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02 November 2008 @ 11:48 am
Nearly High [Ozai x Ursa]  
Title: Nearly High
Pairing: Ozai x Ursa
Fandom: Avatar the Last Airbender
Genre: Drama, General, Backstory
Rating: T
Word Count: 684

 

Nearly High

This is the story of what and how.

I.

and when was supposed to be, but that part was always, always left out

This was the year she turned eighteen, some kind of joy, some kind of celebration left to rot. In the fields, where the plants grew and they harvested, Ursa danced till her feet were blistered. And out of the blisters, there came (springing, jilting out) future.

And when that had been all good and well, someone came along, riding hard and fast on a slippery (wooden, black and malignant-calling) horse. He had a name, that man, but after decades of forgetting and remembering and finally putting the dead back to sleep (again), Ursa was fed up. With this, with all of this.

So, she chose not to recall, chose not to think too much, ponder too long. And like that, the only name Ursa could ever sound out in perfect exaltation and fear (the kind that rippled through) was his: Ozai. Some prince, somewhere—far, far away.

This was the year she turned eighteen, and this was the year her life belonged to her, no more, but to the State. Some state, somewhere—far, far away. And lost. Like a ship set out to sail, white and brimming with prosperity and promise, and never coming back.

-

Ursa hugged her mother close and kissed her father goodbye and gave each of her brothers a gentle squeeze on the shoulder. She won’t be coming back (they were all thinking, knowing, this).

Out the door and into the road, Ursa didn’t look back, not even once. There was no point, just futility. Her home was gone, razed, blazed into the ground. How convenient, how portentous, this matchmaker and that councilor said. Because now, there was no choice. Marry or starve.

And Ursa, like any other not-dead human would, chose the latter of the two (the lesser of the two, evils).

But all decisions have consequences, and even though she’s buried his name down in her heart, never to be resurfaced to hurt her again, there were still lingering thoughts that refused to die. To depart, in resignation and peace, like she was doing now.

-

The mountains had been plucked and picked. Their fruits all gone and eaten, devoured by locusts or humans or both. There was no telling what. And the mountain path (to the north, to the coldest part of a humid hell) led to a house. Small and dilapidated from generations ago.

That was Ursa’s home, and that was the place where he would continue to wait.

And wait.

And wait (incessantly).

Till she was ready (or Ozai was dead, whichever one came first).

-

Palaces were ornate and garish and a hundred other things that she wasn’t. They were too pretty, too-too beautiful and fake, and she didn’t even know what ostentatious meant. Till Ozai explained, calm and nicely. And she kept wondering why he was being so nice (to his newly purchased & drunken wife).

They had only just met.

And again, Ursa couldn’t help but ask what had gone horribly wrong? Why was she here, not there, and why was she marrying Ozai (when they were obviously not meant-to-be).

At least, Iroh was half, part, practically comforting. (Ozai’s older brother, she believed). And maybe even trustworthy—until he opened his mouth and belched out the secondary meaning of wife.

Some malicious intent, some heinous exploit, Ursa had had enough. And it wasn’t even nearly noon.

-

Maybe they could both burn in and out.

Her face was a rictus, ugly and pained. She grabbed onto the sheet, frantic for support and alleviation. Too bad, Ursa had always been a little too slow, a little too late. And before she could figure out what the hell was going on, Ozai was inside and ready to stake his claim. Like war & chess, like trading pawn for pawn.

“Why do you…”

“I don’t really know.”

Ursa bit down her tongue, she’ll get used to keeping silent. Playing the mute, the dumb. She was good at playing pretend.