It was in the middle of the night when Diaval awoke, alerted by the sense as if something or someone was plucking his feathers. Confused he lifted his ravenhead, but couldn't find the cause for this strange feeling. He was alone on a tree just like every night. He let his eyes wander. The Moors were covered in silence. A few faeries floated over the calm surface of the lake. The water reflected the glimmer of the fullmoon and illuminated the centre of the Moors like a lantern.
But something odd distracted him. There was a flicker of a candle in the highest tower of the moss-covered castle, which stood in the middle of the lake. Maleficent had built the castle for Aurora after she was crowned not only queen of the Moors but also queen of Perceforest. The thick vines and branches formed a verdant structure, overrun with flowers and leaves. Aurora immediately fell in love with the sublime castle and whenever she stayed in the Moors, she slept there.
She was there this night, but it seemed she was sleeping not any longer. Or did she sleep at all? A tight feeling took hold of him and he took off to fly to the tower. He had to make sure she was alright.
The night air in the Moors was warm and cosy, but not sweltering. Beyond the fresh winter days, it was never too cold here. That was one thing he loved about the Moors and he knew that Aurora loved it too.
Silently he landed on the windowsill and discovered Aurora sitting on the bed, absorbed in one of the books she must have brought from Perceforest. The raven cawed questioningly and the young queen looked up. A tired smile appeared on her lips. She recognized Diaval in all his forms, but his raven form was the one she knew for many years.
He hopped on the ground and took his human form. "I've seen the candlelight. You can't sleep?", he noticed with concern and sat on the edge of her bed. Aurora closed the book and sat next to him. Dark shadows loomed under her eyes. She kept looking at the book in her lap.
"Can you keep a secret?", she asked with a low voice and finally looked at him. The brightness in her deep blue eyes was vanished, as if a thick fog kept the rays of sunshine away from her.
The raven-man nodded immediately. The tight feeling in his chest grew stronger and he felt his heart become heavier. Thousand thoughts raced through his mind. What was wrong with her? What happened? Why couldn't she sleep?
Aurora sighed heavily and looked down. "I barely sleep since Maleficent lifted the curse. I don't want her to know, because I don't want her to blame herself, but…", she fumbled on the fringe of her nightgown, "I'm still scared to fall asleep. I know the curse is broken, but every night it feels like I'm in the castle again. As if I knew that this time I will not wake up." Her voice was fragile and heavy. It didn't remind him of the lighthearted laughter of the girl from the woods anymore.
His eyes widen and he took her hands in his own, to prevent her from widen the tiny hole in her nightgown. "You couldn't sleep for months!?", he realised with a shock. "Why didn't you say something?" Of course he noticed that she wasn't so carefree after all that has happened. But it seemed understandable for him. She lost her father on the same day she found him after all those years. A heavy burden lied on her the moment she was crowned queen of two realms. But he never noticed that she did not sleep. He felt guilty for not seeing her pain.
"I didn't want to concern you…", she mumbled softly and looked up to him. Her eyes were filled with tears. Suddenly she seemed so exhausted. How could he not have seen this? He wanted to say something. Anything. But she knew everything he could say already. She knew, that she could always come to him, if something was bothering her. She knew, she could always count on him. That he was always there for her. So he simply laid an arm around her and pressed her up against him.
"I'm so sorry", he whispered. He never wanted her to be afraid. He should have realized something was wrong. But now he knew. Now he could be there for her whenever she needed him.
Aurora wrapped her arms around him tightly and he felt the slight shudder of her body. He didn't have to look at her to know she was weeping silently. "You should rest a bit. I'll stay with you. I'll make sure you'll awake in the morning", he promised, even when they both knew, he had no bearing on it.
Slowly they released from their embrace. She wiped her tears away and nodded. The soft smile on her lips made his heart stumble for a moment and he smiled too. Silently she crawls back under her blanket. Without thinking Diaval took of his shoes and laid down beside her. Instantly Aurora nestled up to him, bedding her head on his chest, eyes closed.
He put his arms around her tightly. Soothingly he caressed her arm and listened to the soft beating of his own heart. "Thank you, Diaval…", she hummed against his chest. Her fingers clenched on his shirt as if she wanted to make sure he would not disappear.
Diaval gave a tender kiss on the crown of her head und shook his head. It was only natural that he would be always there for her whenever she needed him. Just one word from her and he would be by her side for the rest of his life just to make sure, that she never has to be scarred anymore…