Disclaimer: I do not own Avatar The Last Air Bender.

Author's Note: Hello my wonderful readers! So again I owe you a huge apology for delaying an update. This chapter is pretty long so I hope that helps. I believe I owe you all an explination. When I started this story back in August, I had a lot of free time and was writing everyday and updating twice a week. About a month into my story I began the path towards becoming a teacher which involves a lot of state exams and enormous amounts of studying. I've never stopped loving this story or writing when I can. I am currently waiting for the results of my final two exams which means I have free time. I've been taking advantage, even though I'm sick, to write. Once I find out the results I'll either have more free time again or I'll have to go back into my cave and study again. So keep our fingers crossed please!

So while I have some free time I want to help promote the Azulaang ship. I've updated my profile here on fanfic. Check it out for story info such as when updates will be coming and so on. I've also created a tumblr and twitter, check out my profile for more info. Please remember to read and review!

Chapter 20 – Change

Katara was trying hard to suppress a laugh. Those who didn't know Azula as well as she did would think the princess was the image of serenity. But each time a "fan girl" leaned too close to Aang, Azula's knuckles whitened. Katara remembered all to well how friendly the Yu Dao Avatar Fan Club chapter was.

"They mean well." Katara whispered to Azula.

Azula rolled her eyes, "Of course."

Aang was enjoying himself. He was impressed by how much Air Nation history and customs the fan girls had learned since his last visit. He also knew the invitation to visit their club was to ultimately ask to live at one of the Air Temples. Absent mindedly he rubbed Azula's back, drawing her closer. He missed the smug look his wife shot at the fan girls.

"We appreciate the hospitality ladies. We really must be getting back. Thank you for everything." Aang stood and bowed. Katara followed suit. As a princess, Azula only bowed to the Fire Lord.

"It was our pleasure Avatar Aang." The leader of the fan club, Hei Won, bowed respectively as the trio left.

"That was fun." Aang said obviously to his companions' facial expressions.

"Yes but now we are late meeting Zuko." Azula said as she opened the door to their hotel, waving aside the attendant. Zuko booked the whole hotel to insure privacy and safety.

"I couldn't say no, Azula. They are the largest chapter of Avatar fans. Besides did you see how much work they've put into learning about the Air Nation?" Aang explained as he opened the door to Zuko's room.

"About time you three showed up." Zuko's said annoyed.

"Sorry but Aang was busy with his admirers." Katara teased.

Azula sat down in front of Zuko's desk. "What's so important anyway?"

The Fire Lord took a deep breath, "I should have told you earlier but I decided to change the nature of our meeting with the New Hope Army." He prayed to Agni that Azula wouldn't burn the place down.

Azula raised an eyebrow, "Change?"

"After careful consideration, I've decided to let the Fire Colonies govern themselves." Zuko wore his Fire Lord face but he knew better.

Azula was not deterred, "You decided what?"

Zuko turned to Aang for help. Azula did not miss their exchange. "You knew about this?" She turned to Katara, "Were you in on it too?"

Katara quickly shook her head. "I'm just as surprised as you."

"Azula, the New Hope Army maybe a ragtag army right now but they won't be for long. Zuko's intelligence confirms that many colonialists don't support the Fire Nation's rule. We might stop a rebellion this time but we can't stop the way the people feel." Aang explained.

Zuko nodded in agreement. "The Colonies are already a diverse mixture of people. Aang and I want to make it a place where everyone from the other nations can live. Obviously this will take a lot of work and collaborating but since it seems the Fire Colonies are heading towards independence why not have a hand in it?"

Azula's face was stone. "You've both lost your minds."

Katara cleared her throat, "Aang, Zuko you have my full support in this. Haru and I will help in anything you need."

Aang smiled, "Thanks Katara. We'll need a lot of help."

Katara decided to leave the room, not wanting to witness the fight that was sure to come. Azula sat motionless.

"Why do you have to be so stubborn Azula?" Zuko asked his sister.

"You're the Fire Lord. You're free to do as you wish Zuzu." Azula reminded him.

"It's almost like we're back in the 100 Year War." Zuko said exasperated. He knew that wasn't completely true. This time he was in charge and Azula was left in the dark.

"I can be much worse than I was in the war. At that time I was an empty vessel cleverly wielded by Father. This time, I'm not empty."

Aang pulled Azula up from her chair. "You don't have to protect us like this Azula. You aren't a failure if you don't spill blood."

"Let our children inherit a different legacy from us Azula." Zuko asked.

Azula said nothing as the Avatar pulled her into his chest. His strong arms held her close. She knew when she was outnumbered. A princess accepts defeat with dignity.

Katara gently knocked on Azula's door. When no one answered Katara opened the door. Azula sat by an open window with a book in her hands.

"We missed you at dinner." Katara sat across from her.

Azula didn't look up. "I didn't have much of an appetite."

"Kaya doesn't like to eat when she's upset either."

Azula put her book down. She knew what the water bender was doing. "Just tell me what you came to say."

"When the Harmony Restoration failed, I really thought there was going to be another war. Zuko and Aang weren't themselves. Zuko had an army ready and Aang thought the four nations were meant to be separate."

Azula raised her eyebrow in surprise. No one had told her much about the Harmony Restoration. She hadn't known how bad everything almost turned out. "I didn't know."

"I thought you should. Aang has some really great ideas. I know he would really want your help and input." Katara stood and walked out.

Before she was completely gone, she heard Azula say "Thank you Katara."

Mai and Aang joked that whenever Zuko or Azula was angry, it was like walking into the dragon's den. Aang was ready to linger in Zuko's room all night if necessary but Katara insisted he talk to his wife.

Cautiously he opened the door and only stuck his head in. When he didn't feel the heat of blue flames he slowly made his way into the suite. Azula immerged from the bathroom, her hair wet from a bath.

"Avatar." She walked into their shared bedroom as he followed her.

He sat down on the bed, unsure of what to say.

"Katara and I had a nice chat."

That caught his interest. "Really?"

Azula nodded as she slipped into her silk nightgown. "I understand you have some ideas."

Aang looked at his wife quizzically but smiled brightly. "Before Zuko told me about his idea of releasing the Fire Colonies I told him about our dilemmas in the Northern Air Temple. Our idea is to make the Fire Colonies a new nation. A nation governed by a council made up from the four nations. Yu Dao could be the capital and I would oversee everything. But I can't do this alone. Zuko will make the first step by releasing the colonies but he's the Fire Lord and has a nation to run. I need you Azula. You're the person I trust most."

Azula wordlessly wrapped her arms around him. He held her tight. "Thank you."

They were to meet the leaders of Yu Dao and the New Hope Army soon. Bingwen was reading Zuko's proposal. He had tried to review the minutes from King Kuei's court in regards to Yu Dao but they were biased and not very helpful.

"You're making history Fire Lord Zuko." Bingwen smiled.

"I'm not doing it alone." Zuko tapped his fingers on the conference table. He was anxious for the others to arrive.

Aang and Azula took seats on either side of Zuko. Azula was still upset that her brother and husband had kept her in the dark about their plans but she was going to let it go. They needed her help now and she was ready to begin a new legacy.

Men and women dressed in a combination of reds and greens began to fill the empty seats. The magistrate of Yu Dao stood, "Thank you all for coming. I admire everyone for putting aside their differences and agreeing to find a peaceful solution to the situation." He bowed to Zuko.

Zuko stood. His voice was loud and clear as it rang throughout the room. "Over one hundred years ago my great-grandfather Sozin changed history with his idea of a new world. His idea caused untold destruction and pain. As we rebuild our nations, I believe we need to move away from the idea of recreating the world before the war. We do need a new world; a world that Yu Dao has began to form. The citizens of the Fire Colonies are of mixed nations and live in harmony. I will agree to begin withdrawing my hold on the Fire Colonies if everyone can agree to make the Fire Colonies a new republic that will be represented by all four nations."

Murmurs began to float around the table. Azula watched discreetly as two dark haired men quietly whispered to one another. Agent Adil had described them to her. They were Fumito and Tomo, the leaders of the New Hope Army. Adil had said they weren't as radical as some their subordinates but Azula took no chances. Adil had learned the names and locations of all their living relatives and friends, just in case.

Bingwen stood up, clearing his throat for silence. "What Fire Lord Zuko is purposing is not a new concept. Yu Dao is a fusion of Fire Nation and Earth Kingdom. My own city of Ba Sing Se is a melting pot of the nations. The Fire Colonies are presented with a grand opportunity. You wanted freedom but not you will not only gain that but you gain the opportunity to become the face of a new world order. On behalf of King Aarn of Omashu and I, we will offer the support needed to make this a reality."

Fumito's yellow eyes lingered on Azula and Aang. "I speak for the New Hope Army when I say we agree with the Fire Lords proposal. We ask though that Avatar Aang, as the keeper of balance, be the leader of this endeavor."

Aang sighed internally as all eyes were on him. When Zuko had first came to him with the idea of making the Fire Colonies their own republic, they both knew it would be Aang who had to lead this. He looked at his wife, ready to take this on.

Azula had stayed up the whole night with him hammering out details. Aang knew it would be a lot of work but he also saw this as a solution to his problem of overcrowding at the Air Temples. Compared to the other nations, the people interested in following the air nomad ways were very few. Not many of the refugees at the Air Temples were interested in partaking in the Air Nation ways and it would be good from them to rejoin the rest of world.

Azula squeezed his hand reassuringly as he addressed the rest of the room. "Our first attempt at righting the wrongs of the war within the Fire Colonies almost ended in another war. At the time I believed the world should once again be the world I was born in which was a world of four separate nations. Since then I've learned a lot and have seen the blending of the nations. Within my own family I have a fire bending daughter and my children are prince and princesses of the Fire Nation. If you trust in this new vision and trust in me, I can help build a new republic."

Everyone began to applaud Aang's speech. Whatever doubts anyone, including Azula, had about a new republic was vanished.

The smell of the stables assaulted her nose but even that stench was better than enduring Aki and Tenzin's bickering. Airi had just wanted to play with her dolls but then Aki insisted on joining which made Tenzin mad because Aki had promised to play pai sho with him.

Airi slipped into the stables and she thought how lucky Kanbe was to be an only child. The twins were so tangled in her life Airi treasured the moments she had alone.

"Hey! What are you doing here?" A voice from the back called out to her.

Airi jumped up, "Who's there?"

A boy with dark hair and tawny colored eyes waked towards her. "You're too little to ride an ostrich horse."

Airi placed her small hands on her hips, "Well you're too little to work here."

"I'm seven and a half years old! I help my daddy clean up the stables. I even get to help brush Fire Lord Zuko's ostrich horse." The boy said proudly.

Airi realized that the boy didn't know who she was. She opened her mouth to tell him just exactly who he was talking to but quickly changed her mind. "Can I see Fire Lord Zuko's ostrich horse?"

The boy thought for a moment. "Okay, but you can't get in the way."

Airi followed him through the stables. "How come I haven't seen you around the palace before?"

"I live at the Royal Fire Academy for Boys. My mommy works in the laundry rooms and it's hot down there. I like helping my daddy in the stables. Daddy said when I turn eight I can start riding. My name's Keit by the way."

Kiet led her in front of a large stable. Airi didn't know much about ostrich horses but she could tell her Uncle Zuko's was a nice one. It was taller and shiner than the other ostrich horses. "Your daddy will really let you ride? Is it hard?"

Kiet smiled. "It doesn't look too hard but I plan to practice. If you want, you can watch me practice. Then maybe one day I can teach you."

Airi smiled back, "That sounds like fun."

"How old are you anyway?"


Kiet laughed, "You're still a baby."

"Am not! I'll be six soon!" Airi stomped her foot. "Besides I'm grown up for my age."

"I'm sorry I didn't mean to make you mad. Come on, I'll show you something cool." Kiet took her hand and led her outside.

Kiet took her to an open corral. There were baby ostrich horses trotting about. "Oh! They are so cute! Can I pet them?"

Kiet nodded, "Just be careful." Kiet demonstrated by gently petting a nearby baby ostrich horse.

Airi followed his example. "Wow this is cool."

"Hey, what's your name anyway?"

Airi blushed, "Umm…Airi."

Kiet frowned, "Like Princess Airi?"


"Oh. Sorry for earlier Princess Airi. I can take you back to the palace." It was Kiet's turn to blush. He hoped he wouldn't get in trouble for yelling at a princess.

"I don't want to go. I'm having fun here."

"But you're a princess. You can't hang out with a stable boy." Kiet said embarrassed.

"Says who?" Airi asked confused.

Kiet thought for a moment. "I don't know."

Airi smiled. "Let me show you something cool." She ran outside the corral. She took a deep breath and bended three air balls. She tossed them at Kiet and they swirled around him.

Kiet giggled, "I've never seen air bending before! You're amazing! Can you do more?"

Airi nodded. For the first time she was having fun air bending. She was even able to bend an air scooter.

Kiet clapped for her, even when she fell off her air scooter. "I'm a fire bender. I'm not very good but I can do this." Kiet held up a small flame in his palm.

Airi clapped for him. "My sister Aki and cousin Kanbe are fire benders. They spend a lot of time training. And when Aki isn't training she's annoying me or fighting with my brother Tenzin."

Kiet sat down next to her. "I don't have brothers or sisters. But I do have cousins. Hey have you ever skipped stones?"

Airi shook her head.

"There's a large pond nearby the stables. I'll teach you!" Kiet took her hand and they ran to the pond.

They spent the rest of the afternoon skipping stones and playing. When Airi joined her family for dinner, she was a mess. But Airi didn't care. For the first time she was air bending for the fun of it, played games without loud twins arguing and most importantly she met a friend that was only her's.

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