I've stumbled over my words a thousand times now, and he finally loses his patience.
"Spit it out Zuko." We have to whisper, to not wake every one else, but I flinch just as mush as I would have had he shouted.
"I want to court your sister." I brace myself to lose a few teeth, confused as to why this scares me so much, but when I open my eyes again He's looking me up and down thoughtfully.
"Why what?" My brows furrow together, and he gives me an exasperated look.
"You are a prince. Why would you chose a peasant? And a water bender at that." His voice is hard, pointing out things I would've never noticed.
"When I look at her, I don't see that. When she smiles she is royalty. The first time she protected Aang from...the passion in her eyes was all I was. It's not that I didn't hurt her. I couldn't. I tied her to a tree because I couldn't stand the thought of her jumping into the fight and being hurt."
I slip into memories of her fighting my men, and how I wanted to jump in and protect her. How I pulled back hits, when I could've seriously hurt her, but needed her to be okay more than I needed to capture the Avatar.
"And when you said she was taken...I died just a bit. She was the only thing worth more to me than catching Aang. I sacrificed my plans to keep her safe time and time again."
His hand reaches out to grip my arm, and I look down into his eyes.
"You have my blessing, but you still have to get her to go with it. I don't control her."
"I know. Believe me. But until I know it's the right time, I need you to do something for me."
"Okay. What is it?"