When their mother dies, Zuko hardly sees Azula in her mourning garb.
She traipses around the manor, gleefully spinning herself on tiptoes over the creaky, uneven floors and darkened staircases, humming some unnamed lullaby.
Rain and wind blows against the ornate, iron-black windows, for the rest of the days to come, howling like an infernal creature out of his panic-wrecked dreams. Zuko can hear his dreadful, raving half-sister deep in the passageways, as the servants cower and hide themselves on the lower levels, filling the void with crazed, high laughter.
There are, however, periods of lucidness for her — when he glimpses Azula carrying a brass candelabra, the train of her lacy, evening dress vermilion like the glare of flamelight.
Speckles of blood dry against Azula's jawline and the curves of her breasts, when Zuko plant a series of dutiful kisses over her face and nuzzles his mouth to Azula's burning hot skin, listening to her moan and wail out her heightened anticipation, her bare nethers pressing flatly against him. He is unsure if the blood is hers or perhaps of a poor, helpless animal kept at her mercy.
Azula drags herself upon his lap, steadied by Zuko's hands bracketing her hips and hiking up the lacy, flame-rich fabric to expose her pale legs widening for him. She thrusts herself against his hardened, veined member, wildly, furiously, clawing her long fingernails against Zuko's back and shoulders. He holds her close, panting into Azula's neck until Zuko can feel a low, hot churning in his belly. It expands, spurting out a creamy, thin fluid onto Azula's mound and her quaking thighs.
He understands she hates him with every molecule and lingering breath. He understands the loss of their mother has driven Azula mad. Zuko understands — and he will protect her. Without question.