Definitely Not Flameos

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The door swishes open and I snuggle deeper under the covers. Hana will not make me leave the comfort of my bed. Especially today.

"Princess Ursa, the Firelord really needs you downstairs. The guests will be here any minute."

Maybe if I continue to close my eyes and breathe deeply, she'll allow me to stay here in bed all day.

"Princess Ursa," my attendant says shortly.

I groan, curling up. "I got it."

I hear a soft intake of breath, as if Hana is about to say something, but whatever-it-is leaves with her fading footsteps. I exhale. If I plan my attire right now, I can probably steal a few more minutes of sleep-

Two sharp knocks. "Princess Ursa."

I shove the covers off and sit up. "Tell the Firelord that his daughter will be presentable and smiling when the guests arrive," I snap.

"The Firelady is here," Hana says.

A slender woman with black hair and a nonchalant expression enters my room. Upon seeing my disheveled appearance, however, her eyes widen ever so slightly, and then quickly resume indifference.

I clear my throat. "Good morning, Mum."

My mother nods toward the door and Hana shuts it quietly behind her. She crosses toward me, her flowing maroon robes gliding across the floor.

"Your father isn't joking. Our friends will be here very soon," she says.

I sigh and slide off the bed. I feel my mother's gaze follow me as I walk to the washtub. I soak the towel in lukewarm water and wipe my face.

"Have you decided on your robes?" my mother asks as I squeeze some mint paste on my toothbrush. In the mirror, I see her move to sit on the armchair at the foot of my bed. If she is here to hurry me up, she doesn't show it. Then again, when has she ever?

I spit the minty foam from my mouth and mumble a 'yes' before swirling some water around my mouth. My mother glides toward my wardrobe and points to a few sets of robes before she finally touches the right one and I nod. She pulls it out and hangs it on the hook beside the shoji screen.

"Thanks, " I say, stepping behind the screen. I shrug off my sleeping gown and slip on the maroon undershirt and pants.

"It's been a long time since I've seen everyone," my mother intones. "Their children must look so different now."

My arms are heavy as I slip on the final layer of my attire. "Of course they'd look different. That's what happens when people grow up."

A pause. "Is something wrong, Ursa?"

My fingers freeze. The belt unravels. I swallow. My mother waits.

Uncomfortable. Quiet is uncomfortable.

"I just- I don't know if we can still get along like when we were kids," I say, fastening the gold belt tightly around my waist. "What if it's awkward? What if I don't know what to say to them? What if I sound pompous without meaning to?"

When I emerge in my robes, my mother's lips are pursed in amusement. I glance down. All the crucial pieces of clothing are there. "What?" I huff.

"You are like your father in so many ways," she says, a private smile gracing her thin lips.

"The Firelord? Ha!" I scoff, plopping down at my dresser.

"Not the Firelord," she says, "Zuko."

I raise my eyebrows. "Uh, Mum…"

"When your father was a teenager, he was pretty much a dweeb."

"Mum!"

"He used to freak out just like you. And he was so consumed with trying too hard to impress me that it almost always failed miserably."

I turn to her. "You've never told me this before."

She shrugs. "It's never come up before."

I turn back to the mirror and begin gathering my hair up in a high knot.

"The point, Ursa, is that you shouldn't be over thinking things when it comes to interacting with people. Especially your old friends. Just be yourself, it worked for your father," my mother says, her lips quirking.

"But you said he was a dweeb."

"So I fell in love with a dweeb."

I laugh and my mother's eyes soften. She comes up behind me looks in the mirror. "Mm."

She unties the ribbon and my black hair falls past my shoulders. Ignoring my protests, she pulls half of my hair in a knot and pushes the rest of it in front.

"Bumi doesn't seem to mind dweebs the last time I saw him," she says as she slides the fire nation crest in front of the knot.

I blink. My cheeks grow hot. How did that twat manage to weasel his way into this conversation? Stupid Bumi with his stupid jokes and his stupid grin.

"I don't…Bumi is…he's not," I sputter. But the Firelady has crossed to the entrance of my room.

The door opens.

"The Firelord requests your presence soon. Don't be late."

The door closes.


I hope you enjoyed it!

- Sera