Mother had not taught him nearly enough about herblore, Zuko realized as he stared down at two nearly identical plants. One of them was a stinging prickleweed, a vital ingredient for the burn salve he was making for Toph's feet, but he had never seen the other before. Maybe if he hadn't spent so much time trying to be the impossibly perfect prince his father would have never let him be and dedicated more time to learning from his mother, he would know the difference between the two plants, but as Zuko was now, it was hopeless.
With a deep, heartfelt sigh, Zuko threw both plants into his basket and resolved to just make two pots of the cream and figure out which plant was the stinging prickleweed based on which one actually worked.
He couldn't help but think of his mother whenever he was in a garden, much like tea made him think of Uncle Iroh. What would Uncle think of him now, betraying the Fire Nation for the second time, this time to teach the Avatar instead of hunt him? Zuko liked to think both his mother and uncle would be proud of him, but it was hard for him to know for sure. Figuring out what the right thing to do was had been hard enough, and actually doing it even harder. It didn't help that he was so bad at it.
Zuko had brought the tools he was going to use to make the cream into an abandoned room in the Air Temple so he wouldn't have to listen to snide comments from the Water Tribe siblings about it. He carefully controlled the fire to keep from burning his concoction, falling into a bastardization of his usual meditative trance while he worked. Once he was done and his concoctions cooled, Zuko made two small burns on his arm and then treated them both with the two different creams.
Strangely enough, both seemed to work, but that wasn't a bad thing. After all, teaching firebending usually resulted in a few burns, so burn cream would be needed soon enough. Maybe the two plants had been different variations of the same species.
Carrying both of the pots with him back to the main camp was a little difficult, but Zuko managed as long as he didn't walk too fast or make any sudden movements.
"Here," he said, holding out one of them to Toph when he found her.
"What's this, Sparky?" Toph asked, her expression a little wary. Being blind, she didn't seem to have learned how to guard her expressions, and so it was easy to tell what she was feeling from the look on her face.
"It's for your feet," he explained.
"Aw, is this an apology present?" she asked, a gleeful grin stretching across her face as she examined the cream with her fingers. She rubbed some of the burn cream into them and then sniffed. "Smells kinda herby. Burn cream?"
Zuko nodded, remembered she was blind, and then responded verbally. "Yeah."
"Then I'm guessing no one told you that Sugarqueen is a healer."
Of course, waterbenders could heal, how could he have forgotten that? Which meant the present that, while in no uncertain terms couldn't expiate any of the vast guilt he felt for his previous actions, could at least have helped a little, was pretty useless.
Rather than say any of that, though, Zuko just sighed and reached for the pot. "I'll just get rid of it then, since it's useless."
Toph pulled it out of his reach and scowled in the general direction of his chest. "No! My present. No take backs."
Zuko froze before slowly retracting his reaching arm and setting the other pot down next to her. He was never going to understand these people.