|snarky_panda (snarky_panda) wrote in mulanficspace,|
@ 2007-07-21 00:38:00
|Current music:||Kim Possible|
30 Kisses: Mulan and Shang, Part Four
Written for the 30_kisses challenge.
Pairing: Li Shang/Fa Mulan
Theme: #7, superstar
Disclaimer: All characters, etc. from the Disney movie belong to Disney.
She was a legend already.
As they leisurely trotted through one of the larger towns on the way to Chang’an the village folk began to spill out into the street to view the two mounted riders in Imperial armor. Spying the long hair and petite figure of Mulan, they immediately recognized her to be the woman warrior that had saved the Emperor and the Middle Kingdom. Shouts of “Fa Mulan, China’s honored heroine” and “the famous woman warrior” from the gathered throng filled the air.
Shang glanced at her with a hint of a smile on his face. “It looks like you’re famous already.”
Mulan nodded, keeping up her pleasant façade. But inside she cringed. These villagers reminded her of the people in her own village; folks that witnessed her public humiliation by the matchmaker, who clacked their tongues at Fa Zhou’s odd, disgraceful daughter.
“It is more profitable to raise geese than daughters,” was one time-honored phrase that she frequently heard quoted. “And there’s your example of that.”
She had always considered herself lucky that her father was different. It was said that many families were glad to be rid of girls. But Fa Zhou loved and doted on his only child. In the Fa household there was no talk of daughters being outward moving and only benefiting the future husband’s family. And despite her parents’ concern that she was a “late bloomer”, her grandmother never worried and often reassured them that their daughter would find her own way. The only time her father had wavered was during their last dinner together before she ran away to take his place in the army. That was the first and last time he told her to learn her place; and it had come from his anger and disappointment in the events of that day.
Upon her return home, nothing much had changed among their neighbors. There was a festival held in town in her honor and the prefect praised her, proclaiming that Fa Mulan had brought honor to their town. But it all felt superficial to her. Saving the Emperor and receiving praise from him meant that they grudgingly had to acknowledge her accomplishments. But deep inside, they were the same men and women who had called her dishonorable before she left home and continued to hold that opinion of her.
And she was uncomfortable with such attention. Although there were moments when she doubted herself, admitting the more selfish reasons for taking her father’s place in the army, her main purpose for doing it was to save his life. And she helped her troop and the Emperor because it was the right thing to do. Did she deserve such attention lavished on her for that? Shang was born to be a soldier and his whole life was dedicated to defending his Emperor and doing what was right. Why was it different for her after she only did it once?
Children ran alongside of them now, excited to see the two Imperial soldiers, one of them a woman of all things. But they were very sweet and she slowed her horse to talk to them, answering their questions about fighting and her adventures, feeling better as she became more engaged in conversing with the kids. Young children didn’t judge. They were too innocent to know that they should.
One little girl wanted to know if the general was her husband. She felt her face begin to flush and dared to chance a sidelong look at Shang, who was doing a very good job of turning several shades of red as well.
Laughing warmly, she turned back to the little girl.
“No, he’s General Li, my commanding officer.”
Shang was getting as much attention as she was, she noticed now. Everyone knew that he was the brave commanding officer who had saved the Emperor with her.
They were both relieved when they reached the edge of town and quickened to a canter as the terrain opened up ahead of them. After covering a good deal of distance they stopped to water the horses and to rest.
He joined her where she sat in the grass after watering his white stallion.
“Are you okay?”
She looked up at him with a start, then nodded.
“Yes. Just a little tired,” she lied.
The truth was that she was still brooding about that day with the matchmaker; it was occupying her mind ever since they’d been in that village and had prompted her spirits to sink considerably. But she wasn’t ready to tell Shang about her past humiliation. They weren’t such close friends yet. And even if they were, she wasn’t sure she would ever want him to know about that disgraceful episode.
“It must be difficult to get so much praise in one place and then get none,” he murmured. “I can compliment you now if that would make you feel better.”
A ghost of a smile crept to her face at his attempt to cheer her up with a little quip.
“Seriously, are you alright? You seem very down all of a sudden.”
Again she nodded. “It’s just strange. All the attention. I don’t know if I’ll ever get used to it.”
“I thought…you seemed to be enjoying it.”
“They’re kind people,” she answered with a shrug. “I wanted to be gracious. And the children are very sweet.”
“Yes, and a little too inquisitive,” he laughed. “But they seemed to love you.”
She nodded and raked a hand through her hair absently, frowning in deep thought. Then she turned back to him. He was watching her closely and the concern that she saw in his gaze made her realize that her posture was sagging with the weight of her mood.
“You seemed to get a lot of attention, too, General,” she commented, wanting to turn the focus away from her.
He shrugged. “I guess. They equate the two of us.”
They thought we were husband and wife.
It had embarrassed both of them equally.
“Well, you did teach me everything I know,” she replied. “I couldn’t have done those things without your excellent training.”
His hand settled on hers. It was only meant to be a friendly, appreciative, even comforting gesture but his touch sent a thrill through her body. Without thinking twice about it, she turned her palm upward and laced her fingers through his, an involuntary smile spreading across her features as she gazed at him. Her breath caught in her throat momentarily when he looked into her eyes and squeezed her hand.
For a moment he seemed to lean toward her and she wondered, with anticipation and some trepidation, if he would kiss her. She’d never been kissed before. What would he think of her if she let him? It wasn’t really proper for an unmarried young woman to even be out alone in the streets of town with a man; and they were in the middle of a forest. A part of her longed for it, for some sign that he returned the feelings she had for him.
But he only released her hand and reached up to sweep a stray lock of hair off of her forehead. He drew his hand back then, turning his face away from her to gaze straight ahead.
Her feelings were a jumbled mixture of hurt, disappointment and relief. But she pushed them to the back of her mind.
“Maybe we should get going,” she suggested, trying to seem casual.
“Yes. We can avoid the villages if it makes you uncomfortable to be surrounded by crowds,” he offered, standing up and holding out his hand to help her up.
A grateful smile crossed her features as she grasped it.
“Thank you, but it’s okay. I think I can handle it.”(Link here to continue)