Disclaimer: I do not own Avatar The Last Air Bender.
Author's Note: Hello my wonderful readers! I got a new idea for another Azula/Aang fic. I promise this won't take me away from my other story "The Princess and The Avatar". There are just so few Azula/Aang fics that when the plot bunny started thumping I couldn't ignore it. I hope you guys enjoy this as much as my original. Remember to review!
Chapter 1 – Released
From the ship, the island had looked beautiful, peaceful even. Standing on the island painted a different picture. The beauty was still there. It was the quiet that was eerie. He felt guilt creep into his body.
He tried to keep his composure as the attendant wheeled her in. Her hair was limp and stuck to her face. Her skin was a shade of pale yellow. Her eyes were sunken, no longer reflecting her lustrous golden hues.
"Azula." Uttering her name took a lot of effort. He had hoped he would never have to speak to her name again. He had hoped a lot of things that were not meant to be. There was one hope though that he could not give up on.
She looked at him quizzically but said nothing. He took a deep breath, "I know this is risky, but I'm going to tell you the truth. I feel disconnected from the good in my own family and in my own nation. For a whole host of reasons, I believe finding my mother would help me reconnect."
He paused, waiting for her to speak. She remained silent so he continued. "I've had conversation after conversation with Ozai and it's gone nowhere. He refuses to reveal what happened to her. So I've come to an uncomfortable conclusion. You are the only person in the world who can coax the information I need out of Ozai. Tell me then…what do you want in return for helping me find mother?"
Her eyes perked up. Her ruby lips turned into a mad smile, "Don't be silly Zuzu! The satisfaction of serving the Fire Lord in some small way will be compensation enough!"
She fell silent for a moment, head bent down. Her voice was a thin whisper, "Besides, not a day has gone by since you put me in here that I haven't wondered, what exactly happened to our dear mother?"
He doubted the sincerity of her words, "I'm sure you will eventually think of something you want."
She slowly placed every inch of her rooms; everything was exactly as she had left them. At the end of her inspection she came in front of a mirror. Mirrors weren't permitted to the patients in the island. She nervously looked at her reflection.
She wished she hadn't looked. Her skin was a sickly yellow. Her hair was limp and unevenly cut. Her lips were chapped. But worst of all were her eyes. The amber gleam no longer emulated confidence. She was a ghost of her old self.
She reached out for the golden bell to call a servant. A maid quickly appeared, "How may I serve you Prin…Miss?"
Azula's eyes widened, "So I am no longer to be called princess?"
The maid quivered with fear, "I'm sorry."
Azula shrugged her shoulders, "See if there is an opening at the royal spa." The maid bowed before quickly rushing out of the room.
"Would you like tea, Lady Azula?" a dinner servant asked.
Azula shook her, "No, I am done." She stood from her dinner table. Walking back to her room, she caught her reflection in the mirror. The spa had once been a relaxing experience for her. She could not deny the work the attendants had done. Her hair shone like onyx once again. Her skin was near perfect, but they had given her a crème and a promise that it would be restored to its former beauty in a week. Despite their craftsmanship, they were nervous around her. Everyone was nervous around her.
She had never noticed this when she was princess. She wasn't sure why it bothered her now. She slipped under her bed covers and drifted off into a restless sleep.
The sun's rays peeked through her bedroom window. She felt groggy. The bed was soft but she didn't want to linger. A morning work out would make her feel better. She rummaged through her closet and found her sparring clothes.
Although it was an hour after dawn, the day was already hot. She started with her deep breathing exercises. Once her head was clear she began her fire bending exercises. Her muscles were sore but she slowly fell into her old routine. Fire bending wasn't allowed on the island but she also hadn't wanted to bend. But feeling the sapphire flames leave her hands was empowering. Each punch, kick, and jab brought her a little closer to the old Azula.
She was so absorbed in her bending she hadn't noticed Zuko enter the courtyard. He watched her for a few minutes. Her bending was just as powerful as ever. It not only was it discomforting but it was also annoying. He pushed aside his feelings of sibling rivalry and cleared his throat to get her attention.
She turned around and bowed, "Fire Lord Zuko, how may I be of service?"
"Drop the formalities Azula," he ordered.
"As you wish." She used her sleeve to wipe her forehead.
"I came to inform you that I will be in the Earth Kingdom for a few days. I've asked Uncle to come and keep an eye on you. Take this time to come up with a plan on getting the information from Ozai," Zuko began to walk back into the palace.
"Why are you going to the Earth Kingdom?" Azula asked.
Zuko didn't stop walking, "Does it matter?"
She gave his back a venomous look. She decided she needed a bath. The walk to her luxury bathroom was swift. She was shaking with anger. It wasn't fair how he talked to her. She turned on the hot water and threw in bath oils. The steam filled the room and relaxed her. She let the hot water melt her anger. Anger would only cloud her judgment and make her a hothead like Zuzu. He was right anyway; she should take this time to form a plan.