So this one time, instead of doing real work, I wrote you all your fluffy ending. Because I'm that nice.
Also, for those of you who've read The Business Trip, you'll find a couple references just for you.
Fluffy Confused epilogue comin' atcha in three…two…one…
Five years (and a couple months) later…
Katara felt the sun on her face and sighed, knowing her days of sleeping in were long over. Since she'd started sharing a bed with Zuko, gone were her occasional lazy mornings. Sleeping with a Firebender meant rising with the dawn. She turned as he stirred, smirking at his restlessness. He tried to fight it, knowing she liked an extra hour or two some mornings, but Katara knew his fake sleeping all too well by now. She shook her head, propping herself up on an elbow.
"You're awake. Might as well admit it."
Zuko's eyes opened to reveal how very alert he was. He looked up at her sheepishly. "Sorry."
"You tried," she brushed a kiss to his forehead, smoothing back his long black hair, chiding all the while. "Since you also try to stay up when the moon is full, I guess I can forgive you."
"You think I do that just for you? You really don't know what you're like on the full moon, do you?"
Katara arched a brow as Zuko sat up, stretching his arms across his bare chest before standing from the bed. She held her quizzical look even as he turned to find his robe. "I'm not sure I know what you mean, Zuko."
He slipped the robe over his shoulders and turned, his expression quirked with disbelief. "Really."
"Nope. Haven't a clue."
"So pushing through my personal guard to throw yourself at me, and then dragging me away as you blithely reordered my schedule is normal behavior?"
"You were gone for two months."
Zuko laughed, shaking his head. She smirked as the memory sent a pleasant tingle down her spine. "You knew what you were getting and you asked to marry me anyway. I make no apologies."
Zuko's eyes found hers, his golden gaze radiating warmth and humor. "Don't you dare."
It still thrilled her to see him this carefree. Laughing and joking in the bedroom they shared…she never thought they would get so lucky. Zuko broke her reverie as he tossed her blue dress at the bed. "Come on. Can't be late for these meetings."
Zuko watched her move to stand from the bed before crossing to another part of their chambers, the place where all his royal garments were kept. He closed the door that separated them and found himself immediately swarmed by servants, intent on helping him dress in the unnecessarily complex attire.
He still felt foolish standing still to let others help him dress, but they had compromised as well. Katara still couldn't stand others doing something she was entirely capable of doing herself, and so the staff had agreed to leave her undisturbed so long as Zuko submitted to their will. He gazed at the closed door and longed to be in the room on the other side, his room, their room. The room that no servants dared enter. The room he and Katara cleaned themselves, decorated themselves, kept all to themselves. It was solely theirs, the only place in the palace where they would always be free of intrusion.
With his early morning routines finished, he courteously thanked the servants and watched them leave, waiting for the door to slide completely closed before moving to the door to their bedroom. He was about to turn the handle when he heard something he hadn't before. Katara was talking aloud, in secret, hushed tones. Sometimes she sang to herself, sometimes there was an odd comment here or there, but never full conversations. Which meant…someone was in their room.
Katara had carefully watched the dressing room door close before she knocked on another door, the one that led to the hall outside. She never liked hiding things from Zuko, but this was too important. The last thing she wanted to do was say something too early and get his hopes up. She had to know for sure before she could tell him that…her face lit up with a brilliant smile as she closed her eyes, running a tentative hand across her stomach.
There you are.
She felt a tiny, pulsing warmth growing steadier every day. A small, amazing gift that maybe, if they were lucky, would grow into a child. She smirked as she gazed down at her still-flat stomach. It already felt like Zuko; warm but guarded, not wanting to give anything away. And yet somehow there were also moments the little warmth felt like her element, swaying and changing in her own inner currents. It was too soon to tell, far too soon to know for sure…but Katara wished with all that she had that she wasn't looking into much into things.
Which is why she'd sent for the wisest woman she knew. Katara turned to see Gran-Gran stealthily slipping into her room, answering her secret knock. She and Pakku were in the Fire Nation on business from the Northern Water Tribe, or so the official story went. The truth was that Katara had sent a letter begging for a second opinion weeks ago, and the elderly couple had been staying in the palace for the past few days. This was the first chance she'd had to be completely alone with Gran-Gran, and she wasn't going to waste it.
She looked at her grandmother with bated joy, bending the water from the small basin she carried to coat her hands. She watched them shake, searching Gran-Gran's eyes for strength.
Kanna smiled at her granddaughter. "It's alright, my dear. You can do this."
Katara nodded, taking a deep breath. "I'm just so nervous…what if it's not—"
"Then you'll find a way to move on and try again."
Katara sighed heavily, attempting to will her nerves away and finding no success. "And what if it is? Are we really ready for a child, Gran?"
Kanna opened her mouth to speak, but she didn't get the chance to say a word. Zuko burst through the dressing room door, his foot catching in his long royal robes in his hurry. He tripped and stumbled, barely stabilizing himself mere inches in front of Katara. Their gazes locked, gold and sapphire, both unable to speak for a long moment.
It was Zuko who eventually broke the silence, clearing his throat. His voice was low; she could hear the nervousness clinging to his words. "A child?"
Her eyes flicked down to her hands, still covered in water. He continued, pressing the matter. "Katara…are you pregnant?"
She couldn't look up, too worried what she might see. It wasn't until Zuko's hand cupped her cheek and guided her gaze that she saw the hidden elation in his eyes, the joy he was keeping back until he heard her answer. It gave her the courage to speak.
"I don't know yet. I wanted to be sure before I said anything."
Zuko nodded, swallowing hard. "Makes sense."
"So…how will you be sure, then?"
Kanna stepped in, wrapping her hands lightly around Katara's wrists, guiding them over her stomach. "Here. Like this."
Zuko moved to back away, but Kanna stopped him with a grandmotherly smile and shake of the head, motioning for him to take her place. He did so, gingerly smoothing his hands down Katara's tan arms to rest just above the glowing water. The waterbender's eyes slipped closed and she waited, breathing steadily, waiting to feel that tiny spark of life she'd felt so many times in her youth in the Southern Water Tribe, but it was so much different this time. This time her hands were on her own belly, and her own heart pounding in her ears made it difficult to concentrate.
Zuko stepped closer, resting his forehead against hers as they waited together, trying not to breathe too loud as if it would be scared away by the sound. His nearness gave her strength. It calmed her enough to proceed.
It was the longest silence of their lives. They both had a moment of doubt, afraid it was taking too long.
Then it happened. They felt the smallest pulse against the water, a gentle ripple that spread up Katara's palms and curled around Zuko's fingers. His head snapped up, eyes searching her face for a sign. "Was that—"
A satisfied grin spread over Katara's face as her eyes welled up with tears. Her voice was a happy whisper. "It was."
She was glowing. "It was! Gran-Gran, come here!"
Kanna was already crying by the time she added her hands to Zuko's, confirming what they all already knew. "It's a heartbeat. It's strong, too."
Zuko couldn't stop staring at his hands, at the perfect rhythm of the ripples playing out over Katara's stomach. A heartbeat. A heart. A child. Our child.
He wrapped Katara firmly in his arms, not caring that the water fell to the floor and soaked his robes, not caring that he would have to call the servants to change again. A permanent smile was etched on his face that day, a smile that he would later claim was the cause of the early laugh lines already on his face.
Zuko pulled away enough to take Katara's face between his palms, scrunching up her hair as he looked deep into her eyes. "I love you so much."
Katara was too happy to speak, her voice coming out in joyful sobs as Zuko brushed tender kisses all over her cheeks, her eyes, her lips. Kanna waited until he stopped to pull Katara into a loving embrace, kissing her forehead as she wiped away a tear. "If it's alright with you, I'd like to tell Pakku. He can get word to your father and Sokka if you like."
Katara nodded, unable to stop smiling. "Yes. Please do."
The couple watched as the door closed, their own personal world surrounding them again. They locked eyes at the same moment and laughed, unable to stop their joy from overflowing. Zuko's hands rested comfortably in the small of her back as she reached up to loop her arms around his neck, pressing her lips to his in a tender kiss. She lingered there, moving no faster and no slower, simply kissing, simply loving.
When Katara pulled away she saw the first glimpse of doubt in his eyes. She knew what he was thinking.
"You won't be like him. I know you're afraid, but you won't be."
The edge of a tear formed in his eye, but Zuko held it back. "How can you be so sure?"
"Because you are your mother's child." Katara cupped his cheek in her palm, running her thumb over his scar in the comforting way that soothed him. "You'll love her too much for anything else."
Zuko felt his tears falling in earnest now, his voice breaking in realization. "Her?"
The smile on Katara's lips said it all. "Her."
Alright, confession time. I may be done with this story, but I am not done with this plot line. I wrote The Business Trip as a test to see if I could develop more adult voices for these characters and keep their relationship true to Confused, and I think I did a fair job of it. And writing this made me too happy to stop.
So yes, this epilogue is the end of Confused, but when I have the time, I will be starting a series that chronicles their adventures in raising a child, probably with some more Sokka/Suki, Aang and Toph might appear, hell, I might even throw Ty Lee and Mai in there for good measure.
Tentative title: Raising Kya.
Not meant as a reference to LoK, I just really like the idea that Katara and Zuko would name their first daughter after Katara's mother. And hey, maybe I'll finally write out all my feels about where Zuko's mom is?
So suffice it to say, I'm no good at goodbyes, so I'm refusing to say it. Thanks again for all the amazing support and reviews you guys have given over the past couple months. I adore each and every one of you, and I hope you read more of my stuff in the future.
All my love,