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Story Fallen Leaves [Avatar: The Last Airbender Iroh Oneshot for Autumn Bingo]

Discussion in 'Non Star Wars Fan Fiction' started by devilinthedetails, Sep 15, 2020.

  1. devilinthedetails

    devilinthedetails Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Jun 19, 2019
    Title: Fallen Leaves

    Fandom: Avatar: The Last Airbender

    Author: devilinthedetails

    Genre: Angst; General; Family.

    Characters: Iroh; Lu Ten.

    Summary: As the leaves fall, Iroh remembers his lost son.

    Author's Note: Written for the Autumn Bingo Challenge. The words I used were: Chill in the Air+Scarecrow+Changing Leaves+Pumpkin+Haystack.

    Fallen Leaves

    There was a chill in the autumn air that raised ruddy splotches on Iroh’s cheeks as he walked slow as grief along the fence-lined path that wound through the fields of his property now golden with harvest wheat. It was memory that made his feet heavy. The memory of his son toddling down this path, sticky fingers clutched between his. The memory of those same sticky fingers pointing at a man made from straw attached to a wooden pole and dressed in a broad-brimmed hat and a fieldhand’s tattered, discarded clothes. The memory of Lu Ten, back then plump as a pumpkin to be baked into a delicious spiced pie–pumpkin pies had been Lu Ten’s favorite dessert at harvest time, Iroh recalled and wondered if pumpkin pies would always taste like death to him now–asking him what the straw man was in the eager, curious tone of a child innocent to the world and its fears.

    Iroh remembered how he had smiled and explained that it was a scarecrow meant to frighten away any crows that might swoop down to steal the harvest crop. He’d tweaked Lu Ten’s nose in a teasing imitation of a crow’s biting beak as he’d said this.

    Now a different scarecrow stood on the pole, a scarecrow that looked sad and lonely in Iroh’s eyes.

    The sight of the scarecrow pained him, and he strode past it, his pace quickening, but the speed brought no relief from his sorrow, because as he continued, tall haystacks came into view. As he gazed out at the haystacks, he could hear Lu Ten’s laughter as he jumped and rolled in haystack after haystack echoing in his ears. The sound of childish delight rang like a condemnation inside him.

    A bitter reminder of how he had failed to protect his son at the impenetrable walls of Ba Sing Se–of how his son had died for his pride and determination to capture this greatest city of the Earth Kingdom because he’d once had a vision of conquering it. A vision that had once seemed so tangible to him but now mocked him for its elusiveness–for its stealing away of the only child Iroh had ever had.

    Never again would he hear Lu Ten’s laughter, Iroh thought, the notion rising like burning bile inside him. Swiping tears from his eyes with the cuffs of his tunic, he walked further along the path. Overhead, tree branches arched, their orange and red leaves filtering out the strongest rays of the sun. A bed of fallen leaves crunched beneath his feet, their rot cushioning his footsteps.

    Lu Ten had loved to pick up the brightest leaves, collecting them in a shelf on his bedroom wall, until their color completely faded.

    Changing leaves were a symbol of warriors in Fire Nation song and poetry, personifying in their glorious, radiant reds and oranges a solider’s fleeting pride and strength before falling to the ground.

    Iroh had once sung to Lu Ten about leaves from the vine falling and about brave soldier boys marching home.

    His brave soldier boy had never come marching home from his war. He never should have brought his brave solider boy to war and to the ill-fated siege of Ba Sing Se. It was his fault his brave soldier boy had failed to come marching home.

    He could only try to find his peace–his undeserved redemption–among these fallen leaves.
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2020
  2. pronker

    pronker Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Jan 28, 2007
    Excellent imagery with leaves and their impermanent beauty ... *wistful sigh*
  3. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    Aug 31, 2004
    @devilinthedetails -- this is quite the statement, but true nonetheless. Of all the marvelous, poignant things you've done, this is the most. =D= =D= You can feel the lovely scene bringing back sweet memories that are now become bitter condemning things. The sense of loss is heavy and pervasive. Very well written!!! @};-
  4. amidalachick

    amidalachick Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Aug 3, 2003
    @pronker and @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha already said everything I could say (and better than I could say it :p) about this poignant but gorgeously written vignette! You've truly painted a picture here, of both the physical setting and Iroh's grief.

    Amazing work. =D=
  5. devilinthedetails

    devilinthedetails Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Jun 19, 2019
    @pronker Thank you so much for commenting!:) I'm so flattered that you thought this piece had excellent imagery with the leaves and their impermanent beauty because Iroh's "Leaves from the Vine" song always resonated with me, and I really wanted to explore that idea of fallen leaves symbolizing a soldier, a life, lost in battle in more detail because it was so poignant to me. In many ways, Iroh came up with the idea, and I just wanted to expand on it some more.

    @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha As always, thank you so much for your kind words:) I'm so pleased to hear that you found this to be the most poignant thing I've ever written, because I really find Iroh's grief for his lost son so moving that it brings tears to my eyes in the show, so I really wanted to do justice to the depths of Iroh's grief and loss in this piece. I think one of the greatest sorrows of grief is that it can turn lovely scenery and sweet memories sometimes into bitter reminders of pain until some peace is found, and that is why I wanted to end the story with Iroh seeking that sense of peace and redemption. And I really wanted to show how heavy and pervasive the loss was in contrast to the lighter, more carefree moments he had shared with his son in the past. Thank you again, and I'm so glad you found this piece so well-written!

    @amidalachick Thank you so much for commenting!:)I'm so happy to hear that you found this story poignant and well-written and that you felt I painted such a picture of both the physical setting and Iroh's grief because I really wanted the focus to be on how the setting reflected Iroh's grief.
  6. Mira_Jade

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

    Jun 29, 2004
    Oh, but this was just too beautiful for words! Leaves From the Vine still gets me every time - I don't think I've ever rewatched the series with a dry eye, and you really captured Iroh's grief and missing for his son here. Especially juxtaposing his memories with the present, and that pervasive feel of fall that you managed to capture so well! He does have his peace now - his much deserved redemption, little though he may feel his past crimes are atoned for by his good deeds - and his memories of his son, but his grief is still there. An absolutely lovely written, if heartbreaking, character study. [face_love] =D=
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2020
    pronker and devilinthedetails like this.
  7. devilinthedetails

    devilinthedetails Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Jun 19, 2019
    @Mira_Jade Thank you so much for commenting!:)I'm so flattered that you found this too beautiful for words. Iroh's singing of Leaves from the Vine broke my heart into a million pieces the first time I saw it, and I can't rewatch it with dry eyes either, so it means a lot that you felt I really captured his grief for his lost son here. I think Iroh's grief is so poignant especially because he is a character that seems to have such a strong connection to the next generation whether with Zuko or Toph that it just is to tragic to think that his own son died so young.

    I think grief can sometimes mess with the sense of time, making the past sort of bleed into the present, so it's good to hear that you found the juxtaposition of his memories with the present so effective. The falling leaves definitely seemed like a powerful vehicle for exploring that theme of grief and loss with Iroh and his son.

    And I definitely think Iroh is able to find that sense of peace through his connection to Zuko especially and to find redemption through all his good deeds and wisdom even if it may be hard for him to believe that he has.

    Writing this did break my heart for Iroh, but I'm so glad you found this to be a lovely written character study!