**This idea came whilst I was writing my other Zutara fic. I'm going to try and have the next chapter up by later today or tomorrow. If not, I'm so sorryy. Since I'm on break I'm able to write, but I'm also working, soo. And I'm ranting. :P On with the story! Let me know what you think, please!**
The siege of Ba Sing Se had gone so much better then Fire Lord Ozai or Azula had planned. Azula had been the one to deal the fatal blow to the Avatar in his vulnerable state. She was certain the boy would not last long with a wound like that, and so she sent her men to discreetly follow the Avatar and the people he had traveled with to capture him at the right time. However, thanks to Zuko, one of their allies was not traveling with them, instead was on their ship, heading back towards the Fire Nation, as a prisoner.
The water tribe girl had put up quite the fight with Zuko, but when Azula joined in the fight, they easily bested the girl, knocking her unconscious. Zuko was quick to grab her, binding her hands together. Now, the water tribe girl was lying on Azula's bed as some of her men cleared a room for the girl.
Her blue eyes fluttered open and frantically began looking around, knowing she was somewhere foreign and dangerous. The interior of Azula's room was red and gold, the colors of the Fire Nation. There was a tapestry with the Fire Nation symbol hanging on the wall, underneath it was an alter of some sorts, with an assortment of lit candles.
Katara tried to sit up, but whimpered in pain, falling back onto the bed. It was then that she realized her arms were bound behind her. She figured the pain had come from whatever material that was being used to bind her hands. It was probably cutting into her skin. There was also pain from her arms being held back behind her for so long.
How long had she been out? Was Aang- Aang! He had been struck down by Azula. He was hurt! He-
"Looks like you're finally awake."
Chills ran through Katara as she heard Azula's cold voice. Katara glanced around, and saw Azula standing in the doorway. She began struggling with the bindings around her wrists, but that only made the bindings bite into her skin more. Metal… Katara thought as she felt a small trickle of blood slip down her skin.
"You're room will be ready tomorrow. We'll be in the Fire Nation in a weeks time. However, during your time on this ship, you are not to leave your room unless I or Zuko or someone else I have appointed is with you, and of course, your hands are bound. Anytime you wish to bathe, Mai will be with you. You will eat when food is brought to you, and you will not try to be rebellious and retaliate against us. Once we are in the Fire Nation it is up to my father what he plans to do with you. However, I don't see him killing you off… yet." Azula's perfectly painted lips curled up into a smirk, "Do you understand, little water tribe girl?"
Katara merely glared at Azula, knowing fighting against her at the moment wouldn't help, especially since her hands were bound. "Can you at least unbind my hands?"
Azula walked over to the smaller girl and grabbed the metal that was smelted around her wrists. She heated the metal until it began to melt, and the water tribe girl cried out in pain as the burning hot liquid traveled over her wrists. Azula gripped the burnt skin and yanked the girl close, "You will do well to remember you are a prisoner here. Any thoughts or notions in that head of yours about ever seeing freedom can be banished now." Azula pushed the girl over, and left the room, melting the handle shut so she had no way to get out.
Katara was curled up, shaking in pain. Blisters were already forming around her wrists, and the burnt, raw skin throbbed with pain. She needed water. At least she could heal the burns, or make them less painful.
She saw a door and assumed it led to the bathroom, and got up, holding her burnt wrists to her chest, and began to walk towards the door. The main door leading into the room hissed and opened, causing Katara to turn around and be looking into the golden eyes of Zuko.
Zuko… she had trusted him back in the Crystal Catacombs, but he… he did this to her.
"Lay on the bed." He began shedding his heavy Fire Nation robe, leaving him in a loose tunic and pants.
Katara began to panic. He wanted her to get on the bed and he was ridding himself of his clothing? That only meant one thing, and Katara would fight against him. Burnt wrists or not.
Zuko eyed her, seeing her not moving and the fear in her eyes. He produced a small jar, "Do you want me to tend to your wounds or not?"
Katara looked at him stunned, then quickly recovered, "I-I just need some water. I can heal the burns." She then glared at him, "Or have you forgotten that?"
Zuko sighed and walked over to the bed, "I know you can heal yourself, but if you do Azula will question why you don't have the burns anymore. She'll only burn you again, maybe worse, and who knows what else she'll do to you. Now, get on the bed."
Katara slowly walked towards the bed, not understanding why she felt so at ease around him when he had just betrayed her not even twenty-four hours ago. When Katara sat on the bed, Zuko opened the jar and dipped his fingers in. Katara noticed, once he pulled his fingers out, the substance in the jar was aloe. Zuko's fingers slowly moved over her wrist, gently massaging the goo into her skin. The aloe stung a little at first, but soon the burn started to cool down. Zuko moved over to her other wrist and proceeded to massage the goo into her other wrist. Katara watched his nimble fingers move across her skin. His pale skin contrasted to her dark skin. Her blue eyes trailed up his arms, which had been revealed due to him rolling his sleeves up, and she realized how much muscle mass he had lost since when she first saw him in the Southern Water Tribe.
When his fingers slid over the blisters, she winced. "… This will hurt." He said, and she knew what he was going to do.
"N-No! I was told that-"
She felt a sharp pain and then cool wet cloth dabbing at her wrist. He kept repeating this process a few more times, and Katara bit her tongue, literally. It stung, but once he applied the cool wag, the stinging dulled away.
"Sorry…" He mumbled.
Her blue eyes glared at him, "For what, betraying me, bringing me here, letting your psychopathic sister burn me, or-"
The flames on the candles began to rise and get more intense. His gaze flicked up to her eyes, and upon seeing the intensity and anger in those golden depths, the words in her throat died away with his silent threat.
Once he was finished tending to her burnt wrists, he went over to the armoire and opened it. Katara saw an assortment of silk robes and beautiful clothing, but when Zuko came back over to her, he was holding a ragged red cloth. He handed it to her and stood back, as if waiting for her to change.
"Aren't you going to leave?" She asked him, almost timidly.
"So you can go into the bathroom and attempt your water bending like you were trying to before I came in? No."
Katara shyly bit her lip and stood up, turning her body away from him so her back was facing him. She stripped out of her ripped water tribe dress, leaving herself in her undergarment bindings. Her cheeks held a dark red tint to them as she slipped the cloth over her body. It was an over size tunic that reach down to right above her knees, there were no sleeves since the cheap fabric ended right before her shoulders. So this is what she had come to be…
"Once we are in the Fire Nation you will have more suitable clothing, but for now-"
"Suitable? I think this is suitable enough. I'm a prisoner, what else is more suitable then this?" Her venomous voice snapped at him, her blue eyes angry oceans as they bore into his.
Zuko was taken aback. Even though she was a prisoner, his prisoner, and had been threatened by Azula, she still had that fire within her that caused her to be rebellious. In the time that he had been chasing the Avatar and his group around, he had been paying special attention to the little water bender. She had been so helpless when they first met, but every time they had reencountered each other, she was showing signs of improvement. Now here she is, a water bending master, in the clutches of the Fire Nation Prince, and he saw in her eyes that she was not going down without a fight.
"How could you do this, Zuko? I thought you had changed. In the Crystal Catacombs, when we were talking, you showed me a vulnerable side to you, and yet you took your sister's side? Why?"
Zuko glanced at the girl, "Because, I must restore my honor, and I have. I may not be bringing my father the Avatar, but I am bringing him you, the Avatar's water bending teacher, and close friend. My father will find use of you."
Katara glared at the arrogant fire bender in front of her, "You don't know anything, do you? Aang is just a boy! A scared boy who is only trying to stop this madness your father has created. You think you're so high and mighty just because you're royalty, and you're a fire bender, well you're not! I may be a mere peasant, but I am far more a better person then you are!"
How dare this insolent girl test him. He will be quick to put her in her place, "Now, you listen to me, water tribe girl-"
"I have a name, Katara, and if you wish to speak to me you must address me as such." Katara's eyes burned with fury as she stepped closer to Zuko. "We may have had a moment of weakness where we related and were on the same level, but that will never happen again. You-"
Zuko raised his hand to slap the girl, but he stopped himself, shooting fire in the opposite direction instead, "That mouth of yours will cease it's rebellion when we arrive in the Fire Nation. I may show mercy, but when it comes to Azula and my father, they do not."
"I could care less about mercy or no mercy. I've hated your kind since your people took my mother from me." Tears were threatening to spill from Katara's eyes, but she stood strong, and forced them away, "You're so use to your lush life, even when you were exiled you still had a luxurious life. You don't know what it means to fight for survival, to go for days and days with nothing to eat, to be running from those trying to hunt you down. You may be a strong warrior, but that is only physical. You are no where near a strong warrior when it comes to the mentality of it. You're so quick to act, you never think things through. You-"
"You don't understand what it means to be a true warrior. You just go around destroying those you see in your eyes as weaker than you, when in fact they could be stronger than you. You-"
"I said enough!"
"You fear those stronger than you. Stronger than you and those who have more knowledge than you. That's why you go around destroying everyone's spirits. You will never-"
"Enough, peasant!" Zuko's hand slapped Katara across her cheek. He was so infuriated with the water tribe peasant at what she was saying. How dare she have the nerve to say those things to him. Those things that aren't even true! She was nothing but a worthless peasant, and he was proud and exultant that he had been the one to capture her, and that he was the one presenting her to his father. To think he helped sooth her burn wounds…
Zuko turned on his heel, fuming with anger, and left the room, slamming the metal door closed, and burning the handle.
Katara stood in the middle of the room, her cheek stinging, a small trail of blood on her lip where her lip had caught on her tooth. A slow satisfied smirk caused her lips to creep up. She had gotten to him. What she had said had gotten inside his head.
Katara went into the bathroom and pumped some water into the sink. She cleaned the blood off and out of her mouth. There wasn't nearly enough water for her to try and heal the burns on her wrists, so she would have to endure them for a while longer.
When she went back into Azula's bedroom, her thoughts traveled to Aang.
She knew once they arrived in the Fire Nation… there was no way of escaping. She could try all she want, but she's heard the stories of how the guards are, of how the prisons are. The security is top notch, and there would be no way for her to escape. Even if she had escaped, there would be no telling where Aang, Sokka, and Toph were. Everything she had known, traveling with her friends and brother, helping the Avatar master all four elements so he could stop the Fire Lord, everything was now behind Katara. She knew she could never go back to that. The only way she'd be able to see her friends again was if they are successful without her. Not that Katara doubts them, but without her, who will keep them on track? And without her… who will heal Aang? With the injury Azula had given him… Katara only hopes they were able to get Aang the medical help he needs…
Katara glanced at the Fire Nation tapestry. That will be her life soon, living in the Fire Nation as a prisoner. The way she looked at it, Katara would be used for information. The Fire Lord would attempt to get information from her, however, once he realizes she won't give anything up, he'll either lock her up in a cell to rot, or kill her. Katara hoped it would be the cell, because she knew Aang would be successful with or without her, and when the day came that he would come and stop the Fire Lord, he would save her. But, for now, Katara was a prisoner on Azula's ship, but she was Zuko's prisoner. For now, she would irritate the hell out of Zuko. She knew the most he would do would hit her, so she would keep pushing his buttons, until she pushed him over the edge. She would keep fighting against him. She will not let him break her. She will not be weak.
As for when they get to the Fire Nation… Katara didn't want to think about it much. She knew there were only two options for her. Life in a cell (until Aang defeated the Fire Lord) or death. She knew living in the Fire Nation would be hard for, especially being from the Water Tribe. People will be cold and heartless towards her because of her blue eyes and dark skin, not to mention the fact that she will be a prisoner. If she spends her days in a cell, she'll finds ways to entertain herself without going mad. If she faces death when she arrives in the Fire Nation… well… there's not much to plan or think about.
Katara sighed, seeing everything she had once loved and cherished being burned away by the flames of enslavement…