When flesh hits wall, something usually gives. Azula knows this, that it is either wall or bone that is crushed, fine powder or darkened blood. She does not have to try this to find out that she will lose against stone sides, but she intends to lose, a first. A lesser of two tragedies, she thinks. The humiliation is deafness that shatters inside her, glass falling like droplets, cutting her into innumerable segments. She cried when they bested her, howled like a beast of burden. The avatar removed her firebending. Her brother removed her title. And now she plans to remove herself, away from the prison cell. She intends to leave her body behind.
Azula looks down at her hands, grubby and dark under the moons of her fingernails. Her back to the door, she faces the opposite side of her cell, curling her fingers into fists and striking the surface. Slow movements, sharp movements. They increase in speed and intensity, skin giving way to blisters, blood, and granite. She can feel her bones and their weariness. She curses her hands, unable to strike lightning now- useless, utterly useless. She will not need them where she is going, if she is going anywhere at all.
At first, it was her forehead that she wanted to slam against cold, but her vanity would not allow it. Dying beautiful and young and proud was the only way to really go. Blood loss would take over from there. Arrogant to the very end, but she does not smile at her musing.
The blood smells rank when mingled with prison shit and dirt, and she coughs, the first sound that escaped her mouth since her imprisonment. Body meets ground. Azula feels her head lightened and empty, clean slate, purified and sanctified. She closes her eyes.
Hurried footsteps. The door opens. Her brother's voice is what she hears, along with the murmuring of guards. There is warmth and cold fighting for dominance in her body, and she feels them both, as well as cloth and skin and embracing. She is bitter. Azula makes an attempt to shout and twist, but is unable to do so. Cold wins the battle, and she can only shiver.
"Mother was scared of you, so you clung to father for love that he is so unable to provide."
She does not speak. Zuko's voice quivers. She wants to crush his neck in her bleeding hands, but her fingers are limp.
"I should have tried harder to love you, and clearly I didn't try hard enough."
She feels fingers through her filthy hair. She knows this is not pity. She knows it is true, but she wants to lie. She wants him to be a liar, but Zuko was never one to be skilled at pretending.
Her tears come and they blur her eyes, stabbing like little pinpricks. Azula can feel herself being carried, and the sorrow of her brother flutters in her chest. A sigh leaves her. So tired.
In the smothering warmth of Zuko's arms she loses the urge to end his life, and for once is so, so afraid, for remorse is new to her.