Aurora woke up with a strangled cry, panting and sweating heavily. The raven curled dutifully by her head also woke up with a start, giving an undignified squawk as he was frightened awake by Aurora's own sudden and violent return to the waking world. He channeled some of the magic power Maleficent had given him and turned himself from a raven into a man.
"Aurora?" he asked, as soon as the power of human speech was granted to him. "What's the matter? What's wrong?" he managed to keep his trademark smooth and steady voice despite feeling his own heart pounding, partly because of how badly Aurora had startled him and partly because it distressed him to see her looking so scared and frantic.
For a second, she could only sit there, ramrod straight, but the moment she heard his voice, it brought her back to life and she began to sob softly, not wasting a single second in throwing her arms around his neck and holding him tightly as she continued to cry.
"Oh! Diaval! It was horrible!" she managed to say through her tears. He hugged her back nervously, awkwardly, but there was sincerity as he started to rock her back and forth in his arms. 16 or not, Aurora was still a child in his eyes and she was not too old for parental comfort.
"There, there, Aurora," he crooned. "Everything is ok. Whatever you saw in your dream was not real. You are back to the waking world and everything is just as you left it. Do not believe anything you remember happening in your dream."
For at time, they remained in this tender embrace before Aurora gathered her wits enough to fully explain what she had seen in her dreams that had scared her badly enough to wake her up crying.
"It was the night you rescued me from the castle," she admitted, drawing slightly back out of Diaval's arms so that she could look him in the eyes. "I dreamt that you and Godmother were both… killed… because of me…" the last four words were clearly hard for the young girl to speak and some of her composure slipped again, so Diaval was quick to hug her once more while her words swirled around his mind.
So, the poor girl was having nightmares about that horrible rescue mission. He could hardly blame her. That hadn't been fun at all and it had only been a few days ago. It was fresh in everyone's mind. Sure, it had turned out for the best, but Diaval couldn't deny the occasional nightmare over the incident either. And his nightmares usually ran the same track as Aurora's, that is, someone usually died whenever his mind revisited that night, because in all honesty, there was no way all three of them should've made it out alive the way they did. The luck just seemed too impossible. It was like reality was trying to remind them both just how blessed they were to have survived, and survived relatively unscathed. Those thoughts haunted Diaval too.
"There, there, Aurora," the raven-man found his voice again. "There is no need to fear. That didn't happen. All of us made it out alive and nothing bad happened. We were able to set everyone free, and save the day. There is nothing more to fear. It's over. The nightmare is finally over."
"But it just felt so real!" Aurora whimpered, still trembling a bit. Diaval could feel her quaking and it pained his heart. She was such a sweet, innocent girl. It was unfair for her to be plagued by such fear. "I remember watching the guards successfully bringing you down. And Godmother wasn't able to get out of that iron net in time. Stefan killed her, and when she died, you lost all of your powers and the guards killed you too. You turned back into a raven and they were easily able to crush you under foot, if the chains that had been wrapped around your muzzle hadn't killed you already. You were both gone, and I was all that was left. I remember Stefan advancing on me but I woke up before anything could happen!"
Aurora continued to sniffle and sob into Diaval's arms as she finished her tale. Diaval, again, felt his heart twist in empathy for the poor young girl and he heaved a sad sigh as he rubbed her back gently, trying to soothe her. He had already reassured her that as scary as her dream had been, it was only that, and in the real world, everything was ok, but even if Aurora knew that on a cognitive level, her emotions were blinding her and the rest of her mind had not yet caught up to the fact which she already knew. Instead, she could only continue to shake and since Diaval knew there was nothing left to do, he continued to hold her close until she finally stopped shaking.
"Sleep, my sleeping beauty," he encouraged once he finally felt her starting to relax. Her heartbeat had slowed, she wasn't sobbing anymore, her breathing was evening out, he could feel her tense shoulders starting to slump. "Sleep now, I will fetch your godmother…" for a moment, Aurora seemed reluctant to allow Diaval to leave her side, as if she worried that if she let him go now, he'd never return, but at the thought of seeing her godmother, Aurora was willing to face a few of her fears. As much as Diaval had comforted her, she really, really wanted to see her godmother too. So she finally let Diaval slip out of her arms. He again channeled Maleficent's energy and turned back into a raven, giving Aurora a comforting caress with his dark wing before taking flight, silently promising to be back as soon as he could. Aurora watched him fly off into the night until he was completely out of sight.
Mere minutes later, he had returned, and so had Maleficent.
"Beastie?" the Dark Fairy wasted no time in rushing over to Aurora's side, concern written upon her face. Even though she managed to keep a very calm, relaxed and even posture, the worry and love that glittered within her eyes betrayed her true feelings and showed just how worried she felt for Aurora, even though Diaval had already explained it to her that she had only been suffering from a little nightmare, nothing more.
"Godmother," Aurora managed to choke out her caretaker's name, but that was all before she dissolved into tears again, burying her face in her hands, unable to look Maleficent in the eyes. Maleficent's gaze grew even more concerned and she was quick to wrap both arms and wings around the trembling, weeping girl. Diaval, meanwhile, took a quick flight away so that he would not intrude upon such a personal moment. He'd had his time with Aurora, now it was Maleficent's turn. But he would stay close so that he could come back as soon as Aurora and Maleficent were ready.
For a moment, Aurora and Maleficent only sat together in silence, just as Aurora and Diaval had done only a few minutes prior. While Aurora wept softly, shame, sorrow, fear and humiliation drawing out her tears, Maleficent remained calm, quiet, kind, gentle and patient, merely caressing the girl with her hands while her wings sheltered them both. It was one of Aurora's favorite things to do, to be wrapped in an embrace that used both Maleficent's wings and her arms. There was something even more powerful, moving, loving and intimate about being wrapped up in Maleficent's wings that her arms alone had not done. And the way Aurora fit under and inside them so perfectly felt all the better, as if fate had known all along that the two belonged together as mother and daughter, even if life had not started them out that way.
Maleficent continued to hug her frightened little Beastie and although she wanted dearly to know what was wrong, she knew better than to push the girl until she was ready. Instead, she held her tongue and allowed Aurora to get her feelings out, coming to terms on her own time. Then finally, Maleficent's patience paid off and Aurora, shakily, retold her what she had told Diaval previously.
"Stefan killed you," Aurora managed to say, the words alone causing her to cry some more. "You weren't able to get out of that horrible iron net in time and he kept driving his sword into you over and over and over again and I could do nothing but watch and it was so horrible. Diaval was panicking too, he tried so hard to save you, but it wasn't enough. Neither of us managed to get you out in time and you died and then when you died, Diaval lost all of his powers and he died too…" Aurora explained through bitter and wounded tears, starting to tremble again both in anger, frustration, guilt and sorrow.
She was displaying more anger with Maleficent than she had with Diaval, but that was because having to tell the story twice was slowly drawing the horror and sadness out of the story and throwing in anger and hurt. That night when Maleficent and Diaval stormed Stefan's castle in order to rescue Aurora had not been easy on anyone, even though Aurora, Maleficent and Diaval had all survived. And as Maleficent listened to Aurora's story, she felt her heart beginning to twist in pain just as Diaval's had done when he first heard the story from Aurora.
Maleficent had also been deeply affected by that night, so much happening in such a short time span. And even though she was having the least trouble coping with it, the restoration of her wings acting as something of a buffer to the nightmares that Aurora and Diaval were suffering, that did not mean that she did not occasionally worry over the things that might have been. All the little horrors of that night and the preceding 16 years were coming to light now that the big and immediate danger was over. Maleficent could attest to that. There were days when she would spend hours just staring into the sky and thinking, sometimes about that dark and fateful night and sometimes about all of the things that had preceded it. It had not been an easy time on anyone.
"Don't you worry, Beastie," Maleficent soothed. "I am here, and I will always be here, for you," she said as she caressed the girl with her hand and wing. Aurora melted into the touch, but it was clear she was still very much trapped in her nightmare. Even if she knew that Maleficent's words were true, the memory of watching her bleed out and die under Stefan's sword was not going to be something she got over in one night. Maleficent could understand, though. The fury and madness in his eyes had scared her too, and even more than that was the terror and despair she had felt when she thought that she had lost Aurora forever. Luckily, that fear had been alleviated, but there was still much more to recover from.
"I know you are scared now, and that is ok," Maleficent continued to whisper. "But you have nothing to fear and if there should ever come a time when you feel afraid, you always have me or Diaval to turn to. You know, right?" she asked gently. Aurora managed a nod and a sniffle. "Good," the Dark Fairy rested her cheek on Aurora's head and continued to hold her close, running a hand over the girl's tearstained cheek.
"Don't you worry your pretty little mind, my dear Beastie, I promised you once that as long as I live, no harm shall ever come to you, and I intend upon keeping that promise no matter what. Nothing will ever take me away from you."
And finally, even though it was clear that Aurora was still deeply shaken by her nightmare, the young girl finally managed to relax. Maleficent felt her shoulders slump and her breathing steady. The tears stopped coming and Aurora was no longer shaking. Relieved and satisfied, Maleficent sent out a quick burst of magic to summon Diaval, telling him that he could come back to them now and that her and Aurora's private moment was over. Diaval needed to return, the family needed to be complete, and on this night especially, when fears were still very much active within all three of their hearts and minds.
Only a few seconds later, Diaval had zoomed back into the room, landing delicately on Aurora's lap. She laughed wetly at him.
"Pretty bird," she managed to say and he bowed at her just like he had the first time they ever met face to face. Just like then, it brought out a laugh from Aurora and Diaval felt his heart swell with pride, joy and relief. Maleficent smiled at them both.
"And you are my handsome dragon as well," Aurora continued, caressing Diaval's feathered head. "You are my brave hero, my savior and knight in scaly armor!" she managed another wet laugh and Diaval cawed affectionately at her. Maleficent caressed both of them tenderly.
Theirs was a very strange family, to say the least. After all, in the usual fairytales, the dragon tried to kidnap and enslave the princess, not protect or free her. And the Dark Fairy was typically the scary villain, not the loving hero. But even though their family definitely went against the grain, it was a powerful one as well, drawn together by suffering and held together by love. It was the strongest form of love of all. Now they were going to need all of each other's strength and support to continue moving forward. Stefan and his madness might've been things of the past, but the past affected the present and until all three of them were truly recovered, it was going to take every person in the trio to make the healing process as smooth as it could be. Another night had passed, but now it was time to rest.
"Sleep, my Sleeping Beauty," Maleficent instructed as she curled protectively around Aurora the way a mother bird might curl around her baby chicks in the nest. Diaval took his place back by Aurora's head, also nestling down to get back to sleep. Once the three were all in place, then, Maleficent wrapped her wings around them all and sealed them in safely for what would hopefully be a much better, happier, more peaceful night.
"I will try," came the shaky reply, but there was nothing to fear because, for the rest of the night, Aurora felt wrapped in peace and safety and no dreams, good or bad, came to disturb her at all. It was a beautiful sleep for a Sleeping Beauty and her two nearest and dearest companions.
AN: Here's the nightmare fic, marycamp. Hope you like it! I love writing family fluff for these 3. They're all so adorable!