Disclaimer: Don't own!

A/N: This is based on the movie from 1998, and completely disregards the sequel (because I hated it). Enjoy the reading!

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Simple Expectations

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She never imagined her life would be reduced to this – or rather, she used to imagine it before she went to war. The day she decided to go against her upbringing and centuries of traditions and expectations, she thought she would join the thousands of corpses on the battlefield; and when the Emperor himself praised her, she thought Li Shang might…

But Li Shang – General Li now – is an only son and she is an only daughter, and they both have a duty to continue their line. And she had forgotten, when she went to battle, that one must honour one's family before all to be able to show devotion to the Emperor of China. And Mulan had forgotten, had risked ending her family line, had left her ancestors to become errant ghosts if their line was extinguished.

The matchmaker refuses to see Mulan again but manages to find a second son to take the honourable name of Fa upon marrying her. He comes from a rich family and has been spoiled, but he allows Mulan to play chess against him (she has to lose regularly to avoid displeasing him) and to read his scrolls. He even explains sometimes, with his weak mouth and too soft hands, what some characters mean.

He only rarely visits her bed and never takes a concubine, and she feels that perhaps her husband would have been happier marrying Fa Ping rather than Fa Mulan. It is a strange stray thought and she soon puts it out of her head.

She bears him a son and thinks that her life could have been much worse.

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Some years later, Mulan is watching her children doing writing exercises when Ling and another soldier enter the house, escorted by a servant. He doesn't recognize her, doesn't even glace in her direction – it would be highly improper. She sits next to her youngest son, guiding his brush, and Ling gives to her husband a scroll enlisting him to war.

Later that night, she looks at the Emperor's medal and thinks of her three children, and goes back to her room – she has done her duty, even more than was expected of her, and her children are still young. And her husband is a man, with no other defaults than his weak character and his too soft hands, and he will learn to obey a commanding officer and to fight like a soldier of the Chinese empire.

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Her husband never comes back.