Of Fights and Fire Ladies
"…why do you stay with her?"
"Because it's what is expected of me."
"But, why do you always have to do what is expected of you? Why can't you do what makes you happy for once?"
"Katara, I'm in control of an entire nation. They need a good Fire Lady."
"Oh, so I wouldn't make a good Fire Lady? I couldn't help you run the nation?"
"No! No, Katara, that's not what I meant, I swear!"
"Well, what did you mean then, Zuko?"
"I just…I mean…you're Water Tribe!"
"Yes, I am. So what?"
"We haven't had a non-Fire Nation Fire Lady since Avatar Kuruk was alive!"
"That's because the previous Fire Lords were stuck-up nationalists."
"Don't insult my family like that!"
"You started it!"
"I didn't insult your family!"
"But you insulted me!"
"You said I wouldn't make a good Fire Lady!"
"I did no such thing! I just said that Mai would be better!"
"Well, if she'd be such a good Fire Lady, then why don't you go and marry her?"
And on that note, Katara stomped out of the Fire Lord's office, slamming the door behind her. Zuko sighed, running his left hand through his shaggy brown hair, which he left down on informal occasions such as this had been. "What just happened?"
"Katara, what's wrong?"
"What about Zuko?"
"He's being as stubborn as a hog monkey."
"Katara, you have to be more specific if you expect me to do something."
"I don't expect anything from you, Aang! We're not together anymore, and yes, that's my fault, so you can stop being nice to me!"
"Katara, I was offering my help as a friend. I thought we were still friends. Besides, you know I'm dating someone."
"I know…I'm sorry, Aang. Zuko just got me so angry."
"Do you want to talk about it?"
"I asked him why he was still with Mai, and it boiled down to him thinking that she would make a more competent Fire Lady than I would."
"Katara, are you sure that's what he meant? Zuko loves you."
"I thought so, but really, I can't believe it as long as he's with Mai. If he thinks she'll be a much better Fire Lady than I would, then he'll marry her, and then what am I supposed to do? Be his concubine?"
"Katara, I'm sure that's not…I mean, I'm sure that…I bet Zuko…"
"What, Aang? What can you possibly say to make this okay? To rationalize his stupidity?"
"I would just like to point out that I'm not exactly stupid."
"Zuko! Thank goodness you're here! Can you please talk to Katara?"
"I don't want to talk to him!"
"Well, you have to talk to him, Katara, if you want to sort this all out."
"What if I don't want to…" But her protests fell on deaf ears. Aang had disappeared.
"Katara, I'm really…"
"Zuko, I really don't want to talk to you right now."
"Katara, please, just let me explain."
"Fine! Explain to me why you told me you loved me, so I left my home and my family to live here with you, but we have to keep our relationship - if that's even what you want to call it - a secret. Meanwhile, you're parading around the nation with your ex-girlfriend, who everyone assumes you are still together, and so they all assume that she is going to be the next Fire Lady!"
"Katara, if you'd let me explain earlier, you would've understood how wrong that statement is."
"How is it wrong?! That's exactly what's happening! I refuse to be your concubine!"
"My…what? Katara, I'm not asking that of you."
"Then what do you want from me, Zuko? What. Do. You. Want? Because I know what I want. I want you. I want all of you. I want your heart, your brain, your soul, your body, your everything. I want to kiss you, hug you, hold you. I want to be able to walk down the halls of this palace, holding your hand, and not get strange looks from people. I want to look forward to going to bed every night, knowing that I'll be lying down next to you. And when I wake up every morning, I want to find myself curled up into your side. I want you, Zuko, and I though you wanted me, too."
"I do want you, Katara. You don't understand. I've been trying to muster up the courage for the past few weeks to ask you, but I kept getting scared. But now I'm ready. So Katara, please, marry me." He pulled a betrothal necklace out of his robes.
"But…what about Mai?"
"She already knows. She's okay with it. She told me that she's been dating someone in secret for quite some time."
"What will we tell the people?"
"The truth. That, although Mai would have made a fine Fire Lady, you are the woman that I love, and that I hope they'll grow to love you as much as I have."
"Are you sure about this?"
"More than I've ever been sure about anything else."