Aurora sat in the tent that she had just set up for the night. After a couple of months of practice, she could already do it by herself, without needing Mulan's help anymore, which allowed them to actually split the tasks. The other woman would go hunting and looking for wood as soon as they set camp for the night, and when she returned, their tent was ready and all they had to do was prepare the food (which either of them could do, and most commonly, they'd do it together).
That night, though, Mulan was taking a lot longer than usual. Aurora tried to tell herself that she might simply be having trouble finding food, but still, she worried. She did not think she could handle losing anyone else in her life; at least not anyone else she cared about. Or at least that is how she put it to her own self, those were the words she used in her mind, although she knew there were better ways and better words to go about it. But that was what she could handle at the moment, that was what made her feel safe, so that was as far as she would go for the time being.
More time went by, and still Mulan had not come back. Wish every passing minute, Aurora got a little more worried, a little more desperate, a little less capable of convincing herself it was all fine and she had no reason to worry. Just as she was getting up, incapable of waiting any longer and having decided to go looking for Mulan, she appeared.
The girl all but ran to her companion, relief stamped on her face. "Mulan! Where have you been? I was so worried that something had happened to you! What took you so long?"
The dark-haired woman gave her a small apologetic smile before lowering her eyes and busying herself with unloading the things she was carrying. "I am sorry, princess. I never meant to worry you. I am perfectly fine. I was just..." She trailed off, words stuck in her throat.
Aurora was used to that already; she knew words did not always come easily to Mulan, and she often needed some more time to figure out what exactly she was trying to say. The young woman knew better than to push it, and instead simply walked away and started to arrange the wood a few feet away from their tent, leaving the warrior to take care of skinning the rabbit she had hunted.
It was impressive, really, how quickly they had fallen into a routine – and how easily they had adapted to each other and become comfortable around one another. For Mulan, that was especially noteworthy, because the warrior did not often allow herself to let her guard down around someone, both due to her training and due to her personality itself. But around Aurora, she felt like she could relax – which was more than she could say about nearly everyone else she had met in her life (one of the very few exceptions having been exactly the man because of whom they were now traveling together). With the princess, the only thing she was worried about was making sure she was safe, warm, well-fed and there was nothing threatening her. That had been the promise she had made; but she knew better than to think that was the only reason why the other woman's well-being mattered so much to her.
As for Aurora, whereas she was undoubtedly more outgoing than her companion, feeling at ease around someone did not come easily to her either. A lifetime of dealing with a sorceress who had it out for her and her family – and who could basically disguise herself as anyone or anything – made her quite wary of strangers. And an equal time of being a princess and being raised and educated as so made sure she was always mindful of the social protocols she was supposed to follow – which made it nearly impossible for her to ever really allow herself to be comfortable and behave as her own self. But somehow, with Mulan, she could. Of course, the fact that there were apparently no other royals and no court for which she needed to perform certainly helped with that. But the princess knew that the biggest part of it was Mulan's calm – and calming – presence.
It was true that they had not exactly started in the best terms, but a lot had happened, and a lot had changed, and if Aurora were to reevaluate her opinion on the warrior's company, she would find inside her nothing but gratefulness. Looking over her shoulder, she stole a quick glance at the other woman, watching her dark hair flow and her arms move, and smiling softly at the look of complete focus on her face before returning to her own task.
She was surprised when, having finished, she straightened her back and looked up – just to realize that Mulan was standing right next to her. The princess had not heard or seen her approaching, but knew she couldn't have been there for long, since she had literally been standing on that very spot herself just a couple of minutes ago. That was not an uncommon occurrence, though: after years of training, Mulan had learned to move as swiftly as a coursing river, and for untrained ears such as Aurora's, it was like she never made a sound at all.
So, after only a quick moment or surprise, the smaller woman grounded herself again, and took a closer look at the person standing in front of her – the person who had become not only her companion, but her friend, and if she were to be honest... the single most important person in her life, at least among the still-living ones. Blue eyes met brown for a moment before Mulan looked down at her feet, and Aurora noticed she had one hand behind her back, and was blushing furiously.
That was something the princess had been quite amused to realize: that the other woman, usually so contained and focused and confident, often blushed and seemed shy when talking to her, or even just being in her presence. Aurora didn't exactly know why, but she knew she found that quite endearing, adorable even.
"Mulan... what is it?" She was curious and intrigued by her companion's behavior, but for some reason couldn't help but smiling.
"I... the reason it took me longer today..." The warrior took a deep breath, still not having been able to face the woman in front of her. "I was looking for these." With that, she finally brought her hidden hand up to show a bouquet of colorful wild flowers. "For you, princess."
Aurora looked from the flowers to Mulan's face, grinning widely. "Thank you, Mulan. They are so beautiful!" Her cheeks turned an even deeper shade of pink and her chin dropped yet again at the lady's words and at her big, genuine smile, and she meant to rush away to avoid the awkwardness that was already taking hold of her. Before she could, however, she felt a hand cupping her cheek and bringing her face up. And then, the softest, lightest kiss was pressed on her lips.