There had been much more dignity, and more stillness, in their new Fire Lord than Jeong-Jeong had expected. The young man was clearly still bothered by his injury - at least, it was clear to someone of Jeong-Jeong's experience with such things - but he gave it no particular mind. His speech, during the interview they shared, tea-pot and low table forming a subtle bridge between them, was courteous and quiet even if his voice was nearly as rough as Jeong-Jeong's own.
It had been private, in one of the many chambers of the palace, rather than an audience. Another man might be interested in watching how Fire Lord Zuko, young and (to be truthful) untrained in statescraft as he was, would navigate the pathways of ceremony, awe and circumstance. For his part, Jeong-Jeong didn't care.
He found that he was very, very tired.
"What do you plan to do now?" the boy (because ruler or not, he was still a boy, frighteningly young) had asked.
It was a question Jeong-Jeong had been avoiding asking himself. He knew, or was at least fairly certain, that rank and commission were still open to him now, with the change of the world, if he wanted them.
He was equally certain he did not.
"I have a suggestion," the Fire Lord said, showing clearly that he was smart enough to read between the words of Jeong-Jeong's deflection, which boded well for him. One of the servants came forward with what looked like a scroll, bowing and giving it to Jeong-Jeong at the Fire Lord's nod.
It turned out to be a map. Hand-drawn, but not terribly crude, and carefully rolled.
"It's not a journey you should make with anyone else," the Fire Lord said, picking up his tea. "You'll find ruins at the end of it. But there are some things there that I think you might be interested in."
And one did not last so long in as a White Lotus without being able to hear when so young and unstudied a man is hiding meaning between words. Jeong-Jeong took the map.
He debated a very long time.
When he left, it was alone. He had travelled alone for a long time, lived alone by preference, but only now could he convince those last few who (foolishly enough) loved him and followed him to stay behind, to build their own lives, and let him go.
At night, he lay out of doors, on the ground, and looked up at the stars. An off-hand comment the Avatar made during the days after the end of the war echoed in his head: the same cool light of the stars came from fire as great as the sun, endless thousands of miles away.
He watched the moon, and remembered the Water Tribe girl putting her hands into the stream and finding them whole again, and what he said to her. The wish he still had.
He didn't bother to wonder to what, exactly, this map lead him. He didn't have anything else to do, anyway. Pondering fire on candles, alone, lost its charm.