There was a stretch of quiet after the question, where Zuko fought a war to keep the sadness from his face, but, as always, he lost that battle. He mustered a smile anyway, and brushed his thumb over his child’s cheek. Zuko was glad every time the golden eyes of his own bloodline peered up at him, so he didn’t have to wonder about if they’d been blue instead of tawny.
“I lost some really tough fights all in a row.”
Zuko’s remaining eyebrow twitched up just a little, as if mildly amused by the question. “Have you met Katara? I’m pretty sure that fidelity is her middle name.” He leaned back in his seat. “Once she decides she’s with you—or against you—there’s virtually nothing that can persuade her away from that. And, if she does change her mind, she’ll be the first to tell you. To your face. I would know.”
Hands folded in his lap, Zuko’s gaze remained unwavering, confident. “So, there’d be nothing to forgive, because I’d eat my left boot before it’d actually happen.”
“It doesn’t hurt me anymore, that’s why,” he said, meaning it. “It got better a long time ago.”
He thought about all the things he could say, about how he wasn’t sure there was a ‘one’ for anyone, about how he’d made so many mistakes before and after meeting Katara.
He smiled and tucked a stray dark brown hair behind the child’s ear with the soft fondness he reserved for his children and wife. “I knew because I thought I was going to lose her, and that I would do anything to save her.”