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The Firelord's Duty

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“So, what do you think of this one?” 

For what felt like the twentieth time that afternoon, Zuko rolled his eyes at his friend’s antics. When Aang had asked for help with choosing a ring for him and his wife’s first anniversary, the young Firelord hadn’t expected to spend the whole day visiting every single shop in Ba Sing Se’s Diamond District. Internally, he cursed Sokka for sneaking his way out of joining them. 

Apparently mistaking Zuko’s exasperated silence for disapproval, Aang pinched the bridge of his nose as he huffed in frustration. “No, you're right, it's too cliché… there’s no way Azula would like that." He handed the ring back to the shopkeeper, who looked as if she was still processing the fact that she had both the Firelord and the Master of the Five Elements in her store. 

That little observation was another sore spot for Zuko. Unfortunately, his initial plan to go undercover that day by wearing a disguise had been ruined by Aang’s decision to wear his nomad robes. 

"You do realise that my sister will be happy with almost anything you give her, right? It’s not as if she’ll leave you for getting the wrong ring for her.” He tried, once again, to make his friend see reason. 

He also decided not to mention the fact that, should his sister even try to leave the custody of the Air Nation, the other three states would likely try to imprison her themselves.

Aang smiled at him, which gave him hope for a few magical seconds before the Air Nomad proceeded to completely ignore his advice. ”I know that… but it has to be perfect for her. After all we’ve been through, what would it say about me if I can’t even give her a proper ring like a normal husband?” 

Zuko could literally feel his hopes of ever finding a ring that satisfied Aang’s judgement plummeting. He felt for the guy, sure, but he was literally almost one step away from banging his head against the wall out of sheer frustration.

His legs ached from walking around so much and he was hungry enough that he could probably eat an entire hippo cow. And yet despite that, he plastered a smile upon his face and nodded at all the comments that Aang continued to make. 

“This one looks nice!” It had to be the thousandth something ring that they had seen. Zuko, who up until that point had been slouching in a rather unroyal fashion on top of one of the display counters, lifted his head with a blissful sigh, a wide smile breaking out across his face.

"Oh, wait never mind. It’s not quite as elegant as I want. Maybe we should check out the shops in Omashu?”

Zuko felt like shouting, swearing and crying all at the same time. And yet, swallowing down all his frustrations and putting on his most diplomatic expression, he merely said: 

"It's okay Aang, take all the time you need."

It was going to be a long day.