Prologue: A Mulan Fan-Fiction Story

     Fa Zhou was waiting. There was an eerie silence in the outer house, except the sound of the rain outside and occasional cries of his wife behind the closed doors. His wife Li was about to give birth.

     The door opened slightly, only to reveal his mother’s face. She looked exhausted.      

     “Any progress?” Fa Zhou looked at his mother hopefully. It had been three days since she went into labor, but there was no good news. He prayed to the ancestors all day long.

     “No.” The oldest member of the Fa family shook her head. “But we still have hope. Let’s pray it will be a boy, or all of her pains will be in vain.”

     “I am praying, mother,” Fa Zhou assured her, and the door shut behind him. He picked up his cane, and began to walk towards the family temple, where he met his daughter, Mulan. She ran beside him and took his cane.

     “Is mama alright?” She looked at him with her big, hopeful eyes. The four –year-old did not understand the whole situation yet, but she still seemed worried about her mother.

     “She will be,” Fa Zhou assured her, as she helped him to climb the stairs. “But what are you doing here? Didn’t I tell you to stay in your bed an hour ago?” He tried to give her a stern look. Surely she should not be outside the temple in the middle of the night.

     “I am worried,” Mulan pouted. “I wanted to pray for mama.” Tears gathered at the corners of her big baby eyes, and were about to trickle down her cheeks.

     Now Fa Zhou could not stay angry anymore. Small as she was, she always tried her best to look after her invalid father. She never asked why her father could not go and play with her, like the fathers of her friends did. She helped him to find his cane, accompanied him about the house, and admired the tales of her father’s bravery.

     “Alright,” Fa Zhou sighed. She was stubborn just like him. They shared so many

similarities that worried Zhou sometimes. Mulan plopped on the floor beside him, and

together they prayed in the silence.

     Hours passed, and the silence only grew thicker, except for the sound of the rain outside.  Fa Zhou’s worries only continued to grow. He hated to think of Li being in so much pain. But pregnancies had always been difficult for her. They lost two children before having Mulan. But now he was frightened for her. He had been invalided from the war three months ago; he lost his career and pride, but he could not bear to lose his wife.

     “Baba, why is mama sick?” inquired Mulan, breaking his train of his thoughts.

     Zhou’s head snapped up at her voice. His daughter’s presence calmed his worries a bit.  “Because she is going to bring home a baby,” he answered. “Now tell me, what do you want? A brother or a sister?” He tried to smile.

     “A brother, obviously.” Mulan shook her head, remembering her experiences with her

friends’ brothers. “They play with swords.”

     “Do you like swords?” Zhou asked curiously. It was unusual for a girl being fascinated

by men’s toys. She really was picking up his traits…

     “Yes, dolls are boring.” Mulan’s eyes sparkled mischievously, and she declared, “I have many swords.” She spread her arms to show the amount. “I beat the boys when they take away my dolls, and take their swords away.” She added proudly, “Though mama told me to give them back.”

    “Indeed, you must give them back.” Fa Zhou shook his head disapprovingly, “It’s not right to take away other people’s things.”

    “But I like them,” Mulan insisted, “Even though none of my friends play with them. I asked mama to buy me one, but she says swords are for boys.” Her eyes suddenly grew sad.

     “When you have a brother, you can borrow his swords.” Fa Zhou smiled.

     “Really?” Mulan’s eyes grew wide with excitement, “When will mama bring little

brother home?”

     “Very soon, Magnolia.” Zhou assured her. “We just need to pray more, if we want him to arrive quickly.”

     Mulan joined her hands together and closed her eyes to pray for a brother. Like

Mulan, Fa Zhou hoped for a son too, although his reasons were completely different.

He wanted a son to pass on his family name, to bear his legacy. He sighed when his eyes

caught sight his old sword on the wall, hanging from a hook. He would never be able to

wield a weapon again. He needed a son to pass it on to and carry, along with, his knowledge and honor.

     His eyes snapped open when the door of the temple opened. Mulan hurried up from

the ground and moved closer her father. Fa Zhou rose from the ground to find his

mother. “What is it? A boy or a girl?” He asked hopefully as he saw the small bundle

in his mother’s arms.

     “It was a boy.” Old Fa walked near her son, her eyes sorrowful. “But he is with the ancestors

now.”

     Carefully Zhou removed the cloth covering his stillborn son, and looked at the tiny,

lifeless face. A single tear rolled from his eyes, Mulan only clutched her father’s leg

tighter. She could not understand the whole matter yet. “And Li?” Zhou asked his

mother.

     “I am afraid, she will not be able to bear another child. What will happen now, Zhou?” Old Fa shook her head sadly, and then raised her eyes to meet her son’s worried face,

“There will be no one to bear our name.” Fa Zhou took a deep breath, and sighed.

 *** 

     The youngest member of the Fa family was buried next to his ancestors. His name

was written among the long line of the Fa family names. Fa Li, still weak from

childbirth, held her husband’s hand and cried. She asked for his forgiveness again and

again. “You must take another wife, my lord.” She said to her husband.

     “No,” Fa Zhou silenced his wife firmly, and then walked outside to where Mulan was playing with a rag doll alone. She dropped the doll when she saw him, and ran beside him.

     “Baba, are you crying?” She asked worriedly when she saw the hint of tears on his face.

     “No, Magnolia.” Fa Zhou wiped the tear away, and lowered his head to meet his

daughter’s eyes. “Do you remember the promise I made to you yesterday?”

     Mulan nodded. She did remember.

     “I will buy you a sword to play with.” He took her hand, and stepped into the carriage

heading towards the town.

 —

 By An Unknown Foreign Beauty

(Read more of the writings of An Unknown Foreign Beauty on Fanfiction.net)

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