A New Mission

A/N: Multi-chapter fic, not yet complete. Maleval / Diacent / however you spell it. Set immediately after the film ends, assuming that Aurora's coronation happens first and then Maleficent and Diaval's flight together is the last thing we see. Rated M for sexual content later in the story. But we have a ways to go before that can happen.

Summary: It's a happily ever after, for the most part. But now that Maleficent has her wings back, what does that mean for Diaval? What he decides will change everything for Mistress and Servant forever.

Chapter 1: A New Mission

Aurora was queen. Stefan was dead. The kingdoms were united.

Maleficent had her wings.

That first flight together, Diaval's heart had been full almost to bursting with triumph and pride. The majesty his Mistress had exuded before, even walking the earth like a mortal, was suddenly completed with the return of her enormous wings. And in its completion, her power increased palpably, as if the experience Maleficent had gained the last seventeen years had built up her magic within her. Now with her body mended, that increased magic exploded through her every pore, every strand of hair, every feather. The tips of her formidable horns would spark with it out of the corner of Diaval's eye when he would turn his head to scan for enemies.

Never had Diaval felt more connected to her than as they traversed the clouds together, shooting at breakneck speed over rock formations, rolling aerial somersaults over the forest canopy, and diving from great heights toward the sea, snapping out of the dive at the last millisecond, allowing only their wingtips to stir the surface.

But just before dawn, as both of them, sweatsoaked and exhausted, finally descended together toward the castle ruins-the only place Maleficent felt safe to sleep-Diaval realized. It made him want to end his plummeting dive in the dirt. Better an instant death now, at the height of his life, than the inevitable agonizing decline. When that moment to face death came, though, he was a coward as always, and yanked himself out of his dive to follow his Mistress, who did not notice his wingtips scrape the dust.

The sun was just throwing its first rays over the top of the canopy when Maleficent all but collapsed on the bed of living branches she had grown through the window of her room. Diaval alighted on his accustomed perch, a branch that stretched out from her bed, but without hopping to the perfectly shaped nest she had fashioned for him the first night they had spent together. Her movements tonight as she wordlessly settled to sleep were fatigued but still controlled, so Diaval did not worry for her wellbeing. It was the healthy exhaustion of glorious exercise until the body could take no more. For Maleficent, that had been an entire day and night since the previous dawn. Diaval's whole raven body now shook so that his claws barely held their grip on the branch.

It wasn't until he almost slipped off the perch into her lap that he relented in his newfound determination and allowed himself the two short hops into his nest. His new mission would have to wait until after he recovered from the victory flight. He spent the scant moments before he fell asleep searing the best moments of his life in his memory forever.

It was one of his own kind who woke him. Deep orange light slanted into the room at the angle of late afternoon. Diaval could hear a flock of ravens passing this way as twilight fell. He looked down from his nest at Maleficent, whose sleeping form had barely moved since they had succumbed to fatigue this morning. He had hoped for this, although that hope made him sick. This would be much easier if she did not see.

He fluttered out of the nest onto the stone floor strewn with leaves and tree seeds blown in through the open windows. Scanning the room, he hopped in a circle. On a ledge made from a hollow left by a brick that had fallen from the wall, Maleficent had stored a precious golden lock of Aurora's hair. Her gleaming staff leaned against the wall, pulsing with green-yellow light. Her change of black robes lay folded on another ledge. A wooden basin of pure rainwater stood full in one corner. On its lip lay Maleficent's only hair comb, a plain wooden thing that sprouted flowers in spring. Diaval knew that the branches that wove together to form Maleficent's bed also concealed her collection of herbs, barks, berries, and roots beneath where she slept even now. There was nothing here he would take with him.

He flapped to the lip of a high ledge formed where another brick had fallen, into the tiny alcove where he had stored treasures his raven eye had admired throughout the years-a perfectly formed acorn, a shiny bit of seashell, a scrap of Maleficent's cloak that had snagged and torn on her wall of thorns shortly after she had raised it. There were silver needles and pins he had stolen from the three bumbling faeries-tarnishing now as steel needles never would have-and a piece of an ent's finger that the ent had gifted Diaval when he introduced himself as the servant of Maleficent. He eyed the sky blue ribbon Aurora had given him when she was twelve years old, just as it was becoming obvious what a beautiful woman she would become. Diaval toyed for a moment with the idea of tying the ribbon to his leg to bring it with him, but the truth was it was too bright. A raven was no bird of paradise to be showing off for all and sundry. Anyone who saw him would recognize him immediately. Which could not be allowed to happen, not for a very long time. Perhaps not ever.

At last he alighted back on the dusty floor. The ravens outside had roosted in trees nearby and were quietly discussing how far south to move for the winter. Long years had it been since Diaval had seen those warmer climes, not since he had bound himself to his Mistress. The winters had not seemed so bleak, not when she was by his side.

And thus, why he needed to fly south now. He could not bear even the thought of a winter without her.

Her feathers shone golden brown in a bar of the last red light of sunset beaming through the slender gap in the trees. She lay on her stomach, cradled in her own nest as it were. Her hands were drawn up under her angular face on the rim of the bed and her horns pointed far out into space. Even as she slept, when Diaval turned his head to regard her wings, he saw her power spark from horn to horn. Her wings lay folded over her back, completely relaxed as Diaval only saw them in sleep. The primaries were as long as his whole raven body, broad and full. The wings ranged from deep brown, almost black at the horned peaks, to almost golden at the primaries' edges. They draped along her frame like royal robes. And her body beneath…

When Maleficent had first transformed him into a man, Diaval's first reaction, after the shock, had been offense. How dare this faerie ruin his lustrous feathers, sleek as oil, with naked skin? Disarm his strong beak by replacing it with fleshy, almost useless lips, and ground him with strange, ungainly arms? The increased body size wasn't nearly worth it. Once he had accepted his debt to her, though, he had learned to use those lips to speak in ways his raven imagination had only dreamed of, and those arms to lift and pull and hold. He had also learned how to use his human eyes, even though he suspected she had left him his raven's visual acuity. And when he beheld Maleficent with those new eyes he saw beauty unlike any he had ever seen. Fascinating, unique, charming, and terrible was her face, and the appreciation he had slowly gained for the rest of her body was fascinating and terrible in its own right.

He remembered the first night he realized the kind of attraction he felt toward her. He had been in man form for almost a week straight, and they had been overlooking a cliff toward the human castle. He had been hanging back at the treeline while she stood at the edge of the cliff. The moon rose and in its light, she looked as enchanting as her magic. A longing to touch her rose suddenly from his gut to his throat and he choked on it, intensely grateful her back was turned as he felt his face flush. But the longing did not cease, pulling him like a magnet so that all night he consciously held himself away from her, out of arm's reach lest he close that distance and incur her wrath.

He spent that night on the floor at her feet as he always did in human form. Maleficent had made him the perfect resting place for his raven form, an extension of her own bed no less, and yet she did absolutely nothing for his human form, letting him lie on the bare stone. Diaval used to think it was to punish him, but later he suspected she simply did not think to make a human comfortable. But that one night, long after she fell asleep, he watched her from the floor, his humanified mind tracing the lines of her body over and over until even when he squeezed his eyes shut in desperation he could see her. It was when his eyes were closed that the torture got worse, though. His mind took liberties his hands would never take, knowing how to remove those black robes, inventing how that pale skin would feel…

He always asked to be transformed back into a raven before sleep after that night. He blamed it on the floor.

It only helped a little.

Now as he watched her sleep again, his near constant companion for seventeen years, even as a raven he could imagine his human hands stroking her head, caressing her shoulder, petting her wing. He had a flash in his mind of massaging her feet and shook his head violently. He could only hope that time and distance would cure him.

Silently he hopped onto the edge of her bed. He examined her wing critically, as a bird, easily identifying his target: a small feather that had become hopelessly dislodged during their aerial acrobatics. Trepidation vibrated through him as he reached forward, beak open, and gingerly plucked the crooked feather.

Hastily he fluttered back to the floor with his prize. Still holding it in his beak, he cocked his head so that the last bit of sunlight touched her feather. It was rich brown, about as long as one of his own primaries.

Every time Maleficent had transformed him, a tiny remnant of her magic had remained in him. The dragon form in particular had left quite a bit of magic left in his body. Diaval hadn't known what he was saving it for, just that he liked to hide away useful and beautiful things. He was convinced that Maleficent had no idea that any of her magic had remained in him.

Now he knew what he had saved it all up for. Diaval spread his left wing wide and laid the brown feather along his primaries, balancing it among his own pitch black feathers. He closed his eyes and held as still as if he were in the sights of a wildcat. He drew his will up from his chest like a wave, Maleficent's magic following it to do his bidding. He aimed the magic at the brown feather and saw a golden glow through his eyelids. When he opened his eyes and flexed his wing, her feather had joined his as if he had grown it himself.

He admired the effect of brown on black for a second before flying to the window sill. The flock of ravens had almost all fallen asleep for the night. But Diaval was wide awake now. He knew their route south. He would fly ahead of them until next sunset and then join as one of them. He had no doubt they would come to accept him as one of their oldest and cleverest members, age and cleverness being two of the most valued traits among ravenkind.

He turned once more to look back at Maleficent. She slept still, but she was beginning to stir. In a few minutes she would be awake.

I need you to be my wings, she had said.

She had her wings back now. She didn't need him anymore.

Grateful that ravens could not shed tears, Diaval took off into the night.

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