Zuko's bending is discovered by Katara.
He’s awake, the amber light just barely visible. The rest of the team is snoring. He quietly sneaks away, the cool stone rough under bare feet. Making his way to what must have once been an awe inspiring garden. He carefully warms up; the circling motion of his hands gently guiding, the flow rises and expands. Pouring out of his hands like liquid honey. The trees and flowers bending in time to his movements, and they grow and twist like dancers.
A shocked gasp snaps him back to reality, and the promise of danger. It’s the Water Tribe girl, Katara? She stares at him, shock and betrayal evident in her face. There’s something hidden under the surface; disgust, rage, envy? He’s never been envied before. They stare at each other, the only sound of the wind and the rapid drumming of their hearts. “How could you?!!” her voice sound small and tight, like she’s fighting tears.
He can’t speak, he’s gone mute. “”How you... all you firebenders have done is hurt and destroy” she’s openly crying now. “Now, now you, now you can what…heal” the last word is bitten off, spitted out like it’s repulsive. “Yes, I see the life stream and shape it” she’s looking at him like he’s mad. “Look, throughout everything theirs a life vein, it’s what makes plants grow, gives people and animals life, it’s what gave the planet the ability to create everything”. His voice leaves him in a rush, knowing he needs to explain quickly before she goes on another tirade. She looks suspicious, but strangely curious. He decides a demonstration is in order.
He goes back to the beginning stance; carefully feeling the heat around him, taking stock of his inner fire and the old tree’s around him. His arms whirl in slow methodical circular motions, gaining speed. He connects his inner fire to his hands till they drip with energy, and then connects to the nearest tree. It’s old and the veins are nearly dried up; he coaxes and strains and finally is rewarded. The old tree flourishes with pink and lilac colored blossoms, leaves as green as his soul, and branches that pulse in time with his breathe.
He realizes that they have an audience; the group is staring at him. Aang’s face looks shocked, Sokka seems considering; like he’s trying to figure out a puzzle and Toph seems proud. He feels very nervous about that, but Katara seems less hostile.
“So can you firebend?” The small earthbender asks. His grin fades, and he can’t help but look at the ground. “No, I can’t.”