Chapter 1: ...and the proposal
There was an old saying in your village, and it had something to do with love and fate. You weren't one to listen to proverbs and tall tales, immersing yourself in the ways of firebending. Everyone knew that you took solace in fire. It was your family, friend, and lover.
"I present to you: Fire Queen [Name]."
And for it to be part of your title... Well, that wasn't so bad.
The question was a valid one and had to be answered before you had a mental breakdown. The two elderly women glanced at each other, as if they were debating on who would answer. The one on the left cleared her throat as she silently accepted the responsibility. "Fire Lord Zuko has been leading this great nation into a peaceful time. Now that this nation's citizens aren't thinking about war, their attention has been focused on their leader. At his prime age of 24, people are wondering when he will settle down."
"He's got Mai."
Again, the advisers had their silent discussion as to who would speak. The right one decided to explain, "Not too long ago, they found it best to part ways."
"Uh huh. Doesn't Zuko have other more suitable candidates?" You crossed your arms as you became even more suspicious.
"He specifically asked for you," the two advisers said in unison. The tone in their voices mirrored the same confusion you possessed.
You rolled your eyes at your predicament. "Now back to the question, why me?"
Your mother, who was present the entire time, elbowed your arm. You growled in pain and rubbed your arm as you noticed her glaring at you. You knew why she was angry-- the mere fact that you were addressing the Fire Lord so casually made her blood boil. At the same time, it seemed that you were going to decline the Fire Lord's request for you to be his wife.
However, you couldn't understand why she would be angry. You knew Zuko whenever his mom secretly brought him to the village. You played together, were almost inseparable whenever he was here, enough that you considered him a good childhood friend. That was way back when you were both around five or six years old. The last time you had seen him was when you were visiting the capitol with your mother and ran into him at a restaurant.
It was supposed to be an amicable meeting. You tried giving him a big embrace just like the old times, but he turned you down coldly and pretended not to know you. You were twelve at the time, and the rejection hurt. It wasn't that he didn't remember you; he was just afraid to be associated with you.
In your book, he was branded as a piece of turd. To have him requesting your hand in marriage... Yeah, confusion was an understatement. "Can I talk to him before we decide to do anything?"
The two advisers nodded with a sigh of relief, "That much we can do."
It was certainly going to be an awkward reunion.
Chapter 2: ... and the ultimatum
I will be referencing a lot of the Avatar show because it's a classic :,)
Your fingers tapped against the wooden table as you waited patiently for the man of the hour. After the confusion of being offered the lucrative role as Fire Queen had settled, you felt an enormous amount of pressure, especially now that you were in the Royal Palace.
Currently in the dining room, you tried to think of the many ways to greet Lord Zuko. You could be polite and mention how delightful it would be to become his wife. Or you could tell him a thing or two about how rude he was the last time you saw him and that he should stick that proposal up his ass. Or—
"Sorry for the wait," Lord Zuko called out as he entered the room.
You abruptly shot up from your chair, body tensing at the sight of him. Your eyes ogled him, marveling at how fine of a man he had become over the years. His childish features were gone, and he seemed so regal and manly. You caught yourself staring at him and hastily greeted him. "Hello! Uhh... [Name] here."
So, you went the awkward route and said something incredibly cringe-worthy. So what? You knew your social skills weren't on par with normal people. After the disappointment Zuko gave you years ago, you had decided that fire would ultimately become everything to you. You knew how to firebend and that was all that mattered.
It seemed that your greeting gave the Fire Lord some sort of nostalgia as he gave you a lopsided smile. He opened his mouth but snapped it shut when somebody walked up behind him. Their bald head and blue markings almost made you faint. "Wow! I didn't know you were going to a meeting for your arranged marriage, Zuko."
"Go back to your Avatar duties, Aang," Zuko growled.
Aang sent you a wide grin as he waved enthusiastically at you. You returned his gesture with a small wave. Since you couldn't trust what you might say to the Avatar, you opted to remain silent.
Aang noticed this and gave in to Zuko's demand. "Fine, fine. We'll talk more tomorrow."
When the door closed behind Aang, Zuko let out a small sigh of relief and traveled over to the table. He sat in the chair in front of you, and with the flick of his wrist, the servants began bringing in trays of food. Your mouth watered, but you refrained from touching anything. Not until Zuko at least cleared the air.
"I'd figure we'd eat first before talking."
Eh, works for you! You threw whatever your stomach desired onto your plate and began to devour your food. Zuko watched as he gingerly ate his own meal.
"How's your mom?"
You were by your second helping, food stuffed in your mouth when you realized that NOW he wanted to talk. "She's over the moon with this arrangement. How's your mom?"
You froze when you realized what you had said, though Zuko sent you an apologetic smile. "Not here. She would have been happy to see you."
"So my advisers informed me that you have questions," Zuko changed the subject.
"I just want you to explain why you requested me as your wife. I'm pretty sure there were a lot of girls who would have loved the position."
Zuko set his utensils down as his hard gaze pierced into your thoughts. "I know that I wasn't a good friend to you when we last met, but in the pool of candidates, you're the only one I know I can trust."
"We haven't spoken in over ten years."
"I don't understand it myself, but I feel like you are the only one I can turn to," Zuko admitted as he became flustered with his words.
You too felt your cheeks become rosy from embarrassment, and you glanced down at your unfinished meal. There was a moment of silence until you finally spoke up. "I'll try this out, though under one condition."
Zuko's eyes widened. "Anything."
"What?" Zuko gawked. "Like Agni Kai?"
"No way! Like a good sparring match!" You laughed at his suggestion, "Unless you want to do an Agni Kai with your fiance?"
He couldn't even burden himself to laugh, not when he was in complete shock. It seemed that little Fire Lord Zuko forgot how unusual of a person you were.
Chapter 3: ... and the stomachache
"She what?!" Lord Zuko exclaimed, his eyebrow twitching as he attempted to hold back his anger.
"She cannot fight. She has a stomachache, Lord Zuko," your newly appointed maid repeated, albeit weakly since she did not want to further disappoint him.
Zuko began his breathing exercises that his uncle had taught him to calm his temper. Of course, he was empathetic to the fact that you were experiencing common bowel troubles, but all the meticulous planning and preparation for the fight was going down the toilet... along with the contents of your stomach.
Yes, he had to prepare himself quite thoroughly for the upcoming fight with his soon-to-be wife. There wasn't any precedence to a Fire Lord physically fighting his wife in a public setting, so he had to proceed with caution. Ultimately, he and his advisers had decided to entertain your request and fight without the intention of winning. It was going to be a light sparring match that a four-year-old could enjoy.
It might be an insult to your so-called 'skills', but he just couldn't be out there (in front of many nobles and friends) beating up his fiancee. What would the public think? He didn't want them thinking you two hated each other! That could cause serious damage to the public's trust in him.
Even though you were in pain, he was relieved with the results of your overeating. He was able to avoid the conflict that he had lost sleep over. With a brighter expression, he returned his attention to your maid. "Can I see her... alone?"
The maid bowed, "Of course, Lord Zuko."
When the maid was out of his sight, he entered your room and closed the door behind him. His golden optics landed on your weakened form as you sat in the middle of your spacious bed, hair lazily pulled back into a bun and your face sickly pale. You noticed his presence and waved. "Zuko, long time no see."
A small chuckle rolled out of his mouth as he seated himself beside your bed. The tension in his muscles began to soften, and it was then that he realized how he hadn't been able to stop and relax for quite a while. He had been working tirelessly for years now with Aang in restoring peace; moments like these where he could sit and talk had been hard to come by.
"It seems that our fight has been canceled," Zuko casually brought up.
"You mean rescheduled," you corrected him.
He made no effort to dispute your statement, hoping it all to be smoke and mirrors. "Well, I thought that maybe we could... talk."
"Sure, I have all day."
"Oh... Uhh... So what have you been up to?"
"Hmm, nothing really. Just teaching firebending to the kids in my village," you responded, "but other than that, I've just been practicing."
His eyebrows knit together. Women your age were usually out looking for a husband, so it was certainly odd that you weren't mentioning your escapades with men. Instead, you were talking about firebending. "What reason do you have for practicing so much?"
You tilted your head to the side in confusion. "Well, it's because I love firebending," you answered honestly, "and the reason why I want to have that fight is because I want to be sure that my husband loves firebending too."
"And you're a good judge of that?"
"Yes, I am."
Zuko smirked as he folded his arms. He relaxed into his chair as he began thinking how maybe he was wrong about you. Maybe you were just misunderstood and that you were actually a normal girl.
You noticed his softening expression and sent him a grin, "Plus, I want to kick your ass."
Zuko's smile faded.
Yeah, you were weird.
Your hands were lifted and curled into fists with your body positioned to fight. Fire Lord Zuko, on the other hand, just gawked at you. Distracted, he missed the cue to start, and you took that chance to punch a few fireballs at him.
His eyes widened and his instincts kicked in. He engulfed one hand with flames and swatted the fireballs to the side. He growled in annoyance but there was no time to react, not when you were hurling yourself at him with fire propelling your body.
When you arrived in front of him, you immersed your right hand in fire and swung at his chest. Zuko bent backwards to avoid the blow, and with all the balance he could muster, he twirled his body away from your flurry of punches. To recuperate his standing position, he created a wall of fire, deflecting all your incoming attacks. As soon as he allowed the wall to fall, he pressed his fists together and let out a ferocious stream of fire.
Just by the sounds of more fire burning, it appeared that you had done the same. As the two fire streams collided, he devised a plan on how to defend himself without hurting you. However, when he heard the sounds of lightning crackling in the distance, he realized that you too were a quick thinker. You had already stopped your fire stream, rolled out of the way, and was directing a lightning attack at him.
With a smirk, you shot at him, but he did nothing to dodge it. Instead, he took in a deep breath and pointed his fingers at the incoming attack. His body acted like a metal rod and accepted the lightning, and when he exhaled, he redirected it at your feet. You were too much in awe to dodge, and the explosion threw your body backwards until you were rolling on the floor.
Using his counterattack's impact, your hands pressed against the ground to push yourself onto your feet as you continued sliding backwards. To protect yourself, you created a ring of fire around you, one that could swallow any fire that went your way. When you made eye contact with Zuko, you noticed that he made no move to continue his attacks.
You cocked a smile at him, "Not gonna fight?"
"I think that's enough--"
You didn't let him finish. You molded your ring of fire into another fireball and chucked it at him. He dispersed it with just a jab of his hand, "[NAME]!" he yelled in annoyance.
You took in a huge gulp of air before spitting out short bursts of fire with each burst aimed accurately at his feet. Zuko proved to be light on his toes as he moved around each burst. It was like a dance that you learned in the ruins you once visited. "Sun warriors?" you gasped when you ended your barrage of attacks.
Zuko froze at this (and you were quite surprised that he heard), "You met them too?!"
You smirked, "I'd be mindful of the floor, Zuko."
His eyes lowered, and he noticed that the last burst of fire was an explosive. "Dam--"
The impact threw his body in the same manner you were thrown. "Payback," you celebrated as you threw your fist into the air.
The Fire Lord landed gracefully onto his feet, but he didn't return to the fight as enthusiastically as you did. When he noticed the glint of joy in your eyes, a wave of nostalgia hit him. He recalled the sparring matches you two had when you were younger and how different your flames were compared to his; they weren't the embodiment of anger, destruction, or resentment. It was full of life and spirit.
"You haven't changed," Zuko commented with a smile.
"But you have," you softly remarked.
"Of course my nephew has!"
You whipped your head to the side and saw a rotund man traveling towards you two. "You look familiar..."
"Uncle, I thought you were in the Earth Kingdom," Zuko's voice cracked.
The elderly man chuckled as he neared your form. "The Avatar dropped by and mentioned that you were marrying a spirited woman. I just had to see her."
Zuko groaned at the predicament. Two weirdos in the same place? Just great.
1. The reader is not overpowered. She just caught Zuko offguard since she aggressively attacked him and he underestimated her.
2. Fire is the reader's life. It's like her soul and joy. If she practices it so much every day, I thought that if she's 24 years old, she SHOULD be able to produce lightning if she's that skilled.
3. The Sun Warriors thing... Just a little side note, there have been firebenders that know of the Sun Warriors as shown in the episode. Iroh was one of them, and there were many before that (some might have been eaten by dragons or passed the test). So it isn't an exclusive thing that Zuko and Aang ran into.
4. Every firebending move has been researched and I made sure that they were all done in the cartoon. I didn't make any up as far as I know. Thank you google! *puts shades on*
Chapter 5: ... and the tea party
*grabs magnifying glass* IS THAT DEVELOPMENT I SEE? :D
Everything was a blur. First, you were beating the absolute crap out of Zuko; the next, you were situated in the palace's parlor with some tea and pastries, enjoying the company of the Fire Lord and his uncle. "So you're the one who is willing to marry my nephew?" Iroh asked as he gobbled up his meal.
The question irked Zuko, even if it came from his respected uncle, and you didn't get a chance to respond. "What are you doing here anyways?" He changed the subject.
The elderly man switched his attention to Zuko. "I told you already. The Avatar stopped by for some tea, and we had a nice little chat. Of course, I'd be curious who the lucky woman was." He then returned his focus to you. "I expected some other type of gal to sweep you off your feet, but she's pretty unique."
"Can we please not talk as if I'm not here?" you nervously laughed. "Though I am appreciating the compliments."
Zuko groaned in annoyance. "Look, things are complicated right now. It would be helpful if you came back at a later time."
Iroh nodded in deep thought as he glanced back and forth between Zuko and you. You squirmed under his perceptive eyes. Growing up, you had heard many stories about the man, most of which were frightening. He used to be a conqueror of nations, esteemed heir to the throne, and uncle of your childhood friend. You didn't know much about his personality, that was until he became temporary Fire Lord for Zuko.
Establishing a National Tea Day made him a god in your book. You speculated him to be a pretty decent guy for that... No tyrant would willingly make a holiday after a drink, right?
"I can't see a reason why it is complicated," Iroh interrupted your thoughts. "All I see is a girl who can put up with your difficult side. Pretty at that!"
"You have a good eye, Iroh," you winked.
"Call me Uncle! Since we're going to be family and all," the man said with a grin.
"She isn't part of this family yet. She hasn't even accepted the proposal," Zuko added.
"Oh... Uh, I haven't?"
"You should remember whether or not you've answered a Fire Lord's proposal," Iroh stated with worry.
You sent him an apologetic smile. "Well, I'm still not sure myself. I mean, I don't mind being your wife since I believe this is as good as it gets with husbands--"
"As good as it gets?" Zuko scoffed.
You casted him a pointed glare, and he snapped his mouth closed. Certainly, he still wasn't the greatest person ever in your book. He treated you wrong in the past, and it shaped the way you currently thought of him. He did apologize for his misbehavior, but was it enough to trap you into marrying him? Other than Mai, he couldn't think of anyone else he could trust with this position.
"Zuko? Are you in here?" Speak of the devil...
Fire Lord Zuko shot up from his chair at the sound of the woman's dreary voice. "M-Mai?!"
You watched curiously as the lanky woman traveled inside the room. You were especially interested in the way Zuko fumbled around her like an idiot. Eyes narrowing, you spectated as your 'maybe-fiance' usher the woman out of the room with haste. "What in the hell?"
"That's his ex-lover, Mai," Iroh informed you.
"I know, but I'm just wondering why she's still around," you grumbled.
Iroh shrugged and expressed his thoughts, "Truthfully, I wasn't too fond of her influence on Zuko, but he really fancied her. In the end, his title got in the way of their relationship, and she couldn't withstand the burdens of it."
"T-That still doesn't explain why she's here!"
Iroh sent you a sly smile. "Maybe to rekindle that spark?"
You jumped from your spot and ran after the two. You didn't know what overcame you or where these emotions were coming from, but your body impulsively acted upon them. The second they came into view, you reached out to grab Zuko's shoulder, pulling him away from Mai. "Yes!"
Zuko furrowed his eyebrows. "What?"
"I'm saying yes to your proposal. I'm going to be your wife, which means you have to be faithful to only me," you quickly explained. You turned to glare at Mai, who was watching with mild interest. "Starting now."
The confusion coerced the man to nod stupidly as if he were in a daze. He wasn't sure what brought on the sudden interest to marry him, but it sure was convenient.
You were surprised with yourself as well. You refused to believe you acted out of jealousy. After all, there was no way you still had lingering feelings for Zuko... Yeah, no way.
The twin advisors stared at you, analyzing every quirk you had to offer. Since you accepted Zuko's proposal, you now had to partake in etiquette lessons. Learning how to eat properly, how to walk, how to greet people, how to address the different classes of people, how to speak in general, how to travel downstairs. The brutality of the lessons made you dub them as 'Queen Training from Hell', but you kept that to yourself. You didn't want to anger the two advisors who were guiding you into becoming a 'remarkable' queen.
Currently, you were standing before them for the wardrobe lesson. You weren't what that entailed since you were in your room and standing in front of them. "You have good posture thanks to your firebending practices," the left sister mentioned.
"But your manners are unwomanly," the right one added.
"How womanly do I have to be? I already have lady parts as you can tell!" you exclaimed as you pointed to your feminine attributes.
Did you mention that you stood before them in your birthday suit? Yeah, these lessons were definitely from hell. Their reasoning for this degrading spectacle was because your garments hid what they needed to fix. You weren't sure what they meant that (whether it was an insult or not), but you obliged.
You had nothing to hide-- except for minor burn marks and scars. Other than that, you were proud of your body. Years of intense training and exercise molded your body into the way you wanted it to be. That didn't mean you enjoyed flaunting it to others, especially those pesky advisors.
"Can I dress now?" you spoke up.
"No, we're going to take measurements for all the robes you will wear," one of them responded.
They snapped their fingers, and a sea of maids came pouring in. They each had a purpose, whether to measure your arm length, thighs, or something of that sort. When they had the measurements, they left as quickly as they came. It left you feeling violated and disturbed. You didn't think it could get any worse--
"Hey, when are you coming to lunch?"
Your eyes widened as you turned to see Zuko barging into your room. He stopped mid-sentence as his orbs shamelessly roamed your body. You didn't know how to react, even if you had endured an extensive amount of embarrassment. All you could do was blush under his gaze, flattered that you looked so appealing to him.
One of the advisors cleared her throat. "Is there something you need, Lord Zuko?"
He broke his gaze and flushed with embarrassment. He quickly turned his body to give you some privacy. "I was wondering when she will be ready. We had a lunch date scheduled."
"That isn't until tomorrow," one of them corrected him.
"Really?... My mistake."
He left in a hurry, leaving the room in an awkward state. You smiled sheepishly at the two elderly women, who wore deadpan expressions. "... At least it'll be one hell of a honeymoon, right?"
"Vulgarity is why you are partaking in these lessons," they said in unison, obviously unamused by your comment.
by far this is the quirkiest reader I've ever written haha
You stared with distaste at the suffocating amount of dresses placed neatly around your room. Each one of them was custom made, tailored to your body from the measurements taken a few weeks ago. The only dress missing among them was your wedding dress, which wouldn't arrive until it was near the wedding date. However, at the moment your wedding wasn't at the pinnacle of your priorities.
No, at the top of the list were the public visits to be made for the next several weeks. It was an extensive amount of places to visit, many fire nation cities and colonies scattered across the fire nation territory. It was all due to how quickly news had spread about the Fire Lord's fiancee, and many were eager to meet you. For two weeks, training had been brutal in order to polish an ideal behavior in you.
You hoped that it would all pay off tomorrow for your first visit. You didn't want to ruin their expectations of you, especially since you loved your nation very much. What worried you the most was the amount of time you would have to spend with Zuko during the trip. He did mention that he would be working during your free time, but it still meant that you were spending a prolonged period of time with him-- and living with him!
"If it isn't the impulsive wife?"
Your thoughts were cut short as you whirled your body around to see Mai at the entrance of your room. You were quite knowledgeable about Mai, hearing many stories about her from Zuko when you were kids. You also heard tidbits of gossip due to her prestigious lineage and past relationship with Zuko. With what you knew, you didn't think she should have instant access to the Royal Palace, especially the living quarters.
"Well... If it isn't it the woman-who-shouldn't-be-in-the-bedrooms?" you retorted. The unimaginative insult made you cringe inwardly, but your pride didn't allow you to back down.
Mai smirked, and you could have sworn you saw amusement in her orbs. "Whatever. I'm actually here to give Zuko some information he requested."
"You can give it to me," you insisted.
"He specifically instructed that I give it to him," she said as she idly scanned the room. "Nice clothes."
You heard her sarcasm and clicked your tongue. "Obviously you have something to say to me, so just say it."
Her eyes returned to you and her smirk widened incrementally. "He likes them tough."
Your frown deepened.
"Fine," she bit out. "I wouldn't count on him being the man you once knew."
"What's the supposed to mean?"
She stepped forward, "Zuko is engrossed in his role. You'll be forgotten, and I think you're annoyingly idiotic to jump into marriage with him."
"Well, I think you're still hung over him," you growled. "But I can't tell whether you're trying to take me down or helping me."
"... You're pretty chatty."
She dragged out a sigh. "I just don't want to see you hurt Zuko when you realize your mistake."
"Maybe it isn't a mistake."
Another sigh escaped her mouth, "That's up to you to decide. Not me." Without another word, she left you alone with your thoughts.
Truthfully, you weren't so sure about your marriage with Zuko. It definitely was a spur of the moment... But you were sure of two things:
1. You were going to find out during your month long trip whether or not you and Zuko can live with each other forever.
2. Mai was your rival.
3. You were 10 times stronger than Mai.
.... That was three things.
"UGH I HATE MATH!"
"No screaming!" the twin advisors yelled from across the hall.
Sorry Mai, this reader ain't letting you near her husbando
Your hair was swept back into a half-ponytail, makeup flawlessly simple, and dress accentuating and beautiful. You never knew you could dress up so well, and you fawned at yourself in the mirror. The glint in your eyes was that of a little girl finding out about makeup or dressing up in her mother's clothes (or you discovering firebending for the first time). It was endearing to watch for those who dressed you since they usually dealt with stuck up clients and you were a refreshing change of pace.
"Is she ready?" Zuko's voice traveled through the door as he remained outside. He learned his lesson the hard way about barging in, and unless he wanted to be in another awkward situation, he was to stay put outside until you gave permission to come in. He might have enjoyed the view the last time, but the embarrassment? Not so much.
"I'm done, don't worry," you called out as you ran to the door. Opening it, you smiled brightly at Zuko. "Well, well, well. Don't you look dashing?"
His cold expression cracked. "Thanks. You look... beautiful."
The hue on your cheeks became rosy, complimenting the deep red lipstick and garments you fashioned. His optics were drawn to your face, and he was left speechless as he continued to stare. Mesmerized, he didn't realize that you had slipped your hand into his and wore a sly grin.
"Lord Zuko, are you falling--"
Your grin faded as you were dragged out of your room and down the hallway. You didn't say a word since you were used to his antics. Ever since you guys stepped foot into the first city, Zuko had been pretty chilly towards you. He ignored you the majority of the time, never laughed at jokes, and refused to participate in any unnecessary events with you. You were beginning to think that Mai was right about him being different.
"No, Mai's a rival. She's never right."
"What about Mai?"
You glanced up to see Zuko staring inquisitively at you. You both had already arrived at your destination, and so all his attention was on you. "Uh... What were those documents you requested from Mai?"
Zuko let out a long sigh as he held his head with annoyance. "I never thought Mai would talk."
"Now I'm super curious," you forced a smile as you held onto his shoulder tightly.
That look. He had nightmares of that look from when he was young. You always bullied him into getting what you want with that look. He didn't know that it leveled up over the years. "Y-You can't make me tell you."
"Zuuuukoo, my darling," you cooed as your expression darkened.
"Don't call me that!"
"My beautiful, beautiful husband~"
Your tone sent chills down his spine. This lovey-dovey crap you were pulling along with your expression really creeped him out. "It's about the whereabouts of my sister! Are you happy now?" he huffed.
"Oh yeah, she went missing some time ago," you thought out loud. "Is she coming to the wedding?" He narrowed his eyes to silence you, but you didn't get the memo. "I can send her an invitation when you do find her. But do I make her a bridesmaid or something?"
"... That's right. I forgot who I was dealing with," Zuko exhaled harshly as he finally relented. "You never take things too seriously."
You scoffed, "I would if it were serious!"
The corners of his lips twitched upwards, "Maybe Uncle was right..."
You didn't pay attention to the last part of his sentence due to the loud cheers of the crowd before you. You were unaware of where you were standing until you heard the hundreds of people celebrating. Forgetting the conversation you two were ensued in, you stood on stage with an amazed expression. You never thought in a million years that you would stand before them as their next Fire Queen. The idea made you wide-eyed and baffled.
Zuko watched your expression with a small smile of his own. He always thought it would be someone else that would share his responsibilities, his burdens, and his joys. Never would he had imagined that person to be you, though he was a bit relieved that it would be you.
With a deep breath, Fire Lord Zuko pushed the conversation to the back of his mind as he began to speak. 'As long as she didn't hear what I said..'
Oh, but you did. You just chose not to respond, filing his cheesy statement in a dark corner of your brain and only to be used for blackmail.
'...that you're the one for me.'
Chapter 9: ... and the dilemma
With Zuko off in his own meetings and your advisors strolling the city, you finally had time to yourself. Ever since you left the Royal Palace, every day had been grueling. The minute you awoke you had to behave properly, be dolled up, and visit hundreds of people. By the end, you were exhausted enough to collapse on your bed and fall asleep.
Today was different since the meet-and-greet began at night. It was one of those rare days that you could do as you pleased, and you took advantage of that. Waking up around noon, you took a long bubble bath, ate great food, and sat yourself down to write letters.
The first one was for your students who missed you terribly. The next one was for your friend Lee, whom your mother mentioned was asking a lot about your whereabouts. The last one was for your mother, responding to all her tedious questions. Were you enjoying yourself? How was Zuko treating you? Were you securing the deal with Zuko (whatever that meant...)? The list went on.
You stopped the movement of your pen, distancing it away from the letter. Glancing at the window, you felt this dread that something was wrong. As you set your pen down, you stood from your chair and inched towards the glass window that overlooked the garden. The clear blue skies and melodic bird chirping signaled the peaceful atmosphere outside, but you didn't believe it. If your gut said that you were in trouble, you were in trouble.
You pressed your hand against the window glass, slowly pushing it open as you held your breath. You were more than capable of taking of yourself, that much you knew. You just hated the unknown. It made your palpitations soar and sweat begin to appear. The foreign sensation of fear attacked your nerves as your eyes scanned the vacant garden.
"I wouldn't enter your room through the window," a menacing voice spoke up by the door. "That's beneath me."
You whipped your head over your shoulder, eyes widening at the sight of Princess Azula. She went missing years ago as Zuko had mentioned, but no one ever knew what happened to her. There were rumors that her insanity tore her apart, and she was probably dead... But to see her here...
Speechless, you watched her slink towards you with an eerie smile. "I find it odd that Mai isn't the one marrying my brother. After all, she did betray me for him." Her statement oozed bitterness, though it didn't seem that her anger was aimed at you.
You opened your mouth to speak, but she threw a blue fireball at you. Although you were in a state of shock, you still had your instincts intact, and with the flick of your wrist, you dispelled the fire. Although you deflected her attack, it still managed to scathe your hand. It made you wince, but you recovered upon noticing that Azula's hands were forming two fire blades.
"So I guess we're not going to talk?" you laughed nervously.
"Talking isn't how we do things in the family," came her sarcastic remark.
When he stood in front of his suite, he noticed several guards lying around unconscious. He swallowed his saliva as fear settled itself in his body. Although he wasn't sure of his feelings for you, he still wanted your safety and companionship. There would be hell to pay if he found you--
"Oh, Zuzu!" you exclaimed as you waved at him.
He blinked a few times as his serious facade dropped. "What the hell happened?"
Everything in the suite had turned to char including the roof. Nothing was untouched by the burning fires, and it was obvious that there had been a serious fight. You didn't come out unscathed, but you were holding up just fine with a few burn marks here and there.
"Just talking to your family," you answered in a laidback fashion.
"... Where is Azula then?" he hesitantly asked.
You shrugged, "Who knows! But I did ask her to come to the wedding and be my maid of honor." You seemed proud of yourself for upholding your promise to him, even though he never wanted that of you. "And she was sooo happy."
Azula happy? Yeah right. It meant that she was plotting something diabolical.
"She said that she's always wanted a strong sibling," you laughed. "And all she had was a prissy sister."
"But I'm her brother."
"Mhmm," you hummed as you walked off towards your (nonexistent) room.
"H-Hey! I'm not a girl! And I'm not prissy!" Zuko exclaimed.
He stepped forward to go after you but stopped. He realized that you undermining his masculinity was the least of his problems. You colluding with Azula? Now that had to be the worst dilemma he could ever be in.
Chapter 10: ... and the nostalgia
"Are you mad at me?"
During an hour of suffocating silence, those were the first five words said. Fire Lord Zuko wore a look of disappointment or annoyance, you weren't sure, and it ate at your conscious. Because of Azula's destructive visit, all events for the night were canceled. To pass the time, Zuko decided to take the time and bandage your wounds. Although the act was intimate, he was rather cold and unresponsive as he performed first aid on you.
"No," Zuko finally replied.
It was straight to the point and also ended any conversation you planned on initiating. However, you weren't one to take a hint and continued prying for information. "Are you upset that we ruined the resort?"
"Are you mad that I fought?"
"Are you disappointed you didn't see your sister?"
He flinched but recovered his expression to continue bandaging. You waited it out, knowing that the silence would make him talk. When he finally finished tending to your wounds, he made eye contact with your curious orbs. "I... What did she say to you?"
"The usual stuff that in-laws would say," you shrugged.
Zuko bitterly laughed, shaking his head in disbelief. "You know, I've completely forgotten how strong you are. How nothing ever seemed to bother you."
"When we were young, I was so horrible to you, but I realized that too late. I just never knew that my words were hurtful because you never showed any distress. You just took my verbal beating."
"I just don't let the bad things get to me much," you laughed as your cheeks flushed with embarrassment.
"Yes, but there are times that they do," Zuko knowingly stated.
"... What are you trying to get at?"
"What did Azula say to you?" he reiterated his previous question.
Your smile slowly formed into a frown as you gazed at the floor. It seemed that he knew you were just laughing through your troubles, and he wasn't buying your optimistic facade. You weren't fluent in expressing your emotions and neither was he, but he was willing to listen to you.
"She said that Mai was supposed to be here, not me."
"But Mai and I aren't together anymore."
"I know that, but I just always thought it would Mai and you as well," you explained. "When we were kids, I just had the biggest crush on you, but all you ever did was talk about Mai. So every day, I had to lie to myself and say that Mai was perfect for you because I wanted to see you happy."
"And you're with me now," Zuko softly said.
"Yeah, but that doesn't mean that you love me."
He didn't know how to respond to your bold statement. He wasn't expecting you to blatantly point out what was missing in this union, and it left him speechless for a good while. It wasn't until you began to stand did he speak up. "Do you love me though?"
Your eyes widened as you started stuttering. "I.. Uh.. Well, the thing.." You took a deep breath to recollect yourself, find some way to avoid the question, but with the way Zuko was looking at you, you didn't think you could run from it.
With a heavy sigh, you directed your gaze away from Zuko. "The only thing that hurt me the most was when you pretended not to know me. It's something that has always bothered me."
"[Name]..." Zuko breathed out as he reached out to grab your hand.
"Like, I really wanted to burn you to a crisp and dump your ashes in the sewers. That was when I felt true rage. It was because of you," you sweetly ended your 'heartfelt' moment.
Zuko stopped his hand before it touched yours and backed away slowly. He couldn't tell whether you had confessed your love for him or your hatred for him. Whatever it was, he felt a little frightened of your temper just like when they were young.
Chapter 11: ... and the acceptance
You nervously stood behind a curtain, shielding you from the large gathering of Fire Nation citizens. With it being the final day of the tour, your last stop was at your nation's capital. Many who lived in this prestigious city have already expressed their distaste in you as their future queen, mainly because of your lackluster lineage. Being born from a tiny village with standard parents didn't scream 'queen material'.
Usually, each city instantly regarded you as their next queen. They weren't difficult to please, but this crowd was on a whole other level. Zuko did warn you that they might try to undermine you in public, which frightened you since the last thing you wanted was to make Zuko look like a fool.
On top of that, the Avatar and friends had decided to attend today. It was mainly to boost morale and show that Zuko had the Avatar's support. So if you messed up today, you messed up in front of the most powerful man in the world.
"Good luck." Avatar Aang patted your shoulder. "I'm sure you'll do great."
"I'm a terrible public speaker though," you sighed.
"Well, I was twelve when I saved the world. How hard can public speaking be?" He tried to calm you down.
"I rather save the world instead of this," you grumbled.
"HA! Me too!" Aang laughed.
"Guys, it's time for her to make an appearance," Katara joined in. She scanned your overall appearance. "Okay good. You're ready to go out."
"Can't you go instead?" you whined to Aang. "These people hate me."
"Well, I'm not marrying Zuko," he innocently countered.
Katara rolled her eyes. "Aang, she's legitimately scared."
Aang's goofy smile turned into a comforting one. "You have nothing to be scared of. If Zuko accepted you, then everyone else will too. You just need to be yourself and make them see what Zuko sees."
"Zuko calls me weird and demonic," you admitted sheepishly.
"And now, please meet the woman who will become your next Fire Queen," Zuko's powerful voice rang. It was your cue to pass through the curtains and into the scrutinizing stares of the people. Your body stayed rooted to where you stood, but Katara gave you a firm push.
Reluctantly, you collected yourself before traveling towards the front of the stage. You gave them a traditional bow as you forced out a smile. "Hello, my name is [Name], and I am honored to be your Fire Queen."
No one applauded. They just stared with narrowed eyes. Yup... Right off the bat, they hated you.
"I have many plans for this great nation," you began your usual speech, the same one you recited in every rally. People usually gobbled it up but not here. They weren't buying your 'let's be a peaceful nation' speech.
"WHY DO WE NEED A QUEEN THAT WANTS TO DIMINISH OUR COUNTRY?"
"Who said that?" Zuko harshly yelled at the audience.
Everyone turned to stare at the middle-aged man. He looked doubtful of your succession, and you couldn't blame him. Even you were doubtful of your role.
"Take him out of here," Zuko ordered one of the guards in a harsh voice.
"No. No, I'll answer him," you spoke up.
You cleared your throat, straightened your back as you remembered what Aang said. This was your chance to be yourself. This was the time to be brave and show who you really are.
"For so long, we have been at war with the other nations. This has only brought pain and suffering throughout the world, and we have branded ourselves as enemies of all that is good. Please do not misunderstand my stance on the greatness of the Fire Nation. Wholeheartedly, I love my country, I love my people, and I love my Fire Lord. I believe in this nation, I believe in the good we possess, and I believe that we are the bridge in transitioning the entire world into a more peaceful time.
Fire Lord Zuko and I will devote all our energy and time into making our nation a pioneer. We will make sure that our children and grandchildren can experience a time full of harmony and joy. I promise you that. All I ask in return is your loyalty to your Fire Lord and to continue loving your nation."
The audience basked in silence. You could practically hear everyone breathing, but you stood firm and remained stoic. Even if you were hated--
The sound of one person clapping caught your attention. Your eyes honed in on the person, a teenager in the midst of puberty with his golden orbs shining brightly. He was in absolute awe of you as if you were his true Fire Queen. That expression... It was the epitome of acceptance.
Soon, many others joined in until everyone was cheering. They hollered out your name as wide grins and teary eyes marked each face. Some were singing the national anthem, while others chanted both Zuko and your names.
"It looks like they accepted you," Zuko whispered as he returned to your side.
"Y-Yeah." Your expression finally broke into a smile.
His hand intertwined with yours, and you could feel your heart rate speed up. "Thank you," he softly stated as he gazed upon his people.
"For inspiring me," he hummed.
"Congratulations, [Name]. You have passed the test," the two advisors said in unison. "You can now proceed with the wedding."
You didn't pay much attention to the old farts, not when an array of your favorite foods was placed before you. As they spoke about the wedding details, you debated on what to devour first. 'Should it be this or that... OH! THAT LOOKS GOOD TOO!'
"And your honeymoon can be on Ember Island," the two droned on.
"Sure, sure. Whatever works." You shooed the two away as you waved your hand. "Now go tend to other stuff."
They glanced at each other but ultimately obeyed your command. You didn't notice how your words now held so much power, but if you knew, you would certainly abuse it for more food-- and maybe longer break times. 'Yeah, that'll give me more time to eat!'
"Wow, you sure do take advantage of being queen," a dull voice commented.
Just by the voice's tone, you rolled your eyes. "Is this going to be a recurring thing? Because I might have to ban you from the palace."
Mai smirked as she seated herself across from you. "I heard that your speech went great yesterday." She scanned the table for something to pick on, and when she did, she began serving herself a small plate.
The hold on your fork tightened as you refrained from stabbing her grubby hands. This was YOUR food. How dare she think she can waltz in here and eat your hard earned food?! "Can you stop eating my celebratory food?"
She didn't answer as she continued chewing.
"It's one thing that my fiancé’s ex-girlfriend keeps showing up, but when she eats my food, that's where I draw the line."
She stared at you. "Hmm, your priorities are interesting."
"Firebending, my nation, food, and then Zuko. What's wrong with that?" you asked, genuinely confused as to what she meant.
"HAHA! I KNEW I LIKED YOU!" another voice billowed through the dining hall.
You knew that voice, and your expression brightened. "Toph!"
After the tour, you were able to hang out with Zuko's friends. You were amazed that he was able to befriend these people since you remembered him being a stick in the mud as a kid. His group consisted of genuinely good people(again, you were amazed that they put up with him), and you ended up hitting it off with Toph.
Said woman sat beside you in an unladylike position. "I think you'll make an excellent Fire Queen with those priorities!"
"Me too!" you exclaimed.
Mai scoffed as she crossed her arms. "Look, I'm only here to give you one last warning."
"About what?" you hummed.
"About hurting Zuko. Once you find out that--"
"That I'm not his top priority?" you cut her off. You offered Toph some food before returning to the conversation. "As you can see, he's not my priority either."
"Then why are you marrying him? You obviously aren't here for the lucrative title of Fire Queen."
You sighed, "Because out of all my priorities, he's the only person on the list. Even if he isn't my number one priority, he's my number one person. For you, that wasn't enough, which is why you broke up with him. But for me, I'm more than happy being the most important person to him."
Mai remained silent as she chewed meticulously. Swallowing, she let out a long sigh. "I guess I was wrong then."
You noticed how pained she seemed, and your guarded facade fell. "For what it's worth... I believe Zuko still thinks highly of you."
She cracked a small smile. "Thanks, and for what it's worth, I'm relieved Zuko is marrying someone like you."
You heard Toph gagging in the background, and you tried shushing her by sticking a food item in her mouth. "Hey, do you want to be one of my bridesmaids?"
Mai's eyes widened. "What?"
"I just need one more. I have Azula, Katara, Toph, and Suki. I still need one more."
She sent you a wary smile. "I think I'll pass."
"Ouch, and I thought we were having a moment," you grumbled.
"HAHA! REJECTED!" Toph laughed.
i just find any opportunity i can to write toph
Chapter 13: ...and the demons
The obscene amount of wedding preparations was suffocating. If you had known everyone would be so overwhelming for just a stupid wedding, you would have never dove head first into this union. Now you never had time for yourself since you were either with your advisors or attending strategy meetings for the creation of Republic City. Those meetings were the only exciting highlight of your days, which spoke volumes on how bored you were.
Currently, Zuko and his friends were mapping out the infrastructure of the city down the hall from you. You couldn't attend the meeting since your mother was due to arrive any second now. It left you impatiently waiting for her in the living room. Now with your wedding being green-lit, she finally had a valid enough reason to return to the palace and she didn't waste any time in jumping on it.
"[Name], I'm baaack!" your mother exclaimed as she waltzed into the living room.
You sent her a small smile, but after noticing her grin, you froze. "What did you do?"
"Nothing bad, really," she sang. "I just thought you wanted to see your old friend again."
On cue, a tall man with black spiked locks stepped inside the room, and you instantly recognized him. "Lee?!"
Although he was in complete awe of the palace, he managed to overcome it and rush to your side and embrace you. "It's been so long," he hummed.
"Y-Yeah," you replied weakly as you glared at your mother's waggling eyebrows. That woman was up to something...
"What's with the face, nephew?" Iroh asked with a knowing smile.
Zuko kept his gaze on the two before him. "Don't you think that man is acting a little too familiar with her?"
Iroh's smile widened. "Do I sense jealousy?"
Zuko snapped his head to the side. "N-NO! I AM NOT."
His exclamation garnered the attention of everyone at the table. Your worried optics met his, and a frown replaced your grin. "Is something the matter?"
The Fire Lord regained his composure, reminding himself that it was unbecoming of a royal to be this emotional. The only way to forget his outburst was to change the subject. "So uh...how did you two meet?"
You furrowed your eyebrows with confusion. "He was my neighbor in the village. You don't remember Lee?"
He studied the man beside you with interest. "When we were younger, I remember you mentioning that he was your husband..."
Lee coughed awkwardly in his hand as his cheeks burned with embarrassment. "We weren't really married. We just liked to play House and all, my Lord."
"He was also her first kiss," your mother reminisced.
You gawked, "M-MOTHER!"
Zuko exhaled harshly as he set his utensils down. He was readying himself to leave, but you decided to speak up.
"You have it all wrong," you groaned. "Zuko was my first kiss."
The Fire Lord blinked slowly. "Huh?" He remembered Mai being his first kiss, but you seemed so sure of yourself. Everyone remained silent as they waited for you to explain. Zuko especially was confused and his narrowed gaze made you finally yield.
"When he was napping from practice, I snuck in a kiss to see how it felt like," you reluctantly admitted.
Uncle Iroh bursted out laughing while your mother sighed. "You are such a weird child."
Although Zuko was relieved that there was no first kiss involved with Lee, he felt somewhat violated. "You seriously are weird."
You shrugged. "Hey, a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do!"
"What does that even mean?!" Zuko exclaimed.
Chapter 14: ... and the wedding
14 chapters and finally the wedding.
Through your thin veil, you gazed at thousands of faces. The last time the Fire Lord wed in front of people was a few generations ago. Having no predecessor to set the tone, people were highly anticipating this wedding. You weren't sure if it was the pressure of their expectations or the pressure of becoming Fire Queen that made your palms sweaty, but you were nervous.
The melody playing in the background paused the second you faced Zuko. He was nervous as well, but he was still able to offer you a small smile. Clearly, he wasn't able to see your horrified expression thanks to the veil, but if he did, he would slap you for being stupid (and for making an ugly face).
As the minister droned on and on about the vows, you tried to keep your posture in check. You felt an incoming slouch and a yawn, but you persevered. It wasn't until you felt Zuko delicately lift the veil did you return to reality.
"H-Huh? What? We're already done?" you gasped.
The minister gave you a funny look while Zuko let out a sigh. "Of course we are, silly. Now, stop acting so tense."
You had forgotten all the reasons why you were here, why you were enduring this pressure. Wait, why did you want to marry this man? The second his lips touched yours, your mind overrode any worries.
You kissed back, tiptoeing to level yourself with him and match his passion. Once the kiss ended, you turned and traveled down the stairs alongside Zuko. He held your hand tightly as he led you towards the center.
"I present to you Fire Queen [Name]!" the minister announced.
You were finally his, and he was finally yours. Never in a million years would you have imagined for this to happen. It all began as an unrequited love, but now it was something much more.
You glanced at Zuko to see him smiling at his people with a tenderness in his golden orbs. The sight made your heart speed up as a blush adorned your cheeks. You were happy, he was happy, and everyone was happy.
The amount of joy you felt overwhelmed you, and you broke your regal facade to embrace him (others would have dubbed it as a hug attack). Zuko sputtered out nonsense as he felt your warmth against him, and the crowd cheered even louder.
"What are you doing?" he asked lowly.
"I'm just happy," you laughed as you tightened your hug.
"I... F-Fine. I'll let this slide for once," he hummed as he felt his cheeks heat up.
"How very kind of you, Fire Lord Zuko," you teased.
"It seems that they haven't repaired anything," Zuko commented as he placed the luggage on the floor.
You blinked slowly. "Uh-huh... and how did this come to be?"
For your honeymoon, the both of you found it fitting to travel to Ember Island, specifically the Royal beach house. Zuko had fond memories of the place, and you wanted to learn about those precious moments. You thought it would bring the two of you much closer and develop a better understanding of him.
Though he forgot to mention how he destroyed the place when he was with the Avatar. Apparently, he was trying to create tension within the group before Sozen's comet. His idea was chasing the Avatar around while throwing fire everywhere. How uncivilized!
Once everything was settled inside the master bedroom, Zuko offered to take you to see a play. Of course, you enthusiastically accepted his invitation, and the both of you headed towards the theatre. You chose an inconspicuous area where no one would see you, and when the lights went out, you jumped excitedly in your seat.
"I wonder what it's about!"
Zuko chuckled lightly as he crossed his arms. "I think the play is called 'The Unpredictable Fire Queen'. I remember the last time I came here, the play was strikingly similar to the Avatar's adventures."
The lights flickered to the center of the stage, and your eyes landed upon an exaggerated version of... you?! "T-THAT'S ME!"
Zuko swatted your head. "Shut it!"
You bit your lip as you held in your amazement. The character looked a lot manlier than she should be, and her manners were downright putrid. She also enjoyed sexually harassing Zuko and flashing him.
Although you were petrified by the casting, Zuko found it to be hilarious. He didn't have any qualms about his matured character. He was regal, beautiful, and a gentleman. It was as if they painted you two to be opposites.
"I'm sorry, [Name]. I cannot have feelings for a creature like yourself," the fake Zuko said to the fake you.
The fake you let out a loud, screeching cry. "MYYY LOVE?!"
"I must be with a woman of honor and grace... like Mai!" he pointed towards a fake Mai.
You abruptly stood from your seat as you watched the fake Zuko and Mai share an intimate kiss. You could feel Zuko slip his hand into yours, attempting to calm your nerves. However, it was difficult to do so when all you wanted to do was burn the entire theatre to the ground.
As your hands burned with fire, your counterpart (aka the fake you) mirrored your anger and performed fake firebending. The special effects were damn near flawless as they reflected your fury. You had to say, the fake you knew what she was doing.
"I WILL NOT ALLOW THIS!"
'Fire' spread everywhere, burning down the stage until it was only the fake Zuko and the fake you. Fake Mai had been turned into ashes thanks to your fire, and there didn't seem to be any guilt towards that. She did try to steal your man!
"Zuko, we will marry, and one day we will RULE THIS WORLD... peacefully," your counterpart claimed.
The fake Zuko seemed to have had an epiphany and he smiled. "Of course. There is no one else more suited to be by my side than you."
When the lights flashed on, you were astounded, as was Zuko. Neither of you knew how to react to the play thanks to your mixed feelings.
"W-Well, that was full of garbage," you laughed nervously.
Zuko shrugged, "Why don't we go watch the fireworks from the beach house?"
You tentatively nodded as you followed him out of the theatre. Though you wondered if everything would be alright.
First day of the married life? Epic fail.
CAN WE PLEASE JUST APPRECIATE THE EMBER ISLAND EPISODE FROM AVATAR???? thank you
You sat quietly on the beach house's steps that overlook the ocean. Since Fire Lord Zuko had married today, people were out celebrating the union by lighting fireworks on the beach. You both decided to watch from the house, but it was eerily quiet and tense.
After watching the play, you began to second-guess your marriage. Did you force him to marry you? Did he even like you? What about Mai?
You glanced up to see Zuko handing you a snow cone. You accepted it with a quiet 'thanks' and began eating it slowly. Your eyes remained on the ocean view as you waited for the fireworks to begin.
"Is everything alright?"
You shook your head. "Not really, but you sound as if that play didn't affect you."
He sat beside you on the steps and let out a heavy sigh. "It did, but not as much as you." He took a bite out of his snow cone and continued, "When I first saw the Avatar play, I was heavily affected by the truth. There were a lot of points that were wrong, but there were some qualities that were true. The point is that no matter what the play showed, it is up to us to uncover our own truths."
A pout forms on your lips. "Fine then." You devour the entire snow cone then turn to face him. "Do you love me?"
His eyes widen. "That's an odd question, though I feel like we've been through this."
"I know we're married and that this relationship is finally cemented. I just wonder if we really are a match made in hell."
"Or... that you belong to Mai," you quietly added.
There was a long pause of silence until it was interrupted by the fireworks. It grabbed both your attentions, and you watched as the night sky brighten up with colors. The beautiful display had you in awe, and you didn't notice Zuko return his attention to your face.
Neither of you spoke throughout the entire display with the fireworks' beauty outshining any current matters. At the same time, it would be difficult to speak with the loud bustling noises.
Once it was finished, Zuko held your hand tenderly. "You wonder a lot about my feelings."
You scratched your blushing cheek. "I know we both suck at saying things out loud..."
"Then I'll be frank with you this time."
You closed your mouth, your eyes focused on his face. You were hesitant with what he would say, and you wondered if you wanted to hear his true feelings. 'What could he possibly say with that expression?'
"You are the most unusual woman I have ever met. I knew since the day I met you," he proclaimed. "Although Mai and I were similar in character, it was the unbalanced relationship that led to our failure... I needed somebody to balance me out, make me better, and the universe decided that person to be you."
"You think that I make you better?"
The corners of his lips rose. "You make me feel different levels of emotions that I never knew were possible. There is a love inside me that I wasn't aware of until I saw you again." He let out an embarrassed cough. "And so, yes... Yes, I do love you, and I think we are meant for each other."
You sat there in shock, your jaw lax from his words. "Y-Your cool factor went down by like 100 points," was all you managed to say.
"W-WHAT? I seriously---"
You pressed your lips against him for a moment, silencing his anger. "But I'm really happy being with the most uncool man in the world."
He smirked, "You're so weird." His lips returned to yours, kissing you passionately. Your heart hammered inside your chest as the kiss became more and more aggressive. His hands cupped your face, deepening the kiss in the process and leaving you breathless.
After what if felt like an eternity, he broke the kiss and huskily muttered in your ear. "Why don't we... consummate our marriage?"
You felt your cheeks burn at his question. "As long as you call me 'my queen' in bed, I think I can manage."
He scoffed at your comment as he scooped you up in his arms. "I suppose that can be arranged."
so this fic is rated T for (T)DONTEXPECTSMUTHERE
Chapter 17: ... and the foretold army
can your mom like chill for a sec? the answer is no.
"Fire Queen [Name]," an attendant greeted you quietly.
A wave of your hand was your response to her. You continued to stare at yourself in the mirror, sheer amazement painting your face. You were obviously still in awe of your title: Fire Queen [Name].
After returning from your honeymoon, your mind had been in a daze. You were letting your title get to your head, mostly because you were being referred to as the Queen of Fire. Fire was your bitch... which was pretty cool.
"Now that you're married," you heard your mom say in the background. "You have to produce an heir."
"Not now," you hummed as you began to change your garments with the attendant's help. "Zuko wants to focus on Republic City first."
"W-What? So I'm not having any grandchildren?"
You rolled your eyes. "Mom, I'm not spitting out children until I want them. Zuko and I have a million things on our plate before we begin a family."
"Tch, I see," she crossed her arms.
"Now, behave at dinner today. The Avatar and friends are joining us... and don't pull any surprises like last time."
"I should be saying that to you," she mumbled.
"Fire Lord Zuko," your mother spoke up once she finished dessert. Your husband idly glanced at her as did you, and you both froze at the mischievous glint in her eyes. You didn't have a chance to stop her from speaking as she quickly responded.
"Who will you choose to be your next heir? After all, you won't be having any children," she asked innocently.
There was confusion in his optics. "We are having children."
"Yeah! We're going to have an army of them!" you added hastily in hopes of securing your husband's reputation. "Tons of them. You'll think we repopulated a new Fire Nation."
You took a peek at Zuko's expression to see if you did well. He just facepalmed and you heard snickers from the others. Maybe your defense was a little too strong?
"The foretold army of the Fire Nation," Toph laughed, "full of honor!"
"Exactly!" you chirped.
"She's making fun of us," Zuko groaned. "It's not a compliment."
"Well, I think it's great. We need a new generation for the Republic," Katara added her input.
"Yeah but... an army of Zuko's kids?" Toph continued to tease.
You frowned. "He's not that bad."
"That wasn't a believable defense," Zuko sighed.
"You shouldn't be irresponsible and have that many kids," your mother sternly reprimanded you.
All that was heard afterwards was a loud crash, caused by you slamming your head onto your plate and breaking it in half. Your mother was annoying!
Chapter 18: ...and the delectable surprise
time for my next wave of updates :D
"I thought your wife was joining us today," Katara called out as she walked up to the stoic Fire Lord. "She really wanted to help with the architecture of Republic City."
Zuko didn't move an inch as he continued gazing at the bare terrain that would soon be Republic City. Though, when he heard Katara clear her throat, he let out a long sigh. "She's here."
"You don't sound too excited about it," Sokka chuckled as he joined them.
Zuko didn't bother explaining himself and pointed past Sokka. The two water tribe siblings turned their heads and squinted their eyes. It took them a moment to notice your form in the far distance, crawling over to them with a sickly expression on your face.
"[NAME]?!" Katara exclaimed as she raced over to where you were. Sokka followed suit and threw you over his shoulder at Katara's demand. She directed him to the nearest tent where the rest of the gang were situated.
Katara placed you on the nearest chair as Zuko was entering the tent. Everyone crowded around you, and when questions began rising, Katara sent him a fierce glare, "Why are you allowing her to crawl on the ground?"
Zuko growled. "The entire morning I was forcing her to stay home! She refused because she really wanted to come here. I couldn't force her to stay!"
You procured a weak smile while giving him a thumbs-up. "Yes. He are right."
"She's not even speaking properly," Katara scoffed. "She's your wife. You should try harder!"
Aang intervened before Zuko could snap at her. "Katara, you know how stubborn they both are. I'm sure they have their reasons--"
He stopped mid-sentence when Katara gasped softly. She was inspecting you with her 'magic hands' (as you would call them) and stopped on top of your stomach. Tensions rose as everyone directed their attention to you once more.
"I-Is there something wrong?" Zuko questioned curiously, his rage dying down until it was but a soft ember.
You grabbed his arm, staring intently into his golden orbs. "Zuko," you cried softly.
He bent down to be at eye level with you. Genuine worry marred his face, and his hand began to caress your cheek. "What is it?"
You opened your mouth to reply but bile came out instead of words. The disposal of your breakfast decorated his outfit, and everyone gasped with disgust except Katara.
"Oh, she's pregnant," she answered nonchalantly.
Zuko glared at you as you made a peace sign. Though it was difficult to remain angry when the existence of his unborn child registered in his mind. "That's... That's wonderful--"
Again, bile came out to end his happiness. Zuko shook with fury, but he had no one to direct his anger on. However, it did seem like your sickness had a mind of its own...
"Morning sickness is quite common," Katara explained with a smirk. "You should be prepared, Zuko."
Chapter 19: ...and the fire princess
The entire Fire Nation rejoiced at the arrival of Fire Lord Zuko's heir. A beautiful baby girl that looked nothing like you. It was a relief to the Fire Nation that a successor had been solidified. There was some doubt when you were named Fire Queen, but everyone was quick to accept you once you bore a child. However, watching your daughter grow, questions began to arise in your mind.
"I sometimes wonder if this is my child," you mumbled to yourself as you watched her play with Aang's son. They were both around the same age, so it was only natural for them to be friends... even though they were complete opposites.
Your child, Izumi, took on Zuko's personality. Since she was destined to become the next Fire Lord, she found his mannerisms suitable for herself. She was certainly clever at the age of three, but you wished she lived her childhood a little more. Aang's son, Bumi, also inherited his father's personality, but not the serious side. No, he took on the playful, goofy part of Aang that you enjoyed.
"She came out of you," Sokka shrugged as he stood beside you. "I think there's a 100% possibility of it being yours."
You nodded, "True, and it's definitely Zuko's child."
Sokka scratched his chin. "At least she's going to be a successful successor?"
You quietly laughed at his terrible play-on-words as your stare landed on Bumi. He kept trying to climb the tree with his teeth while Izumi was shaking her head in disgust. Just seeing her lack of childish antics, you furrowed your eyebrows. You remembered how rambunctious you were as a child, and you were damn happy that way!
Just seeing her waste her childhood like that made you jump into action. "Izumi!" you called out to her.
She didn't hesitate to obey and ran towards you. "Yes, mother?"
"Do what Bumi is doing. It's fun," you ordered sternly.
She sent you a look of disbelief. "But mother..."
"Don't disobey your mom, Izumi. Sokka will join you as well," you responded as you pushed the unwilling man towards her.
Sokka turned to protest. He had no desire to scrape his precious teeth against a tree, but when he noticed your terrifying smile, he realized that the sacrifice was necessary. "Y-Yeah. Let's join Bumi."
You idly glanced to the side and saw Zuko standing a few feet away from you. He was in complete shock, but you didn't care one bit. "Welcome back," you replied in a bored tone.
You returned your attention to the tree. On it were Bumi, Sokka, and Izumi, all with their teeth sunken into the trunk. You cracked a smile. "I'M SO PROUD OF YOU, IZUMI!"
"She's the Fire Princess," Zuko stated breathlessly.
"And it's her duty to excel in stupid things since she's a child," you grumbled. "Just let her be... Unless you want to join them?"
Your smile gave him chills, and he knew that he would rather do anything else than fight you on this one. "... I'm going back to work."
You nodded your head while muttering, "Uh-huh, I see, I see." Scanning your surroundings with a sharp eye, you gave your critical opinion of the city. "I like what you did with the place."
Zuko stood beside you as he gazed at what lay before him. He swelled with pride that his dream was now completed, but humility reeled him to the ground. "You were part of the design as well."
"But you guys thought up of everything. And then the Earth benders did so amazingly with the landscaping," you marveled. "I can't believe everything is actually finished."
As the both of you continued to gaze at your new city, you felt a tug on your sleeves. You met your daughter's uncertain expression and tilted your head. "Hm?"
"Mother, are we going to live here now?"
"Nope, we're still going to live in the palace."
"Then why did you make this place?" she asked in a matter-of-fact tone.
You puffed your lips as you tried to think of a good answer. "Because... Actually, your father is the best person to answer this." You pushed your husband forward as your mind drew a blank.
As he explained the sea of opportunities there was for the new era, you began to wander around the city. Your legs brought you to random areas as you thought of what the future held. The vast differences between the hundred-year war and now had brought on a surge of hope in everyone.
People of all backgrounds were finally going to co-exist. In Republic City, there would be no hatred amongst the benders. It would just be people working together, working towards their dreams, working to provide for their families... Everything was going to be beautiful.
A hand slipped around your waist, and you tilted your head up. Zuko's golden optics met yours, and there was a soft smile on his lips. He was happy, blissfully happy, which was a contagious feeling.
You eased into his hold, resting your head on his shoulder. "I was thinking..."
A chuckle rolled out of his mouth. "That never leads to anything good."
"I have great ideas, thank you very much." You playfully nudged his shoulder with yours. "I was thinking that maybe we should try again."
His eyebrows knit together. "Try what?"
His eyes darkened, his smile turning devious. "You did say we would be repopulating Republic City."
"And how will you be doing that?" your daughter interrupted.
You clicked your tongue as Zuko coughed into his hand. Being the braver one, you decided to answer. "Well, darling. I suppose it's time that we tell you."
"D-Don't say anything, [Name]," Zuko commanded sternly.
Smile widening, you opened your mouth. Though you weren't sure that disrespecting Zuko's wishes was smart, you wanted to see the traumatized look on your child's face.
After all, this was the city of opportunity. How could you miss this golden opportunity?
sometimes I wonder if I created a sadistic reader...
Chapter 21: ...and the promises
mini-arc time, enjoy!
"You're going again?"
The question was laced with malice, and it only infuriated the Fire Lord more. He abruptly turned around, sending you a pointed glare. You met him with a fierce glare of your own to show him that you weren't backing down.
"I need to go where I am needed."
You scoffed. "You're needed here with your nation and family. I know that Republic City needs tending to, but you need to remember that you have other commitments."
"I don't remember you being this responsible."
"This is me giving a damn about my family," you retorted, "something that you need to learn."
He stalked towards you as his attendants retreated in fear. "Don't you dare tell me that I don't care about my family."
"Oh, but there's evidence. So, when was the last time you actually spoke with your daughter?"
He opened his mouth, ready to answer the 'easy question', but you stopped him.
"That doesn't involve her asking where you're going and when you're coming back. Also, it can't involve her saying goodbye."
He retracted his answer and remained defensive. "I have another city to run."
"That's fine, but don't expect us to be here when you return," you barked out as you turned on your heel to leave.
"I.. I.. I WASN'T FINISHED!" Zuko let out an annoyed scream as he stomped away. "Freakin' stubborn woman."
Currently, you were in bed with no inhibition to sleep. It was difficult to do so, especially when you were filled with this much rage. Two years, two years since your husband made that promise to you. You were supposed to be getting pregnant, having a good time trying too! All he left you with was some unfulfilled promise and an empty bed.
Another sigh left your lips as you tried to get comfortable. For twenty-four years of your life, you were used to sleeping alone. You didn't expect to feel this desperate for Zuko's warmth, to miss him so much.
Lost in your own thoughts, you didn't hear the loud commotion down the hall. It was only when you heard the sound of fire whooshing outside your window did you sit up and return to reality.
"What's going on outside?" you mumbled, sleep no longer a priority on your things-to-do list.
You pulled the curtains slowly, giving your eye enough room to peek out the window. From the distance, you spotted a man taking down the guards as he held onto a child. The child was asleep and unaware of what was going around them, while the man continued to pave his way through the unsuspecting guards.
Squinting your eyes, you realized who exactly the child was, and panic invaded your system. "IZUMI?!"
Without a second thought, you kicked the window open and jumped out of it swiftly. Your bare feet got caught in some of the glass shards, but the pain didn't matter to you as you chased the man down. However, he was too far for you to even reach him.
"IZUMI!" you screamed as you mindlessly ran after them. You tried propelling yourself forward with fire, but alas, the man had already left the palace grounds with your only child.
With no child and desperation clouding your conscious, all you could do was blame your good-for-nothing husband.
'Why wasn't Zuko here?'
"Did you see the perpetrator?"
You shook your head.
The head palace guard tried to be sympathetic to your situation; he truly was trying, but he had to be clear-minded for his job. He needed facts as quickly as possible if he were to hunt down the man who took your daughter.
"Are you sure it was a man?" he asked hesitantly.
"Yeah, he had a muscular build, broad shoulders, pretty tall," you explained with a dull tone.
You were practically lifeless after the whole incident yesterday night. You watched your daughter be taken, leaving you distraught and shaken. The second Izumi was born, you swore to protect her with everything you had. Now, here you stood. A liar and a crappy mom-- ex-mom.
"Where's the Fire Lord?" you sighed.
"We haven't been able to reach him. When we do, we'll let you know," the Head Palace Guard answered diligently as he bowed deeply. "We'll leave you alone for the moment, but I promise we will retrieve the Fire Princess, my Queen."
You nodded and dismissed him with the flick of your hand.
How does someone deal with a kidnapping? You never had a personal story about one, seeing as how most people would rather kill you because of your title. You dealt with them easily, firebending them into submission. That was how you tackled situations likes these.
Your face hardened. "And that's' how I'm going to deal with it now."
He was apprehensive about his attendant's dramatic greeting and could only speculate that the letter in the man's hands was the culprit. "What is this?" he growled, snatching the scrap of paper.
"It must be serious if he's this panicked," Uncle Iroh commented as he watched his nephew read the message. "But like I was saying, you should start coming back to your wife, Zuko-"
He stopped mid-sentence when Zuko's whole demeanor switched. He stood from his seat, panic written all over his face. "WHEN DID THIS HAPPEN?"
"Yesterday night, my Lord."
"Why wasn't I told sooner?!" he continued to yell.
"They couldn't pinpoint your location since you made a detour."
"Zuko, I'm sure this can all be resolved in a calm fashion," Uncle Iroh tried reasoning.
"I CAN'T BE CALM. NOT WHEN MY DAUGHTER AND WIFE ARE MISSING!"
"They were kidnapped?"
"My daughter was, and my idiot wife left to play hero," Zuko replied as he sunk down into his chair. He rubbed his temples as the realization hit him hard. He really is going to lose his only family, all because he was absorbed with trivial matters.
"Call Team Avatar," Zuko commanded after a few minutes of silence. "We're going to save them."
ooooh shet it's gonna be fireeee next chapter c:<
Chapter 23: ...and the frustration
Happy New Years! I'm back with some chapters :D
"Ugh! I can't believe her!" Zuko growled. "You would think that she has common sense as a mother, but then she pulls this crap!"
The sad victims of Zuko's complaints were none other than the reunited Avatar gang themselves. Although each and every one of them had their own important duties, they all dropped everything to help out their friend, Fire Lord Zuko. It was also a global threat to have both the Fire Queen and Princess missing, but helping a friend was their main priority.
They worried about you and Izumi... but let's face it, you were no pansy and more than capable of taking care of yourself. Apparently, Zuko didn't see that. His paranoia— his downright fear of losing everything he loved blinded him. He thought that you were in trouble, hence the never-ending complaints of how much you were an idiot to mask his concerns.
"There are two trails here," Toph mentioned as she felt the ground with her feet. "The most recent one goes right, while the other goes left."
"My wife can't even track down the culprit?!" Zuko groaned.
"But I can sense a large commotion not far from us," Toph added. "The ground is really getting burned up."
Zuko tried to continue his facade, but his shoulders slumped. He was sure that was you, fighting whoever it was the stole his daughter. Maybe you could defeat them, but there was a question that plagued his mind. 'Did he truly deserve to be happy?'
A firm hand rested on his shoulder and he glanced to the side. Aang wore a sympathetic smile, "Don't worry. We have the team together. There's no way you aren't getting your family back."
"YOU CALL THAT AN ATTACK?!" you yelled to the sky, specifically the kidnapper who was propelled by their flames.
"Mom, don't taunt them," Izumi said from the distance as she stood by the tree.
You didn't pay attention and chucked a few fireballs at the kidnapper. They deflected with a wall of blue flames, flames you knew exactly who they belonged to.
"Why are you hiding your face, Azula? I know it was you!" you exclaimed.
She didn't reply; instead, she returned the favor and began hurling flame blades at you. You dodged with no problem, but you were beginning to tire after dodging the first hundred. How did she become this powerful to create a constant stream of them?!
"You already knocked the other guy out!" Izumi cried out, "Let's just go."
"She won't let us leave. She dragged me out here for a reason," you explained between pants. "And she's not getting away with what she's done."
You heard Azula's trademark laugh behind her mask. "You've gotten weaker, [Name]. I only accepted you into our family because you were stronger than Zuzu, but I see that's not the case anymore."
"AZULA!" you screamed as you hurled yourself up at her. You tried to forget the exhaustion on your body after searching for your daughter. You hadn't had a good meal or sleep well in the past two days. Though seeing your daughter alive and well was the biggest relief and revitalized you, the fight was taking a toll on you.
You had become weak. You relied so much on fortitude and raw strength all your life. Now, you were heavily reliant on your status as Fire Queen. You were rusty, a dull blade with no power. You were accommodated to your palace lifestyle and had forgotten of your old one.
"Maybe I should hurt my cute little niece, see if you finally get that spark back."
There wasn't time to think. You knew she would hurt Izumi for the fun of it. Your body turned and you propelled yourself towards Izumi with your flames. "I-IZUMI!"
You punched the air, throwing out a fireball to deflect her flame blades. However, your stance in front of your daughter wasn't solid enough to protect you from them all. A few slipped through the cracks and made contact with your back as you shielded your daughter from them.
You hadn't felt this much pain in a while but remained stoic. Your daughter, however, realized the extent of your injuries and panicked. Terrified, she screamed and it echoed through the abandoned forest, reaching the ears of Team Avatar.
Chapter 24: ...and the rescue
Prince Zuko. A boy who would stop at nothing to retrieve his honor.
Fire Lord Zuko. A man who would stop at nothing to save his family.
He didn't mean to forget about his family in the process; he did have them in mind while away. He just didn't think that would leave him wide open for a detrimental loss...
A loud screech billowed through the trees, snapping Zuko out of his thoughts. The voice registered as Izumi's, and the entire gang traveled faster over to the designated area. Zuko, however, thrusted himself forward with his flames, surpassing the entire group in terms of speed. He left them behind while he blindly headed deeper into the forest.
Did he consider who the kidnapper might be? Or why his daughter was really screaming? No, he didn't care. He was going to protect his daughter, no matter the cost.
With a loud yell, Zuko completely threw himself at the culprit. His fists, engulfed in flames, powered through the air currents to hit the culprit. Whoever it was had anticipated him but weren't able to completely dodge it due to his sheer impact of his attack. The dislocation of their shoulder was the price they paid as they fell to the floor.
When he landed on the ground, his wild golden optics landed on his victim. Their mask had slipped off, and upon noticing their face, his rage halted.
"Z-Zuko?" you weakly said from afar.
He whipped his head around and spotted you lying not too far from him. His daughter was hiding in a tree close to your beaten body. At least the both of you were still alive and well. Your injuries didn't appear to have any significance on your morale; in contrast, his daughter was shivering with worry.
"AZULA!" Zuko shouted, "What are you doing?!"
"Oh, Zuzu," she scoffed, though it was low since the pain of her shoulder inebriated her. "You finally came."
"Stay back, Zuko. I have her," you growled out. You tried to move from your spot, but instead, you winced in pain.
"Why did you attack them?!" Zuko yelled, ignoring your comment.
Azula held onto her shoulder as she stood up, her body wobbly from the impact. There was feign pout on her lips, no sign of remorse on her face. "I'm just trying to have some fun since you guys have clearly forgotten about me."
Zuko's eyes narrowed. "So you hurt your own family?"
"My family?" she scoffed as she raised her one good arm into the air. A small flame arose from her palm, and it began to grow rapidly until it became a massive blue fireball. Zuko just watched, standing protectively in front of you and Izumi.
"My family... MY FAMILY JUST FORGOT ABOUT ME!" she screeched as she hurled the fireball at you three.
Now, Zuko could clearly dissipate the fireball and save himself-- but within a short amount of time, he didn't know if he could save both you and Izumi.
As he prepared to try, the ground shook beneath him. Suddenly, it tore apart and a giant wall of earth surrounded the three of you, shielding you from the fireball. Once it withstood the attack, the plates of earth returned to their respected positions, and that was when you noticed that the reinforcements kicked in.
Suki was in the midst of hand-to-hand combat with Azula, clearly overpowering her due to Azula's dislocated shoulder. Sokka was administering orders while Katara rushed over to heal you. Toph was beside Zuko, smirking to herself-- probably proud that she just saved Zuko's ass and now he owed her BIG TIME.
Everyone had come together. It was all over. The battle was over-- Everyone was safe.
Silently, Zuko made his way over to you and collapsed to the floor. He rested his head in the crook of your neck as he embraced you, while Izumi rushed over to join in. The three of you hugged each other tightly, not minding the fact that you were on display to the rest of the gang.
Katara pulled away from you, halting the treatment of your injuries, and smiled softly... And though she would never say a word, she could hear small whimpers and choked sobs of relief from the reunited family.
Chapter 25: ...and the family vacation
aaaand back to the crack
"I don't see the point in this," Azula complained.
"I do!" Uncle Iroh quickly spoke up, a jolly expression permanently etched in his features.
You smiled brightly at Uncle Iroh while Azula quietly seethed in the background. "Thank you, Uncle!"
"Zuzu, you can't possibly think this is a good idea. You don't want me tagging along on your vacation," Azula clicked her tongue.
Zuko just remained silent by your side, his hand intertwined with yours. After the kidnapping incident, it was clear that the royal family needed to settle down and re-prioritize. With Zuko stepping down from the management of Republic City, he began spending every single moment with his family. Izumi had also changed, taking her firebending training more seriously in case she was in the same predicament again.
You, on the other hand, didn't change one bit-- except for the few scars that littered your back. Other than that, you were blissfully happy that your husband had now become obedient and your daughter wasn't being a spoiled princess anymore.
The downside was that now your family had to look after Azula so she wouldn't pull this crap again. Hence, the family vacation of a lifetime at Ember Island!
"I already have the entire schedule planned," Zuko spoke up as he whipped out several copies of the itinerary. "We're going eat some lunch right now and then go to the beach and make sandcastles together."
"Sandcastles?" Azula growled. "Why not a volleyball game?"
Zuko smirked, "And crush our youth's spirits by obliterating them? I don't think so."
"I think it's a great plan," you hummed. "You also need to bond with your sister."
"You should join too," Uncle Iroh added with a laugh.
Your eyes lit up with excitement. "And then you can oversee Izumi's firebending training. Give her a few pointers and all!"
Uncle Iroh nodded, "That I can do."
Izumi, who appeared to be the least involved in the group, just sighed and continued following the whims of the grown-ups.
"They're monsters!" the other added.
As you stood side by side with Azula and Zuko, you grinned maniacally at your defeated opponents. "I guess us 'mid-life crisis geezers' just wiped the floor with you."
Your opponents shook with fear and scampered away, leaving you to celebrate your victory with your husband and sister-in-law. "We were amazing!"
"Yes, they should have never underestimated us," Azula hummed, attempting to mask her absolute glee.
"It brings me back to the old times," Zuko chuckled. "When we used to go on vacations together."
Azula glanced away. "Oh, don't get emotional, Zuzu."
"I'm not!" he cried out. "It's just that... Everything is so different from back then."
"You didn't marry Mai, that's for sure," Azula scoffed.
You kicked a patch of sand at her. "I'm his wife. Deal with it."
"Don't kick sand at me!" Azula exclaimed as she kicked the sand back.
The emotional moment was lost, something that Zuko had long gotten used to. He watched as his wife and sister resorted to fighting each other with sand until both of them were covered with it. Neither of them was acting like true adults here, but he supposed it was all part of the bonding.
Izumi just stared at the blistering hot tea placed in front of her. "... Aren't I supposed to be practicing?"
"You are," he laughed, "but I'm too old to be out in the sun for so long. I thought that maybe I should teach you in a different manner."
"Exactly! See, making the perfect tea is like firebending. It involves craftmanship that needs patience and a lot of individualism," he spoke in a wise tone.
"Is everyone in this family weird?" Izumi deadpanned.
Chapter 26: ...and the youth
I'll probably post one more chapter and that'll be it for updates today c:
hope you guys are enjoying it!
It was outright disgusting.
Izumi didn't know whether to puke or run. Seeing her parents all googly-eyed with each other was something she never wanted to experience. Not once had they ever been romantic with each other while she was growing up-- something she was very thankful for.
"Can't you guys be less embarrassing?"
Your love-stricken smile faded as you turned to face your daughter. "But it's our job as parents to be embarrassing."
Zuko heaved out a sigh. "I'm sorry, Izumi. It's just that your mother and I haven't spent quality time like this in a while."
"You spend time with her every day," Izumi quipped. "And you guys pretend to be all happy but I hear mom screaming every night."
The both of you stared at her in silence. Screams at night?... Oh, they knew exactly what she was talking about.
"Ah you see, I'm pretty vocal in--"
Zuko slapped his hand over your mouth, silencing you before you traumatized her even more. "She's only nine! She doesn't need to know!"
"I'm old enough to know everything!" Izumi retorted.
You chuckled, "Sorry, but I have to listen to your father. Why don't you go and train with Aunty Azula?"
"Tch." Although Izumi did not want to drop the subject, she decided that some training with her not-so-disgusting aunt was in order. Doing as told, your daughter walked away to find Azula.
As you watched her figure recede, Zuko's hand snaked its way around your waist. "I can't believe she's this old already... And talking back to us."
You laughed quietly and followed his lead down the hallway, continuing your slow pace. "Good thing you're back to witness your daughter becoming a teenager."
"That's the one thing I didn't want to see."
"Oh shush. You should just be grateful that we at least have one kid," you nudged his shoulder with yours.
Your joke had him chuckling, which soon turned into a low hum. "We could try making more though."
"But aren't we kinda old?"
Zuko glanced up, scratching his chin in thought. "If I recall, Katara is actually pregnant again."
Your eyes widen. "... Again?"
"Age certainly isn't stopping her."
"Let's try it then. Then you can really be mine," you smiled darkly.
He sent you a confused glance. "But I am yours. We're married after all."
A small pout formed on your lips. "Toph told me how you had this connection with Katara when you guys traveled together..."
Zuko's eye twitched. Why was Toph randomly bringing up the moment he had with Katara in a cave? He did have to admit that there was some chemistry with Katara, but he also had chemistry with Mai! Neither were in the picture though because he was genuinely in love with you. Why should something from long ago bother you?
"You get upset over the stupidest of things," he rolled his eyes. "I'm not ever leaving you for Katara. That's nonsense."
You appeared to be in the middle of an internal debate as you grumbled under your breath. Though it was only a matter of seconds until Zuko's words fully registered and you smiled with relief.
"Yeah, she has Aang and a family either way," you nodded. "Plus, she doesn't fit with your weird personality."
Zuko sighed, "I have the weird personality?" Without a single ounce of effort, he scooped you up into his arms and continued to travel towards your bedroom. "You're one to talk, my queen."
You let out a loud laugh which echoed down the halls. Once you both were enclosed inside your room, you immersed yourselves in your so-called youth and enjoyed each other's warmth.
Fire Lord Zuko's eyes were hollow, his expression vacant as people attempted to speak to him. There were all sorts of people from around the world, littering the palace's halls. They might all have different affiliations, but they had one thing in common: to honor the deceased Iroh.
It was only a few days ago when you saw the man as jolly as can be. Due to his old age, his health was declining to the point where he had to close up his tea shop and move back into the palace. He wasn't one to enjoy the nostalgic and frivolous ambiance, but he wanted his last moments to be in good company.
However, age had gotten hold of him not a moment too late, snatching up Zuko's pillar of support. That man had been the one to uncover the good in him, show him life's beauty and what it meant to be himself. He was the one who showed him that he had a second chance to correct his wrongdoings.
And because of Uncle Iroh, Zuko became the man he is today. Everything he possessed was all thanks to him. He just hoped that Uncle Iroh knew how much he appreciated him.
You stood next to your husband as you held his hand. Beside you were your daughter and four-year-old son. All four of you stood together while people continued to deliver their condolences one by one. It was evident that the loss of his uncle greatly affected Zuko due to his demeanor and swollen eyes.
"Zuko," Aang greeted him with a pained smile. He bowed his head slightly while his children imitated his movements. "I'm am deeply sorry for your loss."
Zuko just stared at the ground as he clenched his teeth. "Thank you, Aang."
Aang noticed the edge in his voice and spoke up. "Your uncle was truly a gift to this world. None of us could have done anything to stop age overcoming him, but I'm glad he wasn't alone when he passed. I'm sure he slipped away from this world with a smile on his face."
"Do you truly think that was enough?" Zuko's voice cracked as he held back his tears.
You remained silent, only grabbing his hand tighter.
Aang smiled softly. "Out of all the things you could have given your uncle, having his family with him during his final moments was truly the best. Now he is with his son. We should be happy for your uncle."
As you felt Zuko's body quake, you tightly embraced him as he collapsed into your arms. You sent Aang a thankful nod since you didn't know how to ease Zuko's pain.
Aang motioned you to join in though, signaling you to add your own thoughtful words into the mix. Taking his advice, you spouted out the first thing you could think of.
"At least he gave you his dragon," you whispered into Zuko's ear while rubbing his back.
Zuko glanced up at your face, his expression slowly changing from depressed to shock. "Is that the best thing you could come up with to someone in mourning?"
"It was the only thing I could think of," you muttered. "I'm not as poetic as Aang."
As the both of you spoke in harsh whispers, Aang couldn't help but laugh to himself. The loss of Uncle Iroh was great, that much was certain. But it was clear that you had become Zuko's new pillar of support the minute you came back into his life. And although you weren't proficient with your words, you were what Zuko needed most during times like these.
SURPRISE ANGST! >:D
... sorry I'll stop. Let's just mourn together ; ;
Chapter 28: ... and the addition
I'm back to finish this story. Let's do it.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
"So how do you want to proceed?"
Zuko tore his eyes away from today's newspaper, his feeble gaze landing on you. "With what?"
"Izumi is bringing a guy. Aren't you nervous? It's like the first time ever. I wonder what he's like. Oh my, do you think she's pregnant and is settling with an awful man? Do you--"
He couldn't endure more of your rambling and stuffed a puffed pastry in your mouth. "This is why we don't get to meet any of her boyfriends." You sent him a pointed glare, and he could already tell what you were thinking. "No, I don't know of any previous boyfriends. Stop being so suspicious."
You chomped on the pastry until you consumed every crumb. "I wish she went with Bumi. He's her exact opposite, and it would have been fun being related to the Avatar."
"... You already brought that up to Aang, and there wasn't much he could do," Zuko sighed tiredly. "Bumi and Izumi just cannot see past their platonic relationship as childhood friends. Let it be."
"What about their younger one? Tentacles is his name?" you thought out loud as you stroked your chin.
"His name is Tenzin. Jeez, if you're going to try and play matchmaker, you should at least know the man's name." Zuko placed another pastry in your mouth before you could retort. "And I believe he's with Lin."
He could vaguely hear the loud screech, which was muffled by the innocent pastry. However, you made sure to demolish your food before replying. "TOPH'S DAUGHTER? IZUMI'S SOUL SISTER?"
"Yeah, since they're so alike."
Zuko chuckled as he idly drank his tea. "Ah, that reminds me. Should we call for Fudo? I believe he's going to work at the tea shop this week but we need him here for the family meeting."
"Fudo, master of all teas," you wistfully said as you stared out the window longingly. "Why couldn't you be an army general?"
You sensed an incoming pastry and covered your mouth with your hands. Zuko growled and retracted his hand, "Can't you just drop it already? Our son is a calm man who prefers tea rather than bloodshed."
"But I want to hear war stories," you whined.
"There are no wars!"
"Mother, father?" Izumi called out from afar, interrupting your morning banter.
You glanced over your shoulder to see Izumi enter with a man trailing behind her. Narrowing your eyes, you inspected him thoroughly to get a good sense of the man. He was only inches taller than her and wore a genuinely kind smile. He didn't seem like a stern person as shown by his laidback posture, but he straightened up once you stood to greet them.
"It is so nice to see you both again," he bowed his head low enough so that you could see his properly groomed hair.
"I believe we've never met," you laughed-- though you were the only one laughing as everyone gaped at you.
"Excuse me but," he nervously spoke up, "I... I'm in this palace on a daily basis. I attend all peacekeeping meetings and town hall meetings. We stop to chat sometimes in the market square."
You still couldn't recall his face which made you wary. "... Are you stalking me? You do know I'm a married woman."
Both Izumi and Zuko groaned with frustration, and it was Izumi who tried to clear the misunderstanding. "It's because he's an army general. He visits the palace frequently for his duties."
Your expression brightened, a large grin making its way onto your features. "You're hired! You can be Izumi's husband!"
"You can't hire a spouse!" Izumi cried out.
"Sure you can," you laughed. "Your father hired me to be his."
"That's not even... That's... There's more to that story," Zuko tried defending himself but ultimately failed.
You ignored Zuko grumbling and returned to the man before you. "Welcome to the family!"
...Yes, welcome to this unique family.
Like straight up, who thought of tentacles when they said Tenzin's name for the first time?
If it's just me, let me rest in piece.
There was a sparkle in your eyes when you met your first grandchild. Seeing Izumi gently hold him in her arms filled your heart up with pride. You couldn't help but shed tears in this momentous moment.
"Mom is crying," your son pointed out as he warily stared at you.
What made it even better was that the entire family was there to celebrate. Your mom (the old bat who wouldn't die) staked out in the palace all these months in preparation for this day. Your son, Fudo, closed up shop and remained close by for a week. Azula lived at the palace so she didn't have to go anywhere, while Zuko invited his half-siblings and mother to join as well.
The entire room was packed with people, all smiling and celebrating the new addition to the family. It truly warmed you to the core, and it was up to your husband to keep you level-headed.
"Do you want to carry him next, dear?" Zuko tenderly asked as he rubbed your back.
You couldn't utter a word as tears and snot clouded your orifices. But you still wanted to experience this little bundle of joy! You shook your head, signaling Zuko to hand you your grandson. Once he was safely in your arms, you could only procure more tears.
"Mom's crying on the baby now."
"Fudo, be quiet. She's having a moment," Zuko explained as he too was entranced by the baby.
"I just feel so honored," your mother spoke up, "that my daughter and then her daughter were able to produce heirs to this beautiful family."
Zuko laughed nervously. "Yes, well, that wasn't exactly their life's purpose."
"It was because of my uterus," your mother continued on, disregarding Zuko's statement, "and your mother's that this was possible."
"Grandma, you're getting really creepy," Fudo commented.
"But it's true," Azula joined in as she became exceedingly errr... passionate. "It's because of a woman's strength and ultimate body that we can produce actual humans! We are the true rulers of this world."
"Aunt Azula is being weird too," Fudo muttered.
You, who were far too preoccupied with the baby in your hands, lifted him up in the air as if offering him up to the gods. "To the creators of this world, please make him a strong fighter."
"Shouldn't you be asking for a healthy grandchild?" Izumi mumbled.
You focused your attention on Izumi. "Do you think my prayer would work if I got closer to the sky?"
"And how are you going to reach the sky?" She quirked an eyebrow.
"You're not taking him on my dragon," Zuko responded. "He's far too young to be outside."
"It's our dragon," you corrected him.
"... Have you been using my dragon to run errands?" Zuko's eyes were wide with realization. Recently, there had been some scares of a 'dragon revolution' because of some sightings of a red a dragon in almost every part of the Fire Nation. People were beginning to believe that the dragons were coming back to exterminate every person who wronged them... which sounded a bit far-fetched.
You smiled sheepishly. "It's the fastest mode of travel."
"M-Mother! Don't you know what you've started?" Izumi groaned. "My citizens are petrified of leaving their homes!"
"It's fine, Izumi," Zuko's mother cut in. "From what I've been hearing, people are realizing that it's the previous Fire Lord's dragon."
"How do they know?" Zuko questioned as he felt something ominous from the way you were smiling triumphantly.
"He has a hat," his mother responded like it was the most natural thing, "that says 'Fire Lord's dragon'.
"[Name], did you put a hat on my dragon?" Zuko asked horrified.
You pouted, "It gives him character... and look, I gave the baby a matching hat as well! It says 'Fire Lord's grandson'."
No one dared to ask when you snapped on the tiny hat on your grandson. They just stared at the baby with blank faces with only one thought: 'why did it ever occur to you that giving your dragon and grandson matching hats was a good idea?'
Noticing their lackluster reactions, you returned your attention to the baby in your arms. "I'm the coolest grandma ever. Isn't that right, Iroh the second?"
"No, you're the weirdest," Fudo dryly retorted.
Yes, there's General Iroh as a baby. Enjoy your beautiful grandson, you beautiful readers.
You traveled down the corridors of the palace in search of your grandson. Today was the day you would meet the woman that captured his heart... but you had yet to spot them. You searched the entire palace all morning and were beginning to feel defeated.
When you decided to enter the main dining room for tea, you overheard an almost unrecognizable voice and your daughter.
"I was just hoping to see Zuko," the person stated in a rushed manner.
"My father is currently away. He'll be back in the afternoon."
'Wait, that other voice is!' You hurried your steps until your eyes landed on the Avatar. "Korra!"
The tan female noticed you from the distance and stood from her seat, "Uh... Oh! You're Zuko's wife, right? It's an honor to finally meet you."
Your grin widened. "How exciting is it that the Avatar is visiting us?!"
"Mom, you have a little too much energy," Izumi sighed. "You should be resting."
"Pfsh, resting is for babies. We should fight, Avatar Korra!" you declared excitedly.
Your daughter sighed with disbelief as Korra's jaw dropped to the ground. "Like Agni Kai?!"
"No, no," you waved your hand. "I want to show you a move or two with a nice match."
Having no qualms about learning new moves and killing time, Korra quickly accepted your proposal. "All right, sure!"
"What is going on?" Zuko asked as he strolled up beside Izumi.
"Mother and Korra are fighting," she replied as she continued to watch the fight.
"... She's never going to stop loving fire is she?" he chuckled to himself.
"You mean fighting."
"Zuko, look! Korra can transfer lightning now," you exclaimed to your husband. You pointed at the Avatar, who was currently playing with the lightning that you directed at her.
He shook his head. "The things she does..."
"Mother is either going to live longer than you or die today," Izumi commented as she left the arena.
Zuko waited patiently from his spot until you finished with Korra and sped over to him. "Well, time to take a nap," you hummed while kissing him softly.
Zuko ran his fingers through your locks, fixing the stray strands. "No more fights for the year. It's bad for your health."
"Fine, fine. I'm just happy to have taught some firebending tricks to Korra." You sat in the nearest seat and let out a long sigh. "It's been a while since I've let out some steam."
Seeing your infinitely happy expression brought on a wide smile on Zuko's face. There was a sense of satisfaction permanently etched in you, and it was because your life was filled with everything you loved: your children, your grandson, your (somewhat) prodigy Korra, your husband, and fire.
"Thank you, Zuko."
He blinked a few times. "For what?"
Your eyes met his. "For everything."
He wasn't expecting to be touched by your words, but his heart swelled with joy.
"And for letting me buy 20 liondogs."
The happy moment you both were having crashed and burned. "... I didn't allow that."
"But they're so cute! I couldn't help but buy them all from the zoo."
There was the unpredictable Fire Queen he fell for.
"Return them this instant!"
At least there was never one dull moment.
I want to thank you guys for taking this story and me seriously. You guys read the entire completed story, and that's hella cool.
This chapter alludes to the other story I have ongoing which is the Unpredictable Fire Adventures. You now follow Iroh the Second and the reader on an adventure that mirrors that of the Avatar--minus the actual save the world thing.. JK YOU WILL BE SOON ENOUGH. Anyways, it follows the same world I created (Izumi as Fire Lord, Fudo as Zuko's son, Mai not being Zuko's wife). So yeah, it be totes cool if you guys read it since it's kinda a sequel to this story.