Lady Toph Beifong hit the ground with a thud as a wave of heat surged over head. “I think this match goes to me!” Came a laughing voice from in front of her. She propped herself up on her elbows and with a twitch of her foot, lifted the earth beneath the Fire Lords feet. She felt him lose his footing and he fell to the ground beside her.
“We can call it a draw, Sparky.” She said, as she pulled herself up off the ground. She brushed the dust off her silk dress as best she could, then extended her hand to Zuko. He took her hand and she pulled him up. “As fun as it is, beating you, we’d better head back.” She said glumly.
Zuko hummed his agreement as he looked at looked at her face. He reached out and brushed a smear of dirt from her pale cheek. She smiled up at him and he blushed, and together they headed back in towards the council chambers.
Several hours later, Zuko yawned as his head sagged towards his chest. He felt a sharp kick to his leg and he looked over to see Toph grinning at him. “Stay awake, Princess” she whispered under her breath. He nudged her with his elbow and returned his focus to the meeting at hand.
It had been one year since the peace council had formed. While they had done good work for the nations of the world, the meetings we’re long and arduous. Zuko allowed his mind to wander as Captain Haru informed them about some inter-nation squabbles happening in the Earth Kingdom. He let his gaze fall on Toph once again. Since she had moved in to the palace, life had become much more enjoyable. Banquets that were once mindless small talk were now spent laughing with Toph. Council meetings had become something to look forward too since he knew that she would be there by his side. It still astounded him that she could go from the rough and tumble earth bender he had always known, to a poised and polished lady in the blink of an eye. She seemed to be as skilled with diplomacy as she was with moving the earth. He shook himself and forced his attention back to the meeting. He met glazed eyes from all around the table.“I think we will adjourn for tonight.” He announced, finally. “Excellent work tonight, everyone.”
The council members began to file out, yawning and talking quietly amongst themselves. Toph lingered behind, waiting for Zuko to finish speaking to Admiral Chang. As he finished, she tugged on his arm and pulled him down to her level. “Why don’t we go have some fun, Sparky?” She whispered. They exited the room and snuck down the hallway as quietly as possible. They approached a door a fair distance from the council room, and into snuck into General How’s chambers.
“Toph!” Zuko exclaimed in a harsh whisper, “I’m the Fire Lord! I can’t be pulling pranks on the council members!” He exclaimed. She laughed softly and put her finger to her lips. General How sat at a low table in his rooms. He was reading riot reports and drinking a cup of tea, which he placed beside him on the floor between sips. Toph bent her knees and held an earth bending stance and twitched her fingers slightly. The earth under the cup shifted and moved the tea slightly farther from How’s side. He reached out for his cup but touched only earth. Confused, he grabbed his cup where it now sat and took another sip. As he placed it back on the ground again, Toph shifted the ground once more and moved the cup even farther. How reached down again and let out a confused cry. Zuko laughed and How turned his head toward the door. “RUN” he shouted as he grabbed Toph’s hand and pulled her out of the room.
They sprinted down the hallways of the palace until they reached a broom closet. He pulled her inside and they stood laughing. They were pressed together, chest to chest, breathing heavily. Zuko felt giddy, as light as air. Then, as he looked down at her smiling face, he leaned in and kissed her. Toph froze in surprise, and then threw her arms around him, pulling him in closer. They stood there, entwined, for a few long moments before they broke apart. She grinned up at him as they pressed their foreheads together. “Took you long enough!” Toph whispered. Zuko smiled and kissed her again.