au + 5 hc -genderbent Maiko. The Earth King marries Fire Princess Zuko
Genderswap AUs, AKA the many many many possibilities for girl!Zuko’s name. Today we are going with Kazuko.
1. When Kazuko is thirteen, her uncle helps her sneak into a war meeting, and she speaks out in defense of newly recruited Fire Nation soldiers being used to bait a trap for the Earth Kingdom. She is told she must fight an Agni Kai for the insult, and when the opponent turns out to be her own father, the kneels down and refuses to fight. He burns her for the disgrace.
Instead of banishing her, he takes advantage of the customs of the enemy. He tells her thst if she loves the Earth Kingdom so much, she can marry into it. The fact that she was defending Fire Nation soldiers goes unnoticed, and as soon as she is reasonably healed, she is packed in a boat and sent to the Earth King.
2. She is of course much too young for Kuei, and their marriage is never consumated. It was expected that it would be when she was older, but instead, for three years she lives the cloistered life of a queen in Ba Sing Se, and if she thought her mother’s life was restrictive, it’s got nothing on this. She figures out pretty quickly it’s Long Feng who is really in charge, and she isn’t sure her husband, who she sees only rarely, actually understands why he married a scarred child other than the vague word “politics”. She doesn’t think he understands the treaty he signed, or why she is here, or any of the things that even as Ozai’s despised and disregarded daughter, she knows.
3. The treaty Kazuko’s father signed with the Earth King (or more accurately with Long Feng) is that the Fire Nation will leave Ba Sing Se and its surrounding territories alone and instead continue their campaigns of conquest in Earth territory not within the Earth King’s dominion, and Ba Sing Se’s forces will not be used to defend those territories. This suits Ozai fine. He has no intention of tackling Ba Sing Se just yet, and in the meantime, he can scoop up some suddenly much easier conquests. It is however a treaty he intends to break, and Kazuko walks into her marriage knowing this. The only question is what is she supposed to do when the Fire Nation does attack. Is she to be killed as a useless hostage, will she die at the hands of her father’s forces? Does he expect her to be a double agent for him? In the end, she keeps Azula’s presence secret for her and sides with her to conquer the city. For her pains, she is named governor of Ba Sing Se.
It’s there in the city that Mai and Kazuko kindle their child crushes into romance, and Mai chooses to stay behind with her in Ba Sing Se. Azula, who has suffered far fewer defeats without an interfering sibling around, says okay.
4. Governing Ba Sing Se is no easy task. Azula may see it as a suitable job for an idiot unwanted sister, but it actually takes a lot of skill and hard work to disentangle th Dai Li, keep the peace, and cement the Fire Nation conquest. And then there is managing the occupation. Kazuko, who has spent the last three years banging her head against the brick wall that is Long Feng and the Dai Li does not appreciate the Fire Nation officers and officials who try to treat her and her city the same way. She and Mai work hard, long hours trying to make it work. But they are women from a conquering empire, and they are not well loved. Much of the underground critisism is extremely misogynistic in nature, and some of the writers even manage to guess the nature of her and Mai’s relationship, or at least post lurid accusations to that effect. It’s lots of fun.
5. It’s Iroh who teaches the Avatar how to firebend, Iroh who warns them what Ozai intends to use the comet for, and Katara and Toph who go to take Azula on together. Iroh goes to liberate Ba Sing Se and also his neice, who he hasn’t seen in more than three years. He has a crown princessship to offer her if she wants it. Kuei, who shows up not long after the White Lotus retake the city is like, “You can’t go? We’re married? In the Earth Kingdom we don’t do divorce?” and Kazuko is like, “In the Fire Nation, we totally do, get fucked, Kuei, our marriage wasn’t consumated anyway.” She leaves it to Mai and Iroh to put this in more diplomatic language.