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Muddy Paint

Title-Muddy Paint
Fandom-Avatar: the Last Airbender
Characters-Zuko, Katara, mention of the rest of Team Avatar (s3).
Genre-General/Humor
Rating/Warnings-PG, non-sexual bondage, non-consentual toenail painting.
Pairing(s)-Zuko/Katara, if you squint and turn your head to the right exactly 41.69 degrees.
Summary-Zuko learns a lesson, and Katara gets to practice her painting abilities at the same time. //Oneshot, written for the AtLA General Request Meme over at [info]atla_grm. Go make some requests, peoples.//
Word Count-1,210
Chapters-1
Status-Complete.
Betaed?-No.

Zuko had experience in a lot different things. He was a skilled swordsman, could hold his own in a fight even without Firebending, could do calligraphy (to a point), and knew exactly how to avoid dying of heat stroke when wearing heavy Fire Nation royalty clothing. In all his years, he had certainly learned a lot.

 

What he had not learned, however, was how to take being strapped to a swamp tree by a fourteen year old girl.

 

“Let me go! What are you even doing? This is so—so stupid!”

 

In the dim moonlight, the scarred teen couldn’t make out much more than the smirk on Katara’s face. Even as his temperature rising from anger filled the air around them with steam, the Waterbender stood there smirking. It was infuriating.

 

“Oh, Zuko. Clearly, you’re a bit more trusting of your enemies than you should be. Especially when one says ‘hey! Let’s go out to a place filled with my natural element all alone!’.”

 

“But you’re not an enemy! We’re on the same side—the Avatar’s side! Why did you freeze me to a tree?” He struggled against the frozen bonds, trying to get past the chill of it to use his inner fire, but the lack of sunlight made his attempt to melt the ice futile. It wasn’t long before Katara realized what he was doing, and before Zuko realized what was going on, his neck was frozen to the tree as well, a band of ice running across his mostly closed mouth.

 

“To teach you a lesson. Although I don’t mind you being frozen to a tree.” The Waterbender bent down. “It makes this really easy, and the fact that you aren’t going to be able to talk very well is a bonus. Your voice gets annoying quickly.”

 

Mentally swearing, he tried to see what was going on down by his feet (and, of course, found that there was a convenient portion of ice that stuck out and made it impossible to see down very far—Katara obviously covered her bases well). There was a shift in the way his shoes fit on him, almost like they were hanging off…

 

“Wha re oo dovung?”

 

He meant to ask “what are you doing” when the jumbled syllables squeezed past the ice in his mouth, though it wasn’t really possible to be absolutely sure. It made the ex-prince mad that his proclamation fell amazingly short of where it was meant to be, but it made him furious to know that his captor was probably grinning like a maniac because of it.

 

“What was that, Zuko? You were…mumbling a bit.” As much as he wanted to spit out some retort to this, all that came out again was a mess of sounds, something that wouldn’t qualify as any language. Katara’s open, unrestrained laughter mixed with the normal sounds of a swamp at night, pushing Zuko to try and use his legs to gain some sort of elemental advantage over the Waterbender. What he got, though, was far from anything useful.

 

“I wonder what exactly you think making a bunch of steam with your feet is going to help. Because I’d really like to know. Unless your purpose in life is to make my hair a tangled mess?”

 

Now, his shoes were totally off his feet—whether that was of his doing or of the girl’s, he couldn’t tell. The dirty water pooled around them and further fueled the steam cloud he was producing, making seeing anything at all a hassle for the Firebender. Though not being able to see was the least of his problems when a sudden and total coldness hit his feet.

 

“Whar wz tha?” Zuko gargled out. He could hear a faint sigh from Katara.

 

“It was me freezing your feet so I can see what I’m doing. It’s incredibly hard to paint your toenails when I have a thick fog of dirty steam in my face.”

 

The words registered quickly with Zuko, and he immediately started to object, flopping his frozen together feet around wildly. It wasn’t soon after that he felt three separate tendrils of cold wrap around his legs at mid-thing, mid-shin, and at his knee cap.

 

“Honestly, Zuko,” Katara murmured, “at this rate, you’re going to get frostbite. In a Fire Nation swamp. How ironic is that? Now hold still, I need to start on your right foot.”

 

“Lear mi phee lone! Lear them lone!” The teen thrashed and thrashed and thrashed, but only got so far as to make his icy bonds melt a bit on the inside and drip muddy water down the front and sides of him and into his mouth. The taste of dirt and multiple unknown organisms were now going to be in his mouth for days. “Wonderful.”

 

It took a while, but at last, Katara stood up and dusted her hands off. She seemed to have some odd hair frizz, bringing a smile to Zuko’s face. At least he could give her that in return for this torture night.

 

“You know, I think it was a good thing that Toph kept making the buckets of water I collected into mud. It made painting your nails so much easier…” She looked up and grinned at the tired and angry Firebender (who now had become bit angrier at his nails being painted with mud; oh, how she was going to pay…)

 

“In any case, the brown makes your pale feet a little more interesting. Now, if anyone has to look at them—or, I don’t know, you shove them into people’s faces while riding on a giant sky bison—they’ll at least get a kick out of the little hearts on them.”

 

Now, Zuko really started thrashing against his ice bonds. This only brought a bigger and more distinct grin to his captor’s face.

 

“I’m sure you’ll have fun melting those bonds of yours once the sun comes up, Zuko. Oh, the fun you’ll have.” She ran manicured nails lightly down his cheek, a dark, frustrated blush following them the entire way, then turned around and started walking away.

 

As predicted, as soon as the sun started to peek over the far away mountains, the Firebender melted all the ice away and looked down. Sure enough, every last one of his nails was coated with thick layers of mud. The heart in each of them was cut deep, deep enough to where he could catch faint glimpses of his normal toe color. And try as he might, the mud simply would not come off—all he could do was scrape one or two layers off the top.

 

Of course, once the other members of the group saw his toes (his shoes had mysteriously gone missing, and was forced to search their camp for them bare foot) they had to stop packing Appa to roll around on the ground and laugh their heads off.

 

He quickly reciprocated his embarrassment by making sure his feet were near (or on) Katara’s head every time they were on the sky bison. Unsurprisingly, he was almost knocked off Appa midflight several times, and every time he went within three or four feet of Katara at camp found his head frozen in a block of ice.

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