AN: WARNING: season finale spoilers! When Korra and Prince Iroh meet in the Southern Water Tribe, a special friendship is formed. Years later, they reunite in the middle of a war.
Another warning: all fluff. No plotline whatsoever. Sorry.
Music: though this song doesn't fit the story, I think Beyond the Sea by Frank Sinatra is a great theme song for the whole Korra/Iroh relationship. Check it out!
The World to Me
A five-year-old Korra dashed around the open training area in the Southern Water Tribe, dodging invisible enemies. She did punches and kicks and mediocre summersaults until her breathing was ragged. Master Katara sat idly by, watching the brand new Avatar exert herself. The old waterbender smiled at the child; she would have observed the little girl 'train' all day had someone not cleared their throat for her attention.
Turning to see who it was, Katara recognized one of the White Lotus Sentries.
"Lady Katara, former Fire Lord Zuko and his grandson have arrived," he informed her.
"Excellent," she said. "Take me to them."
Katara left with a big grin on her face. It was so long since she had seen her old friend.
"But Grandfather," a black-haired ten-year-old boy whined, "can't I stay with you and talk about grown up things? I don't want to play with a little waterbender!"
Zuko gave a small chuckle and leaned down to his grandson. "Iroh, you will have you chance to be a grown up," the elderly man assured him. "Go have fun. The Avatar is a lively young lady; you should be happy to get to know her.
Little Iroh's face contorted to apprehension. "You never said the Avatar was a girl! Girls are weird."
"Alright then," Zuko said with another chuckle, "spend some time with Korra, and if you don't have any fun all day, you can sit in on the boring meetings between me and the Tribe leaders."
"Deal!" The two shook on it, and the former Fire Lord sent Iroh to where Korra was.
"Intruder!" Korra yelled when she saw a boy approaching. He was wearing a red parka and dark boots. His hair was black, but his skin was pale. She recognized those features as Fire Nation.
Iroh stared at the little girl with an annoyed expression on his face. She was throwing punches in his direction, trying to appear intimidating. The fire that shot from her tiny fists barely made it three feet before dissipating in the cold air.
"Who are you?" the small girl in blue demanded.
"I am Prince Iroh," he told her in what he thought was a sophisticated tone. "Who are you?"
"I'm the Avatar; you gotta deal with it!" Korra crossed her arms and her lip stuck in the air as a pout. One eyebrow crept up as she eyed him. "You don't look like a prince. I think you're lying."
"I am so a prince!" Iroh retorted. "And I will rule the Fire Nation one day." He crossed his arms, satisfied by the way that sounded. Something cold hit his neck that kind of hurt, but didn't.
"Hey! What was that for?" he yelled at Korra, who was now a distance away from him.
Instead of answering, she laughed and gathered a handful of snow, shaping it into a ball. She threw it at him, and it hit his chest.
Korra laughed again, a high-pitched squeal that made it obvious she was enjoying herself at Iroh's expense.
The firebender grumbled something about girls and made a snowball to throw at Korra. When he launched it, she stood still rather than move out of the way. The ball curved in the air and landed to the Avatar's right. Iroh gaped wide-eyed at Korra, who giggled.
"How did you do that?" he asked her.
"Waterbending," she answered with a sassy roll of the eyes. "I am the Avatar."
Iroh had never seen waterbending before. All he knew was fire. Sure, he knew about the other three elements, but they didn't have a part in his life. To him, this was fascinating.
"Can you do more?" he asked in pure little-kid awe.
To answer, Korra did simple, yet traditional maneuvers. The snow on the ground moved a little from her beginner techniques. She then raised her hand, causing part of the snow to melt. She strung the water into a ribbon and made it dance around for a bit. As a finale, she splashed Iroh, whose expression hardened.
In less than a week, the two became the best of friends. They had snowball fights, drank tea, and practiced firebending together. Iroh had completely forgotten about the 'grown up' things he wanted to do on this trip.
When the time came for Zuko and Iroh to depart, Korra wailed in protest. After being told about a thousand times that Iroh couldn't stay, she finally accepted it.
The Fire Nation prince kneeled in front of Korra so he was eye level with her. Her lip was out again, but unlike last time she pouted, she eyes were as large as her polar bear puppy's.
"I'm gunna miss you," she sniffled.
"I'll miss you, too." He pulled her in for an awkward hug that couldn't have lasted two seconds. Zuko called his grandson to board the ship with him. Right before he left, Korra flicked Iroh's forehead lightly. It was her special way of saying goodbye.
She didn't know it then, but they wouldn't see each other for a very long time.
There were certain attributes General Iroh had that didn't fit his birth element. Unlike fire, he was adaptable, sustaining, and decisive. Those were the reasons he was such an effective leader. They were also the reasons her survived the surprise offense in Yue Bay.
He definitely was surprised that the Equalists had maneuverable aircraft. The sneak attack caught everyone off guard. But even when his ships were going down, he wouldn't give up.
He quickly learned that the aircraft don't like fire, much to his advantage, and so that's what he used. The bombs were another story, though.
He took down the three planes that were headed straight toward him, but that last one got a hit. The blast sent him flying out of the crow's nest and into the cold water below. He would've drowned without the aid of a seventeen-year-old girl.
"Avatar Korra. You saved my life," he said once they broke the surface. "Thank you."
The girl nodded and used a powerful waterbending move to propel them to shore.
They made it to the underground network of sewers and to the compound. Korra sat the general down and began to assess his burn.
"It looks bad, but I think I can heal it," she told him. Immediately, she bent water to his arm, and it glowed.
The healing felt nice. The cool liquid brought much relief to the angry flesh underneath. It was a big wound, so it took some time to heal.
"It's nice to see you again, Korra," Iroh said.
The Avatar jerked her head back slightly. The glowing water accentuated her confused eyes.
"I'm sorry, have we met before?" she inquired.
The general wore a thoughtful expression, and then smiled a bit.
"You were very young last time I saw you. Does this ring a bell?" He flicked her forehead with his right hand.
"Ow," she said, rubbing the spot he hit. Her face suddenly lit up in remembrance. "Iroh!"
She forgot all about the fact that she was healing him and flung her arms around his neck. The water splashed on the ground around their feet.
Iroh let out a small grunt at the unexpected embrace, but then smiled and hugged back.
"Spirits, I've missed you so much!" Korra said.
"I missed you, too," he said with a light laugh. "And, really, it is good to see you again."
Bolin cleared his throat. "Excuse me, am I missing something here?"
Korra pulled away from the general as if she just remembered there were other people around. By the look on everyone's faces, they were wondering the same thing.
"General Iroh and I met in the Southern Water Tribe twelve years ago," Korra explained. "He was kind of my only friend."
"Well," Iroh said, "it looks like you've made a lot more friends here."
"Right," Korra said nodding. "Iroh, this is Bolin, Mako, and Asami."
They all exchanged greetings. Both Asami and Bolin seemed ecstatic to meet the general. Mako, however, held a less-than- subtle glare at the older firebender.
At dinner, Korra and Iroh sat next to each other, bringing up old memories. They laughed and shared funny stories with the others at the table.
After most had gone to bed, the general helped Korra clean the area. She had noticed her was looking at her in a different way lately, when he thought she wouldn't see. The Avatar had also stolen glances at the twenty-two-year-old.
He had changed so much in the course of a decade, and he was nothing like her last memory of him. He was no longer that lanky, yet chubby-faced kid in a red parka. He was a general. He definitely grew into his limbs and gained just the right amount of muscle. That's what time does to you, I guess,Korra thought.
And oh, spirits, he was handsome. She was just musing how attractive he was when he approached her.
"You look good, Korra," he said, breaking her out of her stupor. It took a moment for what he said to sink in, and she smiled. "You aren't that little annoying water tribe girl anymore."
"I could say the same thing about you, General," Korra teased.
They fell into a silence after the dishes were all put away. Together, they walked across the compound without a word. They reached the sleeping quarters, which mostly consisted of mismatched tents, and Iroh stopped in front of Korra's tent.
"I'm right here is you need anything," he told her, gesturing to the tent beside hers. He held her left hand in his right. "It was a pleasure catching up with you today." He bent down in what looked like a formal bow and kissed the back of her hand. He left after that, but not before seeing a glimpse of an adorable blush grace her cheeks.
AN: I know this isn't one of my best stories; I started it mainly to get out of my writers' block.
Can I just say, holy shit Korroh is the best ship in the world! Well, behind Zutara of course. I love Iroh. He's so sexy.
Everyone seems to like the idea of Iroh and Korra meeting when they were kids. It intrigued me so much, and thus this was born!
Chapter 2 soon!