Summary: How the journeys of Aurora, Mulan, and Phillip came together.
Chapter 1: Aurora 'Two' Ay. (or at AO3)
Chapter 2: Phillip, son of Raymond and student of Lancelot. (or at AO3)
Chapter 3: Mulan's travel with Red. (or at AO3)
Disclaimer: I own none of the canon characters.
Characters (including cameos) - Aurora, Evil Queen|Regina Mills, Sinuhe, Mulan, Cora, Widow Lucas|Granny, Lancelot, Red Riding Hood|Ruby, Prince Phillip, Belle; mention of Maleficent, and the barbarian killed by Charming's brother.
Categories: backstory, missing scenes.
“Thank you for bringing me with you,” Phillip said to Sir Lancelot as they rode through a pass in the mountains.
“Not a problem. Our fathers fought alongside one another. I see no reason why we cannot do so as well.”
“What was he like? Before he fell for my mother, I mean,” Phillip asked.
“A steady hand in battle, and always able to lighten a tense situation with a joke. Even Mordred agreed with us on that score.”
“I wish he were here. Not that - I -”
Lancelot nodded with sympathy. “I know what you mean. But your father Sir Raymond was out on a quest when the Round Table was hurled forwards in time.” We also lost Merlin. And without the likes of Merlin and Raymond, Arthur grew paranoid. I left in the hope the Table would not divide according to loyalties, thereby destroying what it meant to be a knight of the Round Table. “I have no doubt that your father lived and died in a knightly manner befitting his good nature.”
“Thank you,” Phillip said.
They were well into the mountain pass, the jurisdictional grey area of a border between kingdoms and not far from the Marches, when they came upon a forest clearing with a cottage. “We stop here,” Lancelot said. “Unbelievable. This way,” and walked his horse toward the house.
‘What is it?” Phillip asked.
“I have not seen it in an age and a half,” Lancelot said, dismounting. Phillip followed suit, following him to the door of the cottage.
The upper half of the door opened. “Can I help you?” asked the old woman standing behind it.
“Good day, milady. I am Sir Lancelot, and this is my squire Phillip. Can you tell me the best way to reach the next town or village?”
“I could, I suppose. I’m the widow Lucas, called Granny by most everyone.”
“Granny,” Lancelot said with a smile. “While you take your time and decide if you wish to help us be on our way, may I tell you how fascinating the eaves of your house are?”
“They’re eaves,” Granny said.
“And they are identical to those on another house I visited once upon a time. The home belonged to a younger woman, mind. A backless maiden.” *The* Backless Maiden. Thankfully there was only the one.
Granny’s eyes glazed over. As did the rest of her face. And her clothes and hands. “Welcome to the future, young Knight of the Round Table,” said the Backless Maiden.
“You just show yourself?” Phillip asked. “No protestations of innocence, no dithering - you simply reveal yourself?”
“I never lie,” the Maiden said. “And at my age, why waste time delaying the inevitable?”
Because nothing is inevitable! Phillip knew, a sentiment he would say aloud to another woman, to a woman who sought oblivion.
“Then perhaps you call explain your appearance,” Lancelot said.
“The widow Lucas, as she introduced herself. That is no fiction.”
“What became of… Who were you when we last met?” Lancelot asked.
“You saw the face of a youth who was called Rose Red,” the Maiden said. “By that time, she had been dead enough years that a smell no longer clung to her bones under my skin. You and Arthur made fine guests.”
“And you made a promise.”
“I did. Come inside and sit,” the Maid said, opening the lower half of the door for them.
Phillip started to draw his sword.
“I have no weapons or spells. The widow Lucas does, so I shall keep her tethered.” She looked into Phillip’s eyes. “Or do you have no grasp of hospitality, little knight in training?”
One does not kill one’s hosts, Phillip knew, looked to Lancelot, and sheathed his sword. Phillip entered the house before Lancelot, just in case.
“You said you had a story for us,” Lancelot said.
She nodded the once. “I will tell you as I said I would, though Arthur is not in your company any longer. There was a falling-out?”
“Perhaps I am here at his urging.”
“All stone weathers away, youth,” the Maid said. “Everything that is brought together, will come apart if enough time passes. The Round Table was not the first gathering of powerful idealists, and it will not be the last.”
“The story?” Phillip asked.
“Yes. I am old, as you know.”
“I am older still. I came here when my own realm expulsed me,” the Maiden said. “The rules of existence here are different enough to reduce me to this wrap of survival.”
“A parasite,” Lancelot said.
“A symbiote, if the word is understood. I wear her image in exchange for the armor I am.”
“Why would an old woman need armor?” Phillip asked.
The Maiden smiled a Granny smile. “Do you, youth, think she was forever a crone? Her beauty was renowned and praised in song. She was already grown and a mother before she entered an agreement with me.”
“Then I retract my harsh words,” Lancelot said. “And we thank you for your guardianship.”
“Thank you,” Phillip muttered to the Maiden.
“And now is not then, Maiden. Leave her and let her live the remainder of her years without you.”
Her keen eyes peered at him through glasses. “An exchange?” she inquired.
“No!” Phillip said.
Not what I meant, but - “Yes,” Lancelot said. “Myself. No one else.”
Phillip would understand in hindsight that Lancelot’s words were crafted to keep Phillip from taking his place as the exchanged one.
“Be sure you understand the clauses, youth,” the Maiden cautioned. “I do not age in your realm; you will. You may easily grow feeble and perish while still wearing me like chain mail and greaves -- and the image and voice of Lancelot would yet continue to live.”
“Until someone frees your corpse, yes.”
“I accept that may happen,” Lancelot said.
“It has happened more than you think,” the Maiden said, holding out one hand.
Lancelot placed his hand in hers.
A translucent sheath from Granny’s hand extended around Lancelot’s. At the same time, the Maiden was disengaging from Granny’s other hand, then unwrapping from around her arm, legs, and when the body of Granny was halfway liberated, the Maiden moving toward Lancelot -
Phillip leaped, knocking all of them to the ground - Granny to one side, Lancelot to another side, and Phillip pinning the Maiden to the floor…or trying his damnedest to pin her.
Right now he could see how the Maiden’s face had all the same features as her body: checkerboard squares over a network of canals. Her legs suppled into graceful swan necks who ended in hands to grab and lift Phillip into the air.
Without a mouth, the Maiden could not make a sound.
“Phillip!” Lancelot said sternly. “Don’t reach for your sword!”
“But -” Phillip said.
“Remember the oath we swore to become Arthur’s knights?” It doesn’t matter that Arthur and I had a falling-out: I still guide myself by those principles.
Both men said, “We lay down our lives for others.”
The last time Phillip had been told that, he had asked, ‘who lays theirs down for us?’ Now I think I understand - the buck stops here, with us. Phillip stopped fighting, struggling.
“Set him down. Please,” Lancelot asked of the Maiden, who complied. “Now finish your work.”
She let go of Phillip, and wrapped herself around Lancelot, placing him in darkness within the sheath that was the Maiden.
He could behold glimpses of events, flashes of memory-history as the adjustment was made -- vast 3-legged walkers patrolling beneath a sky full of birds flying through each other.
Tumbling through the ** of between realms. Slipping
When Lancelot could see, he stood up fully, and heard the door close. At least Phillip waited until the process was complete. He’ll make a fine knight.
“What now?” the Maiden asked Lancelot as the sound of a horse neighing and running away could be heard going away from here.
“King George’s plea,” Lancelot said. “And Granny?”
“I was enjoying a nice afternoon nap til just now,” Granny said. “You two have fun.”
“Before we go, I have a gift for you,” the Maiden said to Granny, and withdrew a sword from the Maiden’s skin - from what appeared to be Lancelot’s clothed chest.
“A sword?” Granny asked.
“Molded from the body of one of my enemies,” the Maiden said. “Not the toughest in all existence, but it can cut through most anything of most realms - yours and mine included.”
“I’m sure I can think of someone who deserves it.”
“Good,” and Lancelot and the Maiden departed.
Phillip rode on, through the woods, ignoring the hour, pushing his horse further and faster to get away from what had happened. Mother was right - doom befalls us all, and we do not always get more of a choice than the manner of our deaths. But Lancelot believed I would make a good Knight, so I must try. I will help whomever I can.
He noticed when the horse stopped, exhausted, only a few feet away from a young woman lying on the ground but not yet asleep. “Hello?” Phillip said to her. “My name is Phillip, squire to Sir Lancelot of the Round Table.”
“My name is Aurora,” the young woman said.
“Can I help you?” Ruby asked the latest customer to Granny’s.
“You may. What’s good here?” he asked.
“Oh, lots of stuff. See anything you like?” handing him a menu.
“Ruby, cool your jets!” Granny admonished. “This is Sir Lancelot.”
“Granny,” Lancelot said with a smile.
Just Before The Curse Cloud Finished Its Work:
Lancelot stood at the edge of the sea as the purple cloud approached like a hungry storm eager to gobble up anything before it. Merlin and Morgana would like the sight of this, I’m sure, Lancelot felt.
And then the Maiden took over, holding fast before the oncoming face of the vast powers taking in all those it touched.
As the cloud flowed around her, the Maiden could feel the steam radiating off her skin - the normal reaction to magic - only magnified. And there were niggles, wiggles and tickles and tingles of something reaching around her.
When it was over and the cloud was gone, the Maiden found herself lying on her back on the beach, the tide moved away. In the sky, birds were frozen in mid-flight.
The Maiden reviewed herself - she was complete and functioning, even if time was out of sorts.
Lancelot was not within. He was gone.
And yet she still wore the visage, the image and voice of Lancelot. “That’s new,” the Maiden said.
“Perhaps not for your betterment,” Cora said, standing by her head. “You should join me.”
“And should I refuse?”
“That would be unfortunate for you.”
“I passed through a vast cloud of magic unharmed - what could you do?” the Maiden asked.
the end of chapter 2. on to chapter 3.