The Best of all Possible Worlds

He bids the slave to fetch his son when he feels his heart stutter within his breast, and the gold embroidery stitched into the canopy above his bed begins to braid itself in serpentine patterns.

She protests, predictably. This servant has never been quiescent. Only Katara's inordinate talent has saved her from the hangman's noose. Her back is hunched and gnarled from strokes of the lash.

"Master, with more water to bend I can-"

Iroh shakes his head. His shaggy mane fans out across sweat-drenched pillows, and this is not the first time he has missed the dignity of his topknot.

"No, young lady. It is time for the spirits and I to make our peace."

The slave limps out of the room at a frantic pace. Had she lingered, Iroh would have told her not to hurry herself. His spirit is already at ease. He has endured a life of toil in preparation for this moment of glory. He does not regret spilling his blood in careful measures, or salting the earth with the sweat of his brow.

Iroh's grandchildren are healthy. Their kingdom is boundless. Lu Ten will be Fire Emperor, and this is the best of all possible worlds.

- - -

Author's Note: My personal fanon is that prior to Lu Ten's death, Iroh was not at all the enlightened fellow we know and fangirl, but rather a blood-soaked imperialist bastard. This is, after all, the guy that wrote a cheery letter about burning Ba Sing Se to the ground.