As Maleficent led Aurora through the Moors, she began to feel something warm and strange and tingly rise up in her chest. At first, she figured it was only nervousness. She had been alone for so long, after all. She wasn't very good at positive interactions, let alone with a human! And even more than that, this wasn't just any human. This was Princess Aurora, daughter of her biggest rival. Maleficent chalked up her confused feelings to the above reasoning, that she was not used to interacting with humans, let alone the child of the man who betrayed her in the cruelest way, but as the night carried on, those confused feelings seemed to even out. They were still beyond Maleficent's comprehension, but the turmoil she'd felt earlier while allowing Aurora to see her world had subsided. Now, only warmth remained, combined with the first signs of fondness.

Maleficent tried to deny it then. Hadn't she sworn never to love again? Hadn't she sworn never to be betrayed and broken again? But it seemed like the harder she tried to quash her feelings for Aurora, the stronger they pushed back. The warmth grew every single night that Aurora came to visit her in the Moors. Every time they met, Maleficent felt a little bit lighter, a little bit happier. She was still very much lost to grief, rage and revenge, but whenever Aurora was near, some of that pain would go and Maleficent would catch a glimpse of the sweet fairy she used to be.

"No, no, it cannot be!" Maleficent growled to herself one morning, after Aurora had gone home. Maleficent paced the Moors alone, shaking her head and demanding of herself why she felt so weak and vulnerable around Aurora. What was it about the little princess that made Maleficent feel so trusting? How was Aurora able to bring down her walls so quickly and easily? Every single time they were together, Maleficent felt more honest than she had ever been before, but after Aurora would leave her again for the day, the morning regret would set in Maleficent would again be at a loss for how her reign of terror could've been toppled so easily. She was so fierce and stern during the day, but when night came and Aurora arrived with it, all that ferocity would melt. But how? Why?!

"I am a fool!" Maleficent continued to curse herself as she roamed the Moors in anger and anguish, trying to clear her mind and understand her own confusing feelings. She could now identify how she felt for Aurora, but she still had yet to understand why and that was what bothered her so deeply. As a creature used to being in total control, the way Aurora made her feel was not very enjoyable to her. Maleficent knew she cared for the girl, absurd as that was, but she just could not fathom why. Sure, Aurora was a sweet girl, but why was she the one to find and open up Maleficent's cold, dead heart again? Aurora was the spawn of Maleficent's biggest enemy! How on Earth had Aurora managed to become so dear to her? Of all people, how was it that Aurora was the one Maleficent had grow to… to… to… well, she couldn't say it! Not yet at least…

Maybe it was just something in Stefan's blood. After all, he had enchanted Maleficent too. It seemed to be her curse to forever be taken by people with Stefan's blood. First it was Stefan himself, duping her into believing that he was her True Love. And now it was his daughter, repeating the same action. Although admittedly, she seemed far more genuine and innocent than Stefan ever had been. She did not seem aware of what she was doing to Maleficent, nor that it mirrored what her father before her had done. But even so, Maleficent remembered, and it made her deeply uncomfortable. Aurora had somehow stolen what was left of her heart. Even if Maleficent couldn't bring herself to say That Word, she could no longer deny the deep affection she felt for the girl. She cursed Stefan that he had somehow managed to get back at her with a curse of his own.

A curse of his own… Maleficent was suddenly and painfully reminded of what she had done to Aurora and then the real panic began to set in. Regret and terror for the fate she had put on Aurora finally came bursting through her other confused feelings and before she even knew what she was doing, she was off, searching for any way to reverse the curse she had once placed upon Aurora. It was her own fault, really, for causing this much pain to herself and Aurora, but that did not stop Maleficent from bitterly regretting her actions and searching desperately for a cure.

"Her curse has become my curse!" the fairy muttered angrily as she searched the Moors for answers, trying to find any sort of magic or cure. "This thing that was meant to hurt Stefan has hurt me much worse than it could ever hurt him!" the unfairness of it all made Maleficent want to scream her fury to the Heavens, but she managed to reign in. She could lose her temper later. Right now, she had something even more important than that at stake: Aurora. Sweet little Aurora. The one who would suffer from the curse the most was perhaps the most innocent of them all. It really wasn't fair, and Maleficent had no one else to blame but herself. But even so, Maleficent refused to surrender and she continued to search for an answer.

She would save that foolish little Beastie even if it was the last thing she ever did. And why? Because somehow, she had grown to love that little girl as if she were her own. Against all odds and expectations, Maleficent had come to truly, genuinely and deeply love Aurora and even though Maleficent was certain that this was a road that would only lead to ruin, she refused to give Aurora up without a fight. And in the back of her mind, then, as Maleficent continued to try to find a way to undo her own curse, something else occurred to her. It was one of the clauses in the curse. She had said that Aurora would indeed grow in grace and beauty, beloved by all who knew her. Beloved by all who knew her. It looks like Maleficent was included on that list.

"So it was fate, then," Maleficent gave a despairing laugh as the realization struck her like a lightning bolt. "It was destined to love this girl all along. I made it so by my own folly. I sealed my own fate with that curse. Her curse has become my curse too…" she shook her horned head and gave another despairing laugh. "I suppose it is all I deserve, though," she continued. "After all, I have no one to blame except myself. I made myself love Aurora. By my own foolishness and arrogance, I did this. Now I have to live with the consequences just as much as Aurora and Stefan do. This wasn't just their curse, it was my curse too, and done by my own hand, no less…" It was a painful irony and for the rest of the day, Maleficent could hear her own words coming back to her with a cruel and ironic echo: She will be beloved by all who know her!

She had to find a cure! Before it was too late…

AN: marycamp, here's your last Maleficent request that details when and how she realizes that she has truly come to love Aurora.