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Azula had called for the training session after their last intolerable failure to catch the Avatar and his friends. “You’re getting sloppy. When even my useless brother and that pint size wind bag keep getting away, then you’re clearly not training hard enough.”

 

Ty Lee was tempted to snort but she knew better. They had always been training, even in the games they played as children. Every activity had been about growing up to lead the Fire Nation, especially after they met Azula. Beneath the facade of dolls and tea, from calligraphy to dance, lay the lessons of statecraft and war. Fans eventually turned into blades for Mai, dance to gymnastics and chi blocking for Ty Lee, and in Azula’s hands, etiquette and parlor talk turned into a delicate and cutting exercise that left ladies bleeding from word wounds before they knew it. All of it was training for the pai sho game their lives would be as well bred Fire Nation ladies.

 

So lack of training wasn’t exactly the issue, only the unpredictable wiliness of a baby airbender and Azula’s hot-tempered brother, but you never said no to Azula. Or at least Ty Lee hadn’t yet. She was generally tractable and cheerful enough about going along--she had to be as one of six sisters or she’d have torn all her hair out ages ago-but with Azula it was different. No matter how much she demanded, maybe because she demanded, Ty Lee could never say no to her. The thing was, Azula saw her. Whereas in her family Ty Lee went along because it was expected, because what she wanted and could do didn’t matter, Ty Lee knew that Azula asked so much because she saw who she was, who she could be. Azula noticed not only her beauty but also her skill, noticed that Ty Lee could hold a position for ages (and not just to look good), that she could go for the pressure points and knew where to strike (though never at Azula unless asked), that she would go where Azula directed her not because Azula is the princess but because she’s Azula. For Azula she’s more than a prize, a reflection or a pretty conquest. She’s a tool, as much Azula’s as anything else in this world, and meant to be used and not just to decorate. Azula will neither overlook her or be swayed by pretty words and a hair flip. For that she will bend over backwards for her literally. And even if she didn’t want to, Azula can and will make her obey.