Katara thinks it began after their trip to see Yon Rha.
A week after they arrive at the Ember Island beach house, Zuko sneaks into her room while the moon is at its peak in the sky. She is awake, troubled with thoughts of the war, of her mother, of any semblance of normalcy that she could grasp.
He is vulnerable, and confesses fear, secrets that invade his mind, the reason a scar adorns the left side of his face. She talks of Aang stealing a kiss from her before the invasion, how he hurt her in Ba Sing Se, how she forgives him with every fiber of her being. It becomes a nightly routine, sometimes it would be her room, sometimes it would be his room, but every night they yearn for the other’s presence.
They are safe in the darkness of the black sky. Hesitant hands hold trembling bodies and sleepless hours protect broken hearts. There is no one to hear their cries, no one to dismiss their emotions. It is simply a boy with a fire that burns too brightly and a girl with the strength of all the seas.
Katara thinks of stolen glances, gentle brushes of his hand on the small of her back, of quiet reassurances when their friends drive her up a wall. She thinks maybe, just maybe , he reserves these actions only for her.
She finds it all so silly , how her heart races when he greets her first in the morning light, the way her hands can’t seem to stay dry when she watches him practice his bending in the courtyard, or the flutter of her stomach when he smiles at her, secretly, rarely . She thinks those smiles are a whisper of something too dangerous to say out loud.
In the periphery of Katara’s mind, she knows that it is inappropriate to have any sort of feelings for the Prince of fire that burned a deep hole within her soul. She had made it abundantly clear with her threat when he first arrived. But in the same part of her mind, Katara thinks that the hole in her soul was meant to be refilled by none other than him.
When their friends fall asleep, they steal away to the edge of a cliff that overlooks the sea. She watches the gentle ebb and flow of the waves, and it matches the steady pumping of her blood in her body. The stars glitter across the sky and the light of the moon makes a path for the spirits to follow. She looks at Zuko and sees his golden eyes shine with hope, with fear. And when he glances back at her, Katara thinks she can see a flicker of …
There is a war to be fought, a world to save, too much to lose.
But Katara thinks that maybe,
she can fall in love.