iroh had opened his tea shop. That tea shop was now where everyone sat quietly, simply enjoying the peace.
Zuko walked by and handed her a cup of tea. He smiled at her for a brief second and kept on his way. Katara felt her heartbeat speed up a little when his hand touched hers and she quickly looked downwards. She was sure that her cheeks had turned pink when he had looked at her, and there was no way she wanted anyone to notice that.
She tried not to watch him too much as he made his way around to everyone, but it was difficult. In the space of a month she'd gone from trying so hard to hate him, to sharing one of her first kisses with him, losing her virginity to him and opening up to him about things she hardly spoke of to anyone.
Oh yeah, and he'd saved her from Azula.
Suffice to say, where she thought her feelings towards him might be mixed up, they really weren't. It was clear to her how she felt about him and yet neither of them had done anything to act on it since the war had ended. Katara was sure that this was due to the fact that they'd both been busy. She'd travelled back home to the South Pole to reunite with her family. Zuko, being the new Fire Lord had endless amounts of work ahead of him at all times. In fact, Katara thought it was surprising he'd actually been able to get away and visit with them in Ba Sing Se.
She still had yet to speak to anyone about what had happened between the two of them. There was no way she was going to confide in her brother, and definitely no way she was going to talk to her father. She'd considered talking to Gran Gran, but had decided against it. She'd also thought about talking to Suki, but there was no way she wanted to risk anything she said getting back to Sokka.
Instead, Katara had been alone with her thoughts. She'd thought about sending a letter to Zuko, but really, she wanted to see him in person. As painful as a wait that was, she knew it was for the best. Because if she sent him a letter she'd be eagerly waiting for his reply, and if he didn't reply she would be wondering why, and then when she finally did see him in person she'd have to ask him why, and it would be awkward... and yes, it had just been best to wait.
Now she was finally here with him, and though there was more waiting still because everyone was around, it made her feel a little better. Every time that Zuko smiled, she did too. It was like he was a completely different person than he had been before. He seemed happier and more at peace with himself than ever before.
Of course that just made her even more attracted to him. Which was why it was killing her that everyone else was in the room with them and she couldn't just walk up to him and kiss him. She thought about it, wondering if the aftermath would be worth it.
No, it wouldn't be. She pictured confused looks from Suki and Iroh. Sokka being speechless for a moment before demanding to know what was going on. Toph claiming she knew it all along and Aang... No, the aftermath definitely wouldn't be worth it.
A little later, people began to filter off to bed for the night. First it was Sokka and Suki – no surprise there. Then it was Toph, followed by Aang. Even Iroh eventually left, however he had smiled at Katara on his way out and she got the impression that he was deliberately leaving her alone with Zuko. She really should have known that he wouldn't be able to keep his mouth shut around his uncle.
It was interesting how Katara always thought of just what to say to Zuko when everyone else was around, but when she was finally left alone with him her mind went blank. She looked around the room awkwardly.
"I really like what your uncle did with this place," she started as her eyes wandered around the decor of the room.
"Yeah," Zuko replied, looking up from the teapot he had been cleaning. "He's really happy here."
There was an awkward silence. Katara had so much to say to him but not a clue how to say it. Zuko shifted his gaze away from her.
"I can tell," she finally said. "What about you?"
Zuko raised his eyebrow. "What about me what?"
"Are you happy?" she asked, not really asking that specific question, but rather what it implied. Katara was happy, of course, but there was still an emptiness. She was happy that the war was over, but she found herself missing being around Zuko all the time. Happiness was relative.
He softened. "I'm happy that the war is over."
Eventually Zuko finished cleaning up, and he sat down at the table next to Katara. She felt her heart skip a beat, but nothing else really happened. Katara knew she was going to have to be the first to say something to him, as she usually was.
"Your uncle left us here alone on purpose, didn't he?" she asked, looking at Zuko for confirmation.
He frowned. "He's not very good at subtlety."
Katara just smiled. "Did you tell him about us?"
He glanced at her. Katara still thought he looked nervous, he always seemed to have the same look whenever he got close to her. "I'm not very good at subtlety either."
Katara just giggled. Zuko was right about that. He was good at keeping things to himself, and he was good at seeing the bigger picture in battle, but his emotions were always painted perfectly on his face. Perhaps not to someone who didn't know him well, but to anyone that did it was easy to see what he was feeling. "What did you tell him?" she finally asked.
Zuko sighed, turning his face away from her. "I didn't mean to tell him anything. He guessed it for himself and I just filled in what he was missing... like I said, I'm not good at subtlety and he's good at figuring things out so-" he was silenced with Katara's lips on his.
It was just a short kiss, mostly to get Zuko to stop babbling. It didn't work; as soon as Katara pulled away he continued his thought. "I told him I was in love with you..."
Her heart skipped a beat and her breath caught in her throat. Love? He was in love with her? Katara had wondered often if her feelings for him were that strong, but she'd never said those words to anyone outside of her family before... "You told him that?" she asked finally.
Zuko blushed a little and again Katara felt her heart skip a beat. He was adorable when he was embarrassed. "That's the part he figured out and I uh, just sort of agreed with him..."
Katara nodded. That made a little more sense. She couldn't exactly picture Zuko confessing his love for her to his uncle without being asked about it. "I almost told you the same thing after we slept together on Ember Island..."
"Why didn't you?"
She shrugged her shoulders. "I don't know, I didn't want it to seem like I was saying that just because I was in the moment. Or maybe that was the only reason I was going to say it. It didn't feel right to say it then. I wasn't sure if I actually felt that way."
He played with her hair and Katara watched his expression. His eyes only watched his fingers weave between her dark brown locks. "And now?"
"I think I do," she spoke softly, allowing him to lean in and kiss her once more. Zuko kept his hand entangled in her hair as he pulled her in closer.
"Katara!" A shrill voice that could only belong to her brother broke their tender moment. They instantly pulled apart, looking at each other with terror on their faces. "Have you seen my bag of seal jerky? I swear I left it down here..." Sokka came loudly into the room.
Katara looked back at her brother, startled and worried that he might have seen something he shouldn't have. "I haven't seen it, Sokka," she said irritably. "It's probably in your room with the rest of your stuff."
"Yeah maybe, but I looked there..." Sokka replied with a hand on his chin. He then glanced over at Zuko and Katara and seemed to notice the how close they were sitting to one another. "What are you guys doing, anyway?"
"We were just talking," Katara replied coolly. "Your jerky's not here."
Sokka frowned, but sighed in defeat. "Maybe I ate it all," he muttered as he left.
"That was close," Zuko said, turning to her.
Katara breathed a sigh of relief once she heard the door to Sokka's bedroom open and close. "Yeah, I know."
"We're going to have to tell them eventually," Zuko said, looking at her in all seriousness.
Katara was well aware of that, and she was dreading it. "I know, I promise we'll tell them before we leave here. But for now," she kissed him softly. It was true, eventually she was going to have to deal with the fallout. But that that moment, with his lips on hers all of those worries just melted away.