AN: This takes place after the comics. Not including Smoke and Shadow because it's not over yet.

First fic, no flames please.

Disclaimer: I do not own Avatar, I make no money from this, now please enjoy.

Birth by Flame

A new sun had begun to rise, coating the industrial metal empire of the Fire Nation in a gentle amber glow. People began to flow into the streets, quickly flooding them as the day started. The factory workers going to their stations, the merchants opening their shops, the children running about with friends. All of this, paled in comparison of the greatest change of the last hundred years since the start of the war. The people of the Fire Nation were happy.

It had taken time, but the last traces of the fear and the oppressive hate of Ozai and his ancestors were, at long last, gone from the eyes and minds of the people. Songs found their ways into the hearts of the people once again, smiles were abundant, the culture and celebrations that were lost for decades, soon returned the people, and the loudest sound, echoing from the people were not the talks of the adults, the din of the factories, or the laughter of the children, but the cheer in their hearts. This sound found its way to the halls of the castle of the Fire Lord, and Zuko greeted the new day with a calm serenity.

As he roused himself from slumber, his mind reflected on his life. Growing up in the palace, the gentle kindness of his mother, the wisdom and love from his uncle, his sister's teasing, and his father's cruelty. He felt his scar burn as his remembered his banishment, his long search for the Avatar, the betrayal of his sister, his outcast life in the Earth Kingdom, and how he felt when he turned his back on his uncle. The burn faded as he recalled his journey of redemption. Standing up to his father to do the right thing, finding friendship with Aang and the others, his uncle's forgiveness, and finally ending that cursed war. His was a long and painful journey but in his mind, it was worth it for the peace the world knows now.

"Fire Lord." Spoke the voice of one of his advisors.

"It's time to start the day." Said another.

"I'm getting up you two." Zuko groaned as he rose from his crimson silk sheets and thin blankets. His eyes traced the marble and granite structure of his castle and the golden weave ornate the stone walls and columns. He saw his twin advisers, Chan and Chen, who were Lo and Li's nephews. They were gray haired with the formal top knots and pointed beards in similar ornate robes, marking them as the royal advisers. Zuko made his way to his changing room, bare chested, to dress into his royal attire to perform his duties for the day. "So, what's today look like?"

"Nothing too unusual my lord." Chen started.

"Meeting your generals for the reports on the protection of the growing republic."

"The appointments with various business heads."

"You needing to sire an heir."

"The meeting with your research and development team."

"And you friend, Avatar Aang, is stopping by later with your uncle." Zuko nodded in acknowledgment of their words but froze after one particular piece finally registered in his mind.

"What was that?" He asked and Chan started

"Avatar Aang and-" Zuko cut him off, coming out in his Fire Lord robes.

"Not that one."

"The research-" Chen began before Zuko cut him off again.

"The one about an heir!" He growled. The twins nodded to their lord before Chan began to explain.

"You see Lord Zuko."

"You must sire an heir to the throne by..." Chen looked to his brother.

"His next birthday, six months from now."

"Yes, or will have to abdicate the throne." The twins then bowed to their master.

"Sorry this news is late." Zuko was in shock. He needed to have a successor or he would have to give up the throne?

"If this was that important, why did you take so long to tell me this?"

"You were quite busy after taking the throne." Chen stated.

"The Yun Dao conflict and creating the republic with master Aang."

"Then the search for Lady Ursa was weighing heavily on your mind."

"And there was that small uprising that we're glossing over."

"And why's that?" Zuko asked.

"Convenience." They said. Zuko raised an eyebrow questioningly and they merely shrugged.

"Okay you two, why do I need an heir to keep the throne?" Chen responded first.

"That would be because of your grandfather."

"Fire Lord Azulon, created this particular law after you were born." Chan then produced a scroll from his robes. Zuko took it as the two continued to explain matters.

"It states that when the heir or current lord comes of age."

"Then he or she must establish a direct line of succession to continue the royal lineage."

"To what end?" Zuko questioning the reason of this law.

"We suspect so he could see the progress of his...eugenics experiment." Chen explained.

"He did have your mother wed Ozai because she was descended from Avatar Roku."

"And probably twist the young minds to the mindset the Fire Nation had during the Hundred years war."

"But that is simply a theory your highness." Zuko let out a groan as he made his way to the burning throne while continuing the discussion.

"Why wasn't this law repealed? You should have told me this sooner so we could do that."

"Not that simple." Chen told him.

"We have searched for a way to repeal this so you would not have to worry."

"The search has proven fruitless."

"The only method to do so is still outlawed."

"What was it and how?" Zuko asked, feeling a headache coming.

"It would require a majority vote of the Fire Sages and the agreement of most of the noble house heads in the Fire Nation." Chen explained.

"This is a fruitless endeavor because your father decreed that the Sages be forbidden from political or militaristic actions." Zuko sighed in exasperation over the situation.

"Years of undoing his works and he still finds ways to ruin my life."

"Unfortunately." His advisers said. They finally reached his throne, where he sat before the roaring flames. He pointed to one of the castle maids.

"You, please fetch me some tea." She ran off quickly to her chore as he continued to speak with his advisers. "I don't think I can find a willing woman to become my wife and mother my child in just six months you two. And who will take over if I fail?"

"You can't afford to Fire Lord Zuko." Chen spoke with urgency.

"Iroh is no longer a candidate and your sister, Princess Azula, is still missing."

"The only person left would be your father." Zuko's blood ran cold at the thought of his father returning to power. He had to stop that no matter what.

"Fortunately, your highness, many are willing to bed you if it means keeping him out of power."

"Or would they think that's the bonus?"

"Either way, the only two viable candidates for this are entirely on your side." Zuko slightly relaxed at the prospect of this danger being averted in any way.

"Wait. Only two?" Zuko asked, his ego feeling a little bruised.

"Not through any fault of your own my lord." Chen reassured him.

"Azulon was just ensuring that his grandchildren are not tainted with commoner blood."

"As if that makes sense." The twins snickered.

"So only noblewoman for me I guess?" Zuko was tired and the day was still beginning.

"Yes my lord." Chan answered.

"But we made sure to select the best for you."

"They know the situation and are willing to help." They produced another scroll each from their robes before opening them. Zuko's eyes widened at the pictures.

"Really?" He asked.

"Lady Mai is still most loyal to you." Chen told him.

"Same with Lady Ty Lee as she is still a noble. Despite her choice of employ."

Zuko, seemingly satisfied with the current situation, dismissed the twins. Soon the maid returned with his tea, which he accepted. Taking a slow drink he had only one thought on his mind.

'I hate my father.'