Kuebiko

BY : Death_Rattle
Category: Avatar - The Last Airbender > AU/AR - Alternate Universe/Alternate Reality
Dragon prints: 5256
Disclaimer: I do not own the rights to Avatar: the Last Airbender or any of the characters. I do not profit from my writing.

As soon as she had left her master's (new?) room, Katara found herself dragged right back into her presence anew: The Phoenix Queen needed to look pretty. Katara didn't know what the occasion was or why Azula felt the need to doll herself up like a geisha especially considering, well...

Katara looked in the same mirror Azula was now staring into.

She seems pretty to me, she thought to herself, unable to not admire her enemy's ability to look elegant and well, attractive in just about whatever it was she was wearing. Why she wanted to look even better just to stroll around the estate was inconceivable to Katara. Did she want to impress her daddy, or...

"Going somewhere, Your Highness?"

"Very well spotted" Azula replied, although her tone was somewhat playful.

Golden eyes fell upon one of many jars of cosmetics. As the waterbender reached for it, the Phoenix Queen wrinkled her nose in distaste. "Ugh, not that one. Too chalky," she scolded. A queen could not be seen looking less than her best, least of all in public - in full view of her subjects and their prying eagle-hawk eyes. Such a thing was unthinkable! No, she had to be perfect.

"We're headed to the market," Azula offered her apparently perplexed slave after what seemed an eternity. "Once you've made your queen presentable, of course. Now, if you will..."

Katara escaped her Queen's ire by selecting the correct jar and beginning her work, gently pulling her hair back and starting with her face, hiding her surprise at the fact that she was going out with her father only a day after... that. Indeed, the waterbender's perplexion only increased with her master's explanation. She had thought her sudden change of rooms had meant something, a signal that he had gone to far. She had been wrong. At the drop of a hat, things were... back to normal. Just like that.

Not that the events of last night had really indicated anything different. She had just hoped that perhaps maybe it wouldn't just be business as usual: the great Phoenix Queen Azula making herself look pretty to impress her father on yet another excursion. Finished with her face, the waterbender picked out a stick of crimson paint that matched the woman's robes.

"Wait." Those golden eyes narrowed, fixating upon the reflection of exposed pale skin, more specifically the curve of her breasts... which should not be visible, not even in the slightest! Leastwise, not whilst outside the comfort and privacy of the estate, namely the lavish bedchamber she (usually) shared with her father and husband.

"I'll have to change," Azula stated, recalling her Daddy's disapproval of her not-so-modest bathing suit. She stood up from where she had been sitting in order to scrutinize her appearance a bit more closely. "Daddy wouldn't like it," she said flatly, frowning at the mirror. The last thing she wished to do was rouse his anger.

She'll have to what? Katara thought to herself, noting that she had worn that exact set of royal robes on an outing only a few days previous. Had the great Phoenix King changed his mind about it since then? Or, more likely, was his daughter just too afraid to test it? It was crazy. Even after everything she still felt the need to kowtow to his every desire, to practically walk on thin ice around him as if he were the frozen sea waiting to swallow her up. What had she said to him yesterday that had made her so afraid to cross the line? So afraid that she would even wear (very modest, by Katara's standards) robes during an outing. Even in the northern tribe, where women were practically property and the icy polar winds forced everyone (man or woman) to cover up, this kind of behavior was unheard of. If anything, men wanted their wives to bear the cold to show off more of their figure.

Or, perhaps, that was was exactly what she was afraid of? Katara suddenly felt a lot more sympathy for her master.

"Of course" she replied, dying to get the answers to her questions but knowing it wasn't her place to ask. "What did you have in mind, Your Highness? she asked, putting down the lip paint and making for the wardrobe.

Azula, too, shuffled over to the wardrobe. "Something with a high collar perhaps...," manicured hands rifled through luxurious silk robes, gowns with intricate beadwork and patterns, an ornate set of armor "...nothing too form-fitting" she added. "He gets mad when-"

People can see how beautiful you are..? How nice your figure is? Agni, what a crime.

"Well, you were there," she said, dismissively. "That time he didn't like my bathing suit."

Silence for a moment.

"Rightfully so. Spirits, I don't know what I was thinking."

Perhaps maybe you were thinking he wasn't such a jealous jackass? Katara thought to herself, not daring to say such words out loud despite wanting to. If his daughter-wife wearing something not-quite-completely-prudish could elicit anger, then what was it that she said to get him to attack her so viciously? Would it have even had to have been that bad? Katara had imagined her taking a stand. But now...? It very well may have been far more trivial if the man could be sent over the edge by a proverbial pin drop.

Either way it was her who bore responsibility - she was the one who had pushed her just far enough that she'd feel so bold to talk back.

"How about this one?" she asked, pointing to an inoffensive golden-embroidered mantle. While it certainly wasn't Katara's style, she had to admit her Master looked nice in it - and it certainly wouldn't bring the ire of the Phoenix King.

Azula managed a smile. "Yes, yes, this will do nicely" she said, running her fingertips over the silken fabric. So, she would not have to change after all. For some odd reason or another, that pleased her.

Ordinarily, the Phoenix Queen would have ordered her 'favorite' slave to help her dress...

However, the thought of another person's hands upon her body sent shivers down her spine, and not in a good way - definitely not in a good way. Instead, she busied herself behind an unnecessarily elaborate wooden divider, alone. Though not soon after, she emerged, covered from head to toe as per her father's wishes.

Once more, Azula came to stand in front of the mirror, her piercing golden gaze narrowed in silent judgment. All was in order, she decided... the swell of her breasts in all of their soft, milky white-skinned glory no longer visible beneath an extra layer of clothing, the taper of her waist and the flare of her hips appropriately camouflaged.

The Phoenix Queen turned toward the waterbender. "Well..? How do I look?"

"I think you look lovely" Katara answered truthfully, though with a fake smile. She really did think the Phoenix Queen looked nice as she did, though she probably would have looked gorgeous in whatever she chose. Even as with her hair ruffled (and uneven ends exposed), make-up smeared she looked practically perfect - if a bit off, though certainly nowhere near what she was on the day of red sky. Though if Katara were being honest, she had worse moments during her treks through the earth kingdoms - swamps, hot humid air, deserts without water to wash for miles... she certainly had had her off days as well. And if anything, the imperfections made her look more human.

"Shall we?" the waterbender gestured to her Master's seat in front of the vanity.

Satisfied, Azula took her seat. She was inclined to agree, she looked quite lovely, even now. Still, she was not presentable. Her make-up was unfinished, her hair left something to be desired and well, that simply would not do.

Once more, the Phoenix Queen frowned at her reflection. What could even be done about her Agni-forsaken hair? "Could you make this..?" she hesitated. Manicured fingernails sifted through obsidian locks. "...presentable."

She sighed. "I'm not expecting a miracle, just... do what you can. I don't think Daddy likes it the way it is." She explained, recalling the cutting remark he'd made that started it all...

But sometimes I want to just yank that cute hair of hers and make her mine, you know?

Katara took brought her hand up and mirrored Azula, slowly running her palm over the messy locks. It was bad, sure. Especially not too long ago when the wounds were fresh, It was as if a hog-monkey had taken to it with scissors. But with time, it had improved, and with a little bit of haircare and a few products she could make it blend. At least upon a more casual inspection. Though it wouldn't be long before natural growth smoothed out the ends to the point where it would be imperceptible - Katara had said as much to the Phoenix Queen in the past.

This was new: previously her Master had always focused on herself, feeling the obvious shame of having done something to your own hair in a mental flurry beyond your control. But now she was focusing on her father. "Did he say something?" she asked while blending and straightening out the ends as to make the weeks-old incisions seems less clear.

Azula stiffened. "Well, not exact-"

A pause.

"Sort of..." Dark eyebrows furrowed. "You see, he said something about another woman's hair," she explained, tactfully neglecting the all-too-important detail that said woman was the waterbender who was currently making her hair look less... well... disastrous. "Then I said something to him..." she continued. "Something not very nice."

Another pause, this one longer.

"That's when he-"

The Phoenix Queen shuddered.

"Well... that's when he did what he did." And that was putting it mildly, she knew it. Agni, she knew it all too well. "Do you know what it was I said to him?" she asked, incredulously. "I said...,"

"Fuck you."

A shadow of a smirk crept across her pale, painted face. "Again, not very nice, I'm sure you'd agree." The waterbender, meanwhile, said nothing and set to work on her final few tasks - unpainted lips and smeared kohl.

The Phoenix Queen let out a long, languid sigh, her mind doing everything in its power not to relive the trauma, re-open the (not-so-old) wounds that had been haphazardly stitched up and would probably never heal. "Of course, it was a massive overreaction on his part, although that's not to say I'm in any position to argue. Still..."

Her natural smirk returned, if only for an instant. "The look on his face was priceless."

"Who's look was priceless?"

"Zuzu's," Azula lied, smoothly, as though it were not a lie. "When I told him you changed your mind and wanted him home."

"I still can't believe he fell for that!" she laughed. "Actually..."

A pause.

"I can."

The Phoenix King gave a hearty laugh. "The fool. You can play him in your sleep."

What are you smiling about? he looked at the Water Bitch, who left as soon as his gaze fell upon her.

"You look absolutely ravishing" he said from behind his daughter, lying through his teeth. She was dressed as a nun, with only her face and hands left to the imagination. "It's only missing one thing."

Azula felt the tender skin around her neck rub against a rough fabric. Click. A tug as Ozai tested her new bond. One that made her unquestionably his.

“Wha-"

Another tug and this time, Azula gasped audibly. Much to Ozai's amusement it seemed, as evidenced by his painfully smug expression and a small chuckle at his daughter's expense. Then, there came a sudden realization. That thing around her neck... it was a collar and...

She was on a leash! He'd just put her on a fucking leash!

"Daaaddyyy"

She could not be seen like this-! collared and lead around on a leash like some exotic pet! She was the Phoenix Queen... and it was simply unacceptable! Inappropriate! Yes, even for them.

And yet, she felt... she almost wanted-

No.

"I- We... we can't," Azula protested, meekly, unable to convince herself (let alone her husband, surely).

"Azula" he began softly, speaking into her ear.

"I told you, I want everyone to know that you're mine. What better way?" Ozai asked simply.

There was no better way. Azula no doubt was concerned with the hearts and minds, the gossips and opinions of the commoners. About dignity and queenly-ness. But the peasants would understand. They would be made to. Any doubt, any dissent would be crushed. Everyone would know that everything belonged to him. Even his own wife.

you're mine

The sound of his voice and searing heat of his breath against her skin sent shivers down her spine as the hairs at the nape of her neck stood on end - sensations she knew (and occasionally, cursed) only too well.

Indeed, she was his and that was all that mattered. Daddy wanted everyone to know, he wanted everyone to see... truly, what better way was there than his?

"Daddy..."

Give them a show, then. Parade me around like a pretty little poodle-monkey. Show them all how much you want me, what a good girl I am-! and just how little we care what they think of us!

"...you are absolutely right," Azula conceded. Her natural smirk returned. "Of course, there's the matter of practicality as well. Wouldn't want to lose your little girl in the crowd, now would you?"

"Exactly right" the Phoenix King replied, replicating her facial expression with eerie precision. "I hear the Ember Island markets can be quite chaotic, difficult for newcomers. It would be irresponsible of me as a father if you were to lose your way"

"Now come along, girl" he commanded, moving to leave and letting the leash pull taut.

"Yes, sir."

Dutiful as ever, Azula trailed after Ozai- her husband and father as she'd done so many (too many) times before. She held her head high as ever, though, eager to be looked upon by the peasants, to see those slack-jawed stares of judgment and awe.

The man certainly hadn't been lying. There were definitely merchants from every corner of the Fire Nation at the Ember Island markets today. And even some from the colonies, it seemed, judging from the subtle greens mixed in with the overwhelming reds. However, it wasn't much of a bustling market. Not after the Phoenix King and Queen had arrived.

A Royal? Certainly attracts attention. Bows and onlookers. Conversation. Excitement. Two royals? The slayers of the Avatar? Two newlywed royals, a father and his daughter? A king and his Queen? With one on a leash and their water tribe servant girl in tow? They had practically ground the business on the small tropical island to a halt. All eyes on you was never designed to be taken this literally. The Phoenix King almost had to order the place to resume business once they had entered. If you could call a harsh look an order, anyway.

Ozai wouldn't have had it any other way. He was a god among men, the Phoenix King. It was only right that people granted him such reverence for allowing them to look upon him and his Queen.

When first they'd entered the marketplace, Azula swore it had been so quiet that one could hear a pin drop. However, slowly but surely, some sense of normalcy was returning. Still, the stares of one thousand unworthy eyes did not stop...

Not that the Phoenix Queen wished for it to stop, of course. On the contrary, she rather enjoyed the stares, the lowly whispers. It was just as Daddy had intended: everyone could see that she - Phoenix King Ozai's wife and daughter - belonged to him.

Withal, she was so very... desired. Men wanted her (it was plain as day), women wanted to be her (again, plain as day). There was something singular glorious about the fact that she was the object of her subjects' desires, their hopes and dreams-

All of the sudden, something caught the Phoenix Queen's eye. Unused to being restrained in such a manner, she moved as though she were not restrained at all, pulling as far as the leash allowed (nearly choking herself in the process) before realizing her mistake and coming to a dead halt.

"Something catch your eye?" the Phoenix King asked, pulling his wife back towards him.

"Yes" Azula looked toward what was, without a doubt, the finest jewelry on display at Ember Island's marketplace.

"...Daddy!" she added, quickly. "Yes, Daddy."

"There," she pointed. "Can we go there, please?"

"I suppose" Ozai began with mock consideration (or not so. Jewelry was never of a particular interest to him). "Though try not to stray" he cautioned, shortening the leash as he led her to over to the emporium, whose owner was not-so-subtly scrambling to straighten things out for the imminent royal visitors (and the servant following closely behind them, who was currently trying not to hurl).

"A particular piece you have in mind?"

I want all of it... I could have all of it, Azula thought, smirking inwardly. Provided she asked Daddy nicely, he could not deny his little girl but... no, that just wouldn't do. It was too simple. She wanted special, not simple.

Agni, she hardly even knew where to begin. Gleaming baubles and gemstones caught her eye left and right. The great Phoenix Queen felt like (and resembled to passersby) a kid in a candy store.

"Oh, I can't choose!" she declared. "What do you think, Daddy?" He had to pick. If Daddy picked it out for her, it would be extra special! "What would look pretty on me?"

Oh, she wanted him to pick jewelry. The Phoenix King had picked his queen precisely to escape trivial annoyances such as these. Worthless trinkets that would be forgotten in six months. My, Azula was entranced today.

He led his little pet around, hoping to find a-

"You, shopkeeper!"

The shrewdish man almost dropped into a full bow before he realized Ozai actually had a question.

"Where did you get this?" he pointed to an aged emblem, its shape partially deformed by the centuries. Unlike the other merchandise, this particular piece was not marked with any price nor was it on a display or in a display case. Merely subtly brandished on the temporary counter, as a kind of decoration.

"W-Well, it's a..." the King's eyes narrowed. "a-an artifact! Yes. From the time before the Firelords and ladies. Before the unification. It isn't very interesting, rea-"

"Where. Where did you get this?"

"Well... I found it. Uncovered in a dig at that old Obsidian Fortress. Back when I used to do that sort of-"

"Interesting. I want it. It'll be in much better hands with my wife. That way, it can be a relic from the time after Firelords and Fire Ladies as well"

It wasn't jewelry. It certainly wasn't pretty either. But it was special, Azula could not deny - her own little piece of history, all but stolen from the hands of the hapless shopkeeper then placed into hers. It was so very special; it was so very Ozai.

First and foremost, Azula showed her appreciation with a kiss, and not because she felt it was expected of her. She kissed her father and husband for the first time since he'd... since, well... for the first time in well over a day (not counting one small kiss on the cheek the night previous) simply because she wanted to, and for no other reason.

"I love it," she said, while failing to notice as Katara looked on with disgust.

"Thank you, Daddy."

Ozai smiled. Or smirked. It was difficult to tell. Regardless, the Phoenix King was happy, because his Queen was happy. And a happier Queen was really just better on everyone. Better for the Fire Nation, better for Ozai. Even the Water Bitch probably benefits in some way.

Thank you, Daddy

"Come along, now, Azula" he said softly, accentuating his voice with a slow, reminding tug. "There are just a few more keepsakes I wish to get for you. Things I think you'll appreciate"

"Of course" Ozai's daughter and wife did not need to be told twice. "..Daddy." And so she followed, close but not too close, taking care to remain behind her father - not next to him, never next to him. Ozai lead, Azula followed. As always.

The Phoenix King and Queen received more than a few stares en route to the former's destination. Some were positively awe-inspired, others simply intrigued. A fair few, though, read shocked... scandalized, perhaps even... disgusted.

Azula relished in the undivided attention - whether positive, negative, or anything in between.

"Hm, just what is it that you think I'll appreciate?" she asked her father, unfazed by the crowd as the pair (plus Katara, trailing not so far behind) approached another shop. "Something pretty?"

"Yes, quite" he replied, no longer paying the peasants any mind. The Phoenix King was the bringer of change, and he'd drag everyone else into the present, from the silly past where fathers were forbidden from their daughters because of superstition.

Ozai wasn't much for fabric. He'd much rather let the royal tailors figure out the details rather than getting involved himself. A peasant's work. Though there are exceptions, he thought, looking over at his daughter once again. This merchant was much more to Ozai's likeness. Less selling things to wear and more to look at. He gave Azula more purchase so she could browse herself. Not too far, though.

"I see you are a royal of good tastes"

Golden eyes met dull green. "Indeed I am" he affirmed, though admittedly not having expected the merchant to just go ahead and talk to the Phoenix King. People almost never did that. Not people like him anyway. "Would you expect otherwise?"

"Of course not, milord! I was merely referring to that Prince, uh, what's his name. He passed by here a few months ago." the short man exclaimed, closing the box he was casually looking through and leaning forward over the counter with a somewhat-hidden nervousness.

A smile. "Really?"

"Sure thing. He said he was looking for something to buy his girlfriend. I think he misunderstood what I was offering, because when I showed him my more privileged selection the guy called me a creep and stormed off! If you can believe it"

Ozai chuckled. "I can"

"And what about you?" He shook his head. "Just something to look at, for now" The Phoenix King declined, before lowering his voice. "Though I do have an idea I may bring to you later"

The man nodded. "Ah, of course. I'll leave you to your browsing, milord" he said with a smile, trying not to be obtuse as he watched his King look for the perfect dressing for his daughter.

Ozai gave a light tug.

"Say, Azula, do you remember that blue? The one you wore at the wedding." he pointed at what he had found.

"Of course, Daddy," Azula replied, recalling their special day with great fondness.

"I rather liked it"

"Oh?" she teased, referring to the fact that he'd torn the aforementioned wedding gown to pieces. "..Hm, I couldn't tell." Smirking, she considered his selections. They would leave little to the imagination, that was for certain, although the Phoenix Queen had to admit, her father was a man of exquisite taste. Given the choice, she would have been drawn to the exact same thing, if only for the color - brilliant, beautifully contrasting hues of cerulean - and apparent luxuriousness of the fabric.

"Are these supposed to be-" Azula felt her cheeks flush with heat as she held up the smallest pair of undergarments she had ever seen.

"Mm, somehow I rather doubt it was the color that caught your eye..."

"Mhm, you know me too well" Ozai affirmed, reaching for a matching outfit and waving his hand for the water bitch to organize payment - making sure to make a mental note to return to the man later and pulling his Queen closer again, enjoying his newfound freedom to do so.

Azula gasped as her entire body moved - both against her will and most unexpectedly - by way of a firm tug which caused her to stumble. Luckily, he was there to catch her before she fell. Of course, being the effortlessly agile firebending prodigy that she was, the Phoenix Queen was in no real danger of falling to the ground. Her King, however, was none the wiser.

"No need to pull so hard, Daddy," she told him. "Be gentle, I'm your little girl."

"Mhm, Indeed you are" Ozai affirmed, running a hand through the back of her hair. "Though perhaps you should be more considerate of your surroundings, Azula. It's unbecoming of my Queen to stumble over something so trivial" he said softly, as the two of the pulled apart just enough for them to exit the emporium, the father's hand around the daughter's waist.

"Your Highness! Your Highness!"

The Phoenix King and Queen had barely made it back out into the market before a young woman and a middle-aged man approached, both dropping into a full bow while catching their breath. The man spoke once more. "I'm Master Xin-Lang of Rin. I come with my mate, Lady Iqniq... also of House Rin. I-I'd like to speak with you, both of you, if you'd allow it your grace."

Ozai raised an eyebrow, genuinely intrigued. "Rise, Xin-Lang. What is it you wish to ask of me?"

"With all due respect, Your Highness...," he began. "...I ask but for a moment of your time - as well as that of your Queen's. My daughter and I would be most honored."

Xin-Lang cleared his throat. "We wish to thank you both." He smiled deeply, reaching a hand around his daughter's waist. "You see, Iqniq and I have spent many long years hiding our love, fearing what others may think- fearing persecution even! And now? We no longer live in fear. A father and his daughter may do as they please, love one another as they were meant to." His smile only grew wider. "Who dares question the Great Phoenix King and Queen, after all?"

"Nobody" Ozai confirmed, looking over the lady with his own golden eyes, who bore a rich smile despite her head being angled downwards.. "It was high time such archaic superstitions were removed. It makes me glad to hear you've followed in my footsteps. The love between a father and his daughter is that in it's purist form, wouldn't you say?"

The lady quickly glanced up at the Phoenix Queen, looking at her - almost mesmerized - before averting her gaze, her cheeks flushing with red.

"Indeed. The Lady Iqniq and I maintain that we were made for each other."

A pause.

"I made her after all" Xin-Lang laughed, as did his daughter.

"Long may you reign! May Agni bless you and your Queen with strong children - and many of them!" he blurted, excitedly. With a hand upon the lady's stomach, he announced "Agni has very recently decided to bless us."

"A wonderful happening indeed." Ozai exclaimed. "The universe has granted you a child in coincidence with my wedding as an act of providence. May it grow into a world unencumbered by the foolish superstitions of others."

"Indeed, I am also expecting sons and daughters of my own. You should expect the announcement of a royal birth in the near future"

Azula's golden eyes went wide with shock. Sons and daughters..? Royal birth?! She was expecting nothing of the sort (leastwise not at any point in the near future, as her father had just claimed).

...was she?

The Phoenix Queen remained painfully ignorant on such matters. Not entirely so, of course. But still, much too ignorant for the likes of a married woman (married girl) and a queen, no less. She knew that sex made women pregnant, and she knew more than enough about sex - Daddy had seen to that. Beyond the act itself, however, whatever knowledge she possessed was rudimentary at best, inaccurate at worst.

Hopeful that she would reach some sort of understanding, Azula sought her husband's expertise. "Oh? Are you quite certain of that?" she asked. "And to think, I've only just been informed!" she laughed.

Iqniq giggled along with the Phoenix Queen.

"Of course" Ozai affirmed. He had ordered the servants to stop putting blackroot in her tea the day he had returned. "I have no doubt you shall give me many good sons and daughters, Azula." he comforted, pulling her closer. "The power of our bloodline is unmatched"

"Indeed it is" she agreed. The Phoenix King was powerful, as was she - his daughter, the Phoenix Queen. And so, their children would be powerful as well. Of this, Azula was certain. Though still uncertain as to how exactly, she declared "We shall have all the children you desire."

She then turned her attention toward the Lady Iqniq. "Overcome with joy, I see. As well you should be," she said, offering a small smile. "Congratulations."

"Yes, Your Highness!" Iqniq almost blurted out with a genuine smile. Happy to finally be with child, yes, but also ecstatic to have talked to the one-and-only Phoenix Queen Azula. "I'm happy for you, too! You're so brave, to be so open like this, getting married and going out, not caring what anyone thinks of you. You have no idea what it means to the rest of us that you're doing this, that we don't have to be afraid anymore."

As was only natural, the woman both recognized and appreciated greatness when she saw it! Azula's own smile grew wider. 

"A life spent continually placing the happiness of others above your own is a life wasted," she cautioned, oblivious to the irony. "As such, I've never much cared what anyone thinks of me, nor the way I love my father - and neither should you."

Iqniq nodded as she said the words, taking each one in as if they had come from Agni himself, awestruck. "Of-Of course, Your Highness! Thank you for your words. We definitely won't allow our family to shame us into silence anymore, Phoenix Queen."

Ozai smirked. "And spread the word. The superstitions surrounding us die right here and right now. Do not hide, do not be subtle. Be open, be proud!" he exclaimed. "This year will be the year of fathers and daughters, brothers and sisters. The year of the purest love."



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