I don't know what to blame this on. I had a super-boring lecture on Measure for Measure and this sprung up in my mind. The original scrawlings are still in my notebook too...

Disclaimer: I own nothing here. Which is probably good because if I did the series would have been much more... different, let's say that.

He had been a brave boy.

It was the last time the word 'boy' had ever been used in relation to him. Afterwards, he was always man.

He had been strong.

At least, that was what his father purred, voice rich with pride as he sat on the edge of his only sons' bed, stroking his hair.

He had been formidable.

No one ever sneered at him again. His sisters' nasty hints dropped. There was respect in the voices of the Generals, the High Admirals. They called him Prince with an admiration.

He had been surprising.

No one expected him to fare so well. Many have expected him to cave. Who could, after all, be expected to face their own father in combat? He shocked them all by striking the first blow.

He had been in pain.

The scar was ugly, horrible to look at, a dark, wrinkled starburst across the left half of his chest, creeping up the collarbone, and snaking along the shoulder. He had taught himself to dress with his eyes closed.

He had been proud.

Even afterwards, when he would have the agonizing burn tended to, salts and herbs and nasty creams worked into the exposed flesh, he would grit his teeth, clench his hands into fists, and bear it, head held high. Not a whimper passed his lips.

He had been foolish.

His uncle said so, a few months afterwards. He claimed that there was no need for the young boy to take the route he did, to cave in to the anger. He said that there was a more honourable and noble path. He shouted at the ageing man, threw his steaming up of tea in his face. They never spoke again.

He had been honourable.

At least, that is what he tells himself, in the small hours of the morning, trying to sleep in his luxurious, four-poster bed and failing, mind plaguing him of images of pain and blood, of the War, of his uncle, who after finding the Avatar four months ago turned traitor.

He had been right.

He screams the words, in a voice which is hoarse and cracking as he faces his uncle. The prone bodies of his sister and father lie at his feet, slaughtered – he prefers the word 'slaughtered' to 'slain', it sounds stronger, a more accurate description of what happened, even if it makes the pair sound as though they were animals. It makes his uncle and the Avatar seem more savage – and the Avatar keeps his staff pointed threateningly close to his neck, brow furrowed deeply in intense concentration. Please my nephew, he makes out the words between the high ringing in his ears. His uncle takes his shoulders, squeezing the scarred left one a little tighter than the right. This is not you, you do not have to be them. You are better than they are.

He had been loyal.

The words are screamed at his uncle, hands pushed away. He takes three steps back, shaking, screaming that he was loyal to his father, he would be forever. His uncle was wrong he was so wrong and he was a traitor for everything he had done.

He had been faithful.

And he still was. As his uncle stepped away, cheeks streaming with tears, and the Avatar raised his staff, he knew what was going to happen. He fell to his knees first, eyes closed, praying to Agni to deliver his soul, to bring him to the other realm with his family and spare him from this cruel existence. There was a flash, something bright and a very sharp pain in his chest.

He had been forgiven.

For his arrogance, his foolishness, his stupid outburst. When he awoke, so long ago, his father had kissed and embraced him, called him his son, said that nothing would ever happen to him again, and that he would die for him if the situation arose. Which he did, in the end. As he slumped to the cold marble, vision blurring, he caught a glimpse of sightless golden eyes, an outstretched hand. He tried to reach out himself, to touch the still-warm skin of his father but his vision blackened and dissolved within seconds and the pain was suddenly gone. The last moment of consciousness bore a single thought.

He had been... the perfect prince.

If I think of another similar idea and make it into a oneshot, I might add it here. I find that kind of 'what if' AU really intriguing. If only I had enough time to devote to it D:

Oh well R&R anyways? -hopeful-