It was the big day. It was the day of the coronation of the new Fire Lord – the beginning of a new era of peace.
I have been in prison for many of the recent events and struggles the Fire Nation and all the Nations have gone through. I had been in prison for being a traitor, for I had aided in the escape of enemies of the Fire Nation.
One of those "enemies" was the man I loved. I was not going to let him die, no matter how much he had hurt me when he joined the Avatar. When I saw the look in Princess Azula's eyes after I told her that I loved her brother more than I feared her, I thought I was going to die. I would have, if not for Ty Lee, a true friend who was thrown in prison as well for her actions.
But now I was free, and the coronation was hours away.
I was both elated and anxious to speak with the future Fire Lord. Obviously I showed evidence of neither emotion as I walked down the palace hallway and to where I knew he was preparing for the coronation.
Finally, the proper heir to the throne of the Fire Nation was to be restored.
I paused in the doorway, leaning against the frame as I watched the future Fire Lord in silence. He did not notice me as he prepared.
It was hard to believe that was the same boy I had had a crush on years before. He was so much older now, wiser, and stronger. He had regained his honor and became a hero of our Nation - of our world. Who knew banishment would have created such a man?
A few locks of dark hair swept down over his face, shading his face but not quite hiding the golden eyes from view. And his scar—it's horrible that his own father did that to him, but as much as he has always been self-conscious of the mark, I believe it makes him look distinguished and somehow more handsome.
He had a bandage around his chest and shoulder from wounds he sustained in a recent Agni Kai with his sister. He had nearly died during the battle, being struck with lightening meant for his friend, Katara.
It was strange. A year ago, he was trying to kill Katara. Now, they are close friends, and he had nearly died to save her. A lot had changed since then. Of course, the entire world had changed now. The war was over, and the coronation today would mark a new beginning for the Fire Nation and for the world.
I watched him struggle to put on his robe. His wounds make the simplest of tasks difficult.
"You need some help with that?"
He turned to me in surprise. "Mai," he said with a smile. "You're okay! They let you out of prison?"
"My uncle pulled some strings," I explained as I helped his arm into the sleeve of his robe. "And it doesn't hurt when the new Fire Lord is your boyfriend." I reached around and tied the robe. I had missed him so much. His body was so warm – I had forgotten how it felt to touch him, to feel his fire.
"So does this mean you don't hate me anymore?"
I smiled, something I rarely do, though perhaps I should smile more often. "I think it means I actually kind of like you." For me, that was a declaration of undying affection, and I'm certain he knew that as we kissed for the first time in far too long. When we parted, I said, "But don't ever break up with me again." He grinned nervously.
I cherished his warm embrace as he wrapped his arms around me. I felt truly safe with him, a feeling I cannot recall having before. I was so glad that war was finally over. Now we could really live.
"I have to prepare for the coronation," he said into my hair a few minutes later. I pulled away reluctantly. "I'll see you at the ceremony, I suppose."
I bowed my head slightly. "Fire Lord Zuko."
Zuko smiled and lifted my chin, kissing me again gently. "Future Fire Lady?" he said quietly. His eyes shifted between mine nervously as he waited for me to respond.
My heart raced as I blushed and slowly nodded.
I would never forget Zuko's coronation day.