Blood Amongst the Flowers

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

Warnings: AU, General Spoilers, Implied Sex

AN: For Avatar_500 over on LJ. The prompt was #32: Empty.

Something of a companion to my Tales of the Sun drabble, Break the Sky.

She shouldn't be here. It feels beyond wrong as she sits on his bed and watches him take off his crown. This isn't her place, but she's still here. Her dress is beautiful, pink and white, but wrinkled as she toys with the edge. He looks tired, but Zuko manages a small smile as he turns to face her.

They're all tired these days. All weary.

The war is over. They won. But they still lost.

The Fire Nation armies have fallen. Their countrymen are scattered. Ozai is imprisoned. Azula is too crazed to know her own name.

And Mai is…

Ty Lee swallows as Zuko moves to sit next to her. His face is soft now, almost sad, but there's a gleam to his eyes as he looks at her. Ty Lee just sits in Mai's place and lets him put his head on her shoulder. Her hands move of their own accord, and her arm wraps around his waist without her permission.

Somehow, she doesn't care. She stays there with him, the boy Mai has loved since she was six, and lets him nuzzle her neck.

He kisses her then. Ty Lee doesn't stop him.

He lowers her down to the bed behind them. She doesn't stop that either. Ty Lee just digs her fingers into his hair and pulls it loose. She helps him slip her dress over her head and eases his ceremonial robe from his shoulders.

She knows it's wrong. She knows it shouldn't be her here. She repeats it over and over in her head as lips work their way down her breast bone and belly.

This is wrong. Wrong and horrible and betraying. And…

And Ty Lee curls around him afterwards. His fingers trace along her naked back, and his breath is soft against her skin as he kisses her neck. Ty Lee lets him do that, too.

Lets him whisper in her ear and kiss her slowly. Lets him look at her the same way he used to look at Mai. Lets herself stay when he asks and lie next to him as he sleeps. Lets herself remember.

But all she can think about is the glint of gold eyes hovering above her and the feel of his skin pressing against her own. The smell of his sweat. The taste of him lingering in her mouth.

All she can think is that it should be Mai here instead, but all Ty Lee knows is that she's glad her friend isn't.

Ever Hopeful,