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Young Love by mythicamagic

Chapter 1

AN: This is a writing commission for the lovely - prationality, over on tumblr ^^ Highschool AU has demons integrated into it. Yes it makes no sense. Just suspend your disbelief, buds.

Disclaimer: I do not own Avatar: The Last Airbender. 

---

For the better part of a year it had been a thorn in his side. The niggling, aching, irritating feeling of complete and utter warmth flooding his chest whenever a certain person entered the room.

Zuko trudged moodily through the hallway, gaze fixed ahead. He needed to do something about Katara. Having a crush on one of your best friends was not ideal, and worse still, he couldn't talk to anyone about it.

Sokka was out. He would either immediately tattle to his sister or get protective. Aang was possibly the worst one to ask, as he'd harboured puppy love for her since kindergarten, though Katara remained willfully ignorant. Suki would tell Sokka. Toph had been a serious candidate as a confidant but he'd decided against it when she'd blabbed last week about his secret tradition of watching Love Amongst the Dragons every year at the theatre.

He'd never be able to live that down.

I could tell Uncle, Zuko briefly thought, soon shaking that idea away. He'd rather not have a lengthy anecdote about turtle ducks swimming in the pond of unrequited love.

This left confiding in an outsider. However, he couldn't tell just anyone or it would become the gossip of the whole school.

Knocking on a classroom door, he waited.

"Come in!" Came a hearty chirp.

Wincing, Zuko pushed the door open and stepped inside, closing it behind him. The empty pottery classroom felt perfect for a secret meeting since the department had suffered cutbacks. Including the teacher. And the pottery classes themselves.

A young woman leaned against a desk, dark hair cascading around her shoulders. Glittering blue eyes danced with mild amusement, causing Zuko to become instantly wary. Maybe this had been a mistake.

"Glad you could make it!" Kagome Higurashi grinned, gesturing to a seat. "Come sit down, silly. I don't bite."

Stuffing his hands deep into his pockets, Zuko leaned against a desk as well. "I'll stand, thanks."

She let out a huff, shrugging and relenting. "So, let's cut to the chase; as you know, I'm the best matchmaker in this school."

Zuko was pretty sure she was the only matchmaker in the school.

"Anything you say will be kept totally confidential. I can't guarantee you'll get the partner you want but my track record speaks for itself," Kagome beamed.

"I'm going to stop you right there," Zuko sighed. "I don't...want to trick her into anything. I just-"

"It wouldn't be tricking," she looked affronted. "You seriously think Kouga and Ayame or Sokka and Suki would last if the foundation of their relationships had been built on lies? No, no. I'm just going to help you put your best foot forward."

Dragging a hand down the scarred side of his face, the teen grunted. "Maybe I just want to talk about it."

Kagome blinked, spreading her arms wide. "Well go ahead. No one's stopping you, Zuko."

Gritting his teeth and fighting the urge to sigh again, his lips pressed into a thin line, suddenly reluctant.

Tilting her head, the busybody took him by surprise. "This is about Katara, isn't it?"

He jolted violently. "H-how did you know?" He croaked. Shit. Did Katara know? Was it that obvious?

Kagome smiled while flipping dark hair dramatically over one shoulder, idly brushing down her green skirt. "Hey give me a little credit. I did say I was pretty good at this gig."

A quiet noise, like a snort, sounded out behind Zuko to his left. He turned sharply, startled to find another student leaning against the wall. If Zuko remembered right, the imposing young man was an upperclassman. "The hell- I thought we were alone."

"Don't mind Sesshoumaru. I hired him a long while ago to watch over these types of meetings," Kagome waved it off. "I've had clients get pissy before."

Sesshoumaru stared at him, unblinking. Pale white hair was tied back into a low pony tail, features fairly delicate and regal, clashing with the heavy energy rolling off him in waves.

Zuko felt a shiver run down his spine and faced forward. If she needed a demon bodyguard of such high calibre within a school with relatively low level onis, he wondered what kind of clients she'd dealt with in the past.

"So, Katara?" The matchmaker prompted.

"Yeah well...I like her," he said lamely. "I mean I...she's…"

The young woman peered at him curiously, causing Zuko to grit his teeth. "I don't know! Gn...maybe this was a mistake."

Kagome pushed off the desk to approach and gently touched his arm. Her expression no longer looked amused or playful, now very earnest. "Hey, it's okay. These kinds of feelings can be really complicated, especially when they're for a friend. It makes you worry that you'll cause a fissure in your friendship group."

Golden brown eyes widened a touch, throat becoming dry with mild fear. He could only nod mutely. Perhaps she did have somewhat of a talent for reading people.

She gave a smile, "look I completely understand if you want to keep your silence around her and just vent to me. That's fine, buddy. But I really, really think you should go for it and let me help you guys get together."

"Aang and Sokka-"

"Don't rule Katara's love life," Kagome cut in, voice firm. "Besides, if she does go out with you, Sokka will probably just give the protective brother speech and threaten to harvest your organs if you hurt his sister-"

"That's fair, I'd deserve it if I hurt her," Zuko mumbled soberly.

Kagome winced and patted his shoulder. "As for Aang, he'll come around. From what I've seen he might get upset but Toph will straighten him out. What do you say?"

The moody teenager stared down at his calloused hands. Exhaling hard through his nostrils, Zuko clenched his jaw. "Do you think I have a good shot?" He grumbled, glancing at her.

Kagome grinned, nodding enthusiastically. "With me by your side, you've got the best shot."

---

Overlooking the martial arts group as a type of mole for Kagome felt incredibly easy, considering Sesshoumaru was well versed in many of them.

At the moment, Katara stood a little ways away on a tatami mat, practising her Tai Chi form. He'd never had much cause to speak with the girl beyond small talk. Still, Kagome had nudged at him to try and glean more of her personality.

Walking over and stretching his arms, Sesshoumaru grunted. "Your right heel kick should be higher."

Her gaze flattened, becoming defensive. "Did that old goat Pakku tell you to say that?"

"No, this one is telling you."

Katara hummed, going back a form and trying again, kicking higher so that her leg pointed out straight. Sesshoumaru nodded, chancing more conversation. "You are a female."

"Astute observation. Where are you going with this?" She raised a brow, smoothly moving her body into another form.

"This one seeks advice. Be grateful you are the one I have chosen for council."

Katara released a long breath, straightening out of her form and minding her long braid aside. "Arrogance isn't a good method if you're wanting my help but go ahead. I'm used to the tough guy act from pre-Suki Sokka."

Sesshoumaru did not need her permission but spoke. "How does one secure the attentions of a human female?"

"Are you asking me dating advice?"

"Hn."

Katara eyed the demon, raising her arms and turning on one heel to move into another stance. "I can't speak for most girls because my family has its own traditions to follow, but a necklace wouldn't hurt."

"A necklace?"

She nodded, holding her posture. "Something personal, though. I'm sure you demons have traditions to follow too, don't you? Maybe include one."

Sesshoumaru mulled this over, inclining his head, expression wiped of emotion as per usual. Kagome didn't need to know what exactly he'd asked Katara, that was his business. "Hn, you were mildly useful."

Huffing, she kicked her left foot up near his enigmatic face. "You're welcome. Was that good enough?"

"You wobbled on your right heel. Again."

Katara grumbled under her breath.

---

Sitting quite contentedly in a cafe a few days later, Sesshoumaru sipped some tea. The atmosphere around him lulled into contentment. Despite the hustle and bustle of the patrons, he didn't feel particularly uncomfortable or annoyed. This sense of peace was abruptly broken as the scent of citrus and summer brushed into his nose.

"Hi!"

Kagome set her bags down in the opposite seat, sliding into the booth beside him and accidentally bumping his shoulder. The tea sloshed in his cup. "Okay, so their class had a project to complete and were separated into partners. Katara was originally paired with Haru, but!" She grinned, holding up a finger. "I pulled some strings and managed to switch him with Zuko. Isn't that perfect?"

Sesshoumaru blinked slowly. "How is it perfect?" He uttered, though she'd tell him anyway even if he didn't ask.

"Well this way, they get to spend quality time together totally alone!" Kagome gushed, opening a menu. "They'll be here any second. I reserved a booth for them just over there. You picked the perfect spot for spying."

"I did not know you would be here," he said flatly.

Tugging up her bag and rifling through it, Kagome produced a wig. Tying her hair back, she put a hairnet on, smoothing the blonde wig atop her head. Sesshoumaru felt used to her antics by now, watching while she took out a headset with a microphone and earpiece.

Kagome remained immensely serious about her unofficial job. Near everyone knew who she was in school, therefore a disguise became necessary when snooping. If Katara noticed her, she'd get suspicious about her presence.

"Is it still alright for me to babysit Rin later?" She asked casually.

He hummed, sipping the cooling tea. That was their exchange. Sesshoumaru remained a bodyguard of sorts while Kagome repaid him for his time by looking after his adopted sister when he needed to work after school.

They'd entered into their strange agreement six months ago. He could still hear the raised voices coming from the classroom. The abrupt slam of a desk hitting a wall and scent of salt in the air. How Kagome's wide, terrified eyes swung to him once he entered the room, her struggling form pinned beneath an incensed human student. An unhappy customer who hadn't taken too kindly to her failure.

In contrast to this grim memory, Kagome happily fussed with her equipment, stilling when a pale hand reached out to touch a dark strand of hair that escaped her wig. Lithe fingers tucked it back into hiding, sharp nails lightly skimming her cheek.

Kagome glanced up at him, blushing slightly. "Uh...thanks," she murmured.

Sesshoumaru stared, voice a soft rumble. "Hn."

Noticing something out of the corner of her eye, she gasped and shook his shoulder. "They're here!"

---

Sitting down across from Katara, Zuko took a breath, glancing around. It didn't take long to locate Sesshoumaru. Next to him sat a smaller blonde woman who gave a cheerful thumbs up. Zuko's gaze flattened. This was going to be a disaster, he could tell.

"Are you alright? You seem troubled about something."

Zuko jumped, looking at Katara as she set up her laptop and took out a binder. She was incredibly organised already despite the project just starting. It was just a little thing, but he liked it about her. She'd even arranged the papers by subject matter alphabetically.

"I'm fine," he said in a dusty voice.

Katara frowned slightly, the waitress interrupting them to ask what drinks they wanted to order.

Swallowing stifling nerves, Zuko did what he always did and ploughed on through uncertainty. Opening the envelope Kagome had given him, he slipped the earpiece in while Katara was mulling over the orders.

"Hey~ can you hear me?" Came Kagome's amiable voice. "Just nod if yes."

Zuko nodded. Katara ordered a Darjeeling tea, while he stiffly asked for a coffee.

"Okay, just talk about the project with her for now."

Katara was already a few steps ahead, talking while the waitress left. "I think we should start with the community centre."

"Huh?"

She tilted her head, hair loopies brushing the sides of her face, brunette hair falling in waves down her back.

Zuko's throat became dry, clasping shaking hands and resting them on the table. "Right. The project. Yeah, the community centre could definitely use some improvements."

Blue eyes blinked, the light from the window beside them bathing her dark skin in a soft glow. "How do you know that?"

An automatic sneer graced his features, glaring hard at the napkins. "My father poured money into building it just to secure a business deal by looking like a humanitarian. However, the second he got what he wanted he pulled the funding for resources."

A gentle touch startled him out of that particular tangent.

Katara gave an encouraging smile, "that's fine. Because you know what?"

Her smile was infectious and he gave a reluctant one in return. "What?" He grumbled.

"We're going to get the funding for even better resources and more involved staff, all without his input. You're going to do that. And it'll be great, Zuko."

Zuko swallowed, skin pricking with the sensation of her hand on his. She knew. She knew everything about his history with his tyrant of a father. How he'd given up the position that would've allowed him to succeed his father. Now he lived in a humble apartment with his Uncle.

Ozai had been responsible for evicting a large portion of Katara's neighbourhood from their houses through some legal jargon many years ago. After some arguments and fights in school, the two old enemies now sat in amiable silence. She could look at him with such soft eyes. Her forgiveness had soothed so much hurt between them.

The waitress returned, breaking the spell between them. Letting out a heavy breath, Zuko stiffened when a young man stepped around the waitress to address his friend.

"You're miss Katara, correct?"

She straightened, raising a brow questioningly. "Yes. Can I help you?"

The young man produced a bouquet of radiant flowers from behind his back. Fire lilies. Katara's mouth promptly fell open, the orange flowers placed in her frozen hands.

"Looks as though you have an admirer," the stranger winked, turning away.

Katara rose from her seat slightly, blushing. "Wait! Who are these from?"

"No idea, miss," he said over his shoulder, glancing at Kagome and smiling slightly. She gave a quick wave, grinning as Miroku left.

Zuko remained frozen in place. Fire lilies were almost too obvious! They were a type of flower well known in the city as one his family had produced. Hell, they were part of the logo on their company. He winced a little, thinking they might cause offence-

"They're beautiful," Katara inhaled the scent, blushing slightly. "They smell kind of like cinnamon," she mused, glancing up. "Do you...know who they might be from?"

"No idea," he mumbled, hearing Kagome's groan through his earpiece.

"Damn it, Zuko. Wait for me to give you some guidance. You could've said something much smoother!"

He touched his ear and turned his head slightly into his collar. "I'm not smooth! She'd know I was being weird if I fed her a line!" He hissed.

"Are you talking to yourself?" Katara bit her lip, fighting a smile.

From across the room, Kagome hit her forehead. She could only afford so much tech and had given him an earpiece. She couldn't hear his ramblings personally, it was only because of Sesshoumaru's excellent hearing and relaying of information that she knew what was going on. Zuko was right, he wasn't smooth at all.

Flustered, Zuko turned back to Katara a little too quick- knocking over the coffee cup with his arm and making a noise when the contents spilt onto the table.

Katara gasped and scrambled to place the lilies down, lifting her laptop away. The spillage headed towards her pristine, organised notes that had been set out to discuss. Zuko yanked his red jacket off his shoulders and pressed it down onto the table. The material quickly soaked up the coffee greedily.

Katara stared.

Kagome gawked, grasping Sesshoumaru's arm and shaking it slightly. "Wow. I didn't think things would escalate so quickly! This is perfect."

"Hn."

Lifting his gaze awkwardly, Zuko met smiling blue eyes. "You didn't have to do that," Katara said quietly, minding the papers away. "Thanks, Zuko. Would take forever if I had to print those out all over again."

Ah, of course she'd have backup copies. Duh. "Y-yeah, no problem. What are friends for?"

The sound of a hand smacking a forehead graced his hearing once more through the earpiece. "Honey, you're trying to leave the friend zone, not dig deeper into it."

Zuko glared at nothing in particular.

"Try saying: I know how much your notes mean to you, and anything that's important to you is important to me too."

Sighing, he ran a hand through dark shaggy hair, parroting Kagome's words out loud.

The girl sitting across from him took hold of his jacket, looking thoughtful. "I can wash this for you," she mumbled, glancing up at him. "And about...us being friends. I uh…" she blushed slightly. "I was wondering if-"

"Are you Katara?"

They looked up with twin scowls on their faces. This time a group of young men stood around their table. Zuko's face coloured red the second they opened their mouths and started singing. Every head within the cafe turned to watch.

Belting out some romantic ballad that hurt their ears and made Zuko want to shrink in his seat, he watched as they serenaded Katara. She looked mortified.

From across the room, Kagome gave another thumbs up. Something within him snapped.

"FORGET IT!" He burst, getting to his feet and shimmying out of the booth to storm out of the cafe. Katara called out somewhere behind him but the sound of his heart pumped deafeningly loud and fast in his ears. He couldn't continue, he realised. Embarrassing Katara wasn't something he'd set out to do. She didn't deserve that.

Cool outside air fanning over flushed skin felt like a welcome respite compared with the confusion and unease within the cafe. He marched through the parking lot, hands balled into fists.

"Zuko-" he yanked the earpiece out and stuffed it in his pocket. And yet, the calling of his name continued.

His heel dragged, Zuko stopping with mild surprise when he noticed Katara jogging after him. She'd left her things behind, laptop included. Taking a breath, she brushed one of her hair loopies away from her eyes.

"What's going on with you?"

Air rushed out of his lungs. Pinching the bridge of his nose, Zuko let the words quietly escape. "I...hired Kagome Higurashi."

"The matchmaker?" Katara's brow furrowed. "Why would you need to-" it clicked, and she glanced back into the windows of the cafe where the fire lilies had been abandoned. "Oh. Were...those from you?" She said slowly.

Zuko stared hard at the cement beneath his feet as though willing the ground to swallow him up. "Sort of."

She huffed, drawing closer and planting her hands on her hips. "There's no 'sort of,' Zuko. Are you interested in me or not?"

His eyes widened and slid up. Katara looked obstinate for information and oddly unoffended. He'd half expected anger or immediate dismissal. But maybe...maybe he hadn't been giving her enough credit.

Squeezing calloused hands into fists, he nodded. "Yeah, I am."

Katara's eyes widened slightly and the shock slid her hands free from her hips.

He ran a hand through his hair for the umpteenth time, minding the bangs from his eyes. "I like you," he muttered. "I've liked you for a long time. It's just that I didn't say anything because I didn't want to be greedy. You don't have to like me back or anything. Just don't break up the group because of me, Katara. This doesn't have to make things awkward. You all… mean a lot to me, ever since you accepted me into your group. So I don't think… I could take not seeing you," the words kept coming until Katara stepped forward, touching his hand.

"You never think things through, do you?" She murmured.

Zuko bristled. "Are you making fun of me? I'm pouring my heart out here-"

Katara giggled and suddenly grabbed him close, hugging him tightly. Zuko froze, stiffening within her arms. His breath fanned over her ear, hands settling at the perfect height on her waist, drawing her closer and revelling in the feel of her. The sensation of fingers brushing through the hair at the nape of his neck felt heavenly. "You wouldn't be kicked out of the group no matter what happened between us. You're not buying time or there by accident. Everyone wants you with us. So cut that out. As for the other thing…"

She surprised him by tilting her chin up, blue eyes connecting with golden brown. Zuko stilled, gaze flitting over her face, before giving in to the impulse to press his lips to hers.

They yielded easier than anticipated. He inhaled her scent, traitorous hands sliding up to touch the fall of soft hair. It was then that his mind caught up with his actions and Zuko broke away from her. "Ah- sorry, that was stupid. I didn't think-"

Katara made a frustrated noise before pulling him down again, cupping his face in both hands. He wondered what the scar felt like to her. Katara kissed him again, turning his brain into mush by parting her mouth and sliding a wet tongue against his lips. He granted her access, making a slight groan in the back of his throat. When her thumb brushed his ear Zuko near melted in her hands, fingers curling tight in her clothes, the material straining.

She then broke away with treacle immediacy, face flushed. She boldly took his hand, smiling. "Let's get our stuff and go for a walk together," she seemed to decide for them, a sparkle in her gaze. "There's a lot to talk about."

Zuko opened his mouth, croaking out a few nonsensical noises, before nodding astutely. "Okay."

If someone ever asked them how they'd gotten together, he honestly had no idea what to say.

---

Kagome hadn't moved an inch after watching Zuko run off. In fact, she'd seemed quite pleased with herself instead of concerned. Sesshoumaru hadn't understood why until Zuko and Katara reentered the cafe with a contented air about them, their gazes finding each other every few moments. They grabbed their bags, the flowers and the ruined jacket, leaving together without a backwards glance.

Kagome stood and removed the wig and headset, putting them away.

"You knew," he uttered.

"Hm?"

"You planned for this to happen, did you not?"

Sliding her bag over one shoulder, she shrugged. "After reviewing their profiles, I understood that Zuko has a temper and could get overwhelmed. Katara has one too and is fiercely stubborn as an ox about looking after people. I just prodded him a little and knew she'd follow him if he lost his nerve. Then there'd likely be a culmination of feelings," she turned. "My work here is done. Thanks for sharing your booth with me, I'll leave you to it," Kagome smiled and waved, walking out of the cafe with a spring in her step.

Sesshoumaru set some money down and smoothly rose, following with a blur of colour.

"Kagome," he said quietly once the doors slid shut behind him.

She blinked and looked up at him as he joined her side in the parking lot.

"This one does not need a culmination of feelings to understand what emotion I experience around you."

"What's that, irritation?" She teased.

Sesshoumaru frowned and reached into his pocket, pulling out a necklace with fangs as the charms. "We should engage in courtship," he said gravely.

Kagome's eyes widened, gaze flitting from the grim necklace and then back to his face, searching as though trying to discern his sincerity. His lips thinned, until a small smile tugged at her mouth, morphing into a gentle one.

Taking the necklace, she blushed slightly. "Is it customary for dog demons to give a tooth necklace when you want to date someone?"

"Hn, those are mine."

"YOURS?"

"They will be most useful when it is time for us to have children."

"C-children!?" Kagome looked a little unsteady. "Sesshoumaru!"

"Hn," a hand slid around her waist. "Though I'd like to have you all to myself for many years first."

"I should hope so, buster! We're in high school and I didn't even say yes yet," she huffed.

He lifted a large hand, palm up. "Then I will take the necklace back-"

"No, it's mine, no take backsies!" Kagome held it away from his grasp, soon grinning and leaning up to kiss the underside of his jaw. Sesshoumaru stilled at the action, gaze flitting down to her. "I accept, silly," the young woman murmured, hand curling around his own. "Though you could've wooed me a little first. Have my clients taught you nothing?" She teased.

Sesshoumaru's lips curved, gaze becoming half-lidded. "We may go to a restaurant tomorrow evening if you wish."

"I do wish," she hummed, putting the necklace on and wincing a little at how weird it was. Still, they didn't exactly make a normal couple themselves. "Let's bring Rin, though. She hasn't been able to spend much time with you lately."

Sesshoumaru gathered her closer then, causing her heels to lift from the floor. A deep well of warmth and pride spread through his chest right down to his toes. The matchmaker was truly a perfect choice for a mate.

"Hn," Sesshoumaru rumbled, pressing smiling lips to hers.

End

 

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