Hello everyone! This is my second Avatar fic. This is not a sequel to the first one. Please review because that helps me. This is a Zutara, so don't worry! I don't have much else to say, so onto the fic!

Crimson Regret


"You've been doing well." He dropped out of the stance he had been in and turned around to face the owner of the voice, a woman. The young man had been practicing alone in a garden in the palace, far away from prying eyes. No one should have bothered him there. No one. It was a deserted place that he snuck off to so that he could think. Not even his uncle could find him when he came here. And there was only one way into the area. He would have seen or heard her enter. Unless she had managed to scale the wall. But that was unlikely. Not even he could scale the twenty foot stone walls that surrounded the small garden. He had tried. The walls were smoothed down and too wide to break through. They went too deep for him to even think of digging a tunnel under.

Golden eyes stared at her, waiting for her to speak again. Hiding in the shadows of a Sakura tree, a woman watched him. He couldn't make out anything more than she was thin and a bit taller than him. He could just imagine her smirking at him. He opened his mouth to demand who she was, what she was doing here, but other words poured out of his mouth. Words that he did not want to say but somehow did.

"Hellfire!" He listened to himself shout in glee. "What are you doing here?" He tried to move his hand to his throat, surprised that his voice had taken a mind of its own, but his hand did not obey him, much like his voice. The woman blanketed in shadows shrugged as she leaned against the tree.

"Nothing much. I just came back to claim my prize pupil." Something tugged at his heart when he heard that. He couldn't name the exact emotion. Was it fear? Was it worry? It felt like a mixture of both. It wasn't jealously, that was for sure. This emotion . . . was too dark. Whatever it was, it was strong. It overpowered him and he spoke once more, despite his effort not to.

"Oh? Who's that?" A dark chuckle entered the air as the woman began to walk forward.

"You, silly boy." The only thing that became visible were two pitch black eyes. Eyes that sucked him in and refused to let go. He couldn't tear his eyes away from hers. Fear gripped him, a strong fear. She was close to him, too close! He had to get away! He had to get out of there! "And what do you say to that?"

"I'm your best student, Hellfire?" He could feel her nod even though all he could do was look into her black eyes.

"Of course. You have a talent I have yet to see in anyone else."

"A talent?" His naive questions were unsettling. He didn't care about whatever conversation her was having with this strange woman. He had to get away. "Are you sure?"

"Of course," She whispered silkily. "I've taught you since you were old enough to train. Your father may not see it, but I do." He felt a hand cup the side of his face. The cool leather against his warm skin did not calm him as he assumed that it was meant to do. "Your father is a fool. I've seen hundreds like him. Only wanting to take and take but never give."

"Hellfire . . . your talk is treasonous." He whispered as he backed away, finally. He was relieved that he finally had space between the two. She had been too close. The young man found himself looking away from Hellfire.

"My dear boy," She purred as she lifted his chin up and made him look back into her eyes. He felt himself slowly drifting away from the world as her eyes seemed to capture him. Fire swirled inside of them. "I only do this so that you, the greatest firebender I have seen since Roku, will not be harmed. My lessons are more important than this war."

". . . more . . . important . . . ." He repeated in a daze. His mind screamed at him to stop, to look away. But he couldn't. He was lost in her gaze.

"Tell me . . . ." She whispered as she pulled him close to her again. ". . . . tell me that you'll come and save yourself. I know what's best for you, my child. I don't want to see him destroy you like he did your mother."

". . . . destroy me . . . . like mother?" That statement seemed to pull him slightly out of his daze. But only slightly and she saw her mistake. The fire in her eyes intensified.

"I have watched your family since long before you. I know what's best."

". . . you . . . know what's best." He lost focus on everything but those eyes. His thoughts seemed to fade away. Everything faded away.

"I do. And now we have to leave before-" She jumped away, back into the shadows of the Sakura tree as a stream of fire consumed the spot she had been standing in. He blinked, his eyes focusing once more and the world coming back to him.

"You will leave here, Hellfire!" His uncle hissed as guards flooded the gardens. "And you never come back!" Hellfire narrowed her eyes before looking at him again.

"Come to me, my student. They will make you forget it all. Forget all my teachings. And those teachings are the only thing of your mother's that you have." He looked between his uncle and Hellfire.

"Forget?" He echoed, confused. "Why? I don't understand. What is going on?"

"She's trying to use you!" His uncle shouted as the Fire Lord entered the garden.

"Hellfire!" Ozai boomed, clouded in shadows himself.

"Ozai." Hellfire hissed and got into a stance, ready to fight.

"You're outnumbered, yasha!" He listened as she snorted in disdain to his father's comment.

"I am no yasha." She hissed. "How dare a petty creature such as yourself call me a yasha!" She glanced over at him before smirking and standing up. "I will retrieve my dear pupil at a later time. Most likely when you least expect it and have forgotten about me. And when he is no longer under your hateful eyes." She swung her arm out and fire spewed forth, blanketing the garden and burning everything in its path. He brought his arms up in reflex and watched as fire rose up and blocked the fire coming towards him while many of the guards screamed at the fire tore into them.

Zuko bolted up into a sitting position, breathing heavily. That dream . . . part of him knew it was only a dream but still . . . after near eight years, why now? It had been so long that it had taken him awhile to really remember who Hellfire was. He was surprised that he could ever forget. He shook his head and kicked off the tangled, sweat-drenched sheets. The fire prince rubbed his good eye with the back of his hand. A knock on his door made his head snap up in its direction.

"Prince Zuko?" His uncle's voice was filled with concern. "Is something wrong? I thought I heard you cry out." Zuko didn't dare trust his appearance at the moment so he opened his mouth to answer but instead of words, bile came out. Zuko faintly heard his uncle open his door as he heaved. Several minutes passed as he threw up beside bed. He felt his uncle's hand on his back as he vomited. Finally, it stopped. "I'll get you some soup and someone to clean up this mess."

"I . . . I don't want soup." Zuko managed to get out, his voice raw. Iroh sighed and shook his head.

"You may not want it, but you will have it. You need to eat. Even if it is just to have something in your stomach to throw up other than stomach acid." Zuko closed his eyes and listened as his uncle walked away. He fell back against mattress and waited for his uncle to come back. Why was he haunted with nightmares? His usual dreams consisted of his Agni Kai. But not tonight. Tonight it was something he feared even more. It was of Hellfire. A . . . . woman, for lack of a better word, bent on taking her prize pupil, him, away from everything he knew. He opened his eyes when he heard his uncle enter the room again, this time with a few servants. "Prince Zuko, go take a bath and then, when you are done, come have some soup." Sighing, Zuko nodded and got out of bed, careful to avoid the bile. Grabbing a change of clothes, Prince Zuko of the Fire Nation made his way to the bathroom. Iroh followed him to make sure that Zuko did not vomit again. "Do you need me to wait outside?"

"No, Uncle." Zuko growled, barely able to hold back his temper. He was not some weakling that needed help. He was a prince! He was the Prince of the Fire Nation! It didn't matter if he was banished, he was still a prince. He didn't need to be treated with baby gloves.

"Very well. Do not take too long or I will get worried." Zuko sighed and nodded, closing the door and locking it. His uncle did enough for him as it was. He treated Zuko like he was his own son. Zuko turned on the water and began to fill the large tub with hot water. He was thankful that his uncle had made sure there was a large tub when they got the new ship. Their old one had a large tub as well, the small one had been replaced as soon as the ship was made into Zuko's new home. Iroh knew that Zuko liked to submerse himself in the water completely, letting the steam and heat from the water take away his troubles for the moment.

"Well, you seem alright." The ship doctor muttered as he scratched the back of his head. Iroh rubbed his chin in confusion before speaking.

"This is very odd. Other than vomiting there is nothing wrong with you." Zuko shrugged and looked away.

"Maybe it was something I ate." He mumbled. The doctor sighed.

"Well, until we can further explain this, don't overexert yourself and watch what you eat and drink." Zuko nodded and the doctor left, leaving him and his uncle in his room.

"Is there something you need, Prince Zuko?" The prince shook his head.

"No, the soup is staying down just fine." Iroh nodded. "You can go, uncle." Zuko laid down on his bed and pulled the clean covers over himself. Iroh hesitated, causing Prince Zuko to look over at him.

"Is there something you want, uncle?" Iroh sat on the edge of Zuko's bed and sighed.

"Prince Zuko . . . what is it you're not telling us?" Zuko did not look at his uncle directly, instead her opted for staring at a spot on the wall over his shoulder.

". . . nothing, uncle." Iroh closed his eyes and nodded.

"Very well." He stood up and walked to the door. Pausing right before he opened it, Iroh looked back at his nephew. ". . . . Prince Zuko . . . I will wait until you are ready." With that said, his uncle left him alone in the room.

'I should have told him.' The Prince thought as he rolled over in bed. 'But . . . . it was just a dream . . . Hellfire is gone. I'll never see her again. For whatever crime she committed.'