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The following story is indubitably fanon and should not be considered actual canon.
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THE GOLDEN JUBILEE
Today was the Fire Lord's Golden Jubilee, a celebration to honor Zuko's fiftieth year reigning as Fire Lord over his people. Zuko was an old man now, a grandfather even, and as he prepared to greet his loyal subjects, he first stopped to say a few words to his daughter.
"Father?" Honora grinned, "What are you doing, you should be getting ready for your big extravaganza?"
"I just wanted to come see my favorite little girl before the announcements," he laughed, hugging his daughter closely.
"I'm not a little girl anymore, Dad..." Honora teased, "I'm forty years old.""Ah, to me, you will always be my strong little lotus, Honora..." Zuko replied, "But, speaking of that, where would little Iroh and your husband be?"
She waved her hand through the air and snickered, "You know boys...they never wait around to watch mom putting on her make-up. They should be out on the balcony putting the finishing touches on your party decorations."
"Now, Honora, I told you that this wasn't a party---" her father eased.
"Whatever you say Daddy," she chuckled, going back to brushing her hair like she was before Zuko arrived.
"Wow," he chuckled, "Charge sure is getting big. Soon she won't be able to fit in the house, let alone on your bench."
The dragon scoffed and the old Fire Lord diverted his attention to look along his daughter's dresser. He noticed at all of the make-up and earrings scattered about, but his eyes stopped when he saw her old crown waiting patiently for the moment when Honora would put it on her head. Then Zuko looked at his own headpiece in the mirror and he smiled softly, taking a seat on the edge of Honora's footstool. He cleared his throat and soon after wondered, "Honora," have I ever told you about that crown?"
"No father," she frowned, running her hand through a tangle in her hair with must angst.
"There's a pretty interesting love story in this crown---It started as a tragedy, a secret, and slowly became something special---well---for a few years at least." He took it off the podium and held it in his hand, adding, "First of all, this crown once belonged to your great, great grandfather, Fire Lord Sozin."
"That's----interesting?" she shrugged, moving onto lipstick after tossing away the brush.
"Sozin gave this crown to Avatar Roku (your other great, great grandfather) and the Avatar kept it with him throughout his entire life---even long after their friendship had ended. Roku and Sozin were the best of friends until Sozin began plotting the war that Aang and I finally ended. The Hundred Year War---the sin of our family..." By the tone her father was using, Honora set down her equipment and turned, listening intently now, as Zuko continued, "They found this crown many years later buried under years of ash and decay---it was still shinning like a flame within ashes, and soon after the artifact was given to Roku's daughter, your great grandmother, Rina." Zuko smiled, "She kept it hidden from the Fire Lord for many, many years, vowing never to let the royal family take it away again."
"Then how did we eventually get it?" Honora wondered.
"My mother and father's marriage was---well how can I say this? It was sort of forbidden."
"Forbidden!?" she spat back out, "From what I was always told, their marriage was forced?"
"My mother's family and the royal family were enemies and hated one another with every fiber of their beings. You see, Ursa was the granddaughter of the Avatar, and the Avatar was not a good figure to be related with in the eyes of the Royal Family. Then to my mother's house, Prince Ozai was just the rotten ancestor of the man who took part in the death of the Avatar---of Rina's own father."
"They were enemies---Grandmother and Ozai?" Honora pieced together, "I've never read that in any of the memoirs---Grandmother never told me that. Enemies? Really?"
"It has long since been covered up..." her father explained, "Oh sure, the people of Roku's island all saw Sozin's dragon charge forth to aid Roku in the volcano tragedy, but it was Ta Min who realized that two men went into that disaster, and only one man flew back out---she never trusted the Fire Lord again, and neither did Rina. The people were fooled by their Fire Lord's bravery, but not those women, they were too strong to be tricked like that. In return the royal family distrusted those women, just as much as they did the Avatar."
"Well, what happened?" she pondered, "What changed between sweet, loving Grandmother Ursa, and that awful, horrible man, Ozai?"
"Despite all of the horrible things he had done," Zuko admitted, "I do have some good memories of him, Honora. He was evil, insane even, but my father was once a good man at one time in his life, and my mother saw it too, if only for a few moments."
"Grandmother always told me that Ozai was unstable, but in the beginning she would say that he was a kind enough guy. She actually managed to think that she loved him on a few occasions before her banishment when her family was happy and together."
"If only he hadn't gone power hungry---I think he wouldn't have turned out like he did," Zuko sighed.
"Well, change of subject!" she snapped, "What happened between those two?"
"Uncle happened," Zuko grinned. "There was a huge gathering, a party that took place at the Royal Palace. It was Fire Lord Azulon's Golden Jubilee and to make matters even more interesting, Uncle Iroh had just slain the last of the dragons on the earth..."
- Flashback Mode:
"There's my older brother!" a young, happy Ozai clapped, "Returned to our humble home at last?"
"It is good to see you again," Iroh hugged, "I have missed my family much these past few years."
"Don't worry, father and I are well and your son, Lu Ten, is getting stronger every day! Before you know it, he will be joining you as you lead our grand army all across the globe---but enough about that---I want to hear about your travels---you killed the last dragon huh? Just couldn't save any for your dear brother, could you, Iroh?"
"They do not call me the "Dragon of the West" for nothing, now do they?"
As the brothers laughed amongst the large crowd of their Nation's most important and sociable families, a young woman walked through the parlor dressed in the clothes of a pauper, rather a fancy gown like all of the other women wore. Her underdressed appearance caught the Prince's eye, but he forgot all about that as soon as he saw her face. She had beautiful hair that was long and dark, her eyes were a piercing gold---she was utterly extravagant to say the least."That was the woman from the theatre group in Hira'a!?" Ozai thought swiftly. He had seen her performance many times and realized that was why he was so infatuated with her now. She was a true diamond in the rough. "Still," the young prince wondered, "What was she doing here at father's Golden Jubilee?"
"Earth to Prince Ozai?" Iroh snapped.
"Whah---huh?" Ozai blinked, "Wh-what is it?"
With a hearty laugh, Iroh slapped his little brother on the back and stated, "You were drooling over that young lady."
"N-No I wasn't," Ozai denied with a pout, "B-But let's just assume for one minute that you haven't completely lost your mind---how should I approach this particular situation, brother?"
"Situation?" Iroh chuckled, "Ozai, this is love---you are the Prince of the Fire Nation---no woman alive could refuse you."
"You think so, huh?" he smirked in thought.
"As long as you are sincere and gentle---the ladies love a compassionate listening man."
His confidence boasted, Ozai declared, "But, of course I am----none of those things..." his good feeling was gone. "What do I do with that? Help me brother."
"Go speak to her, give a compliment or two---and if the worst comes up, resort to tea---it is the lifesaver of all relationships as well as a conversation starter." He laughed, "I should know!"
"I will never comprehend your obsession with tea?" Ozai pondered.
"Daddy!" a young boy, Lu Ten, called eagerly as Iroh turned away his attention to happily spend time with his eight year old son.
"You can do this," Ozai thought to himself, "You are the Prince---it is like Iroh said, no woman dares refuse you."
The girl was shuffling about a tray of horderves, when a smooth and confidant young Ozai peaked into the picture and set one hand on the table in order to project one of his flexing bicep muscles at the young lady. "Hey there---" he started, only to be utterly sliced out of the conversation when the woman scoffed, "Go away."
Dumbfounded, Ozai looked behind him and back, swallowing to continue, "I---saw you from across the room, and I was thinking---"
Again, the lady ignored all of his gestures and didn't even give him one glance as she spat coldly, "Leave me alone."
Angry now, Ozai cut off her path as she tried to walk away and he shrugged, "Look, I am the prince of the Fire Nation---the least you can do is show a little respect!"
Her golden glare shot up into his as though an invisible string had suddenly been pulled, and the gaze she gave was frankly terrifying. "If you do not let me pass, Prince, I assure you that I will teach you the meaning of the word "respect"!"
His mouth was practically at his ankles, but Ozai growled and whispered, "You want to challenge the Prince to an Agni-Kai, well, go ahead honey, I'm right here!"
The lady snickered, "You're not worth my time."
She walked away and quickly grabbed the arm of another lowly citizen. She scoffed, "Come on Ikem, the free food isn't worth the aggravation, invitation or not!"
Ozai stood motionless as his older brother came to see how things had gone. He nudged his little brother and teased, "How was it?"
He was locked in place, but Ozai replied, "She refused me? And she refused my declaration for an Agni-Kai."
Iroh's eyes popped out of his head as he shouted, "I told you to be sincere and talk about tea, not threaten to fry her to a crisp in an arena!?"
"She acted as though we had been enemies all of our lives---she didn't even care that I was royalty?" Ozai turned and pondered, "I have seen that woman and her peasant friend many times in the theatre plays near Hira'a, is it possible I have offended her one of those times?"
The boys were silent until Iroh snapped, "Oh my----I don't know how I did not see this sooner! Ozai, that girl there is the granddaughter of Ta Minh and Avatar Roku! The daughter of Jinzuk and Rina!"
Ozai practically spewed his newly obtained drink as he exclaimed, "What!? Why the heck is she here then!?" he coughed and wiped his mouth with his sleeve as people started to stare at his outburst.
"As much as we don't like it, her family is one of the highest ranking magnates in the Fire Nation, and this party is full of high class civilians my young, love-struck, little brother." He pointed, "Her parents are over there, do you see? Her father is on our dignitary list for annual invitations. He is a magistrate."
"Boy do I know how to pick em'..." Ozai sank.
"You aren't still infatuated with her, are you?" Iroh wondered.
"She spat at me like fire---it was---surprisingly attractive---It feels as though I can change her mind---I think I might still be, brother?"
Iroh slapped his forehead, but sighed solemnly and added, "Whatever you decide to do about this, I suppose I will be with you, but when you play with this kind of fire, not even a prince can resist getting himself burned."
"No time for your proverbs now, Iroh," Ozai started to laugh, "I have a woman to win over."
"Gross!" Honora gagged.
"Yeah, how do you think I felt when Uncle told me this story!?" Zuko motioned.
"So Grandmother hated his guts, seems about right---then what snapped and made her suddenly want to marry him?"
"My father was persistent. My parents committed the ultimate shock of the century when they decided to be married, but my mother was indeed forced into it. She loved her childhood friend, Ikem, but her father, your great grandfather, Junzuk, he was unaware of the family hatred between the women of his family and the royal family; he agreed when my father came asking personally for her hand with Azulon and Jinzuk considered it an honor. My father and Uncle Iroh even convinced the Fire Sages to think that the marriage of Sozin and Roku's heirs would produce great fortune for the Fire Nation."
"Sure the Fire Lord loved that?" Honora snarked.
"From what Uncle told me," Zuko added, "It took many arguments and threats later---Father was even ready to refuse his title as Prince for her---ready to fight an army even---but the harder Rina and Azulon fought to keep them apart, the stronger their bond became. Azulon caved and almost instantly he had forgotten the past wars and listened to the sages when they foretold Uncle's fake prophecy. Rina had no real choice in the matter as it was the honorable thing to please Jinzuk's side of the family, but she at least hoped my mother would have been happy."
"So Iroh actually had the biggest hand in Grandmother Ursa's arranged marriage---I never would have guessed it! He tricked everybody! The Sages, Azulon, Grandmother's family, Uncle Iroh did all of that just to help his brother---he never could have imagined what would have happened next," Honora drifted into thought before averting her attention back towards her father, "But what about this crown, that doesn't explain anything?" Honora implied impatiently.
"Well, my mother was given Roku's crown shortly before being taken away from her own mother. Ursa traded out her given headpiece in secret and she replaced it with Roku's---not a person really could tell the difference, except that it was a much brighter item than her old one, made of such pure material---the headpiece overshadowed Ozai's by a long shot, but Ursa would only lie and tell the kingdom she polished it herself, that was why it always looked so magnificent..." Zuko chuckled and added, "Mother said that Roku's crown kept her safe and that when she wore it, she always knew just what to do."
"But wait---if Ozai loved Ursa enough to revoke his title, and set up this whole elaborate forbidden romance scheme, then why would he wind up banishing her a few years later, and what happened after Grandmother Ursa was banished?" Honora eased.
"It was a hard thing my father did---but I think in the end it was all to keep her alive and out of prison. My mother committed terrible crimes the night she disappeared---I believe she told you about them?"
"Upon her leave, my mother snuck into the Fire Nation prison and hid Roku's crown within the concrete walls of a lowly cell---a jail cell that one day, Uncle Iroh would be thrown into for treason."
"H-how could she have possibly known that?" Honora gasped, "It was----years---years and years later after she had vanished?"
"No one really knows for sure, but as my mother always told me, everything happens for a reason. She said she was listening the voices in her heart when they told her to hide the artifact and she didn't question it. Mother always did have a very connected spiritual side with her, being the granddaughter of the Avatar and all." Zuko grinned, "Come to think of it, so did Uncle Iroh? He even traveled to the Spirit World once, and boy was that a crazy story?"
"Back to the matter at hand, Dad," Honora snapped, "Well---years later, Iroh gave the crown to you, and then you gave it to me---" Honora finished, "That should be the end right?"
"Not quite..." Zuko chuckled, taking the crown off of the dresser to place it on the top of his daughter's head, "Soon this crown will be worn by the newest Fire Lord---one day, this crown will be worn, not by a valiant Princess, but by a dedicated new Queen."
She smiled and stood to take her father's arm, "Well...that isn't for a long, long time, Dad. Now, let's get you to that party!""It's not a party, Honora---" Zuko argued, but Honora kissed him on the cheek and they walked together out the palace doors only to hear the roaring cheers of the Fire Nation Citizens. All of them even Honora's five year old son were each cheering their loudest for the jubilee of their beloved Fire Lord Zuko. The old Fire Lord saw them all like a roaring wave and he smiled over at his son-in-law and grandson as they motioned for him to greet his subjects from the balcony. Zuko walked over to the edge and the crowd cheered even harder, making him smile with just a hint of humiliation as he waved to them from the high ground.
"All hail the Fire Lord!" the crowd screamed, Honora's family shouting the loudest as fireworks suddenly rang throughout the sky.
"Love you Dad," Honora mouthed.
Zuko smiled warmly at his daughter and watched the gleaming gold crown in her hair shine towards him as he pictured the day when Honora would succeed him in power. She was going to make a magnificent Fire Lord one day---but she still had a lot of growing up to do, a new family to think about. Now wasn't the time---but soon, Honora was going to be even greater than Zuko, and for that, her father was irrevocably proud of her.
'Banishment of the Brother'
THIS IS GOING TO GO INTO SOME TONRAQ, UNALAQ DRAMA! TBC...
- A Golden Jubilee is held when a monarch has served 50 years in reign.
- The dragons are now nine years old and have lost their baby-faces. They are all about the size of small horses now and have grown longer horns and defined features.
- Iroh is acting as the mastermind behind Ursa being ripped away from her home and Ikem. Who would have thought?
- This is one of the only times we actually see Lu Ten.
- Zuko will even manage to have a Diamond Jubilee before giving the throne over to his daughter, Honora.
- This story (originally a pun off of Romeo and Juliet) now poses a somewhat related relationship story told from The Search Part 1, but it has some of my special OAN flair thrown in to make it a Fanon.
- The second story in this chapter revolves around the tale of Tonraq's banishmenet and some other Thor/Loki-like brotherly strife that was mentioned in the LOK episode: "Southern Lights".
To Be Continued....
For the collective works of the author, go here.