Save The One

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

Warnings: Speculation, Spoilers up to Season Three

AN: For Avatar_500 over on LJ. The prompt was #18: Cut.

The first to go is her hair. It's too long. Too lovely. Too fitting for a princess. Ursa hacks it off with the knife she keeps in her boot and watches the strands burn to ash.

The next is her clothes. Those she trades for a more thickly knit tunic and pants in a dull brown. The only things that Ursa keeps are the boots and cloak. Both are generic enough, and she'll need them for the long journey ahead.

Then goes her jewelry. That she sells piece by piece. A ring to a husband looking for a birthday gift. Her best necklace to a pair of young lovers. The royal headpiece to a shift-eyed crook in a back alley.

Her innocence is lost somewhere along the way. Ursa kills her second man during the dead of night and rifles through his pockets before his body even grows cold. Stealing is an art form she soon masters, and she learns to sleep with one eye open.

The soft curves of her body and the smoothness of her skin vanish entirely as time wears on. There's not enough to eat for one, and no one survives long out here without scars. The fact that she bears so few is a testament to her skill with blade and fire and her willingness to use either.

The last thing to go is her self-worth, and Ursa clings to that above all else. It's all she has when stray hands seek a grope or a lewd leer is cast her way, when it'd be so much easier to give in, but she'd die before allowing them this last piece of herself.

And it's hard, so very hard. Ursa lies and cheats and even kills as needed and with less guilt churning her belly each time. She uses and manipulates and does nearly anything to survive. She learns not to look too deeply at her reflection when she washes away the blood and grows used to the taste of ash in her mouth.

But it's worth it. All of it – the filth, the blood, the agony – is worth it when she lifts her head one day to the most wonderful sound in the entire world.


Ever Hopeful,