Fire Lord Ozai couldn't say he was entirely surprised, though he truly hadn't expected his traitor of a son to return. After lying to him, abusing his hospitality and stealing from him, he figured his son had done all he could to completely ruin his reputation in Ozai's eyes.
"What do you want?" Ozai hissed. "Haven't you done enough to me already? You have disgraced this family, you ungrateful little idiot."
"I'm grateful enough," Zuko said. He was wearing a hooded cloak and a soft smile. "I'm grateful to Uncle Iroh for raising me when my own father wouldn't. I'm grateful to my mother, for teaching me the love you denied me. I'm grateful to the Avatar. I'm grateful to Katara and Sokka and Toph and to everyone else I've met since you had me banished. But, most importantly, I'm grateful to you."
"What?" Ozai snapped, his voice still low and snake-like. He was still faced away from his son, facing the altar in the throne room, his legs crossed and his hands on his knees, but his head swivelled to the side so he could see his traitor from his peripheral vision.
"Yes, father," Zuko continued. "I'm grateful for every horrible thing you've ever done to me. Because it's made me who I am today. And for that, I have to thank you."
"You came back to thank me?" Ozai's eyes narrowed.
"To thank you, and to say goodbye," Zuko replied.
Ozai growled and lunged for Zuko, flames blowing from his fists. Zuko pushed through the flame and grabbed his father by his fist, twisting his arm around his back and forcing his father onto his knees. No matter how hard Ozai struggled, he couldn't break free.
"Learned a new trick, did you?" Ozai jeered.
"I've learned a lot of new things," Zuko said. "And I've taught a few of these things to some friends of mine. Aang!"
Zuko could see that Ozai was afraid, and he began to struggle once again. Aang flew dramatically into the room with his glider. Zuko rolled his eyes.
"Fire Lord Ozai, you have abused your fire bending and your position as Fire Lord," Aang said. "You have destroyed the balance in the world. The world is meant to be equal in Earth, Fire, Water, and Air, but you and your forefathers have destroyed that balance. It is my duty as avatar to restore the balance."
"You're just a kid!" Ozai snapped. "What are you going to do?"
"The only thing I can do," Aang said.
He took a deep breath and his eyes closed. He placed his hand on Ozai's head and opened his eyes. Zuko had to close his eyes at the bright lights suddenly filling the room. After a few moments, he felt his father collapse, and he heard Aang breathe a sigh of relief.
"It's done," Aang said. "I did just what you told me to, Zuko. It's done."
"What did you…do to me?" Ozai groaned, weakly sitting himself back up. He tried to blast fire at Aang, but nothing happened.
"I took away your bending," Aang replied. "This way, you can't cause any more damage than you've already created. Fire Lord Ozai, you're under arrest."
Ozai was in prison. Zuko had moved into the palace, and would have his coronation the next day. There was only one thing missing.
Zuko, dressed in his nicest pajamas, left his bedroom. Telling the guards he was just going for a walk around the palace because he couldn't sleep and, no, he didn't need an escort, he headed straight for the room housing Katara and Toph. The harem had been emptied since that afternoon, all of the girls given proper clothing and housing, and a reassurance that jobs were being looked into for each and every one of them.
He knocked, and, when Katara gave him permission, he entered the room. He wasn't too surprised to see Hana, the concubine Katara had met during her stay at the palace, seated in the room as well. They had really taken to each other.
"Katara?" Zuko said, nodding to the other girls. "May I speak with you?"
Katara smiled and nodded, getting to her feet. "I'll be right back."
When the door was closed and they were headed for the garden outside of the palace, Katara smiled. "So should I start referring to you as Fire Lord?"
Zuko grimaced. "I'd appreciate it if you didn't. Zuko is just fine."
"Good," Katara replied. "Because I wouldn't even if you wanted me to."
Zuko rolled his eyes. "I wouldn't expect anything else from you."
As they walked, Zuko reached out and took her hand. She smiled squeezed his hand.
And that was when Zuko knew that everything was finally right in the world.
All done! I sincerely hope you liked this story. It was my first attempt at a Zutara multi-fic, and I'm not so sure about it…but…well, yeah, hope you liked it. ^^
Again, I don't own Avatar or anything else you recognise. See ya! ^^