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The following story is indubitably fanon and should not be considered actual canon.
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Zuko and Mai had a daughter not long before the ten year reunion; she was born an honorary princess to a grand Fire Nation Empire, and thusly she was the gem of her people and a very extravagant celebrity. After much debate, the royal couple named her Honora, and she was the perfect example of Fire Nation Royalty. Honora was the first firstborn female child born to a Fire Lord to be recorded, and when she gets older, Honora would become the very first female Fire Lord in Fire Nation history! But, for now the little princess was still just a tiny baby and she had a long ways to go before she would be ready for the throne or any sort of action having to deal with her people. Her nursery, already filled with the finest toys and supplies that any child could ever want or need was silent and peaceful as the entire palace was currently calming down after bringing their newest member into the world.
It would be a few days before Zuko's friends, or his uncle would make it to the Fire Nation to see his little girl, but in the meantime, Zuko was having his own trouble just trying to see her himself! Moments after her arrival, Mai got to hold her in her arms and Zuko admired the two of them from the bedside; he was just about to touch the tiny baby's face when the doctors took her away to continue preparing her for the outside world. A little while later, Zuko tried to greet his baby again, only to be shooed out by the nurses because they weren't done with all of the sacred rituals and medical check-ups to ensure the new princess was healthy and impossible to be mistaken for anything less than royal.Hours passed by and Zuko snuck soundlessly into the quiet nursery and walked over to his daughter's crib. In the few hours that she had been born, Zuko had never actually gotten to hold his baby girl, just admire her from the sidelines for about two minutes. With Mai resting up, and no servants to butt in this time, now was the perfect opportunity for a little father-daughter time all his own with Honora!
Every time it seemed that he wanted to see his baby, she would cry or someone else was already with her. On top of no one giving him a moment to be with her, little Honora was always crying. She cried the whole time Mai held her, she was bawling whenever Zuko tried to check on her afterwards. The unsure Fire Lord didn't know if she was just frightened by the new surroundings or maybe if it was him who was making her cry. Was it possible that she hated him? Zuko wondered. Was it the scar? Did it frighten her? Either way, Zuko just had to keep trying, and he tiptoed further across the room, hoping Honora's napping would provide a cover for him to interact with her for the first time.
As soon as he peeped over her crib, dimly lit with sunlight through the sheer drapes, he nearly keeled over to see that his baby was already awake and starring up at him with a gruff look of concentration. She fidgeted around in her blankets in attempts to escape, but as soon as she realized she could not, Honora then began to cry once again as the poor Fire Lord had absolutely no idea what to do. Thinking fast, he reached down and scooped the baby up in his arms, rocking in gently against his chest as he hummed nervously for the baby girl to stop sobbing so loudly, or else someone would wander in to check on her and kick him out---again.
"There there..." Zuko soothed, "It's alright." He looked about the room, echoing in the loud screams of his new daughter; he saw no one coming in, so alone in the silence, Zuko smiled and rubbed his daughter's hair tenderly as his calm voice continued on... "Daddy's here, it's alright...you're okay..."
As if those were the magic words, Honora stopped wailing and looked up at her father, who merely smiled with relief that he had actually done something right for once. The infant's hands came up and grasped at Zuko's face, while he just reveled in amazement that things between them were going so well. She was barely big enough to take up his two hands, and her golden eyes studied him as both Zuko and Honora matched looks of silence. He ran a thumb across the small tuft of black hair on her head and calmed down as the sunlight warmed the room even farther to create a humble and soothing view.
"I promise you that I am going to be the best father ever," he whispered, hugging his daughter close, "I will never ever let anything hurt you, and I will never give up on you. I didn't get the right kind of love from my father," he sighed, "But, so long as you are mine, I will always love you and be proud of you no matter what. Okay?"
The baby chuckled, and Zuko pressed her close to his face. He had never seen anything so beautiful as his daughter. She was so tiny, so precious, and so perfect that it was enough to bring a tear to his eye, but as he blinked it away, his curious daughter, pressed her thin and tiny hands to the scar that marked his eye; for a long, tantalizing moment neither of them were quite sure what to do. He thought that she might start to cry again---she might think he was some sort of monster because of the strange mark he had. She had never seen a scar before, what if it was too much for her to look at? The nervous new father just stared down in terror waiting for the little girl to make her next move, and gulped once as he saw the open stare in his baby girl's eyes.
No tears came, and Honora coughed out another chuckle as she reached over and pulled the Fire Lord's hair, making him laugh and whisper out an, "Ouch! Hey!" as the baby girl giggled some more, "You're going to be a handful aren't you? Are babies your age normally so rowdy?"
Honora yawned in reply and Zuko placed her back in the crib and tucked her back into the little cocoon that was her blankets; as he finished, she started to whimper again, and frantically, Zuko undid the bottom and stuck out her little foot, which instantly made her calm back down and drift off into a much-needed nap.
"That was close," Zuko panted, "You don't like to be bound up, do you?" He stroked her face a few times and stared down at the foot that twitched about outside of her blankets. "Already dreaming?" He awed, "You're a quick learner. Come to think of it," he grinned, "You're just perfect. My perfect little girl..."
He knelt over and kissed her head before he grabbed a chair to sit by her bedside. After overcoming the first accepting stage of his new fatherhood, Zuko immediately switched over to protection mode and just waited in the room himself to ensure nothing would disturb his daughter while she slept. And, while alone, he started to hum a few songs that he knew back from his old ship's music nights, which just made tiny Honora all the more serene.
"This is great, I can't wait to show you to everyone!" He cheered victoriously with a massive smile covering his face.
DILEMMA OF THE DECADEAbout a month and a half later, the reunion had come once again and everybody met up at the Fire Lord's Palace with their children. Yue was six now, Koko and Sukka were four, and Kya was three years old; the children all roamed about the palace to play while the adults had their "catch up" time to talk about the fate of the world as usual. Usually there wasn't much to report that was out of the ordinary, but this year, things were a little different. Suki has just declared that she is pregnant again and Sokka expresses that while a boy would be great, he would bet that the next baby would be another girl because for some reason the universe wanted him to have his own legion of Kyoshi Warriors. Surprisingly enough, past the good updates and the progression of the nations, none of those topics would wind up being the biggest news of the day. It was also on this, the tenth reunion of Team Avatar's victory in the war, that Zuko brought up the worst business of all others...
"My father and Azula are still in prison," he said abruptly.
The room got quiet except for one quick and confused outburst from Sokka, "And---?" he wondered.
"Ozai has been in prison for a decade now. I mean, I know Azula tried to kill us all last year, but when she was helping to find my mother, she wasn't so bad. After trying to keep her around other people, she just became too dangerous to leave unattended---we can only imagine what sort of things she went through alone in the Forgetful Valley?"
"That was her own fault," Mai stated, "She's the one who ran off for years and refuses to tell us what happened to her!"
"That doesn't change the way I feel about this," Zuko sighed, "Look, she and my father are still in prison and after Honora was born---it just got me thinking---well, what should we do with them? What really? I want to do what is best, but I also want to help them, and I don't believe the way we're dealing with them now is cutting it. What else is there?"
"So leaving them in prison forever isn't going to be an option?" Katara grumbled.
"No. My father is practically harmless now, he has no bending and no drive for world domination. He is older now and out of practice; though, just to be safe, we need to put him somewhere where he won't cause too much trouble. I've been talking with my uncle and he's agreed to watch over my father in Ba Sing Se, if the stubborn old man will agree to cooperate with what Uncle says."
"Find a home for your father, noted..." Sokka scoffed.
"Then there's Azula---" Zuko started, and he shuffled about as he added, "I kind of have this crazy idea---"
"Like what?" Toph wondered unenthused.
"Aang, I want you to take away her Firebending."
After Zuko spat that out, they all stared at him like he had asked Aang to do the impossible. Aang was the first one to break the long minute of silence by saying, "It's not that simple Zuko. I mean your father was lucky---I had a lot of power and a lot of pressure; there were millions of people depending on me---the fate of the world was at stake. I don't know if I can just "do it" again?"
"Azula causes a scene in her new prison every week," Mai informed, "After being demoted to the Homeland prison, my Uncle keeps telling me that Azula has been a pain to deal with for any of the wardens and nearly all of the prisoners. I think if you took her bending away, then she would be just another harmless psychopath, and she might be able to move on from her crazed state of mind."
"Like I said---" Zuko coughed, "It was only a suggestion. I understand if that was asking too much of you Aang. Forget I brought it up. We can figure something else out for my sister."After a moment, Aang reluctantly agreed and took in a deep sigh... "Zuko, if you think that this is the only way to bring your sister to peace, then I can try---I'll try for you, but I expect for you to come with me to make sure I don't get struck by lightning along the way---again."
"I can feel how nervous you are about this Aang," Toph snapped, "You're scared that Azula will consume you like Ozai almost did when you took away his bending. Are you sure it's worth the risk?"
"You never told me that what you did to Ozai was so dangerous!?" Katara blurted.
"It's true..." Aang looked down at his shoes and then shot up to meet the gazes of every concerned face in the room. "If I mess up, if I allow her to one up me, then Azula's chi will consume and destroy me," Aang chuckled meekly, "But hey, if I can take out the Fire Lord, then Azula's spirit can't be that much of a difference, right?"
Mai and Zuko exchanged a glance, and then the Fire Lord looked down in defeat as he frowned, "Actually, she's a lot worse, maybe this was a bad idea after all."
"It's better than doing nothing!" Aang stated strongly, "They may be horrible people, but Ozai and Azula are still people and they deserve the chance at a normal life, any way we can give it to them."
"Why?" Sokka huffed, "Just tell me one good reason why we should even think about giving these two maniacs some parole. I say they deserve what punishment they each were given. I mean, Zuko think about it, Azula tried to take off your head less than a year ago! Your mother is missing again and it's her fault!"
"I'M AWARE OF THAT!" Zuko shouted. He cleared his throat, "Ikem and Kiyi agreed and are willing to give Azula a chance at a life because they know it is what my mother would have wanted. I will not give up trying to find my mother...I did it once and I will do it again, as many times as it takes! I promised those two that I would return her to them, and I'm going to keep that promise."
"Assuming she's even still alive!?" Katara argued.
Zuko retaliated, "She's alive, I just know it. That isn't the point. If my family is willing to forgive all of the horrible things Azula has done---done to us personally---then why shouldn't we try to get her the help she needs?"
Sokka slapped his knee and stated gruffly, his voice fueled with sarcasm, "I have an idea! Let's remember this conversation and consider it over in oh, about forty years? Sounds like a plan to me!"
"No Sokka," Aang stood, "I'm the Avatar. If I can bring balance to the world, I can bring balance to Zuko's crazy family too----oh, no offense."
"None taken," Zuko shrugged.
"Then I guess it's settled," Mai nodded, "I'll send for your uncle, get the appointment from my uncle, and then we can get into prison and deal with Azula and Ozai once and for all."
Suki wrapped her arms around her waist and muttered softly, "This is a bad idea..."
Katara agreed in haste, "Tell me about it! Aang, they aren't worth risking your life over! They just aren't! There has to be another way to deal with them."
"It's not open for debate! I'm going to take Azula's bending away and bring peace to one of my dearest friends." With that, the Avatar turned and wandered out of the room as the entire palace grew silent for only a few brief moments of peace and confusion.
Zuko smiled guiltily as Katara began arguing with the rest of the room, "I swear, if anything happens to Aang, Zuko---"
"Easy Katara," Toph restrained, "If it will make you feel any better, I'll go with the guys for backup. Nothing bad is ever gonna happen with me around, I promise."
"That doesn't make me feel any better!"
"Katara's right, why can't we just let them rot, it is what they would have done to us!?"
"I can't believe you would say something like that!?" Zuko snapped, "These aren't just some piles of junk that you can throw away, these are two peoples' lives, Sokka!"
"Guys," Suki eased, "Stop shouting, you're going to worry the kids!""Well those people treated all of us like junk and almost took over the entire world! I don't see why we should be the bigger men in this, that's all?"
Mai pointed her finger, "You are supposed to be the good guys, remember? Isn't forgiveness and stuff what you guys do?"
"Besides, it's like Zuko said..." Toph smiled, "Azula wasn't so bad when she was helping you guys find his mom."
"Toph!" Katara screeched, "You weren't even there, you didn't see what she did!"
"And you didn't see her when she came out of that forest Katara!" Zuko added, "None of you saw how she looked, she was different somehow---damaged. She's my sister, I have to help her, no matter what she's done to me in the past."
"You keep trying to save everybody," Suki accused, "You're going to get yourself killed one of these days! Think about your family---your not insane members of the family---"
As the group continued their intense conversation, Aang escaped out onto the back balcony to think. He ran his hands across his head as the evening breeze set in on his skin. One wrong turn and he could die, then again the needs of many depended on his success to calming Azula, so didn't that outweigh his own fears for putting his life in danger? Aang slammed his head against the railing and muttered, "Where's a giant Lion-Turtle when I need one?"
Iroh was at the palace in a matter of days and when assembled, Aang, Zuko, Iroh, and Toph made their way to the prison that held Azula and Ozai captive.
"Are you sure you are ready to do this again?" Iroh asked towards Aang.
"I have no choice...it's either "do this" or let them die behind bars?"
"They have done so much wrong in their lives, but perhaps together we can teach them the error of their ways and become a family again?"
"You taught me how to live a better life Uncle, so if anyone can help them, it's you."
Toph scoffed, "Yeah, but you aren't a total nutcase like the rest of your family---oh, no offense?"
"None taken" Iroh and Zuko agreed. After a while of walking through the dark prison tunnels, Zuko stopped and said, "Here we are. You two wait here, Uncle and I can handle this on our own."
Without a second though, the Fire Lord opened the door to peer into the darkness at his decrepit, frail looking father. Old Ozai sat in the same part of his cell that he always had, still just as grumpy and angered as he normally looked."Come to gloat more about your mother and her new family. What, did your new father take you camping, or perhaps did your mother have yet another disappointing child with the scrawny peasant?" Ozai coughed.
"No," Zuko's voice was cold and hard as he glared his cruel father dead in the eyes, "Mother is missing again. Azula saw to that when we recaptured her in Hira'a."
Ozai's eyes seemed to give off an amused twinkle before he said, "How tragic...in that case, what more could you want from me?"
"I want you to learn the error of your ways and come to live with Uncle Iroh so he can teach you how to be good and make peace with your shameful, former life."
"Right! the ways of tea and Pai Sho," he spat and started to cackle and scoff at the offer, "And just how do you expect for this old man keep me out of trouble? Who is to say that I won't just seek my revenge and kill you all in your sleep---you know I can do it too. Why are you two wasting your time?"
"Brother," Iroh pleaded, "You can either turn over your treacherous path and see the error of your ways---see daylight again! Or...you can spend the rest of your life, sitting, wallowing away in a mangy prison cell. Do you not wish for a better life than this? Do you enjoy rotting away in here!?"
Zuko interrupted, "This is not a mercy cry father, this is the only offer I can offer to you. Whatever you decide to do, it won't sway me one way or the other, but it is your last and only choice; I suggest you take it with honor and gratitude."
Ozai was quiet for a moment, then he spat at the two Firebenders and as they dodged his poisonous saliva, Ozai growled through the bars, his voice thundering, "I would rather rot than take some pity offer from the likes of you!!!"
Zuko and Iroh shook their heads shamefully and left the room behind in the dark as Ozai's maniacal laughter echoed across the walls of his darkened chamber.
"Well, that was a big waste of time?" Toph scoffed.
"My father is stubborn, but Azula's just crazy---I think she will be easier to sway. She might even take the offer while planning to escape later on, but don't worry, there is nothing Azula can do that will surprise either of us."
"Yeah... " Aang chuckled solemnly, "I sure hope you're right."They walked through the prison, far across to another wing that stay guarded with twenty Fire Nation Soldiers just by the door to the crazy princess's cell alone. When Zuko and Iroh walked in, all four of them saw Azula for the first time in months; she was wrapped up in a strait jacket made of frozen metal, the room was freezing temperature that made her skin blue, and she had a mask over most of her face to keep her flaming breath concealed; Azula's black hair had grown long and tangled, her golden eyes shook with insanity---at the sight of Zuko and Iroh, the team could practically see Azula's sinister, calculating smile beneath the metal of her mask.
"Well, well, well... I was beginning to think I'd been forgotten..." Azula said in her psychotic sing-songingly tone of voice.
"Not as much as I would like..." Zuko muttered.
"Well brother, how long has it been? You are looking more and more like our father---or should I say my father after you tainted him with the Avatar's power and disowned the two of us like common garbage to play house with your new family and little sister!"
He shut his eyes. Zuko wanted to argue that she was wrong, none of that was true, but then he would just be playing into her hand. "Azula, I've come to make you a deal," he blurted.
"What could I possibly have that you want, and what might I ask is in this for me?"
He looked her straight in the eyes and stated, "Your freedom, and the guilt of you dying alone in a cell out of my head."
"Aw, Zuzu, you do care. I'm touched. Fine, I choose freedom, let me out."
"Not so fast..." Zuko halted firmly.
Iroh continued for him in saying, "Your freedom will come at a price Azula. You will return with me to Ba Sing Se and remain there and out of trouble for the rest of your days, helping me in the tea shop. You will not be a ruler of anything and you will reside happily in just another hardworking life of an average citizen."
"You're joking right? Is that's it?" she scoffed in amusement.
"No, that's not it..." Zuko added, "because, whether you go with Uncle or decide to spend the rest of your life in prison like Father---the Avatar is going to take away your bending...for good."
"Did you come all this way just to intimidate me into telling you about Mother? Look I'm sorry about how she tricked us a few years back. She has not haunted me once since I have been here. Honestly Zuzu, I don't know what on earth could have happened to her, and I will not be frightened by your pitiful bluff."
Aang entered her cell followed by Toph and he looked at her and sternly replied, "It isn't a bluff, Azula. You have abused your Firebending power and now just look at you---you can barely move, barely breathe, and you won't survive in these conditions for much longer. You can't be trusted to live a peaceful existence with others while you still have your bending. At least without it, people can keep an eye on you, and that's why this is the only way to keep you alive and the world at peace."
Azula started shaking, "You---you can't take away my bending---it's all I have!!! Wh-wh-what am I supposed to do without it!? I've perfected it all my life! Y-YOU CAN'T!"
"We do not wish to see you in such conditions Azula. This is your one chance at a normal life...Take it!" Iroh pleaded strongly."Zuko p-please...d-don't let him take my bending...I'll stay in prison---I'll stop causing trouble---I'll help you find our mother again---just---brother, please!"
"I'm Sorry Azula, but this----this is the only way."
Azula started screaming... "NO!" Blue sparks flew out of her containment suit and she meagerly tried to struggle free, but she couldn't move and couldn't bend anything bigger than a candle flame in her current bondage.
"Toph, keep her in your sight; Zuko, Iroh coax her through it and watch out for fire..." Aang urged. Each step Aang took made Azula grow paler and her eyes open wider. He placed his thumb on the middle part of Azula's forehead and the other at the base of her heart, and took in a deep, calming breath as the ex-princess whimpered, watching his movements in shaking tears as Aang flashed into the Avatar State and the process had begun.
A quick blast of light blinded the entire cell; everybody waited as the blinding white beams coated the entire room, and in only seconds, the procedure was done.
Aang fell back a step and tiredly started to regain his strength; his face seemed to get older for just a brief moment before returning to normal. Breathing heavily, Aang stated, "It's done...Azula has no more lighting, no more blue fire, and no more regular bending abilities...she's a normal woman now, and should be released into your custody."Azula was silent. The guards came in and unshackled her, pulled the mask off her face, and set her to the floor of her cell. They shut off the ice and in minutes, the chamber started melting back to normal. Azula didn't even notice as her skin started to thaw and her tears quickly started melting along her cheeks. She was skinny and frail just like her father and she just sat in the floor starring at her shaking, boney hands with tears and silent gasps echoing through the ice chamber as she kept trying to Firebend---over and over, she pleaded for it, all she longed for was to create one measily burst of fire, but it never came.
Aang and Toph left the cell so Zuko and Iroh could calm Azula down, but when out in the hallway, Aang fell into the wall and Toph quickly caught him before he slid to the floor. "Whoa there Twinkle Toes... " She tried to sound humorous, "Don't pass out on me yet cuz I am not carrying your butt back to Appa!"
"Sorry Toph---I just feel like I just got---y-years older---all of the sudden? I feel tired."
"I'd imagine so," Toph eased gently, "Maybe that's enough defying nature for one lifetime, okay pal? This "taking-away-your-bending" stuff wears you out like one of Sokka's bad jokes."
"Maybe you're right?" He sighed tiredly.
"'Course I am!" She grinned, "Come on pal, let's get you home."
Toph supported Aang all the way back to Appa and after she got him in the saddle and the Bison took off into the night sky, Aang passed out. They flew back to Zuko's palace and left the prison behind, both not even realizing the horrifying events to come from what just happened after Aang blocked Azula's fire power in the Avatar State.
- is not the official name for Zuko's Daughter, but if it isn't Honora, I know a lot of fans who are going to be upset!
- This is the first year where we see the children of Team Avatar playing together at a Reunion.
- The last time Aang took away someone's bending was in the ATLA season finale "Sozin's Comet Part Four" and it was used to defeat Ozai.
- Aang's comment about being struck by lightning again, was a reference to the ATLA episode: "The Crossroads of Destiny".
- Azula was once again placed in a mental institution for her own safety after being found in a sorry state during
- This is the second time an illustration has been used that was not made by myself, the first was the map used in the Introduction to Year One.
- This also marks the first time we've seen Ozai in this Fanon.
- Note: Toph has a hard time seeing on ice, but she still proves to be a competent body guard.
- This is the first time of many that we discover the Avatar State is draining Aang of his energy. It will become a major issue throughout the fanon.
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