She is the Sunlight
Summary: One-shot – Is she the villain or the hero? Most of the time not even Azula knows for sure.
Author's Notes: I love Azula but I have never written her before. Hope I can do her character justice.
Disclaimer: I do not own any characters featured in this story. They all belong to Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko.
She is the Sunlight
Azula was born in the middle of the day when the sun is highest in the sky. Ursa's labor was short and easy and Azula arrives safely into the world.
It is very different from Zuko's delivery which nearly killed both mother and son. So relieved and happy over her easy birth, her parents fawn over her immediately.
Surrounded by warm sunshine and loving whispers, Azula's introduction to the world was the feeling of warmth.
Azula first discovers her gift for fire when she is three and playing with her brother.
Zuko is young and still selfish and wants her doll. Azula is young and selfish and doesn't share. They fight over it and tumble around until Zuko shrieks and cries and cries.
Ursa comes running and examines his burned fingers carefully before making the connection. She looks to her daughter and smiles even as she hugs Zuko to her chest.
"Azula, you must be careful with your fire. You scared your brother and me with it," she says and then leads them both back inside.
With her mother's words still ringing in her ears, Azula forever associates fire with fear.
Father loves Azula the most.
That is a fact that cannot be changed. Azula knows this to be as true as the sky is blue and the grass is green.
Father loves Azula because she is strong and gifted and special. She can do things no other can. He tells her this over and over again until there is no doubt in her mind.
Father loves Azula more than Mother and Zuko and Uncle and Lu Ten and Grandfather. Azula is Father's beloved daughter and that will never change.
Father loves Azula and Azula most definitely loves Father.
Azula is seven and she hates her brother for being what she is not.
Zuko laughs and cries and takes pleasure in stupid things. He talks to others so easily and is loved by Mother and Uncle and Lu Ten. Even Grandfather laughs at his stupid jokes and corrects his stance when he trains.
Azula does not understand. She is the special one, the gifted one, the lucky one. Why do they not look at her the same way they look at Zuko? Why do they not talk to her about her studies, or what books she's read?
Why do they not love her the way Father does?
Azula hates Zuko because he is not special but the world still loves him more than her.
Azula pretends that Mother disgusts her but the truth is she scares her.
Father is easy to understand. He loves strength and power and that is why he loves Azula and hates Zuko.
But Mother is not like that.
She loves Zuko and Azula for no other reason other than because they are her children. She tells Azula this time and time again.
She cannot understand this logic. She cannot understand why Mother would love someone just because they exist. If they are not gifted and special, then why bother with them at all?
Azula cannot understand Mother and her love and that is why she fears her.
Ty Lee and Mai are strange and do not fit in at the academy. Ty Lee is always jumping around and Mai doesn't do anything but stare, but they are both at the top of their classes behind only Azula.
Azula watches them for days before deciding to make them her friends. They are the best students in her class and therefore worthy enough to be her friends.
Ty Lee accepts her easily enough and is quick to follow her around like a lost puppy. Mai hesitates and lingers but eventually gives in and accepts her as her superior.
Azula isn't surprised by the lack of resistance.
People are always drawn towards their betters and Azula is the best of the best.
Lu Ten dies and Mother and Zuko cry. Grandfather doesn't speak to anyone for days and even Father looks annoyed and restless.
Azula does not cry. She does not lock herself away or get angry either.
She laughs and laughs and laughs because all this time she thought Lu Ten was strong when he was really weak. He was weak and that's why he was crushed under a bolder by those weak Earthbenders.
The weak always perish and only the strong survive.
When she tries to explain this to Mother, she just looks at her like she doesn't know her. Like Azula is someone else's daughter and not Ursa's.
Azula tries to pretend that look doesn't upset her.
Grandfather dies and Mother disappears and Father becomes Fire Lord.
Azula is ecstatic.
Finally, Father is getting what he deserved all along. He was always meant to rule over their nation. Father is the strong one, the amazing one. Uncle is just a bumbling old fool who hasn't realized that his time ended long ago.
Zuko doesn't share her joy.
He wanders around the palace looking lost and confused. Azula laughs at him and tries to mock him for it but he just looks at her with blank amber eyes. Eventually she grows bored with him and how pathetically weak he is.
Honestly, it amazes her sometimes that they came from the same womb.
Mother is… gone but Azula doesn't like to think about that very much. Mother never loved her anyway so who cares if she's gone?
Azula doesn't need anyone but Father anyways.
Time goes by and Azula flourishes.
Without Mother around to nag her to take breaks and pace herself, she is finally allowed to train to her fullest potential. Father, of course, encourages her along and gives her everything she needs to become the greatest Firebender in the history of their nation.
Mai and Ty Lee have obviously remained by her side and have trained to try and keep up with her greatness. They are not at her level (but who was?) but they were still formable and the best fighters of their age group.
The royal court and nation have also begun to take notice of her power and gifts. They begin to respect and admire her. They begin to see that she is the future of their nation.
Azula basks in it all. Basks in the love of her Father and friends and nation. She is perfection in human form and everyone finally knows it.
Her brother is the odd one out now. No one loves him more anymore. Lu Ten, Mother, and Grandfather are all gone now. The only one left is Uncle and who really cares what he thinks?
And when he is exiled by Father, her victory just tastes all the sweeter.
Azula is the beloved one now. Just like it was always meant to be.
The years after only get better.
Azula keeps growing stronger and stronger. She ruthlessly forces herself past the limits of the human body, and the results are wondrous. She becomes the perfect weapon, the perfect Firebender, the perfect heir to Father and his legacy.
Azula is perfect and no one will ever say otherwise.
But sometimes she dreams.
She dreams of the time when Mother looked at her like she was something too horrible to comprehend. She dreams of Father turning his back on her just like he did to Zuko after he burned his face. She dreams of Ty Lee and Mai laughing and leaving her behind.
She dreams of sitting on the throne and looking outside and seeing Mother and Zuko and Grandfather and Lu Ten and Uncle together; happy and oblivious to her.
When she wakes up from these dreams, she finds herself shaking and has to go burn something.
She refuses to think that the dreams have any meaning.
Azula tracks down Zuko and Uncle and the Avatar in a game of cat and mouse. A few times she gets close to capturing them but in the end allows them to escape. The chase is the greatest part of it after all.
It is almost ridiculously easy when she takes over Ba Sing Se. Even easier to trick Zuko to her side, imprison Uncle, and kill the Avatar.
But then again, how could anything ever be difficult for someone like Azula?
When Zuko betrays her and runs off to join the Avatar, she is honestly surprised. Not disappointed or hurt—because Zuko doesn't matter—but still surprised that he had the spine to attack their Father—only her father now—and escape.
Mai grows even more quiet and subdued after Zuko's departure. Azula dismisses it as anger at Zuko for running off and pays it no more attention.
Until Mai and Ty Lee suddenly betray her and help Zuko—weaklingbrotherweakweak—escape with those Water peasants and that little chit she captured back in the Earth kingdom. Azula throws the traitors—friendsbestfriendsonlyfriends—into prison and burns with rage for days after.
Her anger torches three houses but her shock—whywhywhywhy—and hurt—whydidyouleaveme—burns stronger than any fire she can summon.
Azula cannot sleep.
Every time she closes her eyes she feels someone watching her. Assassins are everywhere and now that she knows anyone can betray her, she doesn't trust herself to fall asleep in the palace.
Azula does not sleep.
Father has named her Fire Lord and given her the Fire Nation. He has left her behind to conquer the rest of the world. He has left her behind just like she is Zuko and has denied Azula her rightful place at his side as he starts a new age.
Azula will not sleep.
Mother has begun to haunt her again. She watches Azula at all times with her dark, knowing eyes. Azula screams at her to go away but she doesn't leave. She never leaves and she never stops watching.
"Azula, you must be careful with your fire…"
Zuko and the Waterbender infiltrate the palace and attack her. She welcomes her pathetic assassins and unleashes the power of her ancestors on them.
Zuko holds his own against her attacks but in the end slips up when he tries to protect the Waterbender. She feels nothing but pure pleasure when her lightening hits his body and he collapses to the ground, unmoving.
The Waterbender takes his place and fails to provide a challenge. She ends up running and hiding like the coward her people have always been. But then the Waterbender tricks her and wraps her in water and chains. Azula can only feel disbelief as she realizes that she has been beaten by a Waterbender.
Then she feels anger—beautiful, faithful anger—at the Waterbender—at Azula—who has bested her.
Then it is nothing but tears and screams and then—
"You scared your brother and me with it…"
Mother combs Azula's long hair in careful, even strokes. She smiles and tells Azula how beautiful and grown-up she is. She tells Azula she loves her and has never been afraid of her strength.
Father trains with Azula and laughs as she beats him. He smirks and tells Azula how strong and powerful she has grown. He tells Azula that she is his favorite child and he has always been proud of her.
Zuko watches as she is crowned Fire Lord. He grins and tells Azula he wishes he was as cunning and talented as she was. He tells Azula that he has always admired and envied her gifts.
Mai and Ty Lee play with Azula in the gardens. The laugh and shriek and tell Azula how happy and proud they are to know her. They tell Azula they will always be her friend and will never leave her.
Uncle and Grandfather and Lu Ten always want to spend time with Azula. They ask Azula about her day and what books she's read and her studies and training. They tell Azula she is an amazing and wonderful girl.
Everyone loves and respects Azula. She in turn basks under their adoration like a flower under the sun. Her life is now perfect just like it was always meant to be.