Chapter One: The End of Exile
Zuko was smiling. He stood at the front of his boat, eager to reach his destination. In his red fire nation uniform, Zuko stared ahead, waiting for the sight of land. The wind blew gracefully through the black tuft of hair, which was pulled behind the ex-prince's head. The strong wind felt good. It meant they were moving forward. The stronger the wind, the faster they were moving, and the sooner they'll get there.
"Let me go!" Aang demanded. Zuko turned his head, a frown appearing on his lips as his brow furrowed. Behind him, the avatar was tied to a large wooden oval, supported by the cabin of the ship. He tried ripping through the ropes now binding his hands, but again with no avail.
Spoken in a hoarse voice, "Be quiet, Avatar," was Zuko's only words before he resumed his daydreams of what is to come.
Soon, land appeared on the horizon. When the ship landed, Zuko stepped off, onto fire nation property. "I wish to talk to Fire Lord Ozai," Zuko told the people on the coast as he gestured toward his ship, where Aang was still fighting to loosen the ropes around his arms and legs. The people agreed to take him to his father and Zuko turned toward his crew. "Take him with us," he told them. Two crewmembers took the heavy wooden oval down from the cabin of the ship and wheeled Aang off the boat. Aang widened his eyes, having realized that they expected him to stay on the oblong wheel.
"Hey! Can't you get me off of this thing!" Aang complained. They only smirked as they rolled him toward the palace. Aang was beginning to feel sick from spinning.
As they reached the doors, a guard asked, "Who goes here?"
"Zuko, the son of Ursa and Fire Lord Ozai. I wish to enter the palace." The guard looked behind Zuko to see the Avatar throwing up on the ground. After having given a distasteful look directed at Aang, he and the guard beside him stepped aside. The guard who was talking gestured for the group to enter.
"Make yourself at home, prince Zuko. Your father will come shortly," a person said after they entered the castle. Zuko nodded at the person and went into another room. While Zuko waited, he took one of the books from the wall of the room and opened it.
"Do you really expect Father to welcome you back with opened arms?"
Zuko closed the book when hearing the voice and turned to see Azula, his sister, standing behind him. "Why not?" he asked her, unfazed.
"He only gave you that mission of capturing the Avatar to get you out of the way. He didn't expect you to actually find him," she told him bluntly.
"You're wrong," Zuko told her confidently, not even looking at her as he put the book back on the self. Azula got upset that her brother wasn't listening to her.
"He won't take you back," she told him. Zuko didn't say anything.
Zuko and Azula turned toward the doorway, where their father was standing with a smile on his face. The Fire Lord walked over to Zuko and put his arm around his son. "We can talk about old times over tea," he said and began to walk with Zuko to another room.
"You always lie," Zuko whispered over his shoulder with a smile. As he looked behind him, he saw his sister standing with her arms crossed, her eyebrows furrowed deeply in anger.
Zuko and his father were sitting on cushions on the floor, a pot of tea between them. Zuko took a sip from his cup.
"I'm glad you've finally captured the Avatar, my son. I hope you know that I only banished you because of the laws. If I had total say in the matter, I never would have made you participate in the Agni Kai. I'm sorry you had to endure this disgrace..." The father said and lightly touched the large red scar on the side of his son's face. Zuko closed his eyes.
"I know..." Zuko told him softly before opening his eyes.
"Did you know that you were always my favorite child?" his father asked him, equally soft. Zuko turned his head toward his father in surprise. Without taking his eyes off the Fire Lord, Zuko put his cup down, stood, and rushed toward his father, embracing him. Zuko accidentally knocked his father's cup out of his hands when putting his arms around the man, and the tea was spilt on the floor, but neither of them cared.
"I love you, father," Zuko told him in a wavering voice, hugging Ozai tightly with his eyes closed, tears running down his cheeks.
Zuko woke up. It was dark, but a full moon was over his head, giving just enough light to see. Zuko's once pony-tailed hair was now nothing but a messy crew cut and his clothes no longer of the fire nation. He saddled his animal.
'The only way I can return home is to seize the Avatar... I have to prove to my father that I am not a failure,' Zuko thought as he gathered up the few belongings he had. As he rode through the trees, he thought, 'I've been following the Avatar for over a week - every night making my camp less then two miles from his - waiting for the right time. I'm sure that my father will forgive me for everything if I can just capture the Avatar for him...'
I'm trying to write this one in past tense, which is kind'a annoying to write in. I mean, who talks in past tense? If you're talking to your mother, would you say something like "I loved you, Mom"? She'd wonder if you quit loving her for some reason or something. Well, If you see any present tense that shouldn't be there, then you can tell me and I'll either cuss you out or fix it. Or both. Seriously... tell me if I have any mistakes.
There's two people who I'd like to mention. Elenea Galad and LadyPhoenix99. I had a different idea for a Zuko fanfic, but it didn't work out. When I started reading Elenea Galad's "Brotherly Love" fanfiction, I thought of this idea, so half the credit belongs to her. And as for Lady Phoenix, I showed her what I had gotten done when I had a few paragraphs written and asked her opinion about it.