Two Steps from Hell

Disclaimer: I don't own Avatar: The Last Airbender. Sadly enough.

Warnings: OC, Speculation, Spoilers

AN: For Avatar_500 over on LJ. The prompt was #15: Defeat.

She'd started out a nobody. A no one. A nonentity in the grand scheme. Her family's name was worth less than the dirt floors of their home. They weren't nobles. Not of noteworthy lineage or with enough wealth to ignore that fact. Not military or merchants or anything of value.

But she was clever. And quick. Cunning. Willing to put in the effort. To work hard. To lie and cheat and steal her way to victory. To get her hands dirty until the blood soaked through her sleeves and dripped to the streets below.

It was too easy. Sometimes, she didn't even have to try.

The deaths of the royal family. So horrible. So senseless. So easily blamed on someone else.

The sole survivor, their ever-so-fortunate prince was barely even an adult. His closest and only real friend was continents away, too.

How fortunate for him that she was there. Willing and able to assist with his every need. Willing to support him, guide him, mold him how she saw fit.

The prince was young. Young and innocent. Malleable.

And if he was anything like his father, he'd grow up to be foolish and ultimately weak. Too focused on his dream of expanding the empire to know what was going on just below his very nose.

A subtle nudge here. A hint there. And he went exactly where she led without a second thought.

Child's play. Even easier to have the kingdom fall in love with her. Have the women be envious and the men's eyes follow her everywhere. Have the populace thank her for her efforts and bow down before her with a smile.

But it was never enough. Not enough to stand behind the throne. She wanted one of her own. She wanted to prove that her birth and her family and her name didn't shackle her down. That she could rise above those ashes and be more. Be greater than anyone.

Even if she was the only one to ever know it.

But sometimes, straightforward effort wasn't the best way. Sometimes, a fire blast to the face was worth less than evading to the side. Sometimes, it was better to persuade than to attack.

And who could possibly be more worthy of her than a prince who'd one day rule everything?

Fire Lady. She rather liked the sound of that.

Soon, so would Sozin.

Ever Hopeful,