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Flying Embers

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In the Fire Nation Royal Palace, a man stood hunched over a small cot in a room deep beneath the palace. Inside the cot was a sleeping child, who was just shy of being two-years-old, the same age as his first-born son and slightly older than his new-born daughter. The child seemed as though she was dead, but she was simply in a very deep sleep and had been in that state for days now. Of course, it was all induced according to plan. Another person soon joined the man inside the room, slightly trembling as he did so.

“Everything is set up according to your specifications, Prince Ozai,” the man announced.

Prince Ozai turned to face the other man with a satisfied smirk, “Good. She’ll need to be taken to her room soon enough.”

“What do you plan on doing with her then, sir?” the man asked.

“I will simply give her a new name and a new identity to live by. She is only an infant, so she’ll hardly remember anything from her past. As planned she will grow up here, in the Fire Nation while we secretly keep our eyes on her,” Ozai replied.

“What will you say to Lady Ursa?” the other man questioned.

“You don’t need to worry about my personal affairs, Takumi. As long as everything goes according to plan, there should be no reason to stress,” Ozai answered.

“When will you release her to the public eye?” Takumi queried.

“In due time, Takumi. First, I must introduce her to my father and the rest of my family before I allow the world to see her,” Ozai replied.

“You seem to have everything under control, Prince Ozai. Is there anything else you need of me?” Takumi offered.

“Yes, actually,” Ozai said as he turned around to face the other man, giving a look that would scare even the strongest of generals. “Under any circumstances, you are never to repeat a word of what we’ve done. If I ever find out that you betrayed my trust, my father will be the least of your worries.”

Takumi gulped, beginning to have second thoughts about what he’d just committed himself to. “Yes, my Prince.”

“You are excused,” Ozai dismissed him.

Soon enough, it was just Ozai left in the room with the infant girl who was beginning to stir in her cot. The world as she knew it would not be the same when she opened her eyes to reveal where she was, and Ozai was going to do his best to make sure she never knew that world even existed.

~*•°•*~

The time had come for Ozai to introduce the new addition to his family's lives to those around him. His wife had been suspicious of his secretive behaviour ever since he returned, since he was waiting for the right time to do it and that was now. Fire Lady Ursa had no idea what her husband was so intent on showing her, she just hoped that it would be something good.

"What is so important that I must see, Ozai?" Ursa asked.

"You'll find out, Ursa," Ozai replied.

Within minutes, they arrived at the doors of one of the very few unused rooms in the palace, which confused Ursa since this wasn't what she was expecting. She hardly knew what to expect when it came to her husband, and she meant that in the worst way possible. Carefully, Ozai opened the doors to the room which was much cleaner and organised than the last time Ursa had been in there. Her attention was caught by a small child lying on the bed as one of the servants tended to her.

"Is this what you wanted to show me, Ozai? A child?" Ursa asked.

"Ursa, meet the newest addition to our family. I found her abandoned during my latest expedition, and I could see the potential in her to do wonderful things, so I decided to bring her here, so she could have the best upbringing possible," Ozai explained.

Ursa raised her eyebrows, silently judging Ozai's intentions. While she had only known her husband for a few short years, she knew he wasn't just some good Samaritan who helped random children. But Ursa then realised that if what Ozai was saying was true, then it would probably be best for the girl to remain here where she could be taken care of properly.

"That's rather noble of you, Ozai," Ursa commended her husband.

Ozai grinned boastfully, "Aren't I always noble, Ursa?"

Ursa bit her lip, "Yes, you are."

"You may get a better look of her if you wish," Ozai suggested.

Ursa nodded as she stepped forward, eager to see more of this child her husband had found. The girl was only small. From first glance, Ursa could tell that she was roughly around the same age as Zuko and Ursa grinned at the thought of the potential friendship they could share. Ursa was slightly stunned by her ember eyes, which were as strong as those in the Royal Family's bloodline which obviously made her Fire Nation. Her hair was chestnut brown, which rested over her shoulders as she laid down. Another thing Ursa noticed with just one look was how passionate the girl looked, which was an unusual description for a child yet it was the first word that popped into Akane's head. When Ursa leaned closer, she saw the girl's eyes widen with what appeared to be fear.

"It's okay, sweetheart. We don't want to hurt you," Ursa soothed her.

"Ma? Da?" the grirl asked, glancing between Ozai and Ursa.

Ozai rested his hand on his wife's shoulder, "Don't worry, child. My wife and I will be your new parents. We'll take good care of you here."

Ursa smiled, "Yes, we will. You will be so loved and cared for you will never doubt it in your mind."

"Home?" the girl questioned, her lip trembling.

"Yes, this will be your new home. I think you will like it here very much," Ozai replied.

Suddenly, the girl started wailing uncontrollably which instantly caused Ursa's maternal instincts to kick in. Gently, Ursa picked up the girl and slowly rocked the child in her arms as she patted her comfortingly.

"There, there little one. Everything will be alright now," Ursa comforted her.

Eventually, the crying ceased and the girl slowly warmed up to Ursa as she sang soothingly to the girl. The whole time, Ursa noticed how she seemed to be threatened by Ozai's presence, which concerned Ursa and made her wonder where exactly her husband found her from. Either the girl was more of a mommy's girl, or there was something Ozai was yet again hiding from her. At this point in their marriage, Ursa wouldn't be surprised if the latter was the case.

"Does she have a name?" Ursa asked, as she suddenly realised that the girl had been given un-named to her.

"I was thinking that you could give her one. A new name for a fresh start and a new life," Ozai replied.

Ursa thought for a moment, before the perfect name hit her, "Akane. Her name will be Akane."

"That's a perfect name," Ozai agreed. "Welcome to the family, Akane.

Glancing down at the child, Ursa couldn't help but notice how unsettled the girl looked. It made her wonder just what Ozai had done to her, and she hoped that in time the girl would grow to adjust to her new surroundings. While Ursa didn't know for sure how the girl came to be apart of their lives, one thing for sure was that Ursa wanted nothing more than to be the support that Akane needed. Besides, Ursa feared what Ozai would do to the poor child if she questioned his intentions and by now she knew when to keep her mouth shut, and now was one of those times.

Finally, Akane's eyes slowly shut before she drifted back into another sleep. Ursa smiled at the sleeping child in her arms, who looked as peaceful as the morning sunrise. In that moment, Ursa made a promise to herself and the girl in her arms that she had no intentions of breaking.

I promise to always take care of you and love you as if you were my own and I will do whatever it takes to protect you.