This one-shot was originally going to be inspired by a discussion that my class had one day about the double standard. If you think about it, in many occasions, men get more freedom than women do. So I wanted to address that issue. Then I began to write and it didn't exactly turn out that way. To see what I'm talking about read on.
"Emi this is the last I want to hear about this."
"But dad why can't I go?"
"Because you're too young"
"Dad I'm thirteen."
"Don't you think I know that?"
"So why can't I go?"
"Emi you are too young!"
"Ugh… I, I hate you!"
This argument between the Fire Lord and his daughter had gone too far. She had been mad at him before but she had never said that she hated him. Watching her walk away from him broke his heart. If he wasn't super late for a meeting with the heads of the other three nations, he would indeed try to run after her.
Instead he sighed and made his way to the council room. Upon entry, his mood was slightly lifted when he saw some old friends: Avatar Aang, King Bumi, and Chief Hakoda. The world leaders always came together once a year to discuss the festival that celebrated the end of the hundred year's war. It was the only meeting that Zuko didn't mind going too. However this was just the wrong timing.
"I apologize for my lateness. Family issues"
The Avatar looked at his old master with worried eyes. "Is everything ok Zuko? You seem stressed"
"I'm fine Aang but thanks for asking. Let's just get this meeting going so we can all get on with our lives."
Aang stood up and went to the front of the room with a pile of scrolls in his arm. "Well I have thought of some great ideas for this year's festival. We could have a character contest. People could dress up like their favorite hero from the war and whoever can portray them the best can win a prize. Also we can have the mechanist designate a place for people to go gliding. It can give people insight on what we've been missing the past hundred and fourteen years."
King Kuei rubbed his now extremely long beard after hearing Aang's ideas and gave his opinion. "All of those ideas are great but where are we going have the festival?"
"Well" Zuko chimed in "Aang thought it would be good to have it just off of the Woo Long forest. That way people would be able to see where the battle that changed the world took place. Also that area is uninhabited so when we do the fireworks there won't be any risks."
Aang smiled. Even though he was twenty-five years old, he still possessed that childlike innocence. Zuko always thought that was the reason he did so well with his son Tenzin.
"Katara also suggested that this year, the money we make could go towards the orphanages in the poorer communities."
The rest of the world leader's nodded their heads in agreement. One by one they each went up and gave their opinions. Some ideas were declined while others were written down and thrown into action. This meeting was going much faster than Zuko thought it would.
King Kuei was the last person to speak. He suggested that there be a raffle ticket given to all those who attend the festival and that the prize can be as king Kuei put it "live like a king for a week". Everyone agreed it was a good idea but questioned the matters of safety. In the end it was put under the "maybe" list.
When the meeting was over Aang walked back to the northern garden with Zuko. They began to engage in meaningless conversation until Aang saw that Zuko wasn't paying attention to what he was saying.
"Ok Zuko now I know something is up. What happened before the meeting?"
"I don't want to talk about it right now Aang."
"So when will you want to talk about it?"
"Just, not now ok?"
Just then, Mai's voice was heard from behind them.
"I think I know what's wrong with him."
Noticing the needed alone time between husband and wife Aang excused himself. Mai grabbed her husband's hand and snuggled close to his side.
"So you want to talk about this or what?"
"Of course I know; Emi came and told me everything. She was crying her eyes out you know."
"I know that and it killed me to see her that way but she is just too young to be going away to Ember Island."
"She's going to be with three of her friends and there is going to be a parent going. She'll be perfectly safe."
"But she won't be safe enough. I wouldn't be able to forgive myself if anything happened to her"
"What is this really about Zuko? You're never this unreasonable. Usually you let her do whatever she wants. You even tell me all the time that she's your little princess."
"That's just it though; Emi is my little princess. I don't want her grow up too fast."
"Honey" she cupped his cheek and looked him in the eye. "I know you want her to stay a little girl forever but it's not going to happen— not in this world at least"
"I know but I just wish I could make her see my side of the story."
"How about you talk to her about it; maybe you two could come to a settlement."
"I guess so but I don't know what I would say."
"Tell her how you feel and then compromise with her. Look" Mai pointed to the princess walking down the hall. She was twirling her long black hair in between her fingers. Her sniffling was heard from all the way down the hall. "here is your chance now. Don't screw it up."
"Thank you" He kissed her forehead and walked over to his daughter. When he knelt down to her level, she turned her head in the opposite direction.
"Emi, can you at least look at me?"
"I'm still mad at you Dad."
"I know you're mad at me but I want you to know that I meant well."
Emi was silent.
"Come on let's go to the garden so we can talk this out."
Zuko grabbed her hand and lead her to a bench that overlooked a small fountain. When they sat down Emi once again turned her head. It was only then that Zuko realized something: his daughter looked exactly like her mother and had the attitude to match. It was true that she was growing up and turning into a young woman. He couldn't get in the way of that.
"Would you like to make a compromise?"
"How? You still think of me as a kid."
"I just don't think you're old enough to be going to Ember Island for a week without me, you're mother or anyone that I know personally."
Emi turned to her father with glossed over eyes. The hurt was definitely shining through her slightly pale skin.
"But Dad, I'm going with Akira. You know her."
"That's not the point. You're going to be alone on the one island that changes people, the kind of changes that I'm not ready for you to experience yet."
"So that's what this is about; you don't want me to change."
Zuko smiled and gestured for a hug from his daughter in which reluctantly accepted. "Of course I don't but I know that time won't stop for me."
Emi laughed at her father's comment. "You know I love you right Dad?"
"Of course I know that and I love you too sweetheart so can you spear your old man's heart and not go to Ember Island next week?"
Emi had to think it over. This trip was going to be the one thing that would prove to her parents how mature she could be.
"If I don't go in exchange can I go on a date with Toru? He asked me last week but I declined it because I wasn't sure how you would feel." Emi gave him a sneaky smile.
Zuko's eyes went unnaturally wide and he quickly let his daughter out the embrace. "You mean Governor Mori's son, you're kidding right?"
"I thought you said we could compromise on this"
"Yeah I did say that didn't I?"
"You sure did so make your choice Dad. It's either Ember Island or Toru."
Zuko sighed and dropped his head. He lost this war. "You can go to Ember Island with Akira and her mom."
Emi jumped up out of her seat with mirth. "Really Dad, I can go?"
"Yes as long as you wait a few years before you go on a date with that Toru boy."
"Thank you Dad. I love you so much." Emi hugged her father's neck fiercely and took off out of the garden. "I've got to go tell Akira. I'm so excited."
The Fire Lord Pinched the bridge of his nose and loosened his top knot. He just got outsmarted by a thirteen year old girl. He tugged at his loose strands of hair in frustration.
"Agni what did I just do?"
"You let go"
Mai came out from behind the pillar with a smile on her face.
"I said you let go. I'm proud of you."
"Were you there the entire time?"
"So what did you think?"
"You did great. My favorite part though was seeing your face when she told you about Toru."
"You knew about that too?"
"Of course I did. Our daughter tells me everything."
"You know how left out that makes me feel?"
"I'm sorry honey."
"It's ok; our daughter is growing up and I have to deal with it. I just hope we can keep Kimi little forever. She is my only chance of not feeling so old; Agni knows I'm never going to feel that way with Ryo again."
"She's one; I think you have some time."
Zuko kissed his wife and grabbed her by the waist.
"You're the best."
"Well I do try my hardest."
They both laughed and got up from the bench. The rest of the day was filled with Zuko sulking over his little girl getting older.
So that is it. In the end it turned into a sweet father daughter moment. I felt like it was a bit repetitive though. Oh well!