Author's Note: Phew! First fanfic in a long time… I do not own anything here! All characters, names, places, and such are part of Disney Co. property. I also would like to admit that I am not Chinese so my knowledge on the culture is pretty limited, although I have read some books that give a nice basis on it. I'm also not an expert on pregnancy, so I can't exactly be accounted for knowing exactly how the symptoms start. Just bear with me here!
Parry. Parry. Stab. Jump. Kick. Pound. Punch. And continue. Her movements were swift and strong, yet well-planned and developed. The technique she'd learned gradually had gained skill over the year in service to the emperor. Her mind was as agile as the muscles under her fair skin, and could control them with an almost ease while fighting. But, nevertheless, a warrior needs constant practice. "Hooah!" Mulan cried, finishing her invisible enemy off with a stab of the wooden staff in her possession.
Standing up from the pose and breathing slowly, she tried to shake off the adrenaline. A breeze blew through the field, making her tunic and the surrounding grass move in green waves. This place had been Mulan's chosen spot since she came to live with Shang's family shortly after their marriage six months ago. The Li family's home was a beautiful piece of land, and much larger than her parents' due to their higher class. Snow white walls surrounded the gardens, and held a tranquil pond fed by a small stream. Many trees filled with spring blossoms perfumed the air, and shed their petals with each passing of the western wind.
But today this calmness did not help. For some strange reason, Mulan felt more on edge than ever once the routine was finished. She doubled over, breathing in more air to satisfy her aching body. Sweat ran profusely down her neck and back, bothering her nerves. What is wrong with me? Mulan asked. Have I practiced too little? It was true that her life as a married woman, constantly serving her in-laws, had gotten in the way of training, but not too tried focusing on her moves again. But, slowly, her mind started to slip away from control. Parry. Turn. Duck. Thrust. Parry…Stab…Throw stick down.
Mulan made her way back to the house exhausted and tense. Everything began to bother her. Why did the sun have to be so hot? Why was there a stone in the path? Where did that fly come from? Cri-kee, now her unofficial guardian in Mushu's absence, came out to greet her from a nearby flowerbed. His face fell when the woman didn't even turn his way. In a desperate attempt to understand, Mulan decided she was simply angry with herself for giving up so easily on training. She slid open the door and walked into her husband's home, already understanding that her excuse was not going to last.
"Mulan, could you please pour me some more tea?" It was the seventh time the request was made. But, even so, Mulan tilted the kettle just enough to once again fill her mother-in-law's cup. She remembered how the matchmaker back home didn't even drink this much tea. How did the woman stay so thin? Smoothly hiding her annoyance, the younger woman returned to her tending of the hearth. If there was one thing the army had taught her, it was discipline and servitude, even while constantly repeating chores that she'd done for years at home. Shang's mother, Li Yun, was very kind, and respected Mulan and her esteem in the emperor's eyes, but still had to act like a mother-in-law. "The fire should be a little larger dear," she called over from the table. Mulan bit her lip, silencing any backtalk, brushed off any remaining ashes from her dress, and collected more firewood.
The sun had set, and Shang was still not yet home. Being promoted to general had awarded him with much more responsibility, and thus kept him from his wife on certain days more than others. Mulan would go with him when needed, but summons for her had grown less and less. When he finally did come back, a full moon lay overhead. Shang set his horse next to Khan in the stables and went to the house, eager to see Mulan. She was his whole heart, and lit up his world like fireflies on a summer night. The day they were married was the day he found something much more meaningful to fight for than honor: love.
(cheesy, I know. But this is Disney!)
He found her already in their room, sitting by the open window with her eyes to the moon. It was strange for her not even to get up to welcome him home, but the man could cope. Shang began to remove his armor, but found it more difficult than usual. "Mulan?" he asked. "Could you help me with this?"
"Do it yourself" was her blunt reply, not even turning towards him.
She's just teasing, Shang figured. "You know, I would," he began playfully, "but I just can't reach this certain clip just above my-"
"You heard me!" she snapped.
Now Shang was taken aback. Mulan was the most caring soul in the world. Even when they were in the army, they'd helped each other with this sort of thing. "Mulan?" he spoke softly.
Swiftly, she got up from her seat, stomped over to him, and began to undo his armor without giving him a chance to speak. "You know, I'm just not sure how much more I can take of this! I work all day for your mother, who drinks as much tea as an ox, and try to keep up with my skills as a warrior and a wife. Do you realize how overwhelming that is? Of course not! You're gone half the time! Does the emperor know I even exist anymore?"
There passed a brief moment of silence. Mulan began to place each piece of his armor on a shelf nearby, her back to him. "What's wrong, Mulan?" Shang finally asked.
Taking a sigh, she turned and answered weakly, "I don't know."