A/N: I'm going to stop promising things. Hello lovelies and all who read the author's notes! This is the longest chapter to date and I am very proud of it! We are moving in a very forward direction! I apologize for my absence. My personal life has been going very downhill since July of 2019 and I just haven't been well. However, that isn't the best excuse.

Couple of things I wish to share. I HAVEN'T seen Maleficent 2: Mistress of Evil yet. I do not plan on seeing it until after my story is complete. I just personally feel like if I do see it then it will change how I've been writing this story. However, although I have not seen it I do know to an extent what happens because I am on social media and follow/like a lot of Disney posts and live action Maleficent was very popular back in October.

Another thing, since I realized how long it has been since I started this story and sometimes when I read other fanfictions I see authors interact with their reviewers. I constantly re-read your reviews ESCPECIALLY when I have writer's block or may not have the motivation to want to write. So I just want to take a minute and thank you guys even though I cannot get to everyone so here are the most recent ones I've received!

Elysse: The fact that you enjoy my story better than the sequel to the movie itself is an incredible honor and that alone truly motivated me. I never thought I'd receive such a comment so thank you!

Dani Raines: I am so thankful for your kind words! I hope you are still with me and read this chapter and stay with me/us for the journey!

DarkFay: You are one of "The Love of a Raven" most loyal fan/reviewer! Thank you so much staying with me this far and all of your lovely reviews. I am so thrilled that I have someone who follows this story. You are a huge motivation for me!

Sunsandstars, Pally the Second, RedHood001: You have all left multiple reviews! I hope you are all still with me and are all still enjoying the stories! You guys make me smile and I am blessed to have you along for the ride as well!

All guests and others: Although I cannot get everyone all of you are amazing and I thank you all for taking the time to leave a review/comment. I am so surprised to see how many people love this ship as much as I do.

Anyways, I promise I won't do this every time because I know must of ya'll just want to read the story so nonetheless here we go!

Disclaimer: I do not own anything evolving Maleficent, Disney, characters or locations involved in this story. All rights belong to their respective owners. No copyright infringement intended.

Chapter 13: Rumor has it…

By the time the pair returned to the castle, the moon was high into the night's sky. The knights were gathered with torches lit, Fredrick yelling to "Find the Queen no matter the cause." His face was red from either embarrassment or frustration. The girl was always causing trouble it was almost as if she was raised in a barn. Well, I supposed being raised in the forest had its toll too. Now imagine Frederick's surprise when he turns to see a sparkling white horse that held many similarities to the Queen's own... Except that it was the Queen's horse and riding was her royal highness with a stranger.

Everyone was in shock as the queen rode up in the arms of what looked like a hooligan. The knights started to lower their torches to raise their swords. Releasing his grip on her waist, Diaval jumped off the horse and turned to help Aurora as she slid off its back. The Queen turned and declared: "This is Diaval, the representative of the Moors and those who dwell in it. He will be staying in the castle from this point forward. Please prepare a room for him." No one dared question her request and everything continued as normal.

Every day Diaval stood next to the Queen. No one knew, in particular, what his job was but they knew better than to ask questions of a Moor Dweller. However, they could tell that Aurora was content since he moved into the castle and she didn't care who knew it. After all, she hardly knew anyone else, even though her aunties were around as well, but, there was always something about Diaval. It was a connection she couldn't understand but it comfort to her. All she knew was that her heartbeat wildly at just the mere sight of the man.

However, ever since Diaval arrival there have been incessant chatters regarding the bird in question, mostly from the maids, ladies-in-waiting, really any female who resided in the castle. Aurora would overhear it all as she walked by with Diaval and she noticed how all the women would gaze at Diaval as he strutted by.

"He's so mysterious"

"He's ruggedly handsome"

"I wonder how he got those scars."

"I wonder how many he has?"

These were the most common ones she heard. The women would swoon at a single glance, a single gesture, or even him just being in the room.

It was a sickening to her stomach. Listening to it was even worse, especially every moment of every day. What annoyed her the most is that they deliberately spoke of her Diaval even if they knew she could hear them. Well, in a sense, she didn't technically own Diaval so perhaps it is incorrect to say he only belongs to her but the idea of other girls flocking around him and taking the attention away from herself was something she dreaded.

It came to the point where if one of the maids spoke of him in her presence, she would send them to do other chores far away from him. Soon enough, the chatter turned to murmurs and every time Aurora got closer, it ceased altogether. It only brought some comfort, but some of the more bolder maids would sometimes glare in her direction. More particularly when Diaval was with her.

This really shouldn't bother her all, not even a tiny bit... But it does. It bothers her that women aiding him hover too closely. She tries to ignore the accidental brushing of their limbs or fingers or the fact that they were standing far too close to him. None of the males in the castle did that with her nor did the females ever pull anything like that when Phillip was staying at the castle or perhaps they did and she just didn't realize it. Margaret, one of her older lady-in-waiting as well one of her most trusted had once told her the hardships that many of those who worked in the castle endured whilst under control of her late father. Many came as children to earn money to send to their families in the kingdom, others were sold by their parents. Although some abandoned as their parents left for another kingdom, some came in search of a sort of sanctuary, and others hoped to find a lord or lady that would fancy them. It all seemed so complicated. Yet, knowing this Aurora couldn't help but feel guilty for these slight feelings of animosity towards all other young women within the vicinity of Diaval.

She couldn't focus any longer as she sat on the throne. Her eyes kept shifting to Diaval. He stood there, face unreadable, which irked her too. She didn't know how he was adjusting to the castle and although she hasn't seen him in his raven form since that night. She couldn't help but wonder if he was adjusting, especially from all the attention he was receiving. She truly hoped he loved being here with her, even if he wanted to fly and be free. It was alike he was a caged bird which she would never want for him but whenever they locked eyes, he grinned ear to ear which instantaneously melted away any worry she had.

"His bed is always made as if he never slept in it. It's like he doesn't sleep." A brunette whispered to a red-head.

"I think he disappears. No one ever sees him at night." The whispers were starting again. Aurora hid behind a pillar listening to Ellyn and Adelaide, two of the ladies-in-waiting assigned to Diaval. She knew instantly of whom they were talking about. Although it felt like her insides were on fire and she didn't know why. It was just talking after-all.

"I've also never seen him eat any sort of meal." The red-head (Adelaide) whispered to the brunette (Ellyn) this time.

"But does he not go to the grand hall with the Queen? Would he not eat then?"

"The cooks say they only ever prepares a meal for one."

"I wonder what they eat in the Moors or even at all."

"I wonder if they all look that handsome," Ellyn commented. She was always very frivolous from what Margaret had told her. Very careless in her actions, in her words; Aurora tried to remember how Ellyn acted when she was Phillip's lady-in-waiting during his stay... then again, she didn't notice how the ladies reacted to him when he was here. In all honest, she forgot that Phillip left weeks ago, but that is beside the point...

"Maybe they do, " Adelaide countered "and considering how closely her royal highness keeps him, I would do the same."

"I wouldn't mind having him or someone similar to myself. Then I could finally leave this place behind. What if he's royalty in the Moors?" Ellyn giggled.

"Would you trade shelter and food for the unknown?"

"I am certain Diaval would protect me. He has to live somewhere. How else would he survive? He is human is he not?"

"What if he's not!" Ellyn's and Adelaide's voices faded out as they began walking towards the kitchen.

The feeling in her stomach settle and replaced itself with something new. It was like her heart sunk to the bottom of her feet.

Aurora couldn't understand any of it. She had heard similar sayings by some of the younger girls in the castle about Phillip but it never bothered her. She couldn't even remember overhearing such explicit things.

Then it dawned on her that maybe Diaval didn't know what it meant to act like a human. Of course, his quirkiness doesn't bother her, but she never told him what some of the ways humans act. How rude of her! It would be time to change that. She would be his teacher of how to act human, even though she still wasn't quite sure if she even fit in herself.

Diaval knew about the whispers, he knew about how the women were staring at him, he especially knew how their explicit talk about wanting him. It was flattering really. Never could he have imagined a feeble-minded Raven such as he would become so popular amongst the ladies. It was flattering really. A few times he had returned to the Moors to ask Mistress (he could never get used to calling her Maleficent, it was too informal for his liking and he supposed he still owed her for granting his freedom. It was the least he could do) how to handle all the attention. It was a very short conversation with it ending on "why would someone as narcissistic as yourself need the attention of others? I thought there was only one whom you wanted it from." Well... she wasn't wrong. Yet, being in the castle made him feel so out of place.

He could not for the life of him understand the food they ate, the nest they slept in nor what interest pieces of paper could hold a person when they could be playing or flying... well humans can't fly. He cursed himself for settling to be a human. Diaval, in secret, of course, would turn into a bird in the dead of night, he made a lovely nest in his window sill, high above where any of the maids could reach it and take apart-he scrounged for worms and bugs.

However, every time he saw Aurora smile everything became worth it because he was here with her. Maybe it wouldn't be so bad being human but would he want to stay that way forever? For Aurora yes. For the maids that keep admiring his chest, complimenting how handsome and muscular he was, for how brave he must have been to live in the Moors all these years, no. He didn't mind a little stroke of the ego now and again but he would never be able to be his true self. What sane woman would love a raven?

He didn't have time to ponder that question. Someone grabbed his hand leading him onward as a blur of sapphire and gold passed his vision. They swerved left, right, left, left, sharp u-turn, a couple of rights, one more left and then they were lost... or at least that's what he thought. Aurora pushed the large gothic looking doors open to reveal shelves upon shelves of... well he didn't know what they were called but he watches Aurora hold them several times. She would just look at it, flip a piece of paper and stare at it more. Puzzling truly.

"Pretty Bird it has been brought to my attention that people are noticing your less than human qualities." Diaval's brows furrowed. He glanced down at his human appearance. He pulled open his loose top glancing at his flat, featherless stomach.

"Is this not what a human looks like? Are my fingers not convincing enough? Or maybe my nose is too big? Is it too beakish?"

"Not your physical appearance silly. Trust me, people love your appearance" It came more snarky then she intended but it didn't stop the large smirk forming on Diaval's face.

"Are you one of those people?" It was bold. It was daring. It was immediately regrettable as he watched her face glow red and his entire body followed suit heating up from the embarrassment. He grabbed one of the shelved objects in hopes to avoid what just happened. "What is this thing that I see your nose in all the time."

"Its called a book, they contain stories, that you read."

"You what?"

"Read! Surely you have heard about it."

"Never." Aurora wasn't too shocked about this development. She grabbed the book from his hand and opened it to the first chapter.

"Once upon a time, there was a handsome prince and a beautiful princess..." Diaval leaned his body against a shelf, letting himself divulge into the sound of Aurora's voice. It was truly therapeutic as tingles went up and down his spine. As she spoke he imagined the story as it was unfolded. Oddly enough, the hero and heroine are very similar to Aurora and himself. Must be a sign. "Now pretty bird, would you like to learn to read."

What use would reading be to him? He was still a bird at the end of the day. "Why don't you read for me?"

Aurora suddenly took his hand once more, she led him back down the winding and twisting but this time he knew where they were heading. The dining hall. The room of delicious aroma yet pungent taste. Why couldn't they ever make a meal out of worms? What was wrong? It was a fine diet for a birdman of his stature. Yet humans insisted on eating cooked meats and green stuff which he has recently discovered are called vegetables.

The table was outrageously long yet decorated the entire length. Aurora's chair sat at the head and there was one set up right next to her. Normally there were plenty of chairs even though she would eat alone whilst he watched. On one plate, some of the cooked meat and vegetables and the other a bowl of goop. The Queen sat in her chair motioning for Diaval to take the place next to her.

"It has also come to my attention that you have not been eating anything from the castle. Try this porridge;" She turned her head left and right checking that no one could hear her, "it's warm and gooey like worms." He stared at her in awe. Diaval was starting to understand her plan. Either she was trying to humanize him or introduce him to human behavior. It was sweet on her part. Aurora placed a spoon in his hand. She closed his fingers around the wooden instrument, guiding his hand to the bowl, lifting and then towards his mouth. As Diaval began to chew, it was delightfully similar to gobbling down a worm. Breaking free from her grasp, he continuously repeated the motion until the bowl was left almost as clean as it was found.

"What do you think pretty bird?" Aurora's smiled so brightly. She was so content to see Diaval enjoying the human side of life. Yet, she still heard the whispers. Adelaide appeared. She smiled deeply at the man. "Did you enjoy your meal Lord Diaval?"

"It was delightful. Thank you, Adelaide"

Suddenly Ellyn came up on his other side. Boldly she placed her hand on his wrist to collect the dirty dishes. "I am pleased to hear my Lord." Aurora didn't even realize she was clenching her hands into fists as she witnessed the brown-haired girl turn her head towards her Diaval and in turn, Diaval did the same. She swore that she saw his nose brush her. It was inappropriately close.

"Ladies, you are excused. Please take a few days off." Ellyn's mouth was slightly agape. The Queen tried to make her voice as sweet as honey but the angry fists on the table made her request more of a demand.

"Yes, your highness." The maidens bowed reluctantly to their ruler. As they stepped away from Diaval. Sapphires watched as they exited towards the kitchen. She grabbed Diaval's hand once more but this time interlinked their fingers as she pulled him down more hallways. It was his bedroom. The bed as made, almost untouched. There was not much to it truly. Although she could see the nest Diaval had built in the highest crevice of the area.

"What is wrong Aurora?" His voice was quiet as his dark orbs followed her silhouette walk towards his bed. She simply patted the spot next to her. He followed her instructions easily.

"Now lie down, with your head on the pillow." Diaval obeyed. It was surprisingly comfortable, definitely better than sleeping on his talons. "Now close your eyes." This was truly a relaxing concept. He felt the mattress dip beside him as Aurora laid herself next to him, body facing him. His eyes jolted back open. He turned himself to face her. She was far too close. Not that he didn't like it but his heartbeat so loudly that he thought it could burst in any second. "I thought it would be more fun if you learned a few tricks on blending in."

"Was I not before?" He pretended to feign being shocked.

"A lot of the people within the castle find you very... peculiar in your habits."

"So? We have already established that I am a Moor-dweller. they seemed more shocked that I did not come with scales and a tail."

Aurora turned onto her back. Her fingers intertwined with each other. It was like a déjà vu to when she was cursed into her deep sleep. His Sleeping Beauty.

"Diaval. Are you happy here in the castle with me?" In one swift motion, he positioned himself so that he hovered just above her face. He looked her straight in the eyes ignoring the pink pigment of her face.

"Why would you even ask that? Of course, I'm happy." He was genuinely shocked. He'd be happy anywhere as long as he was with Aurora and his Mistress... mostly Aurora but that was beside the point.

"Even though you cannot be in your true form?"

"I'd be a dog for you. A mangy, ugly, smelly mutt if it meant I could be with you."

All the feelings of anger, worry, confusion melted away into relief. Aurora's body finally relaxed from the stress. It was unexplainable. The comfort she felt knowing Diaval would stay with her. She had to figure out what these feelings were.

As for Diaval, he too needed to straighten out these feelings. Perhaps it was time to humanize himself or something because, for some odd reason, he was just as afraid of losing Aurora as she just displayed him. He turned to face the brick ceiling. Silence fell between them for what seemed like hours. Yet, there was one more thing that she simply had to ask.

"Diaval. Will you please tell me how the curse was lifted. I still don't know."

"Have you not ask your Fairy Godmother?"

"She said you would tell me." He couldn't even remember what he told her in the past. It wouldn't harm him to tell her what the solution was, would it? However, he loves how they are now. Boundaries that were automatically established have already been broken. Stolen touches were more common between the two and the fire remained. Would it change anything for her to know? He needed to figure out what the meaning of the feelings was. Maybe he would have another talk with Mistress. Deep down, Diaval knew it was time and he knew she deserved to know. He turned his head to face her once more. He didn't realize that her head was already facing the same way. He could feel her breath on his face. Diaval stole a glance at her plump lips, his tongue automatically licking his own as a response.

"When the curse was being placed, your father begged in hopes that Mistress would give you a chance. She said that only true..."

"YOUR HIGHNESS, YOUR HIGHNESS" It was Margaret, her lady-in-waiting. Her voice sounded frantic. The pair lept from the bed, jumping as far apart as possible. The older woman burst into Diaval's room almost as if she knew the two were in there. In her hand, a piece of parchment. "It is Prince Phillip! He has written that he is on his way to return to the castle here and he is bringing his parents, the King and Queen!"

A/N: Don't forget to leave a review or follow/favorite me or the story. Would love feedback or to see if I have any fans.