Summary: Because no matter how much he has hurt her over the years, she always comes right back to him. Ozai/Ursa drabbles.
A/N: These will be posted in sets of 10; there are 5 sets total. Written for the allatlapairings LJ community. All of the drabbles will follow the same sequence.
Avatar: the Last Airbender and characters are not my property.
It is not until Ursa's sixth summer that her parents decide she is old enough to attend a state dinner with them. She acts the part of the perfect child of noble birth -- eats modestly, sits quietly, speaks politely when spoken to, avoids eye contact with her superiors.
After dinner, her mother takes her by the hand. Suddenly she finds herself staring at a pair of pointed shoes, ones not much larger than hers. They belong to a beautiful little boy who stares at her with dark gold eyes in a way that makes her stomach flutter.
"Ursa, this is Prince Ozai."
After ten years of living out in the colonies, her heart sags when her father tells her that he has been called to relocate back to the Capitol City. Her mood is further dampened when he informs her that they will also be attending a state dinner when they return. They are always so stuffy, those dinners, so forced and restrained -- literally the embodiment of noble life, and the reason why she hates her birth into high society.
Still, she has been groomed and trained to do as told and she goes to the Royal Palace and eats modestly, sits quietly, speaks politely when spoken to, and avoids eye contact with her superiors. But this time around, it is a dinner-dance, and all of the married couples in the room are dancing, all of the available men are approaching the available women, and all of the available women are waiting to be approached.
Perhaps if she slips out now, they won't notice. One step, two steps, three steps backward and she whirls around to meet a young man who takes her hand and presses a kiss whisper-light against the back of it. His gold eyes are just as dark as before, and his voice is deep and rich, wrapping round her like a silk sheet, "It has been far too long, Ursa."
"Prince Ozai," she breathes, and sweeps into a curtsy. "How wonderful to see you again."
The briefest of smiles ghosts his face. "May I have this dance?"
She hesitates. Social dancing has never interested her, and she has never been very good at it to begin with...
"Or if you would prefer, we can simply have a walk," He leans closer, "I have never been fond of dancing myself."
"I don't know how I can properly thank you," she repeats. "I can be quite clumsy, unfortunately, and at times even dancing pushes my coordination beyond capacity."
He watches as she speaks without restraining herself like she does in front of the adults. Most of the girls he has considered still titter and act in front of him, but she... she is something different altogether. She carries herself like a lady still, but something about her is alluringly genuine and real.
"If you are sincere about thanking me, will you have dinner with me at the end of the week?"
"This is so exciting, Ursa. How will you wear your hair? Are your best robes clean? What will you bring as a gift? The dinner is tonight, why are you still sitting there? You must prepare!"
With a roll of her eyes, she tunes her mother out and thinks of the prince she knows virtually nothing about.
"There is a leaf in your hair," he says to her once on one of their walks, and reaches to her topknot and plucks the offending object. His eyes never leave hers as the leaf drops, and she finds it suddenly hard to breathe.
"Surely your parents speak to you about marriage."
"Oh, constantly," she answers (conveniently withholding the fact that it is him that they speak of in such talks), "But I would like to hold onto my freedom for as long as I can."
"That's a shame," he answers thoughtfully, and looks at her. "I don't want to take your freedom away from you, but that is essentially what a proposal does. What to do..."
Her feet no longer function properly as they run into each other at his words. "...I'm sorry, excuse me?"
"Marry me," he says to her, bold determination written clear in his gaze.
Her mouth dries. "I..."
For the longest time, she doesn't answer, and all the while Ozai becomes more and more impatient. He narrows his eyes. "When the Fire Nation Prince proposes something to you, you answer."
This comment snaps her back to reality, to the truth, that this young man is a prince by name but a tyrant by nature, no matter how charming he can be on other occasions.
Her mouth thins into a line. "Prince Ozai, I must decline."
She has seen it a few times before: his eyes narrow, his jaw tightens, his eyes proclaim displeasure -- but he remains oddly quiet. These are the worst times, she knows, because the prince is a predictably angry man.
When he becomes silent like this, she knows not what to expect.
"Very well," he answers finally.
When she comes home, her mother sweeps her into a hug. "Ursa, my dear," she weeps, "Your father has been dismissed from his position."
Ursa's blood runs cold. He wouldn't...
"What on earth does Fire Lord Azulon mean by 'knowing our place?' We have done nothing wrong. How could this have happened?"
The despair in her mother's voice pushes Ursa toward the door. "Excuse me, Mother. I... have something I must attend to."