Title: No longer so hard

Rating: T- character death. Darkish fic. Zuko centric.

Summary: Oneshot AU. Aang died at the hands of Ozai. Azula was also successful. An ex-prince in a prison cell begins to lose touch with reality. But he doesn't care. What use has he for reality?

Pairings?: Depending upon your interpretation- Zukaang, nothing major, could be seen as platonic or romantic in nature, depending upon your taste.


"Family tradition I guess"

Death, corruption, deception, insanity. So many gifts have been bestowed upon this family by the Spirits.

Is he truly insane if he believes himself to be? If he is aware of how such images and sounds he sometimes comes to notice can not really be there, who is to say for certain?

He sleeps. He daydreams. Sometimes he fears to do so, but he always surrenders to it.

A part is frightened he might see something he wants, something he likes, something he needs.

Something he will never have in the realms of reality.

He is always aware it is only in his mind, even as he wanders through the mists, as it no longer hurts to breathe.

He dreams of laughter, of freedom, of dancing and air. Of holding hands and fields. Of lemurs upon the wind. Of embraces and unspoken words.

He is always there. The Prince slowly reaches, shaking as if he can barely move from fear. With his right hand he touches the jawline and cheek of the one before him. He traces the arrow upon his forehead. Always the boy does not resist, instead only giving him a look of non-judgemental understanding within those soft grey eyes. The boy speaks, his mouth forms words, but no sound is heard.

Sobbing. The dampness. He chokes out of his slumber and for the briefest moment he is suffocating.

He is no longer alone.

She stands there smiling as usual, the twitch evident in her features. She talks, words he cannot understand. Only a mocking, taunting tone.

His dry lips crack open.

"I forgive you."

Amber eyes widen. She stumbles, mumbling. Once again her words are not heard. Just her stutters and her shrieks and screams.

She fumbles and at first he flinches as the blue flame overcomes and envelopes his body. But then he embraces his element as it chars and burns at his flesh.

His last thoughts, the smile, the laugh, the boy. The boy's lips imparting the words he so longs to hear:

"I'm proud of you."


Author's note:

"It is easy to do nothing, it is hard to forgive"- Aang, Southern Raiders.

No real reason for this. Just felt like writing a Zuko piece not involved with my current multi-chaptered AU. Plus I want to explore an angle of Aang and Zuko's relationship. In my opinion Zuko respects Aang, and does love him- as a brother at the very least.