Author's Note: Sooo…I was having an Avatar: The Last Airbender marathon, and my brain skipped ahead to the scene where Zuko and Katara defeated Azula and this scene popped into my head. It's been a few years since I watched the ending of the show, so my details are a bit sketchy. This is AU where Azula dies in that fight. Katara can go rot somewhere while this scene takes place cause I don't really like her XD Enjoy! FIRST AIRBENDER FIC EVER! BE NICE!
Warning: Mentions of gore, slight violence, some blood, character death, some spoilers, and a whole lot of angst XD
Disclaimer: I don't own Avatar: The Last Airbender or Zuko or Azula. Although I would LOVE to own Zuko ;D lol he's hot, awkward, and strong all rolled into one!
Summary: It wasn't Azula the viscous, cruel, vindictive Fire Nation Princess dying in his arms…it was his little sister that looked up to him and adored him, the sister he'd tried to protect even when she tried to kill him. The little sister he failed.
Zuko fell heavily to his knees, numb and horrified as he cradled his little sisters head on his lap. She was only half-conscious, the glassiness in her eyes giving away the fat that she was slowly dying, and his heart withered at seeing her so broken and vulnerable. The rain matted her long hair and weighed down his torn clothes, but Zuko didn't care because he was crying and wishing that she wasn't dying, wishing that he was stronger, wishing for so many things that he could never have and would never come true.
"Remember when I was little, Zuzu, and I was scared of the dark?" Azula smiled; a small, loving, innocent smile Zuko hadn't seen in over a decade, a smile that broke his heart and nearly ripped a sob from his lips as he nodded because her eyes were unfocused not really seeing him at all. She coughed, blood clogging her throat and leaving her lips in a small stream, and it was suddenly hard to breathe without burning himself from the inside out.
"Yeah, 'Zula…I remember…" he replied hoarsely, stroking her hair in a calming way that used to quiet her terrified cries during summer thunderstorms.
The lightning benders eyes looked up at him almost happily, deliriously happy, and the Prince knew she was seeing someone else – a younger Zuko that clung to his mother and bore no scar on his face, her big brother, not the monster that let her die. "…you'd always let me sleep with you cause I didn't like the dark, cause I thought there were monsters and I knew Zuzu would protect me…"
The unexpected honesty in her voice was bittersweet even as the words warmed his heart broke him down just a little more.
Zuko listened as she rambled, offering broken smiles or gravelly chuckles thick with tears when she asked him a question or retold a happy memory because it was all he had left, and just let her talk – about her fears, about their childhood, about why she did what she did, about their mother, about how much she missed him when he left. Things that he'd never known. Things that he'd wanted to hear for years. He missed this. He missed her. And something inside him died because he knew – she knew – she was dying and that this was the last time he'd see her for years. There was no salvation this time, and the freeing grip of death allowed her to finally let go of it all and be the child Zuko always knew she was on the inside.
It wasn't Azula the viscous, cruel, vindictive Fire Nation Princess dying in his arms…it was the little sister that looked up to him and adored him, the little sister he'd tried to protect even when she strayed down the path of madness and death, hislittle sister.
The little sister he failed.
She reached up with a weak hand and Zuko didn't move, his body paralyzed with self-loathing and things he hadn't felt in years – if she wanted to kill him right there, she could have, because he didn't deserve to live after letting her fall into hatred. Her fingertips brushed his scar with a tenderness he didn't know she possessed, and he bit back another sob when she didn't sneer at him and whispered, "I hated daddy for doing that to you. I cried…when I saw what he did…" her voice wavered and tears pricked her eyes, mixing with the rain as it trailed down her lovely face.
She gently cupped his face, fingers still brushing his scar, and Zuko's hand came up to cover hers. He saw the regret welling in her eyes, and understood her tortured expression so well that it burned worse than any lightning she'd ever conjured. His voice cracked when he whispered, "It's okay, 'Zula…it's okay. You didn't do this. I don't blame you."
It was silent for a long moment, their quiet peace only interrupted by the quiet pitter-patter of the falling rain and the soft rumble of far off thunder, and finally…Azula wept.
Fear, regret, agony, exhaustion, sadness, madness, loss, hatred, suffering, so much she had shunned and turned away from, now exposed and weak. Zuko saw it all and let his own tears fall, his grip on her delicate hands tightening as if he never wanted to let her go, and he didn't want to. He finally had the little sister he'd lost and she was already slipping through his fingers.
She smiled weakly and kept talking, her voice thick with nostalgia and sorrow and blood and tears, reminiscing about their innocent days in the palace as children, about Mai and Ty Lee and how much she took them for granted, about how she lost control of everything and fell from grace, about the horrifying things that she'd done that Zuko had already forgiven. About how much she loved her big brother, about how he kept his promise to protect her and how happy she was that he was with her now. Zuko didn't know how long it was until she slowly quieted to nothing, her cold hand still twined with his and a small, happy smile on her pale lips.
The numbness spread farther, creeping into his bleeding heart as he slowly closed her eyelids and held her close. "'Zula…I'm sorry…I'm so sorry…" He'd failed and there was no redemption for a brother that couldn't even protect his little sister.
Author's Note: So…yeah. Angsty, different, AU, and my first Avatar fanfiction. I LOVE THE HELL OUT OF ZUKO! Favorite character, hands down, followed by Sokka and Toph. Love them to death. Hope you guys liked it! Faves and reviews are appreciated!