My dear readers,
I recognize that there is or was a policy against posting Author's Notes as chapters. I hope you won't have the bad blood to report me, and just in case, I've decided to make this something of an Epilogue.
What I should have done from the beginning was to let last chapter be the last chapter. There isn't more I want to do with this chapter—there wasn't then and there isn't now. I had wanted a scene of Sokka looking over the horizon, shivering as Azula put her hand on his shoulder. But… I just couldn't bring myself to do it. The point of the story was the revelation of Azula's master scheme. After that, there wasn't much more. So, officially, "canonically" that's all you get: Azula triumphant and mad, Sokka defeated and trapped. The Maiden and the Martyr.
I'm sure many of you caught it in the title: Maiden and Martyr. Azula is the Maiden, and Sokka the Martyr, but of course, with the twist that the Maiden is wicked. It's possibly the least clever title ever, because I just meant both words quite literally. But hey, it had alliteration going for it, at least. Of course, the more interesting twist, if I want to go lit crit on my own work, is that it's Azula's virginity that constitutes the betrayal. (Though, I should mention that if this story had gone on further, Suki and Azula would have been in a confrontation at the Southern Pole where Azula would have boasted that she won Sokka by being able to do "amazing things" with her mouth, an ironic echo of Ozai's words; of course, Azula can do amazing things with her mouth, it was her mouth, not her firebending prowess that brought down the walls of Ba Sing Se. But, the intent of the line would have been to establish the idea that maybe Azula wasn't lying about the abuse. Azula is definitely lying? But about what? I don't know, and wouldn't tell.)
Anyway, I'm sure some people would like some more plot, so here is what I had envisioned would happen afterwards. I wouldn't call this canon for the fic, but if anyone wants to write a sequel fic or plunder any of these ideas, go for it.
It stands to reason that Azula's intention, all along, at least from the moment she saw Sokka in the dance hall, was to escape the Fire Nation and latch on to him. Why? Because I think she's tired, hurt, and afraid. I don't think Azula could imagine any fate worse than having her bending taken away; she's already lost her friends, her family, her nation, her sanity, the only thing of Azula that's left is her brilliant firebending, and Aang can take that away. I love the way Rufftoon and others have portrayed Azula as a pretender, trying to get her empire back and rekindle the war, but, partially because of my own incredible fear of the mental health profession, this Azula is actually afraid. But as Azula knows, there's more than one way to skin a cat-dog (and yes, that was a reference to the fact that Azula in my book is supposed to be a psychopath who tortured animals as a child), and if she can't defeat the Avatar on a one-on-one battle and can't fight her brother without fighting Aang, then she'll take the long route. Azula can't ally herself with Zuko. She can't ensorcel Aang, because Aang is so desperately in love with Katara. But Sokka, I think she saw a weakness in Sokka, or at least, a quality she considered weakness, and leapt for the jugular. Sokka is considered a hero, he has contacts all of the most important people in the world: Aang, Katara, Zuko, the Earth King, Hakoda, Arnook, not only that, but he's likely first in line to be the next Chief of the Southern Water Tribe, and though Azula doesn't know it, he'll be a member of the White Lotus Society. For a lot of these people, having Sokka vouch for Azula will go a very, very long way towards redeeming her in their eyes, and well, if you have Zuko who says his sister is better, and Sokka who apparently trusts her and possibly loves her, maybe she's actually a much better person than they thought.
Part of the deal is that Sokka can't tell anyone exactly what happened: Azula wouldn't like it, and besides, it makes him look really, really bad. So, ok, what happens next?
Sokka talks Zuko into letting him take Azula with him to the Southern Water Tribe. Sokka lies through his teeth, apparently, Azula's skills in that department are contagious, and Sokka convinces Zuko. Azula plays the docile fawn. Back in the Southern Water Tribe, Suki is waiting for Sokka. She's planning on surprising him, and is shocked when it turns out he's bringing Azula with him. Of course, Azula is up to being deceitful and manipulative: she's got Sokka in her claws and isn't going to let go. A suspicious Suki confronts her, why did Sokka bring Azula with him?
"Oh, Suki, are you jealous? The answer is very simple: I can do amazing things with my mouth."
The implication is clear, but Suki is too smart for Azula. She knows that thing that everyone always forgets about Azula.
"You always lie."
"Well, if you don't believe me, you could just go ahead and ask Sokka. I imagine no guy has ever lied to his girlfriend in the whole history of the Universe. Of course, you could always check his back."
Suki decides to ignore Azula, but the Princess's words rattle in her skull until she can stand it no more. She decides to ask Sokka. He gives her the same cryptic answer he gave Hakoda, "I realized that the Southern Water Tribe and the Fire Nation wouldn't be able to continue to have a good relationship if I didn't get her away from the Fire Nation Palace and this was the only place I could bring her."
Suki wants more of an answer, but Sokka refuses to give her details. Finally, she tries an alternate tactic and seduce the answer out of her. But Sokka, for once, doesn't seem interested in sex, which makes her suspicious. "Playing hard to get, are we?" she pulls out a knife and tears Sokka's shirt off: low and behold Sokka has scratchmarks all down his back.
"I can't believe that bitch was telling the truth, for once in her life!"
"Suki, please, I can explain."
"What, that you slept with her and then brought her home as a souvenir?"
"Did you sleep with her?"
"Suki… it, it didn't mean anything."
"I cannot believe you! You slept with her, and then you weren't going to tell me. You were going to keep going on like nothing had changed. Do you know what she did to me? Of course you know, because I told you. And you know what she tried to do to your sister and Zuko; she almost killed Aang! And you slept with her! And you didn't tell me!"
Obviously, they break up. In a fit of rage, Sokka confronts Azula: violence and hatesex ensue. Of course, each feels even worse afterwards. As an unfortunate result however, Azula get pregnant. Hakoda confronts his son, outraged at how indecently Sokka has been behaving (I've always imagined the Avatar world, and the Water Tribes in particular, to be extremely sexually conservative). Hakoda demands an explanation, and when Sokka can't give him a good one, Hakoda berates him, "I never thought I would be so disappointed in you." He gives Sokka an ultimatum: do the honest thing and marry the Fire Lord's sister, or leave the Southern Water Tribe. His father's disgust is a huge blow for Sokka—he thinks he could probably leave the Southern Water Tribe—he still has allies and he feels like Aang at least would understand, but there's the serious problem about Azula and Zuko: if Sokka's not in the Southern Water Tribe, Azula can't be there either. Azula won't stand for going back, and Zuko's unlikely to take it well that Sokka knocked his sister up and then ran away (remember, all of this is in the context of Zuko thinking Azula was sexually abused by Ozai). So, Sokka proposes to Azula, who obviously accepts, but not without berating him first. "Hmmm… let's see, your father gave you the choice between exile and completing a dangerous and odious task? Why does this sound so familiar?"
Katara doesn't get what's going on, and she keeps trying to figure out why Sokka is marrying Azula, since she thinks this is probably the worse mistake of his life.
"Isn't it obvious Katara? I'm madly in love with her."
Sokka's getting very good at lying.
They get married, Azula gives birth to a son. Azula is obsessed with the idea of making people love her (in this context, actually making people who will love her). However, for Sokka the child evidence of his failure and the fact that he's now stuck with Azula. Sokka pretty much hates Azula and the kid, but since he's married to Azula, he now technically has more control over her than her brother (again, old-style conservative Avatar world is assumed) and he is able to leave the Southern Water Tribe. Sokka starts getting more and more involved with the White Lotus Society, eventually becoming its leader. Within the Society it's well known that Sokka despises and mistrusts Azula, but no one can quite figure out why he married her… one popular theory within the group is that Sokka is sacrificially keeping his enemy close. When Sokka does return home, however, the results are always explosive. Sokka and Azula are extremely abusive towards one another. They nonetheless manage to have three children. Shortly after the birth of their third child, Sokka comes to the conclusion that Azula is raising their children to infiltrate the rest of the powerful families: one child to seduce and gain control over each ruler of the other nations. He decides to frustrate this endeavor, but when it becomes apparent that Zuko's daughter is falling under the spell of Azula's oldest child, Sokka decides it's time to act. Using his connections with the White Lotus, he'd have his father removed from office as the Chief of the SWT and would replace him, altering the marriage laws of the SWT to foil Azula's attempts to marry their son to Zuko's daughter. Azula would be infuriated, and Zuko's daughter devastated. Zuko himself would ask Sokka to either repeal the law or make an exception, but without explaining to Zuko what was going on, Sokka would threaten to end diplomatic relations with the Fire Nation if the Fire Nation did not respect SWT "cultural values." Azula, knowing that now her son would be unable to inherit either the SWT or FN thrones would help her son in manipulating Zuko's daughter into killing herself, and Azula would personally lash out against Sokka, telling Hakoda how and why his son saw fit to remove him from power. Faced with the immensity of what has occurred in Sokka's life, Hakoda retires from private life.
Meanwhile, Zuko blames Sokka and Azula for his daughter's death. As FN-SWT relations become strained, Sokka agrees to retire from being the SWT chief, passing the title on to Katara, who becomes the first female Chief of the SWT. Leaving Azula in the SWT, now politically more alienated than ever, Sokka goes to the Earth Kingdom, where he is primarily occupied with the duties of being the leader of the White Lotus. Miles apart, Azula and Sokka continue to spar behind the scenes of world diplomacy. I figure at this point, Sokka ends up having an affair with Toph, who is content to be his mistress, because she's always been in love with him, and though she knows that Sokka doesn't love her, at least she knows that she can offer comfort to him. Azula, who is missing a fourth child to carry out her plans of vengeance and control seeks out a lover and becomes pregnant again. When Katara finds out, she calls for her brother. If ever Sokka has wanted to be rid of Azula, this is his chance; the SWT does not look kindly upon loose wives. However, Sokka is ecstatic, and for the first time, he finds that he enjoys being a father, largely because the newborn girl looks nothing like him. Katara can't understand why, but Sokka decides to take the child back with him to the Earth Kingdom, where he raises her as his own beloved daughter. At this Azula is devastated. Despite all the things that she is, Azula loves her children, and she loves that they love her back, but this girl, who belongs only to her, won't.
Like her mother, the girl is a prodigious fire bender. Sokka sees to it that she has the best tutors, though he personally sees to the other aspects of her education, both conventional and martial. The years pass. It's not until the girl is 14 years old that she meets her mother at a wedding in the Fire Nation. But Azula, terrified that Sokka will have told her daughter just what she is, runs away from the girl. Not to be deterred, the girl gives chase, and in the excitement, Azula, now older and having health problems, suffers a stroke that leaves her confined to her bed. Azula's other children blame their half sister for her illness and refuse to let her see her mother. For the right to speak with her mother, the girl challenges them all to agni kai, She seems poised to win, but Sokka intercedes. He has spoken with Azula and orders his children to let their half-sister speak with her mother.
Much to Azula's relief and surprise, her daughter doesn't hate her. Sokka hasn't portrayed Azula in the most flattering light, but he's allowed the girl to love and understand her mother. Azula confused tells the girl that Sokka's not her real father. She knows. Sokka's explained everything.
"Everything? Even about my father?"
"No. Not about him. He said that he was an evil man. He told me about what he'd done to the Fire Lord, but never what he did to you. I know he did something terrible, it must have been tremendous; dad's never wanted to speak of it."
"So Sokka's still keeping our little secret, isn't he? But you're right. It was tremendous, the worst disservice a man could do his daughter. He made me who I am. Taught me to use my mouth—I've talked myself into hell because of that man."
The girl hugs Azula. "I love you mother."
"Not as much as I love you my darling."
And that's the truth.
Later that night Sokka and Azula talk.
"After fourteen years, Sokka. After fourteen years you give me back the daughter you stole from me. Why? What do you mean to do?"
"She wanted to meet you. She's getting craftier than me. If I didn't let her go, she would have gone anyway. If she were mad at me, that'd give you ammunition."
"Against you, dear husband?"
"Against her. She's old enough now to know right from wrong, but you know how to talk."
"Look who's speaking."
"For letting her love me."
"Though it would have been nice if you'd given me fair warning. My heart isn't what it used to be."
While Azula recovers from her illness, Sokka sticks around with his children. The four of them decide to play matchmaker for their parents, but only the youngest, the girl is working in earnest. The other three, under Azula's influence, hate their father and for them they're building a trap for the father that left them and made their mother's life hell.
How does it go from there? I don't know. (I've made all of this up on the fly, remember, none of it is the definitive answer).
Maybe Sokka and Azula make up and become friends.
Maybe Sokka falls for the trap and dies in some horrible way.
Maybe Sokka and Azula end up killing each other in magnificent fashion. I don't really care. The story's been over for a while now.
NOW, another last note before I go once more. Updates have been scarce for months now. I've started law school, and it turns out, law school is a relentless train of one intensive activity after another. I'm always applying to things, always juggling too many things, I haven't had much time to deal with my two other real WIP fics: Blood, Silk, and Steel, and And All the King's Horses (Harry Potter). I've got a substantial chunk of the AATKH chapter done, but I've got a tremendous bit of writer's block with BSS. I might get some writing done this summer, though I'll be working, so the possibility is slight that I'll get more than one or two chapters done, if that. BSS, I realize now is an epic, and it might be more than 10 years before I'm able to finish it, and by then I don't know if I or anyone else will have any interest in it.
SO, if you're impatient and you'd rather have an inferior fic for sure than a superior fic much later (maybe), drop me a line in a review section telling me that you want to know what happens in BSS (or else, that you'd wait). I know how BSS end, and it wouldn't be too much work to just put up the crucial bits in a narrative outline form like this, with all the characters we would have seen (Katara, Kya, Jet, Aang, Appa, Piandao, etc., etc., etc.) and what they would have done. Who lives, who dies, who gets married, who has children, etc. I might even throw in the vague sketches of what would have been the sequel. But word of warning, once that summary of the rest of the plot goes up, I'll leave the story behind and probably stop writing fanfic, at least for Avatar. Truth be told, I largely wrote to self-medicate for my crushing unhappiness at undergrad, and I find it a lot harder to justify writing fanfic at law school, plus, as I've mentioned before, I really didn't like Avatar Season 3 and didn't bother to watch the movie. By and large, I've lost interest with the show, if not with this particular story. On the other hand, I do have a short plot bunny, something more along the lines of "The Maiden and the Martyr" and that's a project that might be written and released over the summer (Provisional title: "Spellbound," a slight AU where Aang and Toph left Sokka alone with Azula during Day of Black Sun. Sokka would get captured, but wouldn't stay captured for long, escaping Azula and returning to the Gaang, except… well, anyway, it'd be largely about Sokka's relationships with Azula and Katara, and actually would probably be told primarily from Katara and Azula's POV.
I dunno. Got to go study for finals. Any thoughts?