It was a cold winter day and a thin layer of frost and snow laid over the forest floor. It let the ground look like a spotted rug. Frost also hang on the winter grass like pearls. The sky was covered by grey clouds and you couldn't see the sun. A slight breeze blew into Diavals face and made his coal black bangs fly backwards. He shivered and pulled the coat tighter to his body. His breath formed tiny smoke clouds and he looked up. Nightfall would be soon. A strange quietness was in the air and Diaval remembered the day three years ago. It was the day, he'd met Maleficent. The day, she'd saved him. For two years now, during that time, the fey would disappear for a while. She didn't talk about it to anyone and didn't explain why. The only thing she did, was ordering Diaval to not come looking for her. Aurora was now nineteen. It was her, that convinced Diaval to finally go.

Diaval was pacing up and down, nervously. Aurora who was sitting on a tree branch, looked at him with both, compassion and concern. ,,This is not ok"! Diaval murmured to himself ,,She's not ok! Something about this isn't right"! Aurora sighed at him ,,You should go after her"! Diaval turned to face Aurora. ,,But you know what she said! Diaval, don't go looking for me! That's an order"! he tilted his lips in disapproval as he repeated after his mistress. The blonde frowned ,,And still, I think you should go. She needs you. You want to go after her, so go"! Diaval looked to the ground, uncertain. ,,I know how you feel about mother"! Aurora added softly and got up from her sitting place. Diaval instantly shot his head up to look at her in shock. ,,You what"? ,,I know how you feel about mother"! Aurora repeated. ,,I have known for quite a while". Diaval opened his mouth but Aurora cut him off. ,,It's ok, I won't tell anybody! But you should really go. You want to go don't you"? Diaval closed his mouth and looked at her emotionally torn. ,,I…yes.." and again he looked down at his hands. ,,Then go Diaval"! Aurora took his hands into hers ,,It's the right thing to do. I am sure"! And Diaval gave her a small smile. ,,And you'll be ok"? He asked her. ,,I'm the queen am I not? The moor folks will protect me. And I've got Philipp"! the blonde bit her lower lip at the mention of her boyfriends name. Diaval nodded his head, smirking. ,,I hate to leave you but.." ,,Off you go"! Aurora chuckled and pushed him a bit ,,Go look for mother"! and he went away.

Diaval sighted. If somebody went away, they surely wanted to be alone. But Diaval has had this dark intuition, that it wasn't good at all that Maleficent was on her own during this time. She had to go through something that must hurt her terribly. It must be bad. Why else would she hide herself away every year? And while Diaval walked through the frozen undergrowth, the puzzle pieces came together in his mind slowly.

,, Wings. I need you to be my wings"!

Maleficents words echoed in him. She was a fey but she hadn't had wings. This was the first thing Diaval had noticed as he saw her for the first time. However, different to Aurora, he'd never dared to asked her why the wings were missing. He just happened to find out by chance after he told her that Stephan became king. But whatever had happened. It must have been cruel. It had to be a trauma. It must break her and she surely suffered. Maleficent however, was way too proud to admit that and she didn't want anybody to see that. That behind that controlled and proud façade, she was a hurt and emotional fey. But Diaval knew her better. He'd seen her deepest self when she kissed Aurora awake and broke the curse. The ground crunched under his feet and slight fog twirled around his calves. His hand now rested upon his right. He felt for the ring on which a raven skull sat. Maleficent had gifted that ring to him.

,,You've saved my life and you're always there for me. Even now, that I gave you free, you're not leaving my side. You're the most loyal friend I've ever had Diaval. Thank you for that. For everything. Take this, as a sign of my thankfulness"!

And with that, she gave him her ring. ,,And I am here for you Maleficent. That will never change"! he whispered to himself. He didn't call her by her name in her presence but if he did call her by her name, it was for a really serious reason. He still called her mistress, even though she didn't really was that anymore. She had given him free from that position but he stayed. Of course he stayed. He loved her. He had fallen in love with her years ago and the feelings never changed. They grew stronger. It wasn't a crush that would go away after a while. No, this was different and deep down he knew that. He loved her with everything he was. With all his heart and all his soul. But he didn't dare to tell her just yet. Someday the moment would be right but for now, Diaval was on his own with his feelings. He would carry that secret until then. How would she react would he tell her? This day was far ahead of him. Not touchable like the fog around his legs. Diaval followed an invisible track until he finally reached an old grey castle ruin. The cold masonry was covered in snow and looked so spooky it gave him goosebumps. This was the place he first found Maleficent. The ruin was dark and abandoned but Diaval knew Maleficent was here. He felt it. As he approached the building closer, his suspicion got proven right. In front of him, in the snow, were sliding tracks and footprints. Sliding tracks that could only come from a fey. Caused by the tips of the longest feathers that touch the ground.

Taking a deep breath, Diaval once again pulled the coat closer and then walked into the building. Determined. For a while he was wandering around until he found a sallow light that led him into the right direction. It got warmer and he smelled fire. She was here. For a moment, the black haired hesitated. How should he confront her? Would she be upset with him? Angry? Or even disappointed? He didn't know what top expect. But he quickly remembered why he came here, so he pushed himself off the wall and entered the room slowly. The room was rather small. There was a bed made out of tendrils and sheets. The windows were covered with tendrils as well to keep the wind out. There weren't many furniture pieces but the ones that were there, were not only broken, they were covered in spider webs and completed the haunted castle flair. Diaval frowned in disgust but quickly turned his attention back to Maleficent who sat in front of the fire place. Her back to him. Her wings twitched and then her head rose. She'd noticed his presence. Instantly she turned around to face him. As she recognized him, her eyes widened in shock for a second. Disbelief in her expression but she relaxed quickly. ,,Diaval"? her voice was hoarse and rough. She must have cried. Like expected, she quickly wiped over her eyes and cheeks. ,,What are you doing here"? her question sounded neither angry nor reproachful. Nervously Diaval fumbled his hands and went from one leg to the other. ,,Well…I. I worried" he admitted, lowering his gaze. ,,This is the third year and I think I got it now. You shouldn't be alone…mistress". He looked back up to her and she turned her head away from him back to the fire. Her eyes were red and glassy. She seemed devastated and torn. Diaval had never seen her like that before. Not even back then. The only thing he knew was that Stephan had taken Maleficents wings. She would always be so proud and strong, now she was just a shadow of the woman she usually was. Maleficent was so exhausted, she didn't even try to start to bicker. ,,If a person withdraws themselves, they want to be alone Diaval" she told him quietly. Diaval lowered his shoulders. ,,What someone thinks and what actually is good for them are two different things" he told her. And again, he beat her with his logical answers. Whatever he said, it made sense. ,,A wounded animal goes hiding but it needs help nevertheless" he added. Maleficent sighed deeply. What use would it be to now send him away? He after all, most likely knew now why she was here and secretly she was glad he was here with her.

,,May I"? Diaval had walked up next to her. The fey nodded and he sat down. A small smile played on her lips and she turned to look at him. The light of the fire danced on her face. ,,Thank you"! she muttered. ,,What for"? Diaval blinked. ,,For coming" Maleficent continued. ,,Gladly"! Diaval answered and replied her smile. ,,You can talk to me if you want. Or remain silent. I accept both". A shadow crossed Maleficents expression and she turned back to face the fire. ,,No its…its ok" she said. ,,I'll tell you. You do know a lot after all". ,,But you don't have to"! Diaval relented. ,,No, I'll tell you"! Maleficent insisted and took a deep breath. ,,I trust you Diaval! You deserve to know"! Her words shot a tingle through his body. ,,I appreciate that" he replied and she smiled again. ,,Well.." she began, looking back into the flames. ,,It all started years ago. I was a child still. Twelve years exactly. A farmers boy came to the moors and stole a simple crystal. I ordered the boy to give the crystal back and he did. We started to talk a bit as I led him back. As we shook hands to say goodbye, I burned myself on the ring he was wearing. I told him that iron burns fey and he threw it away. I was adoring that move. He was poor and had nothing and he threw that ring away that probably meant something to him. For me. That boy came visiting me almost every day and we became something like best friends. As the years passed and I grew older, I fell in love with that human boy. Four years we had spent together. I was still young and naïve and then, on my sixteenth birthday, he…" Maleficent broke off. Tears welled back up in her eyes. Diaval knew she was fighting, so he put his hand on her arm to comfort her. The fey flinched for a second but relaxed quickly. That simple gesture gave her enough strength to continue.

,,On my sixteenth birthday, he stole my first kiss. He'd told me it was the kiss of true love" Maleficents tone became bitter. ,,He lied and I believed every single stupid word that came from his lips"! she got louder. Diavals eyes widened, everything fell in place now. Sixteenth birthday, true loves kiss. ,,And one day he just didn't come back. Didn't say anything. Just disappeared. And I wondered. Even after years, I believed in what we had. Tried to understand him. And one day, he really did come back. He again poured lies into me like the poison he gave me so I would fall asleep. I believed him. Again. And what did he do? I was such a fool"! and she yelled. Had she noticed? ,,I fell asleep and as I woke…there was this excruciating pain"! Maleficents lips trembled as she cried. ,,These was nothing but pain. It took my breath"! It tore Diaval to see Maleficent like that. He appreciated it more than he could ever tell her. That she was ripping all her wounds open and walked over burning shards just to tell him? Just so he knew it all? Maleficent forced herself to continue even though it absolutely tore her apart. It felt as if she was back in the moment. The pain was so present, as if she would still be laying on the cold ground. Bleeding. Alone. Betrayed to the worst and abandoned. ,,I instantly knew what he did but I didn't understand why? He betrayed me, used me, and deceived me. And I was so stupid and trusted him. I loved him and he cut my wings off to become king"! Maleficent was totally beside herself with rage and sorrow and Diaval knew no better but to pull her into his arms. ,,I was so lost and alone and hurt"! she sobbed. Diaval stroked over her hair, aiming to soothe her and she finally broke into tears. Crying uncontrollably. She cried so bitterly and broken, like Diaval never saw anyone cry. All her pain and anger, all her sorrow and bitterness, everything came to the surface and broke free. All the emotions she was holding in for so long. She clutched Diaval as if he was the only thing that kept her from falling into the deep. She clawed herself into his coat, shaking and sobbing. ,,I was so consumed of hate and thirst of revenge, and then I cursed Aurora. An innocent baby! I was a monster Diaval! I alone"! Diaval just hugged her more. Continued to caress her hair, comforting her. He didn't say anything. Just continued to caress her hair, comforting her as well as he could until she slowly but surely calmed down. Even as she didn't sob anymore, he still caressed her back. Rubbed her upper arm and waited patiently. Diaval didn't care that his shirt was now wet from all the tears. Carefully he took out a handkerchief and gave it to her. Maleficent took it silently, dabbing her eyes and cheeks and then blowing her nose. She didn't have any make up on. For what. She came here to cry on her own and live through all that pain like a perennial nightmare. It broke Diavals heart and he blamed himself for not following her earlier.

,,Thank you"! she finally sniffed ,,I am sorry you had to witness this" she aspirated ,,It must be weird right? Seeing me like this…miserable, weak and vulnerable". She spit the words as if they were the biggest disgrace. ,,No"! Diaval rose his voice ,,You don't have to feel sorry about anything. It's neither piteous nor a shame"! Maleficent swallowed. ,,Showing wearkness is one of the biggest strenghs one can have"! Diaval told her ,,Sometimes you need to let a wound bleed so it can heal"!. ,,Diaval.." Maleficent looked at him and just suddenly threw her arms around him once more. Her forehead resting on his shoulder. ,,I am so, so thankful. I am endlessly thankful you came here"! she told him and he felt the heat rise to his face. ,,I will always be there for you"! Diaval said with a smile. Maleficent took a deep breath ,,What would I do without you"? And he smirked at her like she knew him. ,,I don't know? Waiving on my ingenious self"? Under his chin, Maleficent escaped a grunting laugh. ,,Conceited bird"! she chuckled and a smile spread on her lips. ,,I'm your conceited bird"! Diaval responded and rested his head on hers. Maleficent closed her eyes, resting her face on his chest. ,,Do me a favor Diaval" she muttered. ,,Which one"? he asked. ,,Let this be our secret ok"? ,,Eh.." Diaval blinked, surprised. He didn't really know how to take that. But he did know, that they for sure have gotten closer to each other. And what they had right now, was enough for that moment. ,,Alright"! he answered and put his arms back around her.

Maleficent didn't even think about the fact that she was cuddling with Diaval. She savored the feeling. The closeness, the warmth of his body. His heartbeat. The raising and lowering of his chest as he breathed. She'd never felt so safe. Never did something feel more right. Exhaustion came over her and her eye lids became heavy. Before she even knew it, she had fallen asleep. So they stayed, arm in arm, in front of the fire, sleeping through the night until the fire wood was a smoldering pile of ash.

As Maleficent opened her eyes, she thought for a moment she'd just dreamed. But as she slowly woke and heard Diavals regular heartbeat, she knew he was really with her. It was so strange as much as ironic that the second time she fell asleep on a man's shoulder brought her healing. The first time had thrown her into her doom. Now, for the first time in nineteen years, she felt that she would heal. It would take time but she would heal. Did Diaval even realize what he had given her? How much she appreciated that he actually broke her order to follow her to care for her? Never before had anyone cared that much for her. Never did someone show so much interest. Aurora was one thing but the relationship they had wasn't the same.

,,Good morning"! came the sudden voice of Diaval and Maleficents heart skipped a beat. Now that her senses came back to her, she was also able to think straight again. ,,Already"? she asked and slowly rose. ,,The sun has risen not to long ago" Diaval explained and the fey gasped for air. ,,You've been awake"? with an open mouth she looked at him. She felt odd. Flustered and a bit bashful even. ,,Yes, a little while, but not much longer than you" he replied, shrugging his shoulders. ,,Why didn't you wake me up"? she nagged halfhearted. ,,You needed the sleep" Diaval calmly replied. He looked at her with his pure puppy eyes and she couldn't help but smirk again. She did find it cute he let her sleep because he knew how exhausted she was. And once again she asked herself how she deserved him. How she deserved to have him at her side.

,,We should return"! Maleficent now stood entirely, stretching herself. ,,Aurora will worry". Diaval as well got up, stretching and yawning. As they went out of the ruin, they got greeted by a cold morning breeze. During the night, more snow had fallen and now the world around them was completely covered under a thick white blanket. Together they walked back through. Diaval watched Maleficent. She had changed. She seemed light hearted and relaxed. The smile didn't leave her lips and her wings bounced slightly as she walked. He smirked after her. Not only did they got incredibly closer to one another, they now shared a way deeper connection. Maleficent wouldn't return to this place and she didn't. Not the next year and not the following.