Hello, friends, I hope you all don't mind but I decided to go back and do some rewriting for this fic as it was written in my early fanfiction days and I have since improved my writing style. Enjoy!
Redbayly does not own Avatar the Last Airbender
It had been six years since the end of the war and everything had been steadily working out. Avatar Aang was currently traveling the world with his Earthbending master and now-girlfriend Toph, and the two were absolutely inseparable. Sokka and Katara had returned home to the Southern Water Tribe to oversee the reconstruction alongside their father. Sokka had really matured from the goofy, gangly youth he was at fifteen, though he still acted like a doofus when the inclination struck him. Katara had been working as a Waterbending instructor, though she often felt the job wasn't really what she wanted to do for the rest of her life.
Back in the Fire Nation, Zuko was proving himself to be a natural leader for his people. Since he began his campaign for international peace, the future had never been brighter for the Fire Nation. Of course, his breakup with Mai four years ago hadn't won him any favors as his advisors and court officials kept pressuring him to have an heir. Luckily for Zuko, he and Mai had mutually agreed to separate as Zuko had no desire to be impaled with throwing-knives. Mai had even proven to be a loyal ally and had gotten a job in the Ministry of National Security, working primarily as a bodyguard for the royal family, such as it was. Zuko, however, still needed to get married and produce an heir; what no one had realized during that four year interval was that Zuko had already formed an attachment to a certain Waterbender.
Because of her lack of interest in her job, Zuko had invited Katara to serve as Southern Water Tribe Ambassador to the Fire Nation. A post she happily accepted. Not long after, though, both Zuko and Katara began a discreet dating relationship. Of course, nothing can stay completely secret in a palace, so most of the guards and servants knew and gossiped about it regularly. Naturally, Zuko and Katara's relationship reached such a point that it was understandable that he would work up the nerve to propose. Of course, seeing as how Zuko had no talent for situations like this, he had to call in help.
What Zuko first learned was that it's never a good idea to let your prospective brother-in-law know you are going to propose to his sister. It took Aang, Toph, and several of the royal guards to pry the furious Water Tribe warrior off of the terrified Fire Lord. Once Sokka had been removed from the room, Zuko could finally get down to business.
"How do people normally propose in the Fire Nation?" Aang asked Zuko.
"Well, we usually propose by having a formal dinner, often surrounded by our respective friends and family, and ask the object of our affections right there in front of everyone," Zuko replied thoughtfully. "I think it's something about the peer pressure making people more inclined to say 'yes' because of how awkward a refusal would be."
Aang and Toph both gave him a 'look.'
"Bad idea?" said Zuko.
"Bad idea," Aang and Toph agreed.
"Okay, then, how do people in the Southern Water Tribe propose?"
"I was actually talking about that to Katara's dad awhile back," said Aang. "You know, getting information on Southern culture and stuff. Apparently, in the South, they don't specifically carve a betrothal necklace like in the North, but the potential groom does carve some sort of token like a necklace or a comb. If the girl accepts, then the tribe's Shaman and Prophetess, their two spiritual leaders, have to perform a betrothal ceremony in the bride's home. After that, the couple has to wait a year before the wedding can take place."
"That sounds a bit…complicated," said Zuko, who had never realized that the Water Tribe had ceremonies as complex as anything in the Fire Nation.
"Well, seeing as you are both from such different backgrounds, here's what I suggest," said Toph.
The private dining room overlooking the palace gardens was set up for two. Candles flickered all around the room as the setting sun glimmered faintly through the large balcony windows. Zuko had given strict instruction that only he and Katara were to be in there and that no servants were to enter until after the two had left. Zuko had spent the entire week figuring out what exactly he was going to give Katara as a betrothal token, attempting to carve a necklace, finally accepting that he was as artistically skilled as Sokka, and having a necklace commissioned from the royal jeweler. It was quite a nice necklace, too; a silver pendant engraved with the image of the combined moon and sun, mounted on a string of pearls. Of course, Zuko knew that Katara would still want to wear her mother's necklace, he hoped she would at least wear the necklace he had had made for her during the wedding ceremony.
Everything was set up perfectly.
Okay, he could do this. Deep breaths.
He looked into those beautiful blue eyes, so filled with love and anticipation. He reached for the necklace. It wasn't there. Time to panic.
"I...I'll be right back."
The young Fire Lord rushed out of the room.
Oh man, where'd I put it? Okay, Zuko, stay calm, he thought.
Just then, he saw someone who could help him.
"Zuko? How is your 'date' with Miss Katara going?"
"Uncle, I lost the necklace!"
"We have to find it, quickly!"
While the two Firebenders frantically searched the palace up and down, a sneaky Water Tribe boy was watching them, smirking.
Poor, pathetic Jerkbender. He really thought I'd let him get away with his little 'proposal.' Oh, he is in so much trouble.
"What are you doing?" asked a small, blind Earthbender.
"Why, my dear Toph, I have no idea what you're talking about."
"Don't lie to me, Snoozles. I know you've got that stupid necklace in your hand."
"Toph, why don't you go play kissy-face with Aang?" he sneered.
Toph got ticked by that. And if there's one thing Sokka should know, it's to never get on Toph's nerves.
"Hey, Sparky!" Zuko looked over. "I know who has your necklace!" Toph pointed to Sokka, who was slowly starting to back away.
"Sokka," the irate Firebender growled.
And thus began an elaborate (and expensive) chase scene.
"Get back here, Sokka!"
Zuko finally caught up with Sokka. Tackling the Water Tribe man as they crashed into a room.
"What is going on?" said a concerned voice as the two men started to pummel each other in an attempt to get the necklace.
They looked up and saw a confused Katara.
Zuko took the distraction as an opportunity to snatch the necklace from Sokka, adding a thump to the boy's head as he did so. Zuko then held up the necklace.
"Uh...Katara, will you marry me?"