Katara and Zuko walked hand in hand through the falling snow. When she stepped away from him, he let her go and watched with a smile as she spun around in carefree circles. She tilted her face up to the flat gray sky, dropped to her back in a cloud of powdery snow, and just laid there with a smile spread across her face. Reaching out a hand, she gestured for Zuko to join her.
"No way," he laughed. "I'm cold and wet already." He took her hand and pulled her upright to wrap his arms around her. "Can we go inside? I'll make a fire."
"Oh, the firebender's cold?" she teased. "Well, I guess if you can't handle it out here..." Before she had even finished, he turned up the street and started off at a quick pace with Katara laughing and almost jogging to keep up. She stopped him before he could open the door of the hut where they were staying and threw her arms around him again. As she tilted her head upwards, her smile grew and grew, and his matched it. She could just make out the vague outline of his curved lips against the pale blur of his face. His eyes stood out, too, as did the scar and the hair falling over his forehead. She reached up to trace a finger along his lips, then replaced it with her own mouth. "I don't know if I've ever been so happy."
"Just wait until we get somewhere you can see something other than ice and snow," he answered. "Wait until you actually see a color that's not blue or white."
"Blue and white are beautiful," she replied. "More beautiful than you can ever imagine. Look at the sky!"
"I see it," he said with a wider smile. "But it's not the most beautiful thing here." She grinned and swatted at his chest, blushing. "You've only had three treatments so far," he reminded her enthusiastically. "Imagine how it will be after the last two."
"I know," she replied in wonder. "It's hard to believe. I'm so glad they're trying so hard. And then it won't be long before we can go rejoin the others -"
"And leave this frozen wasteland!" he whispered jokingly, raising his arms to the sky.
"Stop!" She pulled him into the hut with a grin, enjoying the flash of sunlight on ice as they passed through the door. "Go ahead; make yourself a fire." She sank to the floor as he pointed to the fireplace, where flames leapt up instantly. The red and orange flickers dazzled her eyes as she stared into it, feeling its warmth on her face.
The healers had told her after her last treatment that they would try twice more. The long period between injury and healing made it difficult for them, but each treatment had brought a little more light into her world. She would never regain her perfect vision, but already it was better than she had dared hope for.
They sat together that night, as they often did in the evenings. Some nights there was a steady stream of conversation and jokes and heartfelt explorations of thought. Other nights they sat in a sort of contented silence, pressed close together near the fire with him stroking her hair and her fingertip tracing along the back of his hand. This night was one of those. Katara knew they would be leaving the North soon to return to the war - and she was glad to be able to do so, but she couldn't help wishing just a bit that she could just stay here in peace with Zuko forever.
Not that he would like that. She smiled, tilting her head against his shoulder so he wouldn't see. Her firebender wasn't exactly suited for life in the Arctic. She wondered where they would be when the war was over and they could settle in one place instead of trekking around the world. She knew they would win the war - she believed in Aang and Iroh and Sokka, whose letters flooded in nearly every day with news of small victories and increasing support even within the Fire Nation. Zuko had issued an official stance against his father, and although the citizens were cautious and scared, Ozai's reign of terror was weakening. By the time she and Zuko rejoined the fight, the war should be nearly over.
But what then? Would her work be done? She didn't think she could be content without working somehow to help people. Maybe she would continue training as a healer. Everyone needed healers, wherever she ended up. She felt a twinge in her heart as she wondered where that might be in relation to everyone else. Would she live in the Fire Nation? She expected she would probably have to, to be with Zuko - and she was fine with that, but what about everyone else? Sokka had no ties to the Fire Nation; would he go back home? She couldn't see him giving up this wide world to return to their little village. And Toph - she couldn't go back to her family, but she could be an incredible earthbending teacher. Would she return to the Earth Kingdom? And Aang didn't even have a home. Where would he go?
"Deep thoughts?" Zuko interrupted her ponderings with a smile.
"Just a few," she said noncommittally, leaning against him. "A couple worries. You know." He nodded.
"Well, I don't have the answers, but knowing you, I'm sure it will all work out." She laughed dryly, shoving at his shoulder. "Seriously," he argued, "you just have a way of figuring things out. You never give up, and that's one of the best qualities anyone can have."
She didn't know how to respond. "Thanks," she whispered. "You're not too bad, yourself. We make a pretty good team."
"We do," he agreed, pulling her in closer. "We really do."
His words didn't eliminate her worries, but in that moment the doubts didn't matter as much. She was happy just being there - in this strange village, this little hut, by the fire - with Zuko. What came next could not be known, but she was confident they would get through it. They had each other, and they had their friends, and the only thing to do was to face the world head-on.
And she was ready.
Author's Note: To everyone who read this long story, thank you so much! Also, I'm curious as to how many people actually read the whole thing, so it would be amazing if anyone who did could write a quick review and let me know. Thanks also for all the reviews throughout the story - they were all really appreciated! I hope you enjoyed the story!