Life in Republic City was slower paced compared to the Peace movement years ago. Aang and Sokka were down at the south pole, waiting for Katara to give birth to their second child to be born. Toph was with her child and husband as well down in the south pole. Mai was in the study playing with their daughter, Ursa. She was only a couple months, she would be brought up with Kya and the new born child of Aang and Katara’s. He heard a cough from the living room.
“Uncle, are you okay?”
Iroh nodded as he stood up, his smile still as shinning as ever. “Yes, yes I’m okay nephew. If you and Mai wish to go out tonight, I can watch Ursa.”
The Firelord smiled as he gave his Uncle a hug. “Thank you Uncle, we will.”
This became a normal habit and Ursa learned much from Iroh, just as Zuko had once done. Their daughter began to learn far quicker than they had imagined, his basic lessons on firebending as well as lessons that Zuko knew all too well over the years began to shape her into a beautiful young girl.
One evening, when Kya was over with Bumi when Zuko walked in staring at Kya and Ursa who were practicing their forms, for redirecting lighting.
“UNCLE! What are you doing?!?” He pushed Kya and Ursa behind him as they snagged onto Mai’s robe, concealing their faces as Iroh apologized. Zuko never wanted to have another learn lightning bending, ever. Only 3 people in the world knew how to create lightening, Azula, himself and Iroh. He never wanted another to use that power on another, ever.
Iroh never came around that much anymore, once in a while for dinner or for a meeting with the council or even a get together with the “Gaang” but never to watch the kids again.
One evening, Mai received a call, Iroh wasn’t doing well.
“I’ll go see him at once, I won’t be long.”
Zuko hadn’t really spoken to his Uncle in almost a year, the incident had occurred almost 4 years ago but each year he came over less and they spoke less. Knocking on the door, he heard a horrible cough and a rough “Come in.” As the door swung open.
“Hello my nephew, what are you doing here?” His coughs were horrid as his whole body rocked. He was sick, laying in his bed and his face almost as white as his hair, he looked so fragile.
“I came to see you how you were doing Uncle. Can I get you anything?”
He coughed a ragged cough again “Can you get me some Jasmine tea? It always helps sooth my cough.”
He wordlessly went into the kitchen, looking for a kettle. He found the one he had given his Uncle the day of his coronation. He boiled the water himself and prepared the tea just the way his Uncle liked it.
“Here you go Uncle.” Pouring him some of the tea into a fine china cup.
Taking a sip, his Uncle sat back in his bed, starring at the ceiling as he let a small breath of fire warm the tea up once more. His cough was getting worse, his eyes were closed as he sighed a little and half whispered.
“Prince Zuko, would you please sing or play the sunki horn?”
The Firelord’s throat tightened, swallowing back tears as he heard the name that hadn’t been uttered since he was a teenager.
”Of course Uncle.” Clearing his throat he began to hum a song that he was sung to sleep by his Uncle when he couldn’t sleep as a child:
“Leaves from the vine
Falling so slow
Like fragile, tiny shells
Drifting in the foam.”
His Uncle coughed again as his breaths became ragged, tears welling up in the Firelord’s eyes.
“Little soldier boy
Come marching home”
With that, his Iroh, the Dragon of the West breathed his last.
The Firelord became a Prince once more as he clung to his Uncle now, tears washing onto the old man’s cheeks as he choked out the last line:
“Brave soldier boy
Comes marching home.”
To remember her great uncle, Ursa named her grandson Iroh, in hopes that one day he would live up to his Great-great uncle’s name.