There was an old wives tale in the Fire Nation that was still yet popular when Prince Ozai's children were brought into the world. It was said by the elders that one could tell which child would eventually ascend the throne, despite who was born first. If the baby came out quiet and subdued, there was no way that they could ever be strong enough to handle being Fire Lord. If they came out screaming, wailing at all who would hear them, they would stand a much better chance at ascending the throne and keeping it.

It was with a great disappointment to Azulon that Iroh's son came out quietly. Iroh himself was pleased, and that day there was no man in the Fire Nation that was happier, nor as proud.

Despite the noticeable silence after the birth, Iroh was Azulon's first-born son, and therefore he hadn't had a choice about naming him the successor to the throne after his reign was over. After all, Iroh had proven himself and amazing leader, so perhaps he would influence his son to be as loyal and strong for the Fire Nation as he was.

It was years later that Ozai, his second son, announced that his wife Ursa was pregnant with child. Zuko was Ozai's first-born son, and all of the servants in the fire nation waiting in silence in the hour that he was born. Their ears awaited a baby's wails, but none were heard. Ozai stood at the window of his room, and he closed his eyes in shame when all that could be heard in the next room were a child's coos. That was the first time Zuko had disappointed him.

Since his first-born son was a failure in his eyes, Ozai bedded Ursa again, and she became pregnant. Their second child was a girl, and her lungs hadn't fully sucked in her first breath of the outside world before a high-pitched scream rang throughout the palace. Every servant, soldier, and royal wondered what this would mean for the family. After all, if the old ways held true, the only one truly deserving of the throne was the second son's second born, who was a girl…It was for this reason that their little girl was named Azula, after her grandfather.

The second time Zuko disappointed his father came soon after Azula's birth. They would play together as children often do, before the world would tear them apart. And almost every time Azula would do something unfair and child like. Whether it was taking a toy from Zuko or smacking him in the face, she always did something that should demand a reprimand. But Ozai observed that Zuko would never once get angry, and if he cried a few times he never blamed his pain on Azula. He took her abuse. What a disappointment…

There was many times after that, that Zuko failed in something. And it came to pass that after some time Ozai no longer expected Zuko to be anything but a loss. He turned his focus to his daughter, whom seemed to be blessed with so much more promise than her brother had. It was true that the couple had tried to have children after that, being mainly driven by Ozai's obsession with having a strong male heir. But Ursa was unable to conceive, and they soon stopped trying. The prince was forced to accept the fact that his line rested with a weak son, and a second born daughter.

The last time Zuko disappointed his father, the consequences had been deadly, and scarring. Ozai was finally given the opportunity to punish Zuko for coming out weak, for never fighting back against his toddler sister, and for never being good enough. He had just barely managed to stop himself from killing the worthless little coward outright. It wouldn't do to have his first-born son slaughtered in an Agni Ki, especially if it was his own sire that melted his head in. By then he need not have feared his father's disapproval of any changes from the old ways, because he had ascended the throne in place of Iroh, his older brother. Zuko was expendable.

So Ozai settled for scarring the boys face, making sure he would remember what a disgrace and failure he was for the rest of his life. He had also banished him, sending him away from the Fire Nation and his sight, so that he would never have to look upon his weak son again. The way was cleared for Azula at last, and Ozai immediately set to raising her in his own image, shaping her thoughts and feeling to match his. He passed on his hate, lust for power, greed, and his ability to commit any act if for the Fire Nation and ultimate survival.

He never suspected when he saw his son's melted skin, or heard baby Zuko's wails that the throne would end up in his hands. He never considered that what one perceived as weakness another thought of as strength, and he never dreamed that Iroh's influence on his son would make him strong enough to turn against him.

Years later, he thought of Ursa and Zuko. Of the daughter he had raised in his likeness, and how Azulon had hated his every breath because Iroh had screamed and birth, and Ozai had whimpered with sickness. He thought of his life and what he had become as the Avatar, a mere child, laid his hands on his heart and head. The savior of the world shared these visions too, the two of them watching the flashing images and seeing the reasoning behind all of the evil.

And though still alive after fighting the Avatar, Ozai was no longer considered a threat. He was put into a comfortable cell, with a bed and stand. He was still in a cage, but it was not nearly as dirty as those given to the prisoners of war. Stretching from ceiling to floor, bars were still fitted in-between the walls, giving the cage more support. Though it was less than an inch between the stone ceiling and the top of the cage, Ozai patiently worked the sheet through this space.

He waited for the sunset to hang himself, kicking the table out from under his feet when the sheet was secured around his neck. It was somewhat appropriate that as the sun faded from sight, his soul faded from the world.

It is an old wives tale that your entire life flashes before your eyes. Some people with near-death experiences say this is true. Others say its not. But Ozai would say it was, if he had survived. The births of his children played before him, his wedding day and years of marriage played for him, and all of the sins he had committed came rushing back to him. They hit him with strength, as if the years he had put between himself and them were nothing. But let it be said that he was not weak when leaving this world like he was when he'd entered. He let not a tear drop though his eyes watered. He was Ozai, Fire Lord of the Fire Nation. And he would not cry, even upon his death, because he would rather endure hell than disappoint his dad.

End

Yeah, wrote this like I wrote some of my other pieces. I started this without having any clue where it would end up. I intended to leave it at Zuko and Azula being born so differently while shedding a little bit of light onto why Ozai might dislike his son so. Instead I ended up feeling sorry for Ozai, and turning this story into something else altogether. But I like it. Hope you enjoyed this. Review and tell me what you think. Later. Oh, and Merry Christmas .