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01 March 2008 @ 03:13 pm
Austere  
Title: Austere
Character: Song, Zuko x Song
Fandom: Avatar the Last Airbender
Genre: General
Rating: G
Word Count: 889


Austere

the saints gone down! (broken)…
that makes the martyr
martyred

i. humility as things go

News traveled fast, and no news was good news.

The Fire Nation have invaded Ba Sing Se (for the second time) and succeed (now, that was a first). Song was incredulous, refused to believe, think, that everything was all over. The world started to break apart, fall to pieces, splintery and like a spidery-vein.

Her hands shook over the letter, and thanked the messenger. Her brother was there, in that city, in the chaos and death-stink, and she felt so small standing there. No one could help him (them) now.

Song bowed her head low and gasped for air.

And felt the sun scorching her skin, making reddish marks all over the white.

ii. kindness take it away, don’t look back

Now, they starved. Now, famine was real. Too tangible and cruel to be anything else.

Her stomach was empty and concave, legs like twigs and arms wispy. And her face. Gaunt and shadowed, with eyes larger than life. There was no food anywhere—she knew—they searched wide and far.

“Do you have anything to eat?” some child asked, groveled and begged. Starved, the boy was near-death.

“N—Yes,” she said and offered him a little, chipped bowl. In it was half a cup of rice. In it was his salvation, his absolution, deliverance made visible.

And he snatched it from her hands, eyes greedy and darting (worried that she’ll change her mind, recant her words and ultimately leave him to agony). And off he ran, never glancing her way again. And Song’s heart crumpled completely.

She had nothing left.

iii. abstinence over the mountain

Months passed and the Avatar returned. To Stay. He brought with him bundles of hope and bushels of food.

Slowly, Song nursed herself and her mother’s self back to life. They had the money, all that they needed, but the problem was purchase. The merchants were too scared to open their shops and allow commerce to flow, pour, inundate through their doors and suck them dry. They were cautious. Surely, this good fortune will not last. Surely.

But taverns opened (ironically) and people drank (expectedly). And on the third day and night, someone offered Song a drink.

She shook her head, smiled prettily and said No, I don’t think so, Thank you.

Her heart pounded, sharp and uneven—coughing up dust. And the serpent in her spine writhed in anger. But still, Song went home, relieved.

iv. chastity mermaid tail

“You’re the boy who stole my ostrich-horse.”

Zuko looked up, surprised. “Yeah, I know. I…didn’t think you’d remember after so many years.”

And Song narrowed her eyes, suspicious and curious. “Are you here to apologize?”

“No.”

“Then what?—”

In the pond, her reflection burned crimson. And in a second, the boy was gone, vanished, like he was just an apparition all along.

v. patience the conclusion sounds

Patience was a virtue, was forgotten, was impossible from the beginning.

She played the doctor and solitary solace for the soldiers returning home, for the ill and weak. During summer, there was no rest. And when fall came rolling by-and-by, there was no cease, just continue on to the next.

“Hello. My name is Song.”

Repeat and remember, that’s all she said. Her patients didn’t really care (a few, a rare ever made an attempt). The rest simply moved past conversations and nods. There was no time. There was the pain throbbing and the aches stinging.

But Song always took the children by their hands, comforted and hugged them close, tight, and gave them the sweetest herbs she could find. And no one mourned when she was there.

It was only after, after she had left, that the tears dripped down.

vi. liberality pardon my intrusion, ma’am

The tiny hospital her mother created thrived (on royal patronage from the Fire Nation, another funny outcome no one saw). And now that her mother’s dead, died old and without tribulations left unresolved, Song maintained it with her unforgiving goodness.

She gave to the poor, to everyone. Even at her own expense, Song never regretted. She was like a living saint, too great for this world, too great for humans.

And so, she never married.

Lived with her generosity and loneliness till the end of the end. Till the world’s last breath, Song still gave and gave.

But sometimes, when the loneliness got too immense, too big and ugly, to think about, she would sit quiet and pensive and thought. What had gone wrong? And wondered if she was “good” enough.

vii. diligence tiny stitches and neatly carved lines

“When you sew, don’t tug the thread like they were reigns. Be gentle and careful.”

Song nodded, solemn and pitiable. Her mother laughed. The child was too serious and too young to be so.

And as she grew tall and straight, still too thin and almost sickly, she was careful with everything. It was exactly like a disease, consuming and powerful, and can’t easily be cured.

“You’ll make a fine physician.”

But for the moment, she was a refugee, not a physician. A refugee forced into Ba Sing Se, then forced to leave. The war was approaching, coming fast, didn’t you hear?

For the first time in fifteen years, Song cried bitterly.

 
 
 
greedyslayer: Fire Lord Zukogreedyslayer on November 27th, 2008 03:05 am (UTC)
This is a beautiful fic and expansion on Song. I always loved her, and really wished we had seen her one more time in Avatar.
Y U no auto-translate?lye_tea on December 16th, 2008 05:46 am (UTC)
Thank you. ♥ Yeah, unfortunately, she didn't get anymore airtime.