Lord Fu's Fire Fortune Telling

Zuko and Aang honor a Fire Nation tradition and have their fortunes read. Taang and Zutara. Continuation of Lady Fu's Fortune Telling. I assume that Avatar is higher ranking than Fire Lord. Sometime after Zuko's coronation.

I hit a writer's block on Leaving Things Behind Us, so I decided to kick this out as per Pix's request.

"Has Toph been acting strange around you?"

Zuko glanced up at the airbender precariously perched on the edge of his desk. "No more than usual." A glimpse back down at the mounds of scrolls before him sent Zuko's stomach pitching violently. Honor and responsibility were great things, but sometimes a Fire Lord needed a break. "Why?"

Aang swung gracefully to his feet and shrugged casually, "She came back from the market yesterday singing about Monks and air babies. And then she asked if I was open to negotiating on numbers and names, something about having always wanted to name someone after Iroh."

"I wouldn't put it beyond Toph to have imbibed a little fire wine while they were out." Zuko frowned pensively, picked up a scroll and started tapping it against the desk. "Katara seemed flushed yesterday too."

"But that wouldn't explain this morning." Aang continued, slouching into an overstuffed chair.

"What happened this morning?"

"I was meditating in the garden after breakfast when Toph came and joined me."

Zuko dropped the scroll, "Toph joined you in meditating? Perhaps this is more serious than I thought." Standing he maneuvered over to stand next to his friend, "What reason did she give?"

"Well," Aang scratched at the back of his head, "She said that if she was going to handle at least six of them, then she need to find inner peace. Otherwise she claimed that they might not all make it past their 11th birthday."

"Who?" Zuko inquired.

Aang shrugged again, "She didn't say." A baffled silence settled over the pair. Aang bit at his lower lip and kicked his feet up. "Anyway, after a few minutes she got bored and started asking about rebuilding the Southern Air Temples. She wants to put in an earthbender arena, and maybe a small fire and waterbending garden for when we have visitors."

"We?" Turning away Zuko paced over to the nearest window, tapping his finger against his temple. "What does she mean by we?"

Aang continued, "Then she wanted me to build an earth model of the Southern Air Temple, so that she could start hashing out the details." Zuko nodded in thought. "And while I was building it-"

The Fire Lord spun around and glared incredulously at the Avatar, "You actually complied with her request?"

"Sure, why not? I need to start thinking about rebuilding, and it wouldn't hurt to have those things added." Zuko raised an eyebrow at the comment. Aang jumped to his feet and shrugged again, a blush coloring his cheeks. "While I was building it she started asking about Air Nomad traditions-"

A light struck Zuko, "Odd, Katara asked me about Fire Traditions this morning."

"Really?" Aang meandered across the room to join Zuko at the window.

"Yes, she wanted to know the rights of succession, marriage traditions, and the duties of a Fire Lady." A quiet tapping on the study door interrupted the two. "Come-"

Iroh entered the room balancing a tea tray, "Ahh, nephew, Avatar, I knew I'd find you in here." With a deftness that only the old general could manage, the scrolls vanished, making just enough room for the tea tray. "I have a message for you, Avatar. Miss Bei Fong would like to inquire as to whether you would prefer an Air or an Earth ceremony and if two weeks on sea lion turtle island would be enough time."

Aang's nose scrunched up in confusion, "For what?"

Iroh smirked, shrugged his shoulders, and turned back to Zuko, "The royal fortuneteller is ready for your reading."

"Fortuneteller?" Aang perked up excitedly, "What fortuneteller?"

"It's an honorable tradition that dates to the first Fire Nobles," Zuko explained before taking a sip of the tea. "Two months after the coronation a fortuneteller is supposed to predict my future progeny."

Aang's face scrunched up in disbelief, "Just your progeny?"

"Well," Iroh clucked, "They tend to throw in a few other things, but really all the advisors care about is the chance of offspring."

"So, what did they do for Fire Lord Ozai, he already had two children when he ascended the throne?" Aang questioned.

Iroh exchanged a glance with Zuko, then shrugged. "I'm not sure, it's generally a very private affair," Iroh continued as he handed Aang a cup. The Avatar's shoulders slumped forward in disappointment. Iroh smirked, "But, I'm sure the fortuneteller would be glad to read your fortune too, Avatar." Zuko opened his mouth to protest, but Aang's eager acceptance cut him short. "Excellent, then hand me your cups." Both boys complied, Iroh nodded to a guard. "May I present, Lord Fu."

The doors swung open, admitting an opulently dressed elderly man. Fire red robes draped Lord Fu's body, long flowing sleeves spilling onto the floor. He wore a long grey beard, and sported a high top knot decorated with elaborate gold beads. Most notable of all, even from across the room, he reeked of fancy perfume and fire cinders. With a flourish of sleeves, the ornamental gentleman bowed to both Avatar and Fire Lord, "It is my pleasure to serve two such noble figures." With a wave of his long sleeves, Lord Fu dropped another bow before swooping upright and pulling a thin stick from the air.

Crossing the room with a show of fanfare, he handed a stick to Zuko and threw in another bow. "The Avatar will permit that since it is tradition, the Fire Lord should go first in this endeavor." Aang nodded eagerly, wide eyes watching the procedure. Fu dropped another extravagant bow, "May the Fire Lord be blessed in all he does, no matter the outcome of my telling."

It took Zuko every ounce of willpower to keep his eyes from rolling. This was an honored tradition and he meant to pay it the homage it deserved, even if he had to put up with the outlandish appearance and mannerisms of the fortuneteller.

"If the Fire Lord will please incinerate the stick and keep the ashes in his palm." Zuko ignited the small stick, catching the few falling ashes as directed and offered his ash-covered palm forward. "There are three things I divine from ashes," Fu explained. "First the Life line, then the Love line, and finally the heirs."

Fu bowed once again and reached out, gently grasping Zuko's wrist. With another flourish of sleeves, the elderly man bent over Zuko's hand and smiled. "First the path of life- what was once difficult now will thrive. I see wealth bodes well for you, not to excess, but your coffers will be lined." Using his free hand, Fu motioned to a large flake, "This denounces a great union in your life line. Your path will merge with that of another land, a southern tribe by the drift of ashes."

"A southern tribe?" Zuko questioned, his forehead wrinkled in confusion. "That's preposterous. If it means by marriage, I only know one woman from the Southern Tribes, and we are not romantically inclined. If it means alliance, well you might say I already have one through friendship." Aang nodded eagerly in agreement while Iroh frowned at his nephews comment.

Fu bowed humbly before the Fire Lord, "Forgive me, noble one, but the telling's do not give exact details. A union may refer to a marriage, to an alliance, or even to another symbolic meaning. And Southern Tribe can refer to any point south of where we stand."

Zuko frowned slightly and nodded his head for the fortune to continue. Fu once again glanced down at the palm and motioned to a long black ash mark. "This bodes well for you, sire. There will be a caring and positive influence in your love life; someone of the heart by this mark."

"What does that mean?" Aang leaned in closer to peer at his friend's palm.

Fu fought the frown that threatened his lips, "Again, the telling's are not direct. We should find ourselves never questioning fate if we knew all of the future, so we see only glimpses. This glimpse could mean one of the water elements, for they are of the heart. Or perhaps it could mean one of a motherly nature."

"That doesn't make sense," Aang scratched at his arrow. "Wait, Zuko, maybe you find your mom-"

"Ignore him," Zuko interrupted, "And please continue."

Fu bowed apologetically to Aang and then to Zuko, "Now, Fire Lord Zuko, if you would please close your fist and hold it vertical, we shall see if you bear the fruit of life." Zuko complied, fist clenching tight he watched as two small ash flakes floated to the floor. "Ah, two then. One drifts to the west, they will be a prodigy of fire. And one to the south, well- that bodes well if you marry a waterbender."

"Waterbender?" Aang seemed mildly upset by the comment, "But he's not going to marry a waterbender." Zuko stepped aside to join his uncle, still starring down at his ash-covered palm.

"Of course, we are all masters of our own fate." Fu explained, swiping the ashes aside with his foot he produced another stick and handed it to the Avatar. "I simply foretell how you will act in the future." Fu motioned to the stick with both hands. "If you would please ignite the stick, I may predict some of your actions, wise one."

Aang nodded, quickly igniting the stick, he caught the ashes and eager held his had forward. Fu smiled, accepting the palm he stared down at the scattering of ashes. "Your life line speaks of much travel. This line here," Fu motioned to a small black mark, "Speaks of a union of substance. This union will bring you wealth in many forms."

It was Zuko's turn to pose the questions, "Are you sure?"

"The ashes do not lie, sire." Fu forced a smile and turned back to the Avatar. "Substance appears again here in your love line."

Aang hesitated, gawking down at his palm then up at the fortuneteller. "You mean the heart."

"No, I mean substance: earth, riches, wealth, not the heart, nor a motherly nature." Fu answered back, his patience wearing thin. "I speak only what the ashes tell, and there is no water element in your future. Now please, may I continue with my telling?" Aang nodded in a dissapointed manner. "The ashes speak of rebirth from your love line, this may refer either to your own rebirth, to a past rebirth, or to your participating in the rebirth of something, a nation for example."

Zuko nodded in agreement, "Perhaps the rebirth of the Air Nomads."

"Now if you would please do as your friend did, I will predict your heirs." Aang nodded, closing his fist he watched the shower of flakes slowly drift to the ground. Fu frowned in confusion and glanced back up at the Aang then back down to the flakes still slowly drifting to he ground.

"What does that mean?" Iroh questioned.

"I count six landing center," Fu answered hesitantly, "There will be six air benders, and one drifts to the east, this bodes well if you marry an Earthbender."

Aang frowned, staring down at the small flakes, "Are you sure none are southern, I think that east one is southeast- so a possibility of waterbender, right?"

"No," Fu answered firmly, "there are no signs of a waterbender in your ashes. If you like, I can come back in five years and re-tell your fortune. Though I doubt much will have changed." The Lord snapped, patience worn thin. Quickly recomposing himself, he bowed deeply to the Avatar and Fire Lord, "If that will be all, milords, I will take my leave." Zuko nodded his head. Lord Fu bowed once again and turned, quickly departing from the room, sans his usually fanfare. Iroh grinned, picked up the tray and followed the retreating trail of the fortuneteller.

The two boys glanced at each other, fortunes slowly sinking in. Zuko frowned, tapping his fingers against the desk. "Mai's not from the south, she's from the west."

"Katara's not from the East either, and the last I checked she doesn't come from a family of wealth." Aang deflated against the desk. "Unless he means emotional wealth," The Avatar perked up at the thought. "Yeah, he must have meant emotional wealth."

"Sure," Zuko nodded, "And while she's not from the South, you could say Mai's from the Southwest." The thought held for a moment, then suddenly shattered. "Who am I kidding?"

Aang sighed, kicked at air and then turned to Zuko, "It's stupid, we're the masters of our own fate. Fortune's are nothing but some crazy old man telling you what you want to hear." The avatar hesitated, "Only this one didn't tell us what we wanted to hear."

"Oh, hey, there you guys are." Sokka poked his head into the room, "I just ran into Katara and Toph, they're looking for you."

Zuko glanced over at the water warrior, "Why?"

Sokka shrugged, "Not sure. They've been acting kind of strange ever since they got back from Lady Fu's Fortune Telling."