Just a little something I came up with while taking a break from my other story. Hope you enjoy!
For as long as he can remember she was always at his side whispering into his ear. Needle like teeth grazing the edges, the occasional brush of her crimson lips. He bites his own tongue to suppress the shiver it elicits.
The Fire Lord must keep up appearances.
It was her plan to remove Ozai from the throne though she led him to believe it had been all his. It was a gift she had to make him feel like he was the one in charge. They both knew who really wore the crown.
Azula just let him borrow it.
Wherever he went, Azula followed, or was it the other way around?
Soon it was commonplace to see the two together. There was of course gossip and speculation but the Princess was quick to squash any unsavory rumors about the Fire Lord. If anything, Azula defended her brother to the last. She was his champion.
No one was allowed to malign the Fire Lord, except her of course.
She always saved the best for when they were behind closed doors, away from the prying eyes of court. Her sinewy lithe frame would trap him under the sheets and that wicked tongue would weave such a web that he felt unable to escape. Not that he wanted too.
Zuko liked being the fly to her spider.
Azula rewarded him well for the role he played. The role she let him play. Her nimble, quick fingers lead him to incredible heights but could just as quick send him crashing to the earth in a fiery mess.
He found he was desperate to please her but warred with how much the Fire Lord should chase after his own sister. Never mind what a minx she was. Sometimes he liked to think he was the one that was being chased but he knew deep down that she caught him years ago.
Maybe he ran to her. That seemed more likely.
Zuko always answered Azula's call.
He finds himself watching her more and more as of late. There is a tension in her that he is unable to soothe. She practically vibrates with the energy and he knows she needs an outlet. His dear sister always was hard to handle.
The last time she was like this Ozai turned up dead, drowned. It was a rather ignoble way to go and he found it difficult to reconcile how his father who had been larger than life had died in such a small way.
Azula's eyes had sparkled that night. When she came to him, her dress was still wet and he knew at that moment that they were in this together.
The next morning when he was awakened with the news of his father's passing the first thing he did was look to the side of his bed that was hers.
An errant strand of black hair lay on her pillow.
The sheets were already cooling from her departure.
Sometimes Azula was like a shadow.
He couldn't always be sure he had seen her either. There were times he felt that she was right there over his shoulder ready to pounce but he would turn and be alone.
She was in his head and he couldn't get rid of her.
He didn't want to be rid of her.
As he sits on the throne, it is she that pulls his strings. She whispers to him, instructing him what to say, what to do, and he goes with it because he knows she is right. She is far better suited to ruling than he is but she put him on the throne.
Azula wants him there.
Today she sits at his side, and he tries to not inhale too deeply. Her perfume is cloying and intoxicating. He thinks she did this on purpose to keep him off guard.
It's one of the games she likes to play with him and more often than not it ends badly for Zuko.
Azula has her eye on a bigger prize, he thinks. Her eyes shine with a new light and he can see her licking her lips in anticipation. Every fiber of her being is screaming out but it is only her amazing self control that keeps her still. It's the same self control that has left him underneath her begging before but he pushes the thought away now and turns his mind to matters of court.
He sees what has her attention and it makes him frown. The yellow and orange robes are out of place in the throne room but the way the blue flames flicker in the man's gray eyes are what stands out.
The Avatar has arrived seeking a Fire Bending Master. It is the last of the four elements he must learn. Before him Avatar Roku had lived for well over a century, keeping the peace, before succumbing to old age 17 years before. Now Avatar Aang stands before him.
It is the Fire Lord's duty to serve the Avatar so who is he to refuse?
Before he can even finish welcoming the Avatar she is bounding off the dais and taking the Air Bender's arm like an eager schoolgirl. She volunteers to show him to his rooms. It is so out of character for the normally reserved princess that Zuko forgets himself and gapes at her behavior.
She finds him in his rooms later. He wants to rebuke her for acting so wantonly. It is unseemly for a Princess to throw herself at anyone, especially the Avatar. Her sharp nails dig into his arm and her golden eyes blaze.
"Let me train him."
Zuko stares unsure if he heard her correctly but the slant of her mouth leaves him with a cold feeling. It's not as if he can deny her but she sees him hesitate so she presses soft curves against him wrapping warm arms around his neck. Full lips seeking his own.
Azula seeks perfection and she thinks she has found it. He will give her what she wants of course because if he doesn't then she will take it. Zuko learned a long time ago it is always best to give in. Azula does not like surprises.
So begins a strange time in Zuko's life.
Azula takes training her new student seriously and he often finds himself walking through the training yard to watch. She is brutal and fierce and wholly unrepentant in her approach. The gentle Air Bender finds himself flat on his back slightly singed more times than Zuko can count. It makes him want to laugh at the man's misfortune but he knows that for Azula this is foreplay.
She is weaving her web to catch her next bit of prey.
The cold feeling Zuko feels grows and mutates until he finds himself fairly on edge.
It's the middle of the night when she comes to him. Her agile frame barely moves the silk sheets as she settles on top of him, waking him with hot lips and sharp nails. He wants to refuse her and nurse the hurt feelings he has carried since she passed him over but Azula won't allow it. It's always better to give her what she wants and she rewards him for it until the morning light.
He cancels court quite unable to leave his bed. Azula eagerly slips away to train her new toy. His eyes follow her swaying hips out the door.
The Royal Palace hosts many events and a ball is just one of the myriad of opportunities for the ministers to parade rich noble ladies in front of the Fire Lord with the hope he will pick one to be his Fire Lady. It's all pageant and pretense and makes Zuko resent his role that much more.
He notices his sister is absent.
So is the Avatar.
He grits his teeth.
The ball winds down and he uses the Fire Lord's privilege to sneak away before the last guest has left. He has a singular focus and that is to find Azula.
Her golden eyes greet him at the second knock on her door. She gives him a lazy smile with sharp teeth Hungry eyes look him up and down like he is a dish to be devoured. Azula will bite and nibble until there is nothing left but an empty shell to be discarded.
Zuko feels empty and discarded.
Behind her he can see a heap of yellow and orange robes. A tattooed foot dangles off the edge of her bed.
"You left." He whispers trying to not sound as hurt as he feels.
She has always been by his side.
They were always in it together.
Her red lips pout at him in the most adorable way and something inside of him melts at it.
"I'll make it up to you." She makes no apologies for the man in her bed though.
He didn't expect she would.
It's not her style.
He turns to leave feeling like a child that has been placated and sent to bed.
The next morning he is having breakfast in his private dining room so it is rather surprising when the Avatar joins him.
Zuko wonders why he is surprised by anything anymore, especially where Azula is concerned.
"How is your training coming along?" He asks politely like he hasn't been checking up on it regularly.
"Good. Your sister has interesting training techniques."
Zuko narrows his eyes. He knows exactly what techniques the Avatar is referring too.
"Azula is a prodigy." He says neutrally. He won't be drawn into a contest with the eventual master of the four elements.
"Prodigy. That's a good word for it." The Avatar returns easily, a smile graces his lips.
When he reaches for something on the table, Zuko's eyes are drawn to a set of red marks on the man's shoulder.
Azula is always sure to mark her territory.
She is at his side less and less these days. It is surprising given how she likes to keep tabs on how the Fire Nation is going.
Maybe she trusts him enough to let him lead finally without pulling the strings or maybe she is too busy getting laid to care.
Either way it puts him in a foul mood and everyone in the palace feels it.
Well, almost everyone.
The two that are the cause of it are blissfully ignorant of the havoc they are wreaking.
The perfect balance is upset and Zuko is powerless to contain it.
Perhaps that is why his head is so easily turned when she presents herself to him. He is not normally one to go for women that aren't Fire Nation, or rather women that aren't Azula, but something about this blue-eyed woman draws him in.
Maybe it's the way she doesn't back down or the way she tells him how it's going to be. She even challenges him to a duel which is nearly laughable. Everyone knows water can't beat fire in a duel. He takes her up on it aching to do something to feel on top again.
It's a miserable failure.
What makes it worse is the way Azula's laughter rings through the training yard. When he surfaces from the water she dumped him into he growls as the Avatar sweeps the blue-eyed woman in his arms.
Azula watches the spectacle with a sort of distant fascination and nods politely when he introduces his Water Bending Master Katara to her. Her golden eyes sweep up and down the woman quickly sizing her up and dismissing her just as easily. Katara is not a threat to Azula, not at all.
A plan hatches in Zuko's mind.
Katara is a representative of the Southern Water Tribe and is eager to open a trade route. The Fire Nation has no need for such a thing but he is open to discussing it and seeing just how willing she is. It doesn't hurt that she is very attractive.
Katara is eager but not in the way he hoped she would be. He has to win her over but Zuko is not without his charm and soon he has her flirting with him and more. She is sweet and caring and surprisingly gentle whereas Azula would leave him bruised, bloodied and aching.
He finds himself missing the sight of bruises on his body and hiding bite marks with his robes.
Still it lightens his mood considerably having Katara around.
The delicate balance of course can't be maintained and Zuko thinks he doesn't know how to do normal. He can't just be a normal ruler with a normal girlfriend living a normal life. Azula has to ruin everything and taint it with her touch.
He blinks in confusion at the man in front of him. "You what?"
Aang stares back at him with those unwavering gray eyes. "I want to marry your sister."
Zuko frowns. "Why are you asking me? Shouldn't you be asking her?"
Azula married? Like that would happen.
"It's customary to ask the male relative for a woman's hand in marriage." He patiently explains.
Oh, it is. Zuko has never really stood on such ceremony because Azula was always the one to guide him. Besides, no one ever wanted to get that close to her. Except Zuko that is.
"I guess that would be up to Azula." He tries to stay neutral and not say what he really thinks about it.
Ticking off the Avatar may not be a good move.
"I've already spoken to her about it and she wants your blessing."
Zuko feels his stomach drop.
Azula has weaved a web big enough for two.
He won't refuse. How could he? Azula would have his head if he kept her from getting what she wanted.
Zuko corners her in the library about it.
Her smirk says it all. Azula seen something she wanted, something she considered perfect and therefore could only be intended for her and she went for it. She has her claws in her prize and she won't let go of it either.
It's a farce really.
Since their father's untimely drowning, he is the one that has to give the bride away.
Never mind that before the ceremony the bride was pressed between him and the wall with her dress pushed up over her thighs.
Zuko just hopes they don't reek of sex too much as he hands her off to her future husband.
Katara takes his hand sweetly as they watch Azula close the deal.
It leaves a bitter taste in his mouth.
As with most weddings there are customs that go with it. He takes her hand and leads her to the dance floor.
She is all smiles with her glinting teeth showing. She is the cat that ate the canary and any other metaphor you can think of for a woman that got her way.
Azula was born lucky. Zuko was lucky to be born.
"Now what?" he asks her as he twirls her on the dance floor.
"Well surely you know what happens on a wedding night, Zuzu." She presses against him a bit too much.
"Yeah that will prove interesting." He wonders how the Avatar will take being cuckolded by his wife's own brother.
"Don't be so dramatic." She scolds him. "You'll remind me of father and we know how that turned out." Azula is always threatening him one way or another.
"I'll be sure to avoid baths." He quips back to her. If she was going to do away with him, she would have done it already. He hopes.
"This doesn't have to change anything you know." She purrs low in his ear.
"Of course it does. You're married. That changes everything."
How can she really not see this? Or is she just toying with him again.
"Oh Zuzu, you can be so narrow minded at times." She laughs and he feels it's a joke he's not been let in on. Azula only lets him in if she wants.
Katara stays and he is immeasurably grateful for it. She is just what he needs to take his mind off his sister.
He doesn't share a room with her though. No, he still wants to leave the door open just in case. Azula doesn't disappoint of course. The Avatar may make the palace his home base but he often has to travel for this or that and Azula does not like to sleep alone. Zuko should feel relief that she chooses him instead of some random man. He should but he doesn't. All he can think about are all the nights he spends alone. It leaves him feeling unsettled.
He keeps his habit of walking through the training yard. The splashing of water draws his attention and in the distant he can see Katara deep in her element. It draws a smile to his face but he stops cold when he realizes she is not alone.
Water Benders tend to seek one another out and it should be no surprise when he sees the Avatar with her. The sounds of their laughter ring in the yard and he looks around for Azula. Surely, she would not approve of this.
His blood turns to ice when he sees the way Aang draws Katara in for a kiss. A kiss that rapidly becomes something more. It is the practiced touch of old lovers and the Fire Lord carefully retreats to consider what he has seen.
When he finds Azula he so wants to tell her everything. He feels like a child tattling. The way her golden eyes appraise him gives him pause. Something about the way she looks at him says she already knows.
Her smile is predatory and mysterious. "Long enough."
This is not the Azula he knows. "And it doesn't bother you?"
Her fingers walk a trail up his arm as she draws near to him, hot breath on his neck. "She's not me."
Of course Katara isn't Azula. There really is no comparison between the two women. Zuko knows he will always choose Azula. He suspects the same of Aang too. They are powerless to resist her.
He is in her web and as she wraps her arms and legs around him he knows he doesn't want to be anywhere else.
"We can't keep this up." He murmurs against her lips as she nips and bites. Her hands already working to divest him of his robes and get at the flesh underneath.
"Who says?" She whispers against his chest as she plants biting kisses down his torso.
"I'm asking Katara to marry me." He gasps as her nails dig into his side. It wasn't an idea that had fully solidified in his mind until now.
Her blazing eyes are searing as she stares him down."Why would you do that?" She hisses as she straddles his hips and sinks him into her heat.
"Why wouldn't I?" Azula knows as well as he does why he needs to marry but what he just seen in the training yard should give him pause. It doesn't, not when Azula is hot and eager.
"That will certainly make things interesting." She lets out a low moan as he grasps her hips.
His retort is lost against her lips as she hungrily kisses him. Her sharp teeth draw blood and he thinks this is how he would want to die. It's a request he is sure Azula would grant.
Katara accepts. She would be a fool not to. He tries to not be bothered by the furtive glances she shares with the Avatar while taking her vows because he is doing the same with Azula.
He can't sleep that night even though his new wife finds her rest easy. Dressing in just his robe he leaves quietly and wanders the halls of the palace. He is not surprised to find her in the courtyard and he is left with the feeling she has been waiting for him.
Zuko can't resist her. He never could and he won't pretend he can now but the outside is dangerous and anyone could come across them. Maybe that is what makes this time so much better. She doesn't even bother trying to keep quiet. Azula has always had a flair for drama and a thirst for danger. Zuko just gets swept along on her adventures.
When he steals back into his room, Katara is none the wiser and he slips into bed wincing slightly at the long red nail marks down his back. Azula always marks her territory.
He's thinking about the future more and more. His line must be secured and it can't happen if his wife is warming another man's bed or wherever they happen to find themselves. The same could be said of him though.
The words do not come easy to him and he can't imagine how one goes about asking the Master of the Four Elements to stop screwing his wife. Azula isn't interested in reining her husband in as long as it doesn't interfere with her own schemes and Zuko's not quite ready to discuss his wife's infidelity with her.
It's either foolishness or bravery that leads him to his next step.
The Avatar is meditating when Zuko finds him so he sits and waits. When those gray eyes open, he sees a flash of dark amusement in them. Something about this reminds him of Azula.
"To what do I owe this honor, oh, great Fire Lord?"
Zuko wants to say something but words fail him when he is actually face to face with the man.
"Never mind." He mutters as he stands. He is about five steps away when the Avatar calls to him.
"This is about Katara, isn't it?"
There is a sinking feeling in Zuko's stomach and he debates if he should keep going like he didn't hear him or turn around.
He opts for bravery… or foolishness. It all depends on how it turns out.
He retakes his former position.
"What makes you say that?" He can be just as evasive as the Air Bender can be.
A smile quirks at the edges of the Avatar's mouth. "It could be about Azula I suppose." Aang watches him carefully while Zuko weighs the situation.
"But to be honest if it was about you screwing my wife then this conversation would go very different." There is a hard edge in the Avatar's voice that takes Zuko by surprise.
"I suppose it would." Zuko answers neutrally, ignoring the way his heart flutters at the intense look in Aang's eyes.
"Go ahead and ask." It sounds like a dare.
Zuko frowns. "Ask?" He's not sure if he should be worried about his physical well being or not.
Aang laughs and it reminds him of Azula's. "I'm sure you don't want to ask me how it is. You want to ask me to stop."
"Would you?" He asks hesitantly. This is rapidly becoming a very surreal experience.
"No." Aang answers just as easy.
"Come on, it would hardly be fair that you keep up your extracurricular activities but I can't keep mine?" The Avatar stands and Zuko feels compelled to copy the motion.
It gives the Avatar a more unfair advantage as he stands taller though.
"I leave your wife alone and you leave my wife alone but to be fair I was there first," There's that smile again, "but I guess you could say the same."
It is a compromise of sorts.
"Azula won't like it." Zuko adds. If it isn't her idea then it is likely to be something she despises.
Aang smiles. "Don't worry about Azula. I'll take care of that." He walks past him back towards the palace. The sun shines off the blue arrows.
Zuko stares after him. He may be the Avatar but if he thinks he can control Azula, they may be searching for a new Avatar sooner rather than later.
"How long are we doing this for?" Aang turns around and calls to him.
He wants to say for the rest of their lives but he knows better than that. He can't stay away from Azula that long.
"A month." That seems like long enough.
Aang ponders it and nods slowly. "Good luck with that." The smile he throws the Fire Lord as he walks off does not sit well with him one bit and he glares after his brother in law's retreating bald head. Giving up Katara will be easier than giving up Azula and Zuko wonders if he made a mistake.
Azula takes it about as well as he thought she would. She traps him in his office and he really has nowhere else to go.
She glares at him when he turns away from her. "What's going on?" She hisses.
He gives her a look that he hopes shows his apology. "I don't think it's a good idea."
She moves quicker than he does and he finds himself flat on his back with her straddling him. At least they have clothes on this time.
"What do you mean?" Her sharp nails dig through his Fire Lord robes.
"Just for a month, that's all." She has to see the logic in this.
She narrows her golden eyes and he holds his breath waiting.
"Whose idea was this?"
"Just because you want to knock the twit up has nothing to do with me." Her eyes are blazing and her breath is fiery.
It's so hard to resist her when she's like this. "Yes, it does." He tries to move her off of him but she holds steady. This isn't over until she says it is.
"I spoke with Aang…" is all he gets out before her weight is suddenly gone.
He blinks in confusion. Azula is on the move and he scrambles after her. He knows his sister well enough to see the fury in her steps. This won't go well he is sure of it.
The Avatar isn't surprised to see them together and Zuko has the feeling he's been waiting.
"You have no right." She spits at her husband.
Aang stretches his arms out on the back of their couch, nonchalantly. "I beg to differ." His voice is calm and soothing but Zuko hears the dangerous edge in it. There is more at work than what he sees.
Does Azula even notice?
The air in the room becomes tense and heavy. He wonders if it's an Air Bender trick.
In that moment he realizes that underneath the gentle Air Bender persona lurks something darker and stronger than what he gave credit too. It occurs to him that the Avatar Spirit could match Azula, maybe even best her.
Aang looks towards him with stormy gray eyes. "Do you mind? I need to speak with my wife." There is an element of coldness in his voice that leaves Zuko with a sense of dread and concern.
Azula freezes him with her eyes. "Stay right there."
Zuko is caught in the middle but before he can speak the Avatar's eyes and tattoos light up and he is bended from the room with a blast of air and a wall of earth shuts him from the room. He's powerless to do anything about it. It's not an argument that goes on behind the wall, but a full out fight.
The East Wing ends up being evacuated.
Katara finds him by the turtle-duck pond in the courtyard.
He doesn't look at her when she sits beside him.
"Are they still at it?" He asks.
It had been unexpected. The fallout itself wasn't but the participants were. Zuko figured if anything it would be between the Avatar and him.
"I think it's over." Her big blue eyes are focused on him with a hint of sadness. Having both their infidelities thrown into the open is leaving them a bit off center.
"I don't know what to say." He feels helpless and lost but he won't apologize. How could he apologize for it?
Her cool hand covers his and she has such understanding in her eyes. "How long have you loved her?"
Zuko has always loved her, more than he should. His hesitation tells her the truth.
"How long have you loved him?" He knows already but it's polite to at least ask.
The answer is in her deep blue eyes.
He is in Azula's web and Katara is in Aang's.
They are in this together.
Zuko laughs. He intertwines his fingers in Katara's and stands pulling her up with him. Wrapping an arm around her waist, he leads her back to the palace, the East Wing is a smoking ruin.
Zuko realizes that while his marriage may be unorthodox that this can work. For the first time in a long time things begin to look up for the Fire Lord.
When Azula finds him a few days later, he lets his gaze slide over her and something seems different. She pushes his chair back from the desk and straddles him. Her hands burn through his robes and he feels an answering heat in his chest. When she kisses him, he looks at her expectantly.
"One month. I can do that." She purrs against his lips, her tongue sliding out to tease his own.
"Are you sure?" He resolves to not get carried away but takes the chance to pull her closer.
"Hmm," She hums in reply as she grinds down on him. "Aang and I had a long talk about it." Talk is a euphemism.
Her lips are demanding and he gasps in her mouth."You should convince him to repair the damage to the East Wing or else I may have to bring in some Earth Benders to get it done."
She smirks, eyes shining bright. "Who knew he had such a temper?" Azula liked getting a jealous rise out of the Avatar, maybe a little too much.
A month is a long time so instead of answering he kisses her again and feels her sharp teeth nibbling and biting. Her hands dip inside his robes and long nails draw a line on his chest, leaving her mark.
"Aang thought that to make it easier for all of us that he and I would travel for a bit. I'm sure you can handle things without me, can't you?" Her golden eyes are sparkling at him.
"I'll do my best." He's been handling it on his own ever since she got her head turned.
"Good." Her kiss is more insistent and demanding this time and he feels himself answering it with a desperation of his own. "One month." She whispers between kisses.
"We can do this." He assures her.
"Azula." Aang calls from the doorway. "It's time to go."
Zuko looks over her shoulder at him but the Air Bender seems unconcerned finding his wife in another man's lap. He's curious what sort of goodbye Katara got.
She pulls back reluctantly, golden eyes not leaving his own as she slides off of him.
"Coming." Her lips break into a smile.
Zuko watches as she moves to her husband's side taking his arm and looking up at him like an adoring wife should.
"Zuko." Aang nods and gives him a knowing smile.
Together the Fire Lord and Lady watch the giant white bison disappear into the sky.
"So that's that." He says without looking at her.
Katara sighs and nods.
He takes her hand and leads her inside.
Azula it turns out is caught in the Avatar's web.