All characters from the original film remain the property of Disney. I have never owned them, never will own them and hopefully will never meet them... If anyone from said corporation would like this fanfic taken down, they need only ask, and it shall be done.

There was a reason. She was sure of it. A reason she hadn't been killed that night. A reason that she'd been spared, despite every cell in her body screaming she should have died; despite the fact she still awoke at night with the stinging pain of his sword ripping through her flesh.

"Sword of truth, fly swift and sure, that evil die and good endure..."

The sword had flown from Prince Phillip's hand and Maleficent, realising too late that her ill-timed cackle was a mistake too far, had tried to dodge the sword. She was far too slow, and could only shriek as the searing heat of the blade thrust through her. Screaming, she snapped at Phillip as she fell, hoping at least to take him with her. She landed hard, the cold ground meeting the quickly disappearing dragon scales with a fatalistic finality. The shape-changing completed; she was back to her more-or-less human form and glanced down at the sword protruding from her chest, crimson blood encircling the wound. Maleficent closed her eyes and expected at any second that the agony would end, she would be free... A strange peace passed fleetingly through her mind as she accepted her fate. But the relief was short-lived – she hadn't yet died and a fresh wave of pain engulfed her body, causing her to cry out.

She hadn't expected this. Maleficent had watched enough people die to know that this form of death should be quick, it should be easy. She hadn't expected to feel every part of her body writhe in agony as the sword worked its magic – "that evil die, and good endure." The pain seemed to last hours. Is this Hell? As I was evil, perhaps I shall never actually experience death and I will simply continue to exist in the midst of this ageless agony for all eternity? In terrible slow-motion, Maleficent watched as Phillip walked his horse to the cliff-edge to check on whether or not she had died. A furious desperation gripped her – perhaps if she cried out, he would come and finish the job and end this? From the way his eyes scanned the ground, he clearly had not seen her as yet; whirls of smoke still spiralled above her, shielding her partly from view. Maleficent groaned and was about to cry out when the pain drained from her. At last... Warmth surrounded the area where the sword had pierced, just under her rib cage. Half-smiling, she tried to move a hand to touch the wound, but found she couldn't move. The warmth spread and became more intense. It was then she realised what was going to happen and her eyes widened in horrified anticipation.

The flames quickly flared up. There was no time to scream. Through blackened eyes she saw Phillip and his horse, and the three good fairies, regarding the scene, a look of grim satisfaction on each of their faces as the flames died down once more. She wondered idly if they were happy now, if it felt good to cause her death. She lifted a hand experimentally and froze as it reached her face – she was translucent, the image of the four beings who had brought about her death clearly visible through the outline of her hand. Maleficent brought her other hand to meet the first, and clasped her hands together. I still feel solid. Panic gripped her – she couldn't move from the ground and yet she didn't seem to be entirely real any longer. She looked back up to the cliff-top, but her adversaries had already left. Through swift rasping breaths, she tried to draw enough air to scream, needing to relieve some of the panic that still threatened to engulf the last of her senses.

Am I dead, or just dying? And why am I still awake? Why has it got dark so quickly, and why can't I move? She watched the moon rise and set; saw dawn break in the east. A rat crawled up to her, obviously out to check if she was something recently dead and edible. Maleficent's stomach clenched – even villains flinch at the thought of being eaten alive. The rat, however, evidently decided this was one meal that was certainly not worth its trouble, and passed on by. She became acutely aware of the undergrowth; noticed for the first time the scorched earth around her body. Apart from the rat, no animals had dared come near her and even beetles seemed to change their courses to avoid the area in which she lay. Her rat reappeared, a small insect in its front paws. It seemed to be thinking as it ate, eyeing her with intense rodent interest. For a while, Maleficent watched the rat eat, a smile playing on her lips as she let the concerns over her plight momentarily pass away. The rat finished and scampered away, clearly bored. Come back! Fighting back ridiculous tears, Maleficent blinked, swallowed, and turned her attention back to studying the sky.

Aurora would be married by now, the kingdoms united. At some point, King Stefan would decide to raid the Forbidden Mountains and put an end to the goblin presence there. The goblins would not put up any resistance. They weren't capable of it. Without an organised mind behind their antics, they were nothing more than wild animals, tearing apart their enemies, prey and each other with equal relish. Maleficent remembered when she'd been thrown out of court and sent to the mountains to 'keep an eye on that rabble.' It was supposedly a temporary punishment from King Stefan II, but then Charlemagne his son had neglected to call her back. Nay, not neglected, been advised not to by those interfering old fools. By the time Stefan III, the current king, had taken the throne she was considered a permanent outcast. Not that she cared right now. Much. Bitter tears threatened and, feeling that she was unlikely to be seen in any case, Maleficent allowed them to fall. She remembered being part of a court that respected her, remembered lounging in the gardens, laughing with the queens of old – had she really ever laughed? Her heart didn't seem able to remember how. Distant memories, long since forgotten, fought for attention. Weddings, christenings, feasts, balls, wars and truces – she'd advised, supervised and used her magic at them all. But that was a different lifetime, so long ago... Generations of Stefan's family had used her expertise – much of which had been gained through a fairy's natural longevity – and the kingdom had grown stronger as a result. She'd even shared her meals with the 'three good fairies' when they'd transferred from Wallachia, Hubert's kingdom. They'd worked together, then argued together. And the arguments had become worse and worse until one day she'd been asked to leave...

Nausea crept over her and she clasped at her stomach, forgetting the sword for a moment. The sharp blade sliced into her hand, drawing blood and a feeble whimper. She lifted her hand again and regarded the thin stream of scarlet, which blended so neatly with the remnants of her nail polish. She started, the pain forgotten for a moment. I can see myself. Sure enough, her body had solidified, the translucent effect gone for at least the moment. Maleficent tentatively reached upwards and grasped the blackened sword's blade. She raised up her left hand to meet her right and, risking slashing her arms, she pushed upwards quickly. The sword raised and loosened; another push, and the sword was free from her chest. She managed to toss it aside, and lay back. She could breathe now and movement was at least possible. Leaning to her left, she curled into a ball and hugged her knees - she was so cold. Shuddering, realising with a strange sense of outrage that her clothes had long since gone, Maleficent slipped into unconsciousness.

Cold, stinging rain awakened Maleficent. She didn't know how long she had been curled up there, but knew she had to get help. She pulled herself into a sitting position and gently rubbed at her arms to bring some feeling back, almost instantly regretting it as her skin was burned raw. She turned her arms over and over, scarcely able to believe what she was seeing. A quick inspection of her legs revealed the same – there was virtually no part of her body that had not blistered or burned a sickening yellow, with only a few areas a more acceptable red that indicated a less severe burn. Some patches, near the chest wound, had turned black with scorching and at present she didn't want to think what her face might look like. A gentle stroke of her head revealed the worst – her hair, long hidden under the obscenely large and dramatic headdress, was gone – only cracked and blistered skin met her questing fingertips as they snaked their way across her skull.

Her muscles were barely responding, but Maleficent knew she had to get out of the enclosed valley and make her way back to an inhabited area if she was going to stand any chance of finding or receiving help for her burns. A thick briar patch surrounded her, with the only way out of the valley appearing to be the steep but stepped cliff in front of her. Crawling at first, and later pulling herself to her feet, she made it to the base and started the slow and painful ascent of the cliff-face. Each movement caused agony – the hard granite acting as an abrasive on already tender skin. Several times, she collapsed forward and wept in frustration into her broken hands, barely able to believe she had come to this. Finally, with what felt like the last of her energy, she pulled herself up and over the cliff edge and forward a few paces before resting face-down in the dirt. She breathed in the earthy scent of the road and forced her head to turn to her left, where she saw Stefan's castle. It was so close – if she were still an ally she could request help there now. To her right, about ten miles away, were the Forbidden Mountains. She didn't even turn to face them – there was no help or anything else there for her now. Maleficent lay there for a while, fighting her inevitable fate – she was going to have to surrender to Stefan and hope he would keep her alive long enough to heal and, potentially, escape. What would follow would be a life of exile and probably exceedingly harsh cruelty, given she was more or less guaranteed a cold reception wherever she was headed, but at least she would be alive.

Acutely aware of her nakedness and bedraggled state, she hesitated. She knew her greeting at Stefan's palace would be less than cordial and that, were she in Stefan's position, she would have her shot on sight. Maleficent ran a hand over her gaping chest wound, fiddling absent-mindedly with clotted blood as she tried to make up her mind on how best to approach the castle. Knowing she'd never be able to walk, she crawled a few paces forward towards the castle and looked up at it – against all odds, it seemed slightly further away. Determining to avoid looking at the castle for at least the next half-an-hour, Maleficent put her head down, focused on the dirt-track ahead, and crawled onwards.

Quick author's note: I decided that some of this story was rushed and I am slowly updating the chapters (checking spelling, rewriting sections, etc.). The general plot won't change, but the layout will, as will some scenes that appear awkward on re-reading. Let me know if it was worth it!