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Title: Five Ways Yue and Zuko Never Fell in Love.
Fandom: Avatar: The Last Airbender
Character/Pairing: Zuko/Yue
Category: Romantic
Rating: PG
Warnings: AU, implied torture in number two, character death, and various degrees of angst.
Disclaimer: Not mine: please don't sue.
Summary: It could have been. It really could have been. If life was fair. Five ways Yue and Zuko never fell in love.

“Here,” he says, just off the boat and already up to her room and smiling wide. “I’ve got a surprise for you.”

Yue always looked forward to the summer months when Zuko came to visit. He was the nicest boy around and probably the best Fire Bender she’d ever seen. And whenever she told him so he always turned the sweetest bright red. Now at ten he was still the same, just taller. “What is it, Zuko? More flowers maybe?”

“Sort of,” he grinned. “Only better. Cherries!”

He pulled out a box full of tiny red balls, connected in twos by long green stalks. Gently she plucked one out and lifted it to her nose. “How sweet!”

“No, Yue! You’re supposed to eat them.”

Yue pouted despite herself. “But when I tried to eat the flowers you laughed at me.”

“These are okay to eat, I promise,” Zuko picked one up and dropped it into his mouth; the juice spreading on to his lips. “Yum. Just don’t eat the hard part.”
So they sat for hours eating the cherries and watching the others face turn red. Yue wiped the juice but Zuko never bothered, it all matched anyhow. Everything about him was red. They talked between bites about the times connecting summers. About duty and honor, crazy girls and confusing boys, hot days of drought and freezing cold, about hair and eyes and really was anything the same?

“Duty,” says Zuko. “And royalty. That’s the same everywhere I think.”

“Different duties though. Nobody’s going to make your sister get married.”

Zuko grinned so wide Yue just had to poke him a couple times over. “I wish.”

“Zuu-koo! That’s mean!” Yue stuck her tongue out at him. “You’re not supposed to be mean!”

She poked him for the third time; he grabbed one of her pillows to protect himself, until finally they both went back to a big giggling mess.

“Parents,” she chirped.

“What about them?”

“They’re all the same,” she smiled grabbing another piece of fruit. “Busy and caring.”

“You’re wrong!” It was like she’d set off a tin of blasting jelly right in the middle of the room. Zuko flung himself up and through all her books and toys.

“Zuko?” she says. She doesn’t know what else to say.

He grabs all the cherries and stomps them down until juice sinks into the rug. Red on his lips, his hand, his feet. He screams.

“Zuko?” she repeats. She reaches for his hand.

“Mom’s gone,” he whispers. Deflated. So faint she almost didn’t hear. “She left before Dad became Fire Lord.”

Yue tries to put on her own Mothers voice. The one that says everything is already. But nothing comes out; she’s left as just herself— opening and closing her mouth to form invisible words. Finally: “I’m sorry.”

“Father says she’s dead. Its my fault,” Zuko seemed to only just remember where he was. “I’m sorry about your room.”

“Are you alright?”

He hadn’t seemed to hear really. But it seemed to help. “I ruined your cherries.”

“Um,” What could she do? What could she say to remind him that things were going to be okay? “I had plenty. Thank you.”

“They were supposed to be a special present. When are you going to taste cherries again?”

For one moment Princess Yue sees. Sees the Moon. Sees the Sun. Sees the future that isn’t going to happen, thanks to all the words and worlds in between them. Sees the red on his lips.

“Here,” she says, quiet and shy. “I’ve got a surprise for you.”

Yue squeezed her lovely huge, blue eyes shut, tears leaking out from the corners. “Leave me alone. Please, why can’t you just leave me alone? I give up. I didn’t do anything to you.”

Zuko never regretted winning the war. It’s just sometimes he regrets what that means.

Azula chuckled, reaching out to touch the former Princess’s neck, feeling her shudder. “Of course you didn’t. But Yue, it’s not about you. It’s about me. Because you see, Yue…” She paused, stooping to look her in the eyes, hand gripping her chin as Azula brushed away her hair. “I regret to inform you that I am a very, very bad person.”

Against all odds Yue laughed, but it had an edge of steel. “And I am the Daughter of the Moon.”

“The Moon is gone. What is a Moon girl with no Moon?” Azula smirked. Zuko does not like this.

Yue’s sobs punctuated the next words she managed to choke out as she folded against the wall in defeat. “It’s not fair, it’s not right—and this is just bad, bad, bad…everything about it is…it’s…” Her speech lost all coherence.

Azula left with a click of her tongue. She always leaves when the victims start to cry the first time.

Zuko is not Azula. And that’s the problem right there. He regretted, and he denied, and he weakened at the sight of a crying homeless girl. He couldn’t sit and watch royalty become meaningless so easily.

“Please,” she said. “Please.”

So Zuko carefully loosed one of Yue’s hands from the bonds, noticing the fresh blood in the middle of her palms where she’d dug her fingernails into her skin. He helped her out into the night air. She bled easily. Too thin. When he was Fire Lord he’d make sure all the prisoners were treated properly. Or at least better. Maybe.

But for today it’s enough to save one blue-eyed girl, who clings to him with blood stained hands; as they both look to a sky that is no longer there.

“…I’m not telling him.”

“We have to. Someday. We can’t hide out here forever,” Yue knew enough to tease when he got in a mood like this. “Also? Could we maybe not use cuddle-time as argument-time? Please?”

“I’m not.”

Yue rubbed the back of his now callused hand, past the beginning of the green sleeve. “What are you afraid of?”

He closed his eyes, wanting to focus on the touch, but it was washed out by reasons—fights and screaming and lightning, and the cold disapproval that he knew would come, his life on fast-forward, and he knew the ending but that wouldn’t make it less painful. He couldn’t do that to her.

Zuko gave a shudder that shook their apartments flimsy walls. “Of what I know he’ll say.”

There was a long pause; Zuko watched the Earth Kingdom sun reflect off Yue’s dyed brown hair. Her eyes were unreadable. Finally she slid back down and gave him the lightest of kisses. “Alright.

“I just won’t”

“I,” another pause and Yue slid closer still. “I know.”

That was all that needed to be said.

“Why have you called on me, Prince of Fire?”

The Moon Spirit knew who he was…he shouldn’t be surprised. She was just as beautiful as Sokka had said; shimmering and gauzy. Zuko bowed down low. “Great Moon Spirit, I wish for your blessing. My Uncle says you understand destiny: and Sokka says you’re very kind.”

“You would know, Prince Zuko; you were there,” her smile was too fantastic to be bitter. “Though I suppose you were distracted.”

“I was wrong. I’m better now! I mean; I thought I was good- but now I have my own path. I’m helping the Avatar.”

“You’re looking for redemption,” she said flatly. It was not a question. “And I’d say you’ve found it by yourself.”

“I just feel like I’m still lost. Not the way I was before-just,” Zuko looked up at her pleadingly. “Is it wrong to seek help from a higher power?”

“You have plenty of help, Prince Zuko. Your friends on both sides of the war care about you. And you have the power to change the world,” she began to fade into the shadows again. “If you’re looking for hope, look towards the living.”

“Wait!” he doesn’t know why he called. But she does.

There is nothing real about the Moon Spirit. Nothing solid. But still he feels her kiss on his forehead, the perfect deception.

She’s not real. She was never there. But for the first time in Prince Zuko’s life he feels…blessed.

“Why?” he said. A Fire Emperor on his deathbed. Yue gently rubbed cold water on his brow. “Why are you still here?”

“Because our children will need me,” The Fire Empress crooned. And she takes his hand.

“They’re good children,” he smiled the words.

“Because we were good parents I think. They won’t need me for long.”

His grip around her hands tightened. “But why here?”

“Because this is my home now. For the last forty years it’s been my home,” she looked out the window and towards the green grass. She could hardly remember snow. She remembered looking out from her balcony, and swearing there was no greater view. “I couldn’t leave.”

“Why me?” he said. His voice comes from far away. And then it’s gone.

“Because I love you,” she said. And she closes his eyes.


Sun & Moon

In this world so full of fear.
Full of rage and lies.
I can see the truth so clear.
In your eyes, so dry your eyes.

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