A/N: Thank all of you guys SO MUCH for your support and feedback. I do take your thoughts into consideration you know. As such, it has come to my attention that the story no longer has enough Zutara moments. Therefore, I give you this somewhat fluffy chapter:
The nightmare returned to Katara that night. The sky turned dark and fractured. Black rubble swallowed the air and she couldn't breathe- something bad was coming- where was Gran-Gran? It was too dark, too dark to see anything and she choked on the broken sky until a metallic hiss pierced the air and there was Sokka- broken eyes, broken sky- metal around her waist arctic air biting her skin the smell of the sea and then-
She was standing on a bridge with Zuko. He gazed at her with his golden eyes, rain just starting to patter down between them. Drip, drop. One caught on his cheekbone, rolled down his face and off his chin. Katara reached out and caught it with her fingertip. Kill me, he said. I can't, she told him. He grabbed her by the waist and pulled her to him; their mouths collided forcefully. Fire raced through Katara's veins. She brought her arms around his broad back to hold him closer. Her hands met something viscous. Zuko collapsed onto her; her knuckles collided with a wooden protrusion, heart screaming, You killed me he accused- broken eyes- and he slid down her body and fell and fell…
Katara woke with a gasp, the sheet falling away from her body as she sat straight up. Shaking, she looked to the side of her bed. Zuko had never failed to wake up with her before, and it was odd in her groggy state that he hadn't been next to her, shushing, soothing. The lights were out, so her arm explored her adjacent area. It only encountered cold fabric.
"Zuko?" she whimpered. Tentatively she swung her legs over the side of the bed. When he didn't answer, she transferred her weight to the floor. "Zuko?" she asked, padding to the middle of the room. But where she expected to meet light, plush resistance from his pillows, she only encountered emptiness.
At this point her mind caught up to her, and she remembered. "Dear La," she breathed, sinking down to the floor. Her limbs shook more violently. She thought of the turbulent waves roaring and crashing, and Zuko plummeting into their grasp. It was her fault. She put him there.
"Dear La," she repeated, hands sinking into her hair. What if he was… A strangled wail escaped her lips. He couldn't be. She didn't… He couldn't be…
With a heavy heart, she started gathering all the pillows in the room. She wasn't really sure what she was doing, but she picked them up and put them down. All in a row. And then another row. And then a third, just across the top.
Once she'd finished, tears gathered in her eyes. It was a pillow mattress. One like Zuko used to make. Dragging the comforter after her, she crawled into it, curling into a little ball. Burrowing her face into a pillow, she breathed in deeply. It still smelled like him. Woodsmoke and roses. And somehow, that was so like him, as if he knew he was going to have to leave a piece of himself behind to keep her safe. Katara laughed sadly. But she found comfort in the familiar smell, and the pressure of tears in her eyes and her throat eased slightly. As she drifted off again, the image of Zuko's lips on hers revisited. For a moment she smiled. This one night, she decided, she'd pretend her world wasn't broken.