Author's Note: So this is my first, (don't be too harsh)!
But before it starts, I want to ask. Have you ever tried listening to music while reading a story? I've found that it helps tell the story better: as a result, movies have soundtracks and are used in certain scenes, etc. So, I've come up with a soundtrack that fits each scene in the story. The song will be right before a scene in BOLD. I'll put the song before the scene and that's when you start to play the song! If the song is over and you're not completely finished with the scene, KEEP PLAYING THE SONG. I've selected songs that fit perfectly with the scene, according to the lyrics and melody. I hope everyone enjoys!
Flash-forward: As they walked to the altar, they stopped right in front of it and both looked each other in the eyes. The emperor was there standing there, and asked Shang: "Do you want Mulan to be your wife?"
For a moment Shang looked into her eyes, past the red veil, but what he saw was nothing. There was not even a look of love those eyes, nothing like what he saw in Qui Gong, or at the emperor's palace when she came to talk him, or under her cherry blossom tree when he proposed to her, or even when he let her go at the bridge. Mulan wasn't the same. This isn't truly her.
Shang responded, "No, I don't."
Chapter 1 - Another Beginning
*[Play Sing Me Sweet by Matt Nathanson]*
"And to think, this is just the beginning of new endings." Mulan sighed. "I'm actually relieved and everything is at rest, only not really," She thought, as she zoned away from the conversation Yao, Chien-Po, and Ling were having.
In the corner of the room the princesses were sleeping soundly. Mulan knew she would have to return the princesses home and face the emperor's wrath. Nothing was accomplished at all and no China could be invaded soon, thanks to her own carelessness.
"Maybe not all hope is lost," Mulan thought as she looked to her new husband, who was speaking with Lord Chin.
"Is the alliance still going as planned?" Shang asked Lord Chin.
To this, the lord replied with a bleak expression, "I must keep my word to the Golden Dragon of Unity and your emperor, so we will send our troops into China when you need our assistance. When do you plan to leave General?"
Shang looked at Mulan, who was smiling back at him. "She looks so hopeful in this dark situation and so beautiful. And I almost had to live without her. I will certainly not make the same mistake again," he thought.
"General?" Shang snapped back to the two. He caught sight of the prince snickering. Immediately he shot a death glare to the prince, who got the idea quickly.
"We leave tonight," Shang replied.
"But certainly, you want to wait till the next day? I bet you are tired and exhausted. Do you not wish to spend your wedding night on a bed here in the palace, compared to the cold ground in a tent?"
In all honesty, Shang did not want to stay here. The place was depressing amidst the palace lights and he knew everyone wished to return home as quickly as possible, so he made his decision.
"No thank you," Shang replied. "I wish to return home and inform the emperor."
Lord Chin shot him a perplexed look, but soon changed back to his same gloomy look.
"Very well," he answered. "We will provide you with a carriage for you and your FRIENDS," This time, Shang shot him a curious look, wondering why he emphasized friends, but he did not want to prolong the already, dull conversation.
So instead, he answered sharply, "That will not be necessary. We will just need two more horses, but thank you for your assistance. We will be seeing each other soon. The emperor sends his regards for agreeing to his alliance." Shang tried to end that as diplomatically as possible, but knew he had probably failed in attempting to do so. He sighed as he walked over to Mulan.
Mulan caught sight of Shang walking over to her in the corner of her eye, yet she did not turn away from the conversation; she wanted to see what exactly Shang was going to do.
"So…" Ling said all of a sudden, "where are we bunking?"
Shang gently slipped his arms around Mulan's waist and replied calmly, "At Mulan's house."
"WHAT?" Mulan exclaimed as she broke free of his embrace. She turned to question him more by asking, "Where are the princesses going to rest properly?"
"In their heroes' arms," Shang responded with a smirk.
"AWWW", the soldiers sighed dreamily. Mulan leered at them and rolled her eyes as she turned back to facing Shang.
"Think reasonably. That's not going to be comfortable after two days, or more," Mulan argued.
"It won't be over two days. It'll probably be a day's travel if we run the horses, with minimum rests. If I do remember, it took us about two days to get to this palace, and with problems." Shang said as he shot a stern look to the three soldiers.
Mulan grinned widely. "You planned this all out, didn't you General?"
Shang chucked and told her, "Hmmm. I hoped for it. Plus you're not the only quick thinker around here."
She beamed and was about to lean in to kiss him, but realized her friends were standing right behind her, so instead she asked, "When are we leaving General?"
"Now." Shang replied. "The horses are prepared and with all the talking I've been doing with Lord Chin and his advisors, I'd say it is early in the morning, or sunrise, which works. We only have four horses. Chien-Po, you'll be riding on one of the emperor's horses with Su. Yao, you'll be riding on the horse with Mai. Ling, you'll take Mulan's horse and carry Ting Ting with you. As for you Mulan, you'll be riding with me on my horse. Any questions men?"
"Chien-Po, Ling and Yao, I hope you men realize that you may also have to stay up the whole journey. Are you men prepared for that?" Mulan asked as she looked at their tired faces.
Ling replied, "I think we'll be fine. In fact, I just want to stop for breakfast, just to get myself energized for the rest of the day. I won't even eat any meals the rest of the trip. I just want to go home."
"Agreed." Yao and Chien-Po said in unison.
"Don't worry. We'll stop for the rest of the meals, but we cannot spend too much time in that one place." Shang told them, "but since we have this all planned, let's hit the road."
After breakfast, in the palace stables, everyone was mounting their horse. The soldiers were helping the women up the horse. The princesses politely thanked the soldiers as they helped them on the horse. However, the situation for Mulan and Shang was very different.
As Mulan neared the horse, Shang stuck out his hand and said, "Let me help you there dear."
Mulan looked at him quizzically and put her hands on her hips.
"Dear?" Never heard you call me that before." She laughed. "I think I can get up onto the horse without your help." Nonetheless, she reached up and grabbed his hand and climbed up onto the horse. Shang put his arms around her and grabbed the reins in front.
He responded, "You know I was just trying to help…"
"Hey, will you lovebirds stop fighting so we can go home? You both love each other and if you notice, it is the only reason why you're both fighting," Yao said as he interrupted Shang.
"Stop rushing," Mulan replied irritably. "We'll be there in time for your bedtime. Plus, I hope you men have had your fill."
"She's right. I want to make minimum stops, but if you men are hungry, we can always stop for meals." Shang answered them.
"We'll be fine. Let's just go." Yao replied slowly as he let out a yawn.
Each one nodded as they sped on their horses out of the barn. Everyone waved goodbye to Lord Chin and the people out on the streets. As they got to the countryside, everyone relaxed a little, and looking back on the event that had just happened and possibly could have affected their future, together and apart. The trip was mostly silent, except for the princesses' snoring.
"Shang?" Mulan asked, as she broke the silence.
"Yes?" Shang responded quietly, almost at a whisper.
"I can take control for half the journey while you rest, if you'd like," Mulan told him, "I know you've been awake for a while, and falling many stories down doesn't exactly help you either."
"No, I'll be fine. Why is it okay, for you to help me but for me not to help you?" Shang asked.
"Because I do not want to be a burden to you, just ask the Matchmaker said, especially now that you are my husband." Mulan replied quietly.
"But that is what I am intended to do," Shang told her reassuringly, "You're not a burden, in fact, I'd like if you would just let me help you out every now and then. There are times when I am going to need you, and I do not want you to be afraid to ask for my help."
"You know that I love you," Mulan told him.
Shang laughed. "I think if you didn't, I wouldn't be married to you, nor holding you the way I am now."
"Just promise me, you and I won't ever keep secrets from each other."
"I promise," Shang whispered in her ear, but Mulan had fallen asleep already. "Oh I would do so much more than that."