A/N: Okay folks, this is my first, so please don't... kill me? It's rough and unpolished, and a horror to me as a writer, but, well... maybe with a little bit of critique I'll improve? Translation: review, for the sake of my skills so that I won't burn your eyes again. Anyway, this is (light) Aangzula, so please no flames on that detail, cause you've been warned. The other pairings are irrelevant at the moment. Hope you enjoy.
DISCLAIMER: I do not own Avatar, and for this I cry myself to sleep every night...

Has-been


Pathetic.

Had her father been alive, he would have blown her into oblivion right where she sat. And for very good reason. She was in the royal mess hall, sitting across from her (ex) mortal enemy, eating food she knew was stuffed with enough anti-firebending drugs to keep a small army bendingless for a week.

They hadn't even bothered to hide the taste of the drugs well, either. There was a slight bitterness to everything that was unnatural, a taste she knew belonged to this particular non-lethal poison. Perhaps, she mused, they wanted for her to know that she couldn't bend, so that she wouldn't even try to escape.

Not that there was any use in trying. She was a has-been, now. She shifted slightly in her chair and the iron joint of her artificial leg creaked softly. A has-been without her bending, without her right leg, without her throne... Even if she did escape this prison that was once her home, she knew it would be nearly impossible to plan a coup, thanks to all of Zuzu and the Avatar's work. The people were happy with peace, were happy to have their sons and brothers and husbands back, and seemed to collectively loathe the idea of going back to war quite so soon.

Her mind circled back to herself. Who would follow a has-been like her, anyway? Something inside her had snapped, as something inside the Avatar had chilled, and now she was a shadow of the princess she had once been. Elegant, perfect, cold... now in ruins, snapping at anyone or anything that tried to get too close. She only ever left the palace to go to stuffy political functions, and within those walls, she read, slept, and thought, sometimes wrote a little. But everything she read reminded her of the loss of her freedom, and everything she wrote turned into lists of the things she missed: her
bending, her freedom, her respect... a hollow shell has none of those things. In fact, all this hollow shell had was-

"Azula," his voice shook her from her thoughts, "will you please pass the salt?"

The Avatar was watching her expectantly, a hand outstretched. She handed him the salt, and watched his absentmindedly as he attacked his plate with it. Six years had changed him. Gone was that bright smile, that squeaky, obnoxious laugh. He had learned to be a diplomat, a politician. And with that came the calm, almost cold demeanor, the calculating look that he gave everyone he met, almost unconsciously.

He was currently speechwriting with one hand while feeding himself with the other. (Despite her disapproval at such sloppy work habits, she had to wonder at his deftness with the calligraphy brush while using chopsticks with the other hand, but deftness was in his nature, and so it truly wasn't all that surprising.)

It was quiet in the mess-hall, without Zuzu and that water peasant who dared call herself Fire Lady, the Fire Lady's idiot brother and his little earthbender girlfriend. There weren't the usual snide comments from the earthbender, the weak attempts at friendly conversation from the Fire Lady, the background noise of Zuzu and the Avatar's political conversation. She didn't miss it. She had lovely dreams of roasting all of them, and claiming her throne...

Except the Avatar. He wasn't quite as obnoxious as the others.

He was a politician, clever, devious. Sure, his intentions were 'good', sure, he rarely used his talent for lying, and sure, he cared for the people under his protection more than his power, but he was still a politician. He knew how to talk to her without ruffling her feathers too badly, knew exactly when to just keep quiet.

Azula gagged slightly on a bite of food that was particularly disgusting; there was enough of the drug that she couldn't taste the food. She took this as an insult, and seethed at the thought that she no longer had the authority to get the entire kitchen staff sacked for it.

Yes, the Avatar was less obnoxious than the rest, and she returned his respect. He was powerful, and intelligent, and the only living thing that she got even the slightest bit of decent conversation out of...

But he was still her (ex) mortal enemy. She would never forget that.

"Trade with the Earth Kingdom's been going smoothly." the Avatar said conversationally.

Affirmative grunt from Azula.

"And the Northern Water Tribe has invited us to a festival this spring, honoring the moon princess."

Another affirmative grunt from Azula.

That seemed to be the end of the Avatar's news, he went back to his writing, his food having been finished. He knew that she wasn't in the mood to talk about anything, let alone a trip to the Water Tribe's lands. She almost shuddered at the thought of being surrounded by odd-smelling water peasants.

The Avatar, finished with whatever he had been doing, got up and stretched. "I'm going to go work out. See you later." He said, turning and leaving with light footsteps. He didn't wait for her reply, because he knew that most of the time, one wouldn't come, and she would maybe grunt or nod, but never elaborate. She nulled over the thought of stalking him and watching him bend, just because, but then thought against it. She didn't want to give anyone any ideas, especially herself.

When she watched him practice, she could sense the power behind that soft, gentle face, power that once would have aroused her.
This Avatar, another Azula, another place, another time, when she would've lured him in with her eerie charm and made him her own forever. A crazy idea, a childish dream, she knew, she knew...

And that's exactly why she wouldn't feed it. Instead, she choked down the rest of her disgusting meal, knowing full well that the side effects of eating
it all would put her to sleep in about an hour, and returned to her chambers.

And there, she took down her hair, brushing it to black, silky perfection, and dressed in fine robes before lying down to sleep.
Because in her dreams she had a lover, and in her dreams, she called him Aang.


A/N: Thank you for reading :D