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October 21, 2011
This is chapter 1 ofby Avatarloki.
Fire Lord Zuko
Jasmine Dragon tea server
Fire Lord Zuko sat in his throne room, his head in his hands. His hair wasn't done it the usual ceremonial topknot. His robes were wrinkled and disheveled. The wall of fire which the throne stood behind was smoldering. And there were no other Fire Nation nobles in the room. Something was wrong.
The door opened slightly and Zuko stood up. Katara entered, the look on her face grim. Zuko collapsed in his throne, his face contorted in grief. Katara ran to give him a hug. "Zuko... I- I couldn't do anything. I am, so, so sorry." She looked down in remorse.
Zuko looked at Katara, tears in his eyes. Slowly, with much effort, he said, "I have lost my entire family. My father and my sister are locked up, my uncle is in Ba Sing Se, my mother is gone, and now my wife is dead. I can't do this!" Zuko yelled, making the wall of fire shoot up.
Katara hugged Zuko tighter. "I can't even imagine what you are going through. But," Katara made Zuko look at her, "I know someone who might." Zuko looked quizzically at her. "Someone who has lost everyone in their family, but still has one person left. But that one person is far away. Your uncle. YOU are the only one he has left." Zuko nodded.
"Thank you, Katara. But I can't leave."
"Yes, you can. Everyone will understand. And if they don't..." Katara flexed her hand.
Zuko nodded again, knowing she was right.
"You can go on Appa," Katara began. "As soon as everything is in order, you can leave. If you want Aang to stay, then I can go with you."
"Thank you Katara."
She smiled. "Would you like me to leave you alone for a while?"
Katara stood and walked out of the room. Zuko put his head back in his hands, tears running out of his eyes. He wiped them off and stood, trying to be strong. He straightened out his robes and walked to the door.
"Fire Lady Mai, wife of Fire Lord Zuko, daughter to General Peng and Niwa, sister to Tom-Tom. The Fire Nation has suffered a great loss, to lose their queen so soon after gaining her. The illness was too much, and overwhelmed the greatest healers in the world."
Zuko stood next to Mai's pyre, thinking that even in death, she was no less beautiful than when she was alive.
"We now send her off, missing her in our world, but knowing that this would be what she wanted. Fire Lord Zuko, in accordance with the Fire Lady's last wish," the Fire Sage nodded to Zuko. He started a flame in his hand and gently touched the wood next to him. A lone tear rolled off his cheek, sizzling in the flame below. Aang stepped forward next to Zuko, putting his hand on the Fire Lord's shoulder. Zuko looked down, too overcome with grief.
Zuko walked through the line of guards leading to Appa. He had changed from his Fire Lord robes into something less formal. He carried his broadswords and a small bag slung over his shoulder. Katara sat on Appa, holding the reins. He had decided to go with her to Ba Sing Se and leave Aang to watch over the Fire Nation and the nobles. Zuko sighed, his head lowering, not knowing how he was going to make it without Mai. Ever since the war ended, she had kept him strong. Now, he felt ready to break apart.
Katara looked sadly down at Zuko, worrying about him. One person should not have to go through that much is such a short time, or even in a life time! Sometimes the spirits were unfair.
Zuko reached Appa, who grunted when Zuko pet him. Zuko climbed up and into Appa's saddle. Katara waved at Aang before flicking the reins.
She flew through the afternoon, expecting to reach Ba Sing Se by dusk. Zuko had curled up, his head in his knees. Katara decided it would be best to be quiet and let Zuko rest. She felt horrible for Zuko, trying to imagine what it would be like to loose Aang. She couldn't even do that, and Zuko had been through so much more.
The Firebender stirred, making Appa grunt. Katara looked behind her, thinking about the time she had been stuck in the crystal catacombs with Zuko.
He had told her how his father had banished his mother. Katara remembered fighting Azula with Zuko, how the princess had a break down when defeated. She remembered Zuko being crowned Fire Lord. It was a joyous day, but a young man should not have to take the place of a father who was never there for him.
Katara sighed and kept on flying.
The arrival in Ba Sing Se was hassle free. Toph and Bumi had rebuilt the walls after it was taken back, and Appa flew right over them. No one was very surprised to see the sky bison, but everyone was happy to see him flying through the air. Katara waved at the people, kids especially. She loved the little things!
Appa flew right to the Jasmine Dragon Tea House. Katara hoped Iroh was there. Zuko had tried to send a message to his uncle, asking Iroh if he could come to stay. Fire Nation ships could travel quickly across water, and Earthbenders could get anywhere on land, but air was by far the fastest way to travel. Especially air by flying bison. Appa landed with a grunt that awakened Zuko.
Zuko sat up in Appa's saddle. He rubbed his eyes, and looked around. The world looked exactly the same as the last time he had been at his uncle's tea shop. But it was most definitely not.
Katara jumped off of Appa. "Stay here boy, I'll be right back."
Zuko strapped his swords to his back, grabbed his bag, and jumped down from Appa. He and Katara walked into the Jasmine Dragon. There were very few customers sitting at the tables, and Iroh was not to be seen. Zuko sighed. He was glad to be so close to his uncle.
Zuko hurried past the tea server and went straight into the back where the tea making room was. "Sir." the tea server tried to stop Zuko. But Zuko went right past him. Katara apologized.
As Zuko went in the door, Iroh turned around. He set the tea tray down, and gave his nephew a hug. "I have missed you, Nephew. What brings you to my tea shop?"
Zuko looked down, his face saddened. Iroh's face clouded with concern. "Nephew, have some tea and tell me what has happened." Zuko stood still, even when Iroh motioned to him to sit. Iroh stayed standing, waiting for Zuko to speak first.
The tea server came in, holding a small scroll. "Sir, there is a letter for you."
"The letter can wait, can you not see that my nephew is here?"
"It is marked urgent, from the Fire Nation."
Iroh took the scroll, and shooed the tea server out of the room. He opened the scroll, reading it, his face growing grimmer with each character. He dropped the scroll without finishing it. He grabbed Zuko and squeezed him tight.
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