It was a dark, shameful day when Maleficent did not know what to wear.
Of course, it wasn't every day that she agreed to go on a date, either. In fact, it wasn't every day that she was asked to go on a date.
Maleficent normally prided herself on having an outfit for every occasion – a sign of preparedness that she believed was crucial in a good villain. Of course, the occasions that necessitated her going out generally required the same outfit – something wicked looking, something that would sweep dramatically around her and that would leave a great impression. The horns and the sweeping black and purple robe that engulfed her figure were perfect for that.
But she had clearly already left her impression on her date for the evening. She needed to leave a different impression entirely – and this was one she was not prepared for.
She stood in front of the magic mirror she had borrowed from Snow White's stepmother and frowned broodingly at herself. Her black slip clung to her slight, bony figure. She had always liked that she was tall, but she'd always hated that her figure was not a little more substantial. Her robes practically swallowed her when she walked. It worked for drama, but it did nothing for her body. Right now she wished she had curves, like Ursula – though perhaps a bit slimmer. And without the tentacles.
Maleficent tapped her fingers on her hip. What was it that heroines in those awful romance movies did when they were in such desperate straits? Some of them would call upon their fairy godmothers, of course, but Maleficent was the Fairy Godmother Gone Very Seriously Wrong. She could magick herself a dress in no time, but how would she know if it looked decent? She needed a second opinion.
She glanced at the portraits of her fellow villains lining her wall. She kept them there just to remind herself who might become a threat to her. It was always important to keep an eye on one's enemies. She told them it was because she admired their efforts towards making the world a darker place. No need for them to know what they were really there for.
She scanned the portraits until her eyes at last alighted on – his. He wasn't smiling – of course he wasn't, he was too dignified for that. He sneered regally out at whoever had been painting him at the time, wearing a flat glare. She caught just the tiniest glimpse of the golden-headed cobra staff he carried with him at all times. She felt something peculiar in her chest – a cough? Or was that a fluttering of her supposedly nonexistent heart? Impossible – she had no heart. And that sort of feeling was only for heroines. She was the Mistress of All Evil, for Satan's Sake.
Maleficent whirled to look at herself in the mirror again. She was blushing. Her cheeks were turning a deeper shade of green. Oh, no – this could not hold. This was what stupid little heroines did when they found their true loves. Elegant, well-prepared villainesses did not react this way to men.
Maybe she should cancel, before this got out of hand.
She glanced towards the portrait.
No. There was no way in heaven she was canceling.
But there was still the problem of her dress.
Cursing, Maleficent ran a hand over her eyes. Who did she know that might help her? She had no friends, not really. And there weren't nearly enough respectable villainesses in the world. There was Yzma, of course, but Maleficent wouldn't trust her fashion sense for anything. What was it she wore most days? A pale purple slip? Something like that. And those huge blue earrings – no. It was not to be borne.
Perhaps the Queen of Hearts would be responsive. But no, that too would be foolish. Maleficent didn't need to look like a playing card. And anyway, the Queen of Hearts was so insane that she wouldn't be capable of offering Maleficent any good advice. Being slightly mental was perfectly acceptable, but being as out of your head as the Queen of Hearts was simply unprofessional. Maleficent sniffed disdainfully. No, she couldn't bother to associate with that woman.
Jadis certainly had a nice flare for style, but it wasn't polar bear weather. In fact, it was midsummer, and boiling hot. And anyway, Maleficent doubted her date would take her anywhere cold. He liked warm temperatures.
Cruella, of course, was very fashionable – but Maleficent had never been one for fur. Dead puppies were always enjoyable, of course, but fur itself was hot and unwieldy and usually made the wearer look ridiculous. Except old school movie stars always looked so glamorous with their mink stoles… Maleficent wondered if Cruella had a mink stole. She ought to ask.
"Mirror, mirror, on the wall," she intoned, "Send a message to Cruella's hall."
"As my mistress commands," replied the mirror, and her reflection began to swirl within its frame. She watched and waited as the image began to solidify again, revealing Cruella.
"What is it?" Cruella snapped. "I'm a bit busy with some puppies at the moment!"
Maleficent winced as the barking began, loud, high pitched yipping that gave her a pounding headache. "Why haven't you killed them yet?" she shouted over the noise.
"Haven't had the chance today," Cruella called back. "Got a bit wrapped up in a few other nefarious schemes. You know how it is."
Actually Maleficent did not know how it was. Her nefarious schemes were very neatly organized in a black leather planner that she carried in the pocket of her voluminous robes, and they did not invade each other's time slots, ever. Maleficent never started on a new scheme until the one before it was complete. "Have you a mink stole I could borrow?" she shouted. The puppies were still barking.
"But of course!" Cruella exclaimed. She smiled toothily. "Is this about your date? I heard you had one."
Maleficent drew herself up. "And where, precisely, did you hear that?"
"Oh, the rumor is everywhere now," Cruella said. "It was all we could talk about over lunch. We hoped one of you would confirm – "
"Did he?" Maleficent asked, then kicked herself. Well, if he hadn't confirmed it, then she just had.
"Hasn't come out of his tower since last night," Cruella said, turning away and waltzing casually through her fur-lined room. She opened her wardrobe door and peered thoughtfully inside. "I wish you'd told me sooner that you needed a stole," she continued. "Jadis came over earlier to look at some furs. She needs them in Narnia, of course – what with it always being winter. And she can't really ask for any of them for Christmas."
"Hardly," Maleficent agreed absently.
"She took quite a few of my best coats," Cruella continued, "But she paid a good price for them. And she left me a dwarf servant to help with clubbing the puppies, which is marvelous. I think I most likely got the better end of the deal, but – oh! Here we are. A lovely mink stole. Will you be coming to pick it up?"
Maleficent reached her hand into the mirror. Miraculously, it went in without breaking the glass and reached into the stunned Cruella's room. She plucked the stole from Cruella's hands and pulled it back through the mirror into her own chambers. "Yes," she said. "I have it now. Thank you very much for your help. I'll see that this is returned to you tomorrow."
"I don't suppose you'll tell me details about the date," Cruella said, pulling out a cigarette.
"Not likely," Maleficent said. "Again, thank you for the stole." She snapped her fingers, and the mirror fogged over again.
Maleficent looked at the stole in her hand. It was brown – light brown – and didn't match very well with her skin tone. She pointed at it, and it turned black. "Much better," she said approvingly. But she couldn't wear only the stole on the date.
Well, she could. But that would suggest a very different sort of date, and that was an occasion she was quite certain she was not prepared for.
"Ursula," she said to herself. "Ursula will have some idea what to do." She turned to the mirror. "Mirror, Mirror, on the wall, send a message to Ursula's hall!"
"As you wish," the mirror said. Maleficent thought she detected a note of irritation, but she didn't have time to consider. Ursula's squashed, round gray face was already appearing.
"Mal!" Ursula exclaimed. "What a pleasant surprise." She oozed through the water to a small coral couch that barely fit her girth, where she lounged, leering at Maleficent's reflection.
Maleficent carefully kept her expression blank. She hated that nickname. "Hello, Ursula," she said. "I have… a boon to ask of you."
Ursula arched a brow. "Have anything to do with that hot date tonight?"
Maleficent sighed a barely audible sigh. "Who told?"
"Oh, everybody's talking about it, honey," Ursula said, waving a hand. Bubbles rose up towards the surface as she did so, seemingly attempting to flee. "You're the gossip girl of the hour."
"How delightful," Maleficent said, without a trace of delight. "Kindly remind our follow denizens of the dark that my love life is not up for discussion."
"Is that all you wanted to ask?" Ursula said, looking put out.
Maleficent sighed again. "No," she admitted. "I… need something to wear. I have nothing to suit the occasion."
"Well, don't look at me," Ursula said, giving a raucous laugh. "I only wear these tentacles, and they're 100% natural! Unless you feel like skinning me, I'll keep them."
"Oh, skinning you wouldn't be the problem," Maleficent said, gritting her teeth. "But I don't think tentacles would suit me. I don't suppose you have any other useful advice for going on a date?"
"Plenty," Ursula cackled. She leaned forward confidentially, leering so widely that Maleficent momentarily though her face had split in half. "What you need is body language," Ursula advised, shaking her curves. "You know, less talking with the mouth and more with the hips. Men in your part don't like a lot of blabber – they think a girl who gossips is a bore."
"Is that so?" Maleficent said absently. "That shouldn't be a problem."
"Well, honestly, what is idle prattle for anyway?" Ursula continued with a snort. "They're really not that impressed with conversation. If he's a real gentleman – which of course he isn't, as he's one of ours – he'll avoid it if he can."
Fair enough, Maleficent thought. He'd never struck her as the chatty type.
"But I promise he'll dote and swoon and fawn on a lady who's withdrawn," Ursula said, waggling a finger at Maleficent. She paused, then laughed. "Oh! That rhymed! I'm a poet and I don't know it! Hilarious!"
"Was it?" Maleficent said coldly.
Ursula stopped laughing and cleared her throat. "You've already won him over with that icy demeanor, of course," she mumbled, more subdued. "Just keep at it and you'll have him."
"It's she who holds her tongue who gets her man, you know," Ursula concluded, with a satisfied look.
"Yes, I gathered that from all you've said," Maleficent said. "Thank you for the advice – such as it is. I think I might try someone else for a dress."
"Just tighten a few seams here and there and cut a low neckline in that cloak you have," Ursula advised. "You could do with a bit of Narissa's flair for style."
Maleficent frowned. "Narissa?"
"The newbie," Ursula explained. "The one from Andalasia?"
"Oh," Maleficent sighed. "Her. I had quite forgotten her."
"She adores you, you know," Ursula said. "Wants to be just like you."
"So I've noticed," Maleficent growled. And she had noticed. Narissa had stolen her shape-shifting form (a dragon), gone for the same colors in her clothes, and had even gotten voice training so that she sounded as much like Maleficent as she could. Maleficent had always known her position as Mistress of All Evil would garner some fans, but being that obsessive – and that unoriginal – disgusted her. Still, Narissa did have a flair for fashion – tighter gowns with more daring necklines and a lot more leg than Maleficent had ever dared to show. Maybe the suggestion wasn't so awful. "Perhaps I shall try her next," Maleficent said. She paused. "Oh, how is your plan to overthrow King Triton doing?" It was only polite that she ask.
Ursula groaned and ran a frustrated hand through her hair. "Badly," she snarled. "Very badly. I've nothing on the man – nothing! Other than that he's an idiot, of course. But what use is that? They're all idiots over there. They love the man. I'll need to find a way to get close to him…"
"I suggest the daughters," Maleficent said, casually studying her fingernails. They were immaculately clean and filed to a point, sharp enough to draw blood even if she barely grazed her opponent's skin. "Triton must love them dearly. The easiest way to get to someone is through their loved ones."
"That's true!" Ursula said, brightening. "You're brilliant, Mal."
"I know," Maleficent said dismissively. She snapped her fingers and halted the communication. There was no use for polite good-byes amongst villains.
Maleficent stared at her own reflection for a few moments. She wondered if she should drape a veil over her horns. Would that look too medieval? She didn't want to look like a princess from the Dark Ages. If it could be avoided, she didn't want to look like any sort of princess.
"Mirror, mirror, on the wall, send a message to Narissa's hall," she ordered.
"As you wish," said the mirror.
The mirror swirled, and Narissa appeared, a hand on her hip. Maleficent suspected that Narissa was one of those women who'd lived her best years in high school and had never gotten over them. "Why, Maleficent!" Narissa cried, clapping her hands together in delight. "How wonderful of you to call! What may I do for you?"
Maleficent immediately regretted her decision to call. Acting servile to another villain – even one so impressive as herself – was disgusting. "I am… going out tonight," Maleficent began. "I'm afraid my usual attire won't suit the occasion. I – "
"Ooh, this is about the date, isn't it?" Narissa squealed. "I was so excited when I heard! Where is he taking you? Is it some exotic Arabian place? Is – "
"Narissa!" Maleficent snapped. "We are villains. We do not disgrace ourselves with such… flailing."
Narissa immediately drew herself up. "Of course, Maleficent," she said. She stood there a few seconds, looking awkward. "But… then… you need a dress?"
Maleficent started to nod, but didn't have time to speak. "I wish you'd said so at once!" Narissa exclaimed. "Here, let me go through my wardrobe. Oh, let's see, would you like something with a bit of green in it? Here's something with green. What about purple? You like purple, don't you? You've always had some on your robe. And what about – "
"Narissa," Maleficent interrupted.
" – Here's some blue. Do you ever wear blue? It might look nice with the green. Pink and green is a terrible combination, we'll avoid that. What about yellow? No, that would make you look sickly, wouldn't it?"
"Narissa!" Maleficent said sharply. "You don't even know that we're the same size."
Narissa's face fell. "You're right," she said. "I hadn't thought of that. You'd be slimmer than me, I imagine."
Maleficent made certain to look smug about this.
Narissa brightened at once. "There's an easy solution to this, of course," she said. ""I hear Lady Tremaine has a stepdaughter who's ace at refurbishing old gowns."
Lady Tremaine. Of course. Maleficent felt stupid for not thinking of her sooner. "Her stepdaughter? Really? I had not realized she had such skill."
"Not by choice, of course," Narissa said, with a wicked smile. She had a good evil smile; Maleficent had to admit that. "The girl is a servant in their household. She's done chores ever since her father died."
"I know that," Maleficent snapped. "I had forgotten how long she has been in the household." Maleficent studied the dresses Narissa had thrown on the bed. "I'll take this one, if you don't mind," she said, reaching through and grabbing one that was black, purple, and green. "You won't be angry if it's altered?"
"Oh, not at all," Narissa said. "Keep it if you like."
"I may just." Maleficent snapped her fingers and closed off the connection, eagerly slipping on the dress. It was, as she had feared, too large. She had many preparations to make before Jafar arrived to pick her up, and while her magic was powerful, she didn't want to waste it. She called Lady Tremaine.
"Mirror, mirror, on the wall," she said, "Send a message to Lady Tremaine's hall."
"As you wish," the mirror replied. It paused. "You know," it said, "That didn't really follow an appropriate rhythm for a couplet."
"Just do as I ask," Maleficent hissed, "Or I will break you into thousands of pieces and melt you with dragon's breath, borrowed or no!"
The face in the mirror cringed. "Of course, my Queen, of course," it said.
"I'm not the Queen," Maleficent muttered, but it didn't matter; the mirror was already blurring.
Lady Tremaine soon appeared in the mirror, looking appropriately dignified. Maleficent nodded at her in approval. Of all her villainess acquaintances, Lady Tremaine was the one she thought most highly of – the one closest to what she might call a friend, if she did not, as a rule, refuse to have friends. "Greetings, Maleficent," Lady Tremaine said, bowing her head. "How may I help you?"
"I am in need of some assistance with my wardrobe," Maleficent said, waving a frustrated hand in the air. "I am going out tonight, you see – I imagine you heard – "
"I might have heard a rumor, somewhere," Lady Tremaine said with another graceful nod. That was the other thing Maleficent liked about Lady Tremaine – she was subtle, and never really acknowledged that she listened to gossip.
"Unfortunately I'm afraid my usual garb is not appropriate for the occasion," Maleficent continued, crossing her arms over her chest. "I borrowed a dress from Narissa, but it's too large. Narissa thought you had a girl who could sew."
"She must have meant my stepdaughter," Lady Tremaine said, her voice oozing disdain. "Yes, she's quite a good seamstress. But when is the… ah… event?"
"Tonight, seven o'clock," Maleficent said promptly.
Lady Tremaine arched a brow. "She will have to work very quickly, of course."
"I assume she is capable of doing so," Maleficent said.
"Of course, of course," Lady Tremaine soothed. "But I wonder if it wouldn't be faster to use your powers to alter the garment?"
Maleficent sighed. "I'd rather save them for other preparations," she said. "And anyway I have no idea what the finished product should look like. You've done this more recently than I, what with your new husband."
"Not precisely new," Lady Tremaine laughed. "He died nearly fourteen years ago."
"Then you've been – what is it they say – on the dating scene more recently than I," Maleficent replied.
"So it is a date!" Lady Tremaine cried, then forcefully slipped back into her calm demeanor. "I would not recommend any major alterations to your current wardrobe," she said, studying her nails. "That would be implying that you are one thing in public and another in private. I am sure your gentleman caller admires your villainy and cunning, and you hardly want to soften those features for him."
"I never intended to," Maleficent said. "But the cloak, while perfect for villainy, is too…"
"Bulky," Lady Tremaine finished. "Agreed. Let me see the dress you borrowed."
Maleficent held it up for Lady Tremaine's inspection. "I thought the colors were appropriate," she said.
"It will have to be significantly altered," Lady Tremaine observed. "You're much thinner than Narissa. Does she mind the alterations?"
"She told me I could keep it."
Lady Tremaine arched a disapproving eyebrow. "Generosity in a villain?"
Maleficent rolled her eyes. "I know," she sighed. "The woman needs a bit of work. But with some shaping I imagine she could be quite good at what she does."
"Let's hope so – she's the freshest face of villainy," Lady Tremaine said. "Here, pass it over."
Maleficent passed the dress through the mirror. Lady Tremaine was not surprised. She wasn't surprised by much that Maleficent did anymore. The two were what passed as best friends in the world of evil. "There's a fur stole I borrowed from Cruella – "
"Not necessary," Lady Tremaine said instantly. "A dress like this requires bare shoulders and back." She sighed. "It's been quite a long time since I've been able to wear dresses like this." She touched the high collar of her dress and glanced longingly in the direction of her two daughters, both of whom were, by necessity, quite ugly – or at least ridiculous. Maleficent wasn't entirely certain why they were so unattractive – Lady Tremaine herself had been quite a beauty when she was their age. It could still be seen in her face, if you looked closely enough.
Lady Tremaine abruptly straightened and smiled, her hand dropping away from her throat. "I'll have Cinderella working on it in moments," she assured Maleficent. "You make your preparations. Shall we say six o'clock for a pick-up?"
"Perfect," Maleficent said. "Create some misery in that stepdaughter's life."
Lady Tremaine smirked. "Oh, I always do," she promised. They cut the connection simultaneously.
Maleficent smiled. The wardrobe malfunction was taken care of – now to the other details…