Okay. So, an interesting thing I've done here – I've written two versions of the epilogue. Feel free to choose between the two – one starts here, and one is after the break about halfway down the page.

It's been great. Thanks so much for your support, and I'll see you in the next story!

Speechwriter


Peace talks were progressing well. Remarkably well, in fact. It had only been two years since Fire Lord Azula had withdrawn the first troops from Omashu, and already the Fire Nation was preparing itself economically to pay retribution to the Earth Kingdom. Emissaries from the three nations were meeting at the Fire Lord's palace to work out the terms.

Azula combed back her hair, slinging it into its topknot and sliding her royal emblem onto the bun. She looked at herself in the mirror, dressed in her typical armor and a large, red cape befitting of the Fire Lord. At twenty years old, she was holding up well, given the huge amount of responsibility with which she had been burdened.

Azula would never admit it, but her brother and uncle had been invaluable in the last two years, as had the letters that streamed to her from the Northern Water Tribe, helping her with some of the tougher decisions. The letters had stopped, though, a year ago, without visible cause or warning. Azula had written a few since then, but had received no reply. She had dismissed the fact and carried on with her duties. People dropped out of touch. That was just how it was sometimes – but now – to see him again – maybe it wouldn't matter. A bubble of hope had swelled in her chest.

She opened the door and walked outside, preparing to greet the first group of emissaries, those from the Water Tribe. She gave a stiff nod to Chief Arnook and his second-in-command, Hakoda, who were heading the regal party of very impractically-dressed warriors and diplomats.

And though she tried to resist it, her eyes furiously scanned the faces of every Water Tribe member getting off the ship.

It was not dramatic when he walked onto the gangplank. There was no pomp, no fanfare, although Azula could feel her heart freezing stock still as his eyes made his way to hers and stayed there unassumingly.

And then he walked down the gangplank, closely followed by his sister, Toph, and Aang. Katara managed a businesslike nod, Aang a polite bow, Toph a loud "Yo." Azula's mouth quivered into a smile at Toph's lack of decorum. But Sokka didn't acknowledge her any further than just locking stares and then slowly looking away.

His blue eyes looked back at the ship, and Azula's eyes followed his glance. Sokka stopped walking, waiting for someone.

Azula's heart felt as if it would drop out of her chest as a pretty, tan girl walked over the gangplank to join Sokka, Aang, Toph, and Katara. Her fear was confirmed as she took Sokka's hand in hers.

That bubble of hope in Azula's chest was punctured. She swayed slightly, then abruptly looked away, back at the head of the train, back at what was supposed to be important. Diplomacy. Order. Balance.

Her thoughts were in complete disarray, but she forced herself to calm down, arranged her mind into its usual logical formation, and shuttled her emotions away. She swallowed. Her lips turned down slightly at the sides – that was all she allowed herself. Country first, self second. Country first. Always.

The train of Water Tribe members made its way inside the palace.

Azula's eyes followed that stupid, stunted ponytail of Sokka's as it went through the doors. She swallowed. Country first.

Azula mechanically turned to the arriving Earth Kingdom fleet.

The door of the palace slammed shut with a boom as the last Water Tribe member walked over the threshold.

Country first.

Azula's eyes squinted shut, as if blocking out the bright sun, and the back of her hand hastily destroyed the evidence of a tear that had dared to drip down her face.

She smiled and bowed to the Earth King.

Country first.

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Peace talks were progressing well. Remarkably well, in fact. It had only been two years since Fire Lord Azula had withdrawn the first troops from Omashu, and already the Fire Nation was preparing itself economically to pay retribution to the Earth Kingdom. Emissaries from the three nations were meeting at the Fire Lord's palace to work out the terms.

Azula combed back her hair, slinging it into its topknot and sliding her royal emblem onto the bun. She looked at herself in the mirror, dressed in her typical armor and a large, red cape befitting of the Fire Lord. At twenty years old, she was holding up well, given the huge amount of responsibility with which she had been burdened.

Azula would never admit it, but her brother and uncle had been invaluable in the last two years, as had the constant letters that streamed to her from the Northern Water Tribe, helping her with some of the tougher decisions.

She opened the door and walked outside, preparing to greet the first group of emissaries, those from the Water Tribe. She gave a stiff nod to Chief Arnook and his second-in-command, Hakoda, who were heading the regal party of very impractically-dressed warriors and diplomats.

And though she tried to resist it, her eyes furiously scanned the faces of every Water Tribe member getting off the ship.

It was not dramatic when he walked onto the gangplank. There was no pomp, no fanfare, although Azula could feel her heart freezing stock still as his eyes made his way to hers and stayed there unassumingly.

And then he walked down the gangplank, closely followed by his sister, Toph, and Aang. Katara managed a businesslike nod, Aang a polite bow, Toph a loud "Yo." Azula's mouth quivered into a smile at Toph's lack of decorum. But Sokka didn't acknowledge her any further than just locking stares and then slowly looking away.

It was later in the evening that everyone had arrived and was settling in. There was to be a banquet, so Azula had donned her finest robes and emblems, but as she was pinning up her hair, the door to her room opened, letting in a crack of white sunlight.

She turned, and suddenly a pair of strong hands were on her hips, securing her in place as familiar lips kissed her own. They broke apart for air after what seemed like an hour, and Azula stared up into Sokka's face, so familiar, even after so long.

"Thank you for writing," she said formally, but Sokka placed a finger to her lips.

"I've got to go in a minute, or my family will get suspicious – but I just thought you might want to know that I'll be staying here over the next year. I'm going to be the Water Tribe's ambassador."

Azula's eyes opened wide. She didn't dare to smile. She didn't dare to take him seriously.

"Really," she breathed softly. "That's quite an interesting -"

But she broke off, because she couldn't even pretend to be dispassionate. There was a split second's pause before she flung her arms around him, a lump the size of an egg in her throat, hot tears spilling over her eyes. "Sokka," she said.

He held her. "I am so proud of you," he whispered, and a smile spread over his face like the sun coming up on a new day.

Azula didn't quite know if it would be possible to court Sokka, if he were even any sort of politically advantageous partner – but she didn't care enough to plan ahead just then. She just cared about wrapping her arms around Sokka so tight that she could imagine never having to let go.


And there you have it. Choose one.

Drop me a review! Bye!

Speechwriter