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The Wayward Muse
Life, writing, and general stupidity
Fanfiction: Four Ficlets (Avatar: The Last Airbender) 
12.16.10
Azula paranoia
All of these came from a meme I never finished, but I decided it would be better to post them than to let them sit around collecting dust. So I give you some fluff, a silly AU, and a double dose of Crazula for your reading pleasure.

Title: A Gentleman and a Lady
Series: Avatar: The Last Airbender
Pairings: Barely there Sokka/Toph
Words: 432
Warnings: None.
Rating: G
Status: Complete
Spoilers: Always. :)

Summary: Toph dresses like a lady under extreme duress. Sokka kinda likes it.

Notes: The prompt for this one was 'First Time'. I suspect they intended something pornier, but hey. I'm a rebel like that. XD

::A Gentleman and a Lady::


The Fire Nation, Sokka is not at all surprised to learn, stands pretty big on ceremony. Apparently the marriage of the Fire Lord is a pretty big deal, and the guests are expected to adhere to a certain dress code. Wearing the wrong colors is unlucky, or something.

Which is why Toph is in the room behind him terrorizing the bevy of unfortunate servants assigned to dress her.

There’s a screech and a thud and the bellowing of a familiar voice, and Sokka grins. Those poor girls probably had no idea what hit ‘em.

He smooths a hand down the front of the formal robe he’s borrowed for the occasion and is almost, almost tempted to go change back into his usual clothes. Just to see what would happen. But hey, if he’s man enough fight in a dress, he’s man enough to wear one to a wedding. Besides, the bride’d turn him into a pincushion if he tried.

Sokka kind of suspects that Zuko might’ve proposed at knife point. Call it a hunch.

There’s more bellowing and Sokka hears, “Are you trying to rip my hair out?” He chuckles at the empty hallway.

A few minutes pass and the door slams open and Toph stomps out wearing an expression fit to kill. She’s wearing layers of gauzy red and gold, half of her hair drawn up in a top knot, the rest left loose around her shoulders. It been years since they met and months since he saw her last, and she’s almost as tall as he is now.

She’s turning into a beautiful woman, irate expression notwithstanding, and Sokka realizes it’s the first time he’s thought of her that way. Toph was never a girl, Toph was always just...Toph. And yet here she is, looking like a particularly grumpy lady, and now that Sokka’s seen it, he can’t unsee it.

“You gonna stand there all day or are we gonna do this thing?” she grumps, and Sokka grins and thinks maybe it’s okay that he can’t unsee it, because hey, she really is pretty when she wants to be. Or is forced to be. Whatever.

“You look nice,” he tells her, and Toph looks pleased for the split-second before she slugs him in the arm. Hard.

“Stuff the chitchat and let’s go. The sooner we get this over with, the sooner I can get out of these pajamas and into some real clothes.”

“You’re the boss,” Sokka says, and offers his arm because he’s a gentleman like that.

He almost manages not to be surprised when she takes it.



Title: Mermaid's Melody
Series: Avatar: The Last Airbender
Characters: Iroh, Katara
Words: 430
Warnings: AU silliness? Does that need a warning?
Rating: G
Status: Complete
Spoilers: Negative.

Summary: Every year, Iroh makes the trip to the frigid waters of the south. This year, he makes a friend.

Notes: The prompt for this one was 'AU', and the characters were obviously Iroh and Katara. I don't usually do these types of AU's, so uh...HAVE A MERMAID? :D

::Mermaid's Melody::


Iroh wipes the shavings off his flute and gives it an experimental blow. The note sounds high and clear, carrying far over still water, and he smiles, pleased. Setting the knife aside, he leans against the prow and begins to play, picking out the half-remembered melody his mother always used to hum when he was young.

The trip to the frigid south is long, but the fishing is good this time of year, and Iroh finds something serene in being alone with his small boat and the wide, wide sea. Perhaps next year he’ll bring his nephew along. The boy has little interest in fish, but he could only benefit from a little peace and honest work.

He isn’t sure how long he plays when a splash and a flash of movement catches his eye. Iroh looks, and the flute falls from his lips, forgotten.

The mermaid is beautiful. She is iridescent scales and dark skin, with wide eyes bluer than the ocean. She ducks down when he looks at her, but does not flee, leaving only those so-blue eyes and the dark spill of hair floating around her visible above the water.

She watches him and he watches her, and after a moment her gaze flicks to the flute in his hands.

Slowly, slowly, so as not to startle her, he brings the flute to his lips once more and begins to play.

Just as slowly she rises from the water, and she is smiling.

Iroh plays for the pretty mermaid, as she drifts along beside his boat, and once he runs out of songs he plays whatever comes into his head.

She doesn’t seem to mind.

Iroh has to stop eventually and she frowns just a little. “I am honored that such a lovely lady enjoys my music, but I have nothing left to play.” He does not know if she can understand.

At the sound of his voice she ducks down into the water once again, but still does not flee. So Iroh takes his flute and reaches down, holding it out to her and saying softly, “Perhaps you have a few songs of your own?”

She watches his hand warily and it is several minutes before delicate fingers rise from the water and pluck the flute from his grasp. The mermaid cradles the flute against her chest and trills, smiling at Iroh like the sun.

And then she is gone, vanished beneath the water once more with a flash of fin.

Next year, Iroh decides, he is most definitely bringing his nephew.



Title: Her Mother's Daughter
Series: Avatar: The Last Airbender
Characters: Azula
Words: 338
Warnings: Angst and some definite mental instability.
Rating: PG-13
Status: Complete
Spoilers: For the end of the series if you squint.

Summary: Even locked away from the world, Azula is never alone.

Notes: The prompt for this one was 'angst'.

::Her Mother's Daughter::


She doesn’t move when the guard brings her food. He calls her ‘Princess’ and Azula wants to laugh, but she can’t remember how. She isn’t a princess anymore. Isn’t anything. A shadow, a shard, a wraith, a remnant.

A failure.

The guard retreats, footsteps fading and suddenly Azula launches herself against the bars, screaming for him, demanding he return, come back come back because once she’s alone she won’t be alone.

She clings to the bars, shackles heavy on her wrists and sucks in a harsh breath. The prison is quiet, quiet, and she knows he won’t come back. She’s alone again and Azula hunches her shoulders and stares through the bars with ferocious intensity. She will not look. She will not acknowledge.

A gentle touch on her hair and Azula fractures, whirling around with frantic eyes. The cell is empty but it’s not, and Azula presses hard back against the bars and knows it won’t help. “Go away!” she snarls, enraged and trapped.

“I won’t leave you alone, Azula,” a soft voice, her mother’s voice, whispers in her ear.

She lashes out, striking stone hard enough to tear skin and screws her eyes shut. “I don’t need you!”

The hand returns, stroking filthy, matted hair so gently Azula feels like she’s going to shatter. “I think you do.”

She sinks to the floor, and strong arms catch her. They catch her and hold her and rock her like they never did when she was little. “I hate you,” Azula says, but she doesn’t pull away. She isn’t sure she can.

“I love you,” her mother replies in that sweet, familiar voice, the one that conjures memories of a childhood a hundred lifetimes past.

She loathes that voice, those arms; loathes the way they make her fold in on herself, make her feel young and small and needy. She hates this woman for being too little, too late.

But mostly, Azula just hates herself.



Title: Ghosts of the Past
Series: Avatar: The Last Airbender
Characters: Azula/Sokka
Words: 713
Warnings: A little angst and a little fluff.
Rating: PG
Status: Complete
Spoilers: For the end of the series if you squint.

Summary: The new Water Tribe ambassador seems strangely familiar, and Azula wonders if she knew him Before.

Notes: The prompt for this one was Sokka and Azula 'romance'. It's an odd pairing, but to be honest I kinda like this one. I'm tempted to run with it a bit more and see where it goes.

::Ghosts of the Past::


Light music threads through the soft purr of low conversation, and Azula moves through the sea of nobles and generals and foreign dignitaries on her brother’s arm. She doesn’t care much for parties, and less for people, but she never says no. Because if she says no her brother will ask why, and that’s a question she doesn’t want to answer.

Too many people, indistinguishable faces, and it conjures shades and shadows of things she doesn’t want to remember. It creeps up on her in unexpected ways, turns her, changes her, demons made manifest with claws and teeth and as much as it hurts her, it hurts Zuko more. All she can think is I’ve hurt him enough even though she isn’t sure how.

Azula knows there was something Before.

She also knows it’s best that she doesn’t think on it too hard.

Her brother is pulled away like he always is, and Azula moves towards the edge of the crowd, ignoring faces and expressions that say more than she can understand. She knows if she looks, the demons will wake.

So she doesn’t.

A flash of blue catches her eye in the sea of red, and Azula edges closer, curious. It must be the new Water Tribe ambassador, she realizes, although she’s never met him before. He catches her looking and blinks like he’s surprised, before flashing her a wide grin.

Azula can’t remember the last time someone besides her brother smiled at her, and she decides the man is handsome, in a barbaric sort of way. He looks almost, almost, but it slips through her mind like water, too intangible to hold. She approaches him, because she’s curious about this Water Tribe who looks so out of place.

Familiar.

The word snaps into place, and Azula catches it, pondering. She’s never met anyone from the Water Tribe before, but the man looks almost familiar.

“Have we met?” she asks bluntly, once she’s close enough.

The emotions that flicker across his face are impossible to read, but in the end he looks almost sad. “No, I don’t think so,” he replies. Why sad, she wonders, it makes no sense but before she can form the question the look is gone, the grin is back, and he’s holding out his hand. “Would you like to dance?”

No one has ever asked her to dance, not even her brother, and she stares at the offered hand like it’s something dangerous. “I don’t know how.” She thinks she might have learned, once. But that was Before.

His smile softens, just a touch, and he takes her hand just like that. Like she isn’t a princess, like he has the right, and she doesn’t really mind this gross breach of etiquette because no one ever wants to touch her. His palm is rough and warm, and he tugs Azula towards the dance floor. “Don’t worry, it’s easy.”

She isn’t sure she believes him, pursing her lips as he places one of her hands on his shoulder and rests one of his own on her waist. He moves smoothly, his motions easy enough to follow and Azula thinks new or not, he’s been to a lot of these functions because this isn’t a Water Tribe dance, but he moves like he’s been doing it his whole life, anyway.

It’s nice, she decides as she matches his movements and looks up into blue eyes. He’s warm and sure and he smiles at her like no one else will and he doesn’t handle her like she’s made of glass.

He twirls her suddenly, and Azula clutches at his hand and laughs when he draws her back in. He grins that grin and she thinks that maybe these parties would be far more tolerable if he was always there. “Are you sure we haven’t met?” she asks again, because she can’t shake the feeling.

His smile falters, and he pulls her closer so she can’t see his face and doesn’t stop dancing. “I’m sure.”

Azula gets the feeling that he’s lying, but here in the circle of his arms her demons feel very, very far away, and she decides she didn’t mind.
Comments 
12.16.10 (UTC)
Ghosts of the Past

Omfg I love this so much I almost squealed with happiness. And it's not because I'm such a big fan on Azula x Sokka stuff, but I am now a huge fan of your writing. Your style, your flow... AMAZING. It's hard to find people these days that can paint pictures with words and at the same time know the process involved; if that makes any sense.

So in-character... so poetic. The flow is beautiful, like water running through a stream. I would take this as canon, it's so amazing.

Favorite lines (besides all of them being so beautifully sewn together):

Because if she says no her brother will ask why, and that’s a question she doesn’t want to answer. -- Flows wonderfully, shows the reader so much without TELLING. Makes the reader ask questions and keeps them reading.

He looks almost, almost, but it slips through her mind like water, too intangible to hold. -- Again, showing the reader without TELLING. Such a poetic picture without really saying anything. He's triggering something, but she can't hold onto it long enough to know what that something is.

His smile softens, just a touch, and he takes her hand just like that. Like she isn’t a princess, like he has the right, and she doesn’t really mind this gross breach of etiquette because no one ever wants to touch her. His palm is rough and warm, and he tugs Azula towards the dance floor. “Don’t worry, it’s easy.” Such a BEAUTIFULLY painted picture, I can't even get fully into it without taking up a page.

Sokka's avoiding the fact that they've met is wonderfully shown, not told. I'm a big fan of people getting the whole "show don't tell" thing. You have MASTERED it. Technically, with her having started a new life, she's a new person, so they haven't met... way to be awesome, Sokka. :3




Her Mother's Daughter

Favorite lines:

A gentle touch on her hair and Azula fractures, whirling around with frantic eyes. -- I love this. Just the way you word it makes the reader actually feel the fracture, and the word "fracture" was a wonderful choice. It's so intense and dramatic. Really tears at the mind of the reader and sets the mood in so little time.

Imma stop now. xD Just know I think you're awesome.
12.16.10 (UTC)
Holy comment, Batman! ♥

I'm so glad you like them! Ghosts of the Past was definitely my favorite of the bunch. I think there's a lot of potential for something more, y'know? Azula getting a sad sort of second chance in a world that only remembers her for the terrible things she's done.

As for the glowing praise for my writing style- you're gonna make me blush. XD Seriously, this comment was totally the highlight of my day. Thank you so much. ♥
12.16.10 (UTC)
I would stalk you were you to make something more out of Ghosts of the Past. Just to sit back and enjoy your writing some more. It'd be an interesting insight into Azula's second chance, and the whole factor of people only remembering her for the said terrible things would give it drive--an engine. The interactions alone would be an interesting enough plot, especially with how your style portrays it. Showing and not telling. We got a glimpse into that drive with Sokka's reaction, though his was more positive than I imagine a lot of other people's would be.

The only thing that concerns me a bit is Zuko's aloofness. We don't get to see much of how he is with Azula, and I don't imagine he would be ignorant of her, nor blame her for the past--at least that's my opinion of how he'd be. It could be that he's just always on the corner of her mind and his "aloofness" was just how Azula interpreted it. She doesn't want to hurt him and so avoids even looking at him and takes everything he does as some infinite mercy? Am I interpreting correctly? Looking too into it? You tell me. xD

And good writing deserves glowing praise. There's such a lack of it these days. Editors for books don't seem to be doing their jobs anymore; people think that just 'cause they can read and write, they're the most amazing thing to hit the planet and they're going to become famous with one hit; I dunno. I just feel when someone has an amazing ability, they should be told. So I tell it. :3
12.18.10 (UTC)
I'll think about it! I'm not doing much in the way of longfic these days, but it does have a lot of potential, and it probably wouldn't be all that long. *ponders*

As for Zuko, I didn't really intend for him to come off aloof; it's just that he didn't really have a part to play in this particular scene. And being the Fire Lord, I imagine there are always people clamoring for his attention over something or another.

In my head, it kinda goes like this: Azula has good days and bad days, the bad days being when her memories are running close to the surface. Forgetting was a sort of coping mechanism. She realizes there are reasons people want nothing to do with her even if she doesn't remember them, and her closeness to Zuko stems largely from a) carryover guilt, and b) the fact that he's one of the only people she knows who treats her like a person.
12.20.10 (UTC)
It doesn't even technically have to be a "longfic". It could be several short parts or "chapters" dealing with different interactions she has with people; people that don't know her, people she knew before but can't remember, like Aang/the Gaang, the palace staff, the citizens. Just little ficlets combined in to one. I think it'd be really interesting and you're one of the few people I know that would be able to pull it off really well. But I also know what it's like to not be into the "longfics" these days. I often don't have the time or attention span.

And I can see that now that you've explained it. After reading it again that's apparent.

All kinds of fics could come from this. Like her good days and bad days. <3 The coping mechanism of amnesia actually makes sense in terms of psychology, but I've only taken one class for that. People often do that in severe trauma situations.

I'm not going to hassle you into making more, though. xD I''d just totally support you if you did. :3 I could even be a sort of beta for you if you wanted.

A salute to a fellow writer! -salute-
12.16.10 (UTC)
I like the Sokka/Azula one. You do a good job of a post-Crazula Azula, one of the better jobs I've seen. Sokka taking the risk of dancing with her and lying to her feels like something he'd do. The two of them are cute together. <3
12.18.10 (UTC)
Aw, thanks! Glad you liked it! There's just something about Azula staying crazy that appeals to me for some reason. A lot of potential for a story there, I suppose?

I swear, this fandom is turning me into a a multishipper like no other, and it's awesome. XD
12.17.10 (UTC)
After I read the ending of Mermaid's Melody I kinda imagined Katara saying "you want thing-a-ma-bob's? I've got twenty!" and then singing Part of Your World to her Momo-Fish friend :P
12.18.10 (UTC)
LOL!

Now I'm going to think of that every single time I go poking through my fic list and see that story. XD
01.12.11 (UTC)
Ouch, the Azula & Sokka one. I love it, but ouch. It's beautiful and painful, and so strange, to see Azula so defanged. And Sokka's playing with fire, of course.

Great job!
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