The Element of Love (A Zuko Love Story)

My name is Alata. My best friend is Prince Zuko of the Fire Nation. My nation has been at war for a hundred years. My father was killed while trying to kill off the Air Nomads when I was seven. My mother died of a broken heart soon after that. Being the best friend to the prince, I was invited to live in the palace. People say they know Zuko's story.
I say otherwise.
I'm Alata and this is my story.

Chapter 1

Four Years Before The Avatar Came Back.......

"Zuko, come on!" I yelled behind me. "I know you can run faster than that!" Zuko was running a few feet behind me, his black hair blowing in his eyes. He was smiling as he ran after me.
When I said that, he put his hands into fists and closed his eyes, still running. Suddenly, jets of fire came out of his fists, jetting him through the air. When he was over my head, he did a flip and landed a couple of feet in front of me. He looking back at me, smiling and laughing like crazy. Cheater, I thought.
We kept running, through the courtyard and into the palace that we (well, mostly Zuko) call home. When we were halfway down the long hallway, we both collapsed, laughing our heads off. It had been a long time since I felt this light and happy. It was actually my idea to have the race in the first place, which definitely lift my twelve-year-old spirits. Zuko looked how I felt, too.
"Well, that was a pretty good race," he said, grinning. "But I still won."

"Did not!" I replied. "I was clearly in front of you when we stopped,"

"No, it was definitely me who was in front," he said, standing up and holding out his hand to help me up.

"Okay, okay," I said, holding my hands up in defeat before taking his outstretched hand. "Whatever you say, Your Highness," I took the edges of my burgundy red and gold skirt and sloppily curtsied.

He smiled. "Not yet, Alata, not yet,"

I rolled my eyes. He was always rubbing it in my face that one day, he would be Fire Lord and I would still just be an "advisor" as Zuko's father says. Well, at least, I've heard that's what he's said about me. I've never actually met him because, well, he's Fire Lord.

"Alright, let's go and get ready for dinner," I said.

"Alright," he replied

We started to head down the long hallway until we reached my room. I turned to Zuko and gave him a hug.
This was unusual for me because since my mother died, I haven't really been much of a hugger. But I was in such a good mood today and Zuko is my best friend, so it just seemed like the right thing to do.
Zuko seemed very surprised too when I hugged him, but after a moment, he hugged me back just as warmly. And I mean literally warmly. Him being a Firebender and everything makes him give very warm hugs.
"I'll see you at dinner," I whispered in his ear.

"You, too," he whispered back.

I let go of him and walked into my room, closing the door behind me.
************************
An hour or so later, I stepped out of my room. I had changed for dinner, as dinner in the Fire Lord's palace was considered a very formal event. I was now wearing a dark red wrap around dress with gold embroidery around the hem. I went down the hall to get Zuko.
When I got to his door, I knocked five times, our way of telling each other it's the other person. I got no answer. Just in case he was in the middle of changing for dinner, I waited outside his door for a few more minutes. When he still didn't come, I opened the door. He wasn't in there. Hmm... I thought. He must already be down at the dining hall. So I turned to face the end of the hallway and headed in that direction.
A couple minutes later, I arrived at the doors that lead into the dining hall. I opened one of the doors and stepped in. There was no one in here either. This is strange, I thought.
Then I heard it.
There were cheers and shouts coming from the other side of the left wall. Right were the......
I started running.
When I reached the large metal doors, I pushed one of them open. There was Fire Lord Ozai, standing in the middle of the mini arena made for Firebending battles, looking down at a hunched over person at the edge of the arena. He yelled something at the figure that I couldn't quite make out over the yells from the crowd. I set off towards the area nearest to the platform on which the battles were fought. I got there easily, considering I'm almost a princess. By the time I got there, though, the figure had stood up and was now facing Ozai. I let out a little yelp.
It was Zuko.
I couldn't imagine how this could've happened, but I didn't have enough time to figure it out. Because right at that moment, Fire Lord Ozai shot a fireball at Zuko and it hit him directly in the face. He went down like a rock.
I rushed over to Zuko's side of the stage and lifted myself up onto the platform. Ozai was walking towards the doors now, preparing to leave. If only I had my sword! I thought. I couldn't Firebend, but I was pretty handy with a sword. Anyway, I rushed over to Zuko. It looked like he was unconscious, but thankfully, Zuko's uncle, Iroh, came over to help me take him away to get healed.
"Please help him," I could barely whisper to Iroh. It was then that I realized I was crying. "Please,"

"I will do the best I can," he said in his surprisingly calm voice.

He carried Zuko away, with me at his heels. Finally, we reached Zuko's room. Iroh set him down carefully onto his bed and got out some bandages and what looked like mint leaves.
"Mint leaves dull the pain," he said, as if he was reading my mind.

I simply nodded. Just start working already!
Iroh first put some mint leaves on Zuko's eye. It looked really badly burnt and bloody. I'm just glad he was unconscious because if he was awake, he would probably be screaming right now. Anyway, after he applied the tea leaves, Iroh wrapped the bandages around Zuko's head and over his eye. After a couple of minutes, he turned to me.
"I'm afraid this is all I can do. It won't heal all the way. He will have a scar left over even after it has been healed as much as it can," Iroh said this in a hurried tone.

"Why do you seem like you're in such a hurry, Iroh?" I said, even more worried than I was a moment ago.

"I need to get him out of here. If his father has attacked him, he has probably done something very out of turn. No doubt his father will come after him again and he needs to get away from this place before he does," Iroh explained, starting to rush around the room, putting some necessities and such into a sack.

It took me a moment to process this. But when it got through.....
"When you say 'I', you do mean 'we', right? Because I'm not being left behind," I said, hurrying over to help him pack. He looked at me.

"No, Alata, it is far too dangerous. If you come too, you will also be called a traitor, as will I and Zuko. I can't risk--" I stopped him by putting my hand up.

"There's nothing left for me here anyway," I said quietly. "I'm coming whether you like it or not,"
Once I had said this, I grabbed the two swords that I knew Zuko hide under his bed, put them on my back, put my cloak on over them, and helped Iroh pack. He just looked at me and said nothing more.
When we had everything we needed, we snuck out of the palace in the dead of night. When we were a fair enough distance away, with Zuko, still unconscious, safe on Iroh's back, I looked back at the palace I use to call home. This morning, I was basically a princess, I thought. Now I'm a traitor. Figures.
And with that thought, I look away and set on a journey that would take me farther than I could ever imagine.

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