Dreams of Fire

Disclaimer: I do not own Avatar: The Last Airbender or any of the characters there within, they are property of Mike and Bryan.

Zuko awoke in a bed that had been hastily made up for him the night before when he had collapsed, a bed and frame taken from somewhere and, to Zuko's surprise, matching sheets and quilts. The servants may have been rushed, but they certainly kept an eye for detail, no matter what the disaster. The boy pushed himself up onto his elbows and looked around him. This looked like the chamber that adjoined his room to Azula's. Apparently, the servants did not feel comfortable allowing the siblings to be kept too close together; Azula was still ill after all…wasn't she?

Zuko squinted in determination and sat up fully, rubbing the sleep from his eyes.

He was going to find out.


Awaken, Princess.

Azula opened her eyes.

The girl found herself lying curled on her side, her finest silken robes of red and gold hugging lovingly around her body. The silk was comfortably soft and…cool. Oh, the simple pleasure of coolness surrounding her, kissing her skin, was absolute bliss after suffering so much heat for so long. The sensation that had woken her faded and she felt herself slipping back into a peaceful sleep, when the soft call stirred her again.

My darling, beautiful princess who knows no bounds. Rise.

Azula's eyes fluttered open again, and as though an unseen power lifted gently on her arms, she was helped to stand.

There, entwined at her feet, were thick, massive cables of scales, all sliding over one another with a graceful fluidity. It took her a moment to realize that it was not water that danced around her so magically, but instead the azure dragon that had haunted her fevered dreams. The voice spoke again, swollen with pride and affection.

Courageous and gifted Princess, it is done. My power is yours.

Azula's gaze unfocused for a moment, calling back the memory of the dream she had experienced, of a dragon leaping out of the blue flames created by her hands. Her hands! She raised her arms and examined her hands. Nothing seemed changed about them. She turned them over. Nothing new or different there either. Confusion was prickling in the back of the princess' mind. All she felt was a little tingly.

Eyes see not the change. Feel it.

Heeding the dragon's words, Azula closed her eyes and concentrated. She did not have to search far to find the power. The sheer power overflowing from her being; the awesomeness of the potential she met with made her freeze, which quickly melted into excitement, neither of which—the power or her delight—she could keep under control.

There. Summon it to you. You are its wielder, you are its master.

Barely a twitch of her muscle called her fire power forth, and to her sheer joy, the flames that erupted so easily into her palms were a brilliant blue. Azula couldn't breathe, she was so filled with pleasure. The rippling blue flames were the most beautiful she had ever seen. They were so fresh and new and they opened her eyes to the world again, her passion and confidence soared to higher, unimaginable peaks. Success would greet her at every turn. All would bow before her. She would be the best there ever was.

Darling Princess.

The great blue dragon's head crested slowly over its own coils that curled so lovingly around the princess' feet; his crown of horns towering majestically above him and his gray beard knowledgably beneath. His golden gaze met Azula's, and she saw satisfaction in them. She saw her reflection in his large eyes, and it was in them she saw herself: Young but not inexperienced, fierce intelligence, aggressive ambition, a girl filled with drive and purpose. She saw herself in her eyes; herself in completion.

You, who have endured the trials, are awarded the gift.

Smite your enemies. Protect your ambitions.

The dragon opened his mouth wide.

Awaken your potential.

Blue flames poured out from his mouth and engulfed the princess, but there was no threatening heat, no flames that desired to consume her flesh.

Awaken.

There was only power.

And those too weak to use it.

Awaken!


Azula opened her eyes.

She stared uncomprehendingly at a dark red canopy draped over a four poster bed. She blinked, what was this strange new place? Where had the blue dragon taken her now? She pushed herself up onto her elbows, the floor beneath her cushioned her elbows, no, not a floor, a bed. Red covers spread over a large bed. Her eyes drew up and across the room. Room. She was back in her room? No, not her room. Something was wrong about it. Her thoughts were still clouded, when they began to formulate into clear paths of connection as recognition dawned on her.

Of course. She had tried to bend lightning. She had succeeded, but something had gone wrong. She had been racked with a fever for some time; doctors were there, her father…her brother.

Zuko had been there for her entire ordeal. Whenever she woke to the real world, barely able to make heads or tales from her heated stupor, she would see Zuko at the edge of her bed, her constant companion. A different kind of warmth washed over Azula. One she could not describe, something she did not fully understand. She pushed the confusing feelings away and shook her head to clear it.

Zuko's room. She was in Zuko's room. That's why it looked so unfamiliar. Why did he have his bed facing away from the door? Idiot. He rearranged his things in the worst possible way. A bed should face the door, like the palace doors faced the sun. Why wasn't she in her own room anyway?

Shock lanced through Azula.

That's right, she had burned her bed.

And now that she remembered why—

The princess kicked back the covers and shoved herself to the edge of the bed, with much more strength than she had exhibited since her illness had taken its relentless hold, and taking a stupendous leap (aided by the bedsprings) she sprang for the hallway that led out to the sibling's private courtyard. Too excited to care that she was still in her nightgown, Azula sprinted for the outdoors.

Once outside, she inhaled a deep, freeing breath or fresh air, all those days with doctors and their stinky herbal medicinal remedies could do horrors to a girl's sense of smell. Her returning strength doubled as she felt the warming and powerful rays of the sun on her face. Inhaling a more controlled breath to firebend, she pushed one arm out, focused, and drew an arc back to herself, then thrust out her palm. A jet of blue fire roared out in the direction she desired. She exhaled the rest of her controlled breath in a triumphant "Ha!" Sheer exhilaration fueling her, filling her entire being, Azula threw a fisted punch with her other hand to similar results.

She kicked. Blue flames erupted into a beautiful arc.

She roundhouse kicked. A longer arc of blue rose into the sky.

Punch.

Punch.

Kick.

Thrust.

Kick.

Sprial.

Punch.

Azula launched a fierce barrage of practiced maneuvers, one set lapsing right into the other, and each move releasing that pure ecstasy of azure flame that she did not dare stop. Beads of sweat were forming on her forehead, but she ignored her aching exhaustion, she had slept enough! She would perform every move she had ever trained for, every exercise she had learned with this new power. Twice over. No, a hundred times over! She would practice until she was as flawless and beautiful as her blue flames.

She imagined an enemy and beat him mercilessly down. Taking him out in an easy three strikes, she drew her hands and legs into a victory tiger pose, clawed hands at the ready should he foolishly choose to rise again.

"WOW!"

Azula jumped in surprise and spun sharply to face none other than her brother, Zuko. He was running to her from across the courtyard, his face pressed back into that dopey, lop-sided smile he wore when something truly impressed him.

"How did you DO that?" he panted as he reached her, perhaps as excited for her as she was. Azula grinned broadly at him, this was not her usual smile when she was about to play a cruel trick on him. Her smile was just that: A pure, genuine smile of pleasure. Another rarity that he hardly ever saw anymore. And somewhere…somewhere in that smile was thanks. She knew that he had been there in her hour of need. The appreciation was apparent in her features. But Zuko couldn't be bothered with that at the moment…

"They were blue!" he gushed in awe at her newfound ability, never mind where it had come from. "Blue!" he panted four or five times more before he suddenly realized that his sister was no longer looking at him, but instead over his shoulder.

Zuko turned back to see his father standing just beyond the shadows of the hallway he had just come from. He was smiling. The prince felt a surge of elation, for his father rarely smiled. They were both happy to see Azula feeling better, as a family should feel.

The Firelord strode towards them, and Zuko suddenly found himself unable to stop babbling.

"She's all better, Dad. Azula's better! And now her firebending is blue! It's blue, Dad! D'you think it had something to do with her fever? That doesn't make sense, does it? I'm just glad she's better, aren't you? It's blue, Dad! Did you see it? Did you—"

But the Firelord had already passed his son and opened his arms to his daughter.

Azula gazed up at him with fiercely proud eyes, and their smiles matched.

"My little prodigy."

Azula jumped into his arms, still in her nightgown, sheeted with sweat, but none of these things seemed to bother the Firelord. Zuko stood by; silenced by the embrace he had been outcast from. This triumph was Azula's, not his. She had conquered her illness and even managed to improve her firebending skills somewhere after the event. She reserved the right to her father's affection. No matter what he had sacrificed to protect his sister, staying up all those nights to watch over her when their father was absent, pulling her from burning beds. He could at least be satiated in the fact that his sister had her health back. He would never wish ill on her again.

"We shall have to have a banquet in your honor?" Prince Ozai said as he pulled away from his daughter.

"With all my favorites?" Azula asked suggestively. Their father laughed.

"Of course. We shall arrange it for this evening. Now, come and show your father this new ability of yours." The Firelord began to escort his daughter to the larger main courtyard when Azula unexpectedly ducked out from under his arm and ran back to Zuko, who had been left behind.

"Come on," she tugged on his arm, smiling. "You want to see too, don't you?"

Zuko smiled widely and clutched to his sister's hand as they raced for the main courtyard, neither of them had any desire to let go.


Author's Note: This is one of those stories I wish I had finished before the finale, but I got tied up in appointments and work and whatnot. Bummer. At least I finally finished this story!

I really love it when these two fight, I guess I have an interest in sibling rivalry, but it it so cute when they get along, and that rare Ember Island episode really sparked a few stories for myself personally about their special, taut relationship. The brother and sister that got along when they were little. Zuko is just a darling, loving brother this whole story through, and I tried to give Azula that division, where she does care but she also devotes a lot of her caring to her abilities. I wanted to make that eventual change she makes in the storyline a subtle divide here. Hope I pulled it off.

Doesn't Ozai just pop up everywhere? I figure he deeply cares about Azula, his little child prodigy (deja vu), still ignores Zuko, and is a man of few words. The dismount--and stick!

I'm happy to have finally come back and finished this project, because Azula really grew to be one of my favorite characters--only to have her character (i.e personality) dashed in the finale. cries I'm bummed, but at the same time, not surprised. TT Well, this story is for the Azula who becomes Sozin's grandchild in ancestry; manipulative, conniving, and all around lovable!!

Anywho, I hope you all enjoyed the story and will drop me a review on what you thought of it!

Blackfire 18