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Changed Paths

Chapter Text

 

part i

 

When Zuko first came to the village, he thought he wouldn’t be back. He thought he would never see the narrow little streets with the shrewd wild tufts of grass growing along the road, or the simple flat cottages that always seemed so welcoming to the lonely travelers that passed by, or the healing house with a girl who hopefully still worked there. A girl who so generously tended to his uncle’s rash without payment since they had none to give. The same girl whose hospitably invited them to dinner to eat her mother’s delicious roasted duck. 

Lost in thought, he realized he reached the edge of the healing hut. Everything looked the same. The small and humble but pretty garden still decorated the exterior of the building, giving it a welcoming aura. 

And here he was, back, ridden with guilt. Guilt for betraying the naïve girl’s trust and kindness by stealing her family’s ostrich horse. He understood why he did it back then; he and his uncle were just proclaimed traitors of Fire Nation. With nowhere to go and with no goals to follow, his emptiness and desperation were greatly amplified at that time. Still, it was no excuse for him not to understand what he did was a terrible thing to do.

He was different now, and he came here today to apologize. He often reminisced the time she talked about her past. It really did trigger him back then, only because he, at that time, did not want to accept the facts of what the Fire Nation and its devastating army meant for the innocent people in war, and how war mercilessly messed up every aspect of these people’s daily lives. Now, more than ever, he wanted to hear Song’s story and understand the person he saw her as, a person full of empathy and trust in the mist of cruel sadness and despair. Even though he knew that what he did to her family was inexcusable, he had an inkling of hope that maybe, somehow, she would have it somewhere in her heart to forgive him.

Gently tugging the ostrich horse, he arrived at the sturdy wooden door. He hesitated a bit before taking a deep breath. He raised his hand and knocked.