AN- The 3rd in my series of one-shots on Fire Nation characters. (Afterthought covered Ozai, and Past the Fall handled Zuko.) I don't know if I'll be doing any more characters...I wasn't exactly planning on a series to begin with when I wrote the first one. :shrug:

This has spoilers for episodes 310 and 311! (Don't say I didn't warn ya.) The document manager's been acting crazy, so if you see any weird spacing/format errors it's probably because of that.

Please review--constructive crit. is always loved.

Violent Delights

The day came when the five-year-old princess discovered the truth.

Her father adored her. Her teachers feared her. Her brother pretended to hate her but in reality was just as scared.

Her mother couldn't stand her.

And Azula took this discovery and built on it, gleefully. She learned not to bother holding back during training, because her mother would never be pleased no matter what she did—and anyway, her father would congratulate her for almost anything she did. So she didn't hold back, and it didn't faze her at all when the teacher collapsed with fresh burns crawling across his arms.

And her father did congratulate her, and her mother hid a frown, and whenever the teacher happened by her afterwards he looked so fearful Azula thought he might scream. Her useless brother's look of envy wasn't even disguised.

It was all very exciting. Azula wanted more.

And once upon a time she was seven and proud, because her daddy had just finished telling her how strong and smart she was, unlike her idiot of an older brother, or even her so-very-damned-special Uncle Iroh and his boy—

That was when Azula realized she was better then them.

A few years later, and she realized she was also better then the Fire Lord himself.

By ten, she was a master, or getting very close. There was no teacher who would willingly train her now, so Ozai assigned a pair of old crones to guard her instead. She was given full permission to practice however she wanted; never mind the occasional servant's sudden limp or new scar.

Her mother still disliked her, but it didn't matter—Azula got the sense the woman's constant babying of her son had pushed her out of Ozai's favor. Zuko was still useless, after all…he couldn't get the hang of moves she'd mastered years ago.

But the princess knew she wasn't useless. She knew it for sure when one day blue lightning fled from her palms. Amazing, amazing, the old crones cried, and Azula learned how to smirk.

The hardest thing about being so great, she decided not long after that, was having to act like she still cared about others. Her father's praise meant little when he was never going to be the one in full control. Her two friends, Mai and Ty Lee, were willing enough to do what she told them, but they were so far beneath her when it came to strength that sometimes Azula couldn't stand to look either one in the face.

After all, she was destined for great things…great, triumphant, wonderful things…

How odd, she sighed, that there were no other ten year olds interested in defeating the world!

She really didn't mind her mother's sudden leaving. What did it matter? Now her father was lord of the Fire Nation, and after her brother, she was the heir. And her brother was so very, very weak…

Perhaps she felt Ursa's loss for a quick second or two, that first night. But then she remembered that her mother had favored insignificant Zuko, and being motherless didn't bother her one little bit.

Her smirk was in place the day her brother screamed with pain as their father's anger scarred his face. It widened when Zuko was banished, and widened further when she learned of his (surely impossible) new task. Now the unnecessary elements—Ursa, Zuko, Iroh and his son—had all been weeded out…now it was just Lord Ozai and her…

And one day, she mused, Lord Ozai would be dead. One day she would rule everything there was.

She chased Zuko, she chased the Avatar and his friends, and though she never quite defeated them, they never quite won. She was reunited with her own old friends, Mai and Ty Lee, and found that pretending to like them wasn't so hard this time around. She kept one eye opened at all times, and gathered allies and informants the way some girls gathered suitors. Ba Sing Se fell quickly enough, and the Dai Li agents bowed to her great strength.

She was reunited with her brother, who, as always, fell for her lies and turned against their uncle. Azula was pleased, because it was always smart to have an extra pawn lying around. She watched Zuko as he helped her fight the Avatar, however, and decided that, yes, he was still rather useless when all was said and done. He'd gotten a bit stronger, but he was hardly strong enough to be a danger.

Then again…that was no surprise. Even the Avatar wasn't strong enough to stop her in her tracks these days.

With one strong blow she sent the annoying little air bender crashing back to the ground, and her heart rose with pride and pleasure. She was stronger then the Avatar! She was stronger then his pathetic friends and her senile uncle and her stupid older brother, stronger then the very damn 'rules' that governed the world! She could rise past balance, and order, and the workings of the spirits! She was stronger then them all!

Iroh was brought back to the Fire Nation in chains, Azula was cheered as a hero—nothing, she knew, would dare to get in her way.

And so of course Azula knew about the invasion plan: she had her spies and she had her instincts. True, she didn't expect her brother's last, headstrong rebellion, but that was no great loss anyway.

(Now she could finally kill the fool without getting dirty looks.)

Even better, fighting the Avatar's group hadn't ceased to be fun. How exciting it had been to watch the peasant boy's face pale as she stalled them just long enough! How delightful it had been to smile at him so kindly, to breathe into his ear that, oh yes, Suki had been defeated, Suki had been captured, Suki had given up hope.

Even better, Azula saw that the boy had come to learn the bitter nature of his grim little struggle. Once Ty Lee had remarked that she found the naïve heroics the boy spouted cute, but there was no naivety now. She saw that he knew exactly what fate a pretty female captive had in store.

She saw him start to cry, and thought she had never been so amused.

As the eclipse wore off, as the Avatar and his friends fled the country, as their loved ones were left behind to suffer whatever fate Azula felt like giving them, Fire Lord Ozai sat in his secret room. He waited for his daughter—amazing, loyal, dutiful daughter—to report back to him and assure him that everything had gone just right.

And she did come.

Azula's hard eyes took in the mess, took in her father's disheveled appearance, and realized that her worthless brother had escaped after all. Somehow, Ozai had let him get away.

The Fire Lord had ceased to be useful, she decided. She would have to get rid of him very soon.

"Father," she said sweetly. "Everything is going according to plan."

"These violent delights have violent ends . . ."
--William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet