Disclaimer: All characters, etc. from the Disney movie belong to Disney. All characters, etc. from the Hua Mulan television series belong to the creators of that show.

Summary: (AU) Mulan's secret was never discovered. After receiving praise and honor from the Emperor along with her captain and comrades she returned home and to her old life after the war with the Huns, preparing now to get married to a man that she had been betrothed to as a small child. She is surprised and pleased when she finds that it is her former captain who still does not know that Hua Mulan and Hua Ping are one and the same; but things get complicated when they are called back to camp again.

A/N: There are many differences in this story, some which are based more on the poem and on the television series. For example, Mulan has a younger brother in this who was too young to go into the army, and in this story, she did not run away; her parents knew that she was taking her father's place.

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Chapter 1

Hua Rou-ping came running out of the house when he caught sight of the familiar black horse trotting through the gate, the small armored figure of his sister astride him.

"Baba, Mama, Mulan has returned!" he yelled out, hurrying to greet his sister.

She brought the noble steed to a halt and dismounted, removing her father's helmet and grinning at her seven-year-old brother. She knelt down and rubbed his head affectionately when he approached.

"Hey, Rou. You seem taller."

Rou-ping grinned up at her. "I grew an inch since you've been gone!" he answered proudly.

"Wow! Pretty soon you'll tower over me."

"What was it like, Mulan? What was being in battle like?"

She didn't answer him, catching sight of her parents coming out to welcome her. She stood up as they approached, her father looking stately and proud despite the fact that he limped and could only walk with the aid of a cane. Her mother had tears of joy in her eyes, which she was trying to hide.

Mulan moved forward to greet them.

"We are thankful that you have returned home safely, daughter," Hua Zhou said, hugging her.

"I'm glad to be home."

They went into the house together and Mulan showed them the gifts that she had received from the Emperor, telling them about her experiences but leaving out the gory details, like getting sliced by Shan-Yu's sword. Fortunately, it was only a flesh wound, which she was able to treat herself. Had it been worse, she would have required the aid of a medic and her secret would have been out.

"I did well in battle, as did the other members of my regiment and the captain. I was promoted to lieutenant during my stint and we all received honors and gifts from the Emperor when we arrived at the Imperial City."

"Wow!" Rou-ping exclaimed, eyes wide as he gingerly reached out to touch the medal of honor that she laid out on the table.

"Go ahead, Rou. You can pick it up," Mulan told her little brother, ruffling his hair. Rou-ping reached up and pushed her hand away, picking up the medal with his other hand and looking it over.

"I am very proud of you, Mulan. You know how worried I was about this, and that I was against you going in my place."

"I know, Baba, but you know I couldn't let you go. You served the Emperor for years as one of his finest generals, but in your condition…I didn't want anything to happen to you."

"We were worried about you being revealed."

"It is most fortunate that you managed to keep your true identity hidden," Hua Li remarked.

"If anyone knew I was really a woman, they never said anything. As far as anyone knows, it was Hua Zhou's son serving. And now that it's over, I would like to excuse myself for a little while so I can take off Father's armor and dress myself like a woman again."

Mulan went to her room, carrying a basin of water retrieved from the well. She removed her father's armor and the soldier's uniform, then washed up and put on one of her favorite dresses. Her hair was still short, just past her shoulders, but she tied it back into a small ponytail.

She loved her father, and though he had been willing to do his duty and serve the Emperor, she couldn't let him go. One man was needed from each family, but her father would have never made it through another battle with his wound. Rou-ping was too young. Her solution was the only way. When she had suggested going in his place, her father looked at her as if she was crazy. But she managed to convince him, reminding him that it was he that had taught her martial arts and even before he was wounded she was almost matching him in skill.

"And I will probably be put in a regiment of trainees, due to my age and minimal ability. I will learn the rest, Baba," she had told him.

Her father had finally reluctantly agreed.

Now that it was behind her, she was relieved to be home. She was of the age now to be prepared for marriage, and she had already been betrothed to someone when she was very young. She expected that the topic of the betrothal and maybe the matchmaker would be brought up shortly.

It was time for her to fulfill her other duty as a daughter.

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"Recite the final admonition."

Mulan took a deep breath. The whole thing was idiotic, but she accepted that it was part of the routine.

"Fulfill your duties respectfully. Think before you act. This shall bring you honor and glory."

The tall, plump matchmaker led her to the table and gestured to the teapot and two cups on the table.

"Very good. Now pour the tea."

Mulan took her place at the table and lifted the teapot gracefully, serving the matchmaker first and then herself.

The matchmaker went over her information, such as her birth date, her birth sign and some other family information.

The relatively painless session was over quickly and the matchmaker accompanied Mulan to the door, beckoning Hua Li over.

"I know that your two families had arranged this a long time ago, Hua Li. The young man has a very similar background. His father is a general also. The birth dates and astrological signs are compatible and after meeting both the young man and your daughter, I find that their temperaments are very suited to one another. I agree that this is a good match."

A week later Mulan waited anxiously in a separate room while her parents sat in the sitting room of the house belonging to the young man's parents, bargaining with her future in-laws and making other arrangements.

It was finally over and her mother came to get her. "Come, Mulan. It is time for you to meet your future husband."

She was brought out to the sitting room, where the young man was waiting. Mulan whipped her fan out gracefully and brought it up in front of her face, gazing over the top of it coyly.

She had to hide the smile that came to her face as she found herself staring at her former commander, a very nervous and bashful Captain Li Shang.

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Mulan was busy cooking dinner, as she had been doing every day for the past month, practicing as part of her preparation for becoming a wife. Meanwhile, her parents were busy making arrangements with Shang's parents. The wedding was to be a month later and she would be going to live in Shang's house, with his family.

As she was stirring the rice her father appeared in the room. "Captain Li Shang is here to see Lieutenant Hua Ping," he said, softly.

Mulan froze for a moment, then nodded.

"Stall him. I will go change."

She removed the kettle of rice from the flame and put out the fire, then hurried to her room. Once transformed back into Lieutenant Hua Ping, she went out to greet her former commander.

"Good day, Captain."

"Lieutenant Hua. It is good to see you again."

"Likewise, Captain."

"The Emperor has requested that I enlist your aid again, Lieutenant. You ended up being one of my finest soldiers; I would have requested you even if not for the Emperor's order."

"Thank you, Captain. It would be an honor to serve under you again. When do I leave?"

"Report to Wu Zhong Camp again in two days. I will give you more details then."

He bid her good day then. Mulan watched him go, grinning to herself. It had been difficult to keep a straight face as they had spoken. She kept remembering how nervous and awkward he had been with her when they met as bride-and-groom-to-be a month before. He was so different with her when he thought she was Hua Ping. Completely in control, commanding and confident.

When Mulan turned around her father was standing in the doorway. Judging by the expression on his face, she knew he had heard everything.

"It looks like the wedding will be postponed."

"You are going, Mulan?"

"I have to. It's the Emperor's order. Besides, if the captain has to go, he won't be here to get married either."

"This is a very strange situation now. You serving under the man you are betrothed to."

"But I served under him before. And I was betrothed to him then."

"It's different now. Now you know."

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A/N: So, what do you think so far? Worth continuing?