070. Stars

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Aurora has heard of a legend before… of the trees in the forest living as if a person could, pulling up their very roots and walking away.

"I've heard of it too," Mulan agrees. She's busy with roping a shelter for them out of elaborately patterned, ratty blankets, grunting out. "In the middle of the night, you can hear them through the rustling of their wintery leaves…"

Her voice trails off, and Mulan's lips quirk up haughtily as Aurora narrows her eyes, huffing. "Oh, it's a lark, isn't it? Frightening a princess!" she cries out. "How very noble of a warrior!"

She doesn't bother listening to an apology — if there is one — storming out the grassy clearing.

An opaque-white mist settles in every path, clouding Aurora's vision. Grass becomes moss. She eventually finds another clearing in the woods, looking upon two, imposing figures.

They appear to be of similar height and girth, also covered in mossy-green and blossoms, with spindly, twisted branches resembling human arms.

But they must be trees, Aurora insists to herself, venturing a step closer despite her nervousness.

Aren't they?

Her fear dwindles, the closer Aurora gets, replacing with a drowsy, stupefied awe. She outstretches a hand, needing so suddenly to—

"Aurora," Mulan calls out gently, as if speaking to a dreamwalker, clasping Aurora's hand into hers.

She tugs the hypnotized, silent princess to her chest, tangling her darkly gloved fingers into soft, auburn curls, guiding them away in slow steps.

"Whss…" Aurora's voice returns to her, thick with sleepy reverence and bemusement. "Mmmlun…?"

The mist seems darkened and thicker, with the approaching nightfall, where even the light of the stars cannot reach them in the nethermost woods.

Mulan's sword-arm rises, held out protectively in front of both women. "Come away. That's a summoning circle left behind by an enchantress." Mulan gazes over her shoulder to the not-trees. "You'll be cursed into stone, just like the trolls."

This should elicit more of a reaction, but Aurora grumpily buries her face into Mulan's armor, wrapping her arms loosely to the other woman.

As soon as they've returned to their own clearing, Mulan clasps their hands, seating Aurora onto a log, kneeling down at her feet. "We will leave this place at once. How are you feeling, milady? Are you alright?" she asks hurriedly, concern written in every facial line.

"… … Better, I think," Aurora says, her cheeks pinkening. "I shouldn't have been so careless…"

"And I shouldn't have made you feel as I did. It was wrong of me." Mulan offers a quiet half-smile, and Aurora can feel all of the remaining heat in her body drifting right into her breastbone, against her heart. "Even for a lark."

A heart Mulan rescued.

If anything, it belongs to Mulan now, and only her — if wishes were truth.

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Once Upon a Time isn't mine. Gonna be forever bitter that Sleeping Warrior was dismissed (along with Swan Queen),,, this show is trash. That doesn't mean I can't write my girls and I will continue to do so. Any comments/thoughts are deeply appreciated! If you are still a Sleeping Warrior fan, I hope you enjoyed!