Author's Note: I own absolutely nothing involving the world of Avatar: The Last Airbender. I only own the plot and original characters. Thank you so much for reading!
Zuko was vaguely aware of the fingers on his neck, dragging sweet relief down his flesh, but really he didn't particularly care for the feeling. Honestly, he'd been feverish for so long, he'd entirely lost the sensation in his arms and legs. And though the relief was wonderful, it wasn't much unlike the feeling he'd been imagining for days.
It was difficult to stand when he voice asked him to rise, "Please Zuko, get up!" but he fought through, something telling him he needed to do it for the voice.
"Zuko, darling, have you washed behind your ears yet?" Ursa asked.
"Mom!" he groaned, "of course I have!" But he quickly tucked the cloth up behind his left ear, and then his right, looking back over his shoulder to see if she had spotted him. Of course she had, as mothers always do.
"I'm old enough to do this alone!" He argued as she reached forward with a smile, taking the rag from his hands.
"You are only four, Zuko. It's okay to need your mother's help."
"I need no one's help!" And he tucked his arms across his chest as she washed his ears for him and rinsed the cloth in his bath water.
"I'm fine, I can do this alone," Zuko uttered, and yet still he was only partially aware of his surroundings, of the water that was releasing the ache from his muscles, that was being poured down his throat. His clothing was being pulled off, his body was sliding under, supported by the arms of another.
"Don't be so stubborn, fire breath," a voice above the arms responded, "you can barely keep your eyes open." That voice, where had he heard that voice before? "It's not like I want to help you, either, so don't forget that."
Zuko nodded; he wouldn't forget.
Ursa tucked him in under heavy blankets. "Stay warm, my prince." She kissed his head as she wrapped him even more tightly in the covers.
"I will." He allowed himself a smile and he watched her fade into the darkness of the hallway. He sighed and drew his hand from the blankets, trying desperately to summon fire in his palm. Of course it wouldn't come, not now. He would have to keep practicing.
"Zuko, come on, get under these blankets." he didn't want to, his flesh felt as if it were burning from his bones, melting.
"Please no, don't make me," his hands clawed outward weakly, reaching for the source of the voice. "I'm so, so hot."
"You have to sweat out this fever, Zuko. You can't do this, you're not in the fire nation anymore, the nights here are cold." He does not move again as he is tucked up into the blankets.
There is a feeling deep in his gut, this appreciation for the person giving him so much attention. And that voice, he just can't place it, oh how he wishes he could place it.
His eyes flutter to a close just as he is maneuvered into resting his head in the lap of the voice.
"Oh, Zuko! You've done it! I am so proud of you."
And of course, it is Ursa who engulfs Zuko in a hug after the small flame in his hand extinguishes. Pride rips through him, so powerful he nearly begins to cry.
Over his mother's shoulder, he looks for his father's eyes. When those eyes are trained on the infant Azula, gurgling fire and giggling, Zuko's cries fall from his throat and he feels something new; something just as powerful. Jealousy.
When Zuko wakes up his eyes focus immediately on a shade of blue so brilliant, he can't breathe.
Sokka's lips curl up on the side of his face. "Hmph. I'm not sure if I should be happy you're awake or not." His hand finds the prince's forehead. "The fever is gone." The man turns to leave. "I'll bring you some tea."
"Sokka," the name tastes strange on Zuko's tongue, but he licks at it anyway, "wait."