Prompt: #51 - Family
Title: One of Us
Word Count: 538
Although Katara tried to make it sound as if the matter was unimportant to her, he could tell that she wanted him to go through with it. Zuko would have none of such modesty. Despite whatever humiliations they could come up with, he would do it so that his lovely Waterbender would feel more comfortable in their new life. After all, he had taken her from her home, brought her to this new place to be his wife, and taught her in the ways of the Fire Nation. He felt that he owed it to her.
Thus Zuko went to the Southern Water Tribe, Katara at his side smiling brightly at the joy of being home. She welcomed the arctic breeze and the crunch of the snow beneath her feet as he tried to blink away his snow blindness. Immediately, everyone in the tribe seemed to rush to her, especially the other women. They fawned over her, saying how glamorous she looked, even though the only signs of her exquisite new life were a few rings and a nice hairpiece. Still she blushed, and Zuko smiled. Sokka approached and placed a hand on his brother-in-law’s shoulder, snapping Zuko from his reverie.
“Ready?” Sokka asked simply. The other man nodded. “Good. We’ll begin soon then.”
Some time later, as a full moon rose over the horizon, the ceremony began. Here, Zuko would become part of the Water Tribe, as Katara had become part of the Fire Nation. He stood before the tribe, wearing a traditional Water Tribe parka and ceremonial robe, with his hair free from the usual topknot. A man whom he assumed held a position of authority in the village painted on his face, stating aloud the meaning of every twist and symbol that was drawn. Out of the corner of his eye, Zuko could see Katara smiling. It seemed that many in the crowd were smiling, actually. How strange that they would smile at him with acceptance when he had taken one of their most beloved members, and had even fought against their people some time ago. Yet he remembered hearing that the Water Tribe treated all members like beloved family, and here he was, becoming one of them.
The ceremony ended, and Zuko stood in front of the crowd that cheered and clapped for him, feeling both foreign and accepted at the same time. Though the face paint felt sticky and uncomfortable, he suddenly found himself feeling proud of them and what they meant now. As the moon rose further above them, the freezing breeze began to feel more like a kiss than a sting. His golden eyes fell upon Katara once again, who was cheering the loudest and jumping up and down with joy. Walking over to her with pride in every step, Zuko swept her into a deep kiss.
Amidst the applause, he could hear a few old women talking to themselves. “You know, he actually does look like one of us now,” said one of them as they admired his new attire and markings. Zuko couldn’t help but smirk and laugh as he pulled away from the kiss, only to find himself being pulled towards a great feast table that awaited him.
Prompt: #21 - Dirty
Word Count: 146
Author's Notes: Follow up to #51 - "One of Us"
They had slipped away from the celebration as it began to die down, mainly unnoticed by the other tribe members who were also retiring to their homes. Almost immediately upon entering the ice house they would be staying in, Katara was stripping him of the traditional clothes he had been clad in for the ceremony. She completely ignored how some of the paint on his face rubbed off on the clothes. Zuko quickly learned to do the same as she pulled him into their bed, and he lost track of what parts of her he grinded against.
Later, they lay asleep together in a mess of smudges. The tribal paint was smeared on so much; hands and skin, pillows and blankets, hair, lips, floor. It was everywhere, and yet neither of them spared their dirty bed a second thought, nor would they come the morning light.