Fic: In Which Katara Thinks About Baby Names
Title: In Which Katara Thinks About Baby Names
Chapter: N/A; complete oneshot
Characters/Pairings: Katara, Zuko, Sokka, Suki, Iroh, Azula, OC healer, OC supporter of Azula, OC "shadow"; Zuko/Katara, Sokka/Suki, Iroh/Awesome, Iroh/Tea, hints of Azula/Rebellion
Genre: Romance/Fluff, Humor, Family, Drama
Word Count: 2,093
Notes: For xxzutarafanxx, who requested, "Post War Zutara fanfic with Zuko finding out Katara pregnant for the first time. ... throw in a bit of Iroh, Sukka...and Azula just to give the whole thing that dark edge." I couldn't squeeze Azula in until the end- she wouldn't fit, and now I'm putting off yet another fic I can't write yet. Anyway, I hope you like this, and happy belated Christmas and New Year's!
Katara’s heart had stopped, partly from shock, but mostly from joy. After months of trying, the palace healer had just confirmed that she was pregnant. She was finally carrying Zuko’s child.
When she finally recovered from the stupor the news had caused, she shrieked happily and threw herself at the woman.
“Thank you!” she cried.
“Don’t thank me, my dear,” the healer told her lightly with a smile. “You’ve done all the work here. All I did was confirm the happy news for you.”
“I don’t care!” Katara squealed. “Thank you! Oh, I have to go tell him!” And everyone else, but that could wait. Zuko had the right to know first. Unless she ran into someone else on her way to Zuko…
Bouncing, Katara left the healer’s office with an anxious hand pressed to her belly. She was learning her way around the behemoth of a palace she supposedly ran as the Fire Lady after three years, and only took one wrong turn on her way to her husband’s public office.
The door was open, which meant one of two things. Either he was out and about somewhere - in which case, she would be better off waiting until lunch and springing the news on him then, because he might be anywhere in creation - or else he was just doing paperwork that didn’t require top-secret meetings and ridiculous security codes to look at and could therefore be put off for a short while.
Katara desperately hoped it was the latter, because she knew Zuko deserved to find out first, seeing as he was the father of the baby, but she also knew she wouldn’t be able to hold her tongue if she ran into someone else before him. She quickened her step, eager to see him and watch his face light up as he realised he was having a baby.
Zuko wasn’t sitting behind his desk. Katara swore under her breath at the sight of the empty chair. She’d have to wait until lunch to tell him.
Deciding to go back to her office to do some of her own work, Katara debated which project to focus her immediate attentions on. She had several meetings lined up for the next morning, the first of which was about the school system. The curriculum had to be entirely overhauled, to reflect the truth of the war. It was a major issue, one of a large number of stipulations set by the Earth Kingdom and Water Tribes in the peace negotiations after the war’s end. Since one of the Fire Lady’s duties was education, this fell on Katara’s shoulders.
Shutting down the propaganda machine was apparently another of the Fire Lady’s duties, she thought wryly.
She was lost in thought about how to propose interviewing soldiers from the other two nations when she, quite literally, bumped into Sokka, who in turn bounced off a hugely pregnant Suki. The woman looked ready to pop at any given moment.
“Hey, little sister,” Sokka said, catching her arm. “What’s the rush?”
It wasn’t even related to his question, but the excitement was still bubbling under the surface and now it spilled over.
“Sokka, I’m pregnant!” she squealed, throwing her arms out and grinning like an idiot.
Sokka’s expression went slack and he began to make little sputtering noises, but Suki gave her a huge smile and a hug. “Congratulations, Katara,” she said. “Did you tell Zuko yet?”
“No,” Katara said, “and please don’t say anything to him! He should have been the first to know, but I’m just so-!” She cut herself off with a gesture and another squeal. “I can’t hold it in.”
“I know,” Suki said sympathetically. “I was the same way when I found out. And now look at me.” She laughed self-consciously, almost covering the sounds her husband continued to make despite the elbow she was jamming into his ribs. He was clearly struggling with the idea of his sister being pregnant. Or perhaps it was the idea that she’d done what it took to get pregnant that had him so upset…? Not that it was any of his business what she did with her husband behind closed doors.
“You look amazing, Suki!” Katara said. It was true. That myth about pregnant women glowing was true in Suki’s case. She was rosy-cheeked and the pregnancy weight had softened her face. She looked content. Katara couldn’t wait to look that way.
Suki smiled self-consciously, glancing sideways at Sokka. “We should probably get going,” she muttered. “I have an appointment with the healer to check on the baby and everything. We’ll see you at lunch, Katara?”
Katara nodded. “Yeah. I have some work to do first, though.”
“Of course,” Suki said. She gave Katara another hug before she walked away.
As Katara started on her way again, she heard Suki saying something harshly to Sokka. She ignored it with a shrug of her shoulders and dove into the work piled high on her desk when she reached her office.
Before eleven o’candle, Katara’s attention had wandered from the overhaul of the public schools’ curriculum to baby names. Boys’ names, girls’ names, Water Tribe names, Fire Nation names, Earth Kingdom names. Maybe she should ask Aang for some Air Nomad names? She focused particularly hard on girl names, even though she knew in an idle sort of way that she should probably hope for a boy to be an heir.
It was hard to focus on boring stuff when she was going to be a mother.
She was completely lost in daydreams of playing with her giggling brood of children when Zuko appeared in her door, unnoticed. “Paging Fire Lady Katara.” He laughed when she started. “Are you in there somewhere?”
“I was just thinking,” she said faintly. Standing, she stretched and began to walk around her desk to him.
“Oh?” Zuko asked, opening his arms to her. She stepped into them without thought and he pecked her forehead. “Thinking about what?”
An enormous grin spread across Katara’s face and she shivered in anticipation. This was it!
“I’m pregnant, Zuko,” she said, lifting her face to impatiently watch for his reaction.
He didn’t at first, but after a moment, his jaw sagged open and his eyes popped. “Really?” he whispered disbelievingly.
“Yes,” Katara replied softly, her enthusiasm waning. “I thought you’d be more excited…”
“I am,” Zuko said stupidly. “Very. I just… really?” he asked again. His tone was more urgent. “We’re really having a baby?”
“Yes, Zuko,” Katara said, voice trembling. “We’re having a baby.”
Then her vision turned to a wall of red silk and she felt herself being lifted off her feet and spun in dizzying circles. She thought she heard a whoop, but she couldn’t be sure with the rushing in her ears. When Zuko set her back on her feet, she was glad for his arms around her, or she was positive she would have fallen over sideways.
“A baby,” Zuko breathed. His hands cupped her chin and raised her face. Staring into her eyes intently, he repeated, “A baby.” Then he kissed her.
Katara started to respond with equal fervor, but a growling noise interrupted them. Zuko broke away from her mouth uncertainly.
“Was that the-?” he started to ask, leveling a wary look at her abdomen.
“No, you doofus,” Katara answered amusedly. “I’m hungry. It is lunchtime, you know.”
Zuko flushed, plainly embarrassed. “Uncle will be joining us today,” he reminded. “We should probably tell him right away…”
“Yeah,” she said. “Let’s go then. I’m excited to see his reaction too.” She led the way out of the room, heading for their private dining room. She grabbed his hand, her belly warming when he laced his fingers through hers. They’d been together for five years and he was still just as romantic now as he had been at the beginning of their relationship. He was still enough to make her knees go weak.
“He’ll be thrilled,” Zuko said dryly. Despite his tone, he wasn’t being sarcastic. Iroh would fuss over and dote on Katara endlessly when he heard. Suki wasn’t even related to him except vaguely through marriage and he was spoiling her rotten in her pregnancy. The man just loved babies. In fact… “We might not be rid of him until the baby is born.”
“And even then it’ll probably be a toss-up,” Katara agreed.
Zuko dropped her hand in favor of slipping his arm around her shoulders and walking with her hip-to-hip. The rest of the way to lunch was spent in comfortable silence. But the moment they stepped into their dining room, the calm was shattered.
Servants bustled everywhere, setting up tables and arranging platters of food and pitchers of drinks, and there stood Iroh in the center of it all, supervising everything. When a young woman, nervously scurrying by him, stumbled over her own feet, he caught her around the waist and steadied her. She blushed, and that saucy smile of Iroh’s flickered over his face. Then his eyes slid past the girl, catching sight of his nephew and niece-in-law.
“There they are!” he cried. “My expecting young couple!” He hurried toward them, arms open. “I have some special tea blended for you, my dear,” he added to Katara with a wink. “Very good for the mother-to-be and the baby alike! Suki has enjoyed it immensely.”
“Sokka,” muttered Katara dangerously. It could only be him behind this. Suki was good at keeping her mouth shut.
“What?” her brother asked bewilderedly from behind her. He and Suki had arrived to share the meal with them, as they did most days when all of them were free. If Aang and Toph and the rest had been there, they would have joined the royal couple as well.
“You told!” she shrieked, pivoting sharply to face him. “I asked you not to say anything, and yet Iroh knows!”
Sokka raised his hands defensively. “You said don’t say anything to Zuko,” he said patronizingly. “And I didn’t.” He smirked, thinking he’d won. Katara trembled in rage. The drinks behind her began to rise threateningly from their containers.
“Sokka knew before me?” Zuko asked mildly. He was only doing it to break the tension, and it worked wondrously.
Instantly, Katara’s anger deflated. “I’m sorry,” she said in a rush, looking back at him. “I just got so excited and I ran into them in the hall before I found you because you weren’t in your office and spirits only know where you go when you’re not there and it just kind of came out.” The anger re-ignited. “I warned him not to tell you and I hoped he’d have the sense not to tell anyone else either. But apparently he’s brainless,” she gritted out, glowering ferociously at her brother.
“It’s okay, Katara,” he said, but before he could add anything else, Iroh was ushering them into the room.
“I had the servants prepare a special menu for Lady Katara,” he said. His glee was uncontainable. “Lady Suki will benefit greatly as well.” He smiled brightly at the pregnant women.
As he began to point out certain dishes and explain how they would be good for the babies, Katara’s thoughts drifted to names again. She really wanted a girl…
A slight, unassuming figure stood, stoically silent, in a room of soft yellow. Seated at the table opposite him was a young woman in disarray. Her unbound hair looked in dire need of a brush, and her plain clothes were as disheveled as if she’d been sleeping in them for days. Her face would be beautiful it wasn’t set in that unsightly scowl all the time, and a sour, unwashed odor filled the air. Nevertheless, she still commanded respect easily with that calculating gold gaze.
“So,” the young woman said slowly. Her voice cracked as if it hadn’t been used in a long time. “My big brother is having a child with that Water trash he married…”
“Yes, princess,” the figure said redundantly. “The news was just confirmed. The gender is unknown.”
“The gender doesn’t matter,” the young woman snapped, fixing a glare on her visitor. “He’ll have an heir either way and then he’ll be able to do away with me with a clear conscience, just like he did to Father. We have to act soon. Set the plans in motion. I need to be free.”
“As you wish, princess,” the figure murmured respectfully. He bowed and left.
In the ensuing silence, another shadow departed, satisfied that it had been undetected.
Or at my journal.