In the beginning he had not even realized he was being mocked. Truth be told he hadn't even known what mocking was for many years as the faerie was not the most thorough of teachers, much as he knew she really had tried. Humans were complex and frustrating creatures and being one was doubly so. For he had once been just a raven and ravens did not think beyond their food and their nest and their flock. But, as any good raven would be, Diaval was curious and ever so patient. Now he felt as at home in his human skin as his feathers but that did not make him a man. For he was once a raven and at the end of it all that is what he will always be.
"Vain bird." Well so what if he was? After all, birds are much simpler than men and their glossy feathers were their only pride. Of course they were vain about such things! They are power and grace, herald as omens by many races and respected by all but the men and their stupid beasts. Fledglings were taught early to preen and protect and there was no greater trust to be given by their kind then to be allowed to touch others feathers. Only life mates and offspring are usually gifted the right. But Diaval is no longer just a raven and when his mistress had begun to absentmindedly stroke his feathers so long ago he had let it stand because somehow he could feel her longing and as was his duty he would do anything for her, even this. For once he was a bird and now he is more and that more trusts Maleficent absolutely despite it all.
Aye, he is a vain bird and proud of that fact so for years he had puffed and preened at the words like the dumb raven he was. But now, finally seeing the mocking for what it is, he found it so very difficult to hold his tongue. Some days he forgot why he even bothered.
"What did you say?" Flushing as he realized he's inadvertently spoken his thoughts aloud the raven turned man turns to the dark fay, suddenly so very angry. Ignoring the question he begins to pace and if he'd been a bird he'd squawk his displeasure.
"Well so what if I am! I am just a stupid beast if you'll care to remember!" Diaval was too angry to guard his tone, contempt heavy. His mistress turned something else only tilts her head as she regards him in a very bird like gesture. He had stopped noticing their similarities at some point but in moments like these it is always so clear. Her eyes are dark and blank and his is choking on fury. Did she just not care, even a little? "So what if I am just a stupid, vain bird."
"By all the spirits you mock me at every turn! Have you forgotten so easily what I once was? I never asked for your magic and I am oh so very sorry my stupid beasts brain is the way it is."
"I would like to point out that you don't mind my being vain when your petting my feathers. Dare I say you even enjoy it, even if it means touching such a vain creature as myself. My apologies if I thought you would appreciate the same care after going so long withou…" His angry rant is cut off rather abruptly when he is suddenly a raven again and the now man turned raven squawks in fury before a flurry of movement distracts him. The fairies back is turned now, wings drooping to splay out across the forest floor between them. Feathers of varying size cloak the ground in every shade of brown, a glorious waterfall of plumage. His ruffled feathers smooth in his astonishment and when his dark eyes raise to look there is mischief glowing in her eyes where she watches him over one slender shoulder.
"Well come now my vain bird. You certainly have your work cut out for you."
Diaval is cautious in his approach, fury gone and replaced with trepidation. Was she not angry? He'd never overstepped his bounds so far before as to yell at the fay woman, never mind that he'd been granted his freedom with the repayment of his life debt. The first pass of his beak through the huge ruffled feathers was almost surreal. Then, as if this was not an utterly groundbreaking moment between them (he could feel that it very much was), the proud and vain raven in him takes over and the hours pass before his eyes quicker than any day he'd ever seen.
It is as the sun casts The Moors in rich oranges and reds that the raven finishes his work. Nearly seventeen years of neglect and abuse was stripped and smoothed away as he plucked and fussed. A large pile of discarded feathers sits off to one side and his chest puffs in pride when he hops back to admire his work. Her wings are glorious and her feathers soft and supple even with their mistreatment so it is a small tragedy to lose so many of them but the result is worth the effort and more. Though she had never said as much the faerie trusts him and had to know exactly what that would mean to him after all this time. Diaval tries not to read too far into things she does but his heart felt so very light anyways. When it is clear he is finished a wiggle of slender fingers find him again a man crouched low to the ground with dark eyes guarded but alight.
"If you ever let another preen your wings I will gut them." The statement lay heavy in the air but he will not take it back. Day finally gives to night as he watches her rise and unfurl those beautiful wings, fluttering the feathers and he can see her pleasure as his heart speeds and flutters itself. Tucking them once again like a cloak around her shoulders the faerie begins to glide away, ethereal beauty so stunning in the dawning moonlight. But she hadn't responded good nor bad to his possessive threat and that stings more than it should. Finally hearing her voice again startles him.
"I suppose the task shall have to fall to you then, my vain bird." This time there is more fondness then mocking in her tone and pleasure races down his human spine as he scrambles to follow his once mistress turned more. For he was once just a raven and then he was a man but now, HE is more.