The first time they met, she barely remembers it. She was only four, after all.
But she is told by her mother, who fails to hold back her laughter, that little Korra had punched the then six year old Fire Prince in the nose.
In her defense, Korra thinks it was probably because her blossoming Avatar senses were tingling and knew she wouldn't like boys from the beginning.
It's a good call on the part of her predecessors.
The next time they meet, Prince Mako is eleven and Korra is nine.
She's carefully nudged by her mother and he is shoved forward by his. She crouches into a messy curtsy, before glancing over her shoulder to beam at her smiling parents. She did it first so they could not possibly be upset at her for lack of trying.
That is, until he swings into a half-hearted bow and proceeds to set her dress on fire.
In retrospect, Korra should have thanked the brat for getting rid of the hideous dress, but as it were, no one messes with the Avatar and this time, she punched him for real.
No excuses necessary.
At sixteen, Korra is painfully awkward. She's becoming a woman and as such, her impending duties as princess are beginning to overtake her Avatar duties, to her (and the Order of the White Lotus') dismay.
When they see each other again, she still thinks he's a stuffy, know-it-all, boring jerkbender.
She's drowning in pearls, lace, and ruffles, but he barely bats an eyelash at the absolute hell she goes through to get all dressed up and thrown at him. The fact that she flings pearls at him all night probably doesn't help matters. Or that he keeps burning them to a crisp in retaliation.
Her parents have clearly lost their minds. His parents have clearly been in the heat for too long.
More importantly, she hates that even as both a princess and the Avatar, she still doesn't impress him. Sometimes she has a hard time remembering that she has to bring balance to the world and run a kingdom as well. How is that even supposed to work?
But, she concedes reluctantly, Prince Mako is the first and only one of her many suitors that hasn't tried creeping up her skirts or into her good graces.
She wonders if that means he doesn't roll that way (for girls) or if he's just as dumb as a doorknob and doesn't know an awesome person when she hits him in the face (which she likes to often remind him that she has done so twice).
Princess Korra leans toward both logical conclusions.
Now that they are both old enough to understand the definition of blackmail, their parents 'encourage' them to spend time together and get to know one another. Subtle hints don't work (Korra has a habit of using her position as Avatar to avoid them and Mako just ignores them), so the conspiring royals literally drop them off in the middle of nowhere and demand their cooperation.
Korra is aware of the desperation sinking into her parents' hearts and therefore, she decides to make a good effort so she can prove to her parents that Plan #547 isn't going to work either because their feelings for each other extend only so far.
In other words, she wouldn't marry him if she had to do her Avatar duty and the future of the world depended on their marriage. In less dramatic terms, he couldn't care less about her either.
They go penguin sledding and he's being stubborn. All she hears coming from his mouth are blah, no, blah, blah, dangerous, blah, blah, blah, responsibility. She's had enough when she tricks him onto a penguin by casually pointing at something in the distance. With a sly maneuver on her part, the snow beneath his feet suddenly fades to ice and he topples over onto a penguin.
Her cackling laughter overshadows his screams and as they glide across the iridescent landscape, she's glowing with triumph. His terror soon transforms into laughter as they slide around each other. She throws snowballs at him and he bats them away with his flames.
And when they suddenly slide off a cliff and the other side is treacherously far away, she blows a shivering wind that lifts them high into the sky and she can feel his wide-eyed amazement. When they finally fall back down to earth on a pile of fresh snow, she basks in the warmth of his smiles and glittering gold eyes.
Of course, he gets her back.
Or at least tries to.
She wonders why she thought he was such a stiff in the first place. Well, maybe a determined stiff is a better choice of words. Prince Mako of the Fire Nation is suddenly enflamed with seeking revenge on the Princess Korra.
Perhaps he forgot that she is the Avatar and no one pulls anything over her. Usually, they're too afraid to though so she thoroughly enjoys his attempts at outmaneuvering her.
Several times, she sees past his hardly inconspicuous façades and easily avoids his sneak attacks. She giggles as another innocent bystander falls into his trap, a tub of syrup barrels over onto a poor maid and a thick layer of flour and feathers sprinkles over the hallway. Before anyone can say anything, she's already skipping away from the scene of the crime, free as a bird and nary a strand out of sorts.
And when the sound of her laughter flutters into his hearing range, he grinds his teeth and smoke puffs out of his nose and ears. Failure, thy name is Prince Mako.
"Boo!" The sudden shout over his shoulder has him jumping high and crashing hard. Snorts are falling out of the princess left and right as he rubs his head, glaring at her. Her overwhelming mirth makes her fall over on top of him and suddenly, things change.
They stare at each other silently.
He licks his lips and she catches sight of the action, swallowing hard in response.
Mako leans a little closer, just as she does and he feels encouraged by her reaction. Loose strands from her messy knot brush the side of his cheeks, tickling his nose. He inches closer and their lips are so close, almost touching, nearly there. One more move and he wonders what would happen.
The closet door suddenly swings open and Mako and Korra haphazardly scramble apart, nearly tripping over mops and brooms, putting as much distance between them as possible.
After years of unsuccessful attempts, the kings and queens are ready to call it quits. Clearly, their children are not going to fall in love, considering every time they've brought them together, only chaos and destruction follow in their wake and not much else.
Not a single sign of affection.
And more importantly, not a single hint of potential grandchildren.
So the quest for a betrothal for both of their stubborn children continues.
Imagine their surprise when one morning, the usually composed airbending master Tenzin hurries into the dining room, robes billowing and demeanor frantic. He maintains royal protocol and falls into a quick bow, before wildly imploring that they follow him.
They make their way across the castle, nearing a small crowd of people who are hovering under an archway and every person is staring in the same direction.
Both couples drop their jaws in shock at the sight. Jinora, Ikki, and Meelo spot their father and tug him and the royals to the front, chattering loudly while pointing at the young pair as they gleefully rock back and forth on the balls of their heels.
The prince and princess are dancing in the garden, blissfully unaware of their growing audience.
Or rather, Mako is teaching her how to waltz. Gracefully leading her across the field, he twirls her away, before spinning her back into his arms. Korra suddenly misses a step and nearly trips, but he catches her easily.
He leans down to whisper in her ear they turn, an uncharacteristically playful grin lighting up his face. She rolls her eyes and punches him in the shoulder, before yanking him down to her lips.
The first time they fall in love, she punches him because he said she wouldn't dare kiss him in public.
She didn't have to know that that was just his excuse.