A/N: Hello! It's my first story, yayyy! Malora. Diaval has chicks in this. Inspired by a Pinterest post which I can no longer find.
I often see stories where Aurora is upset and Maleficent comforts her, so I thought I'd try something different and switch the roles. I hope you enjoy! :)
Aurora couldn't pinpoint the exact time when she had regained consciousness, but she could remember waking up to blinding sunlight and the familiar earthy scent of Maleficent's nest in her great rowan tree. The world slowly came into focus in bits and pieces at a time.
First the crisp coolness of the morning air. Then the absence of a certain tall, winged faery by her side. And finally, stabbing pains in her side and leg.
The events of the previous day, which had been lying dormant in the back of Aurora's mind, came trickling back to her like rainwater dripping from a leaf. She remembered receiving the news from Diaval that enemy forces were gathering on the border between the human kingdom and the nation of Eria. The Erian king was demanding one half of all the materials and resources in the kingdom, in addition to full control of the Moors. Should his demands not be fulfilled, he would officially declare war on Aurora's kingdom.
Had he made the first demand alone, it might have been a difficult decision to make. Her father's tyrannical and paranoid rule had left the kingdom in quite a state for Aurora to clean up when she took up her duties as queen. Already the kingdom was faring much better in terms of trade and materials, but it would in no way be able to win a fight against a nation as powerful as Eria without suffering major casualties.
If she had obliged to this request, perhaps he would have waged war on her kingdom regardless. It might have taken years for Aurora's kingdom to regain what they'd lost in trade goods and resources. It was of little consequence, really, because she hadn't. Hadn't given any extensive thought to the matter. Hadn't even considered placing the Moors in danger for a second.
Her violet-blue eyes had burned with a determined fire that would have caused even the bravest of men to consider backing down. She had called for her horse to be brought to her, and before her guards were fully aware of what was happening, she was leading them into battle herself. Her cape fluttered gallantly in the breeze as she sat with rigid posture astride her horse, not even a trace of fear or doubt in her steely gaze. Her knights had stared at each other with disbelief and slight awe. Was this the same carefree queen that ran free with the children of the villages and took pity on any humble peasant who needed help?
The memory of the battle was hazy at best, just a blur of swords clanging against shields, the occasional cry of pain or anguish as a warrior fell, and a deafening roar in her ears that made her head spin. Once the battle had started, all of her confidence had vanished and she lost herself amidst the chaos. There had been a short period of time where it appeared that they were going to suffer a horrible defeat. Then, to Aurora's surprise and delight, they had- slowly and unsteadily- begun to gain the upper hand. Aurora's soldiers had cut swaths through the crowds of men with their swords, felling enemy after enemy warrior.
The next thing she recalled clearly was falling from her horse, landing on her leg at a sickening angle, and feeling a searing pain on the side of her abdomen. She had bitten down on her tongue hard, causing bright crimson blood to pool in her mouth. The world had spun around a great many times before fading completely. She had barely enough time to hear the spirited victory cry from her battered but triumphant army before losing consciousness.
Now she was waking up here, in Maleficent's nest, but with the aforementioned faery nowhere in sight. She made to sit up and was immediately overwhelmed by the sensation of dizziness and nausea caused by the mere effort of moving to a sitting position. Reluctantly, she laid back down, dismayed with her apparent weakness and lack of ability to perform simple actions.
All of her muscles now felt as if they were on fire. Aurora groaned, her expression turning to a grimace of pain as she ground her teeth and tried to ignore the aching soreness of what felt like every muscle in her body. The young queen's face quickly blossomed into a smile, however, when she heard the soft but familiar sound of wings beating somewhere behind her.
"Maleficent?" she asked to the air in a hoarse whisper, hoping for a swift response from her godmother. None came.
"Maleficent?" she whispered again, slightly louder this time. She knew full well that considering Maleficent's exceptional sense of hearing, she would undoubtedly be able to hear her if she was there. Aurora was nearly certain that she'd heard wings behind her just a few moments ago. It could have been Diaval, she supposed, but his wings were much smaller and likely wouldn't have produced a sound of such clarity. Perhaps she'd imagined the noise, in her longing to see Maleficent?
Her unasked questions were answered when a quiet, velvety voice broke the silence.
"Beastie." A large shadow passed over her as Maleficent moved around to Aurora's front and gracefully lowered herself to sit on the intertwined branches. Aurora smiled weakly, and waved with a shaky hand. She was forced to turn her head to the side to cough not a moment later. The way that Maleficent's features contorted with pain upon seeing her little queen in such a frail state went blissfully unnoticed.
"I am sorry that I had to leave your side. There is a type of plant in the western parts of the Moors with leaves that, when crushed, produce a juice that can aid in hastening the healing process of wounds and broken bones." Aurora looked up again, squinting to shield her eyes from the sun. "Oh! Th...thank you."
The slightest hint of a frown appeared on the tall faery's face. "Is something wrong?" She hesitated before continuing. "I truly am sorry that I left. I would have sent Diaval to fetch the leaves, but he was unsure of their exact location and I didn't want to trouble him unnecessarily. I'd hoped you would stay asleep while I was gone," Maleficent's brow furrowed when there was no immediate response from Aurora.
"No, I'm not upset that you left. And I agree, we shouldn't work Diaval harder than needed, as he has a family to look after now after all." Aurora's eyes turned to the ground, as her fingers came up to fidget idly with the collar of her dress."I was just surprised, I suppose. Were you the one who bandaged my leg?" She gestured to the cotton gauze wrapped tightly around the knee and calf of her right leg.
Maleficent appeared to shift uncomfortably. A mixture of embarrassment and confusion played in her eyes before she regained her usual stoic composure. "Yes." A pause. "May I ask of the cause for your surprise?"
Aurora tilted her head back to look at her godmother again, this time with amusement alight on her face. "Usually, when I get hurt- which is sort of a lot- there's doctors and physicians at the castle who treat me. I've never been cared for by a creature of the Moors before- much less their protector," she explained, sporting a lopsided grin.
Maleficent sniffed and pointedly turned her head away. "Do you honestly believe I would let those prodding idiots lay a finger on you after you'd been injured so severely?" The question was clearly meant to be made with sarcasm and mock-disdain, but the miniscule note of genuine concern in Maleficent's voice did not go unnoticed by Aurora's keen ears. This worried Aurora a considerable amount. Maleficent was always the perfect picture of emotionless concealment, only ever letting a hint of amusement or displeasure slip through the unreadable walls she built around herself to keep people out and feelings within. To see just a hint of her true emotions, of the real Maleficent- the one that felt things just as anyone else did, like grief, and pain, and love- was incredibly new and foreign to the one who loved her most.
Aurora shivered involuntarily, noticing with dismay the way the dynamic quality of the very air around them had changed so suddenly from a playful conversation to an uneasy silence. Trying to lighten the mood, she made a feeble attempt at a chuckle which sounded more like a wheeze. "It's a good thing I didn't die. Wouldn't want those stuffy old nobles to have to go through all the trouble of finding someone else to rule the kingdom right after the death of my father," she joked with the cheeriest voice she could muster in all of her agony.
Maleficent did not react as Aurora expected her to. Her body instantly tensed up as if seized by some invisible force. She could not see the expression on the tall faery's face, but she could see by the way her shoulders had grown rigid and her wings were now folded tightly that Maleficent was upset. Aurora gazed at her godmother with confusion and concern. She had evidently only made the situation worse with her half-hearted joke, but she wasn't entirely sure what she had said that had caused Maleficent to react how she did.
Could it be that she doesn't approve of me calling my advisors such names? This idea was dismissed almost as soon as it was conjured, for she knew Maleficent thought her advisors to be just as pompous and boring as she did, if not more so. They often talked over the matter of her advisors when together, and her complaints about their collective refusal to listen to reason or tendencies to make fusses over nothing were met with only understanding and sympathy. It was possible that Maleficent was still sensitive regarding the mention of King Stefan, but Aurora knew even that particular topic could never cause such a response in the usually-indifferent faery.
"Maleficent?" Aurora asked with uncertainty. Once again, there was no reply. She moved closer to Maleficent, not without a great deal of pain. It was only then that she saw how Maleficent's head was bowed and her wings seemed to be twitching uncontrollably. Upon closer inspection, the blonde queen discovered that her godmother's entire frame was trembling- no, shaking, and violently at that. Maleficent made a small, strange choking noise. As she turned to face Aurora, she dipped her head lower still, allowing her dark hair to hide her face. Aurora stared. "What's wrong?"
Still staring at the floor of the nest, Maleficent spoke so softly that her ragged voice was nearly inaudible. "Aurora. Do you have any idea-" Her voice cracked. "I was so afraid that you would...that you wouldn't come back to me alive." This single revelation was all it took for Maleficent's fragile control to come undone. A strangled sob burst forth from her lips, one that she had clearly been trying desperately to hold back, and tears began to stream down her face. Finally, she looked up, if only to glare at Aurora. "What were you thinking, leading your soldiers into battle like that? You know nothing of combat!" she hissed, causing Aurora to wince and back away.
Guilt flooded her senses. How could she have been so insensitive? Of course Maleficent was upset. Aurora had nearly died!
For all of the effort Maleficent put into maintaining an emotionless, unfeeling front, Aurora knew that she did care. Maleficent cared for her deeply, and would be absolutely destroyed if she lost the only human who had ever truly knew her and loved her, flaws and all. So it was no surprise that she'd be terribly worried when Aurora, inexperienced and naive Aurora- Maleficent was completely right, she had no combat training whatsoever- went recklessly charging into a battle against an enemy nation without so much as a word to the protector of the very lands which she was fighting for. Of course, this detail wasn't entirely her fault, as she'd assumed that Diaval would tell Maleficent of the perils her kingdom had been then facing, but he apparently either hadn't known or had chosen not to tell her about Aurora's intentions to lead the ranks herself. Looking back, Aurora supposed it had been a rather brash choice, but that was all in the past now and nothing more could be done about it.
For a few moments, Aurora was perfectly still. Maleficent silently cursed herself. She was a monster, unworthy of loving, undeserving of being loved- especially by such a beautiful and kind-hearted creature as Aurora. Maleficent waited for Aurora to cry, to yell back, or run away, back to her human kingdom where she would realize that she had never really loved Maleficent anyways. She would discover that she was perfectly content in the greedy, dishonest world of humans and did not need to return to the Moors anymore, for what reason was there for her to return?
There was none. Maleficent was going to lose her little beastie, all because she didn't know how to deal with her feelings.
Aurora, in reality, did none of these things. She remained silent and unmoving. Then, carefully and slowly, she crawled over to Maleficent and wrapped her arms around her in a gentle hug. Maleficent froze. Her arms were pinned to her sides by Aurora's embrace, and she hated how trapped it was making her feel, but she didn't dare pull away. Instead, she sat there as if made of stone, rigid and tense and trying her absolute hardest to keep from crying. I will not show weakness. Not like this. Not in front of her. No...oh, god...please…
Maleficent's breathing became quick and uneven. Aurora, feeling this, tightened her grip ever so slightly and leaned forward. "It's okay," she whispered breathlessly. "I'm here. I won't leave, I promise."
At last, Maleficent gave in. She melted in Aurora's arms, hugging her back as hard as she could without hurting her, given her recent injuries, and sobbed quietly. Aurora shifted her weight back so that Maleficent could lean against her, and rubbed small circles on her back with one hand while running the other through Maleficent's silky hair.
After an indeterminate amount of time, Maleficent's sobs had died down, leaving her with Aurora's arms still snugly around her waist. She found that this was not an entirely uncomfortable position to be in, although she was largely unused to the contact.
"I'm sorry," Aurora said somberly. "I wasn't thinking. I… well, I mean, I didn't want a war. But I would never have even thought about letting him take the Moors. Or any other ruler, for that matter."
"You are forgiven whole-heartedly." Maleficent's tone, for once, was warm and sincere. She shifted in Aurora's arms to meet her eyes. "I imagine that the Moorfolk would be quite honored to know that their queen would go to such lengths as to ride into battle to defend them and their lands."
Mischief sparkled within Aurora's eyes. "I do love the creatures of the Moors, and I wouldn't trust anyone else- other than you, of course- to protect the natural beauty of these lands. But they aren't the only things I consider worth fighting for, you know."
Maleficent raised a brow in confusion, and Aurora grinned. "For instance, there is a certain protector of the Moors who is more beautiful than any other person I have ever known."
At this, Maleficent looked away hurriedly, face flushed. Aurora continued. "She is fiercely loyal to all beings under her protection. On more than one occasion, I have seen for myself how fearless she is, guarding the lands where she grew up and calls her home. She is very agile in flight, dodging obstacles with ease. She is also skilled in the use of magic for everything from healing plants to raising impenetrable walls of thorny brambles. And…" Aurora took a deep breath, sounding unsure for the first time since she had started her little speech. When she spoke again, her voice was quieter, but no less powerful. "And I love her more than anything."
Maleficent inhaled sharply. She could feel her heart pounding against her ribcage. There was a strange feeling coursing through her veins. It had started in her chest, and spread like wildfire to the rest of her body. It was an unfamiliar sensation- fluttery and light, but in a dizzying way, like hundreds of pixies flying about inside of her. She dared to meet Aurora's gaze, and discovered that the younger woman was staring at her with wide eyes, full of nervousness and something else- hope?
They found themselves drawing closer to each other without meaning to, barely aware of what was going on around them. Each's gaze was transfixed on the other, and two hearts thumped wildly in reckless tandem.
"Aurora…," Maleficent whispered. They were so close now that they were almost touching. Brief images of Stefan flashed through her mind, reminding her of why she had to stay away, why she needed to keep her distance and never get too close…
She blinked hard to bring herself back to the present. This was Aurora, not Stefan. Aurora, who had proven many times over that she would never betray Maleficent for the temptations of the mortal world. Her heart pumped impossibly faster. This was her one chance, it was now or never…
"I...I love you," she croaked out. Then, before she could change her mind, before she could come to her senses, she took Aurora's face tenderly in her hands and kissed her. Their lips met, melding seamlessly together, and Maleficent decided in that moment that she would be perfectly content to stay like that for the rest of eternity.