Author's Note: My first ever Avatar: The Last Airbender fanfic! :D I have become unrecognizable in my sheer geekiness. Between anime and microbiology, I have changed entirely from the person I once was. XD

I don't know why, but the fancy struck me to write an Ursa/Ozai fanfic as my beginning A:TLA fic. They're such a deep subject and an enthralling pairing. Really. They keep the mystery alive in Avatar. I thought this little one-shot turned out quite well, even if it leaves something to be desired. I might consider continuing this story as a series of oneshots every month or so, if the mood strikes me. :)

Please let me know what you think! Enjoy!


Song of the Heart by Brian Crain - .com/watch?v=15Ed12h2uXU

The Lightning Bud




Calm. Serenity. Balance.

Ursa gritted her teeth and sighed in defeat, letting her fingers crawl up into her palms. There would be no meditation for her today. Shoulders slumping, she felt hot tears build up under her eyelids. Refusing to wipe them away, she let her gaze drift over the man-made lake on her father's estate. Unwanted, the tears made their insistent way down her cheeks.

The afternoon had been torture. First, her mother had made her sit through an insufferably long formal tea ceremony full of stuffy old men and women and their arrogant children. Those same children, all around Ursa's age and economic status, had done their best to liven up their tea experience by bullying the hosts' daughter.

Men Ti, cousin of General Raoi, had purposefully spilled hot tea across Ursa's hand. Ursa had been forced not to cry out at the pain; she had simply wiped the scalding beverage off with a hand towel and smiled at Men Ti to show her it hadn't hurt.

Later on Muban, the son of a governor of a prominent Earth Kingdom town, had run his hand over Ursa's thigh under the table in an attempt to startle her into humiliation. Ursa had calmly pinched between his thumb and pointer with her thin fingers as hard as she could. He hadn't touched her again, choosing to keep his hands to himself rather than have two matching red marks between his fingers.

Once the tea ceremony had endeed, Ursa had thought things would improve. She couldn't have been more wrong. Not only did the other children hassle her, they insulted her while they did it. In retaliation for not crying out over the tea, Men Ti seized a handful of Ursa's hair and pulled out as many of the fine brown strands as possible. When Ursa staggered away from her in pain, Muban had given her a shove right into the flower beds outside her mother's room. Of course, that was the one spot where her mother cultivated roses.

The other children had laughed as Ursa leapt out of the rosebushes, shaking her robes to rid them of thorns. Jin, normally a nice enough boy, was emboldened to call out an unkind nickname. "Ursa the Cursed! Of course she'd fall in the rosebushes!"

"Ursa the Cursed!" This name had been quite popular with the other noble children, and they had chanted it at Ursa all afternoon. Ursa had done her best to ignore it-responding to name-calling only encouraged bullies-but she couldn't pretend it didn't hurt her feelings. What had she done to make those children dislike her? They had never treated her well, even when they were toddlers. Now here they were, teenagers, and they were still calling her names and pulling her hair.

Well, they all teased her with the exception of one boy. But he never did much of anything, name-calling or otherwise. He mostly stood watching the other children, his arms folded and his brow furrowed. Ursa felt like he might not count.

Ursa blinked, trying to stop the tears, but it was no use. She bowed her head and held back a sniffle. She wasn't cursed. She wouldn't grow up to be unhappy and childless, as Men Ti was fond of saying. She would marry an honorable man, maybe a soldier, and they would have lovely children together who could firebend better than anyone else. Her mother and father would be proud of her, Ursa thought, as she lifted her chin to the sunset. She was sure of it.

Then her shoulders sagged. Who knew, though? Maybe she would grow up to be old and lonely, with no husband and no children. Maybe she would be a burden on her family. Maybe she was ugly and masculine, like Men Ti and Lonu said. Maybe she was cursed.

A tiny sob escaped her throat as Ursa watched some ripples on the lake, and as she gave in to the pain, she felt a presence approach her from behind. She turned so that her face was hidden from the approaching person. No one must see her tears; it was shameful to be caught weeping.

The boy say down beside her, crossing his legs in a meditation pose. He wore the same expression he always had at formal occasions: a distant, sober look that made Ursa think he would rather be anywhere but there. She had heard he was a great firebender, strong and passionate in a fight. Personally, she wished he would translate some of that fire to his life outside the sparring ring.

But it didn't matter what she thought, because this boy would take no advice from a humble subject. With this thought, Ursa remembered her manners and bowed to the boy. "Prince Ozai," she muttered, her voice betraying her tears.

Ozai waved her to a sitting position. "It's just the garden, you know," he said. "Not the throne room. You don't have to bow."

"Yes, I do," answered Ursa, forgetting herself.

Ozai looked like he might roll his eyes but refrained. "Whatever you say, Lady Ursa."

"I'm sorry," whispered Ursa, and went back to watching the water. Her eyes and cheeks were itching from dried salt, but she refused to wipe at them. Not with the prince beside her.

A moment passed in silence, and then Ursa felt a strange tickle at her hand. She nearly pulled it back out of reflex, but when her fingers brushed something soft, she hesitated. There, resting next to her left hand, was a beautiful white lightning flower. It had been picked off one of the bushes in the garden, of course, but it made Ursa's breath catch nonetheless. She touched the delicate petals, bright white on the edges and icy blue in the middle, and brought the flower close to her face. It smelled like fresh rain, another reason for its name. It was one of her favorite blossoms.

As she glanced shyly up from the flower, she caught a hint of gold and black as the prince stood and walked away. Her tears dried and her heart inexplicably warmed, she watched him until he vanished through an archway in the garden wall.

In that moment, Ursa felt as cursed as a free sparrowjay.