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Chapter information


Written by


Release date

19th November, 2013



"To be, or not to be, that is the question:
Whether 'tis Nobler in the mind to suffer
The Slings and Arrows of outrageous Fortune,
Or to take Arms against a Sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them: to die, to sleep...
―Hamlet, Act III, Scene I

She can hear them, those people. She can hear them all, but they can't hear her. They turn a blind eye on her—she cannot hurt them, and thus is not worthy of their attentions. She feels crowded, there are too many people here, in the room. Too many people in her life. Mai refuses to meet her gaze, and Ty Lee tries too hard to gain it. The traitors are not worthy of her, but neither is she worthy of them. The Avatar—she thinks his name with disgust—and her brother (a term not thrown around lightly. She would prefer to throw him) stand in her room and discuss her, in front of her. They think she is asleep, but she isn't. They think she is angry, but she's not. They think she is crazy, but she can't be. To be crazy, you need to have something in your head, not quite right. Azula has nothing at all. She watches them, through the cracks in her eyes. Her brother comes in the night sometimes to sit and talk; she never acknowledges him. The water witch shows up at regular intervals, the healing water on her head always dripping away desolately as the reply is the same; 'I can't help her'. Azula would scoff if she had the energy to do such a thing. Of course she cannot help—there is nothing to fix. She doubts the peasant has never had a breakdown before, but was she imprisoned?

She sees them all, when they visit. Ty Lee hugs, as though nothing was wrong—of course it's wrong. She is pushed away, however she keeps coming back. Azula strikes her, and does not see her again. Mai announces that she has gone back to Kyoshi Island, and Azula feels nothing for her former friend.

They come in one day, everyone, and she retreats to the bed. Zuko tries to get her to talk—talk about what? She has been locked in a cell for Spirits only knew how long, and he expected her to chat? She gives a derisive laugh, and he mentions their mother. The laughter stops, and she demands they leave. They take the hint and make haste, lest they succumb to her wrath. The boy who saved the world, he has not seen fit to remove her of her element. She is glad—oh, how could she not be? The thing that sent her spiralling, it has also kept her afloat. She dare not admit it, dare not face or remember those nights of screaming and crying and falling, only to be saved by the flicker from her fingertip, and she sobs not in pain and anguish, but in relief that she can find some small glimmer of light.

He visits her one day, that boy with the arrow. She muses that the piercing of skin must ache, however it is not the physical pain that hurts him, but rather the mental and physical reminder of who he is, and what he is responsible for. He shoots her a soft smile, and she notes that the expression suits him. She wonders what a soft smile on her face would achieve, before dismissing the thought. There was never a need, and there never would be again. She cocks her head at her inner thoughts, confused; there has been no contact, nothing has changed and yet... her chest hurts, like a poison slowly seeping into it. He continues to smile, her mind masking the good intent with patronisation. She sneers, yet refuses to look at him as he approaches, sitting calmly on the floor. Her mind is abuzz, but she quells it.

They sit there, the two; ba-dum-ba-dum-ba-dum her heart beats, never racing, oh no. Her heart is not allowed to race—she does not, and will not, allow it. He meditates, flaunting the easy calm that refuses to console her. His solace feeds her anxiety—worry, pain, humiliation, fear, terror, that cannot easily be quashed. Why should she bother when they would only rear up once again in the dead of night?

The bald boy glances at her, his eyes as soft as his smile. It falls as he sees the burns, the scars; the sores and pain she cannot help but itch and scratch. Oh, she would have taken it further—why wouldn't she?—but those who would seek to see her suffer do just that. They watch her writhe in torment, not allowing her to escape. He is one of them.

"What has my coward brother requested of me today?" she calls, her voice dull. There is still a bite, and she watches with an empty smirk as he flinches.

"If ending a war is cowardice, what does that make ending your life?" he calls back, just as clear. Her eyes widen momentarily—badum-badum-badum—before she turns away. She does not know why.

"So, he is noble then?" she asks, deflecting. The Avatar shrugs.

"Depends on what you mean by noble," came the elusive reply. Her stomach burns while her face remains passive; she is unwilling to give him the satisfaction she herself cannot attain. "Surely you are just as noble as he?"

This time, she cannot hold back the derisive snort and humourless mad cackle that bursts forth from her lips.

"Nobility—it is his birthright. With his position, that is still his title. With his personality, his ideology, that is who he is. Three things that can no longer be said about me."

The pain in her stomach, chest, burbles up to her eyes, and she turns in shame. If she expected him to laugh, she is disappointed. He stands, and she glances from the corner of her eye. There is a thoughtful expression and it seems kinder than the one he entered with.

"You think he is superior? There is nothing noble in being superior to some other person. The truest nobility is in being superior to your former self. He has achieved that; have you?"

He takes his leave just as she wishes him gone. The solitude she is bathed in has lost its warmth, but never before has she felt cold. The burning inside her has been replaced by a chill—it settles in her bones, and yet it is good. It is something, something more than the emptiness that has for so long plagued her. She wonders—is this what 'getting better' means? She wonders—does she truly not deserve to be happy; should Zuko be the only one of her family—she chokes a little at the word—that is content? She wonders... perhaps it would not be such a bad thing after all.


  • This came about after I actually... got sick of romance :O I don't know what's wrong with me! D:
  • Aang's last line is actually an Indian proverb that I couldn't not use when talking about Azula.
    • She's actually my second favourite character, too. Surprise!
  • I hate the thought of Azula actually being truly wolfbatshit insane, so I kind of changed it a little. I hope it's still in-character (although probably not).
  • The slight change in writing was done on purpose.

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