Katara looked in the mirror hanging over the basin in the bathroom. She poked at the slight bags under her eyes, pulled them down then pushed them back into place. She'd fallen asleep during that afternoon's meetings. Again. Minister Foss's wife had been pissed, and made some snotty remark, but Katara thought her comeback was pretty sassy and witty.
Oh? Is that what you're using the night for? Huh. I thought nighttime was for…other activities.
So Zuko had choked on his tea a bit. It was worth it to see the scandalized faces of those present, even those who were trying to hold back smiles.
Smiling, she walked out of the bathroom and into the bedroom proper, quickly scanning the room until she found Zuko. He was sitting at the desk in the corner, furiously writing and occasionally snickering to himself.
"What are you doing?" Katara asked, a little concerned for her fiancé's sanity.
Zuko turned quickly, looking like he'd been caught. Which, essentially, he was. Katara put her hands on her hips, but she couldn't help smiling. Since they'd returned to the Fire Nation a month ago, the atmosphere in the palace was completely different. Them parading through the streets in front of the nobility had sent a very clear message. She and Zuko were together for all the proper reasons, and there was nothing that could be done to separate them. That didn't mean some nobility and council members didn't try, attempting to send them on long trips away from each other and hoping to increase the gulf that had been closed during their week in the South. None of these tactics worked. There was much that needed to be done in the capitol, and for the moment, both she and Zuko were staying put.
"I'm writing a letter to Sokka."
Zuko turned back to his desk, and Katara sat down at the vanity and picked up her hair brush. She hummed tunelessly as she ran the brush through her thick curls. There was no way to keep a contented smile from her face. This silence wasn't strained. It was comfortable, just like it had been when they first got engaged, just like their silences had been since she'd forgiven him. There was no need to fill that void, no need to demand words from the other. They could simply be in the same room and exist together.
And all would be right with the world.
"Could…could you do me a favor?" Katara asked, setting the brush down.
"Sure. Whatever you need, Kitten."
Katara glanced over her shoulder. Zuko was still scribbling away at his letter to Sokka. Those two gossiped more than Ty Lee, though each would adamantly deny it. Sokka would say that gossip was a women's thing, and that he and Zuko shared information.
"Do you think we could move the wedding up a bit? Say, about three months from now?"
"Of course. I'll talk to the Fire Sages first thing in the morning."
Zuko was clearly too engrossed in his letter for his brain to fully process what she was saying. Katara stood and untied her robe, draping it across the back of a chair. That was fine. His reaction would just be funnier when he realized what was going on. She turned back the covers on the bed and climbed in, waiting patiently for Zuko.
"If you don't mind me asking, what for?"
This was the opening she'd been waiting for.
"I don't want people claiming our child is an illegitimate heir because I wasn't your wife and Fire Lady before the baby's birth."
"Oh. That makes sense."
Katara muffled her laughter, laying her head down on the pillows as she watched Zuko finish the last of his letter. When he was done, he folded it and stuffed it in a drawer. Stretching, he walked over to the bed and pulled back his half of the covers, and slid in next to Katara, giving her a quick peck on the lips. Katara stifled another laugh, wondering just how long it would take for Zuko's brain to catch up with reality. He extinguished the wall scones with a flick of his wrist, cuddling up to her and wrapping his arm around her waist. Sighing and slightly disappointed, Katara figured she'd just tell him again in the morning.
When she was startled out of sleep by Zuko's loud exclamation, Katara couldn't say for sure just how much time had passed.
Katara blinked rapidly, her hand over her heart, completely bewildered. Zuko just looked at her, completely shocked.
"Zuko, how long has it been?"
With a few precise jabs, half of the scones were lit, bathing the room in a soft glow. Katara sat up, rubbing her eyes. Zuko was still staring at her, but now the corners of his mouth were pulled up into a smile.
"It's been about an hour. But you're pregnant? For real?"
The annoyance started to bleed away with Zuko's growing excitement, and she squealed as he wrapped her up in a big hug, squishing her to him. He hadn't even waited for her to answer.
"I thought you were still taking those herbs," Zuko said, holding her at arm's length.
"Well, I was. But then we weren't seeing much of each other, and it got really depressing because it only reminded me that we weren't together anymore, so I kind of stopped."
"How far along?"
"Oh, only about five weeks."
Katara watched as Zuko started doing the math, and a sly smirk came over her.
"You aren't trying to figure out which day it was, are you?"
Zuko kissed her cheek, then her lips, and Katara threw her arms around his neck, just holding him close and being happy and feeling content.
"Your majesties, we heard screaming. Is everything alright?"
The guards were knocking at the door, and Katara laughed to herself. No doubt, they were holding back on adding, 'and not the usual screaming.' Slipping out of bed and putting on her robe, Katara opened the door and looked out at the guards.
"Everything's just fine," she said, feeling giddy. "We just have a bit of good news."
Curiosity was evident on the guards' faces, but they would have to wait until the morning. There was no way she was telling anyone except their family, first. Not that they would have long to wait. Ursa's ship from the South would arrive early in the morning, and she and Zuko could share the news over breakfast. With a pleasant goodnight, Katara closed the door, and practically ran toward the bed, jumping into Zuko's waiting arms.
"Wow," he said, snuggling up to her again. "I just…I can't believe it."
And then his face started to fall, and Katara tried not to laugh because she knew where his mind was going, how he was following this train of thought to its logical conclusion: an actual real baby, part him, part Katara. A little baby with large golden eyes. Tiny hands and feet. Bending water.
"Relax, Zuko," Katara said, patting his cheek. "We'll be fine."
When they curled up to settle into sleep again, Katara felt a flutter of excitement as Zuko slipped his hand up her nightgown, resting his palm on her bare stomach.
"I never gave kids much thought before," Zuko said, kissing her shoulder. "But now? I don't think it's possible to be happier."
Katara sighed contentedly.
"Wait until you're holding our baby."
And because it is the holiday season, I decided to go ahead and post the final chapter and the epilogue together! YAY! STEAMBABIES! I to have this epilogue about halfway through writing this, and this really cute scene just lodged itself in my brain. I've been waiting to write this for so long. I loved the idea of oblivious Zuko, too caught up in gossiping with Sokka to understand that Katara's telling him she's pregnant. He gets it, though...an hour later XD Oh, Zuzu... And yes, this is the only chapter without smut. But that's because it's pure, unadulterated fluff.