Azula wandered around the woods, her mother had yelled at her for using firebending on a stupid cat owl. It wasn't her fault the animal annoyed her, interrupting her training. She heard the snapping of twigs and immediately went on guard. Both her mother and father had warned that as a princess of the Fire Nation she was a high profile target and that people might kidnap her to blackmail the royal family. She moved silently or at least silently for a seven year old child. She was surprised instead of seeing an attacker or even a wild animal she saw a young boy around her age. He was sitting in front of a fire pit it wasn't yet lite no doubt that was where the snapping of twigs came from.
She was about to say something perhaps mock his clothing, considering they were filthy yet strangely well made not quite on par with nobles clothing but rather closer to a wealthy merchant's, definitely leagues above the commoners clothing. But stopped when she felt a build up of chi, it was something her uncle had taught her saying that being able to sense when someone was about to attack with bending is useful. The man may have been a fool at times but he knew combat.
She waited curious to see how other people bended, she remember that most people learned how to bend on their own rather than from any teacher. She immediately saw several things wrong with his basic form. His feet were too far apart and his hands to close. She gasped in surprise when she saw him firebend, not out of surprise that he was firebending but rather out of shock of the color it was a deep emerald green!
The boy's head snapped to the side as he heard her gasp. He got into a defensive stance. "W-wh-who are you?" he stuttered out in fear.
Azula cursed herself for gasping as now she wouldn't be able to see anymore of how he bended. He was clearly a master firebender in the making if he could use green fire. But she didn't let that show on her face instead she adopted her usual expression when dealing with rich merchants a slight tone of respect but an extra dose of superiority. "Don't you know how to treat a princess. It is customary to bow in the presence of royalty." she actually had to hold in a smile when the boy gave a small almost mocking bow. Good someone with the potential that he had shouldn't just bow to the whims of someone just because they said to.
"What are you doing here?" he asked and she had to hold in a sneer once more.
"You don't have any right to ask such things this is my family's land."
"Oh sorry." he muttered.
"What's your name commoner?" Azula demanded.
"It's Harry Potter." she frowned so she was right he was the son of a merchant, a pottery maker of some kind.
"My name is Princess Azula." she said introducing herself.
"You want to eat?" he asked pointing towards the fire pit which she now realized held several animals on a stick. It had taken him awhile to get used to the lack to technology around him but he thought he was doing pretty well.
"Please your commoner food is beneath me." she said before she could stop herself.
Harry frowned at the insult. "And why is that?" he asked with a small glare.
"I am a princess of the fire nation and great granddaughter of Fire lord Sozin!" she said insulted.
"So what makes you better? All I hear is that your great grandfather is better than my food."
She glared at him. "I am better than you! I am princess!"
"Prove it!" he retorted and she rushed him striking out with a arch of fire small but very good for a beginner. However instead of using firebending as she suspected to attack he only used firebending to block her attack before sweeping her legs out from under her. She was unused to such tactics as in training firebending was the only thing they were allowed to use in combat. He then sat on her to keep her from getting back up.
Azula glared bloody murder at him, and he was lucky she couldn't bend fire with her eyes otherwise he would be dead. "Get off me commoner!" she demanded.
"My name isn't commoner and say please." for several minutes she continued to demand he get off her. Before she remembered something her uncle told her. Sometime swallowing your pride is the only way to become better. To always assume others will do what you want because you demand they do is foolish.
"Please." she growled out the word please. "Let me up Harry." the boy smiled and got off her. As soon as he did she tackled him to the ground and sat on top of him in retaliation. She smirked. "Now say 'please your majesty would you be kind and gracious enough to let me go free.' and I might let you go." she clearly thought she had the upper hand now. But there was one thing she didn't know about Harry he was used to a much larger and heavier person than a fifty pound girl sitting on top of him. So with little effort he pushed her off of him.
"You wish." he said as he turned back to the food she wanted to attack him but her pride wouldn't let her attack him from behind. That would mean admitting she couldn't beat him out right. "You sure you don't want any?" he asked holding out one of the sticks to her. She was about to insult him again when she felt her stomach growl.
"Consider yourself lucky comm- Harry." she said as she snatched one of the sticks from his hand and he rolled his eyes. Azula wouldn't admit it but the boy was a good cook.
Once she finished eating she returned to the palace, it wouldn't do for her guards and parents to get suspicious. Instead of reporting him to her father to get him punished for hunting on their lands, she instead decided to go back the next day. Solely to prove that she was the better fighter of course, it wouldn't do for the uppity commoner to think he was skilled enough to beat a royal.
Despite winning if barely this fight she found herself annoyed. She only won because when she set his shirt on fire he put more attention on saving the shirt than fighting her. To a noble or royal like her that didn't matter big deal she lost a shirt or a pair of pants while firebending she had hundreds more where that came from. But she realized for common folk that a shirt was worth far more than winning a fight.
When she visited the next day she brought a pair a Zuko's old clothes. she had told her brother that if he didn't stop teasing her about her hair after she came back with dirt in it that she would burn his clothes but this was just as well. Yep that was why she brought the clothing no other reason.
"Here." she tossed him the clothes. "You should be more dignified in the presence of royalty." she said as he looked at the clothing in confusion.
He looked at her and smiled. It wasn't like Ty-lee's perpetual smile which was more of a smile at everything or another noble's smile which was just to curry favor. It was a smile but genuine smile, without even realizing it she returned the smile. "Of course." he said as his smile changed into a knowing grin. "Thank you." he said sincerely with a real bow this time. Before he stepped behind some bushes to change.
When he got into his fighting stance she frowned. "That's wrong." he looked down confused was she talking about his clothes they seemed fine to him. She rolled her eyes. "Your stance. You feet are too far apart and hands are off." she told after a few moments he got into the proper stance. He had only made that stance because he saw a similar one on TV when the guy was controlling fire so he thought it would work. It just felt natural.
This time they tied both of them exhausting themselves too quickly for either to win. Azula frowned as she laid on her back catching her breath, she was better in every way when it came to fighting but it took so much effort to suppress his flames or disperse them. She could only do it twice before she was too tired to do it again. They were just so powerful, she had an easier time suppressing her father's fire than she did his. That wasn't to say he wasn't a good fighter in fact he adapted to her correction incredibly fast.
This pattern continued on for a month, she would go out to that clearing sometimes bringing something from the palace other times just coming for a spar. Her spars and talks with Harry had affected her in more ways than one. She had always been a prodigy the best of her age group and better than anyone less than four years her senior but now she kind of understood how Zuko felt, no matter how hard she tried she could barely match Harry much less beat him. He improved by leaps and bounds he was faster than her and stronger. Though his skills were beginning to level off now that he had learned the basics. That wasn't to say she hadn't improved she had by a lot, she was confident now she could completely destroy herself from a month ago in a fight.
The second major change was her relationship with her mother, she wasn't suddenly listening to everything she said and being a loving obedient daughter. But she was more willing to spend time with her doing some of the more girly things that she didn't find completely horrible.
"Are you ready?" Azula asked as the two circled each other.
He smirked. "Always."
Azula rushed him having learned over the last month that in a battle of stamina she didn't stand a chance. His fire was too powerful for that. She shot a burst of fire at his feet before flipping over his head and swiping at his legs. Predictable he dodged her strike before he sent out an arch of fire she dispersed the fire and twisted out of the way of his follow up punch. She grabbed his wrist and struck him three times in the side with quick jabs. She would have to thank Ty-lee for showing her that move. She followed up the jab by kicking the back of his knees.
Instead of trying to resist the blow to the back of his legs he let her knock off his balance dragging the royal down with him. She let out a cry of shock as she fell to the forest floor. But recovered fast enough to lash out with kick of fire. He dispersed the fire and sent a series of short burst of fire at her. She frowned as she felt herself getting exhausted if this continued much longer she wouldn't be able keep up. She decided to steal a move from him, sending a wave of fire at him blinding his sight she followed up by tackling him to the ground. He twisted as he fell so he landed on top. She threw a wild kick sending him back before jumping to her feet, but he had also recovered from her kick.
Before their fight could continue a call went out. "Halt!" from the forest a dozen soldiers in fire nation armor emerged. "You are under arrest for assaulting a member of the royal family." the man in front and the only one not wearing a helmet told Harry.
So before anyone says azula wouldn't care so long as she wins, older azula maybe. Younger? Not a chance, to stubborn to admit she would need an advantage to win.