Title Chapter 2

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After several days of bed rest Indyira was back on his feet. He was plagued with sea sickness for about two days until he acclimated to the swaying of the ship. Zuko caught sight of him on deck. He scrubbed his hand over his now short hair. He then looked at his splinted wrist and put his hand over his midsection where his ribs were still wrapped. "How are you today?" Zuko asked and made a face at how awkward it sounded coming out of his mouth. A few crewmen noticed too and gave him a look as they walked by. He could almost hear them making snide comments about the Prince's new 'pet'.

"Less queasy. Feel like I got hit by a tank thanks to you." Indyira answered. "But it's also thanks to you that I am no longer a slave. I don't think I ever apologized for grabbing you the other night."

"No you didn't." Zuko pointed out and rubbed his wrist where it was still marked and tender. Indyira turned to him and looked him up and down. "Do you know who I am?"

"Took me a few days to place the face but yes... your majesty." Indyira answered and bowed slightly. Zuko noticed with some mirth that it wasn't the proper bow for addressing Fire Nation royalty. "Forgive me, my knowledge of current events is rather limited. But there's no mistaking your scar or your abilities."

"Now that I have liberated you, where do you wish to go? We are currently on a mission but the captain can drop you off anywhere you want." Zuko cut to the quick of their conversation. Indyira looked down for a moment.

"I don't know. I never gave freedom any thought. I don't know how far Heno's influence reaches. If I show my face and word gets back to him I'll be a sitting duck no matter where I go. I have no family, no friends and no money." Zuko looked down - he had more in common with the other boy than he realized. Indyira was stunted by his time under Heno's control - he probably didn't know what year it was or that there was a war going on. "I have no way to show my gratitude. Except with service." Zuko watched as he knelt down on one knee. "I hereby pledge my loyalty to your crown."

"You mean to the Fire Navy? Or the-"

"No, to you. Only to you, your highness. I will serve as your personal bodyguard until you tell me my debt to you is repaid."

"He accepts." Iroh answered for him. Zuko looked at him sharply. The last thing he needed was a babysitter. He'd never admit out loud that he enjoyed not having to answer to anyone - even though he had been disfigured and banished he never had to worry about the daily grind of palace life. There were some aspects he missed, like the garden and the pond of turtle ducks. He had a valet back home that micromanaged every minute of his day and the constant nitpicking was not missed. Indyira smiled as he stood up. He took Zuko's hand and leaned down. He touched his forehead to his knuckles before he let go.

"I'll be around if you need me." He walked off to do who knows what and Zuko whirled of Iroh.

"I don't need a bodyguard." He growled.

"He's nearly the same age as you right? If not a guard you can definitely use a friend." Iroh said. Zuko just glared at him. They both knew he'd never had any friends. They were always scared off by his title or his sister. Indyira knew who he was and didn't shy away. And he had no idea that Azula existed so maybe it wouldn't be so bad having him around.

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After several weeks Zuko wasn't opposed to Indyira's service. He didn't hover like his childhood valet. And being away from the palace Zuko didn't need much. Someone to help him into his armor, brush his hair every couple of days and bring him dinner when he was feeling reclusive. He learned during their idle conversations that Indyira was actually nineteen years old and he was born on the third day of the winter solstice, which made him a water sign.

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