ik this is an atla blog but... could we hear some of ur izumi headcanons? (perhaps a sprinkle of izumi x kya if ur feelin generous)
been sittin on this ask since april (sorry!!!) bc i wanted to give this question the attention it deserved (and also there are just. a lot of asks in the inbox to get thru. oof). also yess i’m glad someone else is as fascinated by the potential of kya/izumi dyke drama as i am. fwiw, all of this is canon-compliant with what we know (so far) from lok. some of these have already been said, but it never hurts to rehash deep lore...
izumi is found in a dumpster. when it becomes apparent to zuko that whoever left her there isn’t coming back for her, he decides to take her to a local orphanage. he’s halfway there by the time he has already become irrevocably attached to this quiet, curious, perfect baby and is like “okay my baby now” and takes her home.
when katara gets a postscript at the bottom of a letter from zuko that simply says “oh by the way i have a daughter now” katara doesn’t even respond to the pages upon pages he wrote about import taxes and all that boring shit. zuko merely receives one page in response and all it says is “YOU HAD SEX???? WITH A WOMAN????”
zuko refuses to tell katara the truth. her version is better.
izumi is raised by the firelord and a small army of lesbians. zuko has to stop his friends from trying to give her knives all the time. yes, knives used to be a very loving gift during the war, but he’s trying to teach her about nonviolence goddammit!!!
she never has a crisis of sexuality or feels any pressure to like boys. she’s a lesbian and she knows it. everyone but suki is secretly baffled by how well-adjusted this child is. (suki doesn’t get the big deal.)
izumi knows that she is the crown princess, and that this means that she is going to be firelord someday. zuko always told her that being firelord is about being able to use their nation’s resources to help as many people as possible, and since two of izumi’s favorite things are puzzles and helping people, she is really looking forward to being firelord.
her other favorite thing is reading, which zuko obviously encourages but also finds quite strange because he always assumed reading was an activity solely pursued by sadder, lonelier children.
because she often gets so engrossed in her books that she accidentally stays up all night reading in the dark, zuko gets in the habit of placing extra-long candles in her room that will burn all night so she doesn’t have to strain her eyes. as she gets older and starts spending more time in the library, she winds up just carrying a sack full of zuko’s candles around just in case. it quickly becomes a family joke--if you end up in a dark room, better find izumi.
she winds up wearing glasses by the age of six. zuko is very worried about what this means for her future until izumi points out that her favorite people are visually impaired and they’re doing just fine.
she really likes toph, but thinks her kids are super weird. one of them is very regimented and disciplined in a way she cannot vibe with, and the other is very self-absorbed and theatrical. whenever toph brings lin and su around the palace, izumi ends up hanging out with toph instead.
one of izumi’s favorite pastimes is sokkawatching, which is like birdwatching, but instead of birds, she is studying sokka. she shadows him around all day and takes notes on what it is he is doing. she will hide behind curtains during meetings or walk just far enough behind him that he can’t see her. eventually sokka asks izumi if she would just like to, um, hang out?? but she gets so upset that he is now onto her that zuko has to intervene and convince her that sokka has no idea what he’s talking about, and that she is a master of espionage. since her cover has been blown, she needs a new mark, and starts following mai around instead.
when izumi is eight years old, her great-uncle iroh takes her and her aunt azula to ember island to see a show. izumi has quite a mature appreciation for theater for an eight-year-old—she reads plays, as any child of her father surely would, and has been known to enjoy live performances in the capital—but she fucking hates this play. she squirms in her seat until azula would look monstrous if she didn't take her to the restroom, and there the two of them remain until the curtain call. when it's over, iroh is quite convinced that the two of them concocted that little scheme together… and he's exactly right.
izumi starts attending meetings when she is eleven, and she constantly interrupts to ask questions. if anyone is bothered by this they wouldn’t dare let zuko know. all her questions are so smart and incisive anyway that very few people can find it in them to be annoyed when they are far too busy being impressed.
some monarchs might have felt a bit alarmed, and perhaps unnerved by thoughts of their own mortality, if their daughter applied herself to studying the work of running a country at as young of an age and with as much alacrity as izumi does. zuko, on the other hand, has been hating his job and showing it since 101 AG. izumi suspects the duties of the firelord aren't nearly as bad as all that, but her father is sensitive, and was forced into the role at a particularly difficult time. for her, studying how to run the country that her father has so carefully reformed so that she can step into the role as early as possible is a generous gift.
because izumi is the crown princess, there is little chance of her making it to adulthood without navigating a few awkward encounters with boys who hope to woo her. zuko is too saddened by the idea to know how to begin to prepare her for it. but as it turns out, izumi doesn’t need that from him. starting around the age of 12, she observes that many of the staff around the palace tend to read a lot of old-fashioned romance novels. seeking to better understand the entertainment choices of the women with whom she spends most of her time, izumi selects a handful of books from that genre to read for herself. she finds story after story about young, attractive members of the royal court finding love with unlikely suitors and suitresses. though these books aren’t to her taste at all, she understands the appeal and makes the logical connection that this type of story is viewed as a sort of script—the most sensational path a princess could possibly take. she practices saying variations of "no thank you" in her bedroom mirror until she settles on a polite enough tone that even the most earnest suitor couldn't possibly take issue with it, and that's that.
izumi starts demanding more homework. this ultimately means more work for sokka, who has to create an entirely new curriculum designed just for her, and then has to sit there while she does her homework in case she has any questions. and then, once she’s done, they go over it together and even if she gets everything right she forces him to point out areas in which she could have improved. suddenly sokka longs for the days that katara (and later toph) would yell at him that math is stupid and they shouldn’t have to learn it because they can bend. how foolish he had been at the time… he should have savored that…
izumi's first crush is on mai. it's humiliating, since she's well aware that mai has been playing with her since she was in diapers (and even faintly aware that mai and zuko had some sort of ambiguous summer fling as teenagers that they are now too embarrassed to talk about), but for a short stretch of time between the age of twelve and thirteen, suddenly izumi sees her old family friend in a new and magical light. and during that same stretch of time, she faintly hates ty lee. this confusing intrusion of unwanted feelings leads to a humiliating moment that is best described as izumi's first tantrum. when she is invited to join the adults at a casual dinner, izumi dashes for the seat as far from her object of her affections as possible, and when ty lee teases, "what? do we smell?" izumi blushes and buries her face in her water. she doesn't look up from her plate until mai asks her (repeatedly, as it seems izumi didn't hear her) to pass the dumplings. at this point, izumi doesn't know what else to do but to shove the entire remaining portion of dumplings into her mouth all at once and then flee the room. so she does.
in the morning, she is mortified and apologizes to everyone for her poor conduct. mai and ty lee are nothing but understanding, and mai jokes that now she knows where zuko got his table manners. ty lee adds that izumi was going to have to do something immature at some point, or else no one was gonna believe she was human. the two of them leave court a few days later, and by the time they visit again a few months after that, izumi is relieved to find that her crush has faded away.
the first time izumi meets katara, she feels as if she is meeting a celebrity. since katara never comes to the fire nation if she can help it, their paths have yet to cross, but izumi has heard of her, as if she is this mythic creature, through many, many stories, each more outrageous than the last. izumi does not think that meeting katara will prove a particularly long encounter, since katara couldn’t possibly have the time of day for her. she is quickly proven wrong, since katara cooks her dinner herself and keeps piling more and more food onto her plate. izumi is too well-mannered to inform katara that she is full, and katara keeps insisting that she doesn’t eat enough. izumi has no idea how katara could possibly come to that conclusion, since they have known each other all of one hour, but according to katara, izumi must eat more.
other than trying to feed izumi every three seconds, katara is surprisingly normal. izumi had assumed she was some sort of terrifying goddess by the way people talk about her. she’s very warm and nurturing and personable and has no filter whatsoever. in fire nation meetings, everyone speaks formally as a sign of respect, but in the southern water tribe, apparently it’s considered rude if you’re not completely candid. at first, izumi is horrified by how freely people insult each other, but then she quickly becomes delighted by the fact that bluntness is considered a virtue, and formality, passive-aggression. everyone refers to each other by first name, no title, and they’re all like one big family. people still treat katara with reverence despite this, even though she makes it pretty clear that she’s tired of being hero-worshipped.
one of the most delightful qualities that izumi admires in katara is her ability to memorize, recite, and hunt down gossip. izumi is introverted and polite and would never dream of asking brazen questions like whether haru has finally seen sense and shaved that beast on his lip or whether toph is "still getting her story straight" about where her daughters came from. (as far as izumi knows, toph has only ever told just the one, tongue-in-cheek story: she made the girls herself out of clay and she'll earthbend them back into dust if they don't behave.) but izumi is awed by katara's willingness to just ask these kinds of questions and she decides to take a lesson from this approach. being direct doesn't hurt anyone when katara does it, and it's a skill that will eventually serve izumi very well as firelord.
the south pole is also where izumi first meets kya. to kya, who is being taught two very conflicting ideas of what the fire nation represents, meeting izumi firmly solidifies her in the “the fire nation is nice and progressive” camp. that said, she also knows that her mom would disapprove if she and izumi got involved… which only makes izumi all the more enticing, naturally.
katara teaches izumi about what she considers to be the core tenets of her culture: “communal living, versatility & resourcefulness, democracy, and looking cute on a budget.”
izumi returns to the fire nation convinced that the southern water tribe is the coolest place in the entire world (and not just literally). sokka is so incredibly proud.
and, by the second time she visits katara, izumi is far more comfortable with going penguin sledding.
izumi attempts to go through a phase of teenage rebellion when she is fifteen, but zuko puts an end to it by encouraging her. he’s like “fuck yeah be gay do crimes.” learning that her dad was once a baleful vigilante/highwayman immediately quells her desire for antics & tomfoolery.
...well. most antics, anyway. a few weeks before izumi's second visit to the south pole, kya sends izumi a letter that includes an illustration of a particular type of plant that grows in the fire nation palace garden and a request that she bring a clipping back with her next time. apart from the produce garden where they grow fresh fruit and vegetables for the palace, the palace garden is considered the domain of suki and her friends, so izumi naively enlists suki to help her to find it. suki smirks to herself as she directs izumi to the right place and helps her cut a generous clipping of it. and that's the story of how, on izumi's second visit to the south pole, kya introduces her to the joys of recreational weed: a secret hobby the two of them will indulge in together all their lives, whenever they happen to see each other.
(though this, too, becomes a little less cool and a little less sexy when, one night back in the fire nation, izumi steps out onto her balcony and sees her father, her aunt, toph, sokka, and suki all smoking weed in the courtyard below.)
by the time kya is seventeen, she has petitioned katara that she ought to go travel the world on her own, since she’s the daughter of a nomad and a swashbuckling heroine, so it’s only right. katara finally relents. kya basically just makes a round tour of all the lesbian hotspots across the globe, from visiting her favorite auntie toph, to living it up on kyoshi island, to the fire palace, with a certain princess in mind.
katara keeps insisting to kya that no, she’s not a homophobe, she just disapproves of monarchs! so as a test kya brings the most heinous girl she knows (who isn’t su, that is) over for dinner, and katara has to be extremely gracious the entire time. after she leaves she says to kya “wow....... I love her :’)”
kya and izumi share an intellectual bent, an appreciation for music, and a desire to see the world. they also share their first kiss. izumi breathlessly expresses her surprise that smart, worldly kya hasn't been there before with one of the boys or girls at the south pole, but kya waves a hand and says that no one there is cool enough for her. when kya asks why izumi hasn't kissed anyone before, izumi just quips that books don't have lips as soft as kya's.
they have a whole "together-when-we're-in-the-same-place; single-when-we're-not" thing going on for a while, but izumi really loves to write love letters, and before they know what's happened, they're monogamous and living on opposite sides of the world. oops!
they are very much in love. they are also fully aware that their relationship has an expiration date, and it is the second izumi becomes firelord. kya may be reluctant to admit it, but her mom was right: being involved with the firelord…. well it’s a bad look. she comes from a long line of anti-imperialist revolutionaries. she can’t exactly settle down with a monarch. izumi, having been raised by zuko, is about as anti-monarchy as a monarch possibly can be, so she understands completely. they both agree that their duties come first, and when they do break up, it will be amicable and mutual. their last days spent together while still technically a couple are bittersweet.
izumi’s coronation mostly involves all of zuko’s old friends taking turns squishing her cheeks (even though she is an adult, and also the firelord now) and tearfully regaling her with anecdotes from her childhood, which she remembers perfectly well because she was there. she very graciously hugs and thanks all of them for forging a path to peace, promising to make them proud. they all assure her they already are.
she and kya break up that night, by the turtleduck pond. it is a quiet, poignant goodbye.
the following week, kya immediately travels to the north pole to rebound with the most repressed lesbian she can find. she thinks it’s only fitting.
izumi has a lot more freedom as firelord than zuko ever did, in large part due to the fact that no one ever thinks to question her legitimacy. she has a very commanding presence, always giving off the vibe that she is the most intelligent person in the room (whereas, of course, zuko gives off the vibe that he is just a little boy who loves arson… well into adulthood).
izumi thinks in lists, much like sokka and her aunt azula; unlike most people she knows, her favorite historical avatar is not kyoshi or even yangchen, but szeto, but it’s for good reason. she groups like things into categories and she groups tasks into mental to-do lists which are of course completely different from the to-do lists she does need to write down. this will serve her well as she will eventually go down in history as one of the firelords with the most documentation on her life and the lives of her allies—which is of course part of the point. so of course, she's also strategic about what she doesn't write down: the sexualities of the family friends one generation above her; the quiet trade agreement between the fire nation and the water tribes that favors the water tribes just enough that it would be a whole thing if certain loud fire nation citizens got word of it; and the story of the one time she kissed lin beifong.
izumi’s personal pet project is the implementation of countless public libraries across the country, which also double as shelters. the same way that zuko had a reputation as being the firelord who really revitalized theatre, izumi has a reputation for being horny4libraries, and she’s proud of that reputation, dammit.
one day, for seemingly no reason, sokka decides that he is simply too old to be micromanaging royalty. it was cool and funny and, well, necessary when he was 16, but now he really does have better things to be doing with his time. this doesn’t stop izumi from wheedling him for diplomatic advice, because she refuses to part with such a valuable asset, so instead sokka agrees to play her in pai sho whenever she “needs it.” she always knows exactly how to solve her problem immediately after a game’s conclusion. zuko doesn’t understand how that works at all, but azula’s like “lol classic sokka.”
toph takes izumi on a life-changing field trip to go look at bugs in the woods, and all the headlines that week read variations on “NOTORIOUS EARTHBENDING ANARCHIST KIDNAPS FIRELORD, HOLDS HER HOSTAGE IN A FOREST.” neither of them are aware of the political scandal they’ve caused because they were too busy studying cool bugs.
as izumi approaches 50, she decides to treat herself to a birthday gift that becomes her pride and joy: a top-of-the-line future industries motorcycle. her father may choose to travel the world in style on druk, but izumi's tastes run more toward ground transportation (which is to say: she gets violently airsick, and seasick, too). of course, she can only really ride it anywhere if she's prepared to either travel with a motorcade or sneak out past her guards and keep her face hidden the whole time she's out. the former cramps her style and limits her speed, so she chooses the latter. she generally takes it short distances, just far to get some air, but on one memorable occasion when lin beifong is visiting ember island, she takes it all the way through the mountains and down to the beach just to see the look on that crabby old cop's face.
izumi names her son after her beloved late grunkle… mostly because it was the only way to satisfy sokka, who insisted that since, decades ago, he won a bet against zuko to someday name his grandchild, it was only fair that he get naming rights. zuko, at the time having assumed that he would never have grandchildren, was like “yeah okay whatever,” but sokka never forgot. as if he would ever pass up the opportunity to publicly embarrass the fire nation royal family! but he had to admit that iroh was a pretty good name. almost as good as Sokkaruleszukodrools, which unfortunately and unjustly got passed over.
izumi always loved aang, and found meditating with him to be really clarifying. it's only natural that his death breaks her heart. but it's in her nature to come up with a productive outlet for any emotion she feels, even grief, and that holds true in this case. she is walking through the library on air temple island when it hits her: there ought to be an "official" biography of avatar aang and his life, dictated by his friends. though her initial idea was to hire one of her many respected writer friends for the job, kya and tenzin insist that it'll only be worth anything if izumi writes it. so she does. a biography of the avatar, written by the firelord. friendships last more than one lifetime after all.
izumi is, of course, aware of the new avatar from the moment she's born. the notes she has on korra fill an entire cabinet of scrolls and notebooks (as any of her advisors knows, her choice of paper just depends on how fancy she's feeling). korra is nearly sixteen by the time she's ready to learn firebending, and izumi personally sends the ship that will pick her up and take her to the fire nation. since she has not met korra before and doesn't know her tastes, izumi makes sure the ship is fully stocked with plenty of soft, comfortable clothing in all colors and sizes, all meant to be reasonably modest while still suitable for the warm weather korra will run into on the journey. so izumi is understandably surprised when she meets the ship at the docks and finds korra in a jaggedly sewn scarlet crop top that she clearly tailored herself. korra blushes and explains that she's never experienced warm weather before and got a bit overzealous. they laugh about it, and izumi orders a whole closetload of more teenage-friendly clothing to be delivered to korra's quarters.
zuko dies peacefully, in his sleep, at an old and happy age, but that doesn’t mean his death doesn’t affect izumi. she immediately takes time off to crash at the south pole with katara and kya, and they spend the next few weeks just sitting by the fire, swapping stories about their respective adventures, and having a lovely (albeit extremely tearful) time. izumi then goes to visit toph and suki in the earth kingdom, who are both apparently chilling in different parts of the same vast swamp. they teach her about how everything in the swamp is connected, that separation and time and death are all illusions. finally, the last leg of her trip is spent on ember island, where she sits by the beach, staring at the moon’s silver reflection on the black sea, and once more feels at peace.
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