Thanks to all of my many, many reviewers. I've had so many that I simply can't name all of you guys. Sorry about this. But several people have been complaining that this 'isn't fanfiction'… blah blah blah. I've also had several threats to report me, which might cause the essay to be deleted and so on. So, I've posted my essay as an author's note below. Tecnically, as long as its appropriate, I can say whatever I want there, right? If you don't want to read the short story, please scroll down for the theory. Thanks so much! And please people, don't threaten me. It's just plain rude.

-Reality?-

The balcony view was clear and beautiful, overlooking the side of the Fire Nation. Yet, Mai was paying little attention to that, she was looking at another, more appetizing one. She gazed up at him with big grey eyes, resting her head against his shoulder. However, she did not enjoy all of him, her eyes were carefully averted to view only the right side of his face. She attempted to ignore his other, blemished half.

She sighed as she continued to look up at him, hoping to attract his attention. To her delight, he finally noticed her, and they both inched closer, mouths slightly parted. Mai closed her eyes and responded to her kiss.

Is this a dream?

Zuko's hand rose up to stroke her cheek, still locked with her thin lips.

Mai moaned as she sat up in bed. Why must her mind always torture her so? She opened her door dazedly, and to her greatest luck and surprise, Prince Zuko was striding by just then.

Mai shot out of her room faster than an airbender. "Zuko… um, hi." Mai's blush was already thick and deep.

"Hi." Zuko returned, barely sparing her a glance.

"Are you going to Azula's breakfast meeting?" Mai called, wringing her hands.

Zuko nodded once.

"Can I join you?" Mai asked shyly and then finished lamely, "I mean… you know, walking?"

"Okay…" Zuko agreed politely, stopping for her to catch up.
"So…" Mai started as she hurried along the corridors, struggling to keep up with her crush.
"Did you dream at all?" Mai began to blush again, vividly remembering her own dream.

"Heh…" To Mai's astonishment, Zuko began to blush.

"What did you dream about?" Mai pressed eagerly. Could he possibly return her feelings?

"Oh." Zuko glanced at her, and his blush deepened.

"Yes?" Mai was practically in a nervous sweat.

"That Water Tribe peasant…" Zuko admitted, then blushing all the more, sped ahead.

Mai's eyes widened in horror as she watched Zuko practically race away. Water Peasant? That little witch? She, the enemy, was stealing away her Zuko?
"Zuko!" Mai called, sprinting down the hall. Perhaps she could change his mind, now was the time for action!

Far ahead, Zuko groaned, why did his mind always torture him so?


Now, the Author's note: Please read! Warning, if you haven't seen the trailer, don't read this. Cuz, it does contain spoilers. Please, please, don't bash me for no reason or if you don't support my ship.

If you are a Zutara shipper, like I am, and have seen this recent trailer of the upcoming season, your hopes of Zutara might have been a little dampened. It does seem indeed, that Maiko will prevail. Before you give up hope, I would like to point out a few things that will hopefully ease your mind:

Haven't you noticed all of the subtle hints that Nick has given throughout the entire show of the Zutara pairing? Katara's fortune, Yin and Yang, their whole underground caves conversation, heart-whips… the list goes on and on. Evidence is there. I am not pulling this out of thin air.

If you think that's nothing, a mere coincidence… than listen to this.

In Nick Magazine, there have also been some interesting pointers for Zutara. In an earlier magazine issue, there was a game with the pairing of Zuko and Katara. I haven't picked up on any other pairings with evidence like this. Also read this published description of Katara:

A fortuneteller predicted that Katara's true love is a very powerful bender. Will it be the Avatar, or will fate lead in another, more fiery direction? (Distant Horizon)

Now, unless Katara finds another firebender in the Third Season, or falls in love with Aang, who she treats like a son, it all points to Zuko.

Now, about this kiss. It's true, sometime in the 3rd season, Zuko and Mai will kiss. However, Mai isn't the only one that Zuko has touched lips with. Remember Jin? Jin was a one time thing; we know that now for sure. In the trailer, we just see Mai and Zuko lip-locking. It obviously doesn't entail what happens before or after. As many people have pointed out, Mai could have been dreaming! We know that Mai likes Zuko. But, we also know that Zuko is kind of a push-over with girls and romance. He's new to all this stuff. He didn't want to kiss Jin, but she made the first move, and Zuko reacted. I mean, if someone starts kissing you, are you not going to kiss back? Was there a real reason for Jin, than just a filler episode and some one-time romance?

Zuko is going to be going through some rough waters. Perhaps, since Iroh, the man who has watched over Zuko for years, is imprisoned and unresponsive, could Zuko be troubled, unsure of himself, and seeking a bit of affection? Zuko's utterly alone. In the words of Ronald Weasley- wouldn't a bit of snogging cheer him up?

A couple more pointers: Katara had no romance whatsoever in the trailer, in fact, no one did but Zuko. Sorry Kataangs, if you're reading this, but Aang is going to have a lot more on his mind right now than the gorgeous Water Tribe girl that travels with him and treats him like a son. If anything, in the commercial, Aang seems totally detached, and all for fighting. The fate of the world is literally on his shoulders. Plus, have you noticed that NONE of the Avatars have EVER married? When one of them tried, at the wedding ceremony, the bride was sucked down into the spirit world, where she was taken by Koh! No romance there. Zuko, on the other hand, is a major potential for romance. Duh, he just kissed Mai. Throughout the whole trailer, he's still unsure, and we see him leaving for something… what could that be? One last thing; the element of surprise. The writers of Avatar love to make twists. Things aren't always what they seem. Remember the episode of Serpent's Pass? Kataang looked like a sure thing; Aang admits he likes her more than a friend, and she hugs him with tears in her eyes. Just when Aang truly admitted his feelings for her and they could have become a couple, there was a major twist! In the Crossroads of Destiny, Aang, in order to control the Avatar State, must give up Katara. Doesn't that seem peculiar? If Maiko was a sure thing, wouldn't they want to surprise us? Not just show it blunt, to the point, and up front in a trailer? It's definitely not as romantic if everyone knows about it!

I believe that the writers wouldn't throw in all of those hints of Zutara for nothing! What would the point be? Kataang, Tokka, and all of the other ships have some sort of hint about them. Toph holds Sokka's hand, Aang admits he loves Katara, Suki kisses Sokka… Maiko has had nothing but a blush and a kiss. Nothing leads up to it!

Season 3 looks incredibly awesome and well worth the wait of 10 months. No matter what, we know Katara will find her true love by the end of the season… we just have to find out who.

Don't lose hope. Zutara CAN still happen.

Check out Distant Horizon for the video clip, magazine articles, & much, much more!