A collection of Zutara drabbles and story arcs based on challenges, ranging from AU to canon based. Enjoy! n_n

Her fingers claw their way through his tunic with a sense of urgency. She digs them into his chest as she pulls him towards her.

"Don't you understand?" She shouts through the howling wind and the pelting rain that stings her eyes. "He killed my mother, Zuko! He—" her voice wavers "—he took her away from me."

Her strength leaves her and her once firm hold on him slackens. She glances down at his chest, refusing to let him see the tears in her eyes, refusing to let him see her so vulnerable. But he knows, he sees. Zuko knows all too well what it means to have your mother stolen from you, because of you. And because of that shared understanding, he is willing to let her abuse him—to hit him, hurt him, do whatever it takes to quench that inconsolable anger raging inside her heart. However, he also knows that letting go of that kind of anger is difficult. It requires her to be able to forgive herself first.

"I know." He brings a hand to touch her cheek. "I know."

But he doesn't quite know what he's doing or why. His hand is touching her face; it's such a warm gesture, far too delicate and intimate a gesture for a man like him to make—not towards someone like her. Not Katara, of all people.

She doesn't seem to mind. Instead, she brushes her cheek into his palm, closing her eyes as she breathes in, allowing him to comfort her this small way. And he knows—he knows that there is no going back from this.

He moves in close and her palms suddenly flatten against his chest. For a moment he is frozen, unsure of what to do, but then her chin lifts and she meets his eyes through the hail of rain. She is reminded of the sky at sunset—the way his eyes curve like the inside of a glass ball, golden yellow with specks of amber like stars—and she falls into him.

His hands find their way to her face, long fingers travelling from her cheeks up her jaw until they touch her ears, holding her in place. It's as though he can't let her get away. He leans in slowly and her eyes flutter shut in anticipation. His nose nudges along hers and their lips meet like charged electricity.

Her lips are soft and warm and wet from the rain. His eyes close as he finally abandons all thought, pressing his mouth firmly against hers. Her lips open hesitantly under his at first, but when his warm tongue awkwardly slices into her mouth, she moans, digging her fingers back into his chest to pull him close. She can't let him get away.

Then it all begins to fall together in a slow, groggy ascent, and they hold onto each other for support. The return of his kiss is like a pardon for the violence he has wreaked upon her—forgiveness that he has been so desperately seeking. And as their bodies entangle, flushed and heartbeats shared warm, they pay no heed to the elements raging around them. None of it matters now. Maybe it never did.

Without knowing how or why, he realises that she has come to mean something very dear to him, something more than a wrong he needs to right. And she has come to depend on him like no other. He is a man who knows the very nature of her soul. And for the moment their embrace soothes away the terrible guilt that hides behind their hearts.

For now, it is enough.

Challenge: Well, perhaps not a direct challenge, but the wonderful artist beanaroony drew a Southern Raiders Zutara kiss on tumblr (28/10/12) with the caption: What if Zutara happened during Southern Raiders? Just an excuse to doodle some Zutara. I'll let you decide what they're saying/what's happening. =p (I'd freaking love if someone wrote a drabble about this, hint hint. XD)

What can I say? Challenge accepted! XD