Smiling as Zuora hurried off to her room, Katara lingered in Zuko's arms a moment longer. Since the events earlier in the day, she felt closer to the firebender and loved being in his presence. She caught a whiff of his distinct scent and the soft brush of his robes on her bare skin made her smile. Looking into his golden eyes, the waterbender kissed him softly, a promise that she would not be gone long.
Finally reaching Zuora's room, Katara lingered in the doorway for a moment, taking in the sights. It was everything you would expect a girl's room to be, but so ornate with gold and red that it still had it's place in a royal palace. Taking a seat at the end of the bed, the waterbender thought of her childhood room back home. It was never as large as this but she still had the familiar feeling of family and love.
"We had fun today, didn't we Zuora?" she said as the girl moved about the room. "At least apart from when I got sick at the restaurant. I am sure the food is good, but something wasn't agreeing with my . . . stomach."
As Zuko waited, he thought of his friends he hadn't seen in quite a while. Holding his hand out to the fireplace he made it change shapes and dance. He loved how close he had recently gotten to katara, and the unborn child only brought them closer. Summoning one of his servants he asked for parchment and a quil with some ink.
He began to write letters, one to Iroh, one to Katara's father, and one to each of their friends. The notes each stated that Katara had accepted his proposal and that he hoped to see everyone together soon to celebrate.
As Zuora ran around her room after she was done washing up, she looked through her clothes wondering what she could wear for the rest of the day. "yes~ I agree!" she giggled. "Is everything okay though? is your stomach better?" she asked, feeling slightly worried. "I know papa would be worried and sad If anything bad happened to you" she smiled, "he really loves you" she spoke with a giggle.
Thinking back to the arguments her father and mother use to have, she knew her father was much better off with Katara. He was happy and they loved each other greatly.
Katara smile to herself as Zuora sifted through her wardrobe. The waterbender was already feeling motherly towards the little princess, and the fact that she was expecting made her even more so. Hopefully I am this confident when I actually become a mother, she thought to herself.
When the child began asking about her health, Katara got worried. Had Zuora guessed what was going on? She seemed bright for her age and Zuko surely confided in her to some extent. She blinked when Zuora said that her father would be upset if Katara got ill, confirming her earlier suspicions. Zuora seemed worried too and Katara felt guilty scaring the child when she knew the truth about her stomach aches. Should she tell her now about the baby? What would the child's reaction be?
"I love him very much too, Zuora," she replied with blush on her cheeks. Talking about Zuko always made her heart do summersaults. "And I love you for looking after him so well. He is luck to have you as a daughter and I am lucky to have you as a friend."
She thought for a moment, nibbling on her bottom lip as she thought of what to do next. Making her decision, Katara leaned over and held out her hands to the child. "Zuora, come here," she requested. Waiting until the child stepped closer, she lowered her voice. "I want to tell you something very important. Can you keep a secret?"
Sighing lightly as she placed her hands on her hips, Zuora spun around on her heel, "I can't decide what to wear Katara" she pouted lightly before sitting next to the waterbender on the bed.
"are you sure you'll be okay Katara?" she asked, checking once again to make sure everything was okay."I'm worried too..." she spoke as she looked down at the floor. "You make papa so happy that I'd hate for that to end...and you're such a nice person..."
Looking at Katara as she spoke, Zuora smiled, "like I said...Kind~" she spoke with a giggle, "most of the kids around here dont really play with me cause they feel....intimidated...cause I'm royalty...I always tell papa that they play so he doesn't have to worry..."
When Katara next spoke, she mentioned something about a secret, "of course" she smiled as she laid her head against Katara's shoulder.
Out by the fireplace, Zuko had settled himself on the brown fur rug of a saber tooth moose-lion. The fur was soft and the fire was warm. He had picked up a book from the bookshelf by his desk and decided to read it. the book was bound in red leather, it was a journal of some kind given to him by his mother before she was banished by his father.
In the book were stories of him and Azula from when they were young, she had written in the book from the day they were born, till the day she had to leave. "mother...." he sighed, "I wish you were here..." Laying on the fur rug he held the book close wondering what was taking the girls so long, but he knew Katara wished to have bonding time with Zuora, so he decided to leave them be and just Close his eyes. "a small nap while I wait won't hurt..."
Katara smiled as Zuora pouted about what to wear. Laughing as the girl plopped on the bed beside her, the waterbender got up and inspected the princess's wardrobe. She was awed by the beautiful clothes that the girl owned, nothing like she had grown-up with. Only recently had she had enough money from her ambassadorial duties to purchase anything so nice.
"You have a wonderful collection," she pointed out, running her hands across the garments in turn. "Hmm, what about this?" she offered, pulling out a burgundy red dress with gold and black details. The fold of the dress ran across her chest from the collar, similar to Zuko's robes, with golden flame embroidery on the hem and sleeves. A pleated sash ran around the waist, tying on one hip with a pin bearing the symbol of the Fire Nation. "You father would like you to dress nice, but you can still be comfortable. What do you think?"
Hearing the girl's continuous questions, Katara knew that she would not rest until Zuora was told what the "problem" was. It touched her heart that Zuora kept her father in the dark about her lack of friends. She knew it wasn't the child's fault that she was treated this way, it was drummed into the society that the royals were a people to be respected, not befriended.
"I am sorry that you have been so alone Zuora," she told her. "I think you are a very sweet girl and would make a wonderful friend. If you want, I can play with you? I don't have much to do here when the meetings are over and you can show me more of the city.
Watching as the child rested her head on her shoulder, Katara felt a deep love welling up in her heart. As she always did when she was alone, she touched her mother's necklace, which she had attached to the same necklace that Zuko had given her. "You know, I just have an older brother and he's a pest sometimes. When I was little, I wished that I could have a sister to play with. I think she would have been just like you," she added, touching Zuora gently on the nose.
With Zuora's agreement to keep her secret, Katara wondered how to begin. "Zuora, you know that your father and I have been together only a very short time. We have been friends for many years, but only recently have we been free to be together. I love him very much and want to do my best to make him happy. Because of that, I want to make you happy too."
Pausing, she drew her hand from the folds of her dress, where she had concealed the ring Zuko had given her on the beach. "Your father wants to marry me and I want to stay here with the two of you forever. But I want to know if you will except me as your stepmother and give your father and me your blessing? Will you do that?"
Wondering if she should unload so much information on the child at once, Katara decided to press on. "There is another reason for the wedding to come so soon after meeting you," she continued. "And this is the secret part, Zuora. I don't want you to tell anyone until your father or I say you can, alright?"
Checking to make sure the child understood, Katara took a long, slow breath before sliding off the bed. Kneeling on the floor in front of Zuora, she took the child's hands and smiled. "Later this year, you will have a new sibling to play with. Your father and I are going to have a baby . . ."
"Thank you~" Zuora smiled as she took the outfit handed to her, "okay!" she giggled before running off to her bathroom. When she returned, Zuora had her hair done up in the bun and she had on the outfit that Katara had chosen for her. "papa is the one who had this made for me~" she smiled.
"It's fine, you dont have to be sorry" she pouted lightly, feeling bad that she made made katara sad. "I manage." she spoke with a smile. When Katara spoke of being her friend, Zuora smiled brightly before hugging the waterbender.
Listening to Katara as she explained her about wanting a little sister, Zuora nodded, "a little sibling sounds nice" she smiled. As she listened to Katara talk some more, Zuora payed close attention to her words. She knew her father was meaning to wed the waterbender, but there seemed to be something more to what she was wanting to say.
"of course" she smiled with a nod, "I'd love to have you here with us~" she giggled lightly, "so whats the secret?" Zuora asked, "I promise I'll keep it~" And she would too, Zuora was good at keeping her word just like her father. "so I'm going to have a younger sibling?" she asked with a happy look on her face. "I bet you'll be a great mother and papa can help you!"
Katara waited patiently as Zuora hurried off to change. When the girl returned, the waterbender smiled brightly. The child looked so darling in her outfit, so . . . grownup. When Zuora explained that her father was the designer of the garment, Katara smiled even brighter. "Then it will be very fitting for you to wear it for him," she pointed out.
Katara's heart leapt as Zuora confessed to wanting a sibling. This would make telling her about the baby much easier. Her relief increased as the wedding news was accepted. "I am so glad that you approve," she answered. "I have never planned a wedding before and I would love for you to help me. Fire Nation culture is still new to me and I don't want to insult anyone."
Katara could see the eagerness in the child's eyes as she promised not to spoil the secret. "It won't be for another nine months, but yes, you will have a new baby brother or sister." When Zuora said that she would be a great mother, Katara scooped the girl into her arms and kissed her cheek. "I really appreciate that you have confidence in me, Zuora. This is my first child and I am not sure how the next year will go. Will you help me? Your father will try his best, but there are some things that only another girl would understand."
Satisfied that they had resolved all of the issues, Katara lead the way back to the dinning room. A smile crossed her lips as she saw her sweet Fire Lord dozing on the rug in front of the fireplace. Placing a finger to her lips, she crept closer, barely able to keep her laughter contained.
Once she was standing over him, the waterbender took a moment to watch Zuko sleep. She loved how calm he looked, an open book across his chest and his soft hair brushing against the animal skin below him. This is my future! she thought happily. My husband and my TWO children . . . .
Kneeling by his head, Katara leaned over and kissed his forehead, holding her hair back with a hand. "Wake my love," she whispered. "Wake up."
Nodding happily, Zuora smoothed out the fabric with her hands, "I had complained to him that some of my outfits weren't comfortable enough so he picked out some fabric and had someone sew if for me" she smiled. "no one would be insulted" she giggled lightly, "we accept any culture style~"
Hugging katara back, she giggled when her cheek was kissed, "of course i'll help!" she smiled happily as she hugged the waterbender before fallowing her back out to the livingroom. Once out there she saw her father asleep on the fur rug by the fire, a book was by his hand.
Zuko was completely unaware that Katara and Zuora had reentered the room in his sleeping state. He was calm at peace, and happy with the thoughts of his family lingering in his mind, giving him sweet dreams of the future. Feeling a kiss being planted on his forehead, Zuko slowly opened his gold-yellow eyes, looking up at her blue ones, a smile crossing his lips.
"Hello~" he smiled before stretching, the book falling off his chest and onto the floor. Looking at it he picked it up and placed it back on the shelf. "did you two have a nice chat?" he asked before looking at zuora, "the outfit I gave you~" he smiled, "It still looks lovely dear"
Katara's heart melted when those golden eyes looked back at her. She smiled when he stretched, taking in the length of his exposed body and refraining from tickling him.
"I hope we weren't gone too long," she told him as he got up and put the book away. "What were you reading anyway?"
When Zuko asked about their chat, Katara grinned at Zuora and wrapped her arm around her. "Oh, it went very well, didn't it," she replied with a wink at the child. Inside she was laughing.
The waterbender watched as Zuko admired his daughter's outfit. "We thought it would be appropriate since you were the designer," she explained. Walking over to her husband-to-be, she snuggled close to his side and kissed him softly on the lips, her engagement ring shining she placed her hand on his chest.
"Shall we have dinner now?" she asked. "You must be starving after waiting for the two of us."
Just seeing katara smile was enough to get him smiling as well, "well you two were gone quite a while but I was able to busy myself with other things" he spoke as he sat on the couch. "I started writing letters to friends and family" he began, "thought I'd check up on them"
Looking over at the book shelf where he had placed his mother's journal he smiled again, "my mother's journal....she wrote in it from the day I was born till the day she left." he sighed, "I had found it under my pillow when I was younger and I find myself reading it from time to time...the way she describes me in the journal...I can tell she really loved me"
zuko missed his mother dearly, he only wished there was some way, some how he could see her again, to welcome her back to the fire nation with open arms.
Nodding, zuora giggled, "yes~! very well!" she agreed as she clung to Katara's arm before flopping on the couch beside her father.
Zuko smiled, now having his daughter on one side of him, and katara on the other. "dinner does sound nice" he smiled as he hugged them both close to him. he could see the shining of the engagement ring from the corner of his eye and he knew now what true happiness felt like.
Standing he searched for a servant to tell them to start dinner. Watching the servant walk away he turned back to his girls. "what should we do while we wait?"
Katara glanced at the writing table when Zuko explained the letters he had written while they were busy. She thought of how all her friends and family would react to their impending marriage and child. Many of them, she believed, would be happy about it.
Her eyes darted to the bookshelf, picking out the book Ursa had written. The waterbender knew that Zuko missed his mother, but she was glad that he still had something from her. Especially if it was something that reaffirmed her love for her son.
"Zuko, is there any hope of finding her?" she asked, hoping he would be willing to discuss the matter. "If we could bring her home, now would be the perfect time . . . with all that will be happening soon," she added softly.
Regardless of how long it took, she wanted her child to have both a grandfather and grandmother!
As Zuko left to find a servant, Katara leaned over to Zuora. "Has your father spoken of his mother to you at all?" she asked. "I know that loosing her has pained him greatly."
She couldn't say much more before Zuko returned, announcing that dinner would be done shortly. When he asked what they wanted to do, Katara leaned back against the couch.
"What would you like to do Zuora?" she asked. "It is your turn to pick."
Smiling he kisses katara's cheek, "when do we get to tell everyone about the baby?" he asked as he placed his hand over her stomach, "I wish mother was here to meet both zuora, you, and our future child" he sighed at her question, "I'm really not sure...I know my men are trying hard to find her....sometimes I wish I could go search but I'm too busy here at home"
It would be wonderful to have his whole family back together, though he knew that would be ipossible, not the whole family at least. He'd have his uncle and thats about it. His mother was missing, and his father and insane sister were locked in jail. sure he visited them quite often, they were still family after all, but he held little remorse for them....every now and then he felt bad for them, but he knew it's what had to be done.
zuora nodded at Katara's question, "yes....papa tells me that grandma was a wonderful and kind person and he says he knows she'd love me~" she smiled, "with the way he describes her im sure she'd like you too~"
Thinking of what activities they could do, Zuora jumped up off of the couch, "I wanna fly my kite!" she giggled as she ran to her room to grab her dragon shaped kite along with two others for both zuko and Katara. "Look katara~ you can use the koi fish~"
Katara blushed as Zuko slid a hand across her stomach. It was still surreal to believe that she was going to be both a mother and a bride, yet her abundant happiness was proof that it was true. "When you think it is best," she told him. "Though I would wait until our families have learned of the wedding. At least then we would be saved from the shame of having a child out of wedlock. I would love to announce it to all of them in person."
Sensing his frustration over not being able to personally look for his mother, Katara touched his cheek with her soft hand, the scar over his left eye hard against her skin. "You know I will do what I can to help," she told him. "I want her to return as much as you do. You must believe that she will come home when the time is right."
Katara smiled at Zuora as she described her grandmother. Looking at the child's face, she was reminded yet again of Mai. While she did not have any hatred of Zuko's former love, the waterbender was struck by the fact that Zuora still had a mother while she and Zuko did not. She hoped that the child was grateful for having both of her parents in her life.
"Your father is wise," she answered finally, brushing a stray hair off the child's forehead. "He would never lie to you Zuora. I am sure that Ursa would be glad that we are here to help her son."
Unable to respond before Zuora ran off to her room, Katara looked at Zuko and burst out laughing. "She has your determination," she observed, standing up as the sound of the child's footsteps returned.
Taking the kite assigned to her, Katara flipped it over in her hands. She was familiar with the glider that Aang used, so she assumed this was the same basic principle. Still, she didn't know this would work without airbending.
"Can you show me how to make it fly?" she asked them, feeling very silly at her lack of knowledge with a child's toy.
"If you wish to wait till after the wedding then thats what we shall do" he smiled, "I don't mind either way" he spoke before lightly kissing her cheek. "now another thing that is to be discussed is the date of he wedding."
When her fingers were placed against his cheek, and his scar, he closed his eyes, loving her sweet touch. "I know....and I do believe" he smiled at her words. She always knew how to cheer him up.
Zuora could tell Katara seemed to be thinking of something, the look on her face was enough to know that much. "you okay Katara?" she asked. "whats on your mind?" Nodding in agreement, Zuora looked at the pictures above the fireplace. "she even looks kind and pretty"
Looking at Katara when she began to laugh, he rose his eyebrow, "yes I do have to agree with you on that. " he sighed, "as a baby she would stop at nothing to get what she wanted" he spoke as he led Katara and zuora out to the back of the palace and through the yard to a grassy area by the cliff overlooking the the nation below. "unroll the string a bit so it has some slack, and either you give a running start or wait till the wind picks it up and just hold the ball of string so it doesn't fly away"
The wind by the cliff blew steadily, not too strong and not to calm. It was perfect for flying a kite. Zuko watched as Zuora ran around the grass before letting her kite go, the breeze picking it up just as she released her grip on it. "just like that" zuko smiled. "No air bending needed, just the help of the wind" he smiled.
Thinking for a moment, Katara smiled. "I recall your offer to have a reunion of our family and friends here in the Fire Nation," she replied. "That would be the perfect time to have our wedding. It would take time for them to travel so far, giving us enough time to prepare. Then we can share the good news of our child. What do you think?"
Another motive was to have the wedding before the added weight of her pregnancy began to show.
Katara was surprised by the child's ability to read her emotions. She wondered if this was a gift from Mai's bloodline. "I was thinking about my mother," she answered. "She was taken when I was a young child, around your age actually. For the longest time, she was my reason in life, searching for the man that took her away from me."
Katara remembered meeting the man, Yan Ra, and discovering he was a pitiful old man who had begged for his life. Despite her anger, she had been unable to kill him, allowing him to live on with the memories of his horrible deeds. That was the turning point in her understanding of Zuko, the beginning of her true affection for him, at least the part that she acknowledged.
"Even if your parents no longer love each other," she added. "I hope that you love both of them equally and are grateful to have them in your life. Nothing is more painful to a child than loosing their parents, especially if they can never find them again. Your father knows this too well. I know that my mother is dead and she is at peace. Your father does not know either way."
Following them outside, Katara listened as Zuko and Zuora explained how to make the kite fly. Unspooling the string a little, she held the kite out by the tips of her fingers, wondering if the breeze would be able to support it's weight. The air didn't seem strong enough at the moment so Zuora tried to encourage a breeze by running around the courtyard.
Katara laughed, reminded of Aang when they visited his home in the Southern Air Temple. Loosing even more string, the waterbender followed the path that Zuora had made, feeling the wind getting heavier under the outstretched kite. Coming to the child's side, she launched the wings into the sky and watched as it balanced on the wind. It dipped every now and then, but it stayed aloft and climbed higher till the Koi fish was dancing in the sky with Zuora's elegant dragon.
Nodding, zuko chuckled, "Yes~ very true" he smiled, "I'll leave the task of writing up invitations to you" he smiled. "If you need any help just ask me" he spoke, "yes thats a wonderful idea~ our friends and family will be truly surprised~"
Zuora took Katara's hand kindly, "I bet it was hard for you...I think I would do the same if I were you....I'm sorry you had to go through that" she frowned, paying close attention to Katara's words. "I know" she looked down, "father sometimes talks about it....or has nightmares....when he wakes from them he tends to wander the palace and he always says its cause he can't sleep...when really hes scared"
Zuko hadn't herd what katara and zuora were talking about, he was too busy admiring the view below the cliff they stood on. Taking in a breath of fresh air, mixed with the scent of the sweet flowers planted in the nearby garden, he walked closer to katara, watching zuora run around.
Running his fingers along the kite he chuckled, "the material is light enough to allow the wind to carry it through the air." he smiled, "that is if the wind is strong enough." watching her and zuora now fly their kites, Zuko smiled before allowing his own kite to be picked up in the wind. His Kite was much like zuora's dragon, his being a blue and much bigger. It was in the style of a large, blue Chinese dragon, the whole inside of it was hallow, and the mouth hung open, allowing the wind to go through its whole body.
Katara smiled in joy and hugged Zuko tightly. She was excited to plan the wedding, but even more to see her family together again to celebrate a new life. "I will start first thing tomorrow," she announced. "Would you like to help, Zuora?" she offered the child.
Squeezing the child's hand, Katara braved a smile. "I have mourned for her fate for too many years," she whispered. "I learned some time ago that using her as my pity was wrong and not what she would want her sacrifice to be remembered for. I use the memory of my mother as my strength, helping me to accomplish a legacy she would be proud of."
Katara listened as Zuora explained her father's fears about Ursa. The waterbender knew that Zuko was a proud man and that fear of any kind was something he loathed to feel. "It is our job to help him now, Zuora, together."
Out in the courtyard, Katara felt more alive than she had in a very long time. She laughed and chased Zuora around on the grass, their kites mirroring the dance in the sky. As Zuko added his blue dragon to the cluster, Katara spent most of her time trying to evade the two dragons. Her Koi fish swam around the blue sky as if it was at home in the ocean. Several times she had to move it out of the way and avoid getting swallowed by the maw of the ancient dragons.
Time passed quickly and soon a servant joined them to announce that dinner was ready. A little disappointed, Katara began reeling in her fish, winding up the string into a large ball once again.
Zuora nodded, "sure~!" she giggled as she held onto the string of her kite, "I'd love to help~" smiling, she listened to katara speak, "im sure she would want you to be as strong as you could possibly be so that her sacrifice wouldn't be in vain." Nodding in agreement, Zuora smiled, "of course~"
The fun they were having with the kites seemed to end all too soon when one of the servants came out to announce the food was done. Zuora was the first to run inside after bringing her kite down from the sky. Zuko fallowed at a normal pace behind the girl, not wanting to hurry too much. "oh katara" he smiled as he held his kite in his arms. "Aang was the one who gave the kites to us" he chuckled. "the last time he visited he showed Zuora how to use them without having to rely on any sort of bending"
Walking into the dinning room area, he sat in one of the seats at the table, watching as each of the plates were set on the table. "now Zuora, dont pile so much on your plate this time....were going to run out of room if you keep storing leftovers."
Katara was still pulling her kite from the sky as Zuora raced towards the dinning room. She smiled to herself, knowing the child would be happy to start dinner without them. Joining Zuko as he returned his own dragon to the ground, she took his hand and kissed his cheek. A moment alone with her future husband under the light of the moon was the perfect treat for the waterbender.
As Zuko explained where the kites had come from, Katara's smile faded. "Have you talked with Aang yet about the wedding?" she asked, running her fingertips over the corners of her kite. "I think he will take it the hardest, since he used to . . . have feelings for me."
She remembered the dream she had in Ba Sing Se the night she had spent with Zuko. She had seen images of her wedding day, only to have it ruined by Mai's jealousy. Heartbreaking of all was the pain in Aang's eyes as he saw her marrying another man. She could still hear his words echoing in her head:
"This was your decision, Katara. I am sorry . . .
Entering the dinning room with Zuko, she saw Zuora was patiently waiting for the table to be set. Taking her seat across from Zuora on Zuko's right hand, the waterbender saw the child's eagerness to get her share of the food.
"She's a growing girl, darling," Katara pointed out with a giggle. She had already taken Zuora under her wing and was eager to get the chance to spoil her.
"true" he sighed, "I truly do hope he finds happiness one of these days....and soon too" he chuckled. "Its so good to see him joyful and spontaneous." Looking at katara he chuckled. "actually he was one of the people I went to for advice when Mai left me...i usually tell him and uncle everything" he chuckled. "so yes....he and uncle Iroh were the first to know my plans"
Zuora giggled, "yea dad~ I need food to keep up my strength!" she spoke as she punched the air a few times."
Zuko only placed his palm over his face and shook his head, "fine fine, do as you wish" he chuckled lightly. "but its your own fault if you get a stomach ace later." which usually never happened but still. When the food was set out in front of them, zuko made sure zuora as polite and waited for the servants to at least leave the table before she began to eat.
Placing his hand over Katara's, he smiled at her, "Its a wonderful feeling" he spoke softly, "having you here eating dinner with us." he chuckled lightly before beginning to eat.
Katara smiled to herself as she thought of the Avatar. Even as a grown-up with amazing powers, she could still see the goofy kid that she found in the iceberg. She wanted him to be happy, even if it wasn't with her. After the loss of his entire culture to the Fire Nation, Aang was the last Airbender in the entire world. Unless he had children, that element would be lost and the world would become out of balance again.
"His personality made living during the war bearable," she agreed. "I can still remember the times where he would be the only positive spot in the world. It is a shame Zuora hadn't met him when he was a child, you would have had your hands full, Zuko."
It warmed Katara's heart when she learned that Zuko and Aang had grown closer over the years. From sworn enemies to the best of friends, they were the two most powerful leaders in the world.
"I am glad you have friends to confide in," she told him, walking with him up the steps to the palace doors. "The blessings of the Avatar on our family will be a good sign for our future."
As Zuora boasted about her strength and Zuko looked bewildered, Katara smiled and covered her laughter with her sleeve. She patted Zuko's hand as he relented to his daughter's plan, letting him know that she was still on his side.
Her plate full of delicious eats, Katara turned to Zuko as he smiled at her. Her eyes glowed with love for him, the mere sound of his voice making her feel right at home. "That is good," she answered, "because you will be seeing me here much more often once we are married. Zuora, smaller bites, dear," she added gently, seeing the little girl wolfing down her food.
Starting on the first part of her dish, a succulent duck breast, when she heard a knock echoing in the hall. Turning, she saw a servant enter the room at a brisk walk and bow to Zuko.
"My Lord, I am sorry to interrupt your meal. You have a visitor, sir."
Zuko smiled as he too thought of Aang. When he needed to be, Aang was strong and serious, though cracking a few jokes here and there. But when he had free time, Aang would be a silly goofball just like the old days. "yes, I remember that as well" Zuko smiled, "Hell he even allowed me to join the team when no one else trusted me just yet."
Feeling Katara's hand upon his, he laced his finger's with hers, a smile on his face. "this is all so wonderful~" he smiled. "I'm happy" he chuckled lightly when Katara told Zuora to take smaller bites. "maybe eat slower too, its not going anywhere" he laughed a bit. "she really needs to meet sokka, knowing them they'd have some sort of eating contest"
Just as he began eating his noodles and duck, one of the servants entered the room. "Its fine" he muttered when the servant spoke his apologies. "oh?" he tilted his head, "I wonder who could be visiting" he pondered a bit with his hand on his chin, "Send them in" he smiled.
Katara laughed and touched his cheek as Zuko complained about his less-than-glorious acceptance to Team Avatar. "Aww, that's alright," she told him gently. "You just hadn't won us over with that fabulous 'Zuko charm' yet."
At the dinner table, Katara felt the love that Zuko had for the two girls with him. She gave him a wink, a subtle hint at the quiet evening she had planned for the two of them. She didn't respond to Zuko added dinning tips to his daughter, simply smiling to herself as she took a sip of tea. Sokka loved competition, especially when food was involved.
Katara was also curious as to the visitor and turned around in her seat as the servant when to fetch them. A trio of feet returned and the servant bowed the visitors into the dinning room.
"I thought I smelled food in here! Looks like we made it just in time."
Katara leapt out of her chair, nearly knocking it over. "Sokka!" she cried, running to hug her older brother. The man caught her mid-stride and pulled her into a massive bearhug. Her shoulders stung from the grip but Katara didn't mind at all. Her family was with her again and that was all that mattered.
Pulling away, she looked the man over. The only changes were his height and the small amount of stubble protruding from his pointy chin. His attire was much the same with a few added details marking his change in status. As always, his meteorite sword was on his hip and the pack with his boomerang was strapped to his shoulders.
Taking another moment to look at her brother, Katara spotted another familiar face hidding nearby. "It's so good to see you, Suki," she laughed as she hugged the Kyoshi warrior. The woman's hair had grown a little bit and her clothes were more ceremonial than battle-ready. Everything else was the same . . . even the glow in her eyes when she rolled her eyes at Sokka for already charging the dinner table.
Laughing a bit when Katara spoke he gave a smug look, "What charm?" he chuckled, "back then I was just an awkward teen aged boy" Taking a sip of his tea, he leaned back a bit in his chair, relaxing, enjoying the calm and peaceful evening with two of his favorite girls in the world.
Turning around in his seat to see who could possibly be visiting, a smile grew on his face when he saw some familiar faces, "Sokka~ Suki~ hello" he smiled, "guess I didn't need to send out that letter after all" This way he could tell them in person about the plans of everyone getting together. Who knows, maybe katara would cave in and tell her brother and Suki about the baby sooner then planned.
Looking over Sokka's face he could tell the once crazy boy was growing up into a fine, well rounded man, "growing a bit of chin beard I see?" Zuko pointed out with a chuckle. "Would you two like to join us since you're here? we have plenty of food" he offered before smiling at Katara.
Katara gave Zuko a pat on the hand, her eyes glowing with love. "Yes, but a cute, awkward teenage boy," she corrected. "We were all at that age of confusion, it wasn't just you. We will be lucky of Zuora falls for a boy half as wonderful as you were," she added, looking at the child across the table and winking at her.
Sokka turned to Zuko as Katara moved over to greet Suki. "What letter?" he asked. Zuko's next comment drew his attention away and he grinned. "Like it, huh?" he beamed. "I thought it would be appropriate sense I am working with the Earth King as liason to the Water Tribes. Makes me look manly and tough," he added, sticking his chin out as he struck a "heroic" pose.
Both Katara and Suki rolled their eyes before returning to their chatting. Despite the woman's relationship with her brother, Suki was the closest thing that Katara had to a sister. Leading them over to the table, Katara grimaced slightly as Zuko invited them to stay for dinner.
"Are you sure that is wise, Zuko?" asked Suki, voicing Katara's thoughts. "You know Sokka's appetite . . ."
Katara laughed as her brother pouted his lip. "Well, he will have a competitor tonight," she pointed out. "This is Zuora, Zuko's daughter. Zuora, this is my brother Sokka and his girlfriend Suki."
a blush grew on his cheeks at being called cute, "not cute" he muttered almost embarrassed as he looked away to hide his growing blush at her continuing words of praise. "I had sent a letter just a few hours ago about gathering all of our friends, but of course you wouldn't receive it so soon" he chuckled, "Had I known that you'd be here I wouldn't have sent one to you"
Zuko couldn't help but laugh and shake his head at Sokka's silliness, "yes, yes....manly" he chuckled, "I myself have no intention on growing facial hair....my longer hair on my head is good enough" Looking at Katara when she spoke again, Zuko laughed, "Oh its fine~ we have plenty" he smiled. "besides, the harder the cooks work, the more they get payed..."
Zuora looked at them both and waved, "hello~" she smiled, "Your the one who eats a lot from what I hear" she spoke to sokka, gaining a laugh from her father.
"You're not one to talk you little glutton" he spoke as he rubbed his knuckles against her head.
Zuora squirmed against her father's grip as she giggled, but once she was let go she sat back in her chair.
Katara saw how Zuko was reacting to her words and smiled. Even if they were adults, part of them would still act like little kids with a first crush.
"The Earth King asked us to visit the Fire Nation and check up on your progress of rebuilding," explained Sokka. "Also, it appears, that my little sister has been staying longer than originally agreed upon," he added, his gaze drifting to Katara. The girl stared back at him, not willing to confess. "He told us that you were going to stay in the Fire Nation for a couple weeks, but it has been several months. Your communication is stable but he wonders when you will return to Ba Sing Se."
"Has he asked you to come retrieve me?" demanded Katara.
"No, but he is worried about you," replied Sokka, a little concerned. "We all are. Is there some reason that you are staying here so long?"
Katara glanced at Zuko and Zuora, wondering what she should say. "There is a reason," she agreed finally. "But that will not interfere with my help in the Earth Kingdom. We can discuss it after dinner, I don't want the food to get cold."
Sitting back down beside Zuko, Sokka at her right, Katara watched as Zuora greeted the guests. Sokka seemed pleased that his legendary appetite had preceded him, turning into that 14 year old kid again.
"Well growing up in the Southern Water Tribe," he explained, "I had to make sure that I had enough energy to become a great warrior. You are just a tiny little girl, what do you have to worry about?"
Katara put her head in her hands, knowing that Sokka had stuck his foot in it. After seeing Zuora's display of firebending earlier, it was clear that her brother was going into dangerous waters.
Clearing his throat nervously as he listened to Sokka speak, he glanced over at Katara with a light chuckle. It would make him sad if Katara had to leave so suddenly, but thankfully that wasn't the case.
Zuko started to feel a bit nervous, he wasn't sure how sokka would react if he found out that not only that he was going to marry Katara, but got her pregnant before being wed in the first place. "right....yes....cold food" he chuckled before stuffing a big fork full of noodles in his mouth to silence himself before he said anything stupid.
Zuko's eyes went wide as he coughed when he choked on a noodle. Looking at sokka when his coughing fit was done and under control he shook his head at him before glancing at Zuora who shifted in her seat, folding her arms together after dropping her chopsticks, sitting up, giving herself the appearance of true royalty.
"I am the princess of the Fire nation" she began as she snapped her fingers allowing a small flame to poop up on her finger. "I must gather my strength and train myself to be just as strong as my father, and to make sure that happens I do plan on visiting the great dragons to better control my abilities as a fire bender....but to do so, I must prove myself to the dragons, and I cant do so with a weak and frail body"
Looking at Sokka with a little grin she spoke up once again, "And when I grow old enough....I am next in line for the throne of the fire nation....now tell me, when was the last time you herd of a tiny little weakling on the fire nation throne?" she asked, "never right?....all of them have been strong and powerful leaders...some were insane and crazy but that's beside the point" she chuckled. "do you understand now?....water warrior....you're dealing with a princess. thats why I need to be strong"
Giving a chuckle, Zuko Nodded, "thats my little girl~ always stand up for yourself, dont ever let anyone get you down"
Katara watched as Zuko and Zuora tried to hide their feelings about Katara's secret, making more of a blundering spectical in the process. Very smooth, thought Katara as Zuko began choking on a noodle in his nervousness. Realizing it was up to her to save the situation, she returned to her seat as if nothing strange had occured.
Sokka followed, a bemused look on his face as Zuko retained his composure. Something was going on, but he knew he would find out eventually. Secrets were always a fun challenge for Sokka.
As Zuora let loose on Sokka's ill-placed question, Katara tried her hardest to keep a straight face. As the fire lit between between the child's fingers, Sokka's eyes grew wider than if he had seen a pack of double-headed Canyon Crawlers! As the tyrad continued, Katara leaned across the table to Suki, who was next to the angered princess.
"He never learns, does he?" she muttered and the Kyoshi warrior shook her head with a smile.
Once Zuora had finished, the room was quiet as every watched Sokka's reaction. He was leaning back in his chair, eyes blinking rapidly, his grip on the table the only thing keeping him from falling over on the floor. Not only was Sokka not used to dealing with children, but he was far from able to deal with one as opinionated as Zuora.
The girls burst out laughing as Zuko congratulated his daughter. "Oh, Zuko," hiccupped Suki as she brushed a finger under her damp eyes. "I have to say that you raised a wonderful daughter!"
"Yes," agreed Katara, equally taken with laughing-tears. "We are both very proud of her." She gazed at Zuko and smiled, her hand reaching for his under the table.
Once Zuko had regained his composure, and his coughing fit was under control, he looked at Sokka. "Sorry about that..." he muttered a bit as he rubbed the back of his own neck in embarrassment.
Looking at Zuora, Zuko couldn't help but smile as he watched and listen to his daughter, a prideful look upon his face. He was proud of his daughter, "And you will be a great leader one day my dear" he smiled lightly as he took a drink of tea.
Giggling, Zuora began eating once again, a look of accomplishment was clear on her face. "Thank you papa~" she smiled brightly.
Patting Sokka on the back lightly, Zuko chuckled, "and thats why you dont mess with my daughter" Zuko chuckled lightly before taking a bite of his seaweed noodles as he held Katara's hand under the table, wondering if they should announce what they had been so very excited for. it was hard to keep it a secret from such good friends.
Gilraen: Hi Jack. Tossing in a random post when there is something to post back to. But I am afraid the fortress is falling.
Aug 31, 2015 3:07:54 GMT -5
Bélethorn Creuss: Dear Members. Due to lack of activity we, the remaining admins and members of Freedom, have decided to move to a new board. The new board can be found here: freedomunleashed.proboards.com/
Sept 3, 2015 13:23:55 GMT -5
englishive: plz unban me my name is Toniix_PvP i will not grief again primise
Jun 24, 2016 10:31:00 GMT -5
englishive: plz i will not! im not gonna play other server cuz i love that server
Jun 24, 2016 10:31:41 GMT -5
englishive: plzz unban me now im soo sad i cant play any server i want to play this server
Jun 27, 2016 0:26:17 GMT -5
englishive: plz plz plz essam ur awesome! but unban me its the time to unban me! BCUZ I LIVEE IN PH !!!! SO ITS MONDAY HERE!
Jun 27, 2016 0:28:57 GMT -5
englishive: hi thx for unban plz make me a admin! i will not grief again! THX!
Jun 27, 2016 23:19:14 GMT -5
englishive: plz make me admin! my name is toniix_PVP in minecraft freedom! so im decided to make me admin!
Jun 27, 2016 23:22:21 GMT -5
englishive: hi im crazynippi make me admin im applying for telnet admin! PLZ!
Jun 30, 2016 0:25:06 GMT -5