Eddie Redmayne and Alfred Molina in John Logan’s Red (2010) “What does “red” mean to me? You mean scarlet? You mean crimson? You mean plum-mulberry-magenta-burgundy-salmon-carmine-carnelian-coral? Anything but “red”!”
Azula supposed that the title “Flower Festival” ought to have given it away. There were more blooms hanging from every stall and street and house than she could keep a count of, her footsteps padded by the generous coating of petals that lined the streets as they made their way through the central part of Mudan’s main district.
Every stall was filled to bursting with flowers of every hue imaginable. Blush, coral, fuchsia, salmon, rose, crimson, maroon, wine, burgundy, carmine, cerise, cherry, garnet, ruby, lavender, periwinkle, some as dark as plumb, mulberry. Azure, beryl and cerulean peaked out from the more common shades of pink and red, amber blond and cream; ivory, gold, and saffron.
It was an oversaturated assault on her senses…Azula found that she did not quite mind it.
Her company on the other hand…
Though she had been allowed back into her usual attire, some small comfort to be had in wearing trousers and a tunic once again after months in nothing but robes and fluttering, impractical, sleeves, Azula found that her discomfort at her companions. Particularly the tall, over dressed, more silent one of the lot.
For someone who had made her money on charm, the Mistress of Flowers had been anything but thus far. Or rather, she had made no effort to visit that charm upon the former Princess. Azula was hardly surprised by it.
What she had been rather surprised by was the presence of Lord Gen. Perhaps Ty Lee had been angrier with her than she’d thought. Then again, Azula would certainly not have put it passed Chun Hua to have invited him herself, to ensure that Ty Lee’s thoughts did not stray far from the prospect of a marriage with the Lord of the Iron Wharf.
Azula had half a mind to steal his attention away herself. That would get her nowhere with his sister.
Hands folded at her back, the former princess stopped to admire a large display of peonies, the stall they sat within pregnant with their blooms, looking ready to rupture.
She bent close to fill her lungs with the sweet scent. If nothing else, at least the province boasted her favourite flowers.
Straightening once again Azula turned her face to watch Ty Lee and Gen proceeding a few feet ahead of her, Chun Hua lingering far enough from their stride as to afford them a semblance of privacy without actually ever leaving their sides and shirking her duty as chaperone.
Azula’s gaze fell resentfully to the peony blooms before her for a brief moment. Perhaps she ought to have said yes to Lord Daiki after all. His companionship would surely have been less dull, even if it was overly zealous and obviously of the sort of attention that Azula had no particular interest in for the time being.
At least he would be paying her any mind at all.
The vendor of the booth caught Azula’s attention then, silent, but looking a little eager. He bounced forward onto his toes and wrang his hands, obviously uncertain of whether he ought to speak with her or not. She did not bother to offer him a smile, but reached silently into her purse and offered out a gold yuan, plucking one of the paler blooms from its spot and turning away from him before he could say much more than a thank you.
Trailing off after Ty Lee and her newest suitor, the former princess jutted out her bottom lip, picking at the petals absently.
“So…” Azula brooked finally, drawing lazily level with Chun Hua, the blossom held to her nose once again as she strolled, “I know that the Mistress of Flowers is a ceremonial title, but what is it exactly that you do, again?”