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Story Fountain of Memory [Avatar: The Last Airbender-A Zuko/Mai Oneshot for Autumn Bingo]

Discussion in 'Non Star Wars Fan Fiction' started by devilinthedetails, Sep 11, 2020.

  1. devilinthedetails

    devilinthedetails Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Jun 19, 2019
    Title: Fountain of Memory

    Fandom: Avatar: The Last Airbender

    Author: devilinthedetails

    Genre: Romance; Drama.

    Characters: Zuko; Mai; mentions of Azula.

    Summary: Zuko and Mai walk through a garden of memory.

    Author's Note: Written for the Autumn Bingo Challenge. The words I used to make Bingo were: Feast+Ghost+Reap+Spice+Apple.

    Fountain of Memory

    “Do you want some flaming fire flakes?” Zuko asked Mai as they stepped into the palace courtyard where what felt like a thousand years ago Azula had tricked his mother into ordering him to play with her, Mai, and Ty Lee because he and Azula were siblings after all. Not that Azula had ever cared about that bond of blood beyond using it to taunt and torment him, Zuko reflected bitterly.

    As they wended their way along the stone paths to the center of the garden, Zuko offered a smoking carton of the flaming fire flakes to his wife. Since she had discovered her pregnancy weeks ago, she had experienced fierce cravings for the spicy, roasted flakes that always left the roof of Zuko’s mouth smoking and the tip of his tongue burning.

    Katara had assured him that such cravings were a part of preganancy as natural as breathing, and Mai herself had recalled how her own mother had developed insatiable urges to eat massive amounts of fire gummies when she was pregnant with her younger brother, so a propensity for the consumption of spicy snacks while pregnant appeared to have a genetic basis in Mai’s family.

    “What a feast.” Mai’s tone was sardonic but she accepted the extended carton of flaming fire flakes and began eating them with unmistakable eagerness.

    “The feast is later tonight.” Zuko smiled at the thought of the extravagant banquet they would be hosting that evening to formally announce and celebrate the news of Mai’s pregnancy to the court. There were would be golden plates piled with komodo chicken, roasted duck, steamed and garnished fish, and boiled clams. Served alongside these delicious meant dishes would be brimming platters of vegetable dumplings and noodles spiced to Mai’s exacting standards. For dessert, there would be bowls overflowing with mangos, ash bananas, and figs alongside fruit tarts made from apple, lemon, and cherry. Zuko felt his mouth watering just imagining the decadence he and his guests would enjoy after the sun set and the feast began. “This is only to whet your appetite.”

    “You tease me with these flaming fire flakes.” Mai elbowed him in the ribs as she continued to munch on the snack he had given her. “Charming as ever, Zuko.”

    “I’m just trying to make you feel something,” Zuko retorted. “It’s not my fault that you are only capable of feeling sarcasm and boredom.”

    Mai doubtlessly would have provided a cutting rejoinder to this if they hadn’t both realized at the same time that their feet had carried them without their knowledge or permission to the fountain where Azula had made Mai stand with a blazing apple on her head, threatening to ignite her hair. The fountain where Azula had taunted and tormented them both, toying with them in her cruel, cunning games as a a cat would cornered mice. The fountain where he had pushed her into the water to save her from the fire. The fountain that had splashed over him as Ty Lee giggled and Azula gloated. The fountain that couldn’t cool his burning humiliation.

    “You’re being haunted by Azula’s ghost, aren’t you?” Mai asked in an almost whisper, her ashen face suggesting that she was being haunted by the very specter to which she referred.

    Could you be haunted by the ghost of someone who hadn’t yet died? Zuko didn’t think so. Besides, why should he be haunted by Azula as if he were guilty of some cruelty to her when it had always been she who terrorized him?

    Still, he did feel a strange tightening in his chest whenever he thought about her descent into madness and her being confined to an asylum. She had been sadistic to him throughout her life, but he didn’t believe in his blood and bones that she had been born evil. She had been raised to evil by their father. Azula’s ghost should have been haunting their father, but to be haunted by a ghost, a conscience seemed to be required, and their father had never had that. Maybe Azula had never had one either, and that was why she was still finding a way to torture him now.

    “I know I shouldn’t be.” Zuko clutched at his hair in mingled grief and frustration with his own compassion for a sister who had always hated him. “I know she reaped what she sowed and nothing more.”

    He thought Uncle Iroh had once shared an Earth Kingdom proverb with him about people inevitably reaping what they sowed. That had been during Zuko’s exile when he was trying to teach Zuko of the value and wisdom that could be found in each of the four nations when balance and harmony existed between them.

    “Yes, she’s reaping only what she sowed, and her suffering is all self-inflicted.” The pallor in Mai’s face was being replaced by blooming roses in her cheeks. Sticking her fingers into the trickling water and letting it wash over her as if it could erase all painful memories, she murmured, her voice a ripple of the water itself, “It was beside this fountain that I fell in love with you, Zuko.”

    “It was by this fountain that I realized I loved you.” Zuko felt the epiphany like the bolt of lightning he had taken to save Katara from Aulza. Love and the revelation of it was tingling electricity in his veins, pulsing with life, power, danger, and death. “That’s why I had to rescue you.”

    “It was very gallant of you.” Mai grinned at him over her shoulder. “If our child is a girl, I’d like to name her Izumi.”

    Izumi meaning fountain.

    “That sounds lovely.” Zuko came forward to stand beside her, wrapping his arms around her waist and bending to kiss her orchid-scented hair. “Izumi is a beautiful name.”
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2020
  2. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Lovely descriptions of the banquet/feast. =P~ Zuko's continued compassion for his tormentor Azula speaks to his wonderful character. @};- Loved the exchange between he and Mai as they recalled falling in love in that nice spot beside the fountain. =D=

    (Izumi is a gorgeous name!"
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2020
  3. amidalachick

    amidalachick Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Registered:
    Aug 3, 2003
    I'm not familiar with this fandom but this is beautifully written as always, and such a creative use of the bingo words!

    I have to echo Nyota, this is a really lovely description and it's making me hungry! :D

    You've done a wonderful job conveying the emotions in this piece, especially Zuko's conflicted feelings about his sister.

    And this is a beautiful ending! I especially like the detail about Mai's orchid-scented hair. And I totally agree that Izumi is a beautiful name!

    Great work on this! =D=
     
    devilinthedetails likes this.
  4. devilinthedetails

    devilinthedetails Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Jun 19, 2019
    Oh, yikes, just realized that I went almost two months without responding to these reviews:oops:But let me rectify that forgetfulness now.

    @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha As always, thank you so much for commenting!:) I'm so happy that you found the descriptions of the feast lovely since if there is one thing I really associate with autumn, it is lavish feasts, so I wanted to remain true to that spirit in this story with the descriptions and details of the feast in the Fire Nation.

    I absolutely agree that Zuko's continued compassion for Azula really speaks to his wonderful character, and that was one detail that I liked from the comics. That Zuko continued to have complex feelings about Azula and struggle with how to treat his sister with compassion and mercy despite the crimes that she had committed.

    And the garden and fountain scenery is just so beautiful and romantic that I couldn't resist having Zuko and Mai fall in love at the fountain.

    You are right that Izumi is a gorgeous name. Zuko and Mai have lovely taste in names.

    @amidalachick Thank you so much for commenting! :) I'm so flattered that you read this and found it beautifully written despite not being familiar with the fandom. That is so awesome to hear, and I'm also so happy that you found the use of the bingo words creative.

    I definitely understand feeiling hungry after reading the feast descriptions since I got a craving for Chinese food when writing this fic[face_laugh]

    It's amazing to hear that you felt I did a great job capturing the emotions in this fic and especially Zuko's conflicted feelings for his sister.

    The ending really did warm my heart, so it makes me so glad that you found it beautiful and that you love the detail of Mai's orchid-scented hair and that you think the name Izumi is beautiful as well.

    Thank you again for your kind comment.

    And apologies again to you both for the delayed response!
     
    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha likes this.