I own nothing! Everything in bold is from book 1 episode 9, The water bending scroll. I don't usually like Zuko and Katara together, I usually like to simply enjoy the series as it is, but I thought I'd give it a go.
Cautiously, Katara rose from her sleeping bag, ever mindful of the two sleeping boys as she made her way to where the water bending scroll was stowed in a bag. With no hesitation, she slid it out of it's hold and began walking backwards, mind already forming an excuse in case either boy should wake. Luckily, they didn't and the only complication was Momo's strange chirping threatening to alert her companions of her plans. A quick 'shush' and he fell silent allowing her to travel down the river a little.
"Shoot! Come on water, work with me here!" She whined as the liquid refused to co-operate with her the way it did with Aang. She mumbled instructions to herself as she tried again and again, all to no avail. It was then that she heard an odd sound. She muffled a gasp as best she could as she peered through the bushed to find two boats on the beach. She sprinted back a few feet to fetch the scroll but a huge muscled man caught her. Then, in a moment of luck, she threw a torrent of water at his face powerful enough that he let go and she tried once again to make her escape. She turned to look where she was headed but the moment she did, her wrists were caught and she was looking at the face of her greatest enemy.
"I'll save you from the pirates." He hissed. Zuko was mocking her.
In moments, she was tied to a tree with him stood in front of her.
"Tell me where he is, and I won't hurt you or your brother." He bargained. 'yeah, right!' Katara inwardly laughed.
"Go jump in the river!" She retorted. He appeared to think for a moment before he began walking towards her.
"Try to understand," He began, circling around her, "I need to capture him to restore something I've lost: my honor" He said from behind her, then he came far to close for comfort, practically leaning his chin on her left shoulder as one hand came round to rest on her other shoulder. "Perhaps in exchange, I could return something you've lost." She gasped as a flash of blue under her nose identified the object he held over her neck.
"My mothers necklace!" She gasped in shock. He strolled away looking very pleased with himself. "Where did you get that?!" She demanded.
"I didn't steal it if that's what you're wondering." He subtly hinted to what she had done, a slight pang of worry hit her as she was surrounded by the very men she had stolen from. "Tell me where he is."
"No!" She exclaimed defiantly.
"Enough of this necklace garbage, you promised the scroll!" One man shouted. Immediately, Zuko pulled out the scroll and held it tauntingly close to a small fire from the palm of his hand.
"I wonder how much this is worth." He began, then with the other men's obvious stress, he sneered "A lot apparently!"
"Now you help me find what I want, and you'll get this back and everyone goes home happy." Zuko dictated, satisfied that he held all the power. "Search the woods for the boy and meet back here." he told his unwilling slaves, still they did as he told them with a grumbled 'fine'.
Hours later, Katara was still tied to the tree, eyes down to the ground.
"Nice work." as Zuko's praise came, Katara's eyes lifted to see her friend and her brother tied up among the group of pirates. Sokka, ever determined, was struggling hopelessly with a simple band of rope around his wrists while Aang was staying still, thoroughly bound with a ridiculous amount of rope for such a small boy.
"Aang! This is all my fault!" She sighed, her guilty conscience weighing on her.
"No, Katara, it isn't." He tried to reassure her.
"Yeah, it kind of is." The old man stated from beside her.
"Give me the boy." Zuko demanded, eyes focused on the leader of sorts.
"You give us the scroll." He hissed. Then, Sokka decided it was an appropriate time to butt in.
"You're really gunna trade the Avatar for a stupid piece of parchment?" He shouted loud and clear, an air of astonishment around him.
"Don't listen to him! He's trying to turn us against each other!" But it was too late, Sokka was already persuading them to keep Aang and ditch the scroll, going on about how much Aang would go for on the black market versus the scroll. Finally, Zuko had enough.
"Shut your mouth you water tribe peasant!" he cried, rage practically rolling off him, Katara half expected to see steam coming out his ears. But Sokka continued his little speech, ignoring Aang's fear. Then, his little plan came together.
"Keep the scroll! We can buy a hundred with the reward we get for the kid." Then, as they were leaving, Zuko and his guards attacked with three jets of flame.
"You'll regret breaking a deal with me!" He shouted before smoke engulfed him and his guards and a pirate attacked and seemingly disappeared. The fire nation men and their prince made a grab for the avatar and his companion but the pirates had leapt into their way and set off more smoke.
Katara stood petrified and watched, not able to even hear from the sound of her own heart beating, unable to do anything to help from her position tied to the tree, though the adrenaline pumped through her veins ready to fight. She couldn't see a thing that was happening leaving her searching for a hint of a blue arrow or her brother's clothing, the smoke making it impossible to see anything besides the odd orange light signalling firebending, she pulled at her ropes harder with each passing moment determined to help, leaving deep marks and after a few moments, she was sure she felt something warm trickle over them.
She watched as Zuko was thrown out of the smoke and tucked the scroll into his belt, then turned to fight the men who tried to take it from him, before one almost succeeded. However, he was thwarted when Momo, in all his fabulous timing, caught it in midair and made off with it. Aang and Sokka suddenly came sprinting towards her.
"Just go, they'll capture you!" She stated in a moment of bravery. "There's no time!"
"We can't just leave you!" Aang made a move to try to untie the ropes.
"There's no time for this. I'll catch up to you when I escape. Take one of the boats from down the beach a little, get Appa and leave!" Hesitantly, they went. 'This is for the best.' she convinced herself 'There wasn't enough time.' That much was true. the rope around her wrists, her waist and her ankles would have taken far too long to cut, especially when they had no means to cut them.
She watched as the old man broke up a fight between Zuko and a pirate completely effortlessly and then the panic the pirate went through as he watched Aang and Sokka set sail on his boat. Katara silently cheered for them. Then, she almost cheered aloud when the pirates sailed past in Zuko's boat. Then, it seemed her luck was in again as they sailed further away and Zuko, his guards and his uncle ran along the side of the river, chasing them, and leaving her alone. She pulled harder on the ropes, blood ran over her hands as the sensitive skin of her wrists was torn, her ankles were at breaking point from trying to pull them apart, and her ribcage protested as she pulled against the ropes, she could practically feel the bruises forming but she didn't stop, she never gave in, until she pulled too long on the ropes around her waist and cut off her air supply for just a moment too long.
She slumped against the tree, blacked out but now able to breathe.
Unbeknownst to Katara, Sokka and Aang had managed to make a getaway, and Zuko, his uncle and his guards were now making a hasty return to her, a plan forming in the young prince's mind.