"Incompetent peasant," muttered Azula darkly, as she stalked down the shadowed hall.
She'd been in a war council, when a couple of snivelling servants had bustled in, mumbling and stuttering.
"My lord," mimicked Azula, "My Lord, we have a sit...situation…concerning Pr...Prince Zuko."
The flames had risen ever so slightly.
"Situation?" the Fire Lord had asked, with a deadly calm.
"Well…my Lord…" the peasant gulped, the second hiding behind his comrade as discreetly as possible. "When we went to ...to Prin..Prince Zuko's quarters…to ready him for the day….his…his door was locked-"
"Prince Zuko never locks his door," the other had piped up.
"Yes…yes…Prince Zuko never locks his door…We…we had th..thought that he ha...had risen early…but…but we looked everywhere…and …we couldn't find him anywhere-"
"Not anywhere, my Lord!"
"Not anywhere," the first agreed, "And…we don't know what to do, my Lord…"
The servant bowed his head, as if the shame of not being able to find the prince weighed too heavy for his neck to hold up.
Or maybe he feared the Fire Lords wrath.
Ozai, however, was not interested in the bumbling fool. Slowly, almost calmly, he turned to his daughter.
"Azula! Deal with the…situation."
She'd been so tempted to refuse; after all, she wasn't Zuko's wake-up caller.
But, the promise of catching her brother out was too great.
So, here she was, off to wake up wittle Zuzu, like some nit-wit nurse-maid.
She finally arrived at her brother's chambers, and briefly considered, blasting the door to ash.
But no, she smiled with sweet malice; we don't want to give poor Zuzu a heart attack.
Resorting to a trick she'd taught her-self when she was young, she bent down and pulled a pin out of her bun. Inserting it into the lock, she prodded right , then left, then down, then flicked it up.
She smirked when she heard a satisfying click.
Placing the pin back in her bun, Azula gently eased the door open.
Seeing no-one, she opened the door further. But stopped, when she heard something other than the wall connect with the door.
Azula looked down and frowned.
Sitting in Zuko's doorway, upside-down, was a mask.
Bending, she picked it up and slowly turned it over.
The Blue Spirit.
Immediately she was on her guard. What could the Blue Spirit possibly be doing in Zuko's room? And why the hell was his mask in the door way?!!!!!
She shot a quick glance around the hall, searching for signs of a fight.
What she saw instead confused her, a rare experience for the Fire Lords daughter, and all the more frightening because of the sensations rarity.
Still clutching the blue spirit mask, Azula walked over to the object and picked it up.
Azula recognised the new thing as well.
The Painted Lady.
The princess had read all the reports, and while vague in some areas, they left no doubt in her mind that this was the supposed spirit's veil.
Shaking her head, she concentrated on her ever growing list.
What was the Blue Spirit's mask doing in Zuko's doorway?
What was the Painted Lady's veil doing in Zuko's hallway?
Where was the Blue Spirit?
Where as the Painted Lady?
WHERE THE HELL WAS ZUKO??!!!
Making a decision, Azula dropped both the mask and veil, and continued searching Zuko's room. The further she got, the more she found.
First, it was a black shirt, male, that appeared to have been thrown roughly at the wall. Across from the shirt was a pair of female shoes, which sent the princesses eyebrows up. Very close, was a pair of male knee high boots, again appearing to have been thrown at the wall. By now Azula's eyes were wide.
Then she noticed a bundle. She picked it up and turned it over in her hands. The material was a deep purple, corse and thick. Holding it out, Azula realised what it was.
The Painted Lady's dress.
What the HELL was going ON around here????!!!!!!!
Dropping the dress, Azula came to Zuko's actual bedchamber. And froze.
There were clothes spayed all over the fall.
There was a pair of black pants, a pair of red pants, a red top and, Azula shuddered, a pair of Zuko's underpants. There were also two white bundles.
Picking one up, she held it out. Sucking in a breath, she gagged, and flung the offending clothing away. It was a bra. A water-tribe bra.
Azula froze. She'd gotten an idea. A stupid, ridiculous, preposterous, impossible idea.
No…it couldn't be…
Slowly, hesitantly, fearfully, Azula turned to Zuko's bed
And almost fainted.
For there, clearly naked under the silken sheet, was her brother, rapped in the embrace of the water bender. The Avatar's water bender. The Avatar's obviously naked water bender.
Azula couldn't move, couldn't breathe.
Then Zuko shifted, and his…companion…snuggled into his shoulder, while his arm tightened around her waist under the sheet.
And Azula was free from her shocked trance.
Azula had never run away from anything in fear.
Azula ran away trembling.