Aurora laughed as she ran through the shadowy undergrowth of the Moors. This was a place of legends, a place she'd only heard tell of as a bedtime story at night. Obviously, she knew the Moors were real (she'd grown up with them just beyond the horizon after all) but to actually be within the wall of thorns and running through the Moors herself was more than anything she could've ever imagined. Not even in her aunts' wildest stories could she had ever envisioned a place like this, full of such beauty, majesty, mystery, dignity and power. It seemed distant and close all at once, both fantasy and reality at the same exact time.
"It's so beautiful!" she had told her Fairy Godmother, a resident of the Moors. She still meant it, even weeks later. It didn't matter how many nights she snuck out to run around the woods with all the other fairies and bog dwellers. It never, ever got old for her. It felt like there was some new magic to discover every single night and life could never be boring for her there.
Tonight was no different than all those other nights before and her bare feet skimmed the ground as she raced after a fairy, fluttering just up ahead. In its dainty little hand was a large, bright red flower. They were playing a "capture the flag"-esque came but instead of using cloth, they used bright flowers to stand out through the darkness. All around Aurora, other little marshy, earthy creatures ran after the fairy. They could hear her tinkling and twinkling with laughter as she continued to zoom around just beyond her reach. Aurora laughed and she heard the other Moor Folk echo it. The swamp trolls gurgled in mirth, the Earth golems rattled with laughter, the birds chirped while the bugs buzzed, the plant-creatures bent and whispered their humor. It was a warm night, both in terms of temperature and temperament.
Suddenly, then, a triumphant screech split the night air and Aurora and the crowd looked up just in time to see Diaval. He swooped in for the "kill", talons wrapping carefully around the fairy as he wrestled the flower out of her little hands. They could hear her shrill in outrage which only bolstered their own enthusiasm.
"Go, Diaval! Go!" Aurora laughed, not losing pace even for a single second as she and the crowd continued to run after the creatures of the sky.
At last, Diaval had the rose, but he didn't keep it long before dropping it down to Aurora. She expertly caught it and went running back to her side of the forest. Bracing herself, because she knew she was about to be swarmed by the enemy team, she gave one mischievous laugh before ducking her head and suddenly breaking out into a sprint, leaving some of the stubbier Moor creatures to waddle behind, quickly out of breath. But the lither, nimbler ones (including Diaval) acted as her "guards", protecting her from the playful Moor creatures that tried to steal the flower back.
In the end, though, they lost. Aurora was just too quick and, at the last second, she suddenly tossed the red flower back up and Diaval caught at as he came swooping back down past her face once more. In that split second, it gave Diaval just enough time to cross back to their team's side unhindered, because most of the creatures had still been after Aurora.
"YES!" she cheered and giggled like someone a decade younger as Diaval cleanly swooped past the team boundaries with the red flower tight in his beak. Another game had been won! While Aurora's team burst into cheers while the opposing side playfully surrendered and reluctantly accepted their loss. Oh well, there was always tomorrow night!
"Hmmm. Well done, Beastie," Aurora heard Maleficent's voice over everyone else's and whipped around with a proud smile. Even though she had only know her "Godmother" for about three weeks, Aurora already felt an incredible connection to her and wanted nothing more than to make her proud. To receive such praise, then, felt even greater than the victory itself.
"Thank you, Godmother," Aurora gave a small bow of her head, trying hard to mask her girlish delight with a look of dignity.
"Diaval told me all about your quick thinking," Maleficent humored the human, giving her an incredibly rare smile, but it was so small that Aurora almost missed it. At the same time, then, Diaval returned, the red flower still in his beak. He landed on Maleficent's shoulder and bowed his head respectfully to Aurora at the same time.
In the split second it took Aurora to smile and bow back, she noticed a more visible reaction on Maleficent's face as the flower's petals brushed her neck during Diaval's little bow. It was an expression that was hard to name, but even though Aurora couldn't quite explain it, she knew at once what it meant and she wasn't even thinking when she cried out in delight and amusement.
"Are you ticklish?!" she asked is disbelieving joy.
"What?" came Maleficent's empty question, too stunned by Aurora's to add any inflection in her own.
"Are you ticklish?" Aurora repeated, then she explained. "When Diaval bowed just now, the petals brushed your neck and you jumped a bit."
"No I did not," came Maleficent's curt reply, but unlike everyone else in the Moors, Aurora was unafraid of the horned fairy and she only continued to smile innocently up at the woman she called Godmother.
"Yes you did. I saw you! Just now," and whether she was really that oblivious, or only faking it for fun, was left up for Maleficent to decide. She even narrowed her eyes, still trying to deny Aurora's claim.
"It must've been a trick of the light," she said calmly. "When Diaval bowed, his shadow probably crossed my face and that's what made it look like I flinched. But I can assure you that I most definitely did not. And I think I, of all people, should know that."
Aurora had to hand it to Maleficent for being so calm and well-spoken despite her teasing, poking jibes, but that disbelieving look from Diaval was all she needed to see in order to know that Maleficent had indeed flinched when the petals touched her neck and it had not just been "a trick of the light", like she so pathetically tried to claim. Aurora gave Maleficent a huge smile.
"Whatever you say, Godmother. Whatever you say…" Oh, this was going to be so much fun!
Over the course of the next week, Aurora continued to test her theory about Maleficent being ticklish, finding every excuse she could to accidentally touch (or cause something else to touch) her godmother in some sensitive place (typically the neck). She'd used feathers, leaves, vines, petals and even her own hand when she had falsely told Maleficent that she wanted to go climbing only to pretend to fall and need to steady herself, fingers conveniently brushing the side of Maleficent's neck as she reached for the Dark Fairy's shoulder to "steady" herself. It was like Aurora had silently declared a tickle war on Maleficent and was using every chance she had to make another "attack".
In time, both Maleficent and Diaval caught onto what Aurora was doing.
"Ha! She's a cunning little devil, isn't she?!" Diaval slapped his knee in sheer delight. He smiled proudly at the sweet young girl who hid more mischief than anyone might've first expected for such a seemingly pure, innocent, naive child. She was a wolf in sheep's clothing!
"Yes. And it is quite annoying and disrespectful. I wonder if I ought to reprimand her for it," Maleficent drawled. The two watched as Aurora engaged in a round of tug-of-war between the swamp trolls and the little golems and plant people.
"Oh, don't be silly, Mistress. You know you like it to," Diaval said in as off-handed of a tone as possible. Maleficent shot him a death glare. Admittedly, even he quailed under it a little, but as Maleficent's right hand (and a suave guy in general), he managed to keep his composure.
But later on, that composure became lost when Aurora finally called Maleficent out directly for her ticklishness.
"Are we sure?" the girl teased as placed a playful arm around Maleficent's shoulder, fingers again "accidentally" brushing the fairy's neck.
"Don't think that I don't know what you're doing!" Maleficent replied with a huff.
"What?" came the mock-innocent reply. Cunning little devil was becoming too polite a term for Aurora's mischief and manipulation.
"I am not ticklish," Maleficent said at last, getting to the point. This only made Aurora double over. "Oh, now what do you find so funny?!"
"Hearing you say that word!" Aurora laughed back. Maleficent looked taken a back, almost offended, but then Diaval's chuckle from only a few inches away made her frown again.
"It is not funny," she growled, both at the girl and the raven-man. Neither of them responded, but their continued laughter said enough.
"Oh, I cannot stand you two!" she huffed again, but as they continued to go back and forth making jokes about Maleficent being softer and more sensitive than she seemed (especially in terms of tickling) a mischievous smile lit up her own face and with a wave of her hands, several nearby tree branches reached out for the mocking duo. If it was a tickle war they wanted, it was a tickle war they'd get!
Suddenly, Aurora and Diaval's snickers became howls of laughter as the tree branches snatched them up and tickled them all over, wiggling leaves and thin sticks all over every inch of them from head to neck to stomach to foot.
"No, no, no! Please! Have mercy, Mistress!" Diaval begged through tears of laughter as the branches focused on his shoulders. Aurora couldn't even speak as the branches went after her stomach and bare feet. Maleficent, meanwhile, watched as they dangled and she smirked up at them.
"Oh, are you ticklish?" she asked mockingly, but before she could really revel in her victory, some of the braver Moorish creatures watched the fun go down and they dared to playfully swarm Maleficent, the boldest of them all daring to brush her neck and hands.
"Oh, no! Not you dreadful little beasts as well!" she complained, and in the split second she took to (gently) swat at them, her magic came undone and Aurora and Diaval were released from their branchy bindings.
They fell to the ground in a heap, but Aurora hopped at once and raced over to Maleficent, grabbing some of the fallen leaves from the branches before, in her mad merriment, using them on Maleficent.
"No, Beastie! Stop! Stop!" Maleficent tried to command, but Aurora was still laughing too hard to hear her and, before long, Maleficent felt her own composure finally starting to crack. She tried to push Aurora away (gently) but the girl was insistent, high off of her mirth, and her tickling finally broke Maleficent down enough to get a few soft laughs. It wasn't even a tiny fraction of the noises all the other Moorish creatures were making as they all engaged in a tickle war, but it was still a real laugh nonetheless and when Aurora heard it, her heart soared once more.
She finally paused in her relentless tickling to look Maleficent square in the eyes and smile. Maleficent saw the genuine warmth in the girl's eyes and felt her own heart suddenly begin to beat a bit harder and faster, as if aware that this was more than just a friendly little grin. This was something deeper and more emotional, more sincere and truly loving. While the rest of the Moor creatures continued to tickle each other with reckless abandon, time seemed to stop for Aurora and Maleficent and Maleficent opened her mouth to speak as she and Aurora continued to stare deeply into one another's eyes, a new understanding passing between them. Right before she could speak, however, Aurora interrupted.
"I told you so!" she sing-songed, and just like that, the mischievous light returned to her bright blue eyes and Maleficent realized that, for a second time, this wily little girl had tricked her into temporarily letting her guard down. It was funny, though, because Maleficent didn't really mind it as much as she thought she would. Obviously she didn't like being tricked or made a fool of, but when Aurora did it, it almost became endearing rather than frustrating. In an action that normally would've boiled her blood, she found herself only amused and almost pleased at Aurora's sharp wit. She was not a dumb blond nor was she an emptyheaded farm girl. Instead, a real intelligent and crafty brain lay underneath her golden tresses and Maleficent absolutely approved.
But of course, Maleficent couldn't let Aurora know that. Instead, she gave the girl a look of outrage, but there was no real anger in it and Aurora wouldn't have been scared either way. She had never feared Maleficent. Not once, not ever. And that certainly wasn't going to start tonight. Instead, she only laughed and stuck her tongue out playfully before closing in on Maleficent once more, only this time, Maleficent was more than ready to retaliate. She wasn't about to give up the tickle war that easily, so if Aurora really wanted to win, she'd have to fight hard to get her victory. Lucky for Maleficent, though, Aurora wasn't one to back down from a challenge either. And all around them, the rest of the Moors came alive with tickling and teasing. It was a night of laughter to be sure!
AN: fortunaflying, here's your "Maleficent is ticklish" fic. This was actually really fun to write and I can't believe how fast the inspiration what exactly to say came to me! So thanks so much for this prompt and I hope you enjoy!