“What kind of question is that?”
Katara smacked him softly. “You promised you wouldn’t laugh!”
“I know, but I certainly wasn’t expecting this. From the serious tone you used, I was already worried.”
Katara had, in fact, demanded him if she could ask him a question with a straight face and just out of nowhere, which had only made him worry even more.
“Seriously now” Katara continued. “What would you do if our elements were swapped?”
Zuko raised an eyebrow, skeptical. “How would that even work? It’s impossible.”
“You are impossible” Katara replied. “Don’t think about how it could happen, just answer the question.”
“All right” Zuko agreed. He still thought it was a bit of a silly thing to do, but Katara seemed to care and he loved her. “It’s just, I don’t really know what to say. Why don’t you go first?”
Katara nodded. “Well, I love being a waterbender. I love both the good and the bad things that come with it.” Zuko immediately realized she was referring to bloodbending and squeezed her hand under the sheets of their bed. She smiled at him softly and then continued, “I love being able to control water, to froze it and to use it to heal people, but I’ve always wondered what would be like to bend one of the other three elements. Like, if I were an airbender, firstly I would do all those fun tricks Aang does.”
Zuko chuckled. “Like the air scooter?”
“I know, it’s a bit of a silly thing, but I bet it’s funny. Wouldn’t you want to try it, even if it’s just for curiosity?”
“I guess I would” he admitted. “However, you still haven’t answered the question.”
“If I were an earthbender” Zuko rolled his eyes, but Katara could tell he wasn’t really annoyed, “I would make you fall to the ground everytime you disobey me.”
Zuko seemed worried, as if it could really happen. “If you were an earthbender you would be even more violent than Toph!”
She smirked. “Well, it's not like I need to be an earthbander to make you obey me.”
Zuko didn’t reply. He was proud—honor was like his bestie—but he couldn’t deny Katara could be very convincing, if she just wanted to.
“Now, the question?”
“If I were a firebender, I would do what your uncle does, I would heat my tea all by myself."
"But I could I could also easily light a fire. I could warm myself up when I’m cold. And I would set you on fire if you disobey me.”
“Seriously, I’m glad you’re not the Avatar, otherwise I would be married to a psycho.”
Katara smacked him softly. “All right, now it’s your turn.”
Zuko took a moment of silence to collect his thoughts, then he said, “Well, years ago, when my father banished me and I started travelling all around the world, I realized pretty soon that foreign people all despised us. Not that I blamed any of them, considered everything my father had done. It’s just, sometimes I wished I could return home, but some other times I wondered what would be like not to be a firebender. I didn’t even want to be Firenation. I just wished I could change who I was and become a better person. Like, it would have been great if I were a waterbender so that I could heal and help people instead of scare them or burn them by accident.”
While speaking, Zuko was looking at an unspecified point of the room. Once he finished, he lifted his gaze to meet Katara’s eyes, sure she was happy he had answered her question. But she was actually sad now, as if she was going to cry.
“What?” he asked, worried. “Did I say something wrong?”
Katara didn’t reply. Instead she stretched herself over him and just hugged him tight.
The idea of Zuko feeling worthless for years after his father had banished him made her feel poorly. She couldn’t even imagine how lonely he must had felt back then. Sometimes she wished she could travel through time just to go to the messed up kid Zuko once was and hug him and tell him it wasn’t his fault. His father was the one to be blamed for his misery and the misery of the world itself. He was just a victim.
“I’m so sorry you felt that way.”
Zuko hugged her back. “You don’t have to be sorry, it wasn’t your fault. Besides, having you by my side makes everything a lot easier. Being the man and the Firelord I am today… I never would have come so far if it wasn’t for you.”
Katara ended the hug just so she could lean back and look at him in the eyes. “You would, because you are a great man and Firelord just by yourself.”
He smiled at her. “But you make me a better person.”
“As do you.”
Once again Katara stretched herself over him, but this time she just kissed him and Zuko kissed her back. He lay down on the bed and she followed him and sat up on his chest while still kissing him.
“Let’s just not wake the child, shall we?” Katara said under her breath.
“I’ll be as silent as I can, I promise.”