Avatar: The Last Airbender, Torn Love: A Zutara Story

OK, well, sorry for the long wait! Here's Chapter 6, and remember, go to fanfiction.net to read the entire story. ^_^

Created by MikoDemonWaterbender1 on Wednesday, June 17, 2009

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It was a pond. Katara stepped toward it, and laughed as the turtle-ducks quacked at her. They swam around in circles on the crystal clear water of the pond, their mother keeping a close eye on them. Katara looked around the area. A large hammock was tried to two tall trees, a thick grove of trees blocked the palace windows from view, and Katara realized that she could waterbend here. No one would be able to see her from those windows, so it was perfectly safe. She stared at the baby ducks, and smiled when they swam over to where she was standing.

“Do you want to play?” Katara asked them. The ducks quacked happily, and Katara grinned. She began to sway the water back and forth, slowly at first, and then faster and faster. The ducks caught them selves in the pathway of the water, and Katara pushed them back and forth, up and down. The ducks continued to play with her, and Katara completely lost track of time. Only when a harsh voice from behind startled her, did she realize how late it was.

“Katara? What are you doing?” Zuko cold voice sent a chill up her spine. She turned around quickly, and the water she’d been bending lashed out and hit Zuko in the head. Katara gasped, and quickly put her hands to her side.

“Sorry,” she said, so quietly that it was difficult to hear her.

Zuko tried to wipe the water off of his face, but his hands were wet also, and it did no good. “You are such a nuisance,” he griped as he led her away from the pond. He was dripping wet, and, for a firebender, that wasn’t fun.

Katara followed closely behind. Zuko was being quieter than usual, and it was bothering her. She attempted to ask him what was wrong, but he wouldn’t answer her. By the time the two of them reached their rooms again, it was totally dark. The only things that you could see in the courtyard were the moon and the stars, shining brightly. Katara walked quietly into her room, deciding that it was a bad idea to question Zuko anymore. Zuko waited until she had her door shut, and crept back outdoors. He couldn’t see anything, so he lit a small flame on his palm, and wandered toward the garden maze.

Zuko could walk this maze with his eyes closed. When he reached the pond, the hammock was the first thing to catch his eye. He walked slowly toward it, and lay down. The stars above him shone brightly, and a tear escaped his eye. He drifted into a deep sleep, filled with nightmares of his past.

Zuko found himself staring into the water of the pond. A young boy sat beside him, with a beautiful, dark-haired woman. It was himself, when he was 10 years old, with his mother. Zuko, himself, was invisible to the two illusions, but he knew the day well.

“Mom,” he heard his young self say. “Do I have to tell Azula how to solve the maze?” His mother looked down at him, and smiled.

“No, Darling, you don’t have to. You may keep it a secret, just between us.” Little Zuko grinned, and he and Ursa stood up and walked back into the palace. Zuko found himself smiling at the memory. It was too bad that the good times that he and his mom had wouldn’t last much longer.

The scene changed, and Zuko saw himself again, sitting on his bed, his blanket grasped in his hand. He looked up as Azula entered the doorway.

“Dad's going to kill you. Really, he is.” Zuko looked at his sister cruelly.

“Ha-ha Azula. Nice try,” Zuko said. Azula strode into the room.

“Fine, don't believe me, but I heard everything. Grandfather said dad's punishment should fit his crime.” Azula changed her voice to imitate Fire Lord Azulon. “You must know the pain of losing a first born son, by sacrificing your own!”

Liar!” Zuko yelled at her.

Azula plopped down on her brother’s bed. “I’m only telling you for your own good. I know, maybe you could find a nice Earth Kingdom family to adopt you.”

Zuko clutched his blanket tighter. “Stop it, you're lying. Dad would never do that to me.” The sound of his mother’s voice startled the real Zuko, who turned to the doorway.

Your father would never do what to you? What is going on here?” Ursa stepped into view, and Azula put on her sweet and innocent face.

I don't know,” Azula said sweetly.

It's time for a talk,” Ursa declared, grabbing Azula by the wrist, and dragging her out of the room.

Zuko heard his younger self whisper, almost chanting, “Azula always lies,” and he found himself saying it as well.

In an instant, the scene changed yet again, and Zuko saw that he was still in the same room, but it was late, and the room was pitch black. His mother opened the door, and crept in.

Mom?” little Zuko whispered sleepily, rubbing his eyes.

Zuko, please, my love, listen to me. Everything I’ve done,” his mother whispered, hugging him. “I’ve done to protect you. Remember this Zuko. No matter how things may seem to change, never forget who you are.” His mother pulled her hood up, and walked out the door, giving her son one last glance.

Once again, the scene changed. Zuko saw himself, about 13 years old, walking through the garden maze, followed by a girl. The girl had long, ebony hair, and skin as pale as the snow. Her pink lips were curved into a smile, and her golden eyes sparkled with excitement. “Xayla?” Zuko whispered.

Zuko, where are we going?” Xayla asked Younger Zuko, who was now pulling her along. Zuko didn’t answer, and dragged her to the pond. At first glance, Xayla’s eyes grew wide. “It’s beautiful,” she breathed.

It was my mother’s. She had the maze built so that she and I could come here with no one disturbing us. And,” he said. “Now, I want you to have it.”

You’re giving me the pond?” Xayla asked incredibly, a smile on her face. Zuko nodded, and Xayla hugged him tightly.

The scene changed to that same day, only it was dark out, and Zuko and Xayla lay in the hammock, counting the stars. “You see that star over there?” Zuko asked her, pointing to the largest star that they could see. Xayla nodded. “Well, do you know who it reminds me of?”

No, who?” Xayla asked, obviously amused.

You.”

Me? Why?”

Because, it shines so brightly in a time of darkness and despair, its beauty like a flame that can never be extinguished, or like a dream that can never be given up on.”

Xayla grinned and kissed him gently on the lips. “I will always love you,” she whispered. “Always.”

Zuko felt a tear run down his cheek, before the scene changed again, and Zuko saw himself again, this time 14 years old. He was arguing with some guards in front of his father’s war room.

Let me in!” The guards shook their heads, and blocked the young prince from the door.

Prince Zuko, what's wrong?” an older voice said, and Zuko watched his uncle walk over to the angry boy.

I want to go into the war chamber, but the guard won't let me pass!” Zuko’s voice broke slightly, as he was clearly very disappointed.

You're not missing anything, trust me. These meetings are dreadfully boring.”

If I'm going to rule this nation one day, don't you think I need to start learning as much as I can?” Zuko asked his uncle, who thought it over.

Very well. But you must promise not to speak. These old folks are a bit sensitive, you know.”

Thank you uncle!” Zuko exclaimed bowing to his uncle.

You never should have let me in, Uncle,” the real Zuko said quietly, as he followed the two illusions into the war room.

The war room was pretty… warish. The chamber was temple-like, with a throne toward the back, surrounded in flames. A red, carved, statue occupied the back wall, and Fire Nation Generals were huddled around a large map of the Earth Kingdom. Zuko’s father sat in the throne listening to the generals bicker.

The Earth Kingdom defenses are concentrated here,” one of the generals said, pointing to a location on the map.

This is a dangerous battalion of their strongest earthbenders and fiercest warriors, so I am recommending the 41st division.”

But the 41st is entirely new recruits. How do you expect them to defeat a powerful Earth Kingdom battalion?” an older general argued.

I don't,” the other general replied coldly. “ They'll be used as a distraction while we mount an attack from the rear. What better to use as bait then fresh meat?”

Zuko jumped out of his seat. “You can't sacrifice an entire division like that! Those soldiers love and defend our nation! How can you betray them?” Every general in the room looked at him sternly, and his father shook his head and frowned from inside his fiery domain.

The scene changed again, and Zuko saw Xayla standing by the pond, alone. Younger Zuko came up behind her, and tapped her on the shoulder.

Xayla?”

You had to talk, didn’t you?” She turned to face him. “You should have kept quiet.” She stepped toward him, and said loudly, “You never think! You just do whatever you want and don’t think about the consequences!” Her voice cracked. “What if you lose?” she said quietly. “He’ll kill you.”

My father wouldn’t allow the general to kill me. You know that.” Xayla seemed shocked.

Are you serious? You know as well as I do that your father would have murdered you if Ursa hadn’t stepped in! You wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for your mother!”

Don’t you dare talk about my father!” Zuko roared, startling Xayla, who fell backward into the pond. She stepped out soaking wet. Her dress stuck to her skin, and she gave him a disgusted look, before stomping away.

Xayla, I’m sorry,” Zuko called after her. She turned around, and Zuko saw that her face was blotchy and red from crying, and she whispered so softly that Zuko could barely hear her.

I’ve lost my father and my brother to this war. I couldn’t bear it if I lost you too.” She fell to her knees in tears, and Zuko ran over to her.

You won’t lose me. I promise.” Xayla smiled.

No matter what happens tomorrow, I will always love you. Always.”

Once again, the scene changed. Zuko found himself in a large, rectangular arena, while his 14-year-old self was practicing for his Agni Kai. The crowd in the stands was talking excitedly, and Commander Zhao, Princess Azula, Iroh, and Xayla sat in the foreground. Iroh and Xayla looked nervous, but Zhao and Azula looked anxious. Azula was grinning from ear to ear, and Zhao had a huge smile on his face.

The general won’t kill him, will he?” Xayla asked the princess nervously. Azula stopped smiling and looked down at the older girl.

The general?” Xayla nodded, and couldn’t figure out why Azula seemed so surprised. A knot tightened in her stomach.

Why, is Zuko dueling someone else?” Azula pointed to the Fire Lord’s throne. It was empty. Xayla’s eyes opened wide in shock. “Wait, you mean he’s dueling…”

Zuko took off his ceremonial cloak, and turned to face his opponent. When he saw his father standing before him, he froze in horror.

While Zuko watched himself plead with his father, his eyes wandered over to Xayla, who sat, frozen in fear in her seat, her face buried in Iroh’s shoulder.

Zuko suddenly found himself placed in his younger body. He was going to feel the pain, the shame, the humiliation, all over again. He looked back at Xayla again, who was shaking all over, tears soaking her face. “Go Xayla!” he screamed at her. “Leave!” Xayla rushed out of her seat, running for the door.

I’m sorry, Zuko!” she yelled to him just as Fire Lord Ozai said, “You will learn respect, and suffering will be your teacher.” The stadium was silent, and the only sound that could be heard was Zuko's agonizing scream, as he was scarred for a second time.

Katara awoke to the sound of a hammock creaking back and forth, and when she went to the pond to investigate, she found Zuko asleep, tears streaming down his face. He kept whispering something, a name. Xayla?

Katara was afraid to wake him up, so she began to bend. In time, she was lost in her own world.

The scene changed yet again, and Zuko saw himself, a few days after the duel, a bandage over his bad eye. He was standing next to Xayla.

Promise me you won’t forget me,” Xayla said softly.

I promise. When I capture the avatar, I will return home to you.” Xayla had tears running down her face, and Zuko gently wiped them away.

When I come home, my throne won’t be my prize. I would have you over my throne any day.”

I will always love you, no matter where you are,” Xayla said tearfully, as Zuko boarded his ship, and watched his country and his lover drift out sight.

The scene changed one last time, and Zuko saw himself again. It had been a few months since his banishment, and Zuko saw himself opening a letter. This letter had changed his life forever.

The letter was from Xayla, and it read this.

My Dearest Zuko,

I am sorry to inform you that I have fallen in love with another man. His name is Wang, and he is a Fire Nation soldier. I no longer love you, Zuko. I am to marry Wang in a few months, and I hope you understand. I will always cherish the time we spent together.

I want you to have the pond back, as I no longer need it. I’m sorry that we had to end this way, but it is how it must be. Good-bye forever.

Xayla.

Zuko fell to his knees, and cried. She had betrayed him, and, he would never forgive her.


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