Dear Mai,

I'm sorry you have to find out this way, but I'm leaving. If not for you I wouldn't think twice about it, but I can't continue without at least knowing I said goodbye. Truth is, this just isn't the place I need to be right now. The Fire Nation isn't what it used to be, and I've finally realized that I can't ignore it anymore. It's my duty to restore peace, and what I need to be doing, I can't do here.

Don't think that this is what I want. I want to stay here, to try and be the perfect prince for my father and my people, but mostly, just because I need you. The last three years have been the worst of my life, and I can't believe I'm putting myself through it again. But I know that I have to.

I am more sorry about this than anything I have ever done, and I've done quite a lot that I regret. But you have to know that I love you. It's a pitiful atonement for this, but it is true.

I can imagine the hell you'll put me through when I see you again, and I look forward to it.


By the time Mai found the letter, it was too late. He was gone; the entire Fire Nation knew by now. She couldn't talk any sense into him, or try to make him stay. There was nothing more she could do.

Funny how perfectly he timed this.

Then again, she wouldn't have been able to convince him anyway. Once Zuko knew what he was supposed to do, especially when he knew it was the noble thing, he set out after it. If there was one thing about Zuko that even banishment would not change, it was this. Even if it meant leaving his entire life behind.

Or, at least, leaving her behind.

Mai knew this. She expected it. In fact, she wondered why it had taken him so long to find the right path. Now that he had, how could she begrudge him that? If it meant that he could finally be at peace with himself? She had to let him go. It was the only way.

He better believe she would put him through hell for this, though. When,andshe refused to think if,she saw him again, he'd be sorry. And she would forgive him.

But that didn't stop the tear that unwillingly rolled down her cheek.