Life Happens Wherever You Are (Zuko x OC)

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Chapter 16

The next morning, Iroh decided he wanted to accompany me to the market for a while. Zuko stayed at our place, while Iroh and I left.

Going to the different places, Iroh was getting some interesting stuff. A picnic basket, a pipa, and a few other random things. We ended up passing by a clothing shop with dresses out the front, and Iroh noticed me looking.

“Would you like to try one? I haven’t seen you in anything but the one you are wearing.”

I looked down, embarrassed. “This is the only dress I was able to bring from my village.”

Iroh smiled at me and took my hand, “Let’s get you a new one then.”

I smiled back at him and let him lead me to the shop. Iroh went around grabbing some dresses, and gave them to me to try. The woman who was working in the shop, who I assumed was the owner, was very nice, and let me try them on. After some charming from Iroh, that is. The first dress was too long, I kept tripping over it. The second dress had long flowy sleeves that would get in my way, so I decided against that one. The third dress was too short, I didn’t even let Iroh see that one on me. But the last dress, I liked that one. It was a beautiful dark green color, with lighter green accents. The sleeves were tight, and stopped just above my elbows. The bottom of the dress went just below my knees, with two slits going up either side, coming to my mid-thigh. The v-neck style of the dress showed my collar bones, and made Zuko’s necklace stand out. I really liked the fit of it, it was form fitting, but not constricting.

I walked out from behind the curtain, and Iroh smiled, “Do you like that one? How does it feel?”

“I love it,” I smiled to him and the lady.

Iroh grinned and paid the lady, and after thanking her for her help, we left.

“I bet Zuko will like that dress,” Iroh nudged me as we walked down the street back to our place.

“There’s only one way to find out,” I smiled nervously at him. I hope Zuko likes it, he has only seen me in the one that was now in my hands.

We walked through the front door, to see Zuko sitting cross-legged on the floor, breathing deeply. I smiled at the sight of him, my stomach fluttered.

He opened his eyes and looked at us, “Hey, you got a new dress,” he stood and came over to me.

“Yes I did, do you like it?” I asked him, fidgeting with it.

“It looks great on you,” he smiled at me.

I blushed and smiled, “Thank you, Zuko.”

“I was just about to leave for the tea shop, are you coming?” he asked us.

“Yes, I need to bring some ingredients from the market over there,” I responded, looking to Iroh.

“I will join you guys later, I have some other business to attend to.”

Zuko and I looked at each other, confused. Before we could say anything, Iroh was gone.

When we got to the tea shop, the customers were happy to see us, as well as Pao. I gave him the stuff from the market that he wanted me to get, and we started working on the area for the new plants. After a while, Pao realized that he forgot to get something from the market, and pleaded for me to go out and get it.

“It’s a bit late, are you sure they are still open?” I asked him, wiping my hands on a rag.

“Oh yes, they stay open quite late,” he nodded enthusiastically.

I chuckled, “Alright, alright, I’ll go.”

“Oh yes! You are wonderful Mara!” he jumped for joy.

I laughed and looked at Zuko, who had a small smile on his face across the shop. I noticed a girl in the corner that was watching him, and when she saw me looking, brought her gaze down to her tea.

Pao gave me some money and I set out to the shop that he had told me.


The shop was a lot further away than I had expected, and by the time I had gotten what he needed it was fairly late. People were finishing their dinner, and those who had gone out were just getting home. I walked down an alley and stopped short just before the corner when I heard what sounded like the girl from the tea shops voice.

“I can’t believe it, they aren’t lit,” she sounded upset. I peeked around the corner to see the girl, standing next to Zuko.

Why would he be here with her? He was wearing a nicer outfit as well, a light brown long sleeved shirt with a dark green vest over the top. I had never seen him wear something like that before.

Zuko looked at her, I wasn’t sure what his expression was, it was hard to see with the darkness and how far away they were.

“Close your eyes, and don’t peek,” Zuko said. What is he going to do?

She smiled at him and placed her hands over her eyes.

Zuko looked around a bit, and walked further forward. Then he put his hands together and took a deep breath. When he opened his eyes, his eyebrows furrowed, and he took a solid stance. Suddenly, he was throwing little spurts of fire to all the unlit lanterns, the area growing more and more bright as he went. Is he crazy? What if someone sees him?

Once he was done, he said, “Okay, now you can look.”

She removed her hands, “Oh wow.” She looked around and started walking towards Zuko. “What happened? How did they light? What did you...” she trailed off.

Zuko smiled at her, a smile that I had only seen directed towards me before. They both looked at the fountain for a few moments.

From where I was, I was still in the shadow, so they couldn’t see me. The girl fixed her hair, and then slid her hand into Zukos’. I held my breath as they turned to face each other. They were fairly close to each other, when all of a sudden, Zuko brought his other hand up and held something in between their faces.

“I brought you something,” he said quickly, “It’s a coupon for a free cup of tea.”

“Lee, this is so sweet,” the girl looked disappointed at first but then put on a smile.

Zuko stepped away from her, “Don’t thank me, it was my uncle’s idea.”

What? Why would Iroh support this date, after what he said in the market?

“He thinks you’re our most valuable customer.”

“Your uncle is a good teacher,” she responded.

Wait, did she just agree that she’s the most valuable customer?

She stepped closer to him, putting her hand on his cheek so that he was facing him again. “I have something for you, too. Now it’s your turn to close your eyes.”

Zuko slowly closed them, waiting to see what she was going to do. My heart was pounding, I was afraid it would give me away. He wouldn’t do this to me... would he?

Before I knew it, their lips met. I turned away, my heart aching. I started to run back down the alley, tears streaming down my face. I went further down the street and down an alley that was behind them, and headed to our place.

I couldn’t stop the tears from flowing as I swung our door open, walking inside and slamming it behind me.

Iroh stood up from where he was on the couch, concerned, “Mara, what is it? What happened?”

I looked at him through blurry eyes, “Why would he do that? Go out with that girl... and after he told me last night that he cared about me.” I wiped away my tears, but they were replaced with more. “I don’t understand.”

I brushed passed Iroh and went into our room, putting the stuff from the market down on the floor next to the door.

“Oh Mara, I am so sorry,” Iroh was standing in the doorway.

I laughed through my tears, “Why are you sorry? You didn’t do anything wrong.”

“But, I did. It is my fault Zuko went out with her. She asked him in the shop and I told her yes for him, I didn’t give him a chance to respond.”

I looked at him with pain in my heart and on my face. “It’s not your fault if Zuko never told you what was between us.”

Iroh looked down at the floor. I walked over and said, “I’m tired, goodnight Iroh.” Before he responded I started to shut the door, and he took a step back to allow me to.

I don’t understand. If he didn’t want the date, why did he kiss her? Is there something wrong with me that he sees that I don’t? Is that why he doesn’t want me? But what he said last night... It just doesn’t make any sense. He must have been lying to me. Am I too complicated to love?

I untied my new dress and folded it on the floor. I crawled onto the mat and under the blanket, staring at the wall on the other side of the room. After not too long, I heard the front door open.

“How was your night prince Zuko?” I heard Iroh say.

“It was nice,” I heard Zuko say before he walked into the room.

I didn’t look at him, I just continued to stare at the wall. I could feel the tension in the room, I hope he feels guilty about it.

“How was the market?” I heard him say.

I didn’t respond, I just shrugged my shoulders. Zuko didn’t try to talk to me again. He took off his shirt and laid down next to me.

After a little while, I said, “I thought you weren’t pretending.”

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