by Kimberly T.,
inspired by Avocadolove
This ficlet requires a bit of backstory. The awesome fanfic writer Avocadolove has an LJ, and one day she posted for an LJ entry the following meme:
Name a character and I'll tell you three (or more) facts about them from my own personal headcanon.
So someone asked her for some headcanon facts on Zuko, and her three facts included the following:
"Zuko's never really takes up tea with the gusto that Iroh did. His secret love is that of gardening (he discovered it in his twenties) - especially rare, temperamental flowers. He actually wins a few awards for his flowers... under a different name, of course. No one would dare vote against him if they knew the Fire Lord had entered."
And when I read that, well, a plotbunny just jumped at me out of nowhere and started gnawing on my brainstem! The first result was this:
At the Fire Nation capital's 57th annual Fire Lady Ilah Memorial Flower Show, hundreds of rare, exotic and beautiful blooms were entered in the competition, which had dozens of categories.
In the Hybrid Rose category, the first-place winner was a gorgeous Panda Rose, submitted by a quiet and shy fellow named Lee who declined to be interviewed by the Daily Post.
Later, back at the palace, Mai gave Zuko a look she'd perfected over the last few years and asked, "What's your problem? Your Panda Rose won first place." (Secretly, she liked that rose best of all, because he'd told her once that it reminds him of her; difficult to grow and with deadly-sharp thorns, but beautiful in black and white with a subtle citrusy scent. But she knew too well that if she showed any real interest in his hobby, she'd be hearing about soil preparation, watering schedules and other mind-numbing details for days on end.)
Zuko was still pouting. "But I was so proud of how my Eclipse Orchid turned out, and it didn't even win honorable mention…"
And a few days later that plotbunny came back, hopped up on crackfic:
Over the years, Fire Lord Zuko had learned Earth King Kuei's greatest weakness: scrolls of rare knowledge for his library. So after they both dismissed their aides from the chamber, he reached into the sleeves of his robes of office, pulled out and began laying on the table:
"A document describing the arrival of the first waterbending settlers in the Great Foggy Swamp."
Kuei looked very interested.
"An eyewitness account of Avatar Yangchen's childhood at the Eastern Air Temple."
"And… the secret tips for growing my prize-winning Panda Roses."
Kuei lunged for it, but Zuko slapped his hand away. "Ah-ah-ah, you know my price…"
"All right, all right, you can have Gaipan as a colony again!"
The end-I think! :-)