Disclaimer: I don't own Avatar. Wish I did, though.
AN: This is not only a major spoiler for the Boiling Rock, it's a major spoiler to the most shocking scene in the entire hour-long block. Read at your own risk.
Also, in part because of this, it was specifically written in a way that it wouldn't make any sense unless you've seen the episode.
Edit: And yes, I apologize for spelling Mai's name wrong. It just... gah, it looks wrong with an 'a'. Mei makes sense phonetically... but alas, 'tis incorrect. So I fixed it. Thanks for for the note, Fialleril! I will also consider MaryPamPretzels' advice about (note that I make no promises) extending this story. After the end of the IB tests. When homework is just a distant nightmare of things past. Anyway, thank you for reading and for the reviews!
(Yes, I realize that I should be doing my homework. And studying. And making plans. And doing a lot of other productive stuff... but I felt the need to write this. I'll suffer the consequences later.)
Ty Lee learned her lesson a long time ago: don't question Azula. Don't argue with her, don't upstage her. Because Azula was power unbridled, perfection embodied. Because Azula was a goddess. And because she was a jealous goddess, who would allow no disloyalty, no stolen glory.
And Ty Lee had broken all of those sacred laws, defied her goddess. Azula had been good to her, after all. She'd given her adventure, individuality, excellence above anything her sisters could even imagine. Every wish had been granted, every whim had been fulfilled. And for that she deserved all the worship she was given. Undying respect. Unending devotion.
"It'll be all right."
And she knew what Mai did was wrong—of course it was wrong, it was stupid, it was blind—but it made sense, in her way. It was love, and that had to count for something. And somehow, in all her naivety, Ty Lee thought the Goddess would understand. But the thing she saw on her princess's face was anything but divine. It was jealous. It was cruel. It was vicious. And worst of all, it had been there all along.
"We'll think of something."
And still Ty Lee had remained there, frozen by her piety. She was a priestess, docile and obedient, and she was powerless to keep a Daughter of Heaven from her righteous justice. Except that it wasn't just, and no matter what Azula said, it wasn't right. And no matter what Mai had done, it wasn't worth dying for. Not this way. It was a mistake—a misunderstanding.
But Goddesses don't make mistakes.
In a single moment of clarity, Ty Lee finally understood what years of subservience had tried to wipe from her mind: that Azula wasn't a goddess at all, or a devil, or a spirit. Just human. Just another angry, greedy, hurtful human. And without another thought she struck.
"Are you feeling better now?" Mai asked as Ty Lee finally stopped sobbing. Her aura wasn't gray anymore—just blue now. Hurt. Heartbroken. But it was a strong blue—the color of finally knowing who she was. Ty Lee nodded and tried not to sniffle. "Don't worry—the warden's my uncle, remember? He won't let them split us up. And I won't let them hurt you." But the disgraced priestess shook her head and pulled away.
"We can't stay here," she said quietly. "And she can't—" Her voice broke, because it hurt too much to say. Because she knew the truth now, and she owed it the same loyalty that she had once paid her princess.
"She'll kill us if we try to stop her," Mai said. It was an empty caution, and it left her mouth with the same hollowness that her voice had possessed all her life before that morning. She knew the consequence. She just didn't care.
Ty Lee did, and it terrified her—but not enough.
Because she had seen the Goddess fall.