He doesn’t know what to say. He’s never been good with words, and she always takes everything that he tells her, and turns it around. He’s only 17 (Or maybe 16—God, he feels so much older, as if he’s lived lifetimes), but she makes him feel something burning in the pit of his organs. And when she looks at him with those big, blue eyes, it doesn’t matter that he has a girlfriend (All sharp edges, knives and sarcasm; a tongue that could flay you alive), or that she’s supposed to belong to someone else, because in those moments it feels as if he’s falling. He knows he ought to be afraid; it puts him in her power, and there is a definite stab of fright at the thought of losing himself entirely, but he also knows that he’ll give her anything she wants, if only she would ask.
He struggles with it; with the things that he can’t say to her, and the feelings he can’t articulate. He knows that she isn’t oblivious, and sees the little looks she gives him, and the gentle brushes of her brown hand against his own pale fingers, but it isn’t enough. His uncle had told him once that actions spoke louder than words, and upon reflection, he agrees; so why is it that his message is unclear? He wants to tell her that he’d die for her, and that he can’t stand the thought of a world without her; that his people, and the welfare of his country pales in comparison to her. He wants to tell her that he would make her his world, if she would only let him.
He wonders if she knows, as she knows so many other things about him; things that he would rather keep secret, and motivations that he tries to obscure (it doesn’t matter, she sees through everything, and he can never lie to her. Not really. He can only hope that she doesn’t look for this particular truth, because as much as he wants to tell her, he can’t bring himself to say that he wants more, and risk the companionship that they have, even if it makes him miserable) he gets the feeling that she knows. Does he imagine the answering spark in her gaze, or the electric thrill of her skin when she touches him, or the soft, fragile ache in his chest when he is close to her?
Every time she comes to visit, she feels the flutter of wings in her rib-cage and the buzz of butterflies along her skin. They burst into flames whenever he smiles, and sometimes, when she’s not in control of her thoughts, she wishes that she could be the cause of that smile, and wake up to it every day. It isn’t practical, and she tells herself that it wouldn’t work, but there is always the stiff ache in her bones when she steps aboard the boat home that feels like longing.
Her head is full of the things that she doesn’t know, and the things that she can’t say, and the feelings that she’s supposed to have, but she can’t help but notice that her relationship with the boy who loves her is like trying to shove a puzzle piece into the wrong slot. Her heart isn’t in it, and she scolds herself; tells herself that this boy is the savior, and why shouldn’t she love him. She wants to love him, but she doesn’t, and she doesn’t know why, and it scares her.
She can’t love the Fire-Lord. It isn’t practical; it will never work, and besides, he has someone else, but nevertheless, she feels a surge of joy whenever he comes to visit, or brings her a firelily in friendship, or makes her laugh. Seeing him with his sharp girlfriend is like prodding a fresh, red bruise, and it aches gently, leaves her loose and swollen, and bitter. She feels ashamed to admit that she covets what belongs to another, but sees no way to change facts; she is irrevocably in love with him.
It starts in little things; a brush of the hand, a gentle smile, murmured comment, but it becomes more; a gentle kiss to his scars (the one on his chest is her favorite, and she considers it hers), a threading of fingers, a tight embrace. In these moments they feel like brands the boundaries that separate them, and if they surge together, trying to erase them, and rewrite their story, is that wrong?
Is it a sin?