This is a really original, well-thought-out, delightfully cuddly fic that's very refreshing in its uniqueness. It's got a lot of wonderful details about things like Mai's family dynamics and how they're not as horrifying as some people think, what Mai's father does for a living (having him work at an actual job
is something that adds a lot of realism and humanity to both his character and Fire Nation civilians in general), and a crazy-awesome new setting that feels like both a real place and the sort of place that would show up in Avatar.
The chapters alternate between Mai's and Zuko's points of view, highlighting the differences and similarities between them as people. The fic also does a great job portraying the relationships that Mai has with her dad and Zuko has with his uncle (the latter is one of my personal favorite things to find in a fanfic, ever), and gives Mai's mother another dimension to her usual "Evil Matriarch
" portrayal. Blue-lacquer's portrayal of pre-redemption Zuko is also really great, showcasing his softer side without diminishing his angst, tendency towards violent mood swings, and obsession with catching the Avatar and regaining his honor.
Also of note is that this story takes place pre-Season 1, during
Zuko's banishment, a rare, refreshing setting for Maiko fic (or just fic in general). It has humor and heartwarming throughout, but ends on a bittersweet note that makes Book Ends
with the bittersweet beginning. Overall, a fun fic that's well worth a couple of hours!