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.

"I'm sorry miss, you can't come in. Only people with royal-"

"I'm Azula's friend, and that means you have to, you have to let me in!!" a little girl exclaimed between sobs.

"The Princess isn't expecting any visitors, now, where are your parents. You shouldn't-"

"You don't understand! I can't go back to them" Tears hit cold stone. "They don't care about me anymore"

Having heard the commotion, another little girl appeared as if on cue, this one clad in custom-made battle armor.

The Princess was not expecting visitors, it was true. However, she always had time for those she deemed worthy of it and, as luck would have it, made a habit of walking about the grounds as of late, undeterred by a bit of rain and her mother's lectures about 'adult supervision' alike.

"Ty Lee?" Her face fell at the sight of fresh tears.

Why is she..? Did the guards make her cry?!

"What have you done to her?" the young Princess demanded, wild-eyed.

"Well, uh, Your Highness, I just..."

"Shut up!" she hissed, addressing the offending guard thus stunning him into silence. "Let her through, I command it!"

"Azula!" Ty Lee exclaimed, rushing past the guard and wrapping her hands around her friend in an ever-so-tight hug (something she had been instructed not to do). "I knew you'd come" Azula had always valued Ty Lee, had always known she was special.

"Shh, it's alright..." the Princess soothed, embracing the other girl in turn, albeit rather less tightly. "You're alright now."

A pause.

"What happened?"

Azula's warmth meant everything to Ty Lee, especially today, when everything was cold and sad and horrible and not fun and warm and happy and special like they should be! It had even been raining earlier and Ty Lee's hair was all ruined and it was horrible. But they could fix that. Azula was here for Ty Lee. When nobody else was.

"They forgot, Azula! They forgot I was even there!"

Azula frowned. Today was a special day, or rather it was supposed to have been - Ty Lee's birthday.

Birthdays were, in the scheme of things, not that big a deal. Nonetheless, the young princess could admit (if only to herself) that she deeply disliked seeing her friend so upset. Something just felt wrong inside whenever such a thing as this occurred, no matter how trivial the reason.

"I didn't forget," Azula reassured, resolving to make up for whatever it was that Ty Lee's parents had done (or not done, rather) this time.

"Happy birthday, Ty Lee."

"Come with me. I'll make it all better" the Princess coaxed, leading her friend by the hand.

I'll make it all better

Even though it was almost unimaginable, the acrobat hugged her royal friend even tighter, the tears from before subsiding leaving her eyes as damp as her hair. "Really!?" she said finally, releasing her friend to the point where it was just her hands on the princess's shoulders and her dull silver eyes locking with Azula's rich golden ones. Even as she asked he question, she knew the answer had to be yes. It was why she came to the princess in the first place, after all.

"Of course," Azula affirmed, with a small smile, relieved that her efforts had resulted in calming the other girl. "I'm the princess, I can do anything!" she declared, not because it seemed the right thing to say but because it was something the little princess believed, with all of her heart... and well, it was not as though she'd spoken empty words. She could do just about anything, so long as she minded her father (and some old men with funny hats remained convinced she was a 'prodigy'... whatever that meant).

"Come on. No more crying, it'll be okay."

And so, Ty Lee followed Azula inside, past the guards and the solid metal doors which parted for the youngest (and smallest, by far!) member of the royal family without her having to say a word. Already, she'd earned herself quite the reputation amongst all those employed in the royal palace, maidservants and imperial firebenders alike...

The girls then navigated seemingly endless twists and turns, made their way up a flight of stairs and down a long corridor, eventually reaching their destination: the princess's chambers - where a servant attended to both her charge and her charge's unannounced guest (also without being asked) almost immediately. As was her wont, Azula rejected the offer of dry clothes for herself, opting instead to use her bending. However, she insisted the woman find her friend a 'pretty dress' to wear. And sure enough, in what seemed a matter of seconds, she returned with a garment which had been carefully selected from the princess's own wardrobe.

"You can keep it if you want" Azula said, seemingly aloof, dismissing her maidservant with a simple gesture of her hand. Despite her apparent aloofness, she could not deny the fact that it felt nice to make her friend happy (especially on days like this, when she arrived so sad). There had to be something more she could do...

Golden eyes fell upon a silver bowl, filled to the brim with candied walnuts. Though she would never admit to such a thing, she did not care for them. Ty Lee, however, had a particular fondness for the sweet treat - which was the only reason the servants had been instructed to ensure that a fresh supply was readily available, just in case her friend should drop by.

Though for appearance's sake, the princess plucked a single walnut from amongst the sticky pile and ate it. "Here, have some" she offered, reaching for the bowl once more and presenting its contents in their entirety.

The familiarity of her rooms offered comfort to Ty Lee, in the form of memory - memories of sleepovers past (she wondered if the Princess would let her sleep over this time) - and warmth, obviously. Azula's rooms were always warm, which seemed to be intentional given the candles and firebowls and that one fireplace in the side room, always fed the power of Azula's chi - which Ty Lee had noticed had a certain heat to it recently each tendril of flame seeming different, the yellows being brighter and the edges being something else entirely.

It wasn't what Ty Lee would normally wear. It certainly wasn't very pink, though it was pretty in a more Azula kind of way. But... you can keep it if you want ...it was a gift to her, and that made it important. Exciting, even. Though she was finding it hard to bring her usual bubbly demeanor to the room, her aura was all dingy and blue. The acrobat blushed as she went behind a folding screen to change out of sight of her friend.

Her friend who's aura was also different, she could tell behind the screen. Instead of the bright crimson of usual - that of determination and passion - Ty Lee saw something different in the princess today, something decidedly pink. That was what made her smile.

"Okay Azula, I'm done!" she reported with renewed enthusiasm, coming out from her position behind the screen. "How do I look?" she asked, her voice muffled as she scarfed a few more candied walnuts.

"You look nice" the Princess said, simply. Despite the fact that it was not something Ty Lee would choose to wear - a rich dark red, embroidered with golden lotus flowers - she could not have been more honest. However, something was amiss...

It still wasn't enough, she could tell. She had to do something more, she just had to! Perhaps it was silly, but-

No! No, that wasn't silly at all, Azula resolved. Ty Lee was her friend, and she didn't feel special. On this day, of all days - such a thing was nigh unjust! Admittedly perhaps, in the grand scheme of things, it was just a day and there was nothing extraordinary about it... though the Princess couldn't help but to think of her own birthday. How awful it would be indeed if something (or someone) ruined that for her.

"I have a gift for you." Azula knew just what to do. In search of a small but meaningful trinket, she rifled through the top drawer of her vanity, retrieving something she herself had no use for but Ty Lee had always admired. A golden hairpin, encrusted with gemstones in all the colors of the rainbow.

"Really? You got me...?" her eyes widened and Azula found herself in another tight polarbeardog hug. "Thank you Azula!" she exclaimed, crying again, though this time with tears of joy. She hadn't forgotten. Azula hadn't forgotten her name, hadn't forgotten her birthday, hadn't forgotten her present.

⁂⁂⁂

It wasn't silly

The Phoenix Queen recalled (with much more fondness than she ought to) a time she had given someone a gift, a time it really meant something. Not just to Ty Lee but-

This is beyond silly, this is absolutely ridiculous, Azula thought, staring down in silence at the jade comb in her hands which she'd swiped from a merchant's table whilst Father found himself distracted by something pretty and lacy (that she would indubitably end up wearing for him). Sighing heavily, she flopped down onto the bed, mentally chastising herself for even having considered-

What? What did you consider?

Nothing! I just took the damned thing... I don't even know why!

Yes you do.

Indeed, she knew all too well, there was no use denying it any longer...

By the flame of Agni, what is wrong with me?!

You wanted to make Katara feel good. Now what's so wrong about that?

Ugh, are you kidding, where do I start?

There were about one hundred things wrong with that, the fact that Katar- the water-wench was her enemy (and a servant, to boot!) at the very top of the list.

So she is still your enemy..? Are you quite certain of that?

If Azula were being honest with herself, she was quite uncertain of many aspects regarding their... unorthodox relationship. One moment, the waterbender was angry and resentful, the next she was asking those annoyingly persistent questions of hers... caring, helping when she did not have to.

Regardless, she was still a servant. No queen in her right mind went around giving gifts to the servants, it simply was not appropriate!

Now you pretend to care about what's right and proper? That's a laugh.

She didn't care about propriety, not even in the slightest, the Phoenix Queen resolved. And so, the jade comb was left atop Katara's pillow. A symbol of forgiveness (it wasn't her fault, really it wasn't). A symbol of... friendship?



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