Author's Note: Well, here is my first venture into Avatar fanfiction. I fully expect to be flamed for this, so go ahead if you feel the urge.

Disclaimer: I don't own Avatar. This is just a cheap imitation. Which I also don't own.

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The Fire Lady

The war was over. After immense struggle, toil and trouble, the Avatar and his companions succeeded in felling the cruel and tyrannical Fire Lord Ozai. However, with the victory came much trepidation. No one knew how the citizens of the Fire Nation would react to the murder of their leader, and many feared that the 100 Year War would be restarted by angry revolutionaries. So, it was a great relief to all when the citizens, instead of revolting, rejoiced at the news of Ozai's death. Apparently his cruelty had not been limited to his son, as under Fire Lord Ozai the people had suffered; struggling to pay the costs of a war that was stretching the nation to its limit.

When the new Fire Lord was crowned, the citizens rejoiced all the more. Word had spread of the deeds of this new monarch. It was said that he had been banished for protesting the use of novice troops as bait. It was said that he had been loyal to all his companions, even going so far as to rescue his uncle from the dungeons of the palace. It was said that he had traveled the world, learning the virtues of humility and wisdom. It was said that above all, he was a man of honor. The citizens rejoiced at the crowning of the new Fire Lord, for they knew that Zuko was most assuredly not his father's son.

Months passed, and the nations decided that the time had come for formal peace treaties to be written and signed. Upon hearing this news, Fire Lord Zuko immediately agreed and departed to attend the peace conference in Ba Sing Se along with the leaders of the other nations, the Avatar, and his companions. The citizens were overjoyed at this quick action. Their lord had not hesitated to choose peace, something the war-torn nation desperately desired. On the day of his departure parades were held and fireworks were launched in his honor. Everyone approved of his willingness to end the hostilities. More months passed, and the people were content. Their lord was traveling the world, brining about an era of peace and prosperity.

When Fire Lord Zuko returned successful, the parades were once again held, and the fireworks were once again launched. The people were finally, truly free from the specter of war and they were celebrating like there was no tomorrow. In fact, the celebration was so great and so enthusiastic that no one noticed the woman that had returned with their lord. No one took note as she accompanied the Fire Lord to his palace. No one cared as she followed him inside. No one thought anything of it when she became an extended guest.

However, as the Fire Lord began to spend more and more time with this mysterious woman, people began to take note. "Who is this strange woman?" They asked. "She is no noble that I recognize." And so a great hunt for information began, with every citizen trying to find out more about the woman with the simple dress and the braided hair.

It started as simply harmless gossip. "I heard that Fire Lord Zuko has had the royal gardens remodeled for her" someone would comment as they purchased their groceries. "I heard Fire Lord Zuko actually makes her tea!" someone would proclaim to the people around them at the local bar. Harmless gossip that would entertain the people and help the time go by. However, as more information about the unknown woman was unveiled, the tone of the gossip went from lighthearted to bewildered and just the slightest bit angry.

"I heard she's from another nation." Upon hearing this new revelation, the people began to grow uncomfortable. Surely the Fire Lord would not consort with a citizen of a foreign nation! The Fire Lord had always courted fine, upstanding Fire Nation women! Always! It was virtually unheard of for a foreign woman to even have the privilege of being a royal maid-in-waiting. It was simply a rumor nothing more, the people decided. But the sense of uneasiness remained.

"I heard that she's just a peasant!" The very accusation brought on indignant shock in all that heard it. Fire Lord Zuko gallivanting around the Fire Nation with a foreign woman was scandalous enough, but a foreign peasant? Why, the very thought was absurd in the highest degree! The Fire Lord had always courted high-born, cultured noblewomen. It was a tradition dating back to the beginning of the Fire Nation. He wouldn't dare to romance a filthy peasant. But still the people were indignant.

"I heard that he's proposed!" This was the final straw. The Fire Lord. Of the Fire Nation. Married to a low-class, foreign, peasant! This was an outrage! Zuko was spitting in the face of thousands of years of tradition! The people petitioned and they protested, but each further act of defiance only hardened Zuko's stubborn resolve. In a few months, the Fire Nation had a new Fire Lady.

At first, the public opinion of the new Fire Lady was hovering just above their opinion of solar eclipses, which is about as low as you can get. However, as time passed, the strangest thing began to happen. Slowly and subtly, the Fire Lady won over her people. Because she was "just a peasant" she was very approachable and sympathetic to the plight of the common citizen. Her influence in the royal court won many benefits for the Fire Nation's poor and downtrodden. Because she was foreign-born, she was very influential in diplomatic affairs. With her aid, Fire Nation foreign commerce almost tripled.

So, gradually the people came to see their new Fire Lady as a blessing, not a curse. She didn't have the passion and the ambition of a Fire Nation citizen, but she did possess the rock-hard will and enduring toughness of her people. She didn't have the ivory skin, nor the striking gold eyes of a Fire Nation native, but the people came to appreciate her for her slightly sun-tanned complexion and her deep, green eyes. True, she was no Fire Nation noblewoman, but Fire Lady Jin would do just fine.

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Author's Note: Look! It's not a Zutara!