Katara wears red and gold, and feels both at home and a stranger.

She feels the same in blue, now.

She and her husband fill their rooms with trinkets, pretty baubles of all colors from all nations - gifts and tithes from dignitaries - and it is a pretty place, a pretty palace, a lovely place to wake up to and go to war from, every morning.

She is welcome and not welcome, a foreigner and stranger still, a war-hero who was there to forge this brave new world with her own blood.

That she is equally capable of using another's blood does not slip the court's notice.

Katara is not always in the court of red and gold, of course.

There are visits to other rulers, to smooth century-old wrinkles in friendship and trade. She sips tea and chats cleverly with the man who once encased her in rock candy. She smiles demurely and chats inanely with the innocent king she once saved. There is also bending to teach, respect to wring out of a man as unchanging as the ice he lives on as she neglects him to pull good from evil in the healer's hut.

She does not, as one might have expected, pass quietly into history.

Katara loves fiercely, even married into a land that values demure emotions.

She loves her husband, as married to his work as he is; her children, as destructive as they can be; and her world, as fragile and broken and wonderful as it is, and often all at once.

Her children are her most proud legacy: a future Fire Lord not concerned with his glory but concerned with his people; a Princess who would rather fight shoulder to shoulder her men, and does so in the Navy (she smiles too much when talks of fighting pirates); and a Prince who probably won't take his nose out of the ancient law books to do anything but be a pithy advisor to his elder brother.

She's always in awe of her husband, who's probably just in awe of her now that she thinks of it. He tries so hard to undo a century of wrongs. She's trying, too, but sometimes she knows what he can't quite accept: this will be a work that takes more than their lifetimes.

So she draws him close at night, kisses him soundly, and refuses to, as they say, come quietly.

Katara married Zuko on a hot summer day. The sun shined bright, but barely any sweat disturbed the happy couple. That is what happens when one marries a master waterbender, but happily everyone seems to take it as a sign of Agni's blessing. Rumor and superstitions will get a queen far.

She doesn't mind. There is a power in words she is now both slave to and master of.

That is what a Fire Lady does. She is an icon, a figurehead, a light to follow at the best of times - except for when she isn't. She still keeps her spine straight and tall, and the wheel turns and favor comes back to her favor, so she dives back into politics. She learned the game, and learned it fast even with the bitter taste that she could do more if she had been born to it.

So when her eldest finds love with a steady girl but one not used to the game, Katara sighs, and becomes a teacher again.

Her life has never been hers, not since her mother died, except for slips of time she steals or her husband steals for her. Yet, it's also still her life and she loves it.

Loves him. Loves this fire-formed land, and all this water she's brought has only seemed to make it stronger somehow.

She's left with warmth eeked into her skin and bones, not ice, her hands laced with the Fire Lord she loves.

She stares at a bill one day, one considering the passing of the Fire Lord's title to the next generation, and she sighs in an inexplicable emotion.

She is Fire Lady, and then she's not, but the itch to help is too deep in her bones, even having lived right where she could do so much and did.

Her husband tucks his arm around her, and they go to war again, just more diplomatically this time.