Author's Note: This is being written at about 2:30 in the morning. Dont fault me if it is illegible. I'll go back through and revise it later on if I get the chance.

****These mean time has passed.****

~These point out what a character is thinking~

------------------This changes the POV.

[Insert standard disclaimor here]

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Sunlight landed squarely on the slumbering form's face. With an unlady-like grunt, Mulan pulled the covers over her head. She was finally drifting into a pleasent snoozing state, when the chickens and other assorted wildlife outside decided to wake up. And let everyone know about it.

Shang, who had been taken in by the hospitality of Fa Zhou and his wife, was already awake. He had intended on staying at an inn or somesuch until his visit was over, but he was talked into staying in the Fa household for the next few days. His visit was going to be brief, only a few more days, and then he would ride back to the imperial city to take his place in the Chinese Army.With a barely stifled yawn, Shang tossed on a loose-fitting training robe and his grey pants and headed out to the garden for some fresh air. The birds were singing beautifully, and though he was loathe to admit it, he always did enjoy the sounds of pretty birdsong.

Little did the poor captain know, but his quietude was to be interrupted as a black shoe came flying out of a nearby window, sailing straight toward the tree where two songbirds sat twittering nonsensically. The birdnoise stopped abruptly as the shoe pegged Shang right in the side of the head.

Picking it up, the captain's eyes showed confusion as he looked at the room where the shoe had come from and saw Mulan's retreating form as it bounced back onto its pallet.

Shang rolled his eyes heavenward. Some things would never change, and Mulan was one of them. Never had she been a morning person, and, he suspected, she never would.

Ever being the gallant man, Shang decided to return the slipper to its owner... by the most expediant means necessary. Taking careful aim, the tall man sent the shoe speeding towards the sleeping form. Certain of his revenge, Shang made his way leisurely around the garden as though nothing happened.

Presently, Mulan wandered out with a yawn, still wearing her sleeping clothes (The ones you saw in the beginning of the movie, peoples!), and plopped down on the front steps of her house and began her morning ritual of tying the chicken feed to Little Brother and setting his off with a bone in front of his muzzle. Still yawning to the morning light, Mulan made her way to the garden where her comrade in arms sat, musing over the small pond.

"I dont see how you could ever be up so early, Captain. Especially after what occured the night at the emperor's palace." Mulan sat back and pulled her legs beneath her, crossing them as she had often done while sitting at the campfire with the other men in the army.

"Well... its just habit, I guess." Shang studied her out of the corner of his eye. He was still trying to wrap his mind around the fact that she was female. It was true, she was rather thin and lacking of the curvacious figure that most women aspired to have, and her face was more strong and determined than delicate and refined as a spun glass flower. It was odd, yes. He was still coming to grips that this woman had risen from being a common farm girl to the national heroine who hugged the emperor. He just shook his head.

Mulan noticed the movement and was about to ask about it, when she was interrupted by her grandmother. The loopy woman had an exaggeratedly downcast look on her face, but not all of that discomfort was feigned. "Mulan, your mother and father have some news for you. I think you should probably go inside and see what it is."

With a glance at Shang, Mulan followed her grandmother inside. Curiousity leading him, as well as the smells of breakfast in the house, the well built Chinese man wandered inside after them.

Outrage sounded from within the house.

"What?!" Her mouth dropped open at what her parents labored to make her understand.

Fa Li was trying to reason with her headstrong daughter. "Mulan, we cant stop it, and you KNOW that. Its a long tradition that cant be stopped. Your serving the Chinese Army has no affect on it!"

Mulan's eyes turned to her father, pleading. "Father, cant you tell them no? Cant you do SOMETHING? I dont want to have to go through... that... again!"

Fa Zhou shook his head resignedly. "I'm sorry, Mulan. We already tried taking it up with the town elders. There is no getting around it. You have to go see the MatchMaker tomorrow."

Unseen, behind Mulan's grandmother, was the expression on Shang's face. He was rather slackjawed and his mind swam with confusion.

Mulan, to be married off, only a few days after her homecoming?



****The next morning...****



Fa Zhou was at the temple once again, praying with all his might. This time, though, he was praying not for Mulan to bring honor to the family, but for the gods to extend their mercy over the man Mulan would be chosen to marry, should he be a moronic jerk. Mulan would surely not show him that mercy.

Fa Li was already in town with the other goodwives, setting up for Mulan's arrival and subsequent change from her ordinary self, into the painted faced woman she would become. Mulan herself was riding to town, accompanied by a harrassed Shang as she vented at the unfairness of it all. Her, to be married off as though she were of no consequence? Surely, those idiots in the village would grant her that she was able to care for herself. She did not need a man, not now, not ever! Besides, what man would want to tryst with the woman warrior? None, that she knew of.

Shang, on the other hand, had mixed feelings. Sure, he was still coming to terms with the face that she was female, but on the other hand, it didnt mean he wasnt aware of it. Being a military cadet from his youth, he was taught only the arts of war, nothing else. The young man felt odd as misunderstood waves of emotion washed over him through the short ride to the town proper. He tried to identify these swirls of emotion as he was also trying to pay attention to what Mulan was saying to him. The only emotion he could clearly distinguish was this: A sense of unfairness. It wasnt fair.

"...And its just not fair!" Mulan looked at him expectantly.

"Oh, uhh.. yeah. I know." He rubbed his temple. Mulan sure had a temper when she felt a huge injustice was being done.

They reached the building where Mulan would be presented to her mother and the goodwives to be made up as a bride, and Shang handed the girl off to the flock of makeup artists and servingwomen.

Then he settle down to wait, and as he did, her looked around at the wares the hawkers were trying to sell in the heat of the morning sun.

"A pendant of silver, sir! A man such as yourself should have a sweetheart who would love such a gift!" Shang raised a brow and continued on.

"Spices! Spices of all kinds! Make your tea sweeter, your food richer! Spices for all!"

"Leatherworks! Replacing armor, horse tack, and waterskins! Saddlebags and helms! None better!"

Shang passed by a small man who was oddly quiet. As a hawker, he should have been yelling his wares like the others around him, but he merely sat silent, a serene expression on his face. Shang stopped before him. "What do you have for sale, good sir?"

The man indicated with his hands that he was a mute. Then, with an unnatural glint in his eye, he held up a small wooden figure. Upon closer inspection, Shang realized it was a small whittled carving of a rider atop a rearing horse, sword held above its head. The rider, also bore a tiny but exquisitely painted flag that rose from its saddle. The eyes of the horse and rider were tiny chips of black onyx. With a smile, the man pressed the figurine into Shang's hands. Looking at the man incredulously, he reached into his beltpurse, but the man stayed his hand. With another strange grin, the mute bowed his head to Shang.

A commontion down at the end of the lane caught Shangs attention, and he looked away, standing straight. When Shang glanced back, no trace of the mute, nor his stall, was anywhere to be found.

Shang shivered and made his way to where be knew Mulan to be in the center of the commotion.

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Mulan muttered, ignoring her mother's please to walk ladylike and refined, beginning to storm her way to the door of the matchmaker's house. Gods, she only wanted to get this overwith.

Shang thrust his arm out and caught Mulan across the shoulders, causing her to stop abruptly. "Soldier, is that any way to do your duty?" His eyes were highly amused, for some reason. "Do not intentionally dishonor your family, Mulan. I know you dont want your current situation to follow you through your life beyond."

Mulan looked at him bitterly. "Little do you know, sir, it will. I will be married off like a prized cow or mare, and only if I am lucky. Who would want to marry the woman who is a man, anyway?" With tears of injustice welling in her eyes, Mulan pushed past him and stalked to her place at the line of other girls.

What Mulan didnt notice is that Shang stood with weak knees at the sight of her in her ceremonial wear. ~Gods~, he thought, ~she looks like a bride!~

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So... yeah. My first Disney/Mulan fic. Any comments? Questions? Flames? I have my flame retardant Mushu doll here, just to give y'all advanced warning!