My first ATLA one-shot! I hope you guys like it. I love this ship. Read and tell me what you think. ^^

"I'm sorry!" She said as she pulled back from the confused monk. "I can't!"

Aang just stared at her with furrowed eyebrows and arms empty. "What-?"

"I'm so sorry, Aang. You need someone who will love you truly. I don't think I could ever do that," Katara sniffled as she blinked back the tears. Spirits, she was so confused and frustrated, "I'm...I-I'm...sorry, Aang. I just can't lie to myself; I think I'm in love with someone else. You deserve somebody who makes you happy."

She stepped away from the hurt airbender and dashed towards the road, trying to find a place to calm down and collect her feelings. She was so mad at herself for doing this to Aang, but it just didn't feel right.

Katara sat down on the dusty ground and used her sleeve to wipe her blurry, damp eyes. Aang was like a brother to her; she just didn't feel that way for him. She tried, gave it a chance, but she couldn't deny the emotion that struck her recently. She didn't want to lie to him and he had other responsibilities – he was Avatar for La's sake!

Okay, now she was just making excuses and trying to avoid the real obstacle.

Him. The boy who assisted her in finding her mother's killer; the boy with a troubled past and a hopeful future; the boy with golden eyes, full with so much burning light; the Fire Lord. Zuko.

Katara sucked in a sob and heaved a dismal sigh. Ever since he joined the group, she saw a whole new side of him – something enemies were scarce of knowing. But, after the search for Yon Rha and preparing for the arrival of the comet, she began to accept him for who he's changed into and began seeing him as a close friend.

There was a bright, piercing light that appeared in her view and she heard a scream. Katara shook her head.

The lightning.

Ever since Zuko's Agni Kai with Azula and the attack he took for her, she's been having arbitrary flashbacks of that dark night; she could still hear Azula's strident shrills, the loud rush of fire fighting with fire, the crackling of lightning overtaking Zuko's body. She could still feel the healing tingling in her hands from when she performed the curative doing on his damaged chest. The white weapon that was meant for her flew before her eyes every time she thought of her savior.

Ever since that one moment, something burst inside of Katara as if it had been trying to escape ever since Zuko entered her life. It was her heart that had burst – burst with so much emotion that she almost choked on her own breath. It was something deep and pure. It was the feeling she got from just looking at him.

It was love.

Katara felt the corner of her mouth rise as she marveled over her discovery. She was in love with Zuko. But she couldn't tell him – he was with Mai and he would never like her like that.

Like she would never feel that way for Aang.

Her smile dropped and she let her head fall into her hands.

Gods, why do I have to get into a war with myself? I just got out of one!

"Katara? What are you doing out here?"

Her eyes became the size of Momo's as she recognized the raspy voice. Katara gulped. Zuko.

She quickly wiped her skin of any remains of tearstains and turned around to face him.


Zuko gave her a short nod. "Are you okay?"

He stood before the waterbender, blocking the her view of the setting sun; he looked so handsome with his shaggy, dark hair and topaz eyes and-

Katara, focus!

She blinked and with a mental shake of her head, she lied, "I'm fine! Perfectly fine."

Zuko raised his good eyebrow and sat next to her. "Right. Katara, I know you better than that – what's up?"

Katara's shoulders slumped and felt panic escalate within her. What was she supposed to do? Tell him? No. She turned her face to the gravel, averting his patient gaze. "Umm, I can't tell you."

He bumped his shoulder against hers. "Sure you can. We're friends now, are we not?"

"Of course we are!" She quickly reassured him, twisting so she could face him. "It's just that...umm, I'll tell you soon when I...feel good" She inwardly rolled her eyes at her inability to form words.

"Oh, alright then." He gave her a small smile and looked at the earth beneath his feet.

She groaned inaudibly and felt her frustration grow.

There was a long pause of stillness until Zuko suddenly broke it.

"Hey, umm, there's something I've been meaning to talk to you about. I've kinda been thinking about, er, this ever since that night." His voice was slightly quiet and nervous.

Katara's ears perked up at the last two syllables and she let her eyes rest on his. "You mean with-"

"My sister? Yeah." He said solemnly, trying not to think about Azula.

"I just wanted to thank you a-"

"Please, you don't have to keep thanking me. I would do it again if it meant saving you."

Katara smiled and felt her heart race. "You would? But...why?"

"Because I care about you, Katara! You mean – I just feel like you're the only one who understands, well, me," Zuko said, giving her a genuine smile, something he found doing a lot around the blue-eyed bender.

Katara let her smile grow wider. "Who knew that Zuko could be sweet?" She teased, giving him a toothy grin.

"Ha, ha," Zuko said sarcastically. "No, but I mean it. I care about you, Katara. A lot."

Suddenly her fast heart sped up and she froze, listening to the beating organ. What did he say? Did he...? No, he couldn't. "What are you trying to say?"

This was his chance he's been practicing for ever since Mai and him confessed that they only wanted to be friends last night at the celebration. At first he was surprised at Mai's unexpected admission, but then he finally found the opportunity to tell Katara what's he's been feeling for her. Mai had told him that she would be happier back in Omashu and that he deserves happiness as well. She even gave him a real smile, teeth and all.

In the beginning of the growing emotion, Zuko shrugged it off, because he thought it would be impossible to have those kinds of affections for her – Agni, was he wrong. He then became scared of the sudden feelings, not sure what to do with them. As the war came to a close, Zuko couldn't refute his love for the waterbender anymore when he finally admitted it to himself when the lightning bolt headed straight for her.

Zuko cursed himself for bringing her along – she could've died! But without that moment, he would have never come to the realization of his strong love for Katara.

"Well, umm, now that the war is over and all, I've...I wanted to tell you that, uh, I-I've been feeling something." Zuko needed to leave a reminder to slap himself later. Even though he had previous experience with Mai, he was never good at speaking with girls.

Katara's eyes enlarged and she felt her breath hitch in her seemingly dry throat. Was he...? "Wha-?"

"Yeah and I don't really know how to go about this so, I'm, uh, just going to come out and say it." Zuko closed his eyes and prepared for the worse. "I think I'm in love with you, Katara."

Katara heard the pounding of her heart and blue found gold. He was in love with her? Her world flipped upside down and she wanted to make sure she wasn't dreaming. Ow. She absentmindedly rubbed her forearm. Was he joking? "What...what about Mai?"

Zuko shook his head. "We're just friends now." Zuko raised his eyebrow as he said uneasily, "I just wanted you to know how I feel ab-"

He was cut off as a pair of soft lips crashed into his; he felt a gentle hand touch his marred cheek, the other gripping the front of his tunic. Zuko closed his eyes and sighed through his nose, deepening the kiss. Spirits, how he's waited so long for this! Her arms flew around his neck and, shifting, he kneeled, facing her body. Katara mirrored his actions as his arms wound around her slim waist. Her eyes filled with tears – she was overjoyed and blissful. He loved her. She thought she had never felt this happy before! Zuko swiftly pulled back and cupped her face.

"Why are you crying?" Zuko whispered hoarsely as he wiped her warm cheeks with the edge of his callused thumbs; his forehead was scrunched, dark hair falling in his worried vision.

Katara broke into a grin and tilted her swimming head. The blissful kiss left her speechless and she was so damn happy. "Because I love you, silly."

Zuko rested his forehead against hers, threading his fingers through Katara's tousled, brown mane. He beamed sappily. "Really?"

She nodded and let out a soft sigh. "I do, Zuko."

Soft oceans locked into a powerful gaze with blazing fires as the two benders, entwined with one another, silently wondered how two former enemies came to fall in love with each other. But they didn't care. Not one bit. They were Zuko and Katara. All that they cared about was that they finally had each other.

The sun disappeared on the horizon as all their previous suffering disappeared with it. All the hope that was lost and love that was ripped away, was suddenly found.

Thanks for reading - any thoughts?

- Cassie