AN:This story basically started as a imagined conversation between Maleficent and Diaval and therefore consisted of nothing more than a few lines and the surrounding description. Later on, we decided to turn it into a story. Finally it ended up as a very detailed description of just a few hours, and as soon as we had decided it was to be a whole, full-grown story instead of just a conversation, we eventually added a single crack of time. It was very difficult to divide the text into chapters so we sincerely hope that we managed to do a good job with it. And now... enjoy ;)
Disclaimer:If it was ours, would we post stories about it it here?
The Beast She Used To Be
He could already see her there, as he was approaching home and this time she appeared patient. She was standing on a branch of their gnarled old home tree, her arms folded to her chest, her wings moving with the wind and she was waiting for him to return, as she did always wait for him the past years, to bring news and reports from the castle – although she had shown way less patience when waiting back then. He couldn't help but remember. Remember a time when she hadn't been able to fly herself, remember a time not so long ago, when she was watching him leap with a longing in her eyes, he couldn't pretend not to see. But now she could very well have flown herself – just that this time, she didn't dare. That was different of course.
As Diaval landed on the branch next to her, she quickly raised her hand to give him a mouth to speak with and arms and hands to grab hold of the tree's branches, so he wouldn't fall down. As he watched her, still panting quietly from the flight, she raised a questioning eyebrow, seemingly saying, 'Well?' without actually saying anything.
"I have accompanied Aurora over the borders of the land", he told Maleficent, "She safely returned to the castle gates." Good. He could see her eyes enlighten at the thought. Good. She herself did not dare to cross the borders, to let herself be seen at the castle. Not yet. But she still couldn't let Aurora return to the castle without someone watching over her. Diaval cleared his throat to get back her attention again. "I was as unremarkable as possible out there – as you wished..."
Maleficent nodded absent-mindedly. She felt relieved at Diaval's words, but she wished she wouldn't have to rely on him to accompany her little Beastie and ensuring she was safe. "Good," she finally murmured, staring into the direction where she knew the castle to be, feeling a longing to be there to make sure Aurora was indeed safe, and at the same time a distant pain in her heart that told her to never return to that dreadful place.
She shook her head to clear it from such useless thoughts. "Thank you, Diaval." She looked at him, but could barely concentrate on his face. "I would never forgive myself if something were to happen to her..." A sigh escaped her lips, and her eyes darkened. "There are still enough people in the human kingdom who don't like seeing their queen freely entering the Moors. And now that she's carrying a child..."
Maleficent trailed off, lost in thoughts once again. Her wings rustled nervously behind her, and she had to watch out so she wouldn't accidentally knock Diaval from the branch they were standing on. Oh yes, Aurora was with child... her little Beastie surely had grown up in some ways. Not completely though, and Maleficent feared and hoped that she never would.
With an effort, she snapped herself out of her futile train of thought. She would do her best to keep the queen safe from afar, and now she would simply watch out twice as carefully for now she had two people to look after when looking after Aurora. At least she knew Diaval would be there to help her.
"She'll be fine, I'm sure about that." Diaval just smiled at her, painting the future in bright colours as always, not thinking of any possible lightning strike. "You saw her bright face. She seemed like she couldn't be happier." And she was indeed dancing through the forest, stepping into the water of the lake, happily throwing diamonds of droplets in the air, her golden hair blending with the sun's light and all the while she was laughing the bell-like laugh of a child. "She was so excited..." Diaval sighed. "Sometimes I can't help but still see the child behind the queen she is trying to be..." He turned and stepped into the big nest that was built high up in a crutch of the oak tree, roofed by green summer-leaves and thick, strong branches, and he let himself sit down and rest.
Maleficent smiled, though there was a certain touch of melancholy to it as she thought of the childhood Aurora had had. Following him, she too perched down, sitting on the edge of the nest so she could keep him company. "She is not a child anymore. She is a queen, Diaval, and a wonderful one at that... but her spirit will always be the spirit of the child she was. Of the child playing in the leaves and admiring every little faerie she sees..." With a quiet chuckle she tilted her head back and gazed up at the stars, a peaceful expression on her face. She could almost see the young Aurora playing with the shiny dew faeries, her smile as bright as the faeries' glow. "I can only hope she will pass that along to her child. She surely will be a sweet mother…"
"She surely will..." Still smiling bright, he put one hand on her shoulder, crawling next to her. He followed her gaze in the silver-spotted night sky and he didn't turn away from the enchanting sight of the stars, as he softly spoke, "She was just so happy. She was laughing all the time, she was smiling, she was dancing..." And in his memory, she was the little girl again, the little girl that used to pick up the feathers he lost, making necklaces with them, the little girl, bringing him wooden bowls with water to refresh him on hot days, the little girl, chasing after him in an attempt to tease him and laughing her bright laugh. "Yes...," he finally said, "She truly was a child again. That little one, I once knew." He gave Maleficent a careful look, but he could only see her cheek, for she was looking away from him, probably watching the castle, that appeared so small in the distance itself. Small in the distance. Like Aurora was small in a time far, far away.
"I really was proud when she told us..." Diaval said, as Maleficent remained silent, maybe remembering herself. "I don't know why. I was just proud and incredibly happy for her. I can't wait to see her sunshine-child!" He gently squeezed her shoulder, wanting her to look at him again to see his joyful smile.
Maleficent felt the corners of her lips curl upwards until she was sure she looked like a moron with a grin that wide on her face. She peeked at Diaval out of the corner of her eye and noticed that his smile seemed to be even bigger than her own, his eyes sparkling with happiness.
"You really sound like a proud daddy, you know," she teased him, softly elbowing him in the ribs and stifling a chuckle as he threw her a mocking glare of indignation which she chose to ignore. She knew that Diaval probably was indeed like a father to the Beastie.
"I'm glad she is so happy... I was worrying she would feel out of place in the Kingdom." True, it had taken Aurora some getting used to. All the iron and stone walls, and the strict rules and laws and etiquette she suddenly had to follow and understand after having grown up in a small cottage in the wood, free to do however she pleased... it certainly was a change. But Aurora had adapted quite quickly, though it often seemed that she still preferred the Moors over her new home. Maleficent was silently glad about that. She hoped that Aurora's child would be able to learn to appreciate Aurora's childhood home as well... although she wasn't quite sure if she was ready to face another little Beastie.
Suddenly, a frown etched itself into her features. If Aurora brought her child to meet her and Diaval... "Oh my. What ever will Aurora tell her offspring about the two of us? Just imagine how the child will call me! If she dares make it call me 'grandmother'...!"
Diaval's mouth then started to twitch and he just couldn't keep the laugh that was burning on his lips. So he burst out in laughter, nearly tumbling down for he had to catch his breath. "You should tell her that!" He coughed. "Tell her that in the same tone and with the same expression, you just told me! I'm sure she indeed wouldn't dare then!" Oh yes, Maleficent could look dark and scary. She could if she wanted to. She could bring shadows to her eyes and make her nose tremble with fury and the corners of her mouth twitch up and down in an attempt to keep herself from shouting. She should do that, she definitely should. "Because I have the feeling," Diaval continued, "that she pretty likely might plan on doing that..." He winked at her, slightly leaning back as his expression suddenly froze. "I wonder how that child will call me then... I'm not ready to be a granddad yet!" His voice had a desperate, high pitched sound to it, almost panicked as he concluded, "That sounds so old..."
Maleficent opened her mouth in protest, feigning offense. So, he would think it funny if Aurora's child called her "grandmother", but at the prospect of himself being called a granddad, he was all but horrified? He really was the vainest creature she had ever met (and that meant quite a lot considering she knew a bunch of pixies and water faeries). But she wouldn't just let him get away with that so easily. "Excuse me..." Her voice sounded dangerously low, not betraying how hard she fought to keep a straight face. "Are you saying that 'grandmother' would be fitting for me? Honestly?!"
"O-oh... no, sorry, that was not what I was trying to say...!" Diaval hurriedly tried to explain himself. "You are far too young to be a grandmother of course..."
She couldn't help but laugh at his startled expression. Lips quirked into an amused smirk, she tried to imagine Aurora's reaction to Maleficent refusing to be called "grandmother". She didn't really approve of the image her imagination conjured though, and furrowed her brow. "I am afraid you are wrong. If I told her the way I just told you, she would be even more likely to do it, just to spite me. The little Beastie never was afraid of me..."
Diaval cracked his knuckles. A terrible sound that echoed in that awkward silence that he spent looking into a distant nothingness. He only stopped maltreating his fingers, as Maleficent's shadowed look told him to and he cleared his throat and shrugged, "But she was no beast..." No, she wasn't. His memories showed him sunny images of joy and happiness. "Not at all. She sang to me and she brought me flowers." He sighed and suddenly he really felt incredibly old. Thinking of her as "the little one" made him feel like he was as old as the mountains that probably were even already there, when the great rain poured the lakes and the rivers to the Moors.
"I wonder how it might be for her to raise her own children then..." He raised his look up to the sky again, pulling a thinking face. "I just can't imagine... For me, she is still that little girl, a child herself..." And with this to wonder about, he even felt older than the mighty mountains for a moment.
Maleficent shook her head, chuckling inwardly at his antics. Never would she have believed that a raven could ever harbour such feelings for a human hatchling as he obviously did for Aurora. But then again, never would she have expected such feelings blooming within herself either, and after all Diaval had grown to be much more than a mere raven.
"Despite you thinking of her as a little girl, she is a grown woman," she told him softly, although she was still struggling to come to terms with this thought herself. "She will understand how to raise a wonderful child, with all the love and care she has in that heart of hers." She paused, thinking of Aurora's past. How difficult it had been to keep her safe at times... she wondered if her child would be the same way. A grin spread over her face as she imagined the queen tear at her hair over a little version of herself. "And she was a beast indeed."
Diaval then nearly felt the urge to pout at her remark, but instead he decided to let it go. He won't let the mood be ruined now by dissenting opinion. So he just sighed and wrapped his arms around her from behind, closing his eyes and feeling at home again. "I'm still happy for her," he murmured, "So very happy..." Yes, he was happy. And with her in his arms, he too felt like he could never be happier. "We should let us be happy with her. It all seems to be perfect for her..." And suddenly he had to think of a christening. No, not just any christening, but the christening of Aurora's child. He couldn't help but wonder if she would want to invite the two of them. Him and Maleficent. He even considered asking his former Mistress about it, but he kept silent. He knew what she would say. Of course. Of course she would invite them and of course they were not going to attend. It would not please the glittering assemblage if Maleficent were to step in their middle once again. Danger would be lurking around every corner, according to the events at Aurora's own christening festivities – even though they were now almost looked back at as "once upon a time". And even if Diaval would then beg her to shut out her fears and accept her invitation, he would secretly know that she was right at not accepting it. He shook his head, trying to clear his thoughts. "We... should better too cast aside every thought of the future... We should live that feeling with her..." And he didn't know if he was advising himself or them both.
"You know what?" he suddenly asked, quickly changing the topic. He crawled nearer to her and rested his chin at her shoulder. "I think she is not only exited because of the child she is expecting... She might be as happy for us, as we are for her... For whatever reason..." He grinned and softly kissed her cheek, chuckling his deep chuckle that almost sounded like the kind of chuckle, a raven would make, if it could.
Maleficent raised one perfectly arched eyebrow before turning to him, the movement causing his chin to slide off her shoulder again. She smirked at his pout as he tried not to fall into her lap. She was glad he had changed the topic – she did enjoy speculating about Aurora's future child (although she did wonder if she should perhaps have a private word with Phillip for getting her Beastie pregnant so soon, he surely could have waited another ten years with that), but she didn't like where that train of thought would undoubtedly be heading in the long run. There were certain awkward situations that came along with human children. But well, as long as Aurora was happy, she could just allow herself to be happy as well. Although Diaval seemed to interpret their hatchling's happiness a bit differently than she had thought.
"Happy for us? What ever do you mean by that now?" She eyed him with a confused frown etched into her sharp features. "It is her who will have a child..."
As Diaval then took a breath for his answer, he almost swallowed it down again right away. He wanted to say, that they couldn't be sure whatever surprises the future might bring to them, but he deemed it to be wiser better not to voice that thought. So instead he thought again and while thinking he gently took her hand and entangled their fingers, carefully pulling her down in a lying position, looking deep into her emerald eyes that were now glowing right in front of his nose. "Oh," he sighed almost disappointed. "Don't tell me you don't know..." He suddenly sat up again, brushing his fingers through his hairline and frowning in thought. "Or is that an attempt to tease me again...?" Who knew?
"I'm not quite sure," Maleficent quipped. She looked up at him from her position in the nest where she was still lying, and had to squint her eyes to make out his features for the full moon was exactly in her line of sight, as was he. Diaval was blocking the moon from her view, and now it was illuminating his hair from behind, making it look like there was a dark, glooming halo around his shadowed face. "Has anything changed since she last saw us that could make her suddenly be happy for us?" She wasn't quite sure if she knew what he meant. She did have a notion, but if she was wrong and he didn't just mean their probably way too obvious relationship, it would be quite embarrassing, so she preferred pretending not to have a clue.
Diaval shrugged. "Oh... I don't know..." His voice was blooming with sweet sarcasm. And as he leaned forward to stroke her soft, dark hair, he smiled at her, and his smile was too glowing and shining with pure sarcasm. "Not at all, nooo...," he grinned, "There wasn't much of a change during the past year, was there...?" He cocked his head to the side and eyed her with a strange expression that seemed to be either full of hoping expectation or still pretty sarcastically.
Maleficent eyed him suspiciously. What did he expect of her now? He still hadn't given her a clear answer, and his expression was unreadable. She could still be interpreting it all wrong... although then she really had no idea what he meant at all.
She chose to roll her eyes, and ruffled his hair because his reaction to that would be funnier than if she just stroked it like he did with hers. "It has not been a year since she last saw as though." Being a smartass had helped her out of every situation so far after all. Almost every situation at least.
Diaval flinched as he felt her fingers ruin his hairstyle. "Ey!" he all but screeched and desperately tried to straighten his hair again, that really must look like a nest itself now. He failed to suppress a distressed sigh but he finally gave up on trying to save his messed hair. It didn't matter now anyway! Instead he decided to let his arms go somewhere else – to return home. He wrapped them carefully around Maleficent and sighed again, but this time it was a soft sigh of satisfaction.
"No...," he responded, "But I have the feeling, she has felt happy for us, ever since she left the Moors as a queen... There must be something about it, hm?" And while putting another thin strand of hair behind Maleficent's ear, he winked at her, hoping she would finally see through his riddles.
She turned aside, hoping to hide the faint blush she could feel rising to her cheeks. She hated blushing. Maleficent was not someone who was supposed to blush, she thought. It suited Aurora much better than it did her.
She shrugged. "Well, she is a nice girl, and as such automatically drawn to happiness, I assume... so I suppose she is even happier when we are happy." Hopefully that was a way out without a possibility of embarrassment for herself involved, a vague enough answer, yet he could understand it as she meant it – if he meant the same. And – they were happy. Right?
Feeling the sudden need to make sure, she turned her face to him once more, a shy smile adorning her features. Her hand raised on its own accord to cup his cheek, softly caressing his skin.
And he covered her small, tender hand with his, his own fingers almost hiding hers under his careful grip. His lips were pulled into an eternal smile, not willing or even able to break it. And their faces were now truly facing one another, his long, pointy nose almost touching hers.
"Maybe" Diaval breathed. He closed his eyes and with his eyes still kept shut, he gently spoke: "You can't imagine how very very happy I truly am. Happy for Aurora, but also just happy for myself – for I am probably the luckiest raven in the whole wide world. Yes, I am happy. So very happy." He hadn't thought that the smile he was already wearing like a fancy accessory could get even brighter. "I do hope of course, that you are happy too...?" And his statement had the worrying sound of a question.
Maleficent allowed her own eyes to flutter close as well. She could feel his soft breaths dancing over her face, quiet and regular, and together with the feeling of his cheek under her hands, both sensations managed to calm her quite effortlessly. Of course he meant that. How could she have thought of doubting him?
A small, content laugh escaped her lips.
"I daresay I am..." And she was. Her thumb moved slowly, stroking his cheek, and, feeling bold, Maleficent stretched a bit to place a quick, timid kiss on his lips before she snuggled closer to him. Her mumbled confession was barely audible over their breathing and the sounds of nature around them.
"I'm glad you are here..."
Her words and actions encouraged Diaval to lean forward and place a kiss on her forehead, all the while watching out for her horns, so they won't unintentionally scratch his face. He could feel his heart beat against her cheekbones, for her head was carefully placed at his chest and her arm was wrapped around him while his arm was wrapped around her.
"I'm glad you let me be here..." he whispered, almost scared he could ruin the moment if he overspoke the magic of it.
There was silent for a beat, and then Maleficent snorted in a very unladylike fashion (Aurora had told her once it was unladylike because every time she had done it herself as a newly crowned queen everyone around her seemed to almost suffer a heart attack). "As if I could stop you. You're impossible to get rid of." She had no intention whatsoever to get rid of Diaval anytime soon, and although she knew that he would catch the joking tone in her voice, she extended a wing. Careful not to move her head too much as she was well aware of her horns, she hesitated only the slightest bit before embracing him with her feathers, letting them move over the thin fabric covering his back with a soft rustling sound.
"To me, it doesn't seem that you are so unhappy with that..." He smiled again; his true, bright smile, that seemed to spread joy and happiness. And with his smile, that lifted his heart and let him feel braver, he put two gentle fingers at her chin, lifting her head up. The soft sensation of her light feathers on his back, made his eyes fall close and as he leaned forward to kiss her, his lips brushed her nose first. He couldn't see what he was doing after all. But as he finally found his keyhole in the dark, the key fitted in – he pressed a short kiss to her lips.