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Story [Avatar: The Last Airbender/Legend of Korra] The Garden was Beautiful (Izumi and Zuko Oneshot)

Discussion in 'Non Star Wars Fan Fiction' started by devilinthedetails , Oct 2, 2021.

  1. devilinthedetails

    devilinthedetails Fantastically Fiendish Fanfic Manager star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Jun 19, 2019
    Title: The Garden was Beautiful

    Author: devilinthedetails

    Fandom: Avatar: The Last Airbender; Legend of Korra.

    Genres: Family; General; Fluff; Mush.

    Characters: Izumi; Zuko.

    Summary: Izumi and her father stroll through a Republic City garden in summer.

    Author's Note: This story was written for the wonderful @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha's "Sweet as Cherry Blossoms" Haiku Challenge. My assigned haiku, which inspired this story, is quoted in italics at the beginning of the story. I claim no credit for the words of the beautiful haiku itself.

    The Garden was Beautiful

    “Precious summer bloom,
    Untouched by the scorching heat,
    Quietly blossoms.”

    Republic City sweltered in early summer heat and humidity. Even beneath the shade of the overhanging cypress and spruce branches that arched above the park path where she strolled hand-in-hand with her father, nine-year-old Izumi could feel the sun shining on her skin and scalp. Its blaze would’ve been burning and unbearable to her if she weren’t a firebender. A daughter of the Fire Nation who soaked up the rich rays of the sun that was the ultimate source of light and life in their world. Who drank in the fire so powerful that to stare directly at it risked blindness.

    They emerged from the grove of cypress and spruce in this park her father had built with the Avatar. This park named in honor of the Four Nations that was supposed to celebrate the unique horticultural styles of each of the Four Nations and to demonstrate how those different traditions might be brought together in harmony to produce something beautiful beyond words. Beyond the reaching imagery of poetry. Beyond the wistful lyrics of song.

    They were walking through the section of the park meant to pay homage to the Air Nomads and the hardy plants that grew on the mountains and plateaus where the Air Nomads had constructed their breathtaking temples. There were junipers with purple-black berries. There were trumpet-shaped gentians.

    Yet even amid the intense blue of the trumpet-shaped gentians, Izumi found her gaze drawn to a single rare blue poppy. Blue poppies were treasured and hard to grow. Perhaps so treasured because they were so difficult to grow. Somehow, though, this one was surviving, seeming untouched by the scorching heat of Republic City in early summer. Its quiet blossoming appeared to her as a defiance of death. A refutation of decay.

    “A blue poppy.” Izumi pointed the bloom out to her father with a finger on the hand that wasn’t wrapped around his. “A rare and beautiful flower.”

    “Yes.” Her father smiled at her, gold eyes warm as the sunlight kissing Izumi’s skin. “You have a keen eye.”

    “This garden is a glory, Father.” A jewel in the crown of a city that itself was a glory and a tribute to everything her father and the Avatar had accomplished, Izumi thought, feeling a lightning flash of pride in the man walking beside her, his hand tucked around hers.

    “It’s good for the people of the city to have someplace pleasant and peaceful to walk.” Her father’s tone was soft as the breeze rustling the spruce and cypress trees. “Someplace where they can go to feel connected to nature. Grounded in their roots.”

    “The garden is beautiful now, but what happens when weeds overrun it? When it collapses into ruin?” Izumi bit her lip, staring down at the gray slates of the path beneath her feet. It seemed impossible to imagine this glorious garden falling into ruin when the gardeners and landscapers kept the lawns pristinely cut and the paths painstakingly clear. Weeds strangling the flowers and sprouting, out of control as wildfire, between the cracks of the pathway she now walked. Certainly she didn’t want to imagine that. It made her sick to imagine that, in fact.

    Still, if there was one thing the history books she had read so voraciously had taught her, it was that all gardens were conquered by weeds. Same as all great cities and empires eventually crumbled to dust. Crushed by the weight of time. The brighter the light, the darker the shadow. The more glorious the height attained, the more ignominious the inevitable fall. That was how the universe maintained its balance. Humbled a humanity that eternally overreached itself and courted its own destruction.

    A furrow appeared in her father’s brow, but his answer was determined. Firm. Unshakeable in its conviction. “When it collapses into ruin, Izumi, the ruins will show that the garden--and its city--was beautiful. Even choked by weeds, the garden will be a testament to the glory that men of all nations and tribes can achieve when they live and work in unity.”

    “Men and women of all nations and tribes,” Izumi corrected him primly. Matter-of-factly. Unable to resist the temptation to do so because she was proud to be a girl.

    “Men and women,” her father agreed. Serious for a moment before breaking into a chuckle that banished the furrow from his brow and made Izumi grin. Pleased to have amused him as they took their stroll in the sun. “We mustn’t forget the women as you say.”

    “We women will insist on being remembered.” Izumi’s chin lifted, pride radiating from her like heat from the sun in the sky. “We’re like your garden in that way.”

    “I have a clever daughter.” There was a rueful edge to her father’s chuckle now. “Surely that must mean I am an intelligent man myself. To give birth to and raise such a marvelous girl.”

    Beaming, Izumi decided not to tease him about how her smarts might just as easily have been inherited and taught by her mother, whose wit was sharp as knives.
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2021
  2. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    Aug 31, 2004
    Exquisite details and reflections on what the garden represents and also for its own sake. =D=
  3. Mira_Jade

    Mira_Jade The Fanfic Manager With The Cape star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Jun 29, 2004
    Aw! This was so soft and sweet. [face_love]

    This was a beautiful correlation between Izumi and the sun as a fire-bender. [face_love] All of the descriptions throughout this story were just gorgeous!

    I loved this insight!

    Whew! These are such heavy thoughts for a nine-year-old, which really makes them all the more profound. But they, and the conclusions she reaches with her father's help, are fitting given both the history of her world and the future she's someday going to help influence. [face_love]

    Ha! Very wise words from a very wise little girl. She's a credit to both her parents. [face_love]

    Fair! [face_laugh]

    This was a beautiful moment to capture - both in setting and ambiance just as much as it was between father and daughter, in true keeping with the spirit of your haiku. Thanks for sharing this with us. =D=
  4. amidalachick

    amidalachick Favorites of Fanfic Hostess Extraordinaire star 5 VIP - Game Host

    Aug 3, 2003
    Beautiful story! Perfectly fitting for such a gorgeous haiku. [face_love]

    Your descriptions are always so lovely, and this one is no exception. I can feel the heat and the sun.

    The garden itself sounds so lovely, too, and I love the idea of it being an expression and celebration of the various nations' traditions and styles.

    A beautiful line, and so true. Everyone needs that connection to nature.


    This reminds me of a line I read in a book a long time ago that's always stayed with me. It was a nonfiction book (I want to say it was The World Without Us but I'm not positive) and it was discussing how humanity and civilization as we know it will die out, and how all that's left will be our TV and radio broadcasts drifting through space. And the part that really stuck with me was the author describing some alien civilization hundreds of thousands of years from now receiving them and seeing that, along with all the horror and sadness and the worst of humanity that's broadcast out there, there are also sitcoms and songs and love. The author summed it up something like this: "They won't understand the jokes. But they'll still hear us laugh."

    The point I was trying to get across in all that was I find that concept of beauty and hope and laughter enduring such a beautiful idea, and to me, you captured the same sort of idea here in these passages. And I love it. [face_love]

    And then, how Izumi corrects her father with the "Men and women" line, and the bit about her being proud to be a girl. I just adore strong female characters. This bit, and the father-daughter bonding, was so great to read!

    Wonderful line, and so true!

    And the ending was just perfect.

    Again, beautiful work on this and a lovely and fitting response to the challenge. =D=[:D]
  5. devilinthedetails

    devilinthedetails Fantastically Fiendish Fanfic Manager star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Jun 19, 2019
    @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Thank you so much for the beautiful prompt that inspired this story, and thank you as well for reading and commenting on the story[:D]I really love walking through gardens and just soaking in their beauty (to the extent that some of my favorite vacation memories involve botanical and rose gardens) so I hoped to do justice to this one with details, and I'm so glad that you found those details so exquisite. I've also always been a fan of the symbolism of gardens so I really wanted to explore what the garden represented and also what its beauty meant for its own sake beyond just symbolism. Because there is just something very transcendent about gardens.

    @Mira_Jade As always, thank you so much for reading and commenting!:) I'm so flattered that you found this story to be soft and sweetness since I did want its sweetness and the soft affection between Izumi and her father to be a sort of tribute to the sweetness and softness of flowers.

    So glad you enjoyed the description of Izumi's relationship with the sun as a firebender. How firebenders respond to the sun and experience the sun always intrigued me about Avatar, and I like to think that the more humane firebenders like Izumi and Iroh would feel more of the light-and-life giving properties of the sun, while more ruthless firebenders like Ozai or Azula would be attuned to painful, destructive, burning elements of the sun.

    The insight Izumi gets from the blue poppies was one of my favorite lines in this piece, so it makes me so happy that it stuck out as meaningful to you as well.

    I definitely head canon Izumi as being very precocious and a lover of history plus I personally find gardens to be places that make me super reflective about everything, so I couldn't resist giving Izumi some heavy thoughts, haha. But I also wanted to have her father help steer her to conclusions that could shape the future she'll one day be influencing.

    Izumi speaking on behalf of women made her a joy for me to write in this fic, and I agree that she is absolutely a credit to both of her parents! And I think her parents are very proud of the strong, clever woman she is growing into!

    And the last line definitely gave me a chuckle and smile as well[face_laugh]

    I'm so happy that you found this to be a beautiful moment both in the garden setting and in the father and daughter bonding. I really wanted to celebrate the beautiful spirit of this haiku, and it is amazing to know you felt I succeeded with that. Thank you again for reading and for the kind words[:D]

    @amidalachick As always, thank you so much for reading and commenting!:)I was struck by the power and the beauty of the haiku from the moment I was assigned it, so it makes me so pleased that you felt this was a beautiful story perfectly fitting the gorgeous haiku I received.

    Heat is something that is always a bit challenging to convey with words, so I am so proud that you felt my descriptions allowed you to feel the heat and the sun especially because I really wanted to celebrate how attuned Izumi was to the sun as a firebender.

    I very much pictured the garden as a lovely place designed to pay tribute to the different nations coming together in a sort of harmony, so I am happy to hear that idea shone through the story to you.

    I agree that everyone does need that connection to nature, which is why I think it is very important that green spaces like parks be planned into cities. People need that place of refuge and replenishment that is nature.

    That book you read sounds very profound, and I really love that "They won't understand the jokes. But they will hear us laugh" line you quoted because it is just so true. And I think laughter is a sound that in some ways can transcend species. That actually makes me think of how one of the sounds chosen for the Golden Record--to sort of be blasted into space as a way of introducing ourselves to any other intelligent life if out there in the void of space--was human laughter. To me that really does speak to how fundamental laughter is. How instinctually it seems to come to us and how much it seems to define us, our relationships, and our expressions of joy. It really is hard for us to imagine a world without laughter because we do it so instinctively. It's innate to us despite the pain and the hardship we encounter. And that is beautiful to think about.

    I am definitely with you in that I find the idea of beauty, laughter, and hope surviving and enduring a very beautiful idea, and I am so flattered that you felt I was able to convey that concept in this story, since in many ways, that was what I wanted this story to be about. A celebration of a beauty that can endure and be remembered. That can transcend its time and speak across generations.

    It was a delight for me to write Izumi correcting her father with the men and women bit, and I really wanted to communicate how proud Izumi was to be a girl. I'm like you in that I love strong female characters, and that was one of my favorite things about Avatar. How many strong female characters there are. And I couldn't resist giving Izumi a nice father and daughter bonding moment with her father since I totally head canon Zuko as someone who tries to be a great and loving dad.

    And you highlighted one of my favorite lines about how women will insist on being remembered just like the garden so yay! [face_dancing]

    The ending brought a big grin to my face, so I'm so happy you enjoyed it as well and found it to be perfect.

    Thank you again for the generous words and for reading my work. I'm so pleased that you found this to be a lovely and fitting response to the beautiful haiku challenge[:D]
  6. ViariSkywalker

    ViariSkywalker Kessel Run & FoF Hostess Extraordinaire star 4 VIP - Game Host

    Aug 9, 2002
    I haven't delved into much of the ancillary material for ATLA or LoK, so my knowledge of what is and isn't canon here is limited, but I do really love the idea of a park and gardens that pay tribute to all four elements and nations by including aspects of each. [face_love]

    This was such a peaceful image, and I love the idea of Izumi sharing this moment with Zuko. And of course, I always love seeing the beautiful, positive side of firebending portrayed here.

    A great line! I can certainly see the older Izumi I better know in the girl you've written here. Smart and no-nonsense and with wisdom, too. Thank you for sharing this vignette!
  7. devilinthedetails

    devilinthedetails Fantastically Fiendish Fanfic Manager star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Jun 19, 2019
    @ViariSkywalker Can't believe it took me so long to respond to your comment!:oops:But thank you so much for reading and commenting! My delayed response is only evidence of my forgetfulness and poor time management, and not ingratitude, I promise!:)

    Definitely don't worry if you haven't delved too much into the ancillary material of Avatar: The Last Airbender and Legend of Korra because for this story I was mostly just going with what felt right to me rather than drawing a lot of inspiration from ancillary material.

    A park and garden drawing inspiration from all the nations and elements just seemed like a perfect way of capturing the essence and intention behind building Republic City so I am so happy that you loved that idea since it was one of my own creation!

    I was really trying to capture that sense of peace in the image you quoted, so it is wonderful to hear you felt I succeeded with that, and writing about Izumi sharing this moment with Zuko really warmed my heart. Izumi and Zuko having bonding moments in general warms my heart because I just want to show all the ways Zuko is a wonderful father to her and doesn't repeat his own father's abusive behavior. I am also very committed to depicting that more positive, beautiful side of fire bending (because fire is not purely destructive) and it makes me so pleased to know that aspect of the story shone through for you as well.

    That line of Izumi's was one of my absolute favorites from this piece (Izumi is a fierce little feminist in my head canon, haha) so I am delighted it was a highlight for you as well. Izumi just charms me with her smarts and her no-nonsense approach to life and her growing wisdom and curiosity about the world so it is just a privilege for me to write about her and explore her character in detail, and I am so happy you enjoyed this glimpse of her in this vignette and found my depiction consistent with her portrayal in other works I've written about her.

    Thank you again for all the kind words and apologies again for the delayed response![:D]
    Kahara and ViariSkywalker like this.