"No."

"Aurora–"

"Absolutely not!"

I sigh. She can be so stubborn sometimes, the little beastie.

"I am not going to be married off to some man for the sake of old traditions and meaningless rules," Aurora insists.

"That is what the nobles want, is it not? A new king?"

"They can wish it all they like," Aurora says quietly, scooting closer and resting her head on my shoulder. She's so small and so warm and yet she's the strongest human I have met.

"I'm sure prince Philip would be very happy to marry you," I mumble, not entirely sure why I even bring him up.

I can feel Aurora deflate slightly against me. "I can not marry him, Maleficent. He's a good friend and a good man, but nothing more."

She turns towards me, tracing a finger down the edge of one of my wings. I had nearly forgot how soothing it felt, someone caressing my feathers.

"I don't need a king. I think they know it, and it frightens them," Aurora hums, her eyes on her hand as it moves over my wings.

She has grown so much these last few months. She's cunning and strong, yet she's still the beautiful girl with the beaming smile that she was when she became queen.

"They're afraid of the unknown," I muse, "like most people. They haven't had a ruling queen for generations, much less one with close ties to the Moors."

"Well, they just have to get used to it."

Scooting even closer to me, she pulls on my wing, wrapping it around herself. I can't help but smile.

"They won't give up easily," I remind her after a short, comfortable silence.

She huffs and pulls out of my wing's protective embrace, looking at me with determined eyes. "But with you by my side, they will, eventually." She pauses, her eyes softening. "I don't want a king. I want you."

My mouth slides open as I hear what she says. I had hoped, but–

"I know what you did, you know." A smile tugs at her lips. "The other fairies told me."

She's suddenly very close, so very close, and my breath catches in my throat. "Did they now."

"You woke me up with True Love's kiss." Her voice is low and warm, a soothing balm for my racing heart. "I want you," she repeats.

I look away, unable to meet her longing gaze anymore. "Do you know what that would mean?" I say slowly, still not believing her.

She makes a choked noise – is she chuckling?

"Do you remember the day before my birthday?" she asks, her hand going back to my wings.

A shadow of a smile touches my lips. "You wanted to move to the Moors."

"No," she says and this time she does chuckle. "I wanted to live here, with you."

"Oh," is all I can say, a quiet, breathless sound.

"I want to rule with you," she continues. "The Queen, with the Protector of the Moors at her side. We would be fair and just and the Moors would never be threatened again."

She waits a beat before lifting her hand to my chin, coaxing me back to face her. "We would be together, Maleficent. Forever."

Her eyes are so bright and so true and I lose myself in them. I've been under her spell for too long to deny her now and so I nod minutely, returning her smile.

"I did promise I would never let any harm come to you as long as I live," I acquiesce, cupping her cheek.

The smile she gives me is a reward in its own, but I can't help wanting more.

Leaning forward, I press my lips to hers. The kiss is warm and so very gentle and I never want to leave her again. As we break apart, she makes a pleased little noise, her beaming smile still playing on her lips.

I pull her into a loving embrace, resting my chin on her shoulder. "I will stay with you, forever," I murmur into her ear. "That, I promise you."