Hell's Rain
by Kaline Reine

Disclaimer: I do not own the Avatar series or any of the characters/settings. This is just a fanfiction story written for my own amusement.

WARNING: Adult situations and graphic sexual content. Also some character death, angst, and other dark themes. If it's not your thing, then turn back now. You have been warned. This is written solely for my own amusement. If you don't like the pairing or the plot, then go elsewhere for your entertainment. This is my first Avatar fanfic... That being said, if you think you can handle it, then I hope you find it an enjoyable read. Feedback is welcome and appreciated.

Note: This is sort of the final chapter, but the last chapter can also be considered the ending for this story. This can be what happened later, or not... Up to you. I guess it can be however you want to see it. Even though the last chapter wrapped things up pretty nicely, this one is the ending I had always envisioned for this story. Either way, I hope you enjoy.

Chapter 35:

They'd traveled for several long weeks... Katara had been growing sicker and sicker of seeing nothing but the open sea. It had been a welcome relief when their ship had finally reached the familiar ice of her homeland. She, Sokka, and their father, had come all of this way to ensure the Water Tribe's safety. And to her relief, everyone looked well.

Hakoda brought back many of the men he'd taken with him. The Warriors' wives had been glad to see them. He felt a pang of pure sadness, at the thought of having lost his own wife in the madness of the war. That loss seemed to be in vain now, although he knew it was not. She'd managed to save their beautiful daughter. But he'd never show that sense of loss to anyone, or even let on that he was still so affected by it. Especially in front of his kids... It was just as well that they never knew. He was certain they felt the same sadness when they thought of their mother. All he wanted was happiness for them. And he was proud of the sacrifice his beloved Kya had so selflessly made for Katara.

Their arrival was greeted by the whole village, which consisted of several small families and not much else. It was hard to believe that's all there was left of the once great Southern Water Tribe. Hakoda knew it would take some time to rebuild it. He had no plans to go back to war any time soon. Each of the new arrivals were greeted happily by everyone.

It was very difficult to get word out this far in the middle of nowhere. They had announced that the war was finally over, and everyone had breathed a collective sigh of relief. They didn't have to worry anymore. For the first time in a very long time, the people of the Southern Water Tribe were finally able to celebrate together, and to really smile. All was as it should be.

Kanna had welcomed back her grandchildren and her son with open arms. On the first night, the entire Tribe had gathered for a grand feast in celebration of their victory. She'd wanted to hear everything right away, but the village children were eager to hear all about Sokka's tales of fighting the evil Fire Nation soldiers. She'd smiled as they'd all gathered around at dinner time each night, for several evenings' worth of grand tales.

Eventually though, the newness of everything had worn off. His stories no longer had their creative sparkle... After being told and re-told hundreds of times, it was little wonder.

Katara had told them about making friends with one of the Fire Nation citizens, the Prince no less, a fact that Sokka had often left out of his stories. He'd talked more about meeting the leader of the fabled Kyoshi Warriors and even training with them. Sometimes they simply talked about their numerous adventures with the Avatar. The children's eyes were wide with wonder the entire time, no matter the story being told.

As time wore on though, Katara had begun to feel needed in the village less and less... After all, they'd managed for this long without her. The village had done fairly well in all the time she'd been gone. It was nice to see Grangran and the others again, but she couldn't help but feel sort of empty inside. She was happy to celebrate with her people, however she did so halfheartedly.

She tossed and turned in her bed, missing the warmth of the person she'd grown so accustomed to lying next to. The next morning, the feeling was still there. The girl had gone into a depression, and no one seemed to be able to cheer her up.

One day, while they were out fishing together, Sokka had tried talking to her about it. Their lines had been in the water nearly all day and they had caught only a few fish so far.

"So what's eating you?"

"Huh?" Katara stared at him like he had two heads or something. "What do you mean? I'm fine."

"You don't have to pretend with me. I can tell when something's wrong. You've barely even been eating lately. Or sleeping. Or anything else. It's like my sister's suddenly become a zombie!" He flailed his arms wildly, for emphasis.

"I wonder..." She looked downcast, struggling to make out her reflection in the rippling water. "I wonder if maybe I really am just a stupid kid. You know? I wonder if maybe I was being naive all along, and now that's everything is over... That it's really over. That I'll never see him again..."

Her brother knew exactly which 'him' she was referring to. Zuko had been on her mind a lot lately. It was painfully obvious to everyone, so they tried not to bring it up much.

"Him again," Sokka scoffed, looking annoyed. "It's always him again. Look, if you were going to miss him so much, why didn't you just make plans to meet up later? That's what me and Suki did."

"That just makes it worse. He seemed pretty eager to part ways. He didn't even bother to make plans with me."

"Maybe he didn't feel like he needed to...?"

She glared at him like he was an idiot. "You're not helping."

"That's not exactly how I meant it," Sokka tried to backpedal. "Maybe he just knew you'd meet up again later on, so he didn't feel like the need to say it. Like a silent understanding kinda thing?"

Katara just nodded. She'd become less responsive to everyone lately too. She was reclusive, and didn't seem to want to talk much. Even her talking with Sokka like this was becoming increasingly rare. She wondered if anyone else knew the pain she felt. She'd tried talking to her Dad about it, but he just kept dancing around the subject of her mother, without really saying how he felt.

This was different. Zuko was still alive, and the thought of him moving on with someone else pained her greatly... Even though she knew deep down that was most likely not the case. Someday, she'd probably go back and by then it would be too late. She hadn't wanted to choose her family over him, but she had needed to make sure everyone was alright and well before she could focus on anything else.

She knew Sokka had been trying to help, but even his words offered her very little comfort right now. Sighing, she decided to bring in her fishing pole for the day. She wasn't getting anywhere here either.

"I'm going back. This is getting me nowhere."

"Suit yourself," Sokka shrugged, also packing up his fishing gear. "I'll be along in a few minutes."

On her way back to the village, she was startled when she felt a light tug on her sleeve. Katara looked down. There stood a little girl, only about four or five at best, with her hair in small pigtails and her big blue eyes staring up widely.

"Miss Katawa?" She made the cutest little pouty face at her newest idol. "Will you pwease tell me the stowy again? The one about the Fire Pwince?"

"Not right now, I-" A strange noise caught her attention. It was a very loud scraping, sort of metallic; it sounded like a ship being run aground on the ice.

"Katara!" One of the village women called to her, waving her over. "It's a Fire Nation ship! Come quick!"

"I'll tell you later..." Katara gave the girl a quick, affectionate pat on the head. This was one she'd have to get back to her about. Or Sokka could always tell her later, even if he didn't tell it exactly right.

She ran as fast as she could to the landing site near the edge of the village. She was very worried. The first thing she noticed was that all of the Warriors had gathered around, standing between the ship and what was left of their humble village. They were nervous, hoping to high hell that they wouldn't be attacked again. It seemed that no one completely trusted the new Fire Lord not to repeat past mistakes. Not even Hakoda, although he was most likely just being cautious for everyone's safety.

They feared that something had happened and the new Fire Lord had ordered their Tribe to be wiped out. It could all have been a trick. Hisory had a nasty habit of repeating itself. And there was nothing wrong with playing it safe anyway. They had to defend their families and children, at any cost.

Everyone seemed to get deja vu, as the boarding plank for the large metal battleship creaked open, and fell onto the ice. Several officials from the Fire Nation army stepped onto Water Tribe land. They didn't attack, but their reason for being here was unclear. It struck Katara as a little odd that Zuko didn't seem to be among them. The Water Tribe people were obviously very nervous, some even looked frightened. The Captain of the ship stepped forward at last, his eyes scanning the crowd. He held an official document in his hands, the meaning of it still unclear.

The middle-aged man wore a serious expression as he spoke. "Could we perhaps speak with a... Katara? Is she here?"

"She is my daughter," Hakoda admitted, stepping forward to confront them. As the leader, it was his responsibility to ensure everyone's safety. Especially that of his own family. "What business do you have with her?"

"I'm afraid that's confidential, sir. I have orders to speak with her directly."

Katara decided to take a chance. "That would be me. What's going on?" It was obvious by her demeanor and stance that she was defensive. She trusted Zuko, but now she was afraid something might have happened to him.

While the soldiers didn't look particularly threatening or menacing, they were simply being professional, they were still wearing traditional Fire Nation armor. And the ship was a battleship. None of these things looked very good, from a Water Tribe perspective.

"The Fire Lord," He hesitated, seeing the emotions play across her face. "Has requested your presence at the Fire Nation palace."

"And if I refuse?"

"He said that it was your choice entirely. But if you choose to attend, we are to accompany you there. Your family is welcome to come as well, but it's not required."

"What is all of this about?" She demanded, not willing to just believe them.

"I'm afraid we cannot give you any further information. Only that Fire Lord Zuko has sent for you himself. If you are willing, we will escort you. Whatever your choice, we must leave immediately."

Katara turned around, looking back at her family. She noticed everyone was kind of happy for her. They were all smiling. Now that they knew the reason the Fire Nation ship had come here, no one was afraid anymore. This gave her hope.

She noticed Grangran, who was smiling and urging her on. "Go to him, Katara!"

"You really think I should?"

"It's destiny," She nodded. "I'm certain of it."

"I think you should go as well. He obviously cares for you a lot. You should at least go see what it's about." Her father added, with a smile. "Ah, to be young and in love..."

"Hang on!" Sokka intervened.

Katara instantly put her hands on her hips, staring him down. "I know you don't want me to go, but I really think-"

"Can I hitch a ride too?" He batted his eyelashes.

She rolled her eyes. "Sure. Come on."

"Yay!" He immediately jumped on board. Then he got back off the ship. "I need to go pack, haha... Excuse me."

"...This is going to be a long trip." She smacked herself in the head. "Do I have time to pack?"

The captain nodded. "It's not a problem. We'll leave as soon as you're ready."

Before they departed, she gave her family hugs goodbye. The whole village turned out to see her off. They waved and she waved back, hoping they would be okay until her eventual return. She had faith that her father was capable of handling things and keeping everyone safe.

"I wonder what he's planning..." Katara asked her brother, once they were on board the ship and heading for the Fire Nation.

They'd been traveling by sea for several weeks now. She knew the trip was going to be long and boring. It kind of made her wish Zuko was here with her. She understood that he probably had lots of important things to do though. Running a kingdom was not an easy task. He had a long journey ahead of him as well.

"Eh, who knows?" Sokka shrugged. "But hey, we should enjoy the trip. These guys are pretty cool once they're not on the opposite side as us."

What he said was probably true... Sokka had been hanging out with the Fire soldiers all day long. They'd exchanged war stories, joked around together, even shared some of their ale with him... Much to Katara's distaste.

"I'm sure," She yawned.

Katara had promised her grandmother and father that she would come back safe... She still trusted Zuko, even after everything. When they'd shown her to her quarters on board the ship, she'd been surprised at how nice they were. Even nicer than the room she'd had back in the tower, when he'd first kidnapped her. It was strange, the way things had turned out. When she thought about it, she even looked back on the bad times with fond memories.

Everything about this voyage was somewhat nostalgic, but it was missing one crucial element... Him.

Mostly, during this trip, her thoughts had been only of Zuko. She couldn't wait to be held again by those arms, the ones that she was so used to...

The trip itself was long and boring, but at least she was being treated well. She often practiced her Waterbending on the open ocean to kill time. The guards on board didn't appear to mind. They seemed to go out of their way to appease her brother too, though she'd never know why. It had been nice to spend some time with her family after the war. Now things had settled down and the world was starting to become more peaceful. They still had a long way to go and a lot of work to do, however.

"I'm going to sleep," She eventually declared. "We should be arriving by morning or so. I guess we'll find out then."

Sokka nodded, currently preoccupied with going over ancient battle strategies using an old map. "Alright, goodnight. See ya."


She went into the room they'd given her. It was off to herself, but she liked that. She had no real interest in talking to the guards. They all refused to tell her the reason Zuko had sent for her. The bed creaked a bit, as she curled up into it. She'd drifted off into a dream-filled sleep that night, plagued by memories from the past.

The following morning, she was awoken when someone knocked on the door to her room. They had strict orders not to disturb her unless absolutely necessary. So it was odd that anyone would be there at all.

"May I come in?" It was a female voice, that sounded vaguely familiar.

"Hm?" Katara sat up and rubbed her eyes sleepily. "Sure, come on in... Wait. I know you... Don't I?"

And then it dawned on her... It was the same female guard from the tower! The one with the long brown hair and bright yellow eyes. She didn't seem phased by Katara's presence here. Even though it was early, she never forgot a face. The woman walked in, closing the door behind her. She also lit several candles, so it wouldn't be so dark. It was apparently still the early hours of the morning, and the sun was not up yet.

"Good morning sleepyhead!" She smiled brightly. "So... You remember me?"

The Waterbender nodded. "From the volcanic island, in the tower... You were assigned to guard me while I was being held prisoner there. What are you doing here?"

"The Fire Lord thought it would be best if you had a familiar face greet you today. The ship has arrived, and I was told to come aboard before you see him. I was given orders to bring you this."

The guard gave her a box. It was sort of small, but large enough to cover her whole lap. Katara had no idea what was even going on anymore, but she opened it. Her eyes went wide...

"This... This is... It's beautiful!"

An elegant sparkling white dress sat in the box, the diamonds sewn into it glittering in the candlelight. It was the perfect size for her, and appeared to be custom-made. It consisted of a delicate silk fabric with velvet trim, all done in pure white. It had long transparent sleeves starting at the neck and extended down to where her wrists would be. The accents really made it shine, they were arrange in an intricate pattern across the garment. It was gorgeous. She'd never seen anything like it. Katara found herself unable to breathe for several seconds...

She took it out of the box and examined it. Below it were a pair of matching shoes, equally shiny and silvery. There were also ornaments for her hair.

"He said you don't really have to wear it," The Fire Nation woman clarified, in an almost teasing tone. "But he would like for you to."

"I love it! Of course I'll wear it... I hardly think it's right for him to go to all this trouble though."

"Go ahead and change then. I'll be waiting for you outside. Take all the time you need though. I was told to escort you to where he'll be waiting for you... For your safety this time." She hastily added the last part. "And let me know if you need any help."

"Alright, wow... Thank you. This is... I don't even know what to say."

She watched as the guard left her, for the time being. It really surprised Katara that he would actually go this far. She couldn't wait to see him again, and she was half-tempted to just deny his request and go as she was. Something told her to just go along with it though. It was sweet of him to think of her, and go through all of this trouble just for her.

She approached the floor-length mirror that sat adjacent to her bed. The dress was a perfect fit. She had to admit, the man had a knack for knowing what looked good on her. She did a little twirl in front of the mirror to make sure.

She was unsure of what to do with her hair, but decided it would look best if she left her hair loops as they were. She just didn't feel like herself without them. She used the decorations provided to help tie up her hair into a high ponytail, chestnut waves cascading down her neck and falling teasingly along her shoulder blades. Even her hair shimmered and sparkled now. The shoes he'd sent her had heels but they weren't too terribly high. They were just right, and produced an audible click when she walked. Katara felt like a true Princess...

"I'm ready!" She called to the lady guard, as she sauntered outside.

"Great," The woman took her in. "You look amazing."

"Thank you..." The Waterbender blushed a little, finally venturing out of her room.

This time, the guard trailed a few steps behind Katara, letting her lead the way off the ship. She nervously anticipated when she would finally see the man she loved with all her heart. Butterflies creepy their way through her stomach, tickling her with nervousness.

She noticed there were many people present around the palace. It looked like most of the Fire Nation was here. That was confusing... Why would everyone be up so early and just standing outside? It made her wonder what was going on. She even spotted Sokka in the crowd, scratching his head in confusion. Apparently, he didn't know what was about to happen either. There were several other familiar faces too. She thought she also spotted Toph and Aang somewhere, but couldn't be sure.

A feeling of dread seeped into her thoughts. She hoped nothing had happened while she and the others were gone. It kind of worried her. All sorts of worrisome thoughts filled her mind, holding her captive. But right now, all that mattered was seeing him...

Katara allowed herself to be led into the courtyard, and then a back way, through a passage that led into the inner workings of the enormous building. The guard woman guided her, since she was unfamiliar with the palace and didn't know exactly where to go or which turns to make. They went down narrow hallways and up several flights of winding stairs. It reminded her of when they'd killed Ozai, but she tried not to focus on that.

At long last, she made it to the top. And still there was no sign of him. They were in a familiar room, with many red silken Fire Nation banners and columns filling the empty spaces. This was where they'd last parted ways, the lounge which she knew led out to the balcony where he'd made his great speech last time. She didn't know what would lie in wait for her behind it.

"Right through here," The woman told her, indicating that she was supposed to go out there alone.

"I..." She found it difficult to even speak. "I'd expected to meet him elsewhere... Somewhere more private. In the throne room, maybe?"

"That doesn't matter right now. And I honestly don't know the reason. None of us do. We were only told that there would be a big announcement today, and that everyone's presence was required. He's been eager to see you again. I think you should go." The guard winked, but Katara was unable to follow what she meant.

Sighing, she decided to take a deep breath, and just go for it. Slowly, Katara walked outside. She'd been anticipating this for a long time, and didn't know how to react now that she was actually here.

The first thing she saw were many decorative banners that had been set up. She didn't know what any of this meant. Most of all, she really wanted to know the reason he'd sent for her. Was he going to have some kind of celebration? What if he was telling her goodbye, once and for all? A million thoughts filled her mind, overwhelming her. She just had to know. The curiosity was too much for her to stand any longer.

And at last, she saw him... Standing there regally, in an outfit befitting of a true King. Covered with red lining, gold trim, and mostly white, it was much different from what she'd seen his father and others around here wearing. She had no idea how to take this. But there was no time to take in every last detail. The only thing she was focused on was his face. The same familiar scar graced his features, standing out in sharp contrast against the rest of the perfection that he was composed of. Even that, she felt was absolutely perfect. Everything that was a part of him couldn't possibly be anything but perfection, in her eyes. Seeing him once more was like breathing a breathe of fresh air when she'd been suffocating...

'Finally...' They both seemed to read the very same thought in each other's expressions.

Zuko's eyes met hers. He smiled charmingly. They hadn't seen each other in such a long time. As soon as she'd made it up there, she had the strongest urge to run over to him. She didn't know how that would be perceived, and there were so many people around. Katara suppressed the urge she had to hold onto him and never let go.

"You look..." He purred, as his eyes seemed to drink her in. "Absolutely radiant! You're always so beautiful... I've missed you more than I can even say."

He held his arms out for a hug, which she gladly gave him, now that she knew it was welcome. The moment their bodies touched, however, it was like electricity running through them. Katara was overwhelmed so much that she could barely even speak. The two were so completely overcome with emotion that all they did for several long moments was stare into each other's eyes.

"Zuko... What does all of this mean? Why did you send for me? What is all this?"

"This," He proudly proclaimed, outstretching his arm to gesture toward everything that surrounded them. "Is my Kingdom, my Nation... And I am finally free to rule it as I see fit. And I can think of no better way to do that, than with such a lovely young woman at my side."

"What are you..." She trailed off, not even understanding the nature of her very own question.

Looking out into the sea of faces, she noticed that all eyes were upon them. The entire Fire Nation was staring at them. It was very unnerving. She didn't quite trust the situation enough to let go and really be herself. There was so much she wanted to say, but words failed her at the moment.

"Katara..." The Fire Lord dropped down onto one knee, and everyone's jaws dropped instantly, including the lady in white who stood before him.

'Is he really?' Her thoughts ran away with her. 'No, he can't be! Can he?! No! There's no way!' Her own heart, having been betrayed so many times before, was readily refusing to fully accept what she was seeing and hearing. And so she stood there, stunned into silence.

"I'd really like to know..." Zuko held up a small box containing a sparkling ring, done in white gold with a diamond in the center, and several diamonds surrounding it. "Will you marry me?"

She had no idea what to say. Everything went completely silent.

They'd been through a lot together. Lately, they hadn't even been able to see one another. But she knew him well. He was the one who had made all of the difference in the war they'd so daringly fought. She had given him a chance, unknowing of his true worth. He had proven himself to her, over and over again. And this was the last straw; their final chance together.

The sun rose right at that moment, daring to dawn over the top of the surrounding mountains. Light filled the land, casting an ethereal glow around everything. The rays of every color shone off of her dress brilliantly. Zuko found himself captivated by the reflections he saw in her eyes... It was a reflection of himself.

And no matter her answer... All the Fire Lord could manage to think of in that single moment was how blindingly beautiful she was to him.

"All I know," Katara closed her eyes mournfully, slowly opening them again. She couldn't believe this was really happening. It didn't feel real. The entire Nation awaited her answer, as if their own fate depended upon it. "Is that I never want to leave you behind again. I'm so... I can't even think straight right now. But yes. Yes, I'd love to! I love you, Zuko."

"And I love you as well. If your heart has longed for me as much as mine has longed for you... Let the wedding begin!" He declared, daringly. His smile felt miles long as he said this.

"A thousand times yes!"

Katara embraced him in a crushing hug. She had to kneel down to reach his level, but she didn't even care how it looked. All rational thought had clearly gone out the window. Zuko pulled back for a moment, placing the ring on her finger before standing and helping her to her feet.

"I hope you don't think I'm rushing things," He whispered to her quietly. "I just... I realized a lot of things while you were away... I can't go on without you by my side."

"I know exactly what you mean," She confessed, with tears in her eyes. Katara's smile persisted, despite the fact that she was crying. "I'm so happy you feel the same! I missed you like crazy too."

"Then... Let's never part again?"

"Never." His fiancé agreed.

He nodded, and stood, taking her hand in his. They walked across the balcony, where a high-ranking Fire Nation official stood. He had his hand on an ancient book. They exchanged vows and repeated every word as they were told to. Katara had never expected her special day to go like this. At long last, came the final part that would seal the deal...

"...You may kiss the bride."

No sooner had those words been spoken than Zuko's lips met with hers. And the entire crowd cheered more loudly than they ever had. Sokka was clapping and cheering along with them wildly. And out of the corner of his eye, Zuko spotted Iroh watching with pride, and nodding his approval of the proceedings.

Katara lost herself in the bliss of being with the one she loved so much. She had given herself to him fully, lost within the kiss they shared, no longer caring who saw them or what anyone else thought. Zuko could barely believe she'd said yes, and they'd really gone through with it. He didn't know how he got so lucky as to have this much happiness. In that moment, they felt everything pass between them, all at once. There were no more secrets.

The two had said their vows, in front of the entire Fire Nation. When all was said and done, the two were completed, as one... And they never looked back, not even once.


Author's Note: This didn't turn out exactly how I'd planned, but it did come very close. I guess that's all I can hope for. I know my writing isn't all that great, but I hope you enjoyed this little story and it was worth the ride. I want to thank each and every person who ever reviewed my fic, it really means a lot to me. Your reviews and feedback were what kept me going all this time. I am pleased to say that after more than 2 years, this is at an end. Most of all, thank you for reading.