Katara peered up at Zuko, shyly, under her lashes.
He was staring intently at their little fire, the flames rising up higher every few seconds before dropping to normal. His handsome face was red under the glaze of the fire, his scar looked slick as candle wax.
Katara shivered delicately.
Zuko's eyes snapped up and widened. "Are you cold?"
She hoped he couldn't see her blush. "No. I'm fine." But she clutched her shawl around her shoulders. "Can I show you something?" She blurted, before she could stop herself.
He blinked. "Uh. Yeah, sure?" He looked confused but got up and followed her.
She led them down a narrow stone staircase, just outside the clearing of their little campsite. She almost lost her footing on the last step and stumbled, her ankle rolling to the side. Before she could fall, Zuko's hand shot out and steadied her, gripping her elbow.
"Be careful would you?" He said in an irritated tone.
They both looked out onto the small, stony lake before them, the dark sky, slowly lighting up with the coming of the sun.
Katara approached the shore line, the slow waves gently licking at the toes of her moccasins. She shut her eyes and sucked in a deep breath, knowing he was staring intently at her, waiting.
She raised her hands high, her wrists bending, palms up toward the heavens.
The water responded immediately. Thin columns made of pure H2O arced before her, she breathed deeply, not losing concentration as she flicked her wrists and the water exploded.
Instead of spraying all over them and leaving Zuko and angry, wet mess, the water kept its form, like crystal raindrops, receding back to the water with small plops.
She let her hands fall to her sides and slowly Katara opened her eyes.
Zuko was staring at her with his brows bent, his lips twisted into a scowl.
Then he smiled.
"That was awesome, Katara. Really cool."
She smiled back, "Thanks, I guess I've had a lot of spare time on my hands. Just thought I'd pick up a new trick."
He was close now, his shoulder brushing against hers, sending electricity rocketing through her core. He kneeled down and placed his palm on the water.
It sizzled and smoked.
"To be able to... control water... like that." He murmured, "It's... amazing."
She didn't dare breathe.
"I mean... I've been taught to hate water... and yet-" He broke off suddenly, with a very short, un Zuko-like laugh. "It's so.. nice." He looked back at her.
Katara knew at once he wasn't talking about just the water itself, but her also. She couldn't help wonder if he would say another word than nice. Like pretty, or even beautiful.
He stood up, and dried his hand on his shirt. "We should head back before they return, aye?" He began to descend back to their campsite, slouching slightly.
Katara couldn't bear to see him go without saying more. She wouldn't let him.
She reached out, her fingers curling around his arm, yanking him back a step.
He turned to look incredulously at her, his brows bent again.
Then she kissed him.
No. It wasn't her, it was someone else, she later thought. I would never kiss Zuko. Ever. I love Aang.
His lips we're surprisingly warm and velvet soft. They felt amazing and special, pressed to hers. He responded immediately, his arms enfolding her, pulling her to him, her palms resting against his warm chest, where she could feel his steady breathing and his throbbing heart beat. Their lips moved familiarly against each others for a long moment. A long, sweet, painless moment in their hectic lives.
When it was over, she pulled away from him.
Zuko wet his lips and whispered, "I said, we should head back before they return, aye? Your brother and your boyfriend." He seemed to emphasize 'boyfriend'.
"Right." She said in a small voice. Her cheeks flushed.
He nodded. "This night didn't happen did it?"
"Good." He turned then, and this time she didn't pull him back for a kiss which...made him...No. He shouldn't want her. Not in that way. She was young and naive. She belonged to Aang. Sweet innocent Katara... Whom he fought with the first time he met her. He'd been amazed by her. The young girl with the daring attitude and the reckless loyalty to her friends. She was also a water bender. That had amazed him too.
He loved her. That disgusting sweet love that he despised. He felt it for her.
Zuko loved Katara.