Disclaimer - I do not own Avatar The Last Air Bender.
Author's Note: Hello my wonderful readers! I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving! Let me just say I am thankful for all of you! Before we get into the story I want to clarify our heroes ages (I know I should have done this in Chapter 1 but I was so excited to post, I forgot). Zuko and Sokka = 17; Aang and Suki = 16; Azula, Katara, Mai and Ty Lee = 15; Toph = 14. Now please sit back, read, enjoy, and please please review!
Chapter 2 – Family Visit
Three days he had spent in the palace and he had yet to see his niece. He wasn't sure about Zuko's plan but he decided not to voice his doubt. If he were honest, he would admit that he was avoiding the disgraced princess. Azula was nothing like her brother. Zuko had struggled with doing the right thing, with being a good person. Azula did not need to struggle, she knew who she was. Iroh knew about her mental collapse but he wasn't surprised.
His thoughts were interrupted when a servant brought in his tea, "Thank you." The servant bowed but Iroh was struck with a nagging feeling, "Is Princess Azula having dinner in her rooms?"
"The Lady Azula always dines alone in her rooms," the servant answered.
"Lady Azula?" Iroh asked confused.
"Yes, Prince Iroh." Iroh dismissed the servant. He wished Zuko had told him that Azula was stripped of her title. His nephew wasn't thinking logically. Perhaps his nephew wasn't the only illogical one. The reality was Azula was free now and he doubted she would ever let herself be sent back to the asylum. If he cannot control this then he can at least have a hand in how it all turned out.
Azula stared at her blank canvas. Painting had been one of the few approved activities on the island. She found comfort in the distraction it provided. From her peripheral vision she saw the maid open the door. She heard his footsteps put did not stop her painting.
Iroh was surprised to find her painting, "Hello Azula."
"Hello, Uncle Iroh. Did you just arrive?" She delicately dipped her brush into red paint.
"I arrived three days ago," he admitted while admired the fire lily field she was creating.
"I just assumed since this is the first time you've come to visit me," her voice betrayed no emotion.
Iroh shifted uncomfortably, "I apologize. To be honest, Princess Azula this situation was unexpected."
"Lady Azula. Yes I imagine it was unexpected. As you can see Uncle my task requires much concentration," her eyes never left the canvas.
"Yes, of course. Goodnight, Lady Azula." Iroh was dissatisfied with himself and the mess that was the royal family.
The gang laughed around the table. It was Zuko's last night in the Earth Kingdom and they wanted one last dinner. Everyone was in high spirits because the Fire Colonies dilemma was on its way to being resolved. King Kuei and Zuko had come to the agreement of relinquishing claim of the colonies. There was still much work to do but they were finally heading in the right direction.
Zuko had avoided telling his friends that Azula was free but he knew he couldn't for much longer. He hated to ruin the atmosphere but better they find out now. "Guys, I've decided to search for my mother."
"Zuko, that's great. Did Ozai finally tell you where she is?" Katara was happy for her friend.
"No, but I finally found a way to get him to talk," Zuko stalled.
"Really? How?" Toph was skeptical. She knew of the numerous times Zuko had visited the former Fire Lord.
"Well, um…Azula is going to ask him," Zuko finally blurted.
"You're taking Ozai to the looney island?" Sokka asked.
"Not exactly. She is going to visit him," Zuko pushed the food on his plate around.
"Wait, Zuko are you saying you released Azula?" Aang asked fearing his friend's answer.
"Yeah, I guess that is what I'm trying to say."
"But when she gets the information you're sending her back, right?" Katara asked nervously.
Zuko hadn't thought that far ahead but his heart knew the answer, "No, she's home for good."
"Are you crazy!? This is Azula we are talking about! She'll kill you in your sleep! She'll free Ozai!" Sokka yelled.
"If she wanted to do that she would have done it already. I'm not asking for permission. She's my sister and I can do as I see fit with her," Zuko put his chopsticks down. He knew Sokka had a point but he didn't need to hear it.
"Zuko be rational. Even if Ozai did tell her where your mother is, why would she be honest with you?" Katara rationalized.
"I know this is a risk but I have to take it. Katara, Sokka wouldn't you do this if it meant you could be with your mother again?" Zuko knew he had struck a cord with them.
The blue-eyed siblings were silent for a moment. "Okay, but you have to promise if she steps out of line you will send her back to the asylum," Katara compromised.
Zuko smiled with relief, "It's a deal."
Zuko was happy to be home, although the palace did feel a little lonely. He looked across the table at his uncle. He wished his uncle would stay but he would never ask that of him. He knew how happy it made Iroh to run the Jasmine Dragon. "Thank you for coming Uncle."
Iroh smiled, "It was nice to visit. Next time I hope you will be here."
Zuko took a sip of tea, "We will hold another meeting in a couple of months and I'll be hosting it. You're welcome to attend."
Iroh knew his nephew missed him, "I'd he happy to. Zuko, have you visited Azula?"
Zuko shook his head, "Not yet. I'll see her tomorrow."
"Why didn't you tell me Azula is no longer a princess?" Iroh asked.
"I assumed you would know. I couldn't keep her a crown princess and heir to the throne," Zuko explained.
"Yet you ask her to find information for you from Ozai of all people?" Iroh was frowning.
Zuko was confused, "What are you trying to say?"
"Zuko, it was no light decision to bring her back. The task you ask of her is not an easy one. If you want your plan to work and if you want any chance at having a balanced relationship with her then you need to treat her with more respect," Iroh said calmly.
Zuko clenched his fist, "She is back in her old rooms. She has servants catering to her every whim, her allowance is restored and she is no longer in the asylum. I've done nothing but treat her with respect."
"Think Zuko. She comes home to an empty palace, no friends or family. She no longer has her titles. You and Azula don't have to have the relationship your father and I have. It's not too late to mend your bond," Iroh gently explained.
Zuko sighed, "I'll think about it."