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|— Ty Lee in The Beach.|
Revenge and Debts
November 20, 2011
(I seriously don't know.)
As Azula crept silently through the forest, she thought over her mother's words. "Betrayal?" she whispered to herself. "Betrayal? I haven't betrayed anyone; it's Zuko who's the traitor!" All the same...her mother had meant something. "But betrayal of myself...this is really...confusing. How could I betray myself?"
She kicked aside a rock; a stone, to be precise. A small, smooth stone...
"The beach house!" Azula gasped. She hadn't been inside the house for years. She noticed that there were paintings everywhere. An unwound scroll was lying, as though thrown away, on the ground. On closer examination, it was a baby picture of her beloved father, Ozai. Another painting...one as though taken on one side of flames, and the subjects on the other. She had never noticed how wide Ty Lee's smile could be...but she had never paid attention to Ty Lee. All of Zuko's attention was on Mai, and Mai herself looked carelessly detached. "I always have my half-smile on in pictures...it makes me look manipulative. Was that who I was? A manipulative, coldly calculating, shell?"
Another depiction. A drawing...she and Ty Lee were giggling behind their hands. "I remember that day...we--we were plotting setting an apple on fire on top of Mai's head. Cruel...how could I have just realized it now?"
She tossed aside the stack that she was holding; slips scattered everywhere. Starting to cry, she ran inside the house. The corridors looked as though a pillar of fire had gone through them...maybe Zuko, in that jealous rage against poor Mai? She looked inside the rooms--all intact. As though she and the rest of the royals had only just left, except that there would be a foot of dust in some rooms, and barely an inch in others. Why would that be? Zuko, she supposed. "I never knew that he was into housekeeping" she muttered under her breath. When she was convinced that there was nothing else to see, she went out the front door. A picture of the family had once hung near here...destroyed by, once again, Zuko. Leaning on the porch pillar, she saw an oddly-shaped rock lying on the ground. Azula picked it up and saw a baby handprint of Zuko's--the one he had been holding that night, when she came to bring him back to the beach. She remembered thinking that he was far away, lost in his own thoughts, and then her voice had snapped him back into reality, into his lion-turtle shell of sullen anger. "That was mean of me to do, when that was obviously an escape for him."
She gently set the print down. Baby Zuko was not the same as Teenage Zuko, and she intended to let the memories be. As she walked away, it was almost as if she saw Zuko and she, playing among those large hills as they did when they were small. Trying to catch her child self, she ran after her, screaming, "Wait! Wait! I need to warn you..." The child slowed down, and ran into her father of long ago. He looked up, and an infernal voice seemed to compress her mind, singing into it thoughts of murder...
"ENOUGH! ENOUGH! I HATE YOU!" Azula shrieked at her shadow-father. "YOU USED ME! YOU SECRETLY HATED ME, AND YOU ONLY 'LOVED' ME BECAUSE I WAS POWERFUL!" She began to start mixing her shouts with angry tears, and she was swaying dangerously back and forth. "YOU...YOU....WEAKLING! YOU MADE ZUKO'S LIFE MISERABLE, AND MINE A LIVING TORMENT! YOU WERE NEVER A TRUE FATHER, AND YOU NEVER WILL BE!"
"Ozai" hissed...she saw the beach house go up in raging fire...she was falling...falling....brown-blackness...gone.
She was nestled in moss, in a sepia world, with rare plants blooming around her, and a panda...thing, arranging more moss over her so that she could fall asleep. "I am dreaming," Azula murmured to herself. "Yes, panda, I will go to sleep in this land, so that I can wake up at the beach house."
She woke up later...time was hard to track in that world, as it remained exactly the same all the time. "Oh Sozin."
She was still in the dreamland. She pinched herself, hard. It was real, and so was she.
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