A/N: Blargh. Don't own Avatar, as all of you know. I have no interest in writing a long series about this, but I figured it might be nice to make a one-shot and get a point across. Anyways, enjoy!

Waking up on the early side was fun. It had been a fun way for the old woman to start her day and a part of her routine for a long time. The rest of the routine was equally enjoyable, from the morning tea and checking in with the neighbors about Lee's exploits in school to spending hours on end every night adding more to her memoirs.

Of course, there were always the pleasant surprises that crept into her life now and then. Such as the young man likely in his mid-twenties that was sharing lunch with her.

The old woman's eyes might have been failing simply because of the countless years' worth of wear and tear on her body, but she knew a Water Tribe member when she saw one. She had one particularly hectic year that involved many a Waterbender ages ago and was not one to forget the tanned skin and primary motif of blue. It contrasted nicely with all the red in the village anyways.

"Thank you ma'am," he said as the woman poured two cups of tea. "It is nice to, well, I guess have a break from all the hectic things I have been doing for quite a while."

"Ah," the woman said, "Here for more than just a vacation or visiting friends?" Her wizened body still found smiling an easy task, even after adding a coy element to the grin.

"Well, yes. I'm studying... stuff."

"What kind of stuff?" the woman asked. "It wouldn't happen to be bending, would it?"

Judging by the way the man's face went slightly pale and the audible gulp, the old woman then made an intelligent guess. "The new Avatar? I wouldn't be surprised." Amused, she leaned forward and let out a short laugh. "So what brings you to the home of an old hag like me? Some kind of trouble with authorities? Avatar Aang certainly had his share of hijinx when he was young too. A free spirit if ever there was one."

"Well, I'm not that- Wait!" The Avatar blinked in confusion. "You're talking about Avatar Aang like you met him!"

"Indeed I did," the woman said before helping herself to some more tea. "A man who found his own solution to things, no matter how hidden it may be."

"But... but that was decades ago! You'd have to be-"

The woman's face grew a little downtrodden before she deftly silenced him with a surprisingly strong and stern voice.

"There are some people who don't die until their patch in hell is prepared. I happen to be one of them."

"... Oh... then..."

"No matter," the elder of the two said as she returned to her more friendly mood as she rose up. "How about we take a walk and you can tell me your troubles."


It was still near midday, and traffic on the roads was scarce. The woman and the Avatar only saw a few people traveling or selling their wares on the streets, and it looked like even the cabbage merchants had gone off to rest after a filling lunch. Those that remained and saw the Avatar and his companion, however, couldn't help but smile as if this was some kind of inside joke.

The open environment combined with the relative privacy, was more than enough for the Avatar to feel comfortable in what he wanted to say.

He had been facing trouble in understanding Firebending, which was no surprise. His tutors were no doubt trying to be helpful, but the Avatar still felt uncomfortable, especially being compared to Avatar Aang who had mastered all four elements at less than half his age. The frustration naturally impeded his focus and discipline, two crucial keys to understanding the way of bending flames.

"And... and I just wonder how long it's going to take." The Avatar sighed in defeat. "After all, the great Avatar Aang managed to quickly grasp the fundamentals of Earthbending after a short while too. It just seems like-"

"Living in someone's shadow." The woman concluded. "I knew the type. Your fears are justified, I will admit that, but please, understand. Every Avatar has their own mannerisms and methodology, you included. Aang was a special case of not having time on his side during the Great War and having compensate for his lack of experience with one bending style with a good grasp of all four. It took him many years afterward to truly become a master of all four elements."

"How many?"

The woman smiled. "Long enough to let you know you're doing just fine."

"Thanks, I guess."

"Oh, brighten up. If you wish, I think I know of a technique that might help be a step in the right direction."

It was a sequence of actions the old woman guessed she had not practiced since she had been finally been let out of the institution. That brought back a lot of memories, many of them painful. Yet she accepted them because they meant something. Maybe a testament to the benefits of showing mercy to her brother and that Waterbender all those years ago.

"My uncle developed this technique to redirect lightning. Its foundation is pure Waterbending, but the result is Firebending." The sweeping gesture of her arms, as decrepit as they were, proved to help spark something in the Avatar.

"Fire and Water are opposites. To truly be capable of controlling a flame, one must have the confidence and the caution needed to control it."

In spite of a lack of actual lightning being redirected, those few men and women in the street quickly realized who those two people practicing bending in the street were. They also could plainly see the happiness on both of their faces.

"And to truly be capable of controlling a body of water, one must be able to give it the vibrant spirit inside of even the smallest spark. So do not despair, Avatar. Let one build on the other, just as how the Sun and the Moon together bring light to this world both during the day and the night. Do you feel that?"

She didn't need any answer. By the looks of it, the Avatar had gotten over his first hurdle to becoming a Firebending master. It no doubt would give him the strength to face those that would come in the future.

_

Hours later, the woman was alone again. She hadn't done bending forms in years, but the elderly Fire Nation citizen named Azula could not help but feel glad to use her knowledge for constructive purposes.

She had faced plenty of hurdles in her times anyways. And she knew that her brother, and Avatar Aang, and everyone else from so many years ago, all of them having moved on, would be glad to know that.