Title: Do You Trust Me?
Fandom: Once Upon a Time
Pairing: Mulan/Aurora (Sleeping Warrior)
Summary: Ever wonder what Mulan and Aurora got up to when Lancelot sent them to get food? Set during 2x03, "Lady of the Lake." One shot. Mulan/Aurora (Sleeping Warrior), light mentions of Phillip/Aurora. Rated T for Aurora's slight potty mouth and comically romantic musings.
Author's Note: This is dedicated to my ex-girlfriend, who's a huge Sleeping Warrior fan. I haven't had much time to delve into this particular ship much (I'm more of a Swan Queen fan, who dabbles in other pairings), so there might be slight OOC. I also blame that on not nearly enough air time for Mulan or Aurora. We haven't really gotten to see enough of their characters to get a real feel for them – how they act, how they feel, how they would react in certain situations. Aurora seems like she was pretty sheltered as a princess, and well, I can see her inner monologue being a little spaz because of her inexperience. I see Mulan being a bit more of a rogue than the average prince. She's definitely honor bound as a warrior, but she doesn't seem the type to run right up to a dragon and gallantly swing her sword at it because that's what princes/warriors are supposed to do. So I did take some liberties with both characters. I'd love to hear your thoughts on it.
Two figures picked their way carefully through the darkened wood. Or rather, one moved decisively and quite a bit more stealthily, while the other trudged along behind seemingly stomping on every twig and dried leaf in the kingdom. At least that's the way it sounded to Mulan.
The forests weren't safe anymore since the reappearance of the ogres. Not that the forests were safe to begin with, but ever since the curse had stripped the world of its saviors, there were a lot of people that needed protection. In a day, the land had been divested of safety and it was hard for some to adjust. Mulan knew that. She knew Aurora was a princess – a spoiled, pampered priss of a woman that never had to want for anything – but even the children of her village could move quieter than Aurora. Granted, she wasn't exactly dressed for a trek in the woods, but did Aurora think the ogres were going to stop and ask about her feelings before they munched on her pretty princess bones? At this rate, they were probably being hunted by at least three of the monsters.
Mulan would fight off every single threat though. She had promised Phillip… though if she was truthful with herself, she would protect Aurora anyway. The woman was frustrating beyond belief, but in their short travels, Mulan had seen a spark in her eyes that she could relate to. She was stubborn to the point that Mulan wondered if Aurora would argue just for the sake of arguing, but that willfulness also spoke of a hidden strength. The princess was obviously not a warrior, couldn't fend for herself if her life depended on it and her whole world had been drastically changed overnight. She had lost her home, her family and her prince, but surprisingly she marched on. She followed Mulan with a trustiness that made the fighter uneasy, even when she had been expressly told to stay back at the safe village the survivors had built. Irritation boiled over the newfound pity for the princess. How was she supposed to protect Aurora when the woman wouldn't even do as she was told?
SNAP! SNAP! SNAP!
"Will you be quiet?!" Mulan hissed at the dark form behind her. There was no moon out, so Mulan was relying mostly on hearing to hunt their prey, just like the ogres were probably hunting them. Not that they'd ever had full bellies with Aurora scaring off every animal for leagues.
She briefly wondered what Lancelot would do if they returned to Snow's castle empty handed. He seemed to be an even tempered, decent man, but they hadn't known each other for very long. As a warrior, he had proven his skill and Mulan wouldn't mind him at her back. Still… there was something lurking I the back of her mind; something that she couldn't put words to. Nevertheless, she had been sent to find food and find food was what she would do. She shot a glance to Aurora. Maybe.
"Look, I'm sorry! This dress is too long. It, and I, were made for gliding through ballrooms and sitting regally on a throne," the princess said wistfully before her tone darkened, "not trudging through the mud."
Mulan stopped walking and threw her hands up, spinning on heel to look at her companion. She couldn't make out much of Aurora's form in the dark, but she could tell her face was scrunched up in disgust for their current surroundings. It might be better to make her stay here and go on alone, Mulan mused. That wasn't really an option though and the warrior knew it. Aurora kept a dagger, but that wasn't much defense against the things in this forest.
"Pick it up," Mulan huffed. Aurora blinked rapidly at her, her mouth slightly agape in shock.
"The dress. Pick up the dress so you can see your feet. That way it won't rustle the leaves and you can avoid breaking the fallen branches." Logic. Any warrior knew to free their legs for travel.
"A lady doesn't do that. Certainly not a princess!" Aurora squeaked before realizing what she'd done and adopted a more regal pose. Chin held high, her eyes flashing in the darkness.
"We're out here about to be eaten by an ogre and you're worried about proper princess etiquette?!" Now it was Mulan's turn to blink. What did Phillip see in this woman? Though Mulan had to admit, Aurora standing tall, head held high with the wind fluttering her hair softly about her shoulders, she looked every bit the princess. She was breathtaking.
"There's never a reason to act less than your station," the princess retorted stubbornly.
Then there was that mouth. Mulan clamped her lips shut and spun away before the instant flash of irritation could force its way out from between gritted teeth. She took a steadying breath and returned to picking through the underbrush.
Aurora glared daggers at the warrior's back in front of her. It's not like she wasn't trying to do her best for Mulan. She was really, really trying. It was just impossible to move as silently as the other woman. It seemed like every twig moved itself under her feet just to make noise. Considering the way the Enchanted Forest was, Aurora believed the trees could really be playing a joke on her. And the leaves! Ugh, they were everywhere and they clung. The bottom of her dress was covered in dried leaves. Her feet throbbed angrily with every step. Aurora wasn't quite used to traveling yet, her feet still soft from life as a princess. And Mulan… Mulan was just so good at all this stuff! She bit back a very unprincess-like grumble. The warrior seemed to know everything; how to make camp, which path to take, how to hunt, and even Lancelot seemed to like her better. Lancelot was a knight, Aurora was a princess, and yet he listened more to Mulan than herself. Which… did make a little sense since Mulan knew all this stuff.
It made her blood boil to think of how her life was just getting back on track. She had everything she wanted. Her parents were kind, her kingdom was happy and she had her gallant prince. Phillip… She felt a sharp pain lance through her chest. And then everything came crashing down in the form of the wraith and that woman on her high horse. A nagging voice told her she knew better than to blame Mulan. She really did know better and Mulan was going out of her way to protect her, but she was there and Aurora needed to vent. There was just something about the stoic warrior that put her on edge. She was knowledgeable, brave, strong, and kind – on her good days, anyway – and, well… everything a prince should be. Except for, you know, being a woman. If Mulan were a man, Aurora could easily see her sweeping her off her feet after slaying a dragon. The darker woman would pick her up in her strong arms and hold her close and Aurora wouldn't even care that she'd be slightly dirty and charred from her heroic battle because Mulan would dip her head and move in slowly for the First Kiss…
The brunette cringed as she was brought back to reality with the resounding noise of her failure once again. She saw Mulan's back stiffen as the warrior paused before continuing again without comment.
Guilt and shame crept into her chest and took up residence sitting solidly where her heart laid beating. Shame for failing Mulan once again and guilt for… Phillip… She couldn't even think his name without swallowing hard. She definitely shouldn't be fantasizing about anyone so soon after her True Love died. Was Phillip really her True Love? She had never doubted it before. He was so gentle and sweet… how could he not be? But… if he was, why would she be having these feelings for Mulan? Damn the woman for her princely ways and damn her attitude. Damn her for making her feel things. Stupid things. Princesses don't think about kissing women and they certainly don't think about riding off into the sunset with them. Damn the woman for being so sweet and looking after her.
Wincing before stomping her foot in a huff, Aurora decided she'd had enough. Damn Mulan for making her feel inferior for being unable to skulk around in the woods at night like a common thief. She stewed for a few minutes before she couldn't take it anymore.
"Who do you think you are, anyway?" she bit out between clenched teeth. She knew she was picking a fight for no reason, but it felt good letting out some of that anger. She had a lot of anger.
Mulan paused her inspection of the marred bark on a tree to face the princess with a perplexed look - an adorable, confused expression that her deep brown eyes only amplified. Aurora could feel some of her anger melting away. Damn her.
"You heard me. And stop looking so adorable. You're not adorable. At all." Aurora sniffed. "You're the exactly opposite of adorable."
"Just… you!" Stomping her foot again, Aurora's tone took on a shrill pitch. "Being so perfect! It's insufferable! Mess up! Do something stupid!" she shrieked.
Mulan's face clouded in anger and she opened her mouth to spit back an insult, but froze before any words came out. Instead, she cocked her head to the side and listened intently. Her facial expressions slipped into a stony mask and her eyes narrowed as Mulan went into what Aurora liked to call her 'warrior mode.' The brunette couldn't understand how the woman could be smiling and laughing one minute and the next she's a killing machine.
Stiffening on reflex, the princess listened closely, trying to hear whatever set Mulan off. She didn't doubt that the warrior heard something, but after a few minutes of silence, she was starting to wonder if it was just a rabbit.
Before she could even think about finishing her word, Mulan had her pressed back against a tree with her hand firmly clamped over her mouth. Any thought of speaking left her when she realized Mulan had her pinned. To a tree. With her body. Her whole body.
Warmth flooded her face as she swallowed, trying to ignore the way her treacherous body hummed at the warrior's touch. Breathing. Breathing was good. Focus on breathing. She took a deep, steadying inhale and came to the conclusion that it was probably the worst thing she could've done. Mulan's earthy scent filled her senses and she felt her body surrender the battle, her eyes slipping shut. Breathing is bad. Who needs to breathe anyway?
Tingles travelled the length of her body and she could feel the warmth radiating from the other woman's strong fingers over her mouth. If she pursed her lips, she could feel the sword calluses on the warrior's hands. Aurora suddenly had a flash of what those callused hands might feel like sliding into her dress. Mulan was soft and… warm… and right there…
A loud crash snapped Aurora out of her fantasy. Fantasy. Again! To her horror, she realized that she'd been slightly rubbing against the other woman's armor and Mulan's cheeks were flushed. The warrior's eyes were fixed in the direction of the noise as she pointedly refused to look at the princess. Aurora's face burned. Could she not make a fool of herself in front of this woman? Even for a few days?
Mulan leaned closer and Aurora's breath caught in her throat. She fought to keep her eyes open when she felt a hot puff of air ghost across her ear.
"Do you trust me?" Mulan whispered so softly that Aurora felt it more than heard it. Praying she wouldn't look like an idiot, she nodded slowly. Whatever was making the noises was coming closer. "Run. Keep running." She leaned back and looked Aurora in the eye until she nodded again.
The smaller woman instantly felt the loss of warmth as the warrior pulled away. She must have looked terrified because Mulan gave her a small, reassuring smile before she silently backed away. Was she… was she leaving her? The princess stood frozen in fear as she watched her only protector vanish into the night. Seamlessly. Perfectly. Ugh, that woman.
Running did seem like a better option than sticking around to find out what was in the woods. With her. Now alone. Because the prince she'd been fantasizing about ran off to save herself. Right.
Aurora bolted like a deer away from the sounds as fast as her dress would allow her to run. Instantly, a cacophony of noise erupted from behind her as something large took up the chase. She could hear splintering as trees were shoved to the side like toothpicks and suddenly she found she could run much faster.
Fear crept into her head as she ran. What was she supposed to do? Running was all well and fine, but she was rapidly tiring and it was becoming apparent that she couldn't outrun the beast for long. She twisted her head around to look at what was chasing her and screamed.
It was huge! Much bigger than she had thought. Roughly as tall as three men and built of solid muscle with a wide mouth opened in a snarl. Spit flew from its mouth as it roared at her, frustrated that its prey had eluded it so far. Oddly enough, it didn't seem to have eyes, but Aurora was more inclined to worry about the teeth. It was definitely not how she wanted to die.
A branch caught her foot and sent her into an undignified sprawl. She had a brief thought that Mulan was right. She really was going to die from being clumsy, but at least the darker woman wasn't there to see her fail again. The wind knocked out of her, she scrambled to get to her feet. She was forced to spend her last few precious seconds fighting with the dress tangled around her legs and then the creature was on her.
It roared again and the force of the blast had her back hit the ground hard. Slightly stunned, she stared up at the hideous creature above her and wondered if she was really destined to die like this - in the forest, alone, as a monster's meal.
The whole situation pissed her off. This was not how she was supposed to die. She was supposed to die of old age, comfortably, in her kingdom with her prince by her side. Not like this.
She fumbled for her dagger sheathed within the folds of her dress as the rage inside her rose beneath her skin. The weight of the hilt in her hand felt good, even if it probably wouldn't do much damage against the creature's thick skin.
"Come on then, you bastard!" she screamed at it. Anger flowered through her veins and gave her strength. If she was going to die, she was going to go down fighting. Like Phillip. Like Mulan. Nobody was there to witness her unladylike behavior and, dammit, she was going to take a chunk of this fucker down with her. She bared her teeth as she swiped at the beast's head.
A glint of steel flashed in the trees above the monster's head and Aurora let out a relieved breath. Mulan didn't abandon her after all.
Mulan quietly let out a breath as she maneuvered in the branches of the tree above the ogre. Her timing had to be perfect or they were both going to die. Aurora tripping had actually been a stroke of luck. She had been following them in the trees, but was hard pressed to keep up with the duo. Princesses could apparently book some serious speed when they were being chased. She wondered if princesses had damsels in distress classes taught to them. Fall, scream, cry and wait to be saved.
Which was why she almost fell out of the tree when she heard Aurora screaming angered profanities at the ogre that was about to eat her. What kind of a princess did that? She shot a look down at the supposedly hapless princess and was pleasantly surprised to find the spark had taken over Aurora's eyes. Unbeknownst to her, a wide smile crept across the warrior's features. This was the Aurora she was in awe of. Hair haloed around her head, chin stuck out stubbornly, anger burning in her blue eyes as if to dare life itself to go against her wishes.
The ogre faltered, taken aback by the sudden aggressive outburst from its prey and Mulan took the opportunity to strike. She only had one chance. She stepped off the branch and fell in a straight line towards the monster's head. Tucking her legs up under her, she brought her sword up perpendicular to the ground and drove the blade downward. Her sword felt resistance and her shoulders screamed as she threw everything she had into that downward motion. One chance. The blade pierced the ogre's thick hide and skull, sinking deep, and Mulan felt a rush of relief flood her body. The ogre shuddered violently and sank to the ground. Had the sneak attack from above not worked, there was no way she could take on an adult ogre by herself.
Mulan jumped off the body, leaving the sword embedded in the ogre and looked for Aurora. She wouldn't put it past the girl to escape being eaten only to be crushed after it was killed. What she wasn't expecting was to find the princess wide eyed, mouth open, and staring at her like she was a ghost.
"What?" Mulan blinked and looked around; half thinking the ogre wasn't really dead.
"You!" Aurora gasped out and took a step towards her.
Mulan simply froze, her eyes wide, wondering if she was having déjà vu. Here it comes. She's going to yell because her dress got ripped or she lost a shoe. The last thing the warrior needed was to trek through the whole forest because the brunette couldn't keep her shoes on her feet. The warrior woman felt the icy grip of panic when Aurora started to tear up. Dear gods.
"You saved me!"
Not even given time to register what she'd said, Aurora was on her and it was all she could do to catch the woman. She opened her mouth to protest, but was silenced with Aurora's lips on her and her arms around her neck. Her mind ceased to function and all she could focus on was the soft press of lips against hers. She heard a groan and vaguely realized she had made the noise as her arms betrayed her and tightened possessively around the princess. She wasn't supposed to want this.
Aurora really didn't know how it happened or that she had even moved, but right now, surrounded by Mulan's strong arms, she didn't really care. Mulan had saved her, just like shad had hoped and just like she was supposed to. To hell with her being a woman. She had protected her again at the risk of her own life – battling an ogre, no less – and it felt right.
She loved Phillip and had a pang of momentary regret, but… Phillip had given his life to ensure that she could live hers. He wasn't the jealous type, nor was he vindictive… and Aurora believed that he would have approved of her decision to move on. It didn't mean she loved him less, or Mulan more, just that her life was rapidly changing and Aurora knew she had to change with it to survive. Mulan was her protector now. This woman would lay down her life for her safety, and… she kind of liked this warm feeling in her chest that was present whenever the other woman was around. It made her feel safe, warm, protected. Loved.
She felt the silken swipe of Mulan's tongue and gasped, the warrior taking it as an invitation to deepen the kiss. The smaller woman's legs nearly buckled when Mulan began a sensory onslaught to claim her mouth with the same focused intensity she used in battle. This was new. Princes definitely don't do that with their tongue. There was always the crescendo, the big Kiss after the save. The Kiss being a long press of lips. No tongue. Not that Aurora could bring herself to complain. Her whole body was warm. Really, really warm and the tingles seemed to be working with Mulan in an attempt to overtake her brain.
Mulan pulled away, letting go of Aurora's bottom lip with a pop and the brunette slowly opened her eyes, not even aware she'd closed them. Her face felt flushed and she couldn't quite seem to catch her breath. She wondered briefly if the taller woman knew any magic.
"You saved me," she murmured again, voice barely a whisper. Her eyes flicked back to Mulan's glistening lips. She really should reward her savior again. It's only proper after all.
"I did," Mulan replied cockily, a satisfied grin firmly set in place.
Aurora's eyes narrowed instantly at her tone. Her fist arced out and connected with the warrior's arm, careful to avoid the armored plates.
"You jerk!" the princess shrieked indignantly. Mulan's mouth dropped open and she gripped her arm, more out of shock than pain.
"What the hell? That wasn't acting like a princess!"
"You used me as bait! Bait!" She punched at her again, but Mulan was already moved. Aurora growled. "You left me. That wasn't very prince-like either!"
"Good thing I'm not a prince, huh?" She flashed a grin and winked at the furious brunette. Mulan knew she shouldn't push it, but sometimes she just couldn't help herself. It was like she was always two steps behind with this woman, so she might as well have a little fun.
Aurora screeched an inarticulate cry and stomped off, leaving the warrior to scramble to retrieve her sword and catch up. After quickly wiping the blade down and sheathing it, she ran up behind the princess and wrapped her arms around her waist. Aurora was practically vibrating anger, but Mulan tightened her grip and pulled her back against her, cradling her smaller body with her own.
"I'll always protect you," she whispered in her ear and buried her nose in the soft, pale neck in front of her. She felt the princess relax in her arms. The anger just seemed to drain out of her body.
"I know," Aurora whispered back. She brought her arms up to cover Mulan's across her midsection in a reassuring gesture. The two simply stood there for a while, neither inclined to break the peaceful spell, but eventually Mulan finally straightened and reluctantly let go of the other woman.
"I think we should head back. We're obviously not going to find any game now and there may be more ogres around," Mulan's lower timbre filled the silence. "Besides, don't you think it was odd that Lancelot asked us to hunt in the dark, anyway?"
"So that was an ogre? Dreadful creature." Aurora sniffed distastefully, ignoring the majority of what Mulan had just said. The warrior just shook her head and smiled as the two headed back to join their companions.
... So, did you like it? ^.^