AN: I am not quite sure where this came from, but it came easily and I liked it, so here you go!
Disclaimer: I don't own Avatar. Though if anyone wants to give it to me, I most certainly wouldn't object.
Once upon a time, a long time ago, Azula could remember when her mother would tell her stories with the same beginning. Azula had never been fond of these tales of fantasy. She had certainly never felt any desire to have a real life one. When Ursa had first begun telling the tales, she had been excited. Bedtime stories from her mother were some of Ursa's favorite memories of her own mother, and she hoped to share that with her daughter. Of course, it didn't go quite as expected.
"Once upon a time, a long time ago-" Ursa began.
"How long ago?" Azula interrupted.
"Well, I already told you, it was a long time ago."
"A long time isn't a definite answer. Was it years ago, hundreds of years, thousands of years, before the spirit world even? Or was it just yesterday, long ago in terms of seconds. Really, saying it was a long time ago doesn't say much." Ursa was beginning to sense that it wouldn't be quite the same with Azula as it had been with her.
"Fine. Before the world was divided into the four nations, the people of the future nations lived without division. Of course, that didn't mean they weren't divided."
"Either they are divided or they aren't, Mother, they can't be both."
"Fine. They were divided by undefined boundaries, for the people stayed within four groups that had yet to acquire names or even be acknowledged as groups. Even so, the groups fought fiercely."
"How so? In battles? Politics? Did they have bending? Why did they fight?"
"They fought through brute force. They had bending, though none had training or could control it. It would just happen. Mostly they used crude weapons, like sharp rocks."
"And why did they fight?"
"I don't know. Because they did."
"They had to have a reason to fight. Was it over resources, or power, or knowledge, or prejudice?"
"I don't know. They fought because that's all they knew how to do. They thought the others were animals, not capable of the same thought as they were." This seemed to satisfy Azula as to the reason for the fighting.
"The battles were fierce and usually bloody, and many died."
"Just as well. Only the morons would have been stupid enough to get killed. Technically, it was a good thing. Getting rid of the village idiot and such."
"Azula! Not just the less intelligent-"
"Morons," Azula muttered under her breath.
"died, some of the great minds were victims too."
"Well, clearly they weren't too great if they couldn't find a way to get out of dying."
"Really. Not everyone who dies deserves it for being stupid Azula. You're going to die one day. Do you want people saying you only died because you're a moron?"
"No one will say that. I'll prove that I'm smart enough so that I'll always be remembered. And I'll die of old age and everyone will remember the time I was alive as the most prosperous in the history."
"You can't know that. Anyway, that's not what the story's about. One day, the Princess of the race of people that would be come known as the Fire Nation was wandering off on her own."
"I thought you said that these people were barbaric. Barbaric people don't have Princesses. They had chiefs, and the daughter of the chief."
"I never said they were barbaric."
"It was implied."
"Fine. One day, the daughter of the chief of the future Fire Nation wandered off on her own. Now, the chief lived near the border between his own territory and the territory of the future Water Tribes."
"Well, that's stupid. It's making him a prime example for attack. Why would anyone, especially someone so important, live in a blatantly unsafe place like that?" Ursa was starting to get sick of Azula's outbursts. Why couldn't she just sit back and enjoy the story, like Ursa had, all those years ago.
"Because he wanted to make sure he could defend his borders."
"Then he should send a patrol."
"Well, he never thought of that." Ursa answered, exasperated. Azula rolled her eyes.
"Anyway, while the princess,"
"Daughter of the chief."
"-daughter of the chief was exploring the surrounding forest, she ran into a young man. The king,"
"-chief had told her not to talk to strangers in the woods, but as soon as she saw him, she knew there was something special about him."
"Well, that's stupid. Her father clearly knew that people in the woods could be dangerous. Why would she talk to someone if she had warning?"
"Because she knew there was something special about this young man."
"So? I could look at a lionbear and deicide there's something special about him. Doesn't make him any less dangerous."
"-chief's daughter knew he wasn't dangerous."
"But he could have been."
"But he wasn't, so it doesn't matter." Azula, once again, rolled her eyes. "Anyway, they spent the day wandering through the woods, and found they enjoyed eachother's company immensely. When evening fell, and it was time to part, they realized they had fallen in love."
"Wait, how old is the chief's daughter? I thought she was six."
"No, she was much older than that. More like sixteen."
"Well, she's pretty immature. No wonder she's decided she's in love after only knowing the guy for a day."
"She was in love. You're never too young to fall in love."
"Whatever. I still say she's stupid." Ursa sighed, and wondered how long it would take for this story to end.
"The young man said that they should go to his father's house first, and seek his approval, and then he would go to her father and ask her hand in marriage. And so, the two set off for the boy's village. When they arrived, the chief's daughter stopped in her tracks. It wasn't a small village of her own people, as she had expected, but the capitol village of their rivals, the future water tribe. She was horrified, but she knew she couldn't leave the boy she had come to love."
"That's probably her stupidest move yet. It's practically treasonous. I thought Lo and Li said this story would be important for teaching me morals. So far all it's taught me is how to make the stupidest mistakes possible as often as possible."
"Azula, the morals aren't clear until the end. Now, will you stop interrupting me?"
"Fine." Azula agreed.
"When the chief of the future Water Tribe realized who his son wanted to marry, he forbade it and took her prisoner. The young man grieved over his love, but realized what he had to do. When the day of her execution arrived, he jumped in front of the blade, saving her. With his dying breaths, he asked that they stop fighting and learn the love one another. The chief, through the death of his own son, realized that the fighting was useless, and made peace with the other three nations, forming the world we know today."
"Are you done yet?"
"Well, that was just as bad as the rest of the story. For one thing, the guy should have figured out how to create peace without dying. For another, it didn't say anything about the future air and earth people. How did they learn that the others were human? Just take their word for it?"
"Yes, that's exactly what they did. They trusted them."
"Then why didn't they do that in the first place." Ursa was rendered silent. "Like I said, stupid."
Ursa sighed, and stood up.
"Well, goodnight Azula."
"Goodnight Mother. Don't worry; I'm sure Zuko won't realize the blatant holes in your story. He'll like them. Maybe he could be your daughter instead," Azula snickered.
Yes, Azula was never one to enjoy fairy tales, or dream about a Prince (or chief's son) to sweep her off her feet. Quite frankly, she didn't need a Prince Charming for love, and any noble would do for heirs. And there was no way she fantasized about some idiot deciding he loved her enough to die pointlessly and overdramatically, especially over something as flimsy and insubstantial as love. Which is probably is why it was so surprising when it actually did happen.
Azula was never quite sure when it actually happened. One day, she had been meeting him at night, just to mess with his head, throw the warrior's ability to battle off. The next, she was starting to get brief twinges of panic when he was late, (What if he's hurt, or worse, changed his mind?) and would feel pain jump through her when he didn't show. When she realized what was happening, she knew the solution was simple.
There was something strange about the warrior, (who she learned was called Sokka,) somehow he had made her feel something. And so it went from messing with his head, to trying to discover what it was that made him different, and destroy it. Because this most certainly counted as weakness, and weakness was not tolerated. And when that failed, she wanted to hit herself on the head.
She had just committed what she had always considered the stupidest of acts: falling in love. And now, she knew from those stupid stories that her mother had continued to tell her, there was no getting out of the horrible trap.
After a good many fights with the avatar, and even more with herself, she gave up and joined the stupid ragtag group of morons that she had been chasing. They hadn't been keen on letting her join, and she'd had to throw in the offer of teaching the avatar firebending to get them to accept her. For the many faults that Azula would happily list for anyone who asked, they weren't completely stupid. The avatar needed a firebending teacher, and the best firebender out there had just offered to take the job. Only the most paranoid idiot wouldn't take it. Which, of course, meant that Sokka was against it.
Which Azula, rather than being offended, decided was rather funny, considering he was the one making out with her at night. When she pointed this out to him, she was pleased to see his comrades surprised looks, and amused at how quickly the boy's face could change colors.
And so she quickly fell into the rhythm of the life with the avatar's group, and her relationship with Sokka was no longer limited to only secretly at night. Though his sister said something along the lines of if she hurt Sokka, Katara would make sure that Azula could find a million reasons to wish she was dead. Azula had laughed. Katara could try.
The day of the final battle comes and when Ozai sees what has become of his renegade daughter, his fury is quickly pulled away from the avatar. And when she doesn't have time to move away, Sokka finds time to get in front of her.
And when the last thing her says, other than that he loves her, is that he wants the fighting to end, she remembers that stupid story her mother told her, and decides that she most definitely hates fairy tales.