Kon'nichiwa dokusha (hello readers in Japanese)! This one is sort of a tragedy for you. I just finished reading the book Kindred by Octavia E. Butler – great read by the way—and got a sense of real pain from a "firsthand" point-of-view. As a result, I have been writing stories about sad situations. Here is one including my favorite fire bender and his complex family.
DISCLAIMER: as you all know most of these characters don't belong to me. I just like to write stories about them because their awesome.
It was a sad day in the Fire Nation; it was the funeral for the first heir born to Fire Lord Zuko and Fire Lady Mai. It was a brisk winter day and the rain was coming down harder than ever. Zuko however decided to sit outside in the palace garden. He was on his knees with his head slumped over and though they were unnoticeable, tears were rolling down his face. His eyes were blood shot and weary from lack of sleep. The distraught man looked to the heavens and yelled as he always did when he had reached his peak of frustration.
"SORA WAS ONE OF THE GOOD THINGS IN MY LIFE! WHY DID YOU HAVE TOB TAKE HER FROM ME?"
In silence, General Iroh watched his nephew vent his feelings. It broke his heart to see him like that: so vulnerable and hurt. Iroh knew his pain. He had experienced it many years ago when his only son was killed in the war. He walked up to Zuko and knelt down to his level and put his hand on the Fire Lord's shoulder. Zuko locked eyes with his Uncle. Upon seeing him, he seemed to calm down.
"What Uncle? What do you want from me?"
"I want you to get out of this rain and be with your wife. She needs you right now more than ever."
"I need to be alone, just until the funeral is over with. Can't I at least have that for right now?"
Uncle sighed. "I understand."
Zuko stood up and walked to the large tree were his daughter had planted a small crocus with Mai. He caressed its smooth yellow petals and outlined its leaves.
"She loved this little plant, took care of it like it was her child." Zuko broke down again at the thought of his daughter being out of his life forever. He kicked the side of the tree in anger causing some its leaves to fall off.
Iroh lowered his head and turned back to enter the palace. It was almost noon and the funeral was going to begin soon.
After about ten minutes of dwelling in the rain, Zuko made his way to his room to get ready. It was going to be long day.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the palace, Katara helped Mai get ready. Mai was a mess: she wouldn't eat, she barely slept, and getting her out of bed was a task all in its own. Her emotions wailed like a raging ocean and only the soothing sound of her daughter's voice was able to calm it. Now that Sora was gone, there was nothing stopping Mai from a full breakdown. She was a shell of the person she once was.
Aang and Katara had come to visit a week before Sora's death. The five year old had contracted an incurable illness that caused her to have an extreme fever and headache, along with muscle spasms and paralysis in her right arm. Even though she had her own baby to care for, the water bender took on the role of making sure Mai was well.
Katara washed Mai's hair, helped put her clothes on and made her breakfast. Katara provided her the comfort that she wasn't getting anywhere else.
When the two finished eating, Mai sat on her bed and began to speak without warning.
"I should have seen this coming. She was always sick as a baby but I never thought anything of it. We could have saved her; she could have been here with us rite now."
"Mai you don't know that. The doctor said it was something that he had never seen before, even the Water Tribe healers couldn't cure her." Katara walked over to her broken friend and placed a comforting hand on her shoulder. "There was nothing you or anyone else could do."
Katara stood Mai up and locked arms with her. "Are you ready for this?"
Mai looked at her with a stoic expression. "I'll never be ready."
When the two approached the door they were greeted by Zuko who was dripping wet. Seeing his wife made him forget all about his own troubles and worry about hers. He grabbed her hand and kissed her forehead. Katara looked at the scene unfolding in front of her and let go of Mai's arm. Leaning back on the large doorframe, she thought to herself: "They're going to get through this just fine."
The rain had stopped just in time for the funeral to proceed without a glitch. All of the Fire Nations most important people had gathered in the court yard along with many other middle class civilians. Sora's small coffin was placed in the center of the pyre just as Fire Lord Azulon's had many years before.
Dressed in all white, the Fire Nation royals took their places near the red coffin. Anyone who knew Zuko personally knew how strong he was being for his country. The man was struggling to hold back the tears.
Once everybody was settled down, the head fire sage started to speak: "Princess Sora was our nation's most prized treasure. She was the first heir to the royal throne, and loved by all. Sora will be missed dearly." He raised his hand and signaled everyone to bow their heads. "May your trip onwards be safe and may your next life be a peaceful one."
Once her coffin was set ablaze, Mai and Zuko went back into the palace as gracefully as they could. The main hall was extremely quite – too quiet. It gave them too much room to think. Mai leaned her back against a wall and slid down to the floor. Burying her face in her hands, she cried more tears than she thought she could even hold. Sora's death was a week ago and Mai hadn't shed a single tear. She kept all of her feelings to herself. But now her mask was gone and her pain was flowing as freely as the daggers that she throws. Seeing his wife that way made Zuko realize how selfish he was being throughout the entire process. He sat next to her and wrapped his arms tightly around her. His warm embrace was exactly what she needed at the time. They stayed in that position for what seemed like forever. After a while though, they got up holding hands. Looking at each other was like looking into the face of a new life – it was mind bottling, but reassuring.
"Are you ok?" he asked her.
She wiped the moisture from her face and tightened her grip on his hand. "It's going to take some time but I think I… we can make it." She gave him a weak smile. "We should get out of here though. It's freezing up here."
"Would you like to go anywhere special?"
"How about the dragon fountain; she loved it there."
"Sounds like a plan."
Making their way down the hallway filled with Fire Lord Portraits, questions arose in Mai's mind.
"Do you think she's ok, you know in the spirit world?"
"Of course I do Honey. Maybe if we're lucky, cousin Lu Ten can keep an eye on her."
"I think she would like that." Mai stopped in front of Zuko's picture "I'm going to miss her more than anything in the world."
"I am too but I know that she is out of pain now and in a better place."
They continued their walk until they reached Sora's favorite spot. Aang, Katara, Ty-lee, Toph, Iroh, Suki, and Soka were ironically already there. Together, they watched the water dance in the sunlight, silently giving them the closure that they needed.
Sad right? I sort of made it to where she died of Polio (which in medical terms is Poliomyelitis). Since the avatar world isn't very advanced I suspected that they have no clue about diseases like Polio or even Mumps. They're ahead but they're also behind. Also at the funeral, I decided to let everyone in because it seemed like something Zuko would do. In the last episode, everyone came to his coronation so why not let them come to Sora's funeral.