Avatar: The Last Airbender
'Light My Flame'
The girl stood in shock of the news. Her eyes were as wide as dinner plates as she gaped at her parents. A look of betrayal and confusion flashed through her eyes. She looked at her parents to see if they were telling the truth; searching for a lie or a joke but all she found was solemnity.
Her mother observes her daughter's pained expression and her eyes mist over, “I'm sorry, (Name).” Then, she moved forward to hug the girl, but the girl moved away from her mother. She shook her head, tears now brimming.
“How could you?” The girl's voice was filled with hurt; her eyes flashed between her mother and her father, and her mother gave her a pitying look. She looked as if she was going to say something, but the girl would have none of it. She left the room and slammed the door behind her. The girl moved quickly through the hallway. As she moved, the servants who walked by her observed her hurt expression, but she would not stop to speak to them. She just wanted to leave.
She left the house and went outside in the back yard. In the back there was a trail of cobblestone that lead to a secluded botany. She followed the trail, her mind was racing at what her parents had told her. It frightened her at how easily they sold her freedom.
When she got to her destination she sighed, feeling a weight lift off her shoulders. She was surrounded by nature of flowers and trees and she loved it. There was so much life here. The air seemed to be cleaner as well and it left a blissful feeling in her mind. Her eyes caught sight of a bench and she moved to sit down on it.
Though, the calmness of the garden only settled her thoughts for so long. Her worries came back to haunt her as she was now aggravated by what her parents discussed with her.
(Name) was 17 years of age. She would be 18 in a few days. Her plans when she was 18 was to travel the world. She wanted to see everything with her own eyes. As a child she was taught that the Fire Nation was great place to live and that her home country was only trying to spread their greatness to the under developed nations. Trying to spread their knowledge and their culture with the world. That was until she grew up and she learned about the war. A war that has been going on for a long time. Everything she learned about in the academy was a lie. The Fire Nation was not trying to spread culture and knowledge, but to take over the other civilizations and call it their own. (Name) was disgusted with this behavior, but she kept her opinions to herself. She did not want to call attention to herself.
When her parents told her they were marring her over to the child of the Fire Lord, she was livid. Not only had they sold away her freedom, but everything she stood up against was basically being tested. She, never in her life-time imagined to marry an heir to the throne. Not as a child, and not now. Especially now!
(Name) sighed. Her dreams of traveling the world we're tarnished. It was best to throw them away now before she hurt herself thinking about them. Her fingers moved against the wooden bench beneath her and her nails clanged in a rhythmic tune. (Name) was at a loss. She did not know what to do. She knew that when she turned 18 she would marry. (Name) huffed, and to think she was so excited about her 18thbirthday. She dreamed about all the freedom she would have and now that has changed. It was like exchanging a small cage for an even smaller one.
She wondered. If she were to marry, would she love the person? Would she accept that she would eventually rule the Fire Nation, a nation she hates? Or an even bigger question is; would the person love her back?
This brought even more questions like; what the person was like? What did they look like? Do they enjoy Pai Sho?
If (Name)'s memory serves her right, the Fire Lord had two children. The girl hummed as she tried to remember their names and their genders. She didn't listen to Fire Nation politics much, but now she wished she did. She doesn't even know their names! She doesn't even know which one she's marrying! (Name) face-palmed at her own stupidity and then sighed deeply. She would have to inquire about this later when she heads back.
“So...What are they like?” (Name) asked curiously. She laid down on a bamboo mat. Her head was propped up on the lap of her personal maid. Across from her was her mother, she was sitting down while drinking tea. Her mother glanced at her quizzically and (Name) huffed. She felt her maid shift to grab a brush and then kneel comfortably to brush her hair as she spoke.
“I mean the royal family. You've met them before, right? What are they like?” She specified. Her mother thought over her question.
“Who would you want me to talk about?” She asked.
“Umm, I know some things about Fire Lord Ozai. I want to know about his kids.”
“Well, as far as I know, the oldest son of Ozai; Zuko was banished.” (Name) looked at her curiously. She wondered why the Fire Lord would banish his own son.
“Why?” She asked.
“He spoke out of turn. I don't know much about it, but that's what I've heard.” She replied smoothly, then took a long sip of her tea. (Name) looked shocked. He spoke out of turn? That's it? Now she was worried about what she would have to deal with when she got married. She made it a note to self; stay away from Ozai; He is crazy.
“What about his second child, is he banished as well?” (Name) jested, but knew that wasn't the case. If the oldest child was banished, that means she has to marry the one that wasn't banished. Unless Ozai had a third child that no one knew about.
“No, and his second child is a she. Her name is Azula.”
(Name) starred at her mother to see if she heard right. “What? She?” Marrying in a same-sex marriage was not uncommon in the Fire Nation, but hearing Royal families marrying into a same-sex marriage was definitely unheard of.
“Yes, she.” Her mother repeated.
“Wait, then why did you want me to marry into the royal family?” If it wasn't to produce an heir for them then it had to be something else. (Name) clicked her tongue at her mother and waited for a reply. She was angry again, she needed to know a reason why they married her off.
“Well...It was your father's idea...” Her mother was taking too long to reply. (Name) gritted her teeth together and her face felt hot.
“Yes, now why is it that you chose to sell off my happiness?” Her tone cut through the nervous silence that settled between them. She felt her personal maid become uneasy and removed her head off of her lap and dismissed her. She then turned to face her mother with a cool facade. Her eyes cut threw her mother like ice and she shivered under her daughter's gaze.
“I've been nothing but a good child to you, have I not? I did well in my studies at the academy, and not only that I excelled at my bending. Are you not pleased with me? Did I not do enough to show you I am worthy? Worthy of being a noble's daughter!?” She raised her voice. She glowered at her mother, but kept herself from saying anymore. She wanted an answer and she wanted it now.
Then, her mother broke down. She was never good under pressure and cracked immediately at her daughter's glare. Though, she didn't blame her for she had every right to be mad.
“I'm sorry” Her mother apologized through sobs.
(Name) rolled her eyes, “Yes, that changes everything. Thank you mother, for apologizing.” Then, she laughed bitterly, “If you think that an apology is going to help, then you are more of a tool than I thought.” She didn't mean that of course, but she was pissed. More than pissed. The fact that her mother was acting like this only made her even angrier.
“Well, are you going to tell me?”
“Y-yes.” (Name) sat comfortably and waited. With a new found patience, she starred at her mother with a bit of warmth. Her ire was still there, but she was slowly cooling down.
“Our business was going in shambles. We had so much debt that we needed to pay off that it was too much. We couldn't even afford to pay our workers anymore. Your father was trying to find ways to pay off the debt, but there weren't many options. One offer did come up though. The Fire Lord. We begged for him to help us, but the only way he would help us was if we give him something in return. He didn't name his price right away, but we accepted. Only when he started giving us money and workers; we were able to work again. The business was back, but after his services he asked for his part of the bargain.”
“When he spoke of his part, that was when you were born. You were supposed to marry one of his heirs. It was originally supposed to be Zuko, but he was banished so instead you are to marry his daughter on your 18th birthday.” She finished and in between sobs she said, “We didn't k-know he would do that...We didn't know..”
(Name) looked distant. She didn't know who to be mad at anymore. This deal was made way before she was born and it so happened that she was caught in the crossfire. It wasn't their fault. They didn't know. She looked down at her hands, which happened to be laid across her lap. She stroked her palms with her finger, unsure of what to say. A silence settled between the two, as (Name) figured out what to say. Her heart felt heavy.
“...I-I don't know what to say.” She stuttered. There was a sour taste in her mouth as she spoke.
“You don't have to say anything, dear. It's alright. You didn't know.” The older woman sniffled.
“H-How old is she?”
“19. Just a year older than you, dear.”
“Great.” (Name) spoke in a dead tone.
The kimono she wore hung tightly on her body. The fabric was uncomfortable and the bow that was tide around her torso was binding. The maids around her scuffled around the room, adding more things to her appearance to make her look decent. They added ties to her hair, makeup to her face, and more fabric to her kimono. (Name) sighed and peered at her reflection sadly.
Today was her birthday, but also her wedding day. She was not given time to meet Princess Azula, or even get to know her. It was frustrating because now she was going in blind. She didn't know the Princess. All she knew was that she was the daughter of the fire lord. That was it.
The maids stopped what they were doing and examined her appearance. They were pleased with their work and how she looked. Though, that all stopped when they noticed her saddened look.
“Is there anything we can do, Mistress?” One of the maids asked.
(Name) shook her head and turned to face the maid, “No, there isn't. Don't worry though, I will be fine.” She finished with a fake smile. The maids were unconvinced, but did not push her. They all exited the room, leaving (Name) alone.
(Name) sat down on the floor and peered into the mirror again. The woman in the mirror looked back at her. She was almost unrecognizable. The makeup was heavy on her skin, her hair was in a tight and intricate bun, and her outfit was snugly fitted. Though, she did have to admit that the kimono was beautifully designed.
There was a knock on the door, then the sound of the door opening. “Mistress, It's time.” That was her signal. She gathered her kimono skirts and walked out of the room. She was then lead down a long hallway, and then towards two large doors. She stopped in front of the doors in a state of shock.
'This is it', she thought to herself.
'Behind there is where this all ends...' She was trembling now; she could feel cold sweat on her back, making the kimono stick to her skin. Her hands shook as she placed them on the door, and she had to force herself to open the large doors. As soon as she opened them, bright light sprayed through and blinded her. She flinched and blinked a few times before stepping outside.
There was a lot of people there, even for a private wedding. Though, that was to be expected, seeing as the royal family had a lot of family friends, generals, and certain nobles they knew. She paid no mind to them and walked forward. She was trying not to stumble as she walked. Her head was down, her eyes curtained by her bangs. Then, she remembered whom she was in front of and she knew that would not be tolerated. She lifted her head and held it high. Her face remained neutral.
There was a set of stairs to get to before she reached her destination. She could see who she suspected was the Princess. The girl looked at her with cold, calculating eyes. (Name) ignored her leer and continued her smooth pace. She trailed up the stairs and then sat next to the Princess on a cushion. That's when the ceremony began.
After the ceremony, the official marriage-part of the wedding happened. There was no vows, but there was a few agreements to get past. The Princess was calm through the whole thing, yet her eyes told a different story. She was watching (Name) the whole time. She was seeing how she reacted to things, how she did things, and watched to see if there were any signs of weakness. She of course would not standto have a weak wife by her side. Azula needed someone who could rule by her side without her help or guidance. Someone who wouldn't submit to pressure. She also had to make sure she was nothing like hermother.
(Name) could feel Azula's gaze burning into her. It was hard to ignore, but she managed. There was an after-wedding party being held and (Name) decided it was high time to have some privacy with her “wife”. She found Azula walking towards a balcony. It was still near the garden where the wedding was held, but it was secluded and away from the others. (Name) followed quickly behind Azula.
When Azula stopped, she turned around to face (Name). Her face was passive, which unnerved (Name) quite a bit.
“You've been following me.” It wasn't a question, but (Name) nodded. She gulped and starred at Azula directly before speaking.
“Yes, well, I was hoping we could talk.”
“Talk? You wish to speak to me, you better make it quick. I have business to attend to.” (Name)'s face scrunched up in confusion.
“Business? You're not staying for the party?” (Name) asked. Azula sighed and rolled her eyes, as if she were speaking to a child. (Name) frowned at Azula's behavior and felt slightly insulted, but she didn't waver.
“I just said I had business to attend to. The main part of the wedding is finished, I see no need to stay any longer.” The Princess responded plainly. She placed a hand on her hip, her eyes gleamed in twisted amusement as she scrutinized the shorter woman.
(Name) bit her lip, her gaze was now directed at the ground. Her face burned at the scrutiny and her words her cut deeply. 'So, this is how it's going to be from now on.' She sighed, 'Well, it's no different from the life I had before. I still have to do things on my own.'
“Well, then. Go ahead, I'm not going to stop you.” She said, she kept her voice strong as she glowers at the Princess. She was sure to return to her facade, she did not want to show her weakness to the Princess who might exploit it.
The Princess flashed a look of disappointment before steeling herself. She turned on her heel and went inside. There were no more words said between the two and (Name) felt almost relieved. The Princessunnerved her. She was almost like an armadillo bear stalking it's prey. (Name) felt like prey. It was discerning.
It was only a day after the wedding that (Name) was informed about the honeymoon she had to attend. She was sitting on a love seat while a maid combed her wet hair, when a servant came into the room and advised she'd be ready soon because there was a honeymoon planned. (Name) asked who planned this honeymoon, but the girl was unsure and couldn't give her an answer. She allowed her to leave while she mulled over who conceived this.
(Name) did not understand the reasoning for a holiday, but she supposed that was the traditional thing to do after a wedding. No, not a wedding, a business trade. There was no marriage, no love. She did not love the Princess, if anything she loathed her.
The Princess left to attend to 'business'; she did not see her for the rest of the day. It almost put her at ease, if it weren't for the fact that she then had to deal with her father. They didn't discuss much, just the responsibility she had to take up in the next coming weeks, becoming part of the royal family, all that jazz. He didn't say much after that and he definitely didn't inform her of a honeymoon. She didn't even think she would have one.
Instead of worrying herself over nothing, she got up and waited for the maids to prepare her outfit.
(Name) had never been on a ship before and from what was happening now, she hated it. She felt extremely nauseous being on sea. Her stomach was unsettled and she felt as if she was about to let go of the contents in her stomach. She clutched the railing as she hunched over it. Her skin was pale and covered in sweat. She was basically dry heaving as this point. She needed to vomit to let this feeling go.
“Not used to the sea, are we?”
(Name) did not turn around, for she knew who it was.
“I've never travel by sea.” she replied between gasps. Then, she felt bile rising up her throat and she leaned over the railing again and emptied her stomach. She leaned back, raising a hand to her mouth to remove any traces of vomit. She groaned and turned around to face her 'wife'.
Azula's face was passive, there was no visible signs of annoyance in her stance either. Her arms were crossed behind her as she moved forward.
“Why is that?” She asked. The question threw her off guard. She expected Azula to taunt her because of her queasy stomach, instead Azula was calm, cool, and collected.
“What do you mean?”
“Why have you never travel by sea before? Surely, you've come and joined your family on business trips.” (Name) had a thoughtful look. She was really having a conversation with the Princess.
“I was never able to. Every time they had to be sent out, I was deep in my studies.” Azula hummed in acknowledgment. There was a silence after that. It was a comfortable silence, and you could hear the sounds of the waves hitting the ship.
“What did you study?” She broke the silence.
“Literature and some psychology.” She replied. Azula almost smiled, now fully interested in asking about both subjects. (Name) answered her questions accordingly and calmly. She found Azula's child-like curiosity endearing, she would never say it aloud, though.
“So, what made you have a sudden interest in my past, hmm?” (Name) inquired, an amused look was apparent on her face. The wind from the ocean billowed through her hair, making it come undone in the ponytail she had. She gasped and grabbed her hair tie before it fell out of her hair and retied her hair.
“You are my wife. I think it's right to get to know you. Don't you think so?”
“Well, it would make this marriage more tolerable.” Then, (Name)'s eyes widened at the slip up. She spoke too much, too soon. She took a shuddering breath before glancing at Azula. She blinked in surprise as she saw that the Princess was not bothered by her bold statement. The young woman was looking at her; her expression held mirth.
“Ember Island?” (Name) asked as she walked up to the beach house. The Princess was by her side, explaining what this place was and the reason she brought her here.
“I used to come here as a child. It was a resort my family would come to for relaxation.” She answered. “Obviously, we don't come here anymore, but I think it's a waste to have a beach house and not use it.”
“Ah.” She said as she opened the door and then walked inside. The beach house was moderately sized. Everything on the inside was well...beachy. There was no word to describe the décor. It was....nice she guessed. Not something she would use to decorate a beach house, but whatever. “We haven't been in here for a while as you can see the décor is outdated.” Azula restated as she deadpanned. (Name) laughed at the Princess's expression and plopped onto the seashell love seat.
“I think it's just fine. I feel as if this place really captures the scenery in a way.” Azula sighed and sat across from her.
“Perhaps...” She mumbled glumly. (Name) grinned for the first time in a while. She liked the way the Princess was acting. It seemed that being around her father put her on edge, but when she was away from him, she seemed more relaxed.
“Cheer up, Azula. We have about two weeks here, better make the best of it.”
“I suppose.” She agreed.
“So, wanna head to the beach with me?” (Name) stood up, ready to go to the bedroom to get her bathing suit. Azula pondered around with the request, but eventually agreed to go with her. She saw it as an opportunity to get to know (Name) more. And for some reason, she really wanted to get to know her. (Name) moved swiftly down the hallway to the master bedroom with Azula following closely behind her.
She pushed the door open and went inside. The bedroom had the same décor as the rest of the house. The bed sported sea shell comforters, but the tapestries were not sea shell designed, but had koi fish patterns instead. She saw her bags were already unpacked by the servants and went towards the large dresser and grabbed her swimsuit. (Name) then went inside the bathroom and closed the door behind her. Azula then followed suit, but changed inside the bedroom quickly.
When (Name) came out of the bathroom, she sported a red skirted one-piece. She looked quite pleased at how it fitted her and also how it followed the shape of her curves and breasts. Azula starred at (Name) when she came out. Her golden eyes gleamed at (Name)'s figure in the swimsuit and smiled wickedly, which went unnoticed by the young woman.
(Name) went over to the large mirror and fixed her hair into a loose bun and Azula let her hair down and put it into a low ponytail.
“Ready?” (Name) asked.
Azula moved to the side of the room and grabbed a beach bag and filled it with necessities. Then, she closed the bag and slung it over her shoulder. “Yes, let's leave.”
As they were walking to the beach, they started to chat. Small things really. They discussed what they liked and disliked, family, childhood, bending, etc. Soon, they heard the noise of people near by and they knew they were getting closer to the shore.
(Name) stepped onto the hot sand. She walked over to a spot that was away from others because she hated being so close to people. She helped Azula unpack the towels and beach umbrella. After unpacking everything, (Name) fell onto the beach towel. She sighed underneath the shade of the umbrella. She closed her eyes in comfort of the sound of the ocean and the feeling of the hot sand underneath her towel. The shade contributed to the zen feeling.
“I thought you wanted to go into the water?” Azula laid next to her on a separate beach towel.
(Name) yawned, “I do. I just want to take everything in first.”
A few minutes past by and (Name) finally sat up. “I'm ready.”
(Name) was drying her hair with a towel in the bedroom while Azula was taking a bath. She had quite a bit of fun at the beach with the Princess. They stayed at the beach until sunset, then they went to a fish restaurant and ate dinner and drank tea. The food was amazing because the fish was fresh and was grilled on an open grill-top.
The young woman had to admit she was starting to become fond of the Princess. She was absolutely lividat the thought of marrying her, but now she was becoming used to being the wife of the future Fire Lord. She was actually enjoying herself.
Not only that, but she felt a strange tingle at the word wife. Every time it left the Princess's lips, she felt as if she belong by her side. The Princess was not as bitter as she was at the wedding, and was more mellow and...dare she say kind.
(Name) was looking forward to spending the next two weeks with her wife on this island. If it's to see this other side of her, then she will use it to her advantage. She was in no mood to start something anymore and was now willing to go deeper into this...marriage.
Azula then exited out of the bathroom, now fitted in a robe. Her hair was down and her makeup was off. She looked younger with out it on. (Name) swallowed deeply and averted her eyes. She walked inside the bathroom and began her bath as well.
After bathing, (Name) put on a nightgown that reached her mid-thigh. She was not known for wearing nightgowns to bed, but then again, she did not pack her own things. Her servants at the palace packed her things and all of her night wear was silk nightgowns. Revealing ones at that. Even the under garments they gave her was silk and laced. She guessed that they were thinking of ways to please the Princess. Which made sense, but (Name) was not planning on participating in such things with Azula.
She exited the bathroom to find Azula in bed reading a book. She didn't look up when (Name) exited the bathroom and (Name) felt a bit sad not being acknowledged. Then she sighed to herself, 'Calm down' she told herself. She sat on the edge of the bed, then leaned back toward the pillow next to Azula. She laid there, mulling over something.
Azula sighed and without putting her book down she spoke to (Name). “Something on your mind?” (Name) did not know what to say to her, but instead of thinking, she decided to let her mouth do all the work for her.
“Ahh, I had fun today.”
Azula smirked, “Glad you enjoyed yourself, my dear wife.” (Name) eyes flashed and her head spun fast to stare at Azula. Her jaw went slack as the Princess's smirk widened into a grin. Her cheeks flushed as Azula's eyes gazed at her. Leering at her. Her breath hitched under her heated gaze.
“Yes?” (Name)'s mind was now fuzzy as the sound of her own heart beat blocked out all thought.
“What brought this on all of a sudden?” She blurted out. Azula grin turned into tight line and her stare hardened. (Name) shivered and felt her own stupidity dawn over her. Was it stupidity? Was it something else? She was trying to read Azula's expression. She saw that she wanted to say something, but she was struggling.
“I-I don't know.” Azula whispered so quietly that (Name) had to strain to hear her. Her expression was riddled with confusion and (Name) was boggled at what to say. “I...Just want to...” The young woman blinked, “--Want to what?”
“To like you.” The young woman gawked at the Princess and the Princess blushed. “Y-you treat me like a person...” Her eyes seem to melt into a more liquid gold and (Name) had to double take and reorganizing her thoughts.
“You don't treat me as if I'm some fragile Princess, nor do you underestimate who I am. I find that funny because we've only known each other for three days and it seems you know me more than the people who have known me for years.” Her little speech was sincere and it made (Name) think. Azula also wanted to say that she had fun today, but she couldn't bring herself to speak again. She waited for the young woman to say something.
She swallowed and moved to put Azula's book down. Her cheeks burned as her nerves got to her, but she kept going. She moved her palm over Azula's hand and held it. Azula's eyes focused on the hand that held hers.
“I'm here and I promise that I will always treat you like a person.” Azula nodded and squeezed her hand. She felt warm at what (Name) had said to her. She slowly swallowed the words re-imagining them in her mind, not only the words but (Name)'s expression as she spoke to her. Her gaze was comforting and loving. Azula couldn't even express how much it meant to her in words.
So instead of telling her, she leaned over and kissed (Name)'s cheek. The young woman flushed brightly. The Princess smirked at her reaction, enjoying her response to her kiss and did it again, but on the opposite cheek. (Name)'s eyes misted over as she looked like she was about to pass out. Azula almost cackled at her expression, but instead grinned happily. Then, she finally spoke;