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The following story is indubitably fanon and should not be considered actual canon.
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AN OLD COUPLE'S ANNIVERSARY
Sun poured in through the windows, warming the old Avatar's face until he opened his eyes and woke from a peaceful sleep, the first he's had in a long, long while. Aang stretched and rose out of bed, placing a hand on his wife's cheek, smiling as he watched her sleep so soundly. Katara felt the touch and she opened her eyes to see that peaceful smile from her old husband, making her grin before she too rose out of bed to greet the happy morning."Good morning beautiful," he chuckled.
"Good morning Aang," she stretched back.
With a laugh she waved away his words and replied, "Did you? You've been stressing yourself to the bone eversince this new "Equality Uprising" started going around the city." Aang frowned, but Katara rose and took his hand, imploring at him... "Honey, the group is small, smaller than any of the gangs in Republic City---they pose no threat, Toph can't even arrest them without it seeming pathetic. Dear, this is just a phase, don't worry, it will pass. The only real threat is the source, those darn Equalists."
With a grunt of defiance, Aang let out a tiny smile and walked over to open the window, letting in a crisp, early breeze. "I hope we catch them before they make another strike," he said, "That's all I can hope for now that they're winning over the non-benders of this city---and without Sokka here---well things could get worse without him."
"Enough of that!" Katara chipperly snapped, "Time to start off the day!" following close behind was the next part of her morning routine; she kissed her husband once on the cheek and asked him, "So, what are you going to do today?"
He took in a deep breath and flirted back at her, "I have an entire evening planned out, but you won't know about it until later today. Go and have a wonderful day my Forever Girl, and when you return, there will be a marvelous surprise waiting here for you."
"Aang, you old charmer," she chuckled, "Alright, I'm going----I'm going. Today is Toph's day off, maybe she can keep me occupied until tonight. We can go to the spa or something, she always liked that."
As Katara fled the room, Aang shouted out at her, "And Katara!" She lingered in the doorway and he gave her a defiant old grin, saying, "Happy Anniversary Sweetie."
Katara chuckled back and shook her head, "Happy Anniversary Sweetie." Her voice trailed down the hallway, "I can't wait to see how you surprise me this year!"
By Nightfall, Katara returned to Air Temple Island to find Aang outside near the waterfall in the backyard; he had strung up a few paper lanterns and made a bench out of earth so they could sit together by the falls where forty-six years ago, Aang had proposed to her.
"What's all this?" she chuckled knowingly.
"Surprise!?" he gestured half-enthused and utterly goofy.
"Well, I certainly am surprised honey?" she chuckled, taking a seat beside him; the rush of the waterfall made a peaceful echo through the trees and Katara sat back on her old husbands shoulder, laughing as she handed him a little box.
"Happy Anniversary," she grinned.
"Hmm?" he toyed, "What could we have here?" Aang opened the little box and inside was a tiny sculpture of ice, it was an odd swirl design and freezing to the touch, an Aang chuckled and replied, "Gee---thank you---Katara."
"That was supposed to distract you, she laughed, "your real present isn't quite ready yet because one of the bison sort of flew off with it this afternoon; so whether he comes back with it or not is a mystery," she chuckled, "We said we were going to try and be original about our anniversary this year, remember? Your idea, not mine."
"No," the old Avatar laughed, "I love it really---must take a lot of concentration for this to stay frozen?"
She gave him a look and gruffly shoved him before replying, "So---your turn old man."
"Oh," he gasped, "I must have forgotten it back at the house---Oh no, where could it---"
"Aang..." she punched playfully.
"My old memory---" he laughed, reaching behind his robe to pull out a large rectangular box. "Here," he smiled, "This is for you."
"I wonder what it could be?" she giggled.
Aang stared at her with a small grin, and Katara unwrapped the small, square box gently to pull a book out of the package."A book?" she wondered curiously, flipping through the first ten pages; there was no title on the cover, but the book was full of writing. Katara chuckled unsurely... "A very, very large---handwritten---book?"
"It's a journal," Aang laughed, "I wrote down every minute of every day that I could remember since the day that you pulled me out of that iceberg. There are a few blank pages in the back, I was hoping you could continue it for me, after I'm gone. It has all of our old adventures inside it."
"Aang," she sighed.
"Oh!" he changed subject, "Open it up near the seams---there's one more surprise."
With a look, Katara opened it and saw a picture from their wedding lingering in the pages. She grabbed it and smiled before a small trinket slipped onto her lap and she dropped the picture in sheer surprise. She picked it up with wide eyes and saw a small engagement necklace carved---well, almost mediocrely to be honest, but it was cute.
"I know it isn't the prettiest thing in the world," he blushed. "Quite frankly my dear, it's an eye sore, but---" he took it and wrapped it around her neck, "If you wear it, then it will become the most beautiful piece of jewelry in the entire world."
Tears in her eyes, Katara touched the necklace with the tip of her finger and smiled as thankfully as she could, sighing, "In all our years Aang---this is without a doubt---the greatest present---that you have ever given me."
"Now you can give your mother's necklace to Kya, like you wanted, and still have something---well---" he mumbled nervously, before waving the words away, kissing his wife once, and stating, "Happy Anniversary Katara."
"I love you so much," she hugged him, "I wish we could stay together forever---just like this."
"I wouldn't mind being a few years younger myself," he teased.
Katara punched him lightly and added, "I don't care how old we get as long as we're together."
Aang frowned, but stroked his wife's hair and replied, "Sadly sweetie, there aren't that many pages in one book---you see, eventually---you just have to start a new one."
Katara grabbed his hand and pressed her face to his chest, half-chuckling, "Well, I always liked the original copy better. It's worth reading more than once. I never get tired of it."
"You took the words right our of my mouth," he shrugged comically, "But, I could read the pages over and over for the rest of eternity and it wouldn't compare to this moment."
"Aang," Katara blushed, "Honestly, where do you contain all of this charm---you're making me blush."
He kissed her again and Katara chuckled, "Excuse me honey," she teased, "but, I have to go write this down---it seems you've just given me a new hobby."
"Well, now the writer's cramp seems to not be worth it?" he coughed lightly, and added, "I've created a monster."
"You're right," she smiled, "I'll be inside sweetie, see you there for dinner."
With a smile, Aang got up and followed Katara inside; hand in hand they walked as she admired her new necklace and talked about all of the things she was going to write down in her new diary.
"The Adventures of Team Avatar"---I think that's what I'll call it!" she chuckled, ending her statement with one last flirty kiss.
"Worth the dystonia...definatley..." Aang chuckled.
A ROYAL SECRET
Zuko was sitting in his chambers watching the lively flames in front of his throne thrive as he pondered alone in the silence. Fire was life, or so he was taught. Zuko saw his friends as well as himself growing older by the day and he often wondered how long they would have until their flames all went out for good. For an older man, Zuko thought himself to be in a great shape of power and durability---not as much as when he was a young man, but more so than others his age who were starting to need glasses to see and canes to walk on. Poor Aang needed both and he was aging faster than the rest of them. Zuko was wondering just how much his age was actually starting to catch up with his old friend, Aang; what would they possibly do if he should---No, Zuko thought, not possible to even think about someone like Aang dying, at least not anytime soon, he was getting the rough end of the stick on aging, but his personality hadn't changed at all since he came out of the iceberg. He was not anywhere near his end---not yet.
A creak at the door made Zuko snap to reality and he saw a huddled old woman scooting slowly into the dimly lit room. "Fire Lord Zuko..." she bowed as much as her old bones could bend and took in large breaths of air afterwards. Her body was ancient and she seemed too old to even be moving; still the woman managed to shuffle about and Zuko had to give her credit for that, even considering who was greeting him on this dreary, cloudy day.
"If it isn't Elua," He sneered at her, remembering her traitorous history with his mother and Ikem. Zuko rolled his eyes and continued, trying the best he could to act his age, but he really did not care for this old woman at all. "You look well. You must be pushing one hundred at least---maybe 110?"
"I realize that I am ancient," she frowned in a cracking voice, "So you realize that my time could come at any moment, and I feel the need to confess something to you. Confess a sin that I have made on your behalf. I have come to believe that the guilt is the only reason I am still in the world at my age."
"You want to confess your gossip like you did to my father?" Zuko scoffed, "What else have you meddled into now, Elua? At your age, one would think that you couldn't be much trouble.""It was many years ago," she sighed, "Before our Lady Mai had passed away."
Zuko's cheek twitched and he leaned forward, "Out with it then."
"You were so distraught to hear of her death, and we were all so afraid. We thought you had gone mad like your sister and father. You must agree that you were an awfully frightening sight for months of darkness until the Avatar brought Ursa back home to you."
"What are you saying?" Zuko stared down at her with wide eyes of curiosity.
"The other servants and I feared for the child's safety---feared what you would do if you ever saw him---so we---we told you that he had passed away just as Lady Mai."
Zuko didn't move.
"Fearing the worst, we sent him away..." Elua coughed, "He lives in Omashu with Tom-Tom and his family."
"Mai's brother?" Zuko stumbled for words. His breath choked as he looked into the fire and a tear slipped out of his eye, "I have a son? My son has been alive all this time!?" Zuko stared down at his lap and his fists tightened at his knees until they started to shake and another tear slid down his cheek as he grunted to keep his composure.
"We weren't sure of your rage quite yet---and it was a secret we were too afraid to ever reveal to you, even in these times of peace...you must understand that. I have nothing more to lose, so I agreed it was far past time to tell you."
Zuko's golden stare trembled and he stood up abruptly as the fire of the chamber rose all the way to the top of the ceiling. "What did you think I would do!?" Zuko shouted angrily, "I never once blamed him for what happened to Mai! I blamed the doctors, the healers, I blamed Mai, but I blamed myself more than anyone else because it was MY FAULT! I never once gave any sign of blaming that boy!" He took a few deep breaths, "H-How dare you do this to me! Thirty years, Elua! What kind of monster would do somthing so cruel!?"
"Understand that you were in a crazed state of mind, Fire Lord," she trembled, "Princess Honora was already out of state, so we feared for the child's life."
"You had no reason!" He bellowed, fire dripping from his hands as he paced around his throne, "Why has no one told me? All these years? Even after things got better?" Zuko was so angry that sparks flew off his tongue and smoke poured out through his flaring nostrils. He tried to calm down and heaved out his next question, "Why has Mai's family not told me!?"
"Have you seen them?" she spat back coldly, "You didn't even allow them to bury their daughter. The family was so distant to you, we swore them to secrecy and they managed to obey and keep their distance. I'm not sure how much the boy knows."
Breathing heavily to rid himself of his burst of fury, the fire of the chamber suddenly drained away and he hopped onto the ground, making the old woman jump in terror. He wouldn't even look her in the eye and started walking towards the door, his voice calm and refined despite the heat that could be felt swelling through his skin as he stepped closer towards her.
She bowed her head. "I will not ask your forgivness, but I do hope you make this secret right."
Zuko's voice trailed away, "Elua, you are banished. If you so much as cross my path again, you will be spending your next hundred years in a Fire Nation dungeon. Expect nothing less after all that you've done to ruin my family."
"Where are you going?" she turned in shock as he passed by her with nothing but his phrase of banishment.
Zuko snarled and shot the doors open, "To Omashu," he said, "See yourself out, Elua."
"You're kidding me! Please tell me that this is some sort of sick, twisted humor that for some reason only our family possesses."
"From what I can gather, Honora, it's true," Zuko said. He arched his brows and ran a hand through his white hair, "Honora, your brother is alive, and perhaps it has been my fault that neither one of us ever knew it until today."
"You were hurt, emotionally unstable---You were at your lowest point father, it was not your fault! That blasted servant took advantage of your emotions! She took advantage of your madness towards Mother's death and played us all for fools!"
"Elua was not the one who overreacted," Zuko admitted, "She was right...I behaved inappropriately for a man of my age, and what was worse is that I drove you away that year---I never would have imagined that I had also driven out my only son..."
"Stop it!" Honora snapped, "Just stop! After all you've been through, honestly father, if you hadn't snapped when Mom died then I would have believed you to be made of stone." She snickered to herself and placed a comforting hand on his shoulder as Zuko sulked to himself in guilt. "Everyone in our family has experienced a strike of psychotic behavior at one point or another. I'm still waiting on mine, but Daddy, this is not your fault! I don't blame you for what happened and neither should you---those pesky servants should never have done what they did, it was downright heartless of them to interfere!"
"Have you ever even met your mother's family?" Zuko spat quickly. "Mai hardly saw them after we started dating and then when we were married. Without even realizing it, I stole Mai from her family. I might as well be my father---snatching my mother out of her old life---she never saw her family again after that. You know the Fire Sages laws about marriage to the Royal Family."
"All old ties from life are cast out," Honora nodded, "But Dad, no one has followed that law since grandmother's time. Mother never mentioned her family because of their strained relationship from when she was a teenager---for Aang's sake Dad, Mom traded her infant brother for that 112 year old king! She attacked her father after the war ended because he was starting a rebellion!"
"She knew what she was doing," Zuko smiled a little, "Mai knew that Aang wouldn't let anything bad happen to her brother. And if she hadn't, then who's to say Azula wouldn't have just tossed Tom Tom over a cliff---""Honestly?" Honora rolled her eyes. She took in a sigh and forced Zuko to a stand as she started dragging him towards the bunker where they kept their war balloons. Honora persisted in her most mature of tones as she led him towards the garage. "People change and so have you. It's far past time we make things right between Mother's family, and it is definitely far past time to meet my new little brother. Come on, we're heading out!"
"You mean---you want to go---right now?" Zuko was shocked, but a small smile twitched across his face.
"Don't be such a child!" She laughed, "I'm sure after tea and a long, long explanation, everything will be set right. Uncle Iroh taught me that."
Zuko smiled as they started prepping the old Fire Nation hot air balloon, "With Lee away with the United Republic, what about Iroh?"
"We'll only be gone for a few hours---I doubt he's even awake yet; we'll be back before he knows it!"
"Mom?" a tiny, tired voice squeaked. It was little Iroh, standing in the middle of the hallway with his father's dragon, Tanwen, who sat behind him, looming over young Iroh's head like a tall street light.
"Iroh, you're up!" Honora smiled, her wide grin hiding secrets from her little six-year old. Zuko's guilty look matched his daughter's exactly.
"Why are you guys in that balloon? Are you going somewhere?" he yawned, "Where are you going? I wanna go!"
"What?" Honora snorted awkwardly, "Wh-why would you think something like that honey? You and Tanwen should go get some breakfast and play outside, it's such a nice day." The rain outside proved otherwise and all three sets of eyes gave Honora a look of accusation.
"I apparently forgot how to teach you how to lie to a six year old, my dear..."
"Shut it---" she huffed in defeat, "You're no better!"
"Alright grandson!" Zuko clapped, "You can come with us, but I'm afraid Tanwen needs to stay here with her brothers and sisters."
The dragon snorted and Iroh pouted, "But she wants to go flying, come on! Grandfather, you said when they got big enough, the dragons could take us places like the Avatar's Bison! I want to go on Tanwen! Please Grandfather!?"
"Dad!" Honora snapped, "Why would you even say that!?" She grimaced, and slapped her forehead, "What about the secret of their existence?"
"I no longer want any secrets in this family," Zuko frowned, "And I did say that to him..." He laughed, "Iroh, you win! We ride on the dragons! Fetch Dao and Charge, and let's get going."
"Whoa, whoa! You're going to let my six year old son ride all the way to Omashu on the back of a dragon? By himself!?"
"I believe in him," Zuko nodded, "And Tanwen won't let anything happen to young Iroh, will you girl?"
The dragon nodded and slithered happily out of the garage with Iroh to retrieve her brothers and sisters.
"Oh father, you do not know the evil of which you have just wrought."
Less than a minute later all seven of the fairly large dragons wrestled over one another like an excited pack of dogs, tails wagging and wings flapping hastily.
"I said just the three," he whispered to Iroh with a look.
"You know that Iroh treats everything equally---this little family mission just turned into a dragon field trip!" Honora directed all blame to her father and Zuko sighed in defeat, "Alright, let's just go before you invite the rest of the house."
"So where are we going Momma?" Iroh pondered as Zuko lifted him onto the White dragon's back.
"We have a very important person to meet in Omashu, honey. He's your uncle."
"I have an uncle!?" he squealed, "Cool! How come I never met him before?"
Zuko cringed, then gave his grandson a small smile and replied softly, "Sometimes destiny is a funny thing, Iroh. You never really know how---or when---things are going to happen, but when they do, you just need to keep an open mind and an open heart, and things will all work out in the end. They always do."
The boy looked confused, but Honora patted his head and replied, "You just focus on staying on this dragon." She turned to her father, "That goes for you too, old man!"
"You know, I am the Fire Lord, right?" Zuko pouted, "You don't need to take care of me. A little less sass would also be nice."
"Yeah, but you're also my dad, so it's my official job and sworn duty to make sure that you don't do anything stupid---again."As they each settled on the backs of their dragons, Zuko frowned and looked to his daughter with concern, "What do you think he turned out like---being raised by Mai's family who probably hate me. What if he hates me too?"
"I don't," Honora smiled calmly, "And as his older sister, he is forced to agree with my opinion." Zuko didn't get as much confidence from her words, so Honora added, "Trust me Father," she stated strongly, "Things will turn out alright in the end. Stop focusing so much on just the dark or the light, you have to look for that silver lining in the middle and be happy with it."
"Did Uncle teach you that?" Zuko smirked.
"No," Honora shook her head and took off on Charge's back into the sky with her son and the other dragons. "You did."
EXPLAINING TO DO...
"THIS IS SO COOL!" Iroh exclaimed.
"Prince Iroh II of the Fire Nation!" Honora scolded, "You hold onto that dragon with both hands and pay attention!"
"Aw, let the boy have a little fun my lotus," Zuko grinned.
"Last I checked Dad, Firebenders can't fly!" she sassed.
"Well technically, Azula came up with a way to propel hersel---" Zuko started.
"Dad! No...." She screamed, her voice full of annoyance and pleading as she ushered back towards her impressionable young son, who of which was absorbing all of these tips from his grandfather like a sponge.
He laughed and stared out at the clouds as they flew past his face, "It's been ages since I've done anything like this!" Zuko reveled, "It brings back such memories!"
"It does," Honora smiled, "This reminds me of all the times Bumi and I snuck off to the Earth Kingdom on Iio."
"Don't remind me," Zuko grumbled.
"Father, do you know why Uncle Tom-Tom moved back to Omashu? I thought they were evacuated back to the Fire Nation; that was the last I heard when mother talked about them. She said her brother was living with her aunt or something, but then they lost touch after you two were married."
"I guess we won't know until we get there to talk with them," Zuko sighed in guilt.
"Are you still nervous?"
"Of course I am---I don't think I've been more afraid to do anything in my entire life." Zuko muttered something to himself and stared off towards the ground before calling, "Iroh! We're coming up on the city, enough goofing around! Honora, help him land."
"How exactly do you land a dragon?" Honora wondered.
Charge growled at her.
"Just let the dragons take over," he waved, "I just hope our presence on them does not bring about a panic to any of the people living in Omashu. To be safe we will all sneak in through the back entrance tunnels---they are abandoned now from the resistance that once lived here when the people were trying to escape your mother and her family." Zuko grinned nostalgic and added, "Back in the good old days..."
"Wait! Why would they be freaked out!?" Iroh laughed, dangling upside down from Tanwen's neck. "Dragons are awesome!"
"Iroh!" Honora panicked, "For the love of the spirits son, are you trying to give Mommy a heart attack!?"
Zuko chuckled and hollered back at his grandson, "Not everyone has seen a dragon, child. They've been uh---let's just say---"gone" for many, many years."
"Nuh uh," he argued, "They've been here longer than I have!"
Zuko laughed heartily and replied, "So have I!" He took a breath with a smile and added, "Just because the people of the world think that something is gone forever---trust me when I say that a lot of the time, it really is still there---hiding, surviving, and sometimes even frozen out of the peoples' reach."
Iroh blinked and called out at his mom, "So, are we there yet!?"
Honora sighed in defeat, "Yes son, just stay between your grandfather and me, and we'll all land in just a minute." She turned to her dad and nodded at him sternly, "You can do this Dad. I know you can."
"I hope so, Honora," he frowned, "I hope so."
"Coming!" a man called, "One moment please!"
Zuko, Honora, and Iroh waited patiently on the front porch of the house as all sorts of people gawked at their impressive Fire Nation royal attire. A mob was pointing and whispering at them from the streets, the overlapping gossip drowning out the frantic thoughts of the panicked Fire Lord.
"Do you think the dragon-bays will be okay in the tunnel-ayes?" Honora mumbled through her teeth.
"What on earth are you doing?" Zuko whispered spastically.
"Speaking in code!" She snapped silently, "I feel like everyone in Omashu is looking at us!"
"Maybe we should have put on something a little less---recognizable?" Zuko realized.
"Mom, people are pointing! You told me that's not nice!" Iroh pointed.
"It's not..." Honora grumbled, "Ignore them sweetheart, and just be on your best behavior for these nice people we're visiting!"The door hinges cracked and Zuko jumped, as his daughter held his shoulder comfortingly. The man inside opened the door wide, greeting, "Yes, how may I help----" He froze suddenly when he saw who was at his doorstep and swallowed hard as his eyes caught the bright red and gold colors that waited on his front porch.
Zuko was just as flustered, but Honora smacked him forward and the old Fire Lord spat out the words, "I uh, I was told that we could find Tom-Tom here?"
"I go by just Tom now," the man said with a swift nod, "Zuko---well, I suppose it is an honor to have you greet my doorstep."
He looked down guiltily, "I realize you probably have mixed feelings about seeing me---seeing us here today---"
"A little," he frowned, "I mean, you could have called?"
"I told you we should have called!" Zuko grumbled to his daughter.
"Honora I presume?" Tom pointed.
She nodded and smiled at him.
He grinned and looked to Zuko with a softer tone, "She looks so much like her mother, doesn't she?"
Zuko cracked a tiny grin, "She does."
"And who is this?" he bent down with a larger smile.
"My name's Iroh---I'm the Prince!" he grinned proudly, his hand clinging to his mother's clothes as the other pointed at his chest with a stiff thumb, "I'm six years old!"
"Are you now!?" Tom laughed, standing tall to wave his guests inside, "Please, let's not give the neighbors any more reason to gossip..." His voice was a little more hollow when talking towards them, "Please come in."
"You have a lovely home Tom-To---I mean, uh, Tom."
"Thank you Fire Lord, but I owe that to my better half," he chuckled, "She and my two youngest are in town now running errands. They should be back at any moment. Please have a seat." Awkwardly, the three sat down and Tom-Tom directed his hand towards the backyard, "Iroh, we have a pretty decent playground in the backyard---slides, swings, monkey bars---you can go play if you want to."
"Can I!?" he asked.
Honora nodded, "Just don't wander off."
Iroh shot out of the house eagerly and Tom-Tom lost his smile as soon as the back door slammed shut. He huffed, "So I have a feeling that you would one day come, but honestly I thought it would have been many years ago. I actually believed that you had forgotten..."
"He had no idea---" Honora defended, "Please...do not blame my father for this...It was beyond any of our comprehensions; we could have never guessed that anything like this would have happened, I assure you." She sighed, "We traveled all the way here the very moment that we found out, I swear it! He didn't know..."
"That he forgot to tell us of how my sister died?" Tom scoffed, "I think he knew about that---and never once did he apologize, nor offer any sort of atonement. You know how I found out? I read it in the newspaper over a year later! Do you have any idea how painful that was for me---for my mother and father----my aunt and uncle---our family!?"
Honora and Zuko both looked down at the floor.
Tom-Tom sighed and added, "I know that this is not what you've come here for today either..."
"You're right," Zuko sighed. "If it is any consultation, I am very sorry that you had to figure out of Mai's passing the way you did. I was very affected by her death in ways that I am still ashamed of to this day. You and Mai's family were always so far away after the war ended---well, I thought I might be lucky enough to avoid you all these years out of my own misplaced guilt. I am sorry...I really and truly am."
"Dad..." Honora comforted.
"I am sorry for what I did---I have made many mistakes in my time---but I think that this one triumphs over all of them---all except for the fact that I lied to my very own daughter about Mai's death, as well as you---and I have never forgiven myself for that."
"I was sent away to live in Ba Sing Se for the summer when my mother passed away," Honora stated, "It was a year before I was allowed contact with my home and by the time I returned I had gained a new grandmother, a crazy aunt, and unstable father, and my uncle home at last---but---I lost my mother in return. Father had lost so much in his life---well---he wasn't sure how to handle losing my mother, and he wasn't sure how he could tell me what had happened." She added, "Avatar Aang spent the better part of three months using his power to locate my grandmother, Ursa, and only she was able to bring my father back to his sanity. Mother's death truly did make him go out of his mind in remorse..."
"I did not know this," Tom-Tom frowned.
"It took me forever to finally forgive my father, but my Aunt Azula told me that the news that had hurt him so badly would have only made me feel about a hundred times worse. In a way he was protecting the truth from me, not because he was too afraid to tell it to me, but because he was frightened at what the news would turn me into. A monster---just like he was---and he didn't want that for anyone else."
"That part I heard about," Tom-Tom clapped, "But, in all honesty, I never hated you for not telling us, Zuko."
The Fire Lord looked up quickly, a confused gleam in his eyes, "You didn't!?"
"Like Mai, you have some serious trouble communicating with others---especially the people within your own family," he smiled, "Which is why about three years after my sister's death, your uncle came and explained the whole thing to us himself."
"He---he did?" Zuko gasped.
Tom nodded and smiled, "Yes, and although you don't know it---I forgave you long ago..." he stood and held out his arms, "Just as I forgive you now..."The old Fire Lord, with a smile and a small chuckle stood and returned the hug with a pat on the back and a relieved laugh that held back tears of reprieve.
"So..." Honora pieced together, "Uncle Iroh saw my brother here, didn't he?"
"We were forbidden from telling his natural origins to anyone---the Royal Procession made that abundantly clear to us," Tom added, "But, yes, he did. General Iroh enjoyed spending time with the children very much while he was here."
The thought that Uncle had gotten the chance to see his only son once before he died made Zuko smile brightly. Just as suddenly, the front door opened and a woman walked in with a few kids tumbling around as she wrestled to get through the doorway. All three of them paused when they saw the royal people waiting in their house and the two fourteen year old boys' jaws dropped to the floor as they awed in wonder.
"Honey. Boys," Tom-Tom motioned, "This is my brother-in-law, Fire Lord Zuko."
Astonished, the woman only bobbed her head up and down in sync with her boys as their mouths remained open and in amazement.
"Zuko, Honora," he introduced, "This is my wife, Tenten, and our boys, Foma and Gem. We also have a daughter named Lola who lives farther into town with her husband and kids, and then our boy, Rook, who has also grown and moved out of the house; he owns a blacksmithing store about a mile up the road from here." Tom shuffled his feet and stated, "Rook is the only of our four children who can Firebend, and he made a career out of it a few years back after he became infatuated with swordplay and weaponry."
"Rook?" Zuko pondered.
"Gem, Foma," their father pointed, "there is a young prince out back who could use some company in the playground---be gentle with him. No roughhousing!"
Honora laughed once and realized it was out loud and she cleared her throat, "S---Sorry---when I was a kid we just----n-never mind. Go on boys, have fun!"
The twin boys both went outside as their mother, Tenten, finally snapped back to consciousness and began mercilessly punching Tom-tom in the shoulder, grumbling, "If I knew-the Fire Lord-was coming here-I would-have cleaned-the house!"
"That really isn't necessary," Honora grinned, "Can I call you Aunt Tenten? Cool, I have and Aunt and Uncle now that don't want to inflict bodily harm on me, sweetness!"
"So---this---this is him then?" the old farm woman stammered, "They finally came to take him away?"
"They knew nothing of it honey," Tom-Tom argued softly, "It was just as much a shock to them as it was to us twenty-eight years ago."
"I was told the truth just this morning by one of the oldest, most meddling servants that roam the palace—and as soon as I learned the truth, I traveled down here as fast as I could---I'm just sorry it took so long."
"That must be one impressive War Balloon to get here so quickly!?" She gasped.
"Something like that," Honora grinned, "Oh dear..." she snapped, "Aunt Tenten, do you have corn crops growing out by your playground?"
"Why y---yes we do dear, why?"
"Dragon spit!" Honora scoffed, rushing out the back door, "Prince Iroh II of the Fire Nation! You stop playing Hide and Explode in that field right now! No matter how much you burn the plant, it will NOT turn into popcorn puffs!"
She and Tom-Tom's wife rushed out of the house as Zuko and he exchanged a glance of concern. After a moment, Zuko turned back towards his brother-in-law and asked, "So----does he know?"
"Uh..." Tom scratched his neck, "N-no...we were going to tell him when he was older, but then he moved out of the house and he just seemed so happy---we thought you would never come for him---we---well, we never told him, or any of our kids for that matter."
"And does----does he---hate me?"
Tom laughed, "Hate you? He doesn't even know you. He---he does know of you though. He often admired all of the good things you've been doing while working with the Avatar. He knows that you were married to my sister and---he wondered as a boy why we were never invited to any parties being technical family and whatnot---you know, childish thoughts like that---but that was about it."
"What---what is he like? What should I do!?"
"You are a sixty year old man, Fire Lord Zuko---certainly you've dealt with harder things than this?" He laughed. "Go and learn about the boy for yourself!"
"I would take getting my scar, being blown up at Tu Zin, struck by the lightening blast of a comet-enhanced Firebender, and take my chances punching a full-grown dragon at the same exact time during an eclipse----than do what I am about to go do now..." He gulped, "Y-you know----if dragons were still around that is----I would punch---one---yeah?"
"Okayaaay?" Tom shrugged and patted the Fire Lord's back as he directed him out the front door, "Don't worry, we'll keep an eye on the prince and princess for you." He handed him a scribbled piece of paper and added, "Well, here are the directions to his house--- just follow this main road up the hill and you shouldn't miss it. Now...go get him tiger! Trust me...he's going to be WAY madder at me than he will be at you."
"Oh, but if you don't mind, can I ask one more thing?" Zuko grinned. "Why Rook?"
"Mai always liked the name---somehow it translates to Sea Ravens---"
"Her favorite bird of darkness," Zuko chuckled, "I remember..."
"Hey man," he paused, "I'm sorry for all that's happened to you---it's not fair that your life has been so altered by others...and it isn't your fault, I hope you know that. About everything...."
"Thank you Tom-Tom. If only that were true..." Zuko sighed as he turned and left the home behind.
An explosion rang out in the back yard and Honora was heard yelling at her son as the rest of the house shook uneasily. Tom turned and collapsed stressfully on the couch as the screams and shots became more frantic. He threw an arm over his eyes and mumbled... "Whatever's going on out there, I don't even want to know."
THE LOST HEIR
Zuko wandered up the streets of Omashu, following the staircases and mail chutes higher and higher into the city as the old Fire Lord wished all too suddenly that he had a set of younger knees. A few people were stalking him unintentionally, watching to see where the famous Fire Lord was going, but after a groan and a few warnings, Zuko had finally managed to shake them off his trail. Finally, he made it to the location written on Tom-Tom's note and he froze in the street as he saw a figure moving around inside the store through the open window.
"This is it..." he thought quickly, "You can do this..." Zuko wondered if perhaps he should have practiced a speech or something on the way up. Though, seeing as though preparing for important conversations never really went well in his favor before, Zuko took in a large breath and without a second thought, he stepped into the blacksmith's store.The little bell above the door rang and the voice in the back shouted, "I'll be right with you!"
The man's voice alone was enough to make Zuko's throat feel dry and already he was sweating a tad because of the mountain hike up the hill. The Fire Lord grumbled to himself to get it together and as he did the blacksmith, who was in the back of the store bending fire across the metal of a very fine crafted sword, killed the flames, set down his blade, and trotted out of the back. He clapped as he turned to his customer with a large white smile, "Alright, let's see what I can do for you!"
He looked just like a mirror image of himself, Zuko thought. He was perfect---and he had Mai's eyes---Zuko could see them looking at his own as the young man suddenly locked gazes on him. Zuko paused and the young man froze too. In a moment, the blacksmith started to laugh and looked around his shop as he exclaimed, "Oh my---this is just amazing! The Fire Lord---is in my store! Is anybody seeing this? The Fire Lord is in my store!?"
"Calm down son," Zuko smiled, "Although, I do admire your youth and enthusiasm."
"Right, right!" He chuckled, bowing, "A thousand apologies sir---uh, what was it you needed? Oh, do you have a sword that needs mending or maybe a scratch in your crown that needs buffering---you name it!"
"Actually, I was just hoping to say hello," he swallowed.
"Did my father call you down here?" Rook smiled, "I mean I knew you two were related distantly by marriage or something---but wow! He really knows how to surprise a guy! I have been obsessed with your work ever since I was a little boy."
Zuko took a seat and started chuckling, "Oh really? Well Tom didn't tell me that."
Rook pulled over a seat and his large smile never faded, "Oh yeah! I've seen paintings of you fighting with your Dao Blades and then there were photos taken of you and the Avatar at the North Pole...and in Republic City. I am a big fan of your style Mr. Fire Lord! A big fan!"
Zuko rubbed the back of his neck and attempted further small talk, "So Rook, your...father...he told me that you're the only Firebender in your family, is that so?"
"Yes sir," he nodded, "It's part of the reason why I got so into making weapons. The ease of access you know?" he stifled a laugh and pointed, "Now, YOU on the other hand, you and your family are the greatest benders in the world! I've seen documentaries about how your uncle redirected lightning and then your sister could practically rocket herself around with fire blasts...even your father---well, he could have been considered great---I'm sorry I'll just stop talking now."
"With a little training, I imagine you could do those things as well, son."
"Haha!" he laughed, "I don't think so, sir---um, excuse my manners, is it alright if I call you sir, Fire Lord Zuko?"
Zuko lost his smile and ran a hand through his hair in distress. Rook took notice of the change in the Fire Lord's attitude and he grew serious faced as well. "It's alright, I can just call you Fire Lord," Rook patted the counter gently. "Is there something bothering you Fire Lord Zuko? I have a feeling that you didn't come all the way to Omashu just to watch me idolize you in my little workshop here."
"Actually..." he sighed heavily, "There's a long story that I need to tell you, Rook..."
And Zuko told him---he told Rook everything. He started with a tale of a boy who had been scarred and banished by his father, emotionally bent on capturing the Avatar, but in the end he trained the Airbender to Firebend and became a better person and a respectable Fire Lord. He told Rook all about meeting and marrying Mai and he told him stories about Honora and the Blue Spirit---about fighting with his friends and then making laws that changed the world. Zuko started to talk about his uncle, his mother, and his father---his sister and how she vanished; he also mentioned the sorry day in Fire Nation history when he lost both his wife and his son all on the same day. The Fire Lord added that he had believed his son to be dead all these years and he mentioned in detail how emotionally distraught that he had become after hearing the dreadful news.
"My son was born twenty-eight years ago," Zuko continued.
"He would have been the same age as I am, wouldn't he?" Rook frowned compassionately. "I apologize greatly for your loss, Zuko. I am so sorry."
"Don't be," Zuko waved, "because this story isn't over yet. You see, just this morning I was told from a former servant of mine that my son didn't really die all those years ago. I was told instead that they feared for his safety and sent him away---sent him to the only family that they could think of to get him away from the palace forever. They made a grave mistake back then, and I've been wondering constantly how our lives would have been different had things not been the way they were."
Rook was still.
"Naturally, I wound up flying all the way to the Earth Kingdom on the back of a dragon, if you can believe that---just so I could meet my son in person---for the first time---in twenty-eight years, three months, and seven days." He gave the young man a look before shutting his eyes painfully as the silence echoed through the workshop around them.
"Are you saying---" Rook slammed his hands on the table as he stood and walked a few paces away. He ran his hands through his black hair before spinning back towards the Fire Lord with a tremble in his eyes of gold. "You're trying to tell me that---but, no, it isn't possible."
"I'm afraid it is," Zuko took another breath, "And---I am so---so sorry, Rook."
The man slid his palms across his eyes and smothered the rest of his tears as he looked down at the grief-stricken old Fire Lord. "Why---" he choked, "Why did they never tell me!?"
"Tom-Tom told me that they were planning on it when you got to be a certain age, but he thought I was never going to come for you, and that you were happy the way things were." Zuko huffed, "I was debating even telling you myself---I didn't want you to feel this way."
"No," he spat, "I would rather have known the truth than be left in the darkness for the rest of my life. Thank you Zuko---" He bit his lip, "I mean Father? You're MY father..."
Zuko stood and he walked over and placed a hand on his son's shoulder, "I know that this isn't going to be easy---and we have a lot of catching up to do. You will always think of your uncle as your father and I understand that more than you think I would. Rook, I want to---that is, if you wish it---I would very much like to take you home---to your home---I want you to be where you should have been since day one. Come with me back to the palace...Come home to the Fire Nation."
"I---" he started, "I do want to learn all about you and my family---but you're right...I've been here for so long that I have family here that I already love and I can't just leave them behind..."
"Of course you can..." A man interrupted.
"Dad!?" Rook exclaimed, "I mean---" Confused the young man choked on his words and held his face in anguish.
"Tom?" Zuko wondered, "What are you doing here?"
"I couldn't let you do this alone..." He replied, "This is my conversation to have with Rook as much as it is yours."
"I don't understand, Dad," Rook struggled, "You want me to leave?"
"You will always be my son, Rook!" Tom-Tom said, "But, you are Zuko's son too." He grinned, "You've been living here all your life and you've known ever since you were a kid, shooting fire bolts at targets you made in the backyard that you needed a bigger place to call home. Your mother, and your brothers and sister and I will be fine! You go with Zuko, and have a new adventure---the one that you always dreamed about as a little boy."
"But, Dad," Rook hugged Tom-Tom tightly and said, "Things won't be the same without you."
"Your right," he nodded, and looked his boy in the eyes, "But, that isn't such a bad thing. It's not like you can't come visit?" Tom laughed, "Besides son, this man has been waiting for you for nearly thirty years---I think you owe it to him to teach him a few lessons on how to raise a great boy like you, huh?"
Rook smiled and wiped a tear from his eye as Tom-Tom stepped back with a grin and watched as his son ever so slowly inched towards the Fire Lord and finally, he put his arms around him and gave him a hug that finally broke Zuko to tears. Zuko let out a happy sigh and wrapped his long lost son in a tight hug as the two men realized a bond between them that was stronger than blood.
"Cool! Is this my new uncle!?" a young boy exclaimed.
Zuko and Rook laughed as they pulled apart from one another and got a look at young Iroh standing in the doorway of the store. He was covered in soot from head to toe, but there was a huge smile on his face as he stared up at the stranger with eyes of wonder.
Rook bent over and picked Iroh off the ground with a booming laugh, "You must be Prince Iroh? I've heard a lot about you."
"For real!?" he cheered. "Are you going to take me on boats across the world and teach me to do cool stuff like my grandpa's uncle did!?"
"No!" Honora interrupted quickly, "But, I'm sure he has something else that he can teach you that doesn't involve across the sea trips!"
Rook put Iroh up on his shoulder and stepped over to look down at his sister, who he ironically towered over. "I thought you would be a little taller, sis?" He laughed once.
She gave him a look, "Well I thought you would be a lot shorter!" She snickered and pointed her fingers at his chest, "In my country words like that will get you a one way ticket to an Agni Kai!"
"Honora, be nice to your brother..."
"On the contrary, Dad," Rook smiled wide again and laughed, "I happen to be a pretty decent swordsman---maybe even enough to take on the renown princess of war, Honora."
"I sense a challenge and I accept!" She cheered, following her statement by wrapping her new brother up in a hug.
"And you wonder where Iroh gets his enthusiasm?" Zuko rolled his eyes."So Dad---What were you saying again about the way you three got here?" He raised an eager brow and gave his father a crooked smile of amusement, "Let's saddle up those dragons and check out this palace of yours, what do you say?"
"I can teach you!" Iroh blurted, "I can show you how to ride a dragon!"
Honora scooped her son up and held him under her arm, "I don't think so mister, you're in trouble for wrecking Uncle Tom-Tom's crops. I don't think you'll be going on any more dragon rides for quite a while young man."
"Awww..." He pouted, "But, I barely burned the other kids..."
"So this is my family, huh?" Rook snickered.
Zuko laughed and patted his son on the back, "Yeah son, this is your family."
- Aang and Katara have now been married for forty-six years.
- Katara's necklace once belonged to her Mother, Kya and then it also belonged to her Gran Gran, Kanna... so one day, Katara will give the necklace to her own daughter Kya.
- The memoir Aang wrote Katara could possibly be the book Jinora was reading when she was talking to Katara in the LOK episode, "Welcome to Republic City".
- This secret of hers dates back 28 years ago in Year 23.
- Iroh was born back in Year 45. He, like his family, rises with the sun and can be incredibly sneaky and nosy.
- The 7 dragons from Year 41 are now Ten years old and have grown to be the size of tall street lights.
- Tanwen was originally loyal to Lee, just as Charge and Dao are to Honora and Zuko. However, in his absence, she mostly clings closely to young Iroh.
- The Fire Sage law on marrying the Fire Lord was content used in The Search Part One.
- This is the first time the dragons have been out flying.
- The secret tunnels that Zuko mentioned were seen in the ATLA episode: "Return to Omashu".
- This is the first time has made an appearance in this Fanon.
- For some reason while writing, I heard Julian McMahon voicing Zuko's son...IDK why?
- Zuko wasn't the only one who thought about NOT telling the truth (and by that I mean me)...but in the end honesty is really the best policy.
- This is the first time we see Honora as a more motherly-figure, but she still has a few of her strong points as an eager fighter and a warrior princess.
For the collective works of the author, go here.