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A Tale of Earth and Fire

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Zuko couldn’t stop glancing at his bride. Her small frame was weighed down by the heavy wedding kimono, her hands lost in the large sleeves. The garment was identical to the one Zuko knew his mother had worn for her wedding to his father: shiny white silk except for the red and gold embroidery on the sleeves and hem, and for the flame sigils adorning the shoulders. The young girl’s hair was twisted into elaborate folds, and kept together by ruby hairpins—had Zuko still been the crown prince, there would have been a small golden flame headpiece there too. Her head was bowed, making it difficult for Zuko to see much of her face, or her eyes. Her dead eyes, spirits help him.

He was still reeling from the echoes of the shock he’d felt when his father had announced that he was going to get married.

“Married,” he’d repeated, feeling slow and dumb—as dumb as Azula was fond of saying he was. “Me?”

Azula had been there too, and Zuko had caught her sniggering from the corner of his eye, like she knew something he didn’t.

“Yes, you.” His father’s voice was tinged with annoyance at having to explain himself. “You will be eighteen at the time of the wedding, which is older than I was when I married your mother.”

“But, Father—”

Why couldn’t he ever stop himself from arguing? Had his ruined face and subsequent exile taught him nothing? Maybe he really was as stupid as Azula thought.

“Zuko,” Ozai said in a low, soft tone that did nothing to cover the iron-wrought authority in his voice. “You will marry this girl. Her family is extremely rich, and money is needed for us to continue on our path. You will serve your country the only way you’re still capable of.”

His face aflame, his stomach churning with a mix of shame, fear, and anger, Zuko had directed his eyes to the floor and murmured his obedience. It was only later that he’d learned more about his bride-to-be: Toph Beifong, fourteen, the only daughter from a rich family of the Earth Kingdom. Not Fire Nation nobility, as she should have been for someone of his rank, and, to add insult to injury, blind since infancy. It was fitting, in a way, Zuko thought with bitterness: a cripple to go with a cripple.

A discrete cough from the chief ritualist officiating the wedding wrenched Zuko from his thoughts. Oh, right, he thought as he came back to himself: it was time for his pledge of love and loyalty to Toph Beifong. He forced himself to turn to her and look at her as he said it, trying to put meaning into the words, even though he had never met Toph before and had little hope for their marriage. He tried to console himself with the fact that there was barely anyone with them inside the Agni shrine where many generations of his forefathers had married before him: only himself and his bride, the chief ritualist, and, as per tradition, a court lady and an unmarried priestess. At least he didn’t have to feel the burn of Azula’s mocking eyes on the nape of his neck while he was doing this.

Toph slightly turned in his direction as he started reciting the pledge, probably following the sound of his voice. She had a small delicate face, pale skin, and her green eyes were dull, as though covered with a veil. They also weren’t fixed on him, but rather somewhere slightly to his left. The effect was a bit disconcerting, but of course she had no need to look at him. When Zuko was finished they both drank the sacred sake, sealing their union for good. The burn from the alcohol became a numbness that spread to his whole body. When he stood up, Zuko had to shake his legs to get some feeling back into them, although that also might have had something to do with how long he had remained kneeling.

His new wife didn’t seem to have the same problem. She got up to her feet in a fluid and practiced motion, and then raised an arm. Zuko looked at it for a few seconds before he realized that it was now his job to guide her out of the shrine, just as the court lady had led her in. After the hushed quiet of the shrine, it was a bit of a shock to face the crowd that had gathered in front of the palace, waiting for them to come out: dignitaries from the colonies and the various Fire Nation islands, generals and nobles with their families, they were all present to see the new royal couple. Zuko saw Mai, standing with her parents and her brother; he wished she had some expression for him, maybe an encouraging smile, but it was a ridiculous thought. Even at the best of time, Mai rarely smiled, and, although they had broken up a while ago and this wedding wasn’t his idea, it couldn’t be easy to watch him marry someone else.

By custom his father wasn’t present, but his sister was. She was smiling, but it couldn’t be called encouraging by any stretch of the imagination. The Beifongs were there too, the only spots of green in a sea of red and gold. They were too far away for Zuko to really piece out their expressions, but they seemed to be looking intently at their daughter, probably because they wouldn’t be able to see her again for a long time. The thought suddenly struck Zuko that Toph couldn’t see them, so he said, “You parents are here. They’re looking at you.”

Toph froze, pinched her lips, and said, “Good for them.” It was, Zuko, realized, the first time he’d heard her speak in the hour he’d known her. She had sounded stronger than he’d expected.


The rest of the day flew by like a dream. The banquet, the endless congratulations, Azula stealing the show as usual. His uncle’s absence, stinging like a newly reopened wound—the thought occurred to Zuko that he hadn’t spoken to his uncle in almost eighteen months, since his last visit to the prison before Uncle escaped, and that Uncle hadn’t spoken to him for even longer than that. As much as Azula insisted that their uncle was the one who had betrayed Zuko and not the reverse, Zuko still wasn’t fully convinced by that line of argument.

Come the evening, and the dream felt like it had suddenly been shredded to pieces. Zuko was painfully brought back to reality when he found himself in his bedroom, alone after a few servants had helped him change into ceremonial nightclothes. He was supposed to go to his wife’s bedroom so they could… consummate their union. The mere idea had Zuko’s heart start pounding and his hands start sweating. He had drank a bit during the day’s celebrations; not a lot, but enough to still feel dizzy from it—he didn’t hold his alcohol very well, despite having lived on a boat with soldiers for three years. The reality of what was coming was enough to accelerate the sobering process, and Zuko felt more lucid than he had the whole day; ironically, though, he wished now that he were back to his former dreamlike state.

He drew a deep breath to settle his nerves, then left his room and followed the corridor down to his new wife’s chambers. He felt a bit like he had when he’d walked to the Agni Kai that had cost him his face: trying to feel confident about it, but knowing that any false step could be his downfall. It wasn’t that he was… inexperienced on the matter. Mai and he had done things with each other, on more than one occasion. But it was very different, because they’d known each other and none of them had been forced into it. They’d done it because they wanted it, because it was fun. Tonight wasn’t about fun at all.

The servants still in Toph’s room bowed and left as soon as Zuko entered, leaving the newly wed on their own for the first time. Toph was sitting on the bed, wearing only a light cotton gown, her hair down and falling over her face. Her hands were clutching at the fabric of her gown. She was turned almost opposite from him, and Zuko was sure it was intentional, because there was no way she hadn’t heard him come in, or the servants leave. If she had been blind almost all her life, her hearing must be pretty sharp.

“Um,” he said. “Hey.”

She didn’t say anything, or made any encouraging gesture.


Her shoulders tensed, and he realized she was as nervous about this as he was, maybe even more. He didn’t know what he was supposed to do if she didn’t go with the process willingly. Should he hold her down or something? She was so tiny that it probably wouldn’t be too difficult. Zuko wiped his sweaty hands over his pants. He knew she was fourteen years old, but she looked younger, child-like, and it made the whole situation even more repulsive. She was scared, young, and helpless, and he was supposed to—to rape her. He thought about his mother; was it how it had been for her? Had she hated his father—had she ever stopped hating him?

The words were out before he could think them over. “We don’t have to do this,” he said.

This part triggered a reaction: Toph whirled around to face him with unnerving accuracy. “What?”

“All this.” Zuko waved a hand between the two of them, and then flushed when he realized what a pointless gesture it was. “I mean, we don’t have to actually consummate our union. If you don’t want to. We can just say we did.”

Her shoulders sagged a bit, probably in relief. “Yeah, okay,” she said, and then turned her back on him again, dismissing him.

The next silence stretched for a little while. “Uhh,” Zuko said after a few minutes. “I have to stay here anyway. Stay the night. If I go back to my room now, it will look suspicious.”

Toph sighed heavily, then crawled up the bed and slid under the covers on the side the furthest from the door. Zuko took it as an invitation to come too, and he settled as far from his wife as he could. The bed was big enough that they could both toss and turn and never bump into each other, but he still scooted over until he was almost clinging to the edge.

The situation was so uncomfortable that he thought he would never be able to fall asleep. As soon as his head hit the pillow, though, exhaustion from the long day rushed over him and he was swallowed by darkness.


When she woke up, Toph only needed a few seconds to remember that she wasn’t asleep in her childhood bedroom. Except for the trip to the Fire Nation, she’d never slept anywhere else, so it only took the slightly unfamiliar feel of the sheets and the off smell in the room for her to realize the difference. Then, she felt the bed move and she tensed, anticipating the prince trying to talk to her, or touch her. Could she get away with breaking his wrist? Probably not.

Prince Zuko, however, didn’t do any of this. He merely slid off the bed and left the room without a word. He moved so quietly that she could barely hear him walk, and was only sure he’d left when she heard the door click shut. This was one of the things she’d noticed about her new husband: he moved like a shadow, and that put her on edge when she wasn’t in contact with the ground, like now, and therefore couldn’t keep a tab on his movements through vibrations.

She waited a while longer to make sure he wasn’t going to turn around and come back, then sat up in the bed and threw away her covers with a loud sigh. The day before had been long, exhausting, and excruciatingly boring, and she’d told herself the whole time: if I can only make it through the day… But now that she had, all she could do was wonder how she was going to make it through the rest of her life. Being away from home made her want to jump out of bed and get dressed by herself, but she knew she wasn’t going to be allowed to do that here anymore than at home. She’d only exchanged one golden prison for another, and this one had an added edge of danger: at home at least she knew her parents wouldn’t really hurt her; whereas here, in the heart of the Fire Nation, she’d need to keep her earthbending even closer to the chest.

She summoned servants to bring her breakfast, and suffered through their murmured comments about the prince’s conspicuous absence. Well done, Zuko, she thought ferociously, and quite uncharitably, because she hadn’t wanted him to stay either. Fortunately, the fact that the bed obviously looked like two people had slept in it was enough to assuage suspicions, and the servants seemed mostly appalled by their prince’s lack of manners.

Eavesdropping turned out to be Toph’s number one occupation for the next few days. She wandered around the palace, trying to get a clear map of it in her mind and to avoid her creepy sister-in-law and frankly terrifying father-in-law, and she had many occasions to listen in to the servants’ conversation. Most of them seemed to be under the impression that her being blind also meant that she was either dumb, or a bit deaf too. Having played into people’s expectations all her life, she didn’t try to disprove them of that notion, and spying on them was both easy, and an eye-opening—ha!—experience.

Although they despised her for being both blind and Earth Kingdom, at least it was mingled with pity—because she looked so young and helpless, and blah blah blah. Ugh. More interesting, though, was the way they talked about their prince. Before the wedding, Toph had known very little about Prince Zuko. She’d heard that he’d been ill for a long time, so she’d imagined some kind of sickly weakling. But upon meeting him she was surprised to find that he didn’t feel sick: his heartbeat and breathing were fine, and he moved without problem, if only in a freakishly quiet way. She’d thought at first that she’d had her information mixed up, but the way the servants talked about him made it sound like he was somehow defective. The defect was maybe something that was too taboo to speak of, because Toph couldn’t get any clear idea on what the problem was. The tone the servants used when they talked about it made Toph bristle, though, and feel almost defensive of the prince.

Her first-hand experience of her new husband was that he was awkward and tongue-tied, and that his idea of couple bonding was to take her walking around the palace garden and feed baby turtle ducks for hours while making barely any attempt at conversation at all. By the third week, Toph was ready to fling herself off a window from sheer boredom. At home, at least, she had the Earth Rumble Tournaments, where she could kick some butt and release some of her pent up frustration. Here she had nothing, and the pressure had nowhere to go.

One morning, she found herself walking along the garden’s paths on her own, as Zuko was occupied with some princely formality that his fragile wife wasn’t obliged to attend. Toph had shamelessly pretended to feel unwell, because if she had to slog through another formal meeting with a bunch of dusty fossils, she was going to bash someone’s head in and there was no way it would end well for anyone.

Seeing that she was on her own, she let herself walk a bit faster and more confidently that she usually would. It was early in the day, but the sun already burned hotter than it ever did at home except in the middle of summer. The breath of wind caressing her face was barely enough for her to refrain her urge to tear her clothes down and run around in her undergarments. And the shoes! They were the bane of her existence. At home, her going shoeless was treated as an eccentricity, but here…. Why did she keep thinking of home, anyway? Her parents had sold her away; the Fire Nation was her home, now.

Toph paused, and hesitated for a moment before kicking off her shoes. Aaaaahhh. She dug her toes into the dirt. Good old earth, solid and reliable. She was always home as long as she could find solid ground. With a kick of her heel she extended her awareness of her surroundings, further than she could while wearing shoes, and way further than a seeing person could use their eyes. She could see the entire garden, the trees, the bushes, the insects and worms crawling undergrounds, and… Damn it. Someone was coming in her direction. She kicked the ground one more time to refine her perception: from the person’s size and their gait… Double damn: it was Azula, and Toph was pretty sure she had now seen her because her walk felt more purposeful. One, two, three—

“Toph! Dear sister.” Azula’s voice had an oily quality to it that made Toph’s skin crawl. “What are you doing out here so early? Aren’t you cold?”

Toph refrained herself from scoffing. “Not at all! It’s a lot hotter here than what I’m used to. This early in the day is as hot as I can bear.”

“Hmm.” Toph felt Azula move. “Is there something wrong with your shoes?”

“No, I just like the feeling of earth between my toes. You know.”

Azula let out a trill of laughter. “I wouldn’t know, not really. But I guess you are Earth Kingdom, after all.”

Toph gritted her teeth. Azula had injected the comment with enough mocking contempt to make it a veiled insult. To calm herself Toph pictured a spear of stone bursting from the ground and throwing Azula down on her butt, and maybe herself kicking Azula’s teeth back into her mouth for good measure. She knew that Azula was a firebending prodigy, and that the fight wouldn’t happen so smoothly in real life, but the mental image soothed her irritation somewhat.

She gave Azula her sweetest smile. “I guess I am.”

She had come to expect that kind of cruelty from her new sister—although so far she’d heard it directed more often at Zuko—but there was something else in Azula’s voice, carefully concealed behind the jab, and Toph felt wariness settle in her bones. The princess seemed to be smart, or at least smarter than her brother was. If she figured out that Toph was an earthbender, she would… Would do what, exactly? Try to make her marriage with Zuko null? Toph couldn’t care less, and she wasn’t sure it was something Azula would want. But maybe she would tell her father, and he would make her parents pay for concealing the fact. Toph shivered at the idea.

“See?” Azula clicked her tongue. “You’re cold. Let me take you back inside, and I’ll ask the servants to make you some tea.”

She grabbed Toph by the elbow without asking for permission, and Toph’s hand instinctively curled into a fist. Azula made Toph put her shoes back on, before guiding her to her chambers like an unruly child. In her short life, Toph had never hated anyone with that kind of intensity.


Azula’s little jabs and snide comments became a daily occurrence in Toph’s new life as a Fire Nation princess. Something had definitely shifted in her view of Toph that day in the gardens. Maybe she’d seen something. It was always hard for Toph to tell whether people were looking at her or not, and it could be that Azula had noticed something about Toph’s body language as she earthbent that had tipped her off. It was kind of annoying, but as Toph took to playing hide and seek with Azula in the palace, and to find ways to reply to Azula’s insults just as subtly, she realized that she found it almost fun. It was telling of just how bored she was that being preyed on by her sister-in-law amused her, but she’d take every little bit of fun she could have.

“Dear sister, please have some more lychee nuts,” Azula said. They were all sitting at the breakfast table—Azula, Toph, Zuko, and the Fire Lord himself. Azula slid the plate on the table until it bumped against Toph’s hand. “You need all the fuel you can get,” she added with exaggerated sweetness. “You’re so frail and tiny.”

“Thank you, sister,” Toph answered in the same tone, helping herself with a few nuts. “I have always been in poor health, unfortunately. It was such a toll on my parents.”

“Oh, I didn’t mean it as a criticism. I envy you, really: you look so delicate. Firebending training has made me almost boyish in looks.”

“I would say you’re wrong, but then I have no way of knowing how you look,” Toph replied, and she and Azula both started laughing at once.

It was a laugh too shrill to be natural, and it must have been unnerving enough to others that even Zuko seemed to pick up on it.

“Is something wrong?” he asked, a hint of puzzlement in his voice.

He hadn’t commented on the way Azula had treated Toph for the last few days, either because he didn’t care, or was too dense to notice, or maybe because he was so used to this kind of behavior from his sister that it didn’t register to him anymore.

“Nothing’s wrong, Zuzu,” Azula said in the special acidic tone of voice that she reserved for her brother. “Eat your breakfast.”

Zuko said nothing, but Toph perceived a hitch in his heartbeat that told her that he minded the nickname. Lord Ozai, who hadn’t uttered a word so far, said, “I’m glad the two of you are getting along.”

Toph couldn’t see who he was turned to, obviously, but the sound of his voice seemed directed toward Azula. Which made sense, because he hardly ever took note of Toph’s existence. She might have been a walking and talking piece of furniture to him.

“Toph is such a darling,” Azula said in a simpering voice, while Toph entertained herself with murderous fantasies. How much would Lord Ozai mind if she wrung the neck of his daughter in the middle of breakfast? She wouldn’t even have to reveal her earthbending—using her bare hands would feel so much more satisfying. “I've always wanted a sister,” Azula continued, “so this is perfect.”

“Excellent,” Lord Ozai said. “Zuko.”

Toph had still been listening to Zuko’s heartbeat—she’d taken up the habit of monitoring every member of her new family when they were close, just in case—and she felt it speed up when he was addressed by his father.

“Yes, Father?”

“Are you enjoying marital life?”

Zuko’s heart was now pounding so hard that Toph puzzled no one else at the table could feel it.

“I am. This is—thank you. This really was the right thing for me.”

It was obvious to Toph that her husband was lying his ass off, but also, interestingly, that he was badly frightened. What was he scared of, exactly? That he would get a scolding if daddy discovered Toph and he hadn’t really—well, consummated their union yet? The more Toph got to see him interact with his family, the more it seemed to her that Zuko was kind of a wimp. Lord Ozai wasn’t the warmest father ever, and he was a rude asshole to Toph, but Zuko was a prince and an adult, so surely he was safe from getting a spanking, wasn’t he?

“Of course it was the right thing,” Lord Ozai said. “You’re finally learning to listen to reason.”

Zuko murmured another thank you, and it was all anyone had to say on the subject. Toph wanted to ask them if they cared what she thought, but she’d learned at home that her point of view on things was worth very little. It was probably truer now that it’d ever been with her parents.

Zuko disappeared immediately after breakfast without a word, and Toph was left to her own devices. Not that she minded, because her husband was dull as a bowl of plain rice, but she didn’t have a lot to amuse herself and thinking about the uneventful day that stretched in front of her depressed her enough that she almost wished it was already bedtime. Azula had said that she was going to train. Everyone said she was so talented, maybe it would be interesting for Toph to spy on her and see it for herself. In an ideal world, she would be able to find a place to practice her own bending, but she had yet to find anywhere private enough.

She’d lived in the palace long enough by now to know where the royal family’s training grounds were, so she headed that way at a leisurely pace. When she was close enough, she extended her awareness of the ground to try and see where Azula was exactly. She found her easily enough, a light figure that barely made contact with the ground in that hopping way that firebenders had. But what made Toph pause was the other person training a little further away: Zuko himself, going through similar firebending forms. Why hadn’t he said that he was going to train when Azula had said it? Feeling curious, Toph chose to go to him rather than to Azula.

The training grounds were a series of open spaces surrounded by galleries with columns. Toph approached quietly and hid behind one of them. This close, she could hear Zuko’s huffs and puffs from the effort. He sounded singularly out of breath, like he was getting back into shape, but he didn’t move in the careful, stilted way of a beginner. Not that it would make sense for him to be a beginner: as a Fire Nation prince, he’d probably tutored at it since he could walk.

Something didn’t feel quite right, though. Toph wasn’t as familiar with firebending as she was with earthbending, but a persistent feeling of wrongness was nagging at her. She kept watching for a few more minutes before it hit her: there was no fire. She couldn’t feel the heat from the flames or the whooshing sound they made when they erupted. Zuko was making all the right moves, as far as she could tell, but he was shooting blank. Was he a non-bender? This would explain some of the contempt she’d heard directed at him: it probably didn’t sit well with the Fire Nation jackasses that their prince couldn’t firebend. It would also explain why he wasn’t the crown prince, even if, from what Toph had gathered, he was older than Azula.

Just as Toph was mulling this over, she heard Zuko let out a groan of frustration. He stood in place for a moment, breathing hard, and then went to get something from the edge of the training ground, opposite from where Toph was hiding. Some kind of weapon, she understood when Zuko fell back into a fighting position. A blade, probably—she could hear the hissing sound it made when it cut through the air—or, rather, two blades. Zuko practiced with the swords for a little longer, moving once again with the ease of long-time use. Toph didn’t know of any bender who used a weapon—their element was their weapon, after all—so it fit her idea that Zuko was a non-bender. It was weird, in that case, that he kept going through firebending forms like he hoped for a miracle. Was he an idiot, or what?

Toph was pondering whether to keep watching or make for an exit now, when she saw someone come down in her direction. Azula, damn it. If Toph went around the column to hide from Azula, Zuko would probably see her. There wasn’t much to fear from that scenario besides embarrassment at being caught spying on him, but Toph still would have liked to avoid it if possible. Azula was distant enough that Toph didn’t think she could see Toph yet, so Toph quickly moved to another column, one that was situated at Zuko’s back, and crouched behind it on Zuko’s side.

When Zuko stopped training, Toph knew he’d caught sight of his sister’s arrival.

“Zuzu, there you are!” Azula’s teasing voice echoed in the covered gallery bordering the training space. “Oh, I see you’re still practicing with the Dao swords? How cute.”

“Get lost, Azula,” Zuko snapped. The venom in his voice startled Toph a bit. She’d noticed that the siblings didn’t get along, but she’d never heard Zuko speak that way in the weeks she’d known him.

“Now, now, I hope you don’t speak to your little wife like that. Does she know how much of a temper you have? Besides, I meant no criticism. It makes sense that you would keep honing your skill with the swords. They’re all you have left, after all.”

“You’re wrong! My fire will come back. I can feel it—the chi flow has improved, and—”

“Have you managed to make a flame yet?”

Zuko didn’t answer. His heartbeat, already racing due to physical effort, sped up a notch rather than slow down now that he wasn’t exercising anymore.

“That’s what I thought,” Azula said in a cool, yet very satisfied voice. “The Avatar really did a number on you. Who would have thought he would be so powerful at only 12?”

“That was your lightning he was diverting when he hit me.” There was a deep undercurrent of anger in Zuko’s voice, but he was speaking in a hurried, hushed tone, like he was afraid of being overheard. “This is all your fault.”

“Is it?” said Azula in a normal conversational voice. “Why haven’t you said anything about it to Father, then? Not that it would matter much. I’m sure Father would find the loss of your bending an appropriate sacrifice for the capture of the Avatar. It’s not like you were that good at it before.”

“Go away! Leave me alone!”

“Oh, very well. You’re so touchy.”


Azula started laughing, but her echoing footsteps and the far away sound of her voice let Toph know that she was indeed leaving. “Mind your poor heart, Zuko!” were her parting words to her brother.

Once the sounds of her walking off had almost faded, Zuko let out a roar of unarticulated fury and Toph heard a clinking noise when he threw one of his swords and it bounced on the ground. She decided that it was her cue to leave, but when she peeled off from her column Zuko’s voice made her still.


Toph bit the inside of her cheek, and said as casually as she could, “Oh, hey, Zuko. You’re here. I think I got lost. Where am I?”

“The training grounds. Um, did you hear any of—did you hear Azula and I talk?”

“I heard some yelling, but—was that you? Were you and Azula having a fight?”

“No, we—” He walked away from her, back to where must be the rack he’d gotten his swords from. “It was nothing. Azula, she—she gets on my nerves, sometimes.”

Toph thought back to the conversation she’d just overheard. There was a lot in it for her to untangle, but one thing stood out to her: contrary to what she’d assumed a few minutes ago, Zuko was a firebender, but he’d somehow lost the ability to use his element. The mere thought of losing her touch with earth made Toph sweat, and for the first time she felt a twinge of sympathy for the prince.

“Yeah, I know.” She wasn’t heartless; she could throw him an olive branch, or however that metaphor went. “She can be a real bitch.”

There was a pause, and Toph worried for a moment that she’d gone too far; that, despite his rocky relationship with his sister, family loyalty would kick in and make Zuko retaliate against the insult. Instead he burst out laughing, a sound of startled but genuine mirth.

“Yes, she can be—yeah. Do you want me to take you back? Oh, do you want to go for a walk in the gardens?”

Walks in the gardens with Zuko frequently made her want to stab something, but they’d just had a patented moment for the first time ever, and she didn’t want to ruin it by saying no. She was, after all, going to spend the rest of her life with him, unless she found a way to run away without endangering her parents.

“Yeah, sure. Sounds fun.”

He went to take her arm and she had to bit back annoyance. She’d initiated that behavior, so she only had herself to blame, but it didn’t make it less grating to be led around like an invalid. As they walked together toward the gardens, Toph thought over the conversation between Zuko and Azula, especially what they’d said about the Avatar. She’d heard about the supposed Avatar’s capture in Ba Sing Se, but didn’t know that the prince and the princess were the ones responsible for it. What had happened there?