When Zuko was little, he dreamed of dragons.
He dreamed of riding them, arms clasped around a scaly neck and the world falling away below him, just like Great-Grandfather Sozin and his dragon, one-hundred years ago. He dreamed that he had a bond with the dragon, a special bond that no one else in the world could understand, and he and his dragon would spend hours together, in the skies and on the ground, understanding each other. They were the most glorious dreams he'd ever had.
When he was eight, he told Azula about one of his dreams, tried to explain the wonder he felt, and how it was to ride on dragon-back, and she laughed at him.
"Don't be stupid, Zuzu," she said, and smiled at him. "All the dragons are dead. Besides," she added, tossing her head imperiously, "They'd never choose you. If there were any dragons left, they'd choose me. I'm the prodigy, after all."
"Maybe they're just hiding," Zuko said, fists balling up with determination. "Maybe they're just hiding from everyone. And I'll find them, and prove myself worthy."
The dragons never came, and he forgot the dreams.
He and Aang danced with the dragons, and he looked at their fire with his eyes wide and felt young and small and foolish-
But also, he felt