A/N: I do not own anything other than this plot (and a few OCs but they're free to borrow at any time).
So here it is-the sequel to Watch and Learn! I honestly can't believe how much you guys liked the first one-we're about three reviews away from 1000 at the time of writing this author's note!
I really hope you guys enjoy and please let me know your thoughts! Feedback is always appreciated!
When the flash of light cleared, all the people who had attended Parent's Day found they had arrived safely back at Auradon Prep, exactly where they had been before the Blue Fairy had arrived. The only new additions were Dizzy and Hadie; both of whom stared around in wonder at the beauty of Auradon Prep before wincing and putting a hand over their eyes to shield it from the sun.
Mal couldn't help but smile softly as Kitty and Macaria offered the two younger kids sunglasses. Where they got them would be anyone's guess.
"Your majesties," the Blue Fairy bowed her head, having not noticed the interaction between the kids. "I pray that what I showed you does not come to pass."
"If it does, it will not be because of me or my family," Queen Belle promised, and her husband nodded. The Blue Fairy smiled and then looked at Mal.
"Should you need any assistance with your powers, I am a call away," she promised. "Though Fairy Godmother might be closer should you need emergency assistance."
Mal stared at the Blue Fairy in shock. She was seriously offering help with her magic? Mastering it and avoiding things like magical exhaustion?
"Thank you, Blue Fairy," Mal said after a moment. "I appreciate that more than you know."
The Blue Fairy gave the young girl a warm smile before disappearing in a flash of light.
"Okay, I know she's amazing and everything but could she cool it with the blinding light?" Carlos asked as he rubbed his eyes, causing everyone to laugh and eased the tension. Everyone quickly broke off to do what they were doing before Queen Leah's tirade; leaving Mal, Dizzy, Evie, Jay, Carlos and Hadie standing with Queen Belle, King Adam/Beast, and Prince Ben.
"So, how about lunch?" Ben asked as he clapped his hands together.
"We can worry about that after lunch, dear," Belle told her husband, resting a hand on his arm.
"Mal, is there anything you can't eat?" Ben asked, ignoring his parents to focus on his girlfriend. All the students had filled out allergy cards before the start of school but since the Isle kids came in late, they didn't get the chance.
"What do you mean?" Mal responded, looking at the other Isle kids in confusion. "We ate whatever we got our hands on back home."
"What about allergies?" Ben prodded, feeling a twinge of sadness as Mal referred to the Isle as 'home' but it made sense. They'd only been in Auradon for about a month. "Like nuts, eggs, dairy, that sort of thing?"
Mal still stared at him as if he had three heads. "Ben, we ate whatever we could get. If we were allergic, if it was rotten—"
"Which, considering it was most likely trash, it was about 90 percent of the time," Evie added.
"We'd be punished for turning our nose up at food," Mal finished. Ben and his parents looked at the six in shock. Ben couldn't help but wonder how many kids died on the Isle because they were forced to eat something they were allergic to. Looking at Dizzy and Hadie, Ben made a promise to himself to bring more kids with the next group. They needed to get out of there.
"Mal, you will never have to worry about that here," Ben told her after a few minutes of silence, taking her hand.
Mal gave him a small smile. "Thank you, Ben."
"Excuse me, your highness," Anita's voice rang out and it was then that everyone realized that there were four families standing close to them, waiting for a lull in the conversation.
"Yes Anita?" Belle asked, giving the woman a kind smile. Anita turned to face Belle as she had previously addressed Ben.
"Well, we—my husband and I—we were wondering if Carlos would like to join us for lunch?" Anita said, faltering a little as the boy in question looked at her in shock. It clearly was not something he had expected.
"I see," Belle said, the smile staying in place. "Carlos?"
"Yes, your majesty?" Carlos asked, looking back at her. It was then that Belle realized how young Carlos really was compared to the others. It might have been the lack of food, it might have been having Cruella as a mother. But whatever it was broke Belle's heart and she knew there was nothing she could do to repay those children for being forced on the Isle simply because they were born.
They could never get those years back. For the younger ones, like Dizzy and Hadie, it wouldn't be so bad since they could grow up in Auradon. But for the teens, the ones practically adults already, there was no getting back the childhood they lost.
"It's up to you," Belle told him. "All of you," she added, looking at the others. "I won't make you do something you're not comfortable with."
The Isle six were silent, looking at each other as if seeking confirmation. On the Isle, leaving your group could be dangerous though it could also be dangerous here in Auradon as well.
"I'll go," Carlos said, breaking the silence. "As long as Dude can come too."
"I think you'll find that we will always invite a dog into our lives," Anita told him, a great big grin on her face. Carlos chuckled and Mal watched him walk off. She couldn't help the small sliver of worry that burrowed into her stomach; this was the first time they'd gone off alone since Leah's tirade.
"Dizzy?" Kitty asked but it was all the older girl needed to say as Dizzy almost jumped toward the Charming family, keeping her distance from Chad. Everyone couldn't help but chuckle at the enthusiastic response from the younger girl. Ben caught Cinderella's eye and he knew that he would be meeting with her at some point to make Dizzy's place in Auradon a permanent one.
"Evie, I know our families have their differences," Snow White said, her high voice lowered from nerves. "Still, if it's alright with you, I should like to get to know the closest thing I have to a sister."
Eve stared at the older royal in shock for a few minutes before nodding. "I would enjoy that very much, your highness."
Snow beamed and the two step-sisters walked off where the rest of Snow's family waited.
Mal subtly grabbed Hadie's hand and hoped that Wonder Breath wouldn't get the idea to invite Hadie to eat with his family. She also hoped he wouldn't get the idea to invite her to eat with him as well. Now that cousin Herc knew the truth, Mal knew an invite was coming at some point.
"Mal?" Ben's voice broke through her thoughts and Mal blinked to bring herself back. Jay had already left with Emir, leaving only Mal and Hadie facing the royal family.
"Well then," Belle smiled. "Guess it'll be a smaller group for lunch. All the better; allows for a better chance to get to know one another."
Did Belle ever have a moment when she could turn it off? Mal thought before following them to a nearby table.
"Hadie, order anything you want," Mal told her brother, helping him onto the bench. He was built small, like Carlos, and Isle living didn't help matters.
"Anything?" Hadie asked, his eyes wide as he observed everything that was offered. Queen Belle couldn't help but chuckle.
"What?" Mal asked as she walked over to the queen.
"Never give a young child the anything choice," Belle advised. "They go straight for the junk food."
Mal shrugged. "Like I said, on the Isle we don't really get choices when picking through the trash. Getting more than one meal was usually reserved for birthdays or if your parents were especially powerful, like my mother, Evie's mom, Jay's dad, and Hadie's dad."
Belle's smile faltered at that and Mal couldn't help but be glad to see Belle was human after all. If anything ended up coming out of this whole mess, Mal knew the kids of the Isle would finally get some better food. She hoped.
"Now Mal," Belle told her, changing the subject a bit to drive away the awkwardness, and bringing Mal out of her thoughts. "I will insist that you not eat only strawberries for lunch."
"Yes, your majesty," Mal nodded, showing Belle the respect she deserved.
"None of that," Belle told her with a small chuckle. "When it's just us, or around my family, I insist you call me Belle."
Mal blinked in shock; that was not something she had been expecting. Belle had only just met Mal that day and already they were on a first name basis?
"Yes your—er Queen Belle," Mal said and Belle gave her a kind smile. Honestly Mal thought Belle couldn't give any other kind of smile.
"Close enough," Belle told her, her eyes shining in amusement.
"Belle?" Adam/Beast called from what looked to be a private tent and Mal looked around, confused. When had they left the table they were at before?
"I thought we were eating outside?" Mal asked, looking for Hadie, who Mal thought was still on the bench.
"As much as I'd like to, we can't," Belle told her as they walked toward the tent. "Security."
"But all the villains—"
"All the major villains," Belle corrected. "Some, like Morgana, escaped the round up."
Mal nodded, understanding what Belle had told her. "Why haven't they attacked yet? Not to brag, but the daughter of Maleficent would be a huge target for anyone wanting to rally forces. My mother's not exactly popular even if she is powerful."
"Well, in Morgana's case, it's hard to rally forces as an ice cube," Belle quipped. "We now know where most of the villains are who escaped but it's fairly certain that they won't attack from self-preservation alone. However, all of us royals present a tempting target, hence the tent."
"Why are you telling me all this?" Mal asked, and Belle looked over at her.
"You are going to be a part of Ben's life, and I'd rather there not be secrets between the two of you," Belle said. "As King, Ben will have advisers but you will be able to provide a perspective that no one else has."
"I never thought of it like that," Mal told her, waiving to Ben and began making her way toward him. However, upon seeing Mal, the sea of people parted; leaving a clear path.
"Sometimes, being the daughter of Hades and Maleficent has its perks," Mal muttered. Quickly making her way to Ben's table, she couldn't help but smile as her boyfriend hugged her.
"What took you so long?" Adam/Beast asked his wife after creating her the same way Ben had greeted Mal, adding a kiss on the cheek.
"Oh, just girl talk dear," Belle told him with a chuckle as Hadie walked up with a plate that was towering with food. It was clear that the young boy's eyes were bigger than his stomach.
"Did you save some food for us, Hadie?" Mal chuckled.
"You said I could have anything!"
"Yeah but I didn't mean everything!" Mal shook her head. "I guess I'll go and get my food."
"I hope you don't mind Mal, but I ordered for you," Ben told her. "There's still plenty of food at the buffet if you'd rather have that."
Mal couldn't help but relax as Ben said that. The last thing she wanted was to be by herself with all these royals. Sure, many of them were good but there could still be some that sided with Leah.
"So, should we address—?"
"Let's just enjoy lunch, dear," Belle told her husband. "I take it our usual lunch is on the way?"
"Beef ragu, cheese soufflé," Adam/Beast told her. "For dessert, pie and pudding on flambé."
"That's your usual?" Mal asked in shock. She couldn't imagine eating that much in one meal. Belle and Adam/Beast looked at each other and then laughed.
"No Mal, our usual is one or the other," Adam/Beast told her as the laughter faded. "Belle normally gets the beef ragu, I normally get the cheese soufflé."
"That makes a lot more sense," Mal told him, trying to keep the meal from feeling awkward. Thankfully, the appetizer arrived at that very moment so any uncomfortable silence could be hidden by eating.
"I see your friend Evie's enjoying herself," Belle said after a few minutes, looking over at one of the tables. Mal blinked and saw that Evie was, in fact, at one of the tables with Snow White's family; laughing at something that Emma or Neal had told her. Looking further, Mal saw Dizzy and Jay at two separate tables, both seemingly enjoying themselves yet you could tell a bit of discomfort if you knew how to look.
Which Mal did. One didn't survive long on the Isle or as Maleficent's daughter if they didn't know how to read body language.
"Most of the royals tend to pick this tent because it's roomy and prevents us from being on top of one another," Belle explained, unaware of Mal's gaze. "Anita, Rodger, and Carlos are probably in a more animal friendly tent so Dude can roam. We'll probably see them in a bit. But for now, eat."
It was then that the food arrived for the others and Mal couldn't help but gasp at the wide variety available to her. Foods she hadn't even thought of were sitting on the table, calling her name.
"I wasn't sure what you'd like so I ordered a bit of everything," Ben shrugged. "I thought it'd be better than just eating strawberries for lunch."
"You know, your mom made me promise not to do that," Mal told him while snatching a strawberry off his plate with a smirk. "I'm not that bad, am I?"
"You tried to eat the whole plate of strawberries on our date," Ben chuckled. "Speaking of, I was wondering if at some point when all this craziness dies down, you would maybe want to go on a second date?"
Mal blinked, slightly shocked. "Are you sure?" Mal asked.
"I wouldn't have asked if I wasn't sure," Ben told her, a small half smile forming. "I'd like to know more about you—other than what we learned on our first date. And the film."
Mal chuckled. "Sure, Ben."
Ben grinned and went back to his food, causing Mal to chuckle before going back to her's. All around, people were laughing and having an all around good time. Mal watched as Kitty Charming poured what looked to be melted ice cream over Chad's head and yet somehow her parents never noticed her. Kitty caught Mal's eye and winked.
I like her, Mal thought with an inward smirk. Sure, she liked being good but a little rule breaking now and then never hurt anyone. Besides, Chad deserved that and more for how he treated Evie.
"Where's Leah?" Adam/Beast asked, his voice soft as if not to carry; catching Mal's attention as she too scanned the room for Audrey's grandmother. "I thought she would have said something unpleasant by now."
"I believe Aurora informed me her mother wasn't feeling well and so needed to head back to her castle to lie down," Ben said, his voice pleasant as to show respect to an elder but Mal could hear a bit of steel in her boyfriend's voice. "We also will not be seeing her next year for Parents' Day."
"Nice," Hadie grinned, picking his head as he heard what Ben had said. Mal chuckled as she saw Hadie's face covered in the sauce that had covered his steak.
"Did you bathe in the stuff?" Mal asked, handing her brother a napkin. Hadie grabbed the napkin and cleaned off his face, rolling his eyes as he did so.
"Thought they didn't take the Isle out of you?" He asked.
"We're surrounded by royals, you fool," Mal whispered to her brother. "Some who might think like Leah and think we need to go back to the Isle."
Hadie nodded as he realized what his sister meant. "Good point," he said. "I didn't think about that."
"You're ten," Mal said, her voice flat. "If you did think about that, I'd be scared."
Hadie couldn't help but laugh and Mal ruffled her brother's hair, turning back to her boyfriend and his family.
"Mal," Belle said. "I have a group of friends who would like to introduce themselves to you. Would you like to meet them?"
Mal paused. "Why me?" She asked. Other than being Hades and Maleficent's daughter, there was nothing all that special about her. At least, nothing that would make friends of Belle's want to meet her.
"They'll explain," Belle said, giving Mal a calming smile. "If you don't want to, I completely understand. It's been a tiring day for all of us."
Mal thought it over; Belle had just given her an out. But something told her that wouldn't be the end of it and she would have to meet these friends sooner or later.
"No thank you," Mal said. "I'm fine to meet them now."
"Great!" Belle stood up and helped Mal out of the seat as it had gotten jammed against the wall. Oddly enough, the group of friends was just a few feet away from their table. Mal could still see the top of Ben's head.
"Hi Mal," Rapunzel said with a grin and Mal gave an inward sigh of relief. It was already people who she knew and more importantly had seen the film so they knew everything that was going on.
"Hello your majesties," Mal said, trying to remain as polite as possible. There was still some anti-Isle sentiment and Mal didn't want to be the reason that sentiment gained any traction.
"You don't have to do that," Eugene chuckled. "Not with this group."
"What do you mean?" Mal asked, taking an offered seat next to Rapunzel. Looking around the table, she saw Kristoff, Aladdin, Tiana, Cinderella, Snow White, a red haired woman, Dmitri and, for some reason, Aurora.
"This is a group of all of us who were either not royal at birth or were royal but unaware of that status for most of our lives," Rapunzel said. "It was co-founded by myself, Eugene and Belle."
"I, myself, am a recent member," the red haired woman said, reaching to shake Mal's hand. "I'm Anastasia Romanov."
"I take it you gave your full name to avoid confusion with Anastasia Tremaine?" Mal asked, returning the handshake. When she got her hand back, Mal had to rub it out due to the royal's grip. She was a little confused as everyone knew about the revolution in Anastasia's kingdom but Mal kept her mouth shut.
"Belle, I want to talk to you later about my step sister," Cinderella stated. "And Dizzy, as well."
"Very well," Belle nodded. "I'm free tomorrow at one. Does that work for you?"
"Kit and I should be free then as well," Cinderella smiled. "I'm sorry to take us off track."
Mal looked around. "Why am I here? Other than the fact you all wanted to meet me?"
"The royal life is hard," Eugene said with no buffer to ease into the conversation. "A lot of us needed to learn how to navigate it on our own. I was lucky in that Blondie was learning with me but the rest of us, not so much."
"It's why we set up the group," Rapunzel told Mal, grabbing the younger girl's hand. "We'd like to you be a member—a junior member to start with."
"What? Why?" Mal exclaimed.
"You're Ben's girlfriend," Aurora spoke up. "That's going to require a bunch of meetings, dances, appearances where all eyes are on you. Waiting for you to mess up."
"You really know how to talk to kids, don't you?" Eugene asked, raising an eyebrow.
"Hey, I don't think this should be sugarcoated," Aurora told him. "We've all be there, we know what it's like. I don't believe there are reporters on the Isle so Mal wouldn't be familiar with being hounded by them, flashbulbs bursting in your eyes."
Mal stared at the princess in shock. That honestly sounded horrible and this was going to be her life now? People waiting for her to make a mistake?
"That won't happen," Belle's voice cut through the panic clouding Mal's brain. "Ever since Ben started at Auradon Prep, we set strict rules that the press is not to step foot on campus. Those rules are going to be reinforced now."
Aurora blinked and then looked at Mal, who's face had paled slightly at the implied pressure. "Oh gods, Mal! I am so sorry. I guess a bit of my mother slipped out there. You'll be fine. But that's why the group is here—to help in case the pressure gets too much. I know I'm talking to one of the members at least twice a week in dealing with the pressure, and I've birthed two kids!"
"Sugar, we just want to make sure you're happy," Tiana said, reaching over and taking Mal's hand. "You're sixteen, you shouldn't have to worry about anything but spending time with your friends, school and your sweet boyfriend."
"Thank you Tiana," Mal gave the princess a small smile.
"Anytime," Tiana returned the smile. "Now, I wanted to talk to you about sending some fresh made food to the Isle. Do you know when a good time to talk to you and Ben would be?"
Mal blinked, she didn't expect that at all. "Uh…."
"Ben's free on Wednesday around 10," Belle told Tiana, closing what looked like a date book. "I keep a copy of Ben's calendar in case I want to stop by and surprise him," she explained to Mal, who was staring at the date book in confusion. "But this is a good lesson. Always have an answer ready, even if it's just 'let me check and get back to you."
"Oh," Mal said softly. She didn't realize that had been a lesson. She thought Tiana was serious.
"Belle, honey, maybe that wasn't the best time," Tiana said, looking at Mal. "Mal, I'm serious. You, me and Ben, we're going to sit down and make a menu of things to send to the Isle. Those kids need more than garbage and I don't care who doesn't like it."
Mal couldn't help but give the princess a big smile. "Do you mind if I bring Evie? She's a good cook herself. With all the kids on the Isle, you're going to need some help."
"The more the merrier," Tiana told her.
"Rose and Rachel love to bake so they'll probably join," Rapunzel chimed in. "Heck, I'll join as well!"
A thought floated into Mal's head and she gave a slight frown; an action that was not missed by Tiana.
"Mal? Everything okay?"
"I was just—never mind, it's nothing," Mal told her. It was Tiana's turn to frown.
"We don't judge here," Tiana told her. "Well, unless it's Kristoff crying over a palace made of ice."
"I knew I shouldn't have told you that story!" Kristoff shouted, causing Mal to chuckle.
"Well, it's just that, and I really appreciate the offer, but shouldn't it be more of a priority to get the kids off the Isle rather than get them good food?" Mal asked, looking at Belle. "The food will run out and not every child will get some. I know Uma's gang will take it from any kid not under her protection."
The group paused and looked over at Belle, curious as to what her response would be. "Mal, I think if we work with Ben, we can get all the kids that would be a good fit for Auradon here. No child should have to go hungry."
Mal sighed in relief—Belle was Ben's mom and Ben was always true to his word. He had to get it from somewhere.
"While we're working on getting the kids out though, can we still cook them some fresh food?" Tiana asked. "Something to that magnitude will take time and someone like Leah is sure to try to block it. No offense Aurora."
"None taken," Aurora told her, giving Tiana a small smile. "I know what my mother's like now. It makes me ashamed to be her daughter."
"At least now you can counteract any damage she might have given Audrey and Phillip," Snow White said, giving her fellow princess and member a kind smile.
"And this meeting has officially gone off the rails," Eugene muttered to Mal, who had to cover her mouth to avoid laughing. "In all seriousness Mal, if you need any help or just someone to rant to, I'll have Rachel give you my number. Learning the royal life's hard enough on adults—teens shouldn't have to do it alone."
"Why are you being so nice?" Mal asked. "I thought you guys would want to see the VK struggle?"
Eugene chuckled and shook his head. "Mal, I'm a former thief—not exactly heroic. Kristoff sold ice, while Snow and Cinderella were treated as slaves by their step mothers. The ones who were born and lived as royals might not know but we know that life isn't kind or perfect. Pretending so is foolish."
"Thank you," Mal told him.
Mal spent the next few minutes chatting with Tiana, Eugene and Rapunzel before returning to her table with Belle. It was then, as she was enjoying herself, that a horrible thought hit as horrible thoughts are one to do.
Ben had told her that she and her friends wouldn't go back to the Isle unless they wanted to. So where would they be staying at the end of the school year? Winter holidays would be after coronation; Mal could already see the leaves turning (though that could have just been some magic for Parents' Day).
She needed to find a place and fast because Mal knew one thing: she was never going back to the Isle.