A/N: An idea that popped into my head while reading drabble series. Each chapter progresses one year in Iroh's childhood, and each is essentially a one-shot which could be read separately. Together the snapshots blend and refer to one another to form a whole.
This series of 19 ficlets is somewhat AU (or potentially AU. Since there's a big hole in LoK canon describing Zuko/Iroh's family beyond, well, them.) Particularly because it assumes that Iroh is not an only child, and furthermore he is not the oldest child.
I hit on the first because not only do I love building up sibling relationships, but because it seemed completely reasonably that a noble family ruling in a dangerous world like Avatar's might want more than one heir just in case something terrible happened. Understandably, Zuko would be hesitant since his sister turned out so well, but by the next generation they might be willing to try the sibling thing again.
As for the second, well, I was stuck on how no one ever mentioned Iroh's status as prince once in the show. I got to thinking that he didn't seem tied to the whole 'be Fire Lord' thing someday and was more concerned about going out and doing the right thing. So I started crafting in my head why that might be and this idea popped up.
I make no claim to Avatar: The Last Airbender or Legend of Korra. I did have a good time writing this and hope you enjoy reading it.
First had been Kuzon, auspicious from the beginning. Born at the peak of the sun, and sharing a birthday with Avatar Aang, he was named for a steadfast friendship from a time before the Hundred-Years War. Kuzon slept his first night under the perfect balance of the first quarter moon, another good sign from all accounts. Yue would grant the child balance and the ability to seen both sides of an argument. Mother, father and grandparents were all highly pleased.
Next came disaster.
A miscarriage, and a year later a painfully stillborn girl that even the best waterbender healers could not save. The woman who would one day become Fire Lady dropped to her knees and wept while the court murmured rumors that the line of the Fire Lord was once again cursed. Fire Lord Zuko had stalked past them all, silencing the malicious whispers with nothing more than a glare as he made his way to the side of his only daughter. She sobbed that she would not try again.
But two years passed and she once again prayed to the spirits for a healthy child. And he was born, whole and breathing, in the dark of the night under the new moon.
Inauspicious, the court whispered. Cursed. Unlucky. To be born without any blessing of Agni or Yue, at the darkest turn of the moon – the time when the spirits slip free of the spirit world and roam the earth. The child would be no end of trouble. Best to drown him now before the spirits taint his soul. Or brand him in case he is swapped for a changeling. The rumors and gossip reached a near-deafening din before Fire Lord Zuko barked at them to drop the issue all together: no son of the royal family would be cursed or drowned or burned or anything else this night.
Back in their chambers, his daughter was quiet, rocking the swaddled newborn into a deep sleep. Beside her his son-in-law, Sazan, was thoughtful and stoic. Coming from a long line of historians and fire sages Zuko had always thought the entire family resembled statues with beards. Still, Sazan was patient and even tempered, and both were welcome this evening.
"Is it true? To be born at the dark of the moon… is it a curse?" she looked to her father, gold eyes imploring.
Zuko fixed his daughter with an even expression. "No curse, perceived or real, can outweigh what the boy chooses to do – or what you choose to teach him."
"And what of the spirits?" her husband asked.
The Fire Lord leaned back, thinking about all his own uncle had taught him on the matter. "I do not think simply being born makes the child trouble. But I do think the spirits may target him for trouble." His voice had an empathetic ring, well used to dealing with the mess the spirits had made with his own life. "However, seeing as you have excellent connections with the fire sages…"
Prince Sazan stiffened and offered his father-in-law a nod. "I will contact my father at sunrise." It was not the first time the renewed connection with the fire sages had come in handy.
Satisfied at this, the Fire Lord settled himself, turning towards his daughter. "It seems things are well in hand. Now, have you decided upon a name?"
Her cheeks turned pink. "I did promise if it were a boy, we would call him Iroh…"
Zuko leaned back, a light smile playing across his features in the candlelight. A young boy, marked – no, targeted by the spirits, in need of training and protection so he could get his feet in the world? He could clearly see chasing after the boy, fishing him out of trouble, giving him gentle proverbs and sharp lectures. The irony was overwhelming. His smile widened. "I think it is a perfect name."
Somewhere, in the spirit world under the shade of the new moon, he swore he heard Uncle Iroh laughing.