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Fanfic / The Masks we Wear (JiggleWigs)

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The Masks we Wear (also viewable on Archive of Our Own) is an Avatar: The Last Airbender fanfic by JiggleWigs.

The story starts years prior to the series. Prince Ozai wakes up in the middle of the night to find the palace on fire. The Water Tribes, Earth Nation, and some of his own have conspired to kill the Fire Nation royal family. Ursa, Zuko, and Azula survive the rebellion, but they must live in secrecy. They move to the Earth Kingdom as Noriko, Lee, and Jia. But, fifteen years later, their humble life begins to change.


Not to be confused with a different fanfic by NiceThorn.

This fanfic provides examples of:

  • Alternate Universe Fic: When Azula was still a baby, there was a coup against the Fire Nation royal family.
  • Child Soldiers: In chapter 1, Ozai confronts a spy who is still a teenager himself. He's not even large enough to fit into the adult guard's uniform.
  • Dark Fic: The story covers dark topics more obviously than the show.
  • Deadly Euphemism: The boy in chapter 1 says that his people have "got" Iroh's son. He meant it as a euphemism.
    Ozai had a creeping suspicion that got meant something far darker. His nephew was most likely dead.
  • Death of a Child:
    • Lu Ten, Iroh's son, is murdered as a child, instead of as an adult soldier.
    • Despite saying he wouldn't burn him alive, Ozai kills the teenage spy after all. He slit his throat instead.
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  • Disappeared Dad: Ozai abandoned his family fifteen years ago. Ursa resents him for leaving her in the middle of a foreign land with nothing to her name, but Ozai insists he was protecting his family.
  • Oh My Gods!: The fanfic goes with the typical fan belief that the Fire Nation worships a god named "Agni". Thus there are lines like "By Agni's grace alone".
  • Downer Beginning: Ursa, Zuko, and Azula are forced into hiding in the Earth Nation after the Fire Lord is murdered.
  • Ruling Family Massacre: The two other nations conspire this against the Fire Nation. They kill the Fire Lord and some extended family, but Ozai's immediate family survives by going into hiding.
  • Single Mom Stripper: Being a struggling single mother in the Earth Nation, Ursa sometimes prostitutes, She also gets her son out of trouble with her body. Zuko is horrified when he learns this, but his sister refuses to believe him.
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  • Slasher Smile: Ozai gives a spy a too-toothy smile when he threatens him with being slowly burnt alive.
  • Wouldn't Hurt a Child: Subverted. An enemy in the first chapter, himself still a teenager, insists that his people weren't going to hurt Zuko and Azula, but Ozai doesn't believe him. His belief is confirmed when the boy mentions that Iroh's young son is dead.

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