Title: Reflection's half
Rating: T for now M later, much later
Pairing: Shan-Yu/Mulan though this is much, much later. Some Shang/Mulan(Ping) flirting, though nothing will come of it except Shang being confused and not understanding what he's going through.
Summary: Mulan is unsure what her path is; she knows she isn't wife material and can't bring honor to her family that way, but...what is her calling? Maybe she'll find out when she takes her father's place as a warrior of China to fight off the Huns.
Chapter 1: Bring Honor to Us All
She stared at the darkness of her was early, really early. The moon wasn't even close to hitting the opposite horizon that matched the one it rose from. Mulan sighed and sat up on her bed, knowing that she would never be able to sleep more than she had already, she was too nervous to. Today, when the sun was risen, she'd go to town and get ready for, she sighed again at this thought, the judgement of the matchmaker. The youngest of the Fa family didn't believe she was ready for this, ready to be matched off to be married. She was still young! Mulan knew she was rebellious, wild and free spirited instead of well behaved, docile wife material.
'I hope I just don't mess up too badly'' Mulan thought as she brought out some writing utensils and ink making set so she could make some notes that she wouldn't forget things she had been taught, thank the ancestors for scrolls that had things from the teachings her mother taught her. She dipped the brush in the headmade ink and then swirled it to gather up the ink while she reread the scroll.
"Respectful to your husband and honorable as a woman to your family" she murmured and sighed a little at that, at husband.
"I'm not sure about this" she said before using her left arm as a note scroll. She read a few lines and skipped them before going on to find the "important" parts of the scroll. barely noticing her mother coming in and giving her, her morning rice. The smell of it caught Mulan's attention a little bit later after it cooled and she looked up, flushing a little as her stomach growled at the sight of it. Reaching out, Mulan took the rice and chopsticks that her mother gave her before she and Grandma Fa went to the city to save her spot for the dressing proportion of the matchmaking. Going back to the scroll, Mulan smiled a little as she read it, mimicking her mother, Li, from what she remembered.
"A honorable wife must be" she paused as she started playing with her rice, taking a bite before messing with a single grain, "Quiet and demure ... graceful, polite, delicate, refined, poised ..." she smirked as she balanced it. Her eyes lit up as the teachings caught up to her, even if she wasn't ready for this she didn't want to dishonor her family.
"Punctual!" she said with a smile while marking her arm, which had several notes that she had gathered throughout the morning. Her narrowed, dark eyes widened as she gasped when the family rooster crowed to announce the time.
'I'm going to be late!' she thought, "Aaaiiieee" she said to herself while blowing on her arm and calling out for her dog.
"Little Brother! Little Brother!" she called, blowing on her arm some more, "Little-" she paused and sighed in relief when she saw the pup laying in his respected spot.
"Ah! There you are!" she said, cooing sweetly at the pup as he woke up and began his barking and tail wagging at the attention. Mulan moved over to the storage for the chicken feed and started to pull out a bag of grain.
"Who's the smartest doggy in the world?" she cooed again, "C'mon, smart boy! Can you help me with my chores today?" she asked him as he yipped at her. Mulan tossed the bag behind Little Brother and tied it to the leather they used as a collar for when he needed to be harnessed in public. She didn't pause as she thought about making Little Brother move quickly and added an attachment of a hanging bone above the pup, getting him to growl and start chasing it despite the bone just being above his head. Mulan watched him run into the wall and out the door before quickly hurrying into her room and changing to some daily clothes and getting her father's tea.
Chicken feed was scattered all over the grounds from where Little Brother ran and Mulan giggled lightly as she caught sight of him sitting by the ancestor temple, trying to get the bone. She took pity on him and stopped from her destination to her father, who was no doubt praying for help and luck...for her, and pushed the bone down to Little Brother so he could enjoy it.
"Father, I brought you some - Whoop!" she exclaimed when she bumped into her father, Zhou, and let the tea cups clatter to the floor, luckily Zhou caught the teapot, she didn't want to fetch another and boil more tea, she was behind as it was.
"Mulan..." Zhou sighed at his daughter, his only, precious child.
"I brought a spare!" she said cheerfully, inwardly glad that she did.
"Mulan..." Zhou tried to get Mulan's attention, knowing that she was almost out of time to get to town.
"Remember the doctor said three cups of tea in the morning" she recited the doctor's orders for Zhou's injuries that never healed from the war he already served and for his aging body. She ignored her father's attempts to get her attention, she knew what he was going to say, in favor of pouring the tea that hung from her father's cane.
"And three at night" she smiled softly at him as she handed Zhou the cup.
"Mulan. You should already be in town" he said, a little flustered that Mulan was still at home when today was important for every young woman in Mulan's age group, "We're counting on you..." he started to recite an old message he knew that Mulan had to know by heart as he recited it so much throughout her life.
"To uphold the family honor" Mulan finished for him, inwardly sighing, more pressure and weight on her shoulders, joy, "Don't worry, Father. I won't let you down" she promised while tugging her sleeve over her note covered arm, knowing that if she didn't...she'd be nothing more than a waste in the Fa lineage.
"Wish me luck" she said as she turned to head to Khan, the family's young stallion.
"Hurry!" Zhou called to her, knowing that she heard when she waved back to him before hopping onto Khan's back, the stallion had been waiting for her in his stall and was ready to get Mulan to where she needed to go. He, like all the other animals that had a sort of...bond...with Mulan didn't want her to fail, she was precious and had so much promise in her. He ran outside the Fa family grounds and down the road to town, running on thin wires of time that was borrowed. They hurried through the fields outside of the community outside the town, Khan snatched a small bit of wheat as he passed and whinnied happily when Mulan chuckled at him.
When they arrived in town, they saw the most peculiar sight, though it wasn't that peculiar when Mulan and Khan heard, "This cricket's a lucky one!" from the wreckage that they came upon at the predetermined meet point for today.
'Grandma, you never fail to surprise me'' Mulan thought as she and Khan arrived to Li, her mother. She stopped Khan and jumped off him, landing and spreading her arms up in a sort of victory and announcement style.
"I'm here!" she said happily, closing her eyes before opening them and frowning in defeat at the look on Li's face.
"What?" she asked her. Li looked at her daughter's hair that had bits of wheat, was wind whipped and tousled by the short journey from home to here.
"But, Mama, I had to-" Mulan tried to explain to her mother, only to get cut off and dragged inside.
"None of your excuses. Now let's get you cleaned up" Li told her, sort of scolding her for being almost late.
'She's problematic at times, but she does try her hardest' Li told herself as Mulan was stripped and practically thrown into the bath by Jun*, smirking at the small justice that came from Mulan shaking at the cold temperature of the water.
"It's fr-eezing!" she exclaimed.
"It would have been warm if you were here on time" she told her, feeling a tiny amount of glee fill her at the defeated pout on her daughter's face. Fen* and Min*, Jun's assistants, waited nearby for when Jun needed their help, mostly for when Jun needed to get Mulan's hair done. Jun poured body and hair oils that would make Mulan's body clean and smell nice over Li's daughter and cleaned her. Jun scrubbed at Mulan's head, mixing the oils into a sudsy substance before flicking the rest of it off before pouring some water over Mulan's head to wash most of it out. Li, having grabbed a scrubbing brush, set to help Jun out, but frowned as she flipped the arm she was at over and saw some inks that were started to smudge from the water.
'Don't tell me' Li thought to herself before getting Mulan's attention, "Mulan, what's this?" she asked.
"Ah. Notes" the youngest Fa said softly, "In case I forget something." Li wasn't impressed as Jun continued her cleaning of Mulan.
"Hold this" Grandma Fa stated, pushing the caged cricket into Li's grasp, "We're going to need more luck that I thought" the elderly woman then left with a goal set in mind.
'I shouldn't even begin to wonder what she's going to go after' Li thought to herself, simply ignoring the retreating figure of her mother-in-law as she held the cricket and watched as Mulan was dried. Fen and Min grabbed Mulan right after she was put into a temporary robe and had her hair pulled up and tied before they sent off to Huan-yue's* dress shop for fitting. She was glad that these women were her friends and owed her favors, otherwise the Fa family would be down some coins to prepare Mulan for the matchmaker.
"I pray for luck to be bestowed upon your family, Li" Jun whispered as she began to go to Huan-yue. The middle-aged woman nodded, knowing that her family would need it, Mulan may be a beautiful and graceful girl, but she was very rebellious and wild, only Zhou could calm her wild spirit with his presence. Li put the thought out of her mind as she went to Huan-yue's shop and saw that Huan-yue and her daughter, Niu*, were slipping a beautiful gown onto Mulan, tying it around her waist, leaving her with a shortness of breath from the sudden shrinkage, to emphasize that she had good childbearing hips that would give any man several children, especially sons.
Mulan looked ready to just give up and stop, but a look from her mother when she was pulled from Huan-yue's shop over to Xin's* little store to help with Mulan's makeup, made her stop and continue on. The young Fa followed her mother and watched as two little boys did a mock battle with wooden swords and frowned when they stole a doll from a little girl. She grabbed the doll from the boys as they passed her and handed it back to the girl, who smiled and hugged the doll that was obviously precious to her before she was dragged to the next place.
Xin sat Mulan down and started painting her face white, a sign of pureness, adding dark black for shades and emphasis on her eyes, then a light blush to add color on her cheeks, blend with the small amounts of blue of her dress and offset the golden earrings. Red lip-paint was the last bit to pull it all together and show the fiery passion she had as a lover, a woman and a hopefully soon-to-be wife. Mulan frowned at the small mirror that Xin held to show her the hard work to paint her up and decided to rebel just a small bit and pull a little bit of her hair out of the strand and let it slid to hover over her left eye, curving upward a little, her mother ignored it since it made Mulan happy and didn't mess up anything important.
Her mother unwrapped a family pendant hairpiece from the cloth she had it in and slipped in next to her hair bun. Li smiled at her daughter happily, she looked like a bride, hopefully she would impress Tai*, the matchmaker.
"There" she whispered, "You're ready" Li smiled at Mulan, who returned it with a little nervousness.
"Not yet!" Grandma Fa returned from her exploits, victorious with the amount of "luck" she bought from around town, "An apple for serenity" Grandma Fa muttered while shoving an apple into Mulan's mouth, who was grateful to have a bit more food in her stomach since she didn't get much rice before she had to leave from her note gathering.
"A pendant for balance" she slipped the pendant into the slip around Mulan's waist, the older woman didn't think that Mulan needed so much emphasis on her hips rather than her overall look, but she couldn't voice her opinion, it was far too late for her to do so.
"Beads of jade for beauty" she smiled at her granddaughter, the only grandchild she had that tried so hard to bring honor to the family and make everyone proud, who often ended up hurt, humiliated and upset with herself when things went bad, much like she had been when she was younger, but Mulan was more free in spirit than she had been and far more bright and beautiful as well.
'A nature's naturally beautiful spirit' she thought sweetly as she continued to deck Mulan out with nic-nacs to help her.
"You must proudly show it" she said to Mulan, who's smile lit up her face as she relaxed some around her grandmother as the elderly woman went around and grabbed the cricket in the small cage.
"Now, add a cricket, just for luck" she slipped it into the waist slip and smacked Mulan's bum to get her going and to give her courage in her relax and playful nature she now had, "and even you can't blow it" Grandma Fa said before Mulan stood up and started to go down to join the other girls.
'Ancestors, hear my plea, help me not to make a fool of me and not to uproot my family tree, keep my Father standing tall' she sent the small prayer to the ancestors that hadn't been in her favor since she was very young, "MULAN!" the youngest Fa suddenly heard her mother's voice and turned to see her running towards her, carrying the umbrella she forgot.
'Shoot!' she thought as she grabbed it from her mother and started running through the streets after the other girls, quickly catching up to them. The girls, from what she saw, was far more beautiful, calm, elegant, docile and everything that Mulan was not. She felt a little depressed at the sight, she was plain looking in comparison, then started shaking herself from the thought and had determination in her eyes as they came up to Tai's settlement in the center of the city. Mulan wasn't sure what to do as her nerves came back, despite her fiery will, and watched as the other girls gracefully flipped the umbrellas out, copying them quickly, and kneeling down to cover themselves with the opening just as Tai opened the door to begin the major moment.
Li and Grandma Fa stood back and watched with the rest of the awaiting mothers and some single fathers as Tai pulled a portable writing plate from her voluptuous waist and a brush from behind her ear. Their hearts pounded in their chests for the same reason, Mulan was to be first since their name was far higher than the rest of the girls, and therefore didn't get a chance to settle her nerves more and ready herself.
"Fa, Mulan" the hefty woman called out and Mulan, bouncing on nerves and willful energy, jumped up and shouted, "Present" before she needed to.
"Speaking without permission" Tai said and Mulan mentally scolded herself while saying "Oops" aloud and folding her umbrella as she moved up towards Tai.
"Who spit in her bean curd?" Grandma Fa asked Li in good nature before the door closed.
'Ancestors...please help my daughter' Li and Zhou both prayed from where they were currently at and Grandma Fa prayed, 'Help her towards what she needs to do' as they began the long wait.
Me: Ah...hmmm...yeah it's been awhile hasn't it? Ehhhh hehe, well all I can say is that I've been busy with school and work and sort of had a dry spell of inspiration for my other stories sadly -pouts- so this one birthed itself to give you something to deal with until my lack of ideas ends, shouldn't be too much longer since I go on break within the next week and I think better that way without needing to remember so many things for my major right away. So...yeah I hope you forgive me for that dry spell and accept this, even if it is Het and not something I have messed with yet.
With the names, I hate characters not having names so I gave the women, matchmaker included, names to give you something to remember them by at least, even if they are minor.
Jun - Truthful
Fen - Fragrant
Min - Quick, Sensitive
Huan-yue - Happiness, joyful
Niu - Girl
Xin - New
Tai - Big