Hello! This is very important so be sure to read this before continuing! You are probably wondering why the longest of my stories is just 15 chapters long. Well the truth is, the chapters are VERY LONG! My process is that i first post my stories on Quotev when they are in the “ongoing” stage and once I finish the story, I move it to Tumblr (the-jade-cross), Wattpad (Jadecross4ever) and also here. I kept getting nailed for the fact that my chapters were only 1,000 words long so whenever I move completed stories from Quotev to my other writing profiles, I combine every 3-5 chapters to make the chapters longer. If you don’t like long chapters, check out my quotev profile: FairyofHogwarts. Also, I have 7 “firstly” stories that I am currently updating on a weekly basis, one story for each day of the week. I also have 7 “secondary” stories that will take the place of the “firstly” stories once I finish them as well as a couple “thirdly” stories. At the end of this story, I posted the names of my ongoing and preproduction stories so you get an idea of what is to come sometime in the year 2021:) Enjoy!
Zuko had always thought that if he sat in his father’s presence once again, freely and not on his way to banishment then everything would be perfect… that he would finally be happy. However, now sitting in front of his father, standing beside Azula and catching Ozai up on what happened in Ba Sing Sa, Zuko felt a deep pang in his chest…. A sense of guilt and dread in his gut and he found himself unable to relax and enjoy it.
“Quite an interesting account you have given me,” Ozai remarked. “Some rather beneficial occurrences took place. You brought your treacherous uncle back as well as that slave girl…. What was her name?”
“Shira,” Zuko said without realizing it.
Both Azula and Ozai looked at the boy, neither of them surprised to find a slight cloud of sadness pass over the boy’s face, but surprised that he had admitted Shira’s capture.
“Right,” Ozai continued. “I remember her. Quite defiant. Light bender if I recall.”
“As well as plant bender father,” Azula added. “And recently I have discovered her ability to ice bend as well.”
“Ice bend?” Ozai inquired. “Three bending…. Could that mean….”
Zuko lifted his head to look at his father, unsure of what he was talking about, only to see that Ozai had risen to his feet with a concentrating look on his face.
“Question her Azula,” Ozai demanded. “Find out everything you can about her people.”
“But I thought all the villagers we brought with her when she was captured as a slave eventually died,” Azula pointed out.
Ozai nodded, “But those weren’t her people. Find out where they are and how many are left.”
Azula bowed before leaving the room. Zuko did the same and followed quickly after her. When he left the war chamber, he found Azula talking to Mei and Ty Lee who were standing outside the room waiting for them to emerge.
“Bring her up,” Azula said to them. “I don’t trust the guards to do it without letting her escape. Don’t worry about being rough.”
The two girls nodded silently before heading off on the mission Azula had sent them on. The girl then turned to her brother and smirked.
“Care to join me brother?” she asked.
“I would prefer not to,” Zuko replied. “I don’t know how you get information out of prisoners, but I am not really in favor of watching.”
“Even when it is your past girlfriend?” Azula asked.
Zuko felt something in his heart snap and for a moment he almost wanted to throw his sister against the wall, but then he stopped, knowing that it would just get him banished again probably.
“She made her choice,” Zuko replied, his voice saying those words…. But his heart screaming something different entirely.
Just then, the sound of footfalls sounded, and four guards strode over to the prince and princess, Mei and Ty Lee in between. Both girls had one of Shira’s arms in their grip but Azula did not notice that their grip on the girl’s arms were gentle but just strong enough to keep her from running off. Shira’s head was bowed, her blond hair covering Zuko’s vision of her face. It had begun to grow back, now laying on the tops of her shoulders. She no longer wore her usual green outfit but a simple pair of brown pants, a long brown shirt that came past her hips and had a leather cord around her waist and her feet were bare.
“Look who it is,” Azula taunted. “Had enough the past two weeks in that prison cell?”
The girl slowly lifted her head and met Azula’s eyes dead on. A deadpan expression was plastered on her face, no look of defiance, anger or weakness. Zuko felt his heart drop to the bottom of his heels at the state she was in. Her hair was straw like, having not been brushed or washed in a while. Her face was slightly soiled and while her attire was not as fitting as her other clothes she had worn in the past, she still looked strong, slender and petite.
Zuko didn’t know how the girl could look so beautiful even in the state she was in, but he found himself staring at how the girl seemed to practically glow beneath the dirt and her mussed hair.
“Follow me,” Azula demanded of Ty Lee, Mei and the guards.
They obeyed, dragging Shira with them. Zuko didn’t fail to notice how she didn’t once look in his direction and the pang in his heart returned.
Zuko remained outside the room, not daring to go in and see what horrible things Azula was doing to Shira…. But also, not wanting to leave. He wanted to see her when she came out…. Wanted to make sure that she came out alive.
When the door swung open and Azula walked out, Zuko’s dread returned at the sight of the smug look on Azula’s face. The soldiers came out next, one of them carrying a limp body in his arms with Mei and Ty Lee at his elbows, continuously telling him to be careful.
Zuko strode over to the soldier who immediately stopped at the sight of the crown prince. The boy’s eyes quickly scanned over the limp body in the man’s arms. Shira was no longer conscious…. Bruises all over her face and her bare arms. The bottoms of her feet were raw and bloody but luckily nothing fatal.
Zuko’s hand instinctively reached out to touch the girl’s hair but just when his hand was within a few inches of her, a searing pain shot through his hand and he jumped back.
“What in the….” He started.
“Zuko,” Mei warned. “I think it is best that you not touch Shira,” she replied seriously.
Zuko looked back at the girl who was still out…. But that was when he saw it…. it was like there was a faint glow about her… like light was shining from her very being. That was when it clicked. Shira was a light bender…. And when she was unconscious…. It defended her…. like she was its protector and in return, it protected her…. even from him.
“I’ll take her back to her cell,” Mei said, taking the unconscious girl out of the soldier’s arms.
The man nodded and all the soldiers walked off. Ty Lee and Mei then began to walk back toward the door which led back to the prison. Just as they rounded the corner out of sight of Zuko, Ty Lee turned to Mei.
“That was so close. If Azula went any further, it would have been dangerous.”
Mei nodded, “Let’s hope Azula or the Fire Lord do not find any other reason to torture Shira. It will not just be fatal to Shira.”
Ty Lee nodded, “I really hope what Shira told Azula wasn’t true.”
“About how her people are completely wiped out when Ozai tried destroying her family in order to find her?” Mei asked. “Why do you say that? If they’re dead then that means they are in a place that is safer than anywhere else.”
“I know that,” Ty Lee replied. “But I hope at least a few of her people are still alive…. Because they might be the only ones who can help her… in the condition she is in.”
Mei nodded before the two girls headed back to the prison, carefully carrying the girl. What they did not know was that two pairs of silver eyes were watching them from the shadows. Once the two girls disappeared into the prison, both looked at each other with a knowing look and one of them nodded to the other. One of the pairs of silver eyes disappeared…. But the other remained vigilant, watching the prison doors.
When Shira’s eyes opened, she wasn’t surprised to find herself in the prison cell again. She did notice that there was another piece of cloth in the cell, wrapped around her sore form…. A dark red cloak. Must have been from Mei or Ty Lee. Those two had been coming to visit her often and were always sneaking her extra food and water in between meals.
Shira slowly sat up, knowing that if she laid on the cold hard floor to long then her already sore body would be too sore to move. Wrapping the cloak around her form, she leant against the corner of the cell to keep herself propped up, stretching her legs out in front of her to unstiffen them. However, when the bottoms of her feet touched the floor, she winced. Turning one of her feet toward her to look at them, she saw whip slashes and wounds on the bottom of her feet. Oh right, Azula had tortured her the day before.
Shira had only been in that prison for about three weeks and Azula hadn’t come to visit or torment her until the day that Ozai insisted on finding out what happened to Shira’s family. The truth was, Shira didn’t know what happened to them beyond the fire nation attacking the north pole in the attempt to find her and then her older brother Kaname showing up to try and rescue her from the prison academy.
Shira stretched her legs back out, trying to keep the bottoms of her feet away from the ground so they wouldn’t get soiled nor rub against something that would irritate them. She was just about to lean back and close her eyes when she heard the sound of soft footfalls. Lifting her head, she looked toward the prison bars, expecting to see Mei, Ty Lee or a guard but there was no one there…. then she saw it…. a small cat quietly making his way through the bars of her cell until he was standing right by her feet. The cat sat down on his haunches and considered the girl a moment with his striking grey eyes before he closed them. Just like the wolf had back in Ba Sing Sa, the fur on the cat changed to skin, clad in black and the small button nose turned into a young man’s face.
“You again,” Shira remarked weakly.
The young man chuckled. He looked to be about Shira’s age… possibly a year or two older. His black hair was kept much looser and more relaxed than Kaname’s who always (as far as Shira remembered) kept it brushed back.
The boy looked much different than any boy that Shira had ever met. He was almost tough looking with broad shoulders, an athletic build and while he was an average tall height, he was not as lean, slender and agile built as Zuko or even Kaname. In comparison to Kaname who looked like a swan, the boy looked like a bear.
The boy crouched down at Shira’s feet before gently reaching out and taking her feet into his hands.
“They’re not too bad. Just keep off your feet for two days till they heal over and try not to reopen the scabs,” the boy explained in a crisp, rugged but gentle voice.
Shira kept the cloak wrapped around her form, considering the boy thoughtfully. However, the boy’s keen sharp grey eyes lifted and landed on the girl. Reaching over, he grasped the cloak and parted it to get a good look at her. He considered her a moment before wrapping it more securely around her.
“You have gone through a lot,” he remarked in a soft voice. “Yet you keep going.”
“Who are you?” Shira asked, still considering the boy cautiously.
Sitting back on his haunches, the boy ran his fingers through his hair. “Out of all three of us, you always remembered Kaname best. I guess it is because you were his little princess.”
“You know my brother?” Shira asked. “I’m sorry if I do not recognize you…”
The boy shook his head, “It is understandable. You were so little when you left home that I’m surprised you remember Kaname at all… then of course he went all ballistic when you were thrown into the prison academy and had to try and save you…”
Shira looked down, “Kaname was hit the same way I was in Ba Sing Sa… did he….”
“Oh he made it,” The boy replied, smirking. “He always does. He doesn’t look it but that guy has nine lives. Don’t worry your little head Yuyu.”
Shira froze, “Wait…. I have heard that name before….”
When Shira looked back at the boy, he had leant over to ruffle her hair, his eyes closed and a boyish grin on his face. The moment she saw that smile and felt the gentle but rough way he ruffled her hair like a puppy…. She knew.
“Mitsuru!” The girl whisper yelled.
The smile on the boy’s face grew, “Good to have you back sis.”
“But…. What are you doing here? Besides that…. How are you here?”
Mitsuru chuckled, “I’ve always been here Yuyu. Hirako and I take turns watching out for you. As for getting in here, I didn’t find out until a few years after you were taken as a slave that I am actually an animal bender.”
“Animal bender,” Shira whispered. “So…. You can…. Turn into animals?”
“Certain ones,” Mitsuru replied. “I’m still having trouble with marine animals.”
Shira chuckled softly before Mitsuru moved in his position, so he was seated cross legged before his sister, “As for why I am here…. It is time for you to reconnect with who you really are. Discover the truth…discover that things are not always as they seem. It is time for you to remember who you are: Shirayuki Yang Trusang.”
As the sound of approaching footsteps neared the cell, Shira quickly changed from a cross legged position to a leisure position, leaning her back against the wall of the cell, her shoulder facing the bars, letting her legs sprawl out in front of her. She quickly tore the leather cord from her hair, letting her hair fall back around her face.
The footsteps stopped and Shira glanced through her hair at who stood at her bars…. Zuko. This was the first time he had visited her. Of course, she had seen him a week prior when Azula had tortured her but that was it. The boy looked much different with his hair pulled back and out of his face, wearing fire nation clothes. It almost suited him, but Shira missed the free, relaxed boy in simple attire and his hair down.
“I brought you some tea. I thought it would taste better than water.”
The girl turned her head back to stare at the wall opposite her. Zuko knelt down and slid the tray of still warm tea through the bars into her cell.
“I’m sorry about the conditions you are in,” Zuko remarked. “I’m trying to convince my father to free you.”
“You’re wasting your time and breath,” the girl replied with a deadpan expression. “Even if you did manage to get me out which is impossible, I would not stay in your father’s good graces for more than an hour at the most.”
“Why do you say that?” Zuko insisted. “You lived here for years without my father trying to kill you…”
“Until I revealed my true past and tried to protect someone important to me, only to have that very person go and turn his back on me,” Shira spat.
Zuko took a full step back when the girl hopped to her feet, turning to face away from Zuko so her back was defiantly facing him.
“Do you think I had a choice?” Zuko demanded. “I was able to get my honor and my father’s love back!”
“And you lost your uncle and I in the process,” Shira hissed quietly.
Zuko frowned before storming back over to the bars and slamming his fists against them, “I was doing it to protect you! When Azula electrocuted you, what else was I supposed to do? Carry you half across the world while escaping from my sister?”
“Fine job you did!” Shira yelled, turning around and storming over to meet the boy, her eyes flaming blue fire. “I am in a prison cell wise guy! Swell work trying to protect me, which I doubt that was what you were trying to do!”
“What else do you think I was doing?” Zuko demanded, getting closed to the girl…. Or as close as the prison bars allowed. “We could have died! All of us! Uncle had low chances of dying because he’s just lucky but if I had tried to carry you, half dead and unconscious through banishment, both of us could have died!”
Shira let out a loud yell of anger, sounding somewhere between a roar and a scream before slamming her fists against her sides. This motion created a peak of ice which struck Zuko none too gently and threw him away from the bars, against the opposite wall so that he fell onto his backside.
“What do you think I was doing when I saved you from Azula!?” The girl yelled, tears beginning to stream down her face. “I was not thinking when I jumped on that boat in between a brother sister battle of fire and lightning! I can only bend light and ice which are nothing compared to those! There was only one thing that was on my mind and that was you! I couldn’t see you getting hurt or dying so I did something stupid! I got hurt in the process, yes, and could have died but I didn’t because it was my choice! I made that choice to get on that blessed boat and stand between you and Azula! It was my choice to jump in the way when Azula shot lightning at you! IT WAS MY CHOICE TO SURVIVE! I have survived countless things Zuko, most of which you know and most of which you don’t, but I hope by now that you know that I do not do things just to do them. Everything I do has a reason and there is a reason I chose to stand by you when you were going through a crisis within yourself. I had a reason to get hurt countless times for a boy that I did not remember. I had a reason for stopping your father during the Agni Kai all those years ago! And there is still a reason why I choose to not leave this cell and to not side with your sister or your father.”
“And what is that?” Zuko snapped, getting to his feet.
“BECAUSE I LOVE YOU!” Shira yelled, slamming her fists on the bars, making all of them crust over with ice. “Because I freaking love you, you idiot! That is the reason why I have done everything I have since the moment I stepped into the fire nation as a child and a slave! If you have a reason for betraying your uncle who has treated you like a son his whole life, if you have a reason for betraying me and the trust I held for you, then say it.”
“You would have died otherwise,” Zuko replied quietly.
Shira let out a soft sigh and when Zuko looked back at her, she had retreated from the bars and back to her original seated position with her shoulder to him. The ice on the bars had disappeared and the cell was once again swallowed in dark shadows. “Was that the only reason?”
When Zuko gave no reply, Shira turned so that her back was to him, leaning against the wall. “Come back when you find an answer. Until then, good day Prince Zuko.”
Shira waited for five minutes after Zuko’s footsteps had died away before she sat back up straight again. Grabbing her hair tie, she tied her hair up in a short ponytail out of her eyes and then sat cross legged, taking a deep breath to calm her nerves.
Once she did, the pile of rags and blankets in the corner shuffled to reveal a small black cat who quickly transformed into the familiar rugged figure of Mitsuru.
“Thought he would never leave,” the boy sighed, ruffling his hair. “You have no idea how hot it was underneath those things! Though I have to say, when you said that you two had been in love, I wasn’t expecting that kind of greeting.”
Shira gave her brother a death glare and immediately Mitsuru raised his hands in surrender, “Sorry! I won’t ask further. Let’s get back to training, shall we?”
Shira nodded as her brother sat down in front of her, also cross legged.
“First, we must calm down your nerves from your…. most recent conversation….OW!”
The boy rubbed the side of his head where Shira had slacked him over the skull at his remark.
“Which will take a while,” Mitsuru sighed, returning to his serious mode. “And then we can begin to practice entering the spirit world.”
“Why should I go into the spirit world?” Shira asked. “Isn’t that something only the avatar can do?”
Mitsuru shook his head, “As children, we were all taught how to enter the spirit world because of our heritage. However, you were taken to safety before you could learn. As for ‘why’… there are a few people there you should meet.”