I would like to thank WildCitrusSunflower for being the beta for this story and fixing all of those mistakes I tend to make . Also I do not own Avatar the last Airbender .
Here he stood overlooking the capital city, his red armour shining in the bright sunlight like fresh blood, his cape warning all of his presence with its angry swishing almost like a tail. But even more a reminder of his teachers were his yellow eyes, so much like those of the legendary dragons.
Some would have called him the most powerful man of the world, some the most dangerous and yet others the cruellest, but if asked he would have called himself the loneliest of all. After all, with both his greatest enemies, as well as his closet friends gone, with his family dead either by his hand or their own, who was left to if nothing else, look at him?
These days no one seemed to look at him anymore.
As a child he had always dreamed of the day that people would bow to him in reverence, the way they seemed to do to his grandfather and later his father. But now that they bowed to him, he realised that there was no reverence but only fear, always nothing but fear. Yes, now that he sat on the dragon throne he realised just how foolish he had been in those days.
He hadn't understood back then, but now that he had lost all while gaining the world, he knew. Now he realised that when his father send his eleven year old boy to war, he did not do so as a show of high regard but rather to get rid of the families weak link.
It was ironic that now this weak link was the only thing left of the once great royal family. He still remembered clearly the day he had stood amongst his soldiers against an overwhelming enemy trying desperately to win a battle that was never meant to be won.
The ruler was brought out of his musings by one of his secretaries approaching him.
"My Lord, please excuse my intrusion." The man spoke as he bowed low only the slight shaking of his clasped hands betraying his unease. "The Water Tribe Chief has arrived. Would you like to meet him in the crown room, your Highness?"
"Yes, I will be there shortly," the young man answered, dismissing the other with a wave of his hand.
Grateful that no harm had come to him in presence of the demon as the palace staff had come to think of him, the secretary retreated, bowing once more. But the thoughts of the young man had already drifted back to the difficult talk that was before him. It would be the first time that he met the older leader and, if he still believed in gods, he would have been praying for success right now. Chief Hakoda, as he called himself, was the only link the Fire Lord had to the Avatar and his companions; the only chance for peace.
Never having met the young Avatar himself, he knew that his uncle's wish for balance would not come true without the Avatars assistance. He desperately needed a symbol for peace at his side for no one would believe the son of Ozai and grandson of Azulon that he did not wish to control and rule all nations.
Turning his back to his people's city he strode through the palace, taking seemingly no notice of the servants hurrying to bow to their lord. He arrived at the crown room, took one last breath and entered through the large doors that led directly to the throne, hidden behind a wall of flame that separated the Firelord from all that visited him.
Taking his rightful seat as a gong was hit three times to announce his presence, the man's golden orbs moved over the people in front of him, narrowing as he saw the man before him being forced to know tow by two of his guards.
"Release the prisoner!" he ordered and though his voice had been barely above a whisper the soldiers shook as if the Gong, that had not bothered them two minutes ago, had been rung directly next to their ears. They retreated quickly hoping that their mistake would not be punished too severely.
"My apologies for the guards' behaviour Chief Hakoda. I instructed them to treat you with utmost care. They will be punished for their disrespect."
The Chief of the Southern Water Tribe had raised his head as soon as the guards had released him, taking in his environment. The room he was in was huge and dark, the only larger source of light seemed to be the wall of fire before him. To his sides in the dark shades sat men that, according to the expansive clothing they wore, were high officials or nobles.
He himself seemed to kneel in the middle of the room in front of a staircase that led to the flame and the throne. It was impossible to see more than a dark shade of the man that ruled the most powerful nation on the planet and was known as a monster throughout the nations.
It was said that he had killed not only his uncle and sister to gain the throne, but his father as well. Not that Hakoda would mourn the death of Ozai or Azula, both had been cruel to a bone, but he feared that while they at least still wanted to rule a world and as such would not destroy it completely, he could not claim the same for this new Firelord.
Do not misunderstand, it was not his life he feared for or even the life of his soldiers but rather that of those left behind in their small village, the women and children, as well as his own offspring that were currently travelling with the Avatar. His only condolence was that even when he broke under the torture that would surely come, he could not tell the Firelord anything of importance. He did not know where his children were or if the Avatar was even still alive.
The monster's voice seemed calm and quite enough, but Hakoda would not allow that to fool him. "I have asked for you presence here because I have things that I would like to discuss with you, Chief."
The Water Tribe man could not help the mocking sound that escaped his lips. "I have nothing to discuss with you, your Highness. Even if I knew what you wanted to know I would never tell you." If he had been a bender, he probably would have frozen the water in the air.
The Firelord answered in the same calm voice as before. "I have not asked you here for information. I would rather make you an offer."
The sneer in Hakoda's voice was impossible to overhear as he spoke, "I have no interest in anything that you could offer me!"
"So you do not wish for your freedom? I could make your life very enjoyable, or very difficult." The room temperature seemed to have dropped rapidly during the Firelord's last words.
"I will rather go through hell than sell my soul to the devil!" The older man spat in return.
Shocked whispers could be heard from the audience and the guards shifted in case they had to restrain the prisoner.
"What if I did not ask you to sell your soul?"
For a while both men simply stared at each other, seemingly not moving at all until finally the Firelord spoke once more, this time to the guards an noblemen.
As soon as the men had filed out and only the prisoner and the Lord remained, Hakoda jumped up and crouched into a defensive position, ready for any attack that would come. The Firelord on the other hand did not seem to be bothered by this in the least, slowly moving towards the other with measured steps, never even slowing down to lower the flames.
"Follow me", he spoke as he moved to a small side door, that Hakoda had not noticed before.
Surprised by the sudden change of events the warrior followed the other through the tiny dark corridors until they reached a small door that led them into a simply furnished room that seemed to burst with scrolls and books. In its middle stood a large desk with one chair on the side of the windows and three on its other, closer to a large door. Lightening the candles on the small chandelier the Bender took a seat on the window side of the desk and motioned for the other to take a seat as well.
Cautiously Hakoda sat down and took the chance to study the other for the first time. His surprisingly young face showed no emotions what so ever. His hair was taken back in a traditional topknot and his clothes were a light black armour on top of a simple red tunic. If he had not been wearing the hairpiece that declared him master of this nation he could have easily been a soldier of low rank, only the air of confidence around him telling those around him otherwise.
While Hakoda studied Zuko, he in turn tried to organise his thoughts. The meeting had not gone as the young man expected. He had thought the other would be like his father or the ministers, willing to play the political game and do anything necessary to gain what they wanted. He had expected a man that would not hesitate to do what was necessary to gain his freedom and if possible some power and position as well. But neither gold nor freedom seemed to matter to the man across from him. But he needed him! Without him his plan would fail! His uncle would have died for nothing and he would never be able to correct his wrongs. But worst of all, the people would continue to suffer. This war would wage on and continue to destroy all nations.
There had to be something the warrior wanted! Zuko knew that the Southern Water Tribe had fought a losing battle these past years that they themselves must have known that they could not win!
"Give it up, boy! I will never give you what you want! I will never betray my people!" Hakoda said as the other remained silent.
"You do not even know what I want Chief Hakoda."
"I know exactly what you want! I will never surrender my people to you and never will I give you the Avatar!" He raged, throwing over his chair as he stood in his anger.
The younger asked slowly, with a faraway look in his eyes, "What if I were to ask for neither? What if I am not interested in ruling your people or in capturing the Avatar? What if I wanted a peace treaty?"
"Do you really think that anyone would believe that?"
Suddenly the stern young man looked older than he was and maybe even sad. He stood up and turned to one of the windows looking out once more to the capital city. "No, this is why I am talking to you and not Chief Arnook nor King Kuei. You are the only one who could not refuse a meeting with me."
Looking back to his guest he said quietly, "Your people are not the only ones suffering from this war. The people of the Fire Nation moan under the high taxes and cry for their loved ones, who die in ambushes in the Earth Colonies or in the waters of the North Pole. But I cannot just call back the troops now can I, when I know that both earth and water will try to destroy fire at the first chance they get? But if water and fire were to form a treaty even earth in all its stubbornness would be unable to refuse!"
"So you want me to betray the Earth Kingdom, when they need us the most? You want me to give up our allies, so you can destroy them first? How will we know that you will hold to your word even after that?" Hakoda hit his fist on the table harshly in an expression of disbelief.
Zuko slowly moved to the desk once more, leaning on it lightly. "I have as little intention of ruling the Earth Kingdom as I have ruling the Water Tribes. What I am offering is a chance to restore all four former nations once more; a peace treaty between all three currently remaining nations and support for the Avatar to restore the Air Nomads in their temples. What I ask for in return is a chance for my people to live peacefully beside yours, a chance to trade and travel."
Taken aback by the young man's seemingly sincere words Hakoda began to pace. "And you expect us to believe you? Even if you did keep your word, who is to say that your own people won't kill you for your actions? For giving up an almost won war? If that happens who would take the throne afterwards?" Looking straight into the golden eyes Hakoda declared, "I will not risk it!"
"I realise the problem my death or succession would present. Which is why I am prepared to offer you one more thing: If the Firelord dies the Firelady takes the throne until the heir is old enough to do so." Staring straight at the other warrior, no hesitancy being heard in his voice, "I am willing to take your daughter Katara, as my wife as a symbol for peace."
Hi, this is one of my first attempts at writing, so please tell me about any mistakes, both grammar and spelling wise, so that I may correct them. I realise that the storyline of Zuko and Katara in an arranged marriage is neither a new nor especially original concept, but I hope that I will be able to give this story an interesting twist or two.
It is not a purely romantic story nor will the love story process quickly since in this AU Katara and Zuko have never even met. Finally I would like to warn you all that I am unable and unwilling to write explicit sexual scenes so if you came here for some hot lemon, you know were the exit box is .
Please let me know what you think .