"I hate you." Toph remarked. "I really hate you, you know that Fire Lady?"
"Calm down, Toph."
"Nope. I'm not going to calm down-HEY! Not there..." she began bursting in little giggles. "That's a really... sensitive area!" She said through bursts of mad laughter. Zuko chuckled. He was supposed to be massaging her feet after an intense sparring match but found his way to the crevices of her toes, which were apparently very sensitive. "Stop it!" She warned in between laughter. Zuko ignored the warning until his face met Toph's other foot. "Stop it, Zuko!" He was thrown on his back as the girl had had enough. He grunted in pain. "Oops," Toph giggled as she crawled over to him. "Hey, are you okay?" She asked uncertainly. Zuko did not reply and instead kept grunting in pain, exaggerating a bit, admittedly. "Zuko? Zuko? Are you alright?" She began asking a little more concerned. Zuko took this opportunity to catch her off guard and pinned her down to continue his torturing ways. Toph uncontrollably laughed until he released her, both of them lying down on the ground tiredly. "Did I mention I hate you?" Toph asked.
"You might have mentioned it," he smirked. "So are you still angry about losing?" Toph had lost the sparring match. Trying to lighten her up, Zuko offered to massage her feet, when one thing led to another and Zuko had found her weakness.
"I don't know what you're talking about Fire Lady," she pouted. "I won."
"No you didn't." He'd grown confident enough to say things like that to her, no longer afraid. "I won," he said while turning his head to look at her. She was being childish again. "I'll do it again, Toph," he warned. Her face became straight at the thought.
"I can take whatever you've got, Zuko."
"You sure?" He said while pretending to try to pin her down again.
"No, no, okay, I'm sorry!" He laughed, shocked at her defeat. "I'm starting to regret staying, Zuko. I might just leave, you know-if you do that again." Toph had stayed for months in the palace with him and only Yun had gone back to the Earth Kingdom. He lied back down on the ground, listening. "I won't put up with it. I'm of royal blood, you know," she teased.
"Royal blood, you say?"
"Mhm." She stretched while still lying on the warm earth. Zuko stood up and offered his hand to her.
"I'll help you up." She searched for his hand until he took hers and pulled her up. Immediately after doing so, though, Toph felt his knee hit the ground again.
"What are you doing?" She furrowed her brows. "Are you going to try to tackle me or something?"
"I want you to stay." Toph laughed.
"I was just kidding, Fire Lady. I haven't even scheduled when I'm going to leave yet. Why are you on the ground?"
"Zuko? What are you doing, get up."
"Could you be quiet for a minute?" She crossed her arms and pouted. He took a deep breath and thought to himself. Come on, Zuko. You're the Fire Lord. 'Don't be afraid of a small earth bending girl.' He chuckled silently to himself, took another long breath, then continued. "Will you marry me?" Quickly, her discontented face disappeared, replaced by shock.
"I want you to stay."
"What now?" She repeated.
"Do you remember when I told you that I change here? That I'm always angry and Mai never helped? You're not like that. Toph, I want you to stay."
She had no words, she felt like they were all punched out of her. "Do you want to stay?"
"Then will you marry me?"
"But you're Zuko-."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"You're the Fire Lord-."
"And I'm just Toph."
"I love you." Toph was insecure about herself. Never had she viewed Zuko as a royal figure, he was just Zuko. Never had she felt like a lower person than him, until now. "I thought you loved me, too."
"I do love you." He took her hands. Her hands were not long like Mai's, rather, they were small, a bit coarse even. But he loved that. They were hands of dedication.
"Toph..." She shifted her feet's position. "Will you marry me?" His tone of voice assured Toph this was the last time he'd ask and if she did not have a decisive answer this time, he would not ask again.
"For the record, I won the sparring match-." Zuko sighed. "I just want to get that clear and straightened out before I become Fire Lady." He smiled, satisfied of her answer. He stood and hugged her, glad of not having to let her go again. "Geez... how's the gaang going to react to this?" Zuko laughed, unsure of how to tell them the news. Nobody had known about any of this.
"I guess... we'll slowly let them know." Toph smiled at him.
"Aang wants me to be the Chief of Police at that place." Zuko had been informed by Aang about this earlier on.
"You'd definitely straighten out a lot of criminals." She laughed. "I love how you have a way of doing that."
"You're damn right I do!" She kissed him, wrapping her arms around his neck. "I'd make a good Fire Lady, too." Zuko smiled.
"I know you will."