AN: These prompts will allude to details that will happen in my story, Flawed Design, currently being written to be posted in, probably, middle of November. So, this is AU- you'll know what I mean when you read them. Enjoy.
Disclaimer: I don't own Avatar, Last Airbender, in any shape or form. Pity.
THE BLUE DRAGON
People believed their eyes far too often; they saw a young boy, first born, and thought him strong; they saw a young girl, quiet, and thought her weak; they were wrong on both counts.
2. I'm here
"Hush, little sister, don't you cry," the young prince whispered, gold eyes bright and focused on the whimpering, three-month-old princess, "I'm here and I'm never, ever leaving you, hush now..."
All she could think was that her brother had lied, because he'd left, forever; the Fire Sage lit Prince Zuko's funeral pyre, even as Father lit Grandfather's pyre, and she stood by her mother and watched.
4. Puppy love
He is tall, and brave, and strong, and her eyes follow the swordsman wherever he goes; even at her young age she knows nothing will come of it, but Azula can't help but admire Piandao.
It's summer, and it's too warm for gloves (but Mommy grabbed her wrists so hard the marks show black against her skin) but it's better to wear gloves than reveal her shame- princesses aren't supposed to bite their nails (and if she says it enough times, maybe even she will believe it).
Azula learnt swiftly, until she and her brother were lectured by the same tutors; it was then that her learning seemed to slow down, or his sped up.
I wonder what it was like before the war, she wonders, staring at a scroll of love poems; these days, no one really has time for writing poetry.
-is the gleam of fox-gold eyes and the twitch of a silver tail; is the shivering veils of white and blue fox-fire; is the taste of stolen honey-cakes and a friend to share them with.
"What I don't understand," Ursa asks her son, "is why you're so dirty and Azula isn't, after playing inside" and the two children look at each other, and smile, and don't reply.
No one knew about her friends, because Mommy wouldn't believe her, Daddy didn't care, and there was no one else to tell- if she told herself no one knew because the spirits were secret, it didn't hurt as much.
"Fires burn blue when spirits walk," the old people said; Azula's flames were blue and deadly, and it was hard to say who worried about it more, the older generation, or the spirits that guarded her.
Azula was lonely, and Mai and Ty Lee had been taken away by their families- the royal family was under a curse, it was only sensible- so she made pretend friends, ones that would never, ever leave her.
"Do you miss your brother?" Ozai asks, and Azula's smart enough to see the danger in the question; "What brother?" she replies, and her father smiles.
"Oh, look Bourei, a whole honeycomb and just for me- hey, Blue Spirit, give that back, you don't even eat!"
The day Prince Lu Ten died, it had stormed over the Fire Nation capital, and people said Agni mourned one of Her most promising children; the night Fire Lord Azulon and Prince Zuko were killed, the air was still and somehow that was worse than raging wind and bright lightning.
The Blue Spirit was bound to protect noblewomen in dangerous circumstances, and make them happy; Princess Azula was his favorite charge so far, as for all the danger she was in, the only thing she needed to make her happy was a bit of company and a basket of her favorite fruit.
"Fire is a weapon," Ozai thunders, dramatic for his audience of two, wife and daughter, "its purpose is to burn and destroy," and at that Azula has to speak up- "But what about cooking, Father?" and Ozai has no answer.
It was the rare Fire Nation coast that had soft, golden sand instead of black, sharp edged obsidian pebbles; Ember Island, the siblings agreed, was tolerable only because of the beach, but it'd be a lot better if someone accidentally burnt the theater down- Zuko got caught backstage with fire in his hand, but Azula lied to get him out of trouble.
Ursa wandered the palace halls, looking for her son, eyes vacant and hair in disarray- when she asked Azula where Zuko was, the girl looked her mother in the eye- and lied.
Princesses never shed a tear- but Mommy had slapped her and called her a worthless sow- and Azula was most certainly a princess- Mommy said no one wanted to be Azula's friend- and she certainly wasn't going to give anyone the satisfaction of breaking down- she said it was Azula's fault Zuko was dead- but there was only so much one person could take, and if she ran down to the kitchen gardens, she could generally find a place to curl up and be alone for an hour or two.
Her guardian never talked, and never, ever relaxed- he stood above all her petty problems, his only concern her physical safety- or so Azula thought, until late one night after a nightmare, she found her guardian kneeling beside the bed, thumb caressing her cheek.
She shouldn't have wandered into the room, but- Azula stood in the doorway, staring at the blood pooled and drying beside her brother's bed, and felt sick- never mind right or wrong, she should have stayed and listened to Father and Grandfather talking.
She is hiding from her mother, again, and first thinks the bushes rustling is a servant finding her hiding place- and then he steps into sight, tall and with broad shoulders, big hands strong from spinning swords in deadly circles, every patch of skin covered in black silk and blue mask- he is silent, and so is she- until she giggles, that is.
Azula, like a dutiful daughter, studies for war, studies the way of the elements- air, benders gone but not forgotten, with every hurricane that pounds the islands; water, closed up in the north and bitter in the south; and earth, fighting with everything it has, losing ground but making it hurt- and fire, burning brightly, consuming all available fuel and not thinking beyond the next engagement.
She's not yet ten, but she's seen desperation and knows fear; she questions her guardians, who confirm that yes, the Avatar is alive, just- missing- and she starts to plan her search.
"The brighter the light-" Agni's temple is built of white and gold marble, fires burning everywhere, the eternal flame situated on the altar made of solid gold; Azula bows to the Great Spirit's statue, and can only hope the presence of a kitsune means she has the Sun's favorable regard.
"-the darker the shadows-" her father grows greedier every day, stretching his hand further over the map of the world as he places markers for Fire Nation victories; slowly the world is drowning in red and black, and Azula's guardian warns it will only get worse before it gets better.
Azula remembers- gentle hands and honest pleasure, a mother's warm regard and a father's bright pride- something that can only have come from a dream; what she has now is solid and honest, built on a foundation of her brother's love.
Ursa is never pleased; Azula has tried sitting quietly, tried letting her servants lace her into a child's version of a noblewoman's beautiful kimonos, tried talking to her mother about gentle things, soft things, and even tried being like Zuko, so good at poetry and content to sit still for hours on end feeding turtle-ducks; Ursa always responds the same way, with harsh words and harsher glares.
Everyone assumes Azula's favorite color is red, or gold, but she always corrects them when they say that sort of thing; her favorite color is blue, because that's the color of her fire- and the color of her guardian's mask, though she certainly doesn't tell anyone that.