Summary: One-shot – Zuko holds his newborn daughter in his arms for the first time and makes a promise.
Disclaimer: I do not own any characters featured in this story. They all belong to Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko.
"Congratulations, my lord. You have a newborn daughter," the midwife tells him, handing him a baby bundled up in a red blanket.
He takes the bundle very carefully and holds the newborn baby close to his chest. A wrinkled and scrunched up face looks up at him with bleary blue eyes, and Zuko feels a rush of pride and love.
"She's perfect," he mutters mostly to himself. Still staring down at his daughter, he asks the midwife, "How is my wife doing?"
"Resting. She is exhausted, my lord."
"Of course. Keep me informed of her condition," he orders.
The midwife bows again before leaving. "Yes, my lord."
Alone now with his daughter, Zuko takes a moment to study her dazed face more closely. It is still too early to really say who she resembles more, but Zuko notices right away that she has the shape of his eyes and her mother's full and tempting lips.
"I'm going to be beating the boys off of you aren't I?" he muses, touching her soft cheek with two rough fingers. His hand is as big as her face and he bets he could wrap it around her entire skull if he tries. His daughter is so small and delicate that is seems impossible she is destined to grow up and become the next ruler of the Fire Nation.
For a moment, he wonders if this is what his father felt like when he held his sister for the first time. Overcome with love and pride and protectiveness. Filled with hope and dreams for the future. Did he also once stand alone with his daughter in his arms, wondering what she may accomplish one day as an adult?
A bitter taste fills his mouth as he thinks of his sister. Despite all of her talents and potential, in the end, Azula lacked the strength and mind to hold it all. But the fault was not solely hers alone. No. If anyone was to blame for Azula's descent into madness then it was Ozai. His pushing and demand for perfection along with the lack of any real love and support were the real causes of the deterioration of Azula's mind.
"I'm not going to be like him," he tells his daughter seriously. "I will love you and support you in all you do in life. Even if you choose not to become the next ruler or end up not being a Fire bender, I will still be proud of you. I will not fail you like my father failed my sister and I."
Azula was gone and would probably never return. But her newborn niece is alive and well and needs a strong father. Zuko understands this and knows he must learn from Ozai's mistakes and be a better father.
He failed Azula once by not being there for her. He vows never to do that again.
Zuko smiles at his daughter and whispers to her, "I name you after my sister, Azula. May you carry on her legacy and achieve what she could not."
It is not a hope for the future. It is a promise.