An Azula-centric fanfic.
Disclaimer: One princess was severely and repeatedly hurt in the making of this piece of fanfiction. Details below.
This is the last chapter, and as an added bonus since you've been such a nice bunch of readers, it's also extra long. Since no one solved the cipher, it remains, and no one gets credit. Sucks to be you.
Even if it's finished, I'll try to answer all reviews and messages. This time around, I don't have to worry about spoilers, so feel free to ask if there's anything.
/ Another Duck
G U R E R V F A B F H P U G U V A T N F B I R E X V Y Y
G U R E R V F A B F H P U G U V A T N F B I R E X V Y Y
Ba Sing Se recovered soon after Koh's defeat. The souls returned to their bodies as they weren't yet dead. After all, separating the soul from the body was a rather unnatural process, and the balance strived towards the equilibrium where it belonged, without the force that kept them apart.
Aang and Katara arrived at the Northern Water Tribe's capital. Appa had gotten his well-deserved rest, and later a large meal, so he was quite happy to fly and check on how Sokka and Azula were doing. Not to mention, people treated him well there.
The most likely person to go to was Yugoda, the master healer, so they landed outside the house she taught healing in. It was readily apparent that only three individuals were inside, and just the people they wanted to see.
"Hello, Yugoda!" greeted Katara.
"Katara! I was expecting you to show up sometime. How are you, my child?"
"I'm well myself, but I'm worried about my brother. How is he?"
"He is sleeping now, but he could wake up any time now. He was awake a while ago."
"So they did get here in time," concluded Aang with no small amount of relief.
"Yes, he's quite lucky to have such a dedicated friend, but I'm afraid she didn't fare quite so well. When they were seen crashing here, one of our benders managed to slow their fall, so they weren't injured from that. Your friend here was barely conscious, but she repeated the words 'heal Sokka' and 'spirit water,' so we knew it was urgent."
Katara nodded in agreement. "I tried to heal him before they took off, but without the spirit water, his wounds were simply too severe."
Returning the nod, Yugoda continued her tale about what happened. "He would've died without it, I'm sure. It helped that the Moon didn't want him to die either," she added thoughtfully. "But as I said, your friend was less lucky. I can heal wounds and cure diseases, but I can't restore someone's spirit. She's very weak, and if she doesn't wake up soon, I'm not sure she ever will."
"Who are you talking about?" The words were groggy, but brought two huge smiles to the newcomers.
"Sokka!" Katara threw her arms around her brother. "I'm so glad you're all right!"
Aang took it with a bit more moderation, but still joined in the hug.
While happy his friend and sister were overjoyed to see him, he hadn't gotten his question answered. However, it wasn't hard to figure out the answer. "Were you talking about Azula? What happened to her?"
"Do you mean Azula, as in the daughter of Ozai?" asked Yugoda with a shocked expression. At the affirmative nod, she went on. "This is princess Azula? I never expected her, of all people, to set her own life aside for one of our people."
"Trust me," began Aang, "she's surprised all of us as well. She's changed."
Sokka was still not getting his questions answered. "But how is she now?"
"She is very weak, and asleep."
Rising to his feet, slowly, he went over to her bed. She was sleeping peacefully, but she was very pale. He'd seen her both unconscious and asleep before, but she always had an aura of strength around her. This time, she lacked it, and it made her look vulnerable. He placed a hand on her forehead, and noted that she was feeling like any other of his tribe. However, she wasn't one of the Water people. She was a Fire Nation girl.
"She'll be better if we raise the heat here."
"Is there something wrong with the heat here? I find it quite comfortable, and none of my patients have ever complained."
"No, there's nothing wrong with it for us. But she's a firebender, and to her this is cold."
"Very well. You two," she pointed at Aang and Katara, "Move her bed closer to the fire. And you, Sokka, should be in bed. You're still wounded."
"I will when she's all right." He followed her recommendation as far as not helping with the bed. He could feel the pain in his chest when he moved, so trying to do anything strenuous was right out.
A few moments later, Azula was lying close enough to the fire to make the healer worry for her safety, but with the Avatar there, she felt a little better about it. "I have a few things to take care of. I would ask you to watch over her, but I believe that would be somewhat redundant."
Azula didn't wake up that day, but somehow, she was looking a little more content after the change. With further aid of both Katara and Yugoda, Sokka's wounds healed up enough to only leave a scar on his chest. There was also some pain when he did anything laborious, but he could do it without causing further harm.
G U R E R V F A B F H P U G U V A T N F B I R E X V Y Y
The light was a comfortable shade of blue, and it was quiet. When she opened her eyes they quickly adjusted to her surroundings, even if her mind struggled to keep up. It was hazy, and the unknown location didn't help either. However, she was at peace. There was nothing to fear where she was. A cosy fire to her right, and a large, open room to her left.
She wasn't tired, but she lacked strength. It would've been discomforting, but she knew what she had spent that energy on. It was well worth it. She had succeeded. As she smiled to herself she heard someone come towards her. Closing her eyes, she planned on waiting to see who it was.
The person sat quietly down next to her bed. "Hey, Azula, still asleep?" It was Sokka. The thought that he was well and sound warmed her heart. She heard him make a funny noise, then cough slightly. It wasn't a sick cough, though, just as if he swallowed in the wrong way. "You're looking better today. Not so pale, and almost back to normal."
She was aware that people sometimes talked to those sick in bed, whether they were awake or not, so hearing him talk to what he thought was himself didn't really bother her. If anything, she was curious as to what he'd say.
"I wanted to thank you for what you did. I know you flew me here from Ba Sing Se." He took her hand, and she tried to relax. "I also know why you did it. You care about me, maybe more than you realise, or just more than you express."
He was right. She hadn't shown much to him in earnest, but she also knew he was more perceptive than he let on. He should have picked up on some of her feelings. There was no way he could outmanoeuvre her as he had without at least being relatively skilled in reading people, or at least, reading her.
"I crave for you. Your mind, your body, your lips. All of you."
The sudden admission wasn't something she was prepared for, and blood flowed to her face before she could control herself. However, her lack of strength made it hard to manage doing much of anything against it anyway. She could feel him lean forward as his breath brushed the side of her face. She was sure he had to know she was awake by now.
"You're also very cute when you blush, Azula."
Yes, he knew. Not that it helped her cool her flushing face down. Rather the opposite. "Rub it in, why don't you?" she muttered with a rasping voice, hampered by lack of use. While terribly embarrassed, she was a little amused. And Sokka was probably the person she was the most comfortable being this open with. He'd seen worse from her, any way you interpret it.
"Hey, you're the one who pretended to still be asleep."
"What gave me away?" She opened her eyes and looked up at him.
"Even if you breath slowly now, it's still faster than when you're asleep. So I knew as soon as I entered."
"I have to be more careful with you. You're not as dumb as you make yourself appear to be."
He scratched his head. "Do you mean that as an insult or a compliment?"
Merely smiling, she tightened her hand against his. "I know you just said what you just did to get a rise out of me, so I'm going to ignore that, but I do have something I want to tell you. I have feelings for you too."
"Well, I was exaggerating, but I wasn't lying. My words are still true."
"There is one thing I wonder about, though. Why did you choose that moment to tell me? I know you didn want to hurt me, but I'd think there would be a better moment to pick."
"I don't want to tell you. It's going to make me sound like a jerk."
Smirking, she raised an eyebrow at him. "Would I let that stop me?"
"You've got a point. I told you then because I was afraid you'd just throw it off and laugh. That it would just bounce off of those emotional walls you were so proud of. I just didn't trust you enough back then."
"You'd be right, you would sound like a jerk, if it wasn't for one, small detail. I probably would've reacted like that. But after you said it, well, let's just say that walls aren't very effective once you're inside them."
"I still don't know what your reaction was. I just saw your face turn red, and the camp fire turn green."
"Honestly, I just figured out the green flames after we defeated Koh." She paused to give him a meaningful glance. "When I realised you would die if we couldn't get you healed up in time. And if I hadn't figured it out, I'd be better off leaving you to Aang." Her eyes went briefly in the other direction as she bit her lip thoughtfully. "Or maybe that would've been the better idea from the start."
Being impatient while she considered the alternative, he decided to nudge her on. "So, what was it?"
She would give him an answer. He wouldn't likely like one part of how she planned on giving it, although she quite believed he would like the other part. "I'm probably going to pass out, but don't worry. I'm experienced with this."
The way she said that last bit didn't sit right with him. It didn't sound as if it was an experience she wanted to have. "Azula, don't hurt yourself just to show me something."
She had to smile at his predictability. It was occasionally endearing. "I won't be hurting." Placing one hand on the left side of the bed, and using the other to grab his shoulder, she pulled herself up towards him. It took a lot more effort than she expected, but it would be worth it. Feeling the blood rush from the sudden rise, she knew had to act quickly. Pressing her lips against his, she had planned on giving him an intense kiss, but her lack of strength made it rather soft instead.
Not that he complained. Something he would complain about was the way her head rolled over to his shoulder and swayed a little back and forth. He was just about to ask how she was doing when he noticed the fireplace behind her. It was burning a bright green. She didn't go unconscious after all, or even close enough to lose control of the flames.
When her head stopped swimming, she remained where she was, leaning on him. She was getting way too used to these rushes. "See?"
"I see," he responded. The flames enticed him in a way that kept his attention for almost a minute. "And it doesn't look nearly as insane as your blue fire. Just very, very weird."
"Do you think I should switch to this?" Her question was somewhat serious. There were advantages to it, but also drawbacks to the green flames. Stronger and more intense, but they required a focus that was hard to keep in a battle.
"Nah, I like blue better, and it suits you."
She raised an eyebrow, somewhat accusing, but also somewhat entertained. "So you still think I'm insane?"
"Of course I do."
"You sure know how to make a girl feel good." After a while, she pushed away from him so she could look him in the eyes. "But do you know what would make me feel even better?" Her look turned into a gaze, irises sparkling.
"Some food. I'm starving." Sparkling of humour.
He gave her a quick kiss and rose up. "I'm a little bit hungry myself, but Katara said she'd bring some breakfast in a bit. You just get some rest meanwhile. You look like you could use it."
"I'm not tired. Just... drained."
"You told me before that if you used firebending until you drained yourself, it would take a while for you to recover, but you also said it wouldn't take this long. I'm not sure how long I was asleep, but I've been awake for a few days now. What really happened?"
"Pushing yourself to that point isn't too hard, but it wasn't enough to reach this city. I was still over the sea by the time I had no energy left to bend."
"So how did you make it?"
"I sort of burned up what's essentially my own life to get here. My spirit." Rather than the usual confidence, she was a little out of countenance. She wasn't used to telling someone what she gave up for him, in particular something as important as this.
"I didn't even think that was possible." There wasn't much he knew about it, but he had gathered some of Aang's and Yugoda's theories.
"Neither did I, but I took what I had. I couldn't give up. Not to save my life. Not to give up yours." A hint of the determination she'd shown that night shone through as her eyes glazed over.
"Your family is so stubborn."
"It's one of our few redeeming virtues." Someone who didn't know her would take the comment as prideful. Someone who did know her would know that while the pride was true, it was also laced with humour.
"Sokka, are you in here?" It was Katara's voice that came from the entrance.
"Here's your..." Her words were halted when he discovered that Azula was sitting up. "Oh, you're awake now. How do you feel?"
"I'm all right. Just drained. And hungry."
"I can imagine. You've not eaten for several days." Katara looked the other girl over. She was a bit on the skinny side, and seemed rather exhausted. "You can have mine," she added after some thought. "I'll just head back and eat with Aang." There was a table nearby upon which she placed the two dishes. Just as she was about to leave, Azula stopped her.
"Katara, what do you know of spiritual regeneration?"
"Um, not much. I'll ask if Aang or Yugoda knows anything. I'll see you later."
Apparently, Azula noted as she began to eat, the tribe here also favoured fish for breakfast. Not that she minded, although it could use a little more spices. Fire Nation food tended to be richer in that. When Katara had left, Sokka gave the remaining girl a concerned glance.
"You're afraid," he stated simply. "Why?"
"That obvious, huh?"
"It is when you're not trying to hide it."
Now that she thought of it, she didn't really have the willpower to hide her emotions. Actually, she found she lacked willpower in general, and she knew why.
"People can't normally use their own spirit to power their bending. I didn't think I would be able to, but I suppose the situation was dire enough. Since it's not something natural, I don't know if I'll ever regain my full strength."
"And you knew this when you did it?"
"I assumed it would kill me at that time," she stated as a matter of factly.
"You didn't have to ruin your own life to save mine. It's a little over where I draw the line."
"But that's exactly why I did it. I know you still thought of me as an enemy when we met at the South Pole, but you still helped me out. You saved me from drowning, gave me clothes, food, and a place to stay, all without asking for anything in return. And yet, you still prefer to die if it meant I wouldn't have to sacrifice my powers for you. There's no way I can choose myself over someone like you."
"Why not?" He knew the answer, but wanted her to say it.
"Because I'm following my very own conscience." In the end, that was what kept her from breaking down again, unlike that other time when she did break down when she lost everything she had ever wanted. Of course, this time she still had one thing left. She might have lost her ability to become the greatest firebender ever, but she'd accomplished the goal she set out for when she left the Fire Nation palace. And she'd gained something else she didn't expect.
"I'm proud of you, Azula."
Even though she thought he sounded a little belittling, it was also sincere. Regardless of which, she soaked it up eagerly with a wide smile.
A little after they had finished eating, Aang entered.
"It's nice to see you awake, Azula."
"You know, you'd think I'd get used to people being happy to see me alive and well, but I'm not sure I want to," she noted wryly.
"Katara told me you wanted to know about spiritual regeneration. I haven't checked you out, but is this why you're weak now?"
"Yes. I used my spirit to fuel the flames that brought me the last distance here."
"That shouldn't be possible. Some people can tap into their spirit to do extraordinary things, but if this is what you've done to almost kill yourself, I don't know how you did it."
"What's the problem with it? You use energy to bend, and using your spirit to do the same doesn't seem too different to me."
"Sokka, you're not a bender, so you wouldn't see the difference. Or to put it this way, you can use your spirit, but it's akin to trying to choke yourself by holding your breath. It takes a lot of concentration, so you'll soon be too weak to do it any more."
"Well, I've done that. Will I recover?"
"It's possible, but it will take time. At best, I'd guess weeks. But more likely, years. I can show you a meditation technique that will help."
Sokka brightened up, as this was something he could actually help with. Or at least, offer his wisdom, brief as it was. "Do you think being at the Spirit Oasis would help? At least it's warm there."
"That's an excellent suggestion, Sokka! Azula, follow me."
She initially just watched him leave, then rose up. Or at least, she tried to. Just sitting up had been a chore, and standing took even more out of her. Noticing her struggle, Sokka quickly swung her arm around his neck, lifted her up to a standing position, and supported her while she walked. It took them a while, but eventually they reached their goal. Luckily, it hadn't been far, as they were already in the same part of the city.
"I can see why you thought this place would help. It's so peaceful here."
Aang didn't show any reaction to how Azula got there, but eventually Sokka helped her sit down in front of the small pond at the spirit gate.
"Get well," was all the water tribesman said to her. Before leaving, he knelt down in front of the pond and whispered, "Take care of her, Yue." The white fish briefly stopped swimming around to look at him and then continued to circle as if nothing happened.
The technique the Avatar showed the princess was one similar to what she already knew, so it came easily to her. Within minutes, she was meditating, and already feeling her spirit answer to the tranquil environment.
"There are some people who arrived for the festival. I need to go and greet them. I'll leave you alone for a few hours so you can focus properly."
"Thank you, Aang, I appreciate it." She paused and opened her eyes to look at him. "And you know, all of this, it's reminded me of something."
"I'm ready to be judged." She let out a breath, almost as if he would judge her right there and then, but she knew he'd never do that.
"What do you mean?"
She remembered what the dragon had said, and paraphrased. "Judgement would come when I was ready."
"So that thought just came to you?"
"Yeah." His phrasing struck a chord in her memory. "Wait a minute. That's what it meant. I was judged. I just didn't realise it then. I knew you were behind this!" She emphasised it by pointing at him accusingly.
"I don't know anything. I'm just the Avatar." She could almost hear him whistle innocently, even if he didn't.
"Exactly." She glared at him to try to coax an answer out of him, but at the same time, she knew she'd gotten everything she'd ever get out of him with regards to this. "Just the bridge between this world and the spirit world. Nothing else."
"Well, I must be going now. You have fun!" Just as Sokka had done, the Avatar showed his respect to the two fishes by bowing to them.
The firebender was a little curious as to why, but guessed it had something to do with the holiness of the location. She spent some time meditating. While she didn't feel any change other than what she had felt initially, she was confident it would have effect in time. However, she didn't get more time than that alone. Someone interrupted her solitude.
A Kyoshi Warrior came within sight, and when she spotted the previously meditating girl, it became obvious who it was. Her movement pattern was rather unique. In a few bounces, Ty Lee was inches away from her friend. Contrary to her normal mood, the acrobat seemed distraught over something.
"Azula, what happened to you? Your aura is so tiny."
Leave it to Ty Lee to figure what's wrong with her at a single glance. "Ty Lee, I'm fine. I'm just a little... burnt out."
"A little? You look half dead! You're at the right place, though. This place is excellent for healing, so whoever found you this place is a genius."
Now that was a change of topic she didn't mind. "It was actually the one of the Avatar's friends you think is so cute."
"Ooh, Sokka! Yes, he's smart. You should hook up with him."
Azula smirked. She couldn't have set that up better herself, and that's saying something. "Way ahead of you."
Ty Lee gaped. She'd only meant it as a joke. Azula and Sokka? Now that was news worthy of travelling the world for. But first things first. "So, is he as good of a kisser as Suki tells me?"
"Ty Lee!" However her initial reaction may have been, the expectant look on the other girl's face made her relent. "I think he is, but I'm not sure. I was busy trying to not pass out at the time."
"That sounds... I don't know what to think about that."
"I'd just woken up after bringing him here. The journey here is why I burned off all my energy, and my spirit as well, as you obviously can see."
"I didn't think that was possible."
"I know, I know, everyone says that. I don't know how either, but I managed. Otherwise, both Sokka and I would've died. I'm going to be fine, though. Aang showed me a meditation technique that will help me regain my strength."
"Hmm, that's good. But you know, there's something about this place." Ambulating around a bit and examining the surroundings, she came to a conclusion. "There's a lot of spiritual energy here, and I think we can speed up your recovery by a lot. I just need to ask for permission."
"Permission? From whom?" They were alone as far as she could see, but she had an idea that there were some kind of spirits around.
"The two spirits swimming in the pond, naturally. Didn't you know?"
The fishes? That explains it. "Which spirits are they?"
"I don't know." She lied down on her stomach to regard the two fishes. "The black one's some kind of water spirit, I believe. The white one has a very silvery aura. I think it just may be the Moon Spirit."
"The moon was full and guiding my way when I flew here. I'll have to thank her for that."
"I can hear you, you know." A white-clad, pale girl rose from the surface of the water.
"Ooh! Are you the Moon Spirit, lady?"
"That I am, Ty Lee. I'm Yue, and my companion here is La, the Ocean Spirit."
"You have a shiny aura. It's pretty."
"So, anyway, I wanted to ask you for permission to use the spiritual energy here to heal Azula. I know she's done some bad things in the past, but she's really good now, I promise!"
"I know what she has done, and I'm grateful for it. Azula, I gave you the choice of sacrificing part of your own spirit in exchange for Sokka's life, and you did so with the belief that it would kill you. Ty Lee, if you would open Azula's pressure points as you had planned to do, I will bestow a gift upon her."
Nodding, she went behind the princess, who was still sitting down in a the position she had meditated in. "This is going to hurt a bit," warned Ty Lee before striking her friend sharply three times in the back and once in the neck.
If she had been someone else, she'd take note of the pain from the blows, but this was Azula. She could feel the energies of the room start to seep through her as soon as the last hit had connected.
"Thank you. It would be best if you left now. I do not want your pink aura to be disturbed."
"Good luck, you two!" She bowed and left the same, energetic way she entered.
"This is not a permanent gift as the one I received from the previous Moon Spirit. As your own spirit strengthens, and you will need my gift less and less, it will return to me. Now, meditate and bond with the spiritual energy in this sacred place."
"How long will it take?"
"No longer than a month. Maybe a week if you meditate often."
"I have to wonder why I was so cruel in a world with so much kindness. I do have one final question to ask you. Why would you give me this, if I would heal on my own anyway?"
"It pains me that Sokka feels guilt that you did this."
"Why is he so special to you?"
"That is more than one question. You will have to ask him about that. I bid you farewell, but I will always watch over the two of you. You have my blessing."
"Thank you." As Azula bowed while still sitting down, Yue dropped down into the pond again, to continue swimming alongside her eternal companion.
G U R E R V F A B F H P U G U V A T N F B I R E X V Y Y
The day turned into evening, and the skies darkened. While she hadn't eaten anything since breakfast, Azula felt rejuvenated. She was still hungry, but it didn't really bother her. Being full of strength she previously lacked made up a lot for the few protests from her stomach. However, for the time being, she would take a break from her meditation.
When she exited the small, circular door to the oasis she noticed someone standing guard. Apparently, Ty Lee hadn't gone far, although she wasn't exactly vigilant. The princess wondered if she was actually snoring softly, but she was most definitely asleep. Standing in front of her, Azula decided to see how awake the guard actually was.
Ty Lee jumped half a metre in the air and stood quickly alert in a formal stance. Then she noticed a smiling Azula in front of her and frowned. "Don't scare me like that!"
"Have you been standing here since you left?"
"Yes. I couldn't let anyone in to disturb you. If it would hurt my aura, it would hurt anyone else's, so I informed them of that. But look at you!" The energetic teen started smiling broadly. "Your aura is all shiny again!" Pausing she noticed a difference with some bewilderment. "And it's more silvery than it used to be."
"Is it, now? You know, I learned something new about it a week ago. Come on! Share your inner joy! I want to show you something." Taking the acrobats hand and twirling her around in a dance move, she began smiling in earnest.
"It's so wonderful to see you happy."
"I've regained my strength, my life has taken a strong turn upwards, and I'm channelling my inner Ty Lee. How can I not be happy?"
"Your inner... me?" Giving her a quizzical look that soon gave way for amazement, she clapped her hands together merrily. "Ooh! Your aura is turning pink! How do you do that?"
"Emotional control isn't all about suppressing. Displaying and opening up also play great parts in it. Of course, there's a real reason I learned that." Taking a deep breath, she tilted her head towards the skies, and let out a rather large, and very pink flame as she exhaled.
"Your fire has never been prettier! I almost wish I could touch it." She was jumping in place and giggling like the little girl she occasionally behaved as.
"Although I must admit," the firebender began as she took the flames in her hands so she could talk, "I would never have figured this out without you. Your incessant talk about your aura led me to believe there was a connection to how I could create fire of different colours. So, naturally, I tried out pink first."
Ty Lee was about to say something, but a huge yawn put a stop to it.
"Go to bed, Ty. It's late."
"You're right. But then you'll have to tell me about Sokka some other time. Promise me that."
Azula wasn't one to gossip, but with this particular friend, the case was slightly different. "Sure. Just get some sleep."
"Okay!" After giving the taller girl a hug and a kiss on the cheek, she was off in her usual manner.
As she was now alone again, the firebender's mood turned back towards the more serene it had been while meditating. Pondering if getting some sleep would be a good idea, she found she wasn't quite in the mood for that just yet. It was hard to feel sleepy while being so full of energy, literally. She wasn't sure where to go, though.
G U R E R V F A B F H P U G U V A T N F B I R E X V Y Y
Sokka was standing on the bridge where he'd almost kissed Yue. Gazing up at the full moon, he was feeling a little melancholy. It had been brief, but he did love the girl who turned into the Moon Spirit. He'd gotten over her in terms of romance, but there was still a special place in his heart for her.
She'd sacrificed herself to serve her nation, and the spirits. It saddened him, but it also made him proud to be part of her life, even if it wasn't for long. The new girl in his life almost did the same, but not to serve her nation. It was to serve him. He wondered what Yue would think about that, but his thoughts were interrupted by a shadow.
Floating towards him on blue flames was one of the girls his mind was focused on. Although, looking closer, he saw that the flames weren't exactly blue. They had a much more silvery hue to them, much like the moon above the Fire Nation. It might've been the overly red environment, but the moon always seemed a little bluer there than elsewhere. Much like the flames that carried Azula.
She landed softly on her knees on the railing and gazed into his eyes. "Hey."
Helping her down to the ground, he smiled back at her. "Hey. I see you're all right now."
"I am. What's on your mind?"
"I was just... thinking about the last time I was here."
His voice held a solemn tone, which she picked up on. While she didn't have all the pieces, she could make a few educated guesses. "About Yue?"
It didn't really surprise him that she knew. She was rather perceptive, after all. Her appearance had also reminded him of his former girlfriend, as she had been after she ascended. As she currently was. "Do you know about her?"
"Not really. I know she's a rather nice Moon Spirit who watches over you. She told me to ask you about why, although I think I can guess."
He missed the implication in his distraction, and went on to tell the story. "When she was born, she was dying, but Tui, the Moon Spirit back then, healed her. Years later, when I came here the first time, Yue was the princess, and I eventually fell in love with her. The Fire Nation attacked, and they killed Tui. But since part of her spirit was within Yue, she took the place as the new Moon Spirit."
"So your other princess girlfriend turned into the moon? That would explain why she was so eager to help me when I brought you here. She's the one who granted me the choice of using my own spirit to fuel my fire. But you don't need to feel guilty about it any longer. She gifted me with part of her own spirit so I could recover."
"Wait, you met her?"
"Yeah. I can see why you fell for her. She's very beautiful, and just as kind."
"Very unlike you."
Her eyes narrowed dangerously, although there was a playful glint in them. "Oh, really? You don't think I'm beautiful or kind?"
"Nope. You're just an evil, ugly witch who just happen to have stolen my heart regardless."
Tilting her head, she considered his words, and ended up shrugging. "Oh, well, I can live with that. But you know, there's one thing I've always wanted to try."
In response, she drew an arc with two fingers through the air, separating yin from yang. After bringing them to her lips, she gave him an expecting glance, then pulled him close. The kiss was electric in more senses than one. Two people, so different, but yet so fitting each other.
The journey of the Blue Dragon came to an end. She had found her answers, her morals, and a beginning to a new life.
G U R E R V F A B F H P U G U V A T N F B I R E X V Y Y
Thus ends the story. No sequels are planned. Any sequel to this would be a vastly different story, and none of those are within my imagination at the moment.
Compared to the last few chapters, this was very light-hearted, so it was nice to write. The interactions between Azula and Sokka flowed well for me, despite that I had a few marks I had to hit on the way.
Originally, Yue wasn't supposed to appear (nor was Ty Lee), but she just wanted in on a corner. I don't think it would be particularly realistic (nor interesting) for Sokka to travel to the North Pole with no reference to her at all. I also really don't believe she'd let him die if she could do anything about it.
I'll extend these notes to cover the whole story in general. This will be long.
Overall, I've really enjoyed writing this fanfic. Azula is the most interesting character to write out of all characters I've written, if you include all my non-published fanfics. Sokka's also very interesting, and his intellect and wit work well against Azula's. They weren't supposed to hook up, but once I got to where Azula tried different colours of her fire, the choice kind of made itself. The same goes for Suki and Ty Lee. The only reason Sokka and Suki split up in the first place was to give Azula someone to relate to, and everything grew from there.
Something I've really tried to show is how Azula grows, both in terms of personality, and in terms of skill. A lot of fanfics (and professional works as well, for that matter) have characters who make only short spurts of growth, rather than anything continuously. Since the focus was on Azula, it was harder to show how the other characters grew, but other than learning to cope with the new Azula, they didn't really face anything that would cause them to grow compared to what they'd been through in the series. I tried to get Sokka in with more subtle clues, to see how well that worked alongside the main story.
The hard part about showing how her skills grow was to balance it. Too little, and it won't be noticeable or interesting; too much, and she'll come off as a Canon Sue (a canon character written as a Mary Sue, for those unfamiliar with the term, and if you don't know what a Mary Sue is, look it up). It was fun trying to think of new ways to use bending, though, whether the huge, spirit-killing stuff or the small, cup-freezing things.
I did learn a very valuable lesson in writing this: If you write a story focusing on a single character, you're limiting yourself a lot more than you might think. Koh suffered that the most here. I've had several reviews pointing this out (see best review award below, and read that review). I kept going with the same focus as before, so I couldn't really follow those advices in this fic, but I'll certainly think about it in future works. Just to let you know why I don't seem to follow advice when I get it, as it also applies to a lot more than just that one.
One of the things I amused myself the most with was torturing Azula. A recap of what she's been through: Six crash landings, three each with her balloon and her gliders, a few broken ribs, tumbled down a mountain slope, almost drowned, handled harshly as a prisoner, knocked out twice, almost died from draining her own spirit, blacked out a lot of times (anyone want to count? You'll get credit for it!), and zapped with lightning many more times. And that's still not including all cuts and scrapes she's gotten in fights, nor all the emotional trauma she's been through, much of which she has Sokka to thank for (especially the last part). What can I say; there is no such thing as overkill. Oh, right, and she got killed once. Almost forgot about that.
It did actually serve a purpose. In my opinion, since I tried to avoid angst, it served to balance the fic somewhat. It would've been much duller otherwise.
Thank you for reading, and an extra thank you to all who reviewed. Special thanks goes to RadiantBeam for being an excellent beta. Best review award goes to Bico (chapter 10), with an honourable mention to RamaFan (chapter 6). That's how you review. Although, compared to what I'm used to reading here on ficnet, standards for all of you are not included in the 90% Sturgeon was talking about.
/ Another Duck