Forgetting the comics, what do you think Katara and Zuko would have done at the end of book 3? Do you think Zuko and Katara would have gone to the Southern Water Tribe together or stated in the Fire Nation together? Or do you think they would have gone their separate ways? I feel like Karara would have needed to go back home to try and rebuild her tribe, but I can’t see her feeling happy staying there very long. I’m super interested for your thoughts, and I love all of your analysis!

araeph:

I think Katara would have
spent a couple of weeks in the palace, healing Zuko as only she could (since
there would be no other water healers on hand) and at the same time, making
good use of the vast information available at her hands to expand her healing
arsenal. She would probably ask about psychological illnesses, too, since she
would feel partly responsible for what happened with Azula. At that point, a
very grumpy Zuko would inform her that she can’t take on everything herself, so he will study up on the psychological
manuals while she deals with the physical. In the process, he would have a few
revelations along the way about what happened to him and his sister in their
childhood, and how they can better recover.

Meanwhile, the palace would
have to be renovated and power not only consolidated, but held as Ozai’s
bullies and yes-men get flushed from the Fire Nation capital. Iroh would
definitely have his work cut out for him as Zuko recovers, and he and his
nephew would have to work out a plan for co-ruling, with Iroh gradually
transferring more power to Zuko as he grows into his own. When the plan is
finalized, Katara knows she needs to go home, and feels a pang of regret,
without knowing exactly why this affects her so much. Zuko knows, deep down,
that he is in love with her, but refuses to admit it to himself because doing
so would be too painful. (It’s not like he could ask her to stay, after all
she’s done for him.) So, avoiding Uncle’s knowing looks, the two would bid each
other a fond good-bye, complete with a lingering hug and promise to write each
other. Katara would set sail for the Southern Water Tribe and prepare for the
monumental task of rebuilding.

It would take several years
before they spent a long amount of time together—there’s too much for both of
them to do in their respective nations, and the voyage back and forth takes
time. But there are reunion parties with the GAang, and treaties to negotiate,
and refugees to settle, and international crises of one kind or another. And
Katara does have another solo adventure with Zuko when she journeys with him to
find out what happened to his mother. (Hint: it’s not what happened to Ursa in
the comics. Because that was stupid.)

Katara and Sokka would
package their letters to Zuko with dried jerky, hand-sewn ornaments, and
“artistic” carvings that find their way in no matter how much Katara protests.
Because when Sokka points out she spends more time on her hand-sewn gifts than
he spends on the carvings, she blushes as violently as she defends herself.
Sokka and Hakoda have a man-to-man talk about whether Zuko is good enough for
Katara, and they both agree that he is, and also that it wouldn’t really matter
because Katara wouldn’t let either of them have a say anyway. So the next
series of correspondence includes an official letter from the chief to host a
Very Important Ceremony for the Firelord. For purely political reasons.

Zuko, at this point, would be
up to his ears in marriage offers, and Katara would be fending suitors off with an
ice pick. The difference is, Katara would also be contending with the sexism
trickling south from the Northern Water Tribe, and one day, she would
realize how much she is still invested in providing for everybody else at her
expense. Uncle also fears that Zuko is giving too much of himself to the job,
and not leaving any room to be himself. The position of Firelord is too much
for one person to take on, and the position of chief’s daughter doesn’t offer
enough for Katara’s talents. Uncle would tactfully hint at this fact to Hakoda,
who would ask why Zuko doesn’t do something about it then. Uncle just sighs and
says Zuko thinks he has too much to lose by trying. However, Zuko surprises
everyone by accepting Katara as a Water Tribe ambassador in front of everyone—a
position that no one knew she’d applied for and that she didn’t think she’d
get (as she has to be approved by several Fire Nation diplomats as well). Her job will be to establish a permanent outpost of waterbenders in the
Fire Nation so that the diplomats, royalty, sailors, and traders have a
miniature community of their own to call home.

It won’t be until another
catastrophe, another back-to-back fight, and another reunion in Ba Sing Se takes place that Katara and Zuko finally find their way to each other
romantically. There will have been dinners, and plans, and long walks on the
beach at Ember Island in the intervening months, but neither of them willing to admit what it means for them. Now, ten years on, they realize how much time has passed, and how short
life really is now that they’re no longer teenagers. When the GAang say their
goodbyes this time, Sokka goes back to the Water Tribe alone, and Zuko asks
Katara to stay at the palace. They will marry within the year, and spend the
rest of their lives toppling every single wrong idea about their marriage, their identities, and whether their nations can heal. 

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