Categories > Movies > Mulan > The Betrothed

Chapter 8

by lightbird 0 Reviews

[AU] Mulan returned home after the war, her secret undiscovered, now preparing to marry the man that she was betrothed to as a child, who turns out to be Shang. Things get complicated when they're ...

Category: Mulan - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Action/Adventure, Drama, Romance - Characters:  - Warnings: [?] - Published: 2006/08/06 - Updated: 2006/08/07 - 1882 words

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Chapter 8

Mulan stormed into her tent and began to kick her blankets, wishing she were kicking Chi Fu's head. She had finally been mustering up the courage to tell Shang the truth and the idiot councilman had to come along right at that moment. The captain had only been with her for a few minutes. Where the hell was Chi Fu looking for him before that, that it took him until that minute to find him in the forest? And how did he even know to come down to the lake?

She paced back and forth impatiently, stopping every once in awhile at the opening of her tent to peer toward Shang's tent. It was illuminated by the lantern light and every time she looked, she could still see the two silhouettes inside.

She finally gave up on ever being able to speak to Shang that night and sank down onto her bedroll with a sigh.

"Lieutenant Hua?"

The soft voice came from outside of her tent opening about a half hour after she had lain down on her bed, tossing and turning, unable to sleep.

"Huang?" she whispered, sitting up. "Come in."

Huang came into the tent quietly and crouched down on the ground beside her.

"We have a problem," she whispered. "Chi Fu said that one of the men told him he saw a woman in the camp."

Mulan stared at her. "How did you find that out?"

"I heard him telling Captain Li. I was outside of the captain's tent."

Mulan shook her head. Huang had a bad habit of eavesdropping. It would get her into trouble one day.

"I thought maybe Chi Fu had news about my sister," she added.

"Did he?"

She shook her head.

"Did he say which man told him?"

"No, and he didn't say who he suspected was a woman either."

Mulan cursed under her breath and resolved to go and wring Jun-Li's neck as soon as Huang left her tent.

"What did the captain say?"

"He was quiet most of the time. But he asked Chi Fu if he was sure that the man wasn't imagining it. Since we're miles away from any village, he couldn't fathom how a woman could have wandered into the army camp. Now Chi Fu wants the medic to examine us all."

"Did the captain agree to it?"

"First he laughed at him, then he decided to humor him I guess, and told him he could ask the medic to do routine examinations of all the men."

"Dammit." Mulan sighed and began to drum her fingers silently on her bedroll, trying to think of what to do. "You had said that the law was lifted."

"Yes. You would not have to worry about execution if you were revealed. You would not be dishonored either. My father holds you in the highest regard."

"Still. We can't be found out. I want to complete my duty here without being revealed; I'm supposed to go home and get married after this. That won't happen if I'm found out. And you want to keep your identity a secret. If you are revealed to be a woman, you will also have to reveal your true identity."

"We can run away. You are a rider, Lieutenant, and so am I. We both have our horses here. We can leave before they know we're gone, and go on our own and look for my sister."

Mulan shook her head. "As much as I am tempted, I can't do that. I have too much respect for my captain and he would see that as an act of cowardice and dishonor. I don't want him to think that way of me. I must face this bravely, no matter what happens."

Huang smiled. "You like him."

Mulan hesitated for a moment. Huang had revealed her true identity to her and had placed trust in her that she would keep that secret. She decided to trust her; she wanted to tell someone about her predicament.

"He is my fiancé."

"Really?" Huang half-squealed, forgetting to whisper in her excitement.

"Yes. I was betrothed to him as a baby. When I came to fight the first time, he was my commanding officer. I didn't know then that he was the one I was betrothed to. After I got home, I went to see the matchmaker and the betrothal was finalized. I was brought to meet my fiancé and it turned out to be my former captain."

"That is so romantic!"

Mulan sighed. "Both he and I got summoned back here and the wedding was postponed until after the mission ended. But if the medic reveals me, the wedding will be postponed forever."

"He doesn't know it's you."

"I was about to tell him when we were down by the lake, I had finally mustered up the nerve to do it, and then that councilman came looking for him before I could."

"Are you sure he didn't recognize you?"

Mulan shook her head. "At least I don't think so. I told him that Mulan was my twin sister. Well, Rou-ping's twin sister."

They were both silent for several minutes. Then Mulan sighed.

"If we're lucky, we'll get an order to move out before the medic gets to do the exams."

"I don't know how we're going to get out of this."

"Well, I have to tell the captain about me. I will do everything possible to protect your secret, as you have asked of me. Maybe we can figure out a way to convince the medic that he's already seen you. He has a lot of men to examine; he can't possibly remember every single one, can he?"

Huang didn't answer right away. Then she spoke up suddenly.

"Wait, do you know who he is?"

"The medic? No. Why?"

"There's a chance he may be from the Imperial City. If that's the case, I probably know him. He'll recognize me probably, but that may not be a bad thing. I can let him know that I'm here with the knowledge and consent of the Emperor. He can write to the Emperor on his own to confirm that. And I can convince him that my identity and presence here must remain a secret."

"I'll see what I can find out about the medic tomorrow morning."

"If the medic is someone I know, maybe I can make sure that he keeps quiet about you, too."

Mulan nodded. "Thank you. Let's hope he is someone you know. When the captain finds out about me, I want it to be from me. I just have to decide the right moment to tell him."

"If he cares for you, he won't stay angry at you."

"It's a little more complicated, though. He cares for the person he thinks is Hua Rou-ping. He hardly knows Hua Mulan."

xxxxxxx

Mulan crept out of her tent after Huang left and stole across the dark camp quietly to Jun-Li's tent. She was dressed and she had her sword with her, sheathed and tied to her waist.

"Jun-Li," she whispered, crouching outside the front of the tent.

Several moments later he pushed the flap of his tent up and poked his head out.

"Mulan?" he whispered, looking genuinely puzzled.

"You've really gone and done it now, Jun-Li," she hissed angrily.

"What are you talking about?"

"You know exactly what I'm talking about. Chi Fu."

"I swear, I don't know what you're talking about. Look, hang on. I'm just going to get dressed. Then we can get away from camp and talk. Okay?"

"Okay. But just to warn you, Jun-Li. I have my sword with me. I will kill you if you try anything."

He chuckled. "You're too mean a fighter. I wouldn't mess with you anymore."

She frowned suspiciously at him. He laughed again and disappeared inside his tent. Several minutes later he emerged, dressed.

They walked into the forest and sat down on the rock that jutted out over the lake, where she had spoken to Huang earlier.

"So, what were you talking about?"

"Chi Fu told the captain that one of the men told him they saw a woman in the camp. I can only assume that it was you."

"He said it was me?"

"No. But you're the one who knows, and you were making trouble for me. But remember, whatever happens I still won't marry you. I won't be marrying anyone."

"Mulan, I swear I didn't tell him anything. I hinted to him once, nothing specific, because I was planning...but I didn't, Mulan. After we talked that night, I stopped. I never said another word to Chi Fu."

Mulan looked at him, her eyes narrowed.

"I swear on my ancestors twelve generations back, Mulan. I never said a word. It was someone else that did this."

She raised an eyebrow at that, then nodded.

"Okay. But woe to your ancestors if you're lying after an oath like that."

"I'm not. And now I think you owe me an apology for accusing me."

"You can't blame me, Jun-Li."

"No, but still," he pouted.

"Oh, cut it out."

She stood up.

"If I find out that you..."

"I didn't. I already swore a serious oath."

"Do you know who may have done this?"

"No."

"What about your pal that you were with when you came over to me in the mess tent on the first day of camp? Chen Chang."

Jun-Li scratched his head, looking puzzled. "I don't know why he would say anything to Chi Fu."

"Maybe you put him up to it."

"I didn't. I swear. But if I hear anything..."

"You'll stay out of it."

"But, maybe I can help..."

"Stay out of it, Jun-Li, I mean it. I don't trust you as far as I can throw you anymore, and if you hadn't sworn on your ancestors twelve generations back I would be sure that you were lying. And just in case you or your father want to make trouble for me, I will tell you this. My father has already gone to speak to the Emperor, and the Emperor knows I'm here. Any leverage you think you may have had, you don't."

Jun-Li's eyes went wide. "Your father went to the Emperor and told him about you?"

"Yes. My father was one of his best generals and is still in high favor with him. At least as much as your father."

"I won't make trouble for you, Mulan. I promised before and I'm promising again."

She looked at him, an eyebrow raised.

"Where did you learn to raise one eyebrow like that, Mulan? The captain?"

Mulan was taken aback for a moment.

"I guess," she answered, somewhat flustered. "I've been under his command for awhile now. I didn't even realize I was doing it."

She changed the subject quickly.

"So, you're promising me again?"

"Yes. I promise."

He stood up and they walked back to camp together, bidding each other goodnight as they parted ways.

Mulan threw a glance toward Shang's tent as she passed it on her way to her own. Sometimes he had trouble sleeping and would have the lantern lit at this time. She might have gone in to talk to him then.

But tonight, of course, the tent remained dark.
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