Disclaimer: Me no owny Avatar. But I'm still trying! (Riiiiiiight...)
"Oh, come on, Azula! Just once, for old time's sake?"
"Ty Lee, no. We need to catch up with…"
Azula turned to her friend, pausing at the pleading look in Ty Lee's eyes. She sighed, running both hands through her hair, before turning to Mai. "What do you think?"
Mai shrugged. "Just do it. It's not like we're going to catch up with your brother and your uncle in a hurry. Humor her, please, before I kill her."
Azula smiled a little, before turning back to Ty Lee. "Okay, okay, you win. A quick walk through the cherry blossoms, okay? But not to long."
Ty Lee let out a whoop of delight, giving Azula a bear hug. "Thanks, Azula! You won't regret it, I promise!" she squealed. Azula grunted softly, wiggling out of Ty Lee's grip. She slowly followed her friend as she bounded ahead, leading the way down the path surrounded by cherry blossom trees.
"For old time's sake?"
The past seemed so far away to Azula now, the person she had once been just a distant memory. It was hard to believe that at one time she had been as bubbly as Ty Lee. That was how they had grown so close in the first place; their personalities, at the time, had been so similar. She closed her eyes briefly.
Ty Lee had fallen in step with Azula now, keeping up a stream of chatter that the Fire Princess wasn't really paying much attention to. So busy was she talking that she didn't notice two cherry blossoms come loose and land lightly on her head. Azula opened her eyes a slit, smiling a little at the innocent look the blossoms gave her friend.
Ty Lee glanced at Azula, noticing her smile. "What?"
Azula blinked, forcing the smile off her face, looking away. "Nothing," she muttered, blushing faintly. Ty Lee studied her friend for a moment before shrugging, still unaware of the cherry blossoms on her head, and went back to talking. Glancing at Ty Lee out of the corner of her eye, Azula silently cursed herself, ashamed of her feelings.
"If you find somebody in life, you should be loyal."
Azula shook her head irritably. The sentence, uttered by her mother, had haunted the young prodigy for the past two years. Once again, she glanced at Ty Lee, who had caught a blossom in her hand and was gently stroking the petals.
Azula knew she was female. She had never doubted that, wasn't delusional in the least when it came to her gender. She knew she was female, and a very attractive one at that. She also knew when the time came, she would take a mate to call her own. It sounded primitive—mate—but that was all she could really think of calling it since she realized that she had no feelings for the opposite gender.
Oh, she might have had a little crush on Zhao back in his day, might have swooned once or twice over some hot Fire Nation youth, but Azula wasn't stupid. She knew, in the end, that her affections didn't belong to a man. Her affections didn't belong to any man, for that matter. The keeper of her heart walked beside her now, giggling and grinning, trying to catch the blossoms that swirled lazily in the air, still unaware of the two blossoms on her head. Azula resisted the urge to gently pluck the blossoms off Ty Lee's head, unsure of her friend's reaction.
The subtle shift in Azula's feelings had caught her quite off guard. It was one thing, traveling with two of her closest friends, both of whom were female; it was quite another choosing one as her mate; another point entirely choosing Ty Lee.
Azula had no idea where the attraction had stemmed from. Ty Lee's optimistic nature, perhaps? It was such a welcome relief from the stifling air of competitiveness she had grown up knowing, despite the closeness she had once shared with her brother.
"But, Mother, what if you choose someone, but they don't know?"
"That isn't important, Azula. What is important is that you know, and that is all."
Ty Lee's voice brought the Fire Princess back to the present, glancing at her friend. "What?"
"Why didn't you tell me I had blossoms on my head?"
"Oh, these little guys?" Feeling safer now that Ty Lee knew of their presence, Azula gently brushed the blossoms off her head. "They weren't doing you any harm."
"But still! I feel so stupid! Did you know they were there?"
"Why didn't you say something?"
Azula shrugged. "I don't know. I guess I just thought it looked cute, you walking around with blossoms on your head." The next instant she slapped her hand over her mouth, her eyes wide, realizing what she had just said. Ty Lee blinked, flushing lightly pink.
"You thought I looked cute?" she murmured after a moment, shyly meeting the Fire Princess's gaze.
"I… well… uh…" Azula stumbled over the words, trying to figure out what to say. She blushed. "I just meant…"
"Hey! Azula, Ty Lee!" Mai called. "Come on, while we're young!"
Mai's voice broke the spell that had rooted both girls to the ground. Ty Lee turned and darted nimbly up the path, tossing Azula a shy smile as she went. Azula walked after her friend, her head feeling woozy, her chest filled with an unusual warmth. Mai smirked as the two came up to her. She crossed her arms over her chest, playing the part of a parent scolding her children. "What were you two doing back there? You were just staring at each other for a moment," she said. "I thought something bad had happened."
Ty Lee shook her head. "Nothing bad." She shrugged. "Just a little quarrel, nothing more."
"A lovers' quarrel?"
Ty Lee's jaw dropped, but Mai was off before she could make a retort, checking the supplies so they could continue their journey. Azula walked quietly to Ty Lee's side, having heard Mai's last comment. "I wasn't aware that we were lovers," she remarked quietly, glancing at her old friend.
Ty Lee blushed. "Oh, you know Mai. Always kidding around."
"I see." Azula decided not to push the subject. Instead, she opened her hand, showing the small, light pink blossom resting on her palm. "Here. You dropped this. I tried not to crush it," she murmured, wondering if Ty Lee would accept it as a peace offering of sorts.
Ty Lee blinked in surprise, glancing from Azula's face to the blossom. Hesitantly, she took the small flower from Azula's hand, cradling it carefully. "Thanks," she whispered, turning, following Mai. Azula watched her go, and felt a small thrill race through her veins when Ty Lee tucked the blossom behind her ear.
A part of her knew that by now Ty Lee might be aware of her affection, or at least suspicious, but she wasn't worried. Ty Lee might not know that Azula had chosen, but she knew, and that was all that mattered. She had a mate, someone that she loved, and maybe one day she would admit it. But for now, she would keep quiet.
"Hey, Azula. While we're young."
Azula smirked, walking over to her friends, feeling light and happy.
She had someone she loved. Maybe even someone that loved her back. What need for her father's approval?
A little farther ahead, Ty Lee paused, gently stroking the blossom Azula had given her, and a small, dreamy smile lit her face.
I really have no idea how these two became a couple idea for me. Don't get me wrong, I adore Sokka/Azula, but there's something I just find so cute about Ty Lee/Azula, maybe just because Azula is so uptight and serious, and yet she's friends with a person like Ty Lee...
Not to make mountains out of molehills, but I also thought it was cute when Azula returned (and seemed to enjoy, to an extent) Ty Lee's hug in Return to Omashu and Mai was just like "Oh... you".
As far as Watching goes: I shall make a series! Look for the second installment, Little Sister, coming soon! Sokka's take on Katara's changing feelings!
(Kicks self for Azula's OOCness)