|Hundred Leaf Blossom
Author: Nasu Hasami PM
Inspired by Chazza-Fan's 100 Theme Challenge for Mulan. Hundred Leaf Blossom will attempt to cover all themes with light-hearted, humorous, hapless adventures in a variety of styles and formats. Enjoy or ignore, really, it's up to you.Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Adventure - Mulan & Shang - Chapters: 25 - Words: 25,138 - Reviews: 66 - Favs: 28 - Follows: 40 - Updated: 01-09-13 - Published: 06-22-12 - id: 8243841
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Hundred Leaf Blossom
By Nasu Hasami & Chang Lieng Bui
I (Introduction): Ni Hao Zaijian
AN: It's called continuity, and it's when I have to learn to dance throughout the scene.
All of the original Blossoms have been lost. The copies I have are online or handwritten and/or printed excerpts. I have taken those and attempted to lengthen them in the hope of completing this. The original writing was saved onto USBs which were both faulty, one of which actually caught on fire. The loss of the writing isn't really a loss. The story can be rewritten to a higher standard and a better quality. I just need to trust in my ability and my love for this.
As always, thank you for reading. Thank you for following or marking this as a favourite. Thank you for your patience, and thank your comments and support.
Sleeves brush against each other in the stillness of a shy embrace. Hands shadow, whisper and trace each other, curves, contours, angles, lines: memorising and learning. The shimmering moonlight as their only witness, wide and white and swimming against silken hues: steadfast in blue, dancing in black. It was calming and beautiful and bright: a sky she knew, glistening in a lake she knew, in a home she loved, in a place she belonged.
No unknown mountains. No foreign hills or valleys or rivers or fields. No new and strange things, hiding and lurking in shadows.
Except, maybe, there was something new.
He was stilted and stoic, sombre and sincere and shy. Stiff and unsure, though he knew her and he knew this. Cold as the cold stone bench he sat upon; shivering despite the sweet spring air, despite the warmth and new familiarity. Shivering despite her good humour and generous smiles; shivering despite her kindness and quiet affection. Stiff and thoughtful despite their acquaintance, despite who she was and all that had passed between them.
This was new: this warmth and want and need to linger in this moment under the moonlight, by his side and in presence; this desire to trust in the moments between now and yesterday and forever and all the fervent prayers that would fill yesterday and swallow tomorrow and pray – pray that it lasted longer than now – longer than one moment, longer than this. This wish to stay here, beyond self and thought and time. They'd walked through this war side by side. They'd fought this war side by side. Despite her gender and despite her deception, he was here, tonight, by her side, his eyes lost on the water and in the sky. A smile occasionally lost on her; occasionally lost on Mulan.
Not a boy or a girl in her father's clothes. Not a fraud or a fiend, but a friend and a comrade.
Not a man, but a woman.
Maybe, maybe she was a woman. Dressed and sheathed in silken brocade smiling coyly she drew the lines of a woman, curling her laughter around his words, thrilling and delighting him as any courtier would. Ebony locks brushing her shoulders and dancing in the wind. Perfume sultry and exotic: intriguing and intoxicating him, confusing and pleasing him. A smile that lit her eyes and bared her teeth; a grin too familiar and much too strange drawn across such a delicate face. A laugh that delighted him and a voice that charmed him, and in turn, made him smile and laugh.
Yes, she was a woman, but she was so many other things too.
She was his friend, and a fellow soldier. She was a warrior in her own right – maybe her father's blood revelled a little there – but it was her hands that fell the Hun army, and it was her hands that saved China: a woman's hands. Mulan's hands.
The name still felt strange on his lips, and the memories blended with what he thought he'd known, what he knew and trusted.
He thought he had known those hands when they were a man's hands. They felt different wrapped inside his hands now, lightly brushing in farewell. They looked different, fingering invisible lines across his bridle and saddle, mussing and stroking his horse's mane. Touching things that weren't there, knowing things in that subtle way that revealed she knew him. He had traced those same invisible lines a thousand times. Silence filled the space between them, and that silence was filled with small gestures and light smiles. This was all very unusual and strange, standing in the moonlight, unchaperoned, and talking to a woman.
It was all very, very strange.
'I'm not any different than how I was two days ago.' She smiled, looking up at him through hooded eyes. Ping's grin was spread across her mouth. Her nervousness barely disguised by the fingers knotting themselves in her hair.
'It's the dress, I suppose,' he mumbled, very inelegantly; his voice half caught in a laugh.
The image was too strange. Ping in a dress, acting lasciviously.
She giggled, leaning against the horse and nuzzling it. 'It's not because I'm a girl?'
'I wouldn't say you were a girl.'
'It's not because I'm a woman.' She was grinning and looking up at him again, catching and arresting him with her eyes the way she did. There was something about her and her eyes. Something different about her when she wasn't Ping, even though Ping had shared those eyes, something that had never shined up at him from a boy's eyes.
'You're not any different either, Shang.'
But he was, and she shouldn't be calling him by name. It was too soon and they were standing on unknown ground. He was just a man from the Capital and she was just a woman from a village.
Apprehension had affected him since his arrival with this woman from the village. A smattering of sentences twisted together, some mumbling about a helmet, and an awkward grin. He had tried in vain to ease the tension, yet it lingered, thick and coarse between them. The memory was too fresh and the days too new. He had been a moment from her execution and she had been wanton in seeking her death in the Capital, instead, she had saved them all.
She had been pardoned, and he had run after her as fast as his horse could carry him. In that moment, he wasn't so sure where the soldier finished and the man began. Was it the soldier's instincts that had carried him to her, or a man's?
Then there was dinner, and the mess that had been.
They hadn't spoken much. He had been overawed in her father's presence and she was continually silenced by her mother. Mulan wasn't entitled to join the conversation between two military men, regardless of her own military prowess. And his plans seemed futile, though he wasn't certain, not entirely, what his plans were beyond returning her helmet. He had been expecting a woman, but not so much of a woman that he stood stunned and afraid. He had been expecting a soldier a little too. Yet, this strange culmination that stood beside him rattled him beyond reason. She wasn't shy or delicate or quiet. She giggled and chortled and hacked out laughter as though it pained her to keep it in. Mischief shone and reigned, glistening in her smile and in her eyes. She was determined to see him off, despite this stilted silence and unsure friendship.
'I can go inside and put some pants on if that will make you more comfortable. Or punch something. Kill something…cook something outdoors.'
'No. It's fine. You're fine.'
'Still, you won't look at me.'
With that he turned, returning the smile with his own lopsided smirk. She was very pretty, blushing and scratching her neck as she looked up at him, the expression on her face somewhere between amused and unsure.
He didn't want to say goodbye to her, not like this, not yet.
And she didn't want to say goodbye to him, not after everything they'd seen.
Shang's smirk fell a little as he bowed to her, taking her hand in his. His lips danced across her skin lightly, whispering softly against the lines his fingers had traced.
'We've never been introduced properly. It's an honour to know you, Fa Mulan.'
She met his bow, though with somewhat less grace and a giggle that echoed into the night.
'Ni hao, Li Shang.'