Things We Do in the Dark…
Sometime around midnight the nature of the festival changed. Lanterns were dimly lit, hanging on the fronts of shops and houses in Ba Sing Se's upper ring, hanging on poles when houses were set too far back. Chimes were attached at intervals so that each time the wind blew, the chimes jangled. The lanterns and the bonfires cast everything in a soft yellow light and the buildings looked like they were covered in gold. Gold buildings, gold streets, gold people. But when the light lowered, the mood did, too.
Maybe it was the alcohol, Zuko thought, but everyone moved in slow motion. The night was cool, and people clustered around the fires, dancing to the steady beat of the drums and the thrum of the sitar, and the call of the flute, and that enchanting voice of the singer as she swayed, casting a spell on them all. She snaked her arms up her body, her gold bracelets catching the oranges and reds of the bonfire, and she turned her eyes skyward, sleepily.
Zuko was feeling good. Uncle had been right; attending the festival, having a bit of fun to relieve a lot of his tension was a good idea. Where he and Jun had snuck off to, though, Zuko didn't care. They could be lost among the throngs of people swaying and pulsing with the beat. Everyone was so close together, and their features were hazy and distorted by the bright light as it shot embers into the sky. Zuko was even walking in time to the music, his steps slow and languid, oozing like viscous liquid across the stone streets while the drummer improvised and the singer let out a slow, passionate, throaty call. People bumped into him, brushed against him, slowly mostly, sometimes quickly, sometimes touches lingering. This was the only thing that bothered him. It was a fertility festival, Uncle said, an old one brought back to sooth the spirits of the citizens of the city, to remind them of the way they gave thanks for the new planting season, the fertility of the dirt that sustained them and the spring rains. And, of course, human fertility.
A smaller bonfire was burning a few blocks behind the main one, and there were fewer people, and these people danced more freely. There was a girl with brown hair and tan skin and blue eyes, and she beckoned to him as she swayed her hips in time to the singer's luxurious chants. She swayed left to right, her body forming sleek, extreme, curvy angles. She ran her fingers across her bare stomach, brought her hands through her hair, letting it fall behind her as she dipped her head back, exposing her neck to him. She was barefoot, bracelets around her ankles and her biceps, her skirt long with a split down the side, her legs slipping between the fabric.
Her body called to him, and he circled her, loosely at first, but tightening, predatory, and she never stopped dancing. Her eyes tracked his movement, a challenge, daring him to get closer. Risk being burned. The music was slowing, and they slowed their movements even more, still elegant, still circling, until her hand brushed his thigh, his hand slipped inside the split in her dress, caressing her. He could smell the moon peach blossoms in her hair, feel that delicious, enticing heat coming off her body.
"Didn't expect to see you here," Zuko said, his voice husky, in her ear.
She swayed, stepping closer to him, one of her legs between both of his, nearly as close as they could physically be. But they've been closer.
"Didn't expect to see you here," Katara replied, her fingers drawing light trails of fire against his chest. Igniting him. "Shouldn't you be at the palace?"
"Mandatory two week vacation."
"Setting stuff on fire?"
"Like you are right now."
They were breathing heavy, letting the music work them into a frenzy. He swallowed hard, swallowed the taste of her that always lingered in his memory, couldn't resist trailing his hand up her side, feeling her shiver, making him shiver, making him need. They stopped moving side by side, faced each other, their lips drawn magnetically, opposites pulling together, wishing they were the same now, the easier to push away. Gently, they brushed, their lips, and sparks flew between them, and they'd crossed the line, and he grabbed her hand, nearly ran for Uncle's house.
"Stop me," he begged, with his back against the front door, Katara clutched tightly in his arms, breathing in the scent of everything she was. "We shouldn't be doing this."
She brought her lips to his, kissed him, her tongue probing deeper, begging for entrance. She moaned against him, and he was powerless to stop himself because this was relaxing and vacation and feeling good, and no one would have to know. Not the current Lady Consort or Katara's boyfriend from the North. Certainly not him.
"Give me just this one night to feel loved," she begged, and her eyes were so sincere, so pleading, so blue, and he opened the door, and he gave in.
They stumbled around the house in the dark, not wanting to light any lamps and bring their treason into high relief. This was their secret, their need. In his bedroom, she stood before him, lit by the moon, the full moon, and he smirked. She would be up for a battle. He started by dipping a finger below the waistband of her skirt as he circled her, and she reached for his shirt, and they were circling each other, grabbing at clothes and tugging. She smiled devilishly, as she snatched the sash from his pants and held it over her head like a banner, and with her hands up, she was defenseless. He stepped in, loosened her skirt, and it dropped to the floor, and he kissed her deeply, reminding her that he was the one that loved her, and that always would.
She tugged his shirt off, and he used his teeth to undo the ties on hers, and she drug her fingers down his back when he sucked on her neck. Her shirt disappeared, his pants disappeared, and they were before each other, naked and vulnerable and revealed. Whatever else they may say to justify this moment, they would each say they needed the other, and Zuko laced his fingers with Katara's, and guided her gently to the bed.
"Just so we both know," Katara said as she pulled him on top of her, "this is wrong. We're wrong. We won't lie about that, right?"
She gasped as he pulled her nipple into his mouth. He wouldn't answer. He would lie to himself. He would say that it was right. It was meant for them to be. Her body was responding to his, her hips rolling, searching for his, and he obliged, sliding into her as she arched into him, and he whimpered, clutching her close to him. He set the pace, sliding gently in and out, and she kissed his scar, whispering to him that she loved him, that she needed him, because he loved her and he needed her.
They moved faster, savored the moment.
"Bit me," he demanded, and she did, first grazing her teeth along the length of his neck, and he growled, pushing into her further, and she gasped before biting on his shoulder, twisting his skin between her teeth. He moaned into her neck.
Katara bit harder, then pushed against his shoulder, urging him onto his back. He obliged, and she sat on top of him, swirling her hips in a way that made his eyes roll back. She ran her hands along his chest, dragging her nails down, then ghosting them back up, and he grabbed her hips, urged her into a faster rhythm, feeling near his release. She grabbed his hands and guided them to her breasts, to knead and play and tease, and he obliged, pinching her nipples, then sitting up to take one in his mouth. She wound her fingers in his hair, preventing him from leaving.
"I love you. Spirits, I love you," she whispered as if it were a dirty secret between them.