Author: Kat Lee
Fandom: Once Upon A Time
Character/Pairing: past Ruby/Snow, beginning Ruby/Mulan
Challenge/Prompt: tv_universe Inspiration Falls Part Two: the posts of mark_pierre, ama_ranth_827, and inabsentialuci
Word Count: 1,386
Date Written: 20 September 2016
Disclaimer: All characters within belong to their rightful owners, not the author, and are used without permission.
Snow crunches beneath her feet as she walks slowly closer to the lake. The water should be frozen, but it's not. She can feel magic throbbing all over this land. Her people could easily be hiding here somewhere, but as she looks out upon the vast whiteness all around her, she remembers the real reason why she came. It wasn't her people.
Her people are back in Storybrooke. They may be human, or Dwarf, or Princess, but they are her people. They are her family, but she could not bear one more night gazing upon the love of her life, seeing her smile and laugh and shine, and knowing she will never love her. So she left. She fed her a lie that Snow eagerly accepted, felt her embrace one last time, felt the sorrow of not being with her radiate throughout her very core again, and left.
She thought watching Snow marry Charming was the hardest thing she'd ever have to do. She had been wrong. She misses Snow and Granny every day, every moment of every day and night, too. Her dreams no longer comfort her. That's why she so easily fell to the Witch. It's why she didn't try to fight her spell until she had to choose between killing for the old crone and becoming herself once again.
Her choice might have been different if not for the opponents she had faced. They were both women striving to do their best for each other. Their courage could not be denied. She had known, with a simple glance, that she could neither hurt or kill them. Her choice had been made for her before she'd ever reverted back to human -- but to her surprise, the pain that came with the human form, the pain which she'd forgotten so easily in her wolf's predator mind, had been less than it had been since Snow had left her for the first time.
She'd always known Snow wouldn't love her as strongly as she loved her. She was a fool to have fallen in love with her, and although Granny had consoled her countless times, reminding her again and again that people don't choose who they fall in love with, her pain and self-blame had never dimmed until that night. Until she'd looked into the soft, brown eyes of another Princess and felt her anger eased away.
That Princess has not left her side for long ever since that night. She claims not to be a Princess at all, only a warrior, but Ruby knows better. Royals have a different scent to them, especially those who are good, and Mulan carries that scent, albeit unknowingly, with pride. She can hear her moving up behind her now, the snow making only as much noise beneath her boots as she allows, but she's not ready to face her again just yet.
She's still thinking about Snow. She's still lost in the past. They came to a place like this once, and they frolicked for hours. Snow was the first person she'd known who wasn't afraid of her wolf, but Mulan isn't either. She broke her curse before Ruby even wanted it to be broken.
She turns her face into the rising wind now and feels its cold caress. This isn't the same land where she and Snow traveled, but it might as well be. She can hear their laughter ringing in the wind. She closes her eyes and lifts her head in response to Snow's scent. She isn't here. She chose not to be with her this time. But Ruby still smells her. She always smells her.
Mulan now stands silently beside her. Ruby can feel the other woman's curious eyes upon her face, but she knows she won't ask. They both have a past from which they're running. She wonders, not for the first time, who broke Mulan's heart and why, but she won't ask. The girl has a right to her secrets as long as she lets Ruby keep hers.
She opens her eyes and looks up at the moon, feeling the wolf's blood course within her. This is the kind of night meant for wolves to run and frolick and love, but the one she wants chose another path that no longer includes her. She asked her once if she'd run with her in the Werewolf moonlight. Snow's lips had said yes, but her heart had always spoken differently.
She remembers Granny trying to tell her that just because Snow broke her heart doesn't mean she doesn't have a soul mate still to find. Just because she ate her first and only boyfriend doesn't mean love isn't meant for her, too. Oh, she had so many fights with that old woman, but every time her granny angered her, Ruby knows now that she meant well. She only wanted to protect her, but in the end, she'd chosen to stay in Storybrooke too, saying that her granddaughter needed to finally find her own life and that hers was there with Doc, Snow, and the rest of the gang.
Tears pierce Ruby's eyes. Mulan gently touches her shoulder, but she says not a word. She knows the simple gesture is only meant to remind her that she is there. Ruby is not alone nor does she ever have to be alone again. But will Mulan lie to her, too? she wonders. She's on the search for something. What will happen to their friendship when she finds it?
And what is that aroma she's smelling now? Ruby lifts her head once more into the air and sniffs. She closes her eyes again as she concentrates, and then she turns, her eyes popping back open, and looks at Mulan in surprise. "It's you!"
Mulan takes an uncertain step back but not out of fear. She has not shown Ruby a trace of fear ever since they met. "What is me?" she asks, and Ruby grins.
"What I was just smelling," she explains. "You . . . have a delicious scent."
Mulan's dark skin turns another shade darker. The wind wraps around them, but Ruby's not cold. She's not cold, and it has nothing to do with the layers she wears and is even now beginning to strip off. She knows the scent she smelled of Mulan, and it's pure. The woman wants her, and unlike Snow, she's not thinking of any other right now.
Mulan avoids her gaze as Ruby frees herself of the clothing she wears as a human. "Will you run with me?" she asks, and Mulan's edge slowly drift back to her. She keeps her gaze high and focuses on her smiling, welcoming face.
"I am no wolf."
Is that sadness she detects in her voice? Ruby wonders. Her smile grows, and she licks her lips, hungry for something only one woman has ever provided her before. "That is not what I asked you. Will you run with me," she repeats, "in this Werewolf moonlight?" She holds out a hand to her.
Mulan hesitates. She looks from Ruby's beautiful, questing face to her extended hand, her eyes skimming over her full and milky white breasts. She quickly returns her gaze to her face, but Ruby's still standing there, still smiling, still . . . hoping, Mulan realizes as she recognizes the same emotion she herself once wore in her gaze when she faced another woman what now feels like a very long time ago.
"I may not be able to keep up," she says and takes her hand.
"Oh, I'm certain you'll keep up just fine." Ruby grins, yanks her to her, and presses her lips to hers. Her tongue delves into her mouth. Her teeth nibble on her bottom lip. Maybe it's just her mood, but her blood tastes even sweeter than Snow's. Then she turns and runs, changing shape as she leaps into the snow that's now beginning to drift fresh flakes down upon the Earth again.
Mulan laughs, actually laughs! The wolf's ears perk up at the lovely sound. Ruby thinks she's never heard her laugh before. Then there's loud, clattering noises as Mulan hurriedly strips off her armor and springs after her. The chase is on through the snow, and underneath the joyously glowing Werewolf moonlight, two women finally learn to love again.