Author's Notes: Writing for the Maleficent ficverse has been a goal of mine since the first movie launched back in 2014. But plans sort of...fell by the wayside and my story never saw the light of day. Then it was announced that Disney was making a sequel, so I held off in an effort to avoid my ideas potentially retconning movie canon. (If you've read anything of mine, you'll know I'm a HUGE stickler for canon.)

Turns out, my fear was unfounded. The sequel more or less retconned itself, taking what was obviously a one-and-done with the original and tacking nonsensical worldbuilding on to an already unnecessary, nonsensical film. Now, I won't take an entire AN to write a fleshed-out review. But suffice to say, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil is a gargantuan pile of radioactive poo.

As disappointed as I am with MoE, it DID light a fire under my backside to finally get the ball rolling on my story. It's my hope that I keep the characters true to themselves, the "fairytale" feeling of the first film intact, and provide a reading experience the audience enjoys. My fic in no way, shape, or form coincides with the sequel. As far as I and my story are concerned, it doesn't exist (because it shouldn't). If you haven't seen MoE, no worries. Nothing here you need to know. If you have, forget the baffling awfulness of what you saw and focus on the events of the first film, because that's all that really matters here in this ficspace.

Once again, this story picks up right after the events of the first movie. Aurora has been crowned queen of the Moors, Maleficent's hair is free and long and beautiful, and Diaval is actually recognized as a character people love and adore and is given things to actually do. (In stark contrast to MoE.) Feel free to leave any comments or critiques you might have in a reader review.

Disclaimer: Maleficent and all associated characters/stories © Disney.

A Second (Third?) Impression

Their first "visit" to the castle had been nothing short of suicide. In a battle of epic proportions, they'd "stormed"—a rather exaggerated descriptor for a fairy, a raven-man and a comatose prince—the castle in an effort to save a "daughter" and revoke a terrible curse. The outlook had been bleak at the start, but ended in wings, a fire-breathing dragon, and the aged body of a manic king lying bloodied and broken against the cold, hard earth.

Their second had been a reuniting of the human kingdom's princess with her people. As only child of the late King Stefan and Queen, responsibility of the land and its inhabitants fell squarely on the shoulders of the monarchy's only surviving heir. Though informed of her royal lineage only weeks before, the young princess was next in line for the throne; and thus, was dictated by duty and decree to reign from her realm of birth as sovereign power of the state.

Their third and present visit was part informal gathering of "the authorities that be," and part "interspecies mingling." Both the humans and fair folk had been summoned in the hopes of setting aside old grudges and fostering peace. The "authorities that be" included the royal court and a few visiting dignitaries—from the neighboring kingdom of Ulstead, mostly—whilst the princess' godparents—the infamous horned fairy and her raven aide-de-camp—filled the role of representatives for the magical Moors.

And so the Great Hall filled with feathered hats and flowing gowns, a liveliness in the air the likes the castle hadn't seen or felt in years. With the late king's descent into lunacy and the death of the tragically unhappy queen, the castle itself seemed drained of color. What was once a relatively vibrant abode had become a fortress of anguish and isolation in the years following Maleficent's curse. But with the return of the Princess Aurora, light itself seemed to rise up from within its very walls. And with just a few short weeks behind them, the color that had seemed so muted as they clawed for survival under iron chains exploded to the surface, affecting not only the mortar and stone of the palace walls, but the people who inhabited it.

Indeed, there was an almost unthinkable pacificity for a room filled with humans and a pair of magic-infused beasts. You would never have guessed that an enormous barrier of impenetrable vines had separated the two species just months before. Maleficent chalked it up to the power of her "Beastie," so infectious was her joy. There was still mistrust, of course, and she didn't expect the fairies would be giving "guided tours" of the Moors any time this decade. But fairies and man, two creatures who to that point had despised one another with the passion of a thousand suns, were mixed together in the same room, at the same party, with not a single threat of death on either side.

It was more than she would have betted on in a lifetime.

From her seat at the front of the room, Maleficent quietly observed the cacophony of humans shuffling about her. They were a gossiping bunch, tossing wayward glances in her direction whilst hiding poorly concealed whispers behind goblets of gold. There was a clear divide between herself and the rest of the guests, ominous as Maleficent's aura could be—which didn't offend the fairy in the least. She flexed her pinions, grateful for the long wooden bench Aurora had placed special for her, the backing of the more traditional chair a hindrance to her recently restored wings. Perched in her lap was Diaval, in raven form, his eyes following the activity of the room. Diaval had seen the castle many times, but only as a scout, and only as long as was needed to ascertain whatever information his "Mistress" had dispatched him to collect. Such secrecy was no longer necessary now that the Princess Aurora sat on the throne. And that fact suited the pretty raven just fine.

Unbeknownst to the other, the magical pair watched as their "goddaughter" moved about the crowd, nodding and curtsying with a winsome smile, her golden locks bouncing in elegant curls down and around her shoulders and back. Diaval puffed with pride at the sight and Maleficent, on reflex, caressed the fine feathers of his neck and nape. His bill opened instinctively at the sensation, releasing a little purr-caw from his throat. He craned his head to give her easier access to the sensitive spots beneath his chin, his wings fluttering outward under the ministrations of her long—but gentle—nails. With a fondness she'd often felt but never voiced, Maleficent rolled her eyes, a small smirk forming in spite of herself.

Spoiled bird.

Her fingers had worked their way halfway to Diaval's underbelly when Aurora danced her way over, the polite smile from before replaced with a smile rivaling the brightness of the sun. Her teeth shone white and the happiness of her face radiated at the sight of her "godparents," nestled comfortably from their shared seating at the right side of the royal throne. She joined her "godmother" in smoothing Diaval's feathers—though her hands didn't stray quite as low as the fairy's—the raven clicking happily at the attention.

"Don't indulge him, Aurora," Maleficent scolded half-heartedly. "He's ridiculous enough as is."

The princess laughed as Diaval cawed in theatrical protest, his wings extending out on either side as he bobbled from talon to talon on Maleficent's knee.

"Though not half as ridiculous as these humans," she added with a scowl.

"Be nice, Godmother," Aurora chided lightly. "You and Diaval are my honored guests."

"I thought I was being nice," Maleficent countered. "No one's cursed. ...Or on fire." She chuckled quietly to herself at the thought.

"The humans are nervous," the pretty princess huffed. "They're not used to being in such close proximity to magic."

Maleficent raised her chin with a scoff, resuming her careful petting of Diaval's head.

"And I want them to know what a wonderful world I come from. And the parents who raised me." Aurora eyed the eclectic pair pointedly. "I need you both on your best behavior."

Diaval squawked, as if offended by the suggestion that his behavior could be anything but. Maleficent blinked innocently, as if the thought of turning her "servant" into a dragon and setting the room ablaze hadn't crossed her mind at least once—maybe twice—that evening.

"Godmother…" Aurora placed her hands on her hips warningly.

"We'll be good." The fairy's finger trailed the length of Diaval's back in one long, sensuous stroke. "Promise."

The word of her "godmother" was enough it seemed, as the dear girl instantly reverted to her smiling, playful state. Aurora, even at sixteen years of age, was quite young. It might have been her unconventional rearing in the woods. Or the ever-present optimism she'd been "blessed" with as an infant babe. Whatever the cause, the fair princess was as innocent and unassuming as she was beloved, with a near-childlike confidence that whatever her "godmother" or "godfather" promised, was as good as a command from the Creator Himself.

And it was a priority of both creatures that they never betray that trust.

"It would do you good to get up and circulate, Godmother," Aurora offered diplomatically. "Get to know the humans. Stretch your wings a bit."

"I know them well enough," Maleficent humphed. "Besides, 'communication' goes both ways. There's nothing stopping any one of them from walking over here and saying 'hello.'"

"I told you, Godmother. They're nervous. Magic doesn't exactly fall from trees in these parts and I…"

Aurora's argument trailed off as she caught movement out of the corner of her left eye. There, peeking out from behind the frame of the side chamber door, was the castle's youngest scullion maid, Marie. An orphan from birth, both the girl's parents had died young, with no surviving kin to tend for the newborn child. She had been placed in the care of the castle staff, raised by the community of workers as best their busy schedules would allow. Aurora had taken to her immediately, seeing in the girl a shadow of her younger self—sweet, curious, and shoehorned into a world that wasn't quite her own.

The little maid's tiny fingers held the door ajar as her gaze fixed inquisitively on the winged woman seated at the front of the room. She blinked with fascination at the sight, her mouth open in awe at the realization of a fairy, of all things, positioned smack-dab in the middle of the palace. It brought to Aurora's thinking a brilliant thought, so determined she was to ease the long-standing tensions between her two peoples. If the adults were too stubborn to mend ties, she'd just have to rely on the impartiality—and winningness—of youth.

Turning towards the door, the princess gestured to Marie, beckoning her forward with both hands and a glimmering smile. Eyes wide, the pint-sized maidservant walked shyly to the throne, hands wringing nervously at her chest.

"Y-you're highness," she curtsied with a stutter.

"Marie!" The princess beamed. "Meet my godparents! This is Maleficent," she motioned to the fairy with a wave, "and Diaval."

The little girl stood speechless under the scrutinizing gaze of the princess' "godmother." Posture erect, Maleficent regarded the girl with an almost wary contempt, her "maternal softness" reserved for her goddaughter and goddaughter alone. The orphaned child picked up on the fairy's disdain almost immediately, her feet shifting with an internal struggle as she bounced between offering a polite "hello," and turning tail and retreating to the safety of the kitchen.

Fortunately, the more socially adept Diaval was there to break the ice.

Dismounting from his "Mistress'" lap, the fetching raven hopped over to the far side of the bench, talons tap-tapping against the wood as he cheerfully approached the gobsmacked Marie. He offered up a subdued "caw" of greeting, his wings flapping animatedly at the prospect of making a new friend. Although human speech escaped his raven form, he communicated acceptance and comfort in a way the steely-tempered fairy—in any language—could not.

His reward was an instant smile.

"Wow…" the young girl breathed. "What a pretty bird!"

Diaval released a gutteral rattle at the compliment, his head high as he reveled in the flattering of his truest—and favorite—shape.

Maleficent rolled her eyes, again, all too accustomed to Diaval's touting of his "beautiful self." She'd never met a more vain and ego-inflated creature in all her existence. It was that same vanity that had been her near-constant companion for the better part of seventeen plus years. And as she watched him "charm" his way into the good graces of the sheepish maid, Maleficent convinced herself it was that, and not the loss of the feeling of warmth where his body had been, that irked her.

She had half a mind to fuss, but stilled at the sight of Diaval lowering his head in invitation to Marie's hand. It unnerved her, the thought of humans handling what she had by no means given permission to touch—even if said human was nothing more than a silly child. She felt heat rising from her throat to her face, her eyes glowing with an indignant rage...but caught herself as Aurora bent down, running her long, pale fingers over Diaval's neck.

"Gently. Like this, Marie."

Annoyed, but no longer incensed, Maleficent watched with a careful eye as her confidante played "pet" to the castle maid. As exasperating as Diaval could often be (and was), the fairy had to admit that his patience with children was unparalleled. He had been a perfect partner and counterbalance during their years of rearing Aurora as their own. Whereas Maleficent's role had been largely one of keeping their "hatchling" from toppling over cliffs, Diaval had been the one to feed, rock, clean, and entertain. And it was no secret that those moments had been the happiest of his life.

A grown "little one," it seemed, hadn't diluted his love of children in the least.

Aurora and Marie giggled as Diaval "croaked" and "clicked" under the attention of the girls, Maleficent's aggravation settling by the second. She remained mindful of her "servant," but managed to keep her magic—and hair-trigger temper—in check.

And so, their third trip to the castle ended with a bench, two pairs of wings, and a promise to visit the princess before the next full moon.

It wasn't exactly ravens and dogs in harmony...but it was a start.