AN: And so ends another year of Zutara. I hope everyone had as much fun as I did taking part in this year's week. Hope to see everyone next year too!
Disclaimer:I do not own Avatar: the Last Airbender. Nick does.
It was spring when they first met, the first day of the year when ships could easily navigate the arctic waters without fear of becoming breached, the ice having melted to the point that pathways were clear.
He had been an enemy then, a terror, something to hate and despise without any more reason then that of his nationality. He was her opposite in every way she could imagine, and for Katara, that alone had been enough. The fact that he was after the Avatar, the sweet young man named Aang that she had come to know over the last few hours, who was both her only hope of learning how to waterbend and the world's chance for peace, was just the sweet sauce on the stewed sea-prunes.
If he dared to confront them, she would fight him with all her strength. If she ever had the chance, she would rid the world of another piece of scum that had grown upon it, and she would do it with pleasure. Nothing would change her mind or dull the hatred that she held for all members of the Fire Nation.
By summer's end, she had been proven wrong.
By the time summer had almost finished its course of growing heat, Zuko had become more then she ever could have hoped. Once nothing more then a spoiled prince that was a threat to everything she held dear, he had become a friend, a companion, a confidant that held her greatest trust. A trusted ally that she was glad to have at her back, once he had betrayed his father to join them, he had found his place amongst their little family of rag-tag benders and orphans.
And if she was to be honest, there was something more there about him, though what it might be, she was unsure. There was respect of course, for in his own right, he too was a master, her equal in every way possible. There was trust, hard to gain but there, that he would never hurt any of them, no matter the circumstance that might pit them against each other in the future. He was the sparring mate that she most enjoyed fighting against, for he, at least, she never had to worry about hurting or offending, and at times, it was as if he was the only one who supported her in her struggles to keep their people together and safe. If she was the mother of their group, then Zuko, despite the short time he had been with them, had definitely become the father.
But even with all of these qualities tied together, they only explained away half of the feelings that arose when he was near.
At the time, she had shrugged off the fuzzy feelings of lightness, for there were more important things for her to think about then the new Fire Lord. Treaties had to be written, towns and cities had to be rebuilt, and the entire world had to be scoured for those souls that would continue to fight the war they had already lost, determined to keep it going for as long as possible. Harsh feelings had to be soothed with calming words, and who better then the people who had fought for the peace they now enjoyed? It would be a long while before her mind could turn to thoughts of the Firebending teacher, for at that moment, they were nothing more then a nuisance.
It was fall, in the middle of the night, that Katara came to the startling conclusion that she was in love with the wrong person.
For almost a year, she, Aang, and Sokka, the original team that had set out to end the war, had once again been traveling the world, moving from city to city to fix the still bleeding hurts that the fighting had left. For almost a year, peace had reigned throughout the world, and for almost a year, she had officially been 'the Avatar's girlfriend.' For the last year, her life had been, in both her and other's minds, almost perfect.
But if this was so, why did so many things just feel wrong?
Whenever she was traveling, it felt almost as if a piece of her heart had been left behind somewhere, had been put to one side and forgotten in her rush to move to the next place that needed them. At first, she had thought that she was homesick, that after almost two years of being away from the southern poles, she was finally feeling the longing to return that so many of the warriors from her tribe had described. The idea that she was missing the freezing winters, the stewed sea-prunes, and all the familiar faces that she had grown up with was had calmed her and had allowed her to put her worries to the side, for soon, very soon, their business would require them to return home. With that in mind, she had waited anxiously for the day to arrive that the familiar ice wall would come into sight, so that she could finally ease the aching in her chest.
Strangely enough, the moment she set foot onto the ice float that had always been her home, the desire to leave was almost more overwhelming then the increased pain her heart felt.
In fact, it wasn't until a crisis had called them back to the Fire National capital that the hand that was clenched around her heart began to ease, and it wasn't until she saw his face that it disappeared completely.
It wasn't winter had come that Katara was able to face Fire Lord Zuko and tell him that she loved him.
And to her greatest joy, if his kiss was anything to go by, he felt the same.