It’s an odd sort of world that puts the two of them together – Aurora all beautiful, innocent and made-up; Mulan so plain, hardened and natural – but the world is odd and they are rooming together.
Fast forward one day and they are already arguing – in muted tones, because Aurora is a lady and Mulan is quiet. Aurora rolls her eyes and slams the door, and doesn’t come back.
Fast forward two weeks and Mulan walks into the hospital and straight to Aurora’s room, where she knocks twice and waits for a soft ‘come in’. She walks in, and Aurora is lying on the bed, smiling at her apologetically. One explanation and several sighs later and Mulan looks into her eyes and forbids her from ever disappearing again.
Fast forward three months, and Mulan is sitting in front of a mirror with a phone in one hand, a pair of scissors in the other and tear-tracks on her cheeks. Aurora walks in and stands behind her, puts her hand on her shoulders and says in a warm tone ‘It’s okay. I’ll cut it now and we’ll go to the campus hairdressers tomorrow and get it fixed up. It’s okay.’
Fast forward two weeks and Mulan is curled around Aurora on a bed that is too small for them, holding her close and comforting her quietly. ‘I’m done with boys after this,’ Aurora says, ‘and I’m done with all of them. I thought he loved me – he saved me, didn’t he? I thought-’ and Mulan shushes her and sings her to sleep.
Fast forward one night and Aurora wakes from another nightmare to find Mulan wide awake and watching her carefully, slipping out of bed and padding across the floor to sit beside her, and when Aurora nods she slips into the bed, lies beside her and hums against her back.
Fast forward two months and they’ve both made mistakes. Aurora’s broken up with and taken back her boyfriend several times and is now nursing a broken heart and a lot of stress; Mulan is separated from her family with no home in the holidays and outcast from her peers because of a single night when everything went wrong. They sit together holed up in their room, growing restless and snappy, their quiet peace and mutual comfort shattered.
Fast forward one month, and Aurora drags Mulan to a party she’s been invited to. Aurora’s gorgeous – hair curling, neckline low, lips red and heels high – and Mulan feels made up like a doll – Aurora insisted on helping her with makeup and choosing her clothes, but even dressed not much differently from her normal attire she feels like she’s being displayed, for show. The party is boring, Aurora barely talks to anyone and Mulan makes out with a girl she’s seen once around campus before the girl finds her boyfriend and Mulan starts heading towards the door.
Aurora catches her arm before she can leave, and at her questioning look Mulan inclines her head towards the girl, currently dancing with her boyfriend, and leans up to whisper in Aurora’s ear ‘I’m never gonna fit in in places like this – I’m just a prop, something for them to occupy their time with. I’m leaving now before it gets worse’ and Aurora leaves with her.
Fast forward two hours and they are both more than a little drunk, laughing at anything and everything and tickled by the soft breeze that indicates that summer’s on its way. They are in the hallway and Aurora is struggling to open up their door and Mulan is leaning against the wall, watching her and smiling, pushing her aside to get the key to work before they stumble in, leaning against each other and giggling under their breath.
Mulan closes the door and Aurora leans against her, pushing her back against the wood and smiling down at her, jubilant with the extra height her heels give her. She leans down to kiss her, smiling when Mulan wraps one arm around her neck and gasping when the other slides down her back, finding the expanse of skin beneath the slits of her dress and drawing her closer, breathing deep.
They break apart and without thinking, Mulan pushes them towards her bed and down onto it, leaning over her and pressing kiss after kiss down her neck, leaning back to catch her breath and finding a thought that had scattered before.
‘I thought you weren’t – I mean, you always talked about him and before-‘
‘I don’t know, Mulan, I don’t know – maybe it’s you? Maybe I’ll have my BFGF in the morning or maybe tomorrow or maybe never, Mulan I don’t care, just get down here’.
Fast forward three months and they are both packed, ready to go away for summer and meet again soon, sun-kissed and smiling. For now, it is the morning before they have to leave and Mulan, who always wakes early, is looking down at Aurora and smiling. The next day they’ll go back to their lives and Aurora will be her parents’ princess, Mulan her parents’ disappointment. For now, they are each other’s girlfriend and Mulan is kissing Aurora awake.