Chapter Forty Five
A/N: I do not own anything other than my OCs when they come out to play. Everything else belongs to either Disney or the Greek Myths.
Well...this is it. The last chapter-I can't believe it's here. Or that I managed to complete a story in the same year I started it. You don't understand, that rarely happens to me if it's not a one-shot. Thank you all for the support throughout the story, it means the world to me!
As I've said, there will be a sequel-keep an eye out for Choosing Love which I hope to have published sometime in the next month or so but with the holidays it's hard to be certain.
The song I borrowed from Wicked World-I figured it would fit well in this story!
As always special thanks to AmethystDragon14-I couldn't have done this without you!
Hope you all enjoy! :D
The next day came faster than Ben had expected it to. Honestly, he didn't even remember falling asleep but he must have as he awoke with his stomach in knots. It was the day he had been looking forward to and yet dreading for months…his coronation day.
Okay, nothing to worry about, he thought as he started to get ready. Just getting coronated in front of the entire kingdom. Breathe. You've been preparing for this for sixteen years. You can do this. It's just kneeling in front of Fairy Godmother, my mom and my dad; saying one line. There's no way I can mess that up.
He shook his head, trying to stamp down the nerves that were building up inside him. He needed to talk to someone soon otherwise he'd be a jittery mess come Coronation. Okay, so coronation's not for a few hours. Why don't we see what Chip is up to? He's usually good at being a calming voice.
Ben pulled out his phone and quickly dialed up Chip's number. He listened to the ringing of the other line and couldn't help but hope that Chip would be available to pick up.
"Hey Benji! What's up?" Chip's chipper voice sounded thought the phone. "How're you feeling?"
"Nervous. Very nervous," Ben told him, seeing no reason to lie to the man who was his brother in all but blood.
"But I mean should I be nervous? I'm only kneeling and saying one line. Really Fairy Godmother's doing all the work."
"Ben, you're not just kneeling," Chip told him. "You're also accepting responsibility for looking after the lives of everyone in the kingdom."
"Thanks Chip, I called you to alleviate my nerves. Not to be more nervous than I already was," Ben sighed and ran a hand through his hair.
"Ben, relax and listen to me okay? You will be fine. Have I ever been wrong? When it's important I mean?"
Ben sighed. "Chip….I don't know. I mean, I know I've been preparing for this for sixteen years but now that it's here…"
"I know Benji, I know," Chip said, his voice growing gentle. "It's a totally different thing. It's real now."
"It's stupid but…I'm just worried I'm going to mess everything up and Dad's going to realize he made a mistake stepping down—"
"Ben, he wouldn't be stepping down if he didn't feel you were ready. Like he said yesterday at Family Day, remember?"
"Yeah, okay, he thinks that now. What if in a month or so he realizes he made a mistake? Chip, I'm serious, I don't know if I can do this! I-I—"
"Ben, I want you to listen to me! Your dad would not be stepping down if he felt you weren't ready. You can do this."
Ben ran a hand through his hair once more. "Chip, what makes you so sure?"
"Because not only have you been raised and trained for this since birth but you want to do a good job ruling the kingdom."
"Well of course I want to do a good job! Doing a bad job would mean people might suffer!"
"You just proved my point," Chip said gently. "Ben, if you weren't ready for this, you wouldn't have said that. The fact that you're thinking about others being affected means you can do this."
Ben took a deep breath. Chip had a point—and besides he would have his friends by his side. Sure he would have the council, but when it came to advisors, there was no one Ben trusted more than his friends.
"Ben, trust me. You're going to be fine," Chip told him. "And honestly, I'd rather have a king who's nervous on his coronation day than have one who's completely calm."
"Because it means he doesn't have an ego the size of Jupiter for one and would be able to think things through, preventing the kingdom from suffering."
Ben couldn't help but give a weak smile at that, even though he knew Chip couldn't see it.
"Thanks Chip," he said softly. "What would I do without you?"
"You'll never need to find out," Chip promised. "I'm always going to be here Ben. You need anything, even after that crown touches your head, I'll be there."
"Not a problem. You feeling a bit better Benji?"
"Good. You got this Ben. Just keep telling yourself that okay? Plus, if it helps, think of Mal looking all nice in her dress as she looks at you in the front row."
Ben smiled at the thought. "I…I hadn't thought about that," he said softly.
"Well do think about that cause that's what's going to happen," Chip said with a chuckle. "Now, little bro, you're going to go out there and rock this coronation. Then you're going to enjoy yourself at the party your shadows are throwing for you."
"Oh so they've given you details?" Ben teased.
"Any chance you'd spill some of those details?"
"Hmm…sorry Benji, your shadows swore me to secrecy."
"Ben, do you really think that'll work on me? I can hear the pout in your voice," Chip chuckled. "Don't forget I've known you since you were a baby—hell I changed your diapers!"
Ben sighed. "So I'll be going into an Akiho and Emir party completely blind?"
"Yep, but you'll enjoy it."
"If you say so. You know those two always go a bit overboard on their parties."
"Trust me Benji."
"You know you've said that a lot in this conversation. I will always trust you Chip. However, I do have concerns when it comes to parties thrown by my best friends. You do remember what they did for my 16th after all. Just a hint couldn't hurt could it?"
"Fine, only because it's you and it's your coronation day," Chip told him. "Be prepared to be carried into the party by some of your Tourney team mates. Also it's outside."
"Okay…" Ben said slowly. "Did they happen to say why that's going to be happening?"
"Can't tell you that."
"Of course you can't," Ben sighed. "Chip just tell me this…they're not planning on blowing anything up are they?"
"Do fireworks count?"
Ben couldn't help but give a weak chuckle at that. His best friends meant well but their parties…let's just say there was a reason one of the ball rooms at Beast Castle was an ice rink.
"Other than the fireworks, no Benji, they're not planning on blowing anything up. Honestly, and you didn't hear this from me, it actually sounds pretty tame."
"Yeah, other than the Tourney guys carrying you in. Gods I hope someone gets that on video!"
Ben chuckled. "Why would you need someone to film it, Chip? I'd have thought you'd be there in person?"
"Oh I will be," Chip promised.
"See? No need for there to be video then!"
Chip chuckled and Ben could almost see him shaking his head in amusement. "Get dressed Benji or you'll be late."
"Okay, talk to you later Chip."
Ben hung up his phone and sighed. It never failed; talking to Chip always seemed to help calm his nerves. Taking a deep breath, he got dressed in his coronation attire. Just as he was finishing up, there was a knock on his door.
"Your highness? I have your breakfast," Mrs. Potts said. "Chip and I made your favorite in honor of the day."
Ben grinned and opened the door. "Thanks Mrs. Potts!"
"You're welcome dear, oh look at you! You look so handsome. Are you feeling alright Ben? You look a bit pale."
"I was feeling a little nervous earlier but Chip calmed me down," Ben said as he took the tray of food.
"Good. Try to eat something, you've got a big day after all."
"Yes Mrs. Potts," Ben said with a smile. No matter how old he got, Mrs. Potts would always be like a second mother to him.
Mrs. Potts smiled before dipping into a small curtsy. Ben chuckled and gave a small bow in return, returning the smile before looking down at the tray.
"This looks really good Mrs. Potts," Ben said, looking back at her.
"Thank you dearie. Well I'll let you get to eating. Just leave that tray in front of the door when you're done."
"I will—thank you again!"
Mrs. Potts gave Ben a kind smile as she walked off, and Ben closed the door to his room to eat the breakfast she'd prepared. Actually, breakfast was a bit of an understatement—feast was a more appropriate word. And yet, Ben managed to eat all of it. As he finished up, Ben checked his watch to note the time.
"I'm…not running late?" Ben muttered to himself as he saw the time. Despite being the Crown Prince and knowing the importance of punctuality, Ben had started developing a reputation for running late—if only because of all the items on his schedule. "This is a weird feeling. Okay then, I should probably head down anyway. Wonder how many people I'll freak out because I"m early for once."
He chuckled and straightened out his jacket once more before opening the door and made his way downstairs. Ben couldn't help but smile as he saw all the attendants and servants hard at work preparing the castle of the transition. Making his way down the stairs, Ben chuckled to himself as he saw his parents in the foyer.
"Hey mom, hey dad!" Ben called as he finished descending the stairs, slowing his pace a little as to not appear as if he was rushing. Reaching his parents, Ben gave each of them a smile; noticing the tears that had begun to well in his mom's eyes. "Oh mom, don't cry!"
"I'm sorry Ben," Belle said, dabbing at the corners of her eyes. "It's just hard to believe you're going to be King after today. Look at you, you look so handsome."
"Thanks mom," Ben said with a small smile.
"Hard to believe you're the same little boy who used to get into mischief with Chip," Beast said fondly, resting a hand on Ben's shoulder. "You grew up too fast, Ben."
"It doesn't feel like it," Ben told him. "Dad, are you sure about this—?"
Beast gave his son a comforting smile. "Ben, it's natural to feel nervous. But, like I said yesterday, I wouldn't be stepping down if I wasn't sure you'd be able to do the job."
Ben couldn't help but give him a small smile before sighing softly.
"We should get going," Beast said. "Wouldn't look good for you to be late at your own coronation."
Ben chuckled slightly before the three of them began to make their way to their respective carriages that would take them to the chapel.
Wait a minute! Ben suddenly thought, stopping in his tracks. Mal! She should be riding in the carriage with me! We need to pick her up!
"Wait!" Ben exclaimed, causing his parents to pause and look back at him. "Mom, dad, I need to pick up Mal! She's my girlfriend after all, she should be riding with me!"
Belle turned to Beast. "I told you we were forgetting something."
"I won't be long," Ben promised.
"We'll meet you at the cathedral," Belle told Ben, who nodded before turning and went to make his way to Mal's dorm; riding to the school in the carriage before telling the driver to meet them in front of the school. Thankfully, all the students were in their dorms preparing for coronation so no one prevented him from getting to Mal's dorm. Knocking on the door, Ben waited nervously; straightening out his jacket once more as if to have something to do with his hands. Thankfully, Mal didn't keep him waiting long as she opened the door maybe about five minutes later.
Ben didn't think it was possible for her to look even more beautiful than she already did. Clearly he was wrong.
"Uh…you..you look…" he stuttered, trying to pull the words out. She truly was a vision in a lavender dress accompanied by a high collar.
"What's the matter Ben? Cat got your tongue?" Mal asked with a small smirk, a teasing tone to her voice, and Ben couldn't help but flush.
"You look beautiful," Ben said, finally getting the words out.
"Thank you," Mal said softly. "Evie's amazing when it comes to clothes. I have to give credit where it's due. I don't know how she managed to make the dress so fast, maybe she had a Fairy Godmother of her own."
Ben chuckled and gave her a small smile. "Um…I've got the carriage ready to take us to the cathedral if you're ready to go?"
He didn't know why but the nerves he had been successful in stamping down earlier had returned as he held out his hand for Mal to take. She took the offered hand, giving him a small smile as she stepped out of her dorm.
"Relax," Mal said softly before smirking slightly. "All you really have to do is just kneel there and look pretty."
"That's easier said than done," Ben told her. "Relaxing I mean. I think Chad's got the 'stand there and look pretty' aspect down to a science."
"Well just pretend it's like a Tourney game or something," Mal said, giving him an understanding smile and then paused. "On second thought, bad idea considering you don't eat before a big game."
Ben couldn't help but give a soft chuckle at that. "Well I had something to eat so you don't need to worry about that."
"Good," Mal said with a chuckle of her own as they arrived to the carriage. "Last thing we need to worry about is you passing out because you forgot to eat."
Ben gave her a small smile before opening the door to the carriage and holding out a hand for Mal to take so she could enter first.
"Thanks," Mal said softly, giving him a small smile, as she climbed into the carriage, gathering up the hem of her dress so it didn't get caught in the door. "By the way, this dress? It's for today only."
"I kinda figured," Ben said with a small chuckle.
Mal smirked. "Good. So, you excited? The big day's finally here."
"In a way. It's…it's hard to process," Ben said as he climbed into the carriage and closed the door.
"I get that," Mal said softly.
"I mean, it's a good hard to process," Ben said as the carriage started to move forward. "Last year, when my dad gave me the news, I'd resigned myself to being king with that betrothal contract looming over my head."
"Well, there's no problem there anymore," Mal told him.
"Thanks to you," Ben said with a small smile.
Mal shrugged. "I did what I needed to do Ben. Anyone else would have done the same thing."
Ben shrugged, the small smile still on his lips. He knew not everyone would have attempted to spell him but he kept quiet about that. The staff did like to gossip after all.
"Well regardless, it's in the past Ben," Mal said, breaking the silence. "You're out of it now. One less thing to worry about."
Ben nodded and then sighed. "Now I just have to be responsible for an entire kingdom," he said softly as the carriage made its way to the cathedral.
"Hey," Mal said gently, grabbing his hand so that their fingers were intertwined. "You got this Ben. All a king needs is a ruler who cares and you've already proven that. After all, you were the one who wanted to see what the Isle was like and you're the only one who considers the Isle part of Auradon. If you're worried about making a mistake, well…you're human. As long as you learn from the mistakes, I don't think anyone's going to care that much."
Ben gave her a small smile, gently squeezing her hand. "Thanks Mal."
"Hey dealing with stressed out Princelings is something I'm growing used to," Mal chuckled. "My dad is King of the Underworld after all and I've got a little brother."
"Who will definitely be part of the next group of VKs," Ben promised.
Mal smiled and gently squeezed Ben's hand. "I know Ben. You keep your promises after all."
The carriage made its way through the city to the cathedral; crowds of citizens lining the streets to wave at the passing carriage and their new king. Ben smiled and waved back. However Mal couldn't help but be a bit more reserved despite the crowds waving on both sides of the carriage. She stuck with giving a small smile to the crowds.
Ben looked over and gave Mal a small smile, their hands still intertwined. "Hey, don't be nervous. All you have to do is sit there and look beautiful. No problem there."
"Ben…" Mal said softly, a small flush coming to her cheeks.
"What? It's the truth," Ben said with a smile. She looked gorgeous after all.
"Thank you," Mal said, her cheeks still sporting a faint pink hue.
Ben gave her a fond smile, if it wasn't for the fact that he knew there were cameras around he would have kissed her cheek. Taking his ring out of his pocket, Ben looked over at Mal. "Mal? W—would you wear my ring?" Ben asked, keeping it out of frame so the cameras wouldn't pick up on it.
"Um, are you sure Ben?" Mal asked, looking at him with her eyes wide. "I wouldn't want it to fall off. It has to be important to you, and valuable. Am I really the best person to—?"
Ben couldn't help but give her a small smile. "You're the perfect person to wear my ring, Mal," he told her as he took her hand and started to slip his ring onto her finger. Making sure it fit, Ben bent his head down and gave a gentle kiss to Mal's hand.
What's happening to me? Mal thought as her cheeks flushed once more at the feeling of Ben's lips on her hand. I'm not the one who goes all gooey over a guy—that's Evie. Come on Mal! Snap out of it! Boyfriends are a waste of time remember? If there's one thing Maleficent spent years drilling into your head it was that love is weakness! So what that Ben is a good guy? So are Jay, Harry and Carlos and you're not fawning over them! Never mind the fact that Jay and Harry are practically your older brothers and that fawning over them would be like fawning over Hadie.
The carriage arrived in front of the cathedral and stopped, allowing Ben to get out before offering a hand to help Mal out of the carriage. Mal took it with a small smile, hyper aware of all the people around them. You learned quickly to be cognizant of crowds on the Isle; an increase in crowds could lead to an increase of people getting crushed if something went wrong.
Ben returned the smile, his thoughts seemingly untroubled with potential disasters to which Mal couldn't help but be jealous of as the two of them made their way up to the cathedral.
Okay, you can do this, Mal thought as they reached the front door where Belle and Beast stood. Never mind the fact that they were practically statues yesterday. You will not make a scene Malinda. Not today.
Belle smiled at the both of them and reached over to grab Ben's free hand, as his other one was still intertwined with Mal's. "Ben, your father and I are so proud of you. You keep listening to your heart."
"Thanks mom," Ben said, giving his mom a big smile.
"You're going to make a fine king Ben," Beast told him, patting Ben on the shoulder before taking Belle's hand and walking off. Ben turned to Mal and gave her one last smile.
"Wish me luck."
"Good luck," Mal told him as one of the attendants led her off in the opposite direction of Belle and Beast. Ben took a deep breath as he entered the cathedral, hearing the choir start up as his cue to enter the main room. Walking into the chamber as his parents rose from their seats in the middle of the room, Ben slowly walked down the aisle.
Okay, you can do this. Remember: a king believes in himself even when it's not easy, Ben thought as he made his way down the aisle. Besides, Chip, Emir and Akiho would never let you live it down if you ran out of this room.
He shot a small smile toward Mal, hiding the frown that formed at her curtsy to him. He knew she had to but it still didn't sit right with him. Reaching the middle of the room, Ben knelt down in front of Fairy Godmother who had bowed to his father for the last time before taking the crown from his head. Ben stayed quiet as the last seconds of his life as a Prince ticked by. Fairy Godmother lowered the crown onto Ben's head. In the back of his mind, Ben couldn't help but think that the crown was a bit too big but stayed quiet. Ben glanced over at his parents for a split second before looking back straight ahead; his dad taking the lid off the bell jar that housed Fairy Godmother's wand.
"Do you solely swear to govern the peoples of Auradon with justice and mercy as long as you shall reign?" Fairy Godmother asked, breaking into Ben's thoughts.
"I do so solemnly swear," Ben said, thankfully remembering his line.
Fairy Godmother gently tapped Ben on each shoulder with her wand, a big smile on her face. "Then it is my honor and my joy to bless our new ki—"
Before Fairy Godmother could finish her sentence, a hand shot out and grabbed the wand. Mal stared in shock upon seeing Evie struggling to control the power that was Fairy Godmother's wand. She was only a mortal without magic, it would be ridiculous to expect her to be able to wield it.
"Evie, what are you doing?!" Mal exclaimed. Where did she even come from? I thought she was standing up in the balcony with Carlos and Jay, she thought.
"I told you!" Audrey's dulcet tones rang through the main room. "I told you this would happen!"
Evie turned to face Mal, both girls ignoring Sleeping Brat. Mal was honestly surprised to see fear behind Evie's dark brown eyes instead of any malice or hate there might have been.
"You don't get it Mal!" Evie cried as she struggled to get the wand under control. "You have no idea what it's like to be raised by a villain! The type of pressure I'm under—you can do no wrong with your parents!"
"Evie, I know the pressure you're under," Mal said as she slowly made her way toward Evie as the crowd stood petrified as if unsure of what was going to happen. "I spent six years as Maleficent's daughter, you think I don't know? She kidnapped me, made me think I was her daughter. She may have been my birth giver but she is not my mother. I know the pressures you're facing. But you're here! In Auradon! The Evil Queen can't get you here."
"Mal…Maleficent has my dad!" Evie said and Mal froze. Daniel was one of the few people on the Isle who didn't have any enemies simply because that was the type of person he was. He'd gone 'missing' after Evie's sixth birthday and everyone had just assumed by now that the man had died. So that was your plan Maleficent? I shouldn't be surprised, you were going to hold Phillip hostage for a hundred years after all. Plus Evie did humiliate me and therefore you by not inviting me to her party all those years ago-it was naive not to think you would never find out. I guess after dad took me in officially, you needed a new pawn and Evie fit the bill…and now Evie's pursuit of Charming Jr. makes more sense. Charmington's armies would be able to storm Maleficent's castle to get her father back.
"She told me the day we left for Auradon, if I didn't get the wand for her…" Evie said softly, pulling Mal out of her thoughts.
"Evie, it's okay," Mal said soothingly. "We'll figure out a way to get your dad free, I'll even get Jay to help. Hell, I'll get Uma, Harry and the Warf Rats involved; they wouldn't turn down a fight against the Dragon. But you need to give me the wand Evie. You are so much more than what your mother wants you to be, what Maleficent wants you to be. When you were trying to be with Chad, you were miserable but I've seen you with Doug—you are so happy. And I know we were never the closest of friends, but that doesn't mean I want you making a mistake like this! If you do this, if you give the wand to Maleficent, you'll regret it for the rest of your life!"
Evie paused and looked at Mal as she still struggled to control the wand. "Mal, I…I can't control this! Stay back! I…I don't want you getting hurt!"
"Evie, it's okay," Mal said as she continued to step closer to Evie.
"Be careful Mal!" Belle called as Beast stood in front of his wife as if to protect her. Ben watched in trepidation as his girlfriend continued to make her way toward the blue haired girl.
"Just calm down Evie. Look, come here," Mal said softly, gently tugging the wand out of Evie's hands. The stream of energy coming from the wand seemed to die down as it left Evie's hands.
"Fairy Godmother, I believe this belongs to you," Mal said softly, holding out the wand to the headmistress.
"…thank you dear," Fairy Godmother said softly. Mal shrugged but before Fairy Godmother could take the wand back, a cloud of green smoke descended from the ceiling. When it faded, Mal's heart sank as she saw the last person she wanted to see in that instance.
"Go away Maleficent!" Mal snapped as she whirled around to face the Dragon.
"Oh she's funny," Maleficent' smirked. "Give me the wand Mal."
"I'm not your daughter, I don't take orders from you!" Mal snapped and almost slammed the wand into Fairy Godmother's hand before turning back to the older Fae. "You kidnapped me for six years and tried to brainwash me but you are not my mother!"
"I've had quite enough of this foolishness! Give me the wand Mal!" Maleficent said, glaring at Mal.
"Clearly I didn't teach you obedience before your mongrel of a father got his paws on you," Maleficent growled. "That will be rectified shortly."
"You won't touch me," Mal said, a small growl to her voice as she stepped in front of Evie as if to protect the other girl. "Funny you should mention dad, I would have thought you wouldn't want people to know that you could easily be overpowered by a mere sixteen year old. He actually explained my powers to me and trained me in them as best he could with the barrier, unlike some people I could mention!"
"Hah! You overpower me? You, a girl who's spent her whole life trapped on that miserable Isle with that barrier compared to me, Mistress of All Evil?" Maleficent scoffed before pointing her scepter at Mal. "Give me the wand Mal! Unless you want another lesson in what happens when you disobey me? I recall I needed to teach you respect many times in the past."
"I'm not six years old anymore Maleficent!" Mal snapped. "I'm not afraid of you!"
I've got to get Evie out of here, Mal thought as she scanned the audience of frightened royals. However, she paused upon seeing a very familiar, very welcomed face.
"Evie, go to my mom. She'll keep you safe," Mal said firmly. "Maleficent's fight's with me!"
"What?!" Persephone exclaimed, stepping into the aisle. "Malinda, if you think I'm just going to—"
"Mom, I'm not joking! Look after Evie, I'll deal with this!"
"Mal, I…I don't know," Evie said softly, looking at Maleficent with terror evident on her face.
"I swear to Zeus, Evie, move!" Mal growled. "Go! This is my fight!"
Mal shoved Evie harshly toward the crowd and felt a twinge of relief as Persephone gathered Evie into her arms. Satisfied that the blue haired girl was safe, Mal turned her attention back to her birth giver.
"Playing the 'hero' Mal?" Maleficent taunted.
"More like protecting my friends from you Maleficent!" Mal shot back. "You've done enough damage to people to last two lifetimes!"
"Is that anyway to talk to your mother?" Maleficent scoffed. "I brought you into this world Mal. I can easily take you out of it."
"You are not my mother!" Mal snarled. "All you are is my birth giver and even that is generous! I have one mother and she's currently making sure Evie's safe! You are nothing to me!"
Maleficent's smirk faded and she glared at Mal. "I thought I taught you about respect Mal. Apparently you need another lesson. I find that pain is an excellent teacher!"
"You won't touch me," Mal growled as she heard Persephone snarl slightly in the background. She also heard Ben growl slightly.
"Watch me Mal!" Maleficent said, growling slightly in return as she pointed the scepter at Mal before looking over Mal's shoulder and smirking. "Or maybe…maybe I'll go for your lover boy?"
"You make one more towards Ben and you'll be vaporized before you can blink!" Mal snarled, her eyes blazing. "Your soul will be in so many pieces dad won't even need to judge you in the Underworld!"
"Ah yes your father, the weak mongrel who walked out on us. Who left you with me. Who went and got himself a new child with a woman who doesn't even know the full horror of the Isle. And yet you defend him," Maleficent said with a smirk.
"That 'weak mongrel' as you call him is a better parent…hell a better being than you will ever be! He never left me! You are the one who kidnapped me! You are the one who made my parents miss out on half my childhood! Because of your brainwashing, I missed out on weeks with my little brother because I hated him! But you will not break my family!" Mal snarled.
"Fool! You're weak, just like your father and that runt he had. Love is weakness Mal. I thought I taught you that! But if you'd rather side with the woman who provided your replacement and the man who left us…so be it! You will regret this…Maleficent!" Maleficent snarled before a cloud of green smoke surrounded her once more. When the smoke faded, a dragon stood before them.
"Jay! Get Ben out of here!" Mal shouted. Where are the guards?
"Ben, go!" Mal growled before looking at the dragon. "You didn't teach me anything. Love is not weakness. Love is the reason I have the life and the family I do. I don't need to take over the world Maleficent, my world is fine the way it is! I have a family who loves me, friends who care about me…and you are not going to ruin my life! Not anymore. And let's get one thing straight—my name's not Maleficent. It's Malinda!"
Mal sighed before closing her eyes, mentally pleading to the Gods that Jay had managed to get Ben out of the room before he saw this. After all, Mal was the daughter of one of the Big Three and the biological offspring of Maleficent…shapeshifting was in her blood even if she had never tried before due to the barrier.
Soon there were two dragons facing off against each other, staring at each other as if daring the other to make the first move.
Your move Maleficent. I'm not a baby you can bully anymore, Mal thought with a growl. Dragon Maleficent roared and unfurled her wings, as if to fly at Mal. She flapped and lifted her body off the ground, diving at the slightly smaller dragon. Mal responded with a whirlwind, sending a stream of hot air toward the larger dragon and causing her to crash into the ground. Both dragons looked at each other once more, both eyes shining bright green. The Fae and the Godling faced off, each side glaring at each other with bright green eyes until Maleficent became covered in bright green smoke again. When the smoke cleared, a small green lizard was in her place.
Mal transformed back and smirked, kneeling down to the lizard. "I win. I was kinder than you deserved but my mom and dad didn't raise me to be a murderer. Remember that. Enjoy your life as a lizard, I doubt you'll change back. From this moment, you no longer exist to me. Don't worry. I'm sure dad will be happy to watch over you. Goodbye."
Mal walked away, heading over to Persephone and Evie.
"I did it mom," she said softly. "I…I took on Maleficent! I won!"
"Yes you did. However….you do that again and you're grounded understand young lady?" Persephone said, pulling Mal into a hug.
"Yes mom," Mal said, hugging Persephone back. "But…mom, you really think I'm going to be battling Maleficent again?"
Mal smiled and broke the hug, looking at Evie. "You alright there Evie?"
Evie nodded, a bit shaky.
"Good," Mal said with a small smile. "I promise you Evie. We'll find a way to get your dad back. But, if you'll both excuse me, I have a king to go check on."
Mal didn't know where Ben was but she could only assume that his guards had finally whisked him away.
"For Gods' sake would you three let go? We can't leave Mal in there—"
Okay, not the guards I was thinking of, she thought as she walked over to the antechamber that was off to the side of the main room they were in.
"Ben, I don't know if you noticed but that was Maleficent! Not to mention, there were dragons! You're the king," she heard Jay argue.
"Dude, as much as I like Mal, she can handle herself. You need to be the priority right now—" Akiho stated.
"Sweet Zeus he's strong. Ben, calm down! You really think Lady Persephone is going to let anything happen to her daughter?" Emir asked. "Maleficent would be dust before she could touch Mal."
"Okay, okay, boys. You can all stand down," Mal said with a smile as she walked into the room.
"Mal!" Ben grinned, still in Jay, Akiho and Emir's grip. "Thank Gods you're okay! And that you're here, you seem to be the only one these three listen to!"
"Guys, you can let him go. It's over," Mal said, shooting Ben a small smile.
"If you say so Mal," Jay said and the three boys let go of the teenaged king who immediately bolted over to Mal. Mal couldn't help the small giggle that slipped out as Ben pulled her into an embrace.
"It's alright, it's over. They did the right thing you know…"
"What, but we left you behind!" Ben exclaimed. "Mal…if Maleficent did anything—"
"She couldn't touch me. I'm fine, I promise. Getting you to safety was more important. You were the most important person in that room—"
"Not more important than you Mal!"
"I'm not the newly coronated king Ben!" Mal shot back before sighing. "Are you alright?"
"I feel I should be asking you that question," Ben said softly.
"I'm fine. She had that coming for years."
"Next time I save you okay?"
"Yeah, let's hope for no next time okay?"
"Okay," Ben chuckled. "You…you can turn into a dragon? That's so cool!"
Mal couldn't help but laugh at that. "Only you would think a dragon power is cool but yeah…shapeshifting runs in the family."
"Why wouldn't I think it was cool?" Ben asked. "It's a dragon! So now my amazing girlfriend's even more awesome? I fail to see the downside here!"
Mal couldn't help but giggle, shaking her head a little. Ben grinned before scooping her up into another hug, spinning her around and causing Mal to squeal happily. As Ben sat Mal down, Mal smirked and tilted Ben's crown to the right. It was Ben's turn to chuckle.
Mal bit her lip. "Don't be too harsh on Evie," she said softly. "The pressures of the Isle…those don't go away after a month. Plus, if what she said was true and Maleficent had her father all these years…"
"Don't worry about her," Ben said gently. "She didn't know stealing the wand would let Maleficent out and you took it from her before she could really do anything with it."
Mal sighed in relief. "Now…why didn't you leave the first time when it was just Jay trying to get you out of the room?"
"You think I'm going to just leave you to face off with Maleficent on your own?"
"When you've just been coronated and there's no heir to the throne! Yes! And for that matter where are your guards?! This called for all twenty four of them!"
"That…is a really good question," Ben nodded. "Trust me, I didn't give anyone the day off today—security's too important."
"They need to be fired," Mal muttered.
Ben couldn't help but chuckle. "Easy dragon, easy. I'm sure there's an explanation for where they are."
"There had better be a good one! Why would they skip out on protecting the king from a dragon or villain attack?"
"Mal's right Ben," Jay nodded. "Where are your guards? It shouldn't have just been me, Akiho and Emir to pull you out."
"Yeah I have to agree Ben," Akiho nodded. "Where the hell are your guards?"
"I don't know! You know I was a bit more preoccupied with Maleficent escaping the Isle!"
"Oh look there are the guards," Mal said, rolling her eyes as the aforementioned guards walked up. "Excellent timing. You all arrived after the danger to the king has already passed. Nice job."
"Mal…" Ben said gently. "I'm sure there's a good explanation for all this."
"Well I for one would like to hear it!"
Ben frowned and turned to the guards. "For that matter, so would I. Where were you all?"
"Yes?" Ben asked, tilting his head.
"Oh this better be good," Mal muttered and tapped her foot.
"You were slacking off? Why yes how right you are," Mal scoffed.
"We didn't expect to be needed sire. After all, there's no real danger in Auradon and the barrier around the Isle of the Lost can't be broken—"
"Did you not just see what happened? The barrier isn't unbreakable!" Mal snapped.
"We didn't think someone would steal Fairy Godmother's wand!"
"You're the security for the king! You should expect anything!"
"There are few people who would even have the ability to steal Fairy Godmother's wand! Besides, we…we didn't want to appear as if we were focusing our attention on the Isle kids, sire."
Mal sighed. Why was she not surprised?
"So you would have unfairly profiled the Isle kids as you called them if it wasn't for the fact that you didn't want it to appear that's what you were doing?" Ben asked.
Ben held up his hand. "I just want to make sure I understand. Because you didn't want it to appear like you were unfairly profiling the Isle kids, you didn't do your job as security for the king and therefore weren't there when Maleficent attacked? I'm in no way saying you should have profiled the Isle kids, I just want to make sure I understand what you're telling me."
"Sire, we didn't—"
"You didn't do your job, there's no way around it," Mal said, her voice low as she crossed her arms over her chest. She was a little surprised that Akiho wasn't venting by now. Looking out of the corner of her eye, she saw Emir covering Akiho's mouth, the latter boy's muffled rant going at full speed. She smothered a chuckle at the sight.
"Ah finally!" Akiho said as Emir wiped off his hand on his pants. "Now, as I was saying, what were you all thinking?! Your job is to protect the king! Did you all get distracted by something shiny?! He could have died! Do you all even realize how lucky you are not to be fired on the spot?! And here you all are worried about the 'Isle kids'?! Hey geniuses, one of those Isle kids just saved all our asses! You should be thanking her rather than digging yourselves deeper into the hole you're in! Ben, demote them all at least—!"
"Akiho, calm down," Ben said before turning to the guards. "Unfortunately for you he has a point. You're all demoted and on probation effective immediately. Falling down on your job like this not only put my parents at risk but it also put Mal and the others at risk too! Mal could have died going up against Maleficent by herself! We're all lucky that Mal was able to save us and stop Maleficent, otherwise who knows what might have happened?"
Ben sighed and shook his head. "You're all dismissed."
"Yes sire," one of the guards said softly as they all left.
"Of course it wasn't his safety that got him upset but the risk to his parents and Mal," Emir said, shaking his head in amusement.
"Well at least he does care I guess."
"Of course I care!" Ben exclaimed. "Guys, do you honestly think I wouldn't care about this?"
"Ben we know you do," Mal said gently. "We're not saying you don't but you do seem to treat your your safety like it's something to be brushed aside. You are the most important person in the room right now. Losing anyone else...while regrettable is..."
"No Mal. I'm not more important than—"
"Um, Ben. Hate to be the buzzkill but you kinda are," Emir chimed in. "You're king of Auradon now remember? And unless you have something to tell us, there's no heir to the throne after you yet."
"Emma's the 'unofficial' heir," Ben said with a small frown. "It's been the agreement with her family and mine since my mom miscarried when I was three."
"Get it in writing if you don't already otherwise I can already tell that your council will be fighting over the position like wolves until you have an heir that's related to you by blood."
"It's a verbal agreement," Ben said. "Why would we need it in writing? Verbal's worked all these years."
"Ben, Zeus had a verbal agreement that he was ruler of Olympus and he got overthrown," Mal said with a sigh. "Remember? It's kinda one of the things that got my dad sent to the Isle."
"Ben, if you don't get it in writing that Emma's your heir, Chad's technically the next in line," Emir said. "I'd live on the Isle before I called Chad king...err no offense Mal."
"None taken," Mal said with a small shrug. "Though I just thought of a way Chad being king would be worse Emir. Who's the one girl he's obsessed with?"
"Don't put that image in my head!" Emir exclaimed after a second.
Mal smirked. "Hey I'm wicked remember? But yeah, Audrey as Chad's queen is an image I don't want in my head either. Anyway we shouldn't be given Ben the third degree not today."
"Ah true, Akiho and I can give his majesty the third degree any day," Emir nodded.
Ben chuckled. "Guys, you know you don't have to use my title."
"As my liege requests!" Akiho said, faking a bow.
Ben rolled his eyes but shook his head fondly at his best friends. "You two are insane, you know that?"
"...you know that's not a compliment right?"
"Ben, Ben, Ben, you've called us insane every day since we were twelve," Emir chuckled as Mal chuckled softly. "It's a compliment now."
Ben shook his head. "I think we should go back to the main room," he said softly and Mal nodded in agreement.
"So..." Mal said softly as they started to make their way to the main room.
"So?" Ben asked.
"I'm just surprised there weren't more people fleeing in terror," Mal muttered.
Ben shrugged. "I'm sure a lot of people were more concerned. Didn't you hear my mom call for you to be careful?"
"Honestly I was more preoccupied with getting the wand from Evie."
"Where is Evie by the way?"
"That...is a very good question."
"Well at least Leah's not-"
The sound of yelling from the main chamber interrupted whatever Mal was going to say.
"Spoke too soon" Ben sighed as he started to head over, entering the main room. "Queen Leah, what are you doing?"
Leah stopped her tirade toward Evie to look at Ben. "I am simply reminding this...girl of her place King Ben."
"Her place? What place would that be Queen Leah? And how does doing that involve berating her at a volume so loud it could be heard in the hall? And since when was it your job to sentence people who have supposedly done something wrong?"
"King Ben, because of this girl's selfish actions the kingdom was put at risk. I am simply doing what any member of your council would do," Leah responded.
"And do you see any other member of the council tearing into a sixteen year old? No, you don't. Evie made a mistake-a mistake that I'm sure any one of us would have made if put in her shoes. You do not need to berate her Queen Leah as you are not her guardian nor are you her parent," Ben said firmly. "Evie's actions will be discussed and dealt with in fact I think it might be beneficial for her to go into counseling but there is no need to scream at and terrify her!"
"King Ben, because of that girl, Maleficent was able to escape the Isle. I fail-"
"I know your history with Maleficent Queen Leah. But Evie is not Maleficent. I must ask you again to stop publicly berating her! Ask yourself this, if Audrey had done what Evie did would you want someone to yell at her like you're yelling at Evie?"
"Why would they need to? Audrey would never do such a thing!"
"Because Audrey wasn't raised in an environment where she might feel the need to!" Ben shot back. "But the fact that you can't even put Audrey in Evie's place shows a stunning lack of empathy Queen Leah. Now kindly step away from Evie and leave her punishment if any to me if you don't mind."
Leah glowered but did as requested, more than likely due to all the people staring at her.
"Thank you your highness" Evie whispered, looking down at the ground as she dropped into a curtsy.
Ben gave Evie a kind smile. "You don't have to do that Evie. Besides, no one deserves to be yelled at like that."
Evie bit her lip but stayed silent.
"I do though highly recommend therapy Evie," Ben added as Evie nodded. "At the very least talking to someone. But that's a topic for a time when we're not in the middle of a cathedral."
"Sire? What...what do you want us to do with the lizard Maleficent?" an attendant asked.
"Give her to me," Persephone spoke up. "I'm sure my husband would love a pet," she added with a smirk as Mal snickered in amusement.
"If no one else objects?" Ben called out. "I see no harm in putting Lord Hades in charge of keeping watch over Maleficent. If someone could get a container."
"Yes your highness."
"Go on honey, I've got this," Persephone told Mal. "I'm sure there's a party somewhere with your name on it."
"I thought I was grounded?" Mal asked. "After Ben's coronation?"
"After party counts as his coronation in my book," Persephone winked and Mal chuckled.
"Yes mom," Mal nodded before walking over to Ben, taking his hand. "So what now your highness?"
"Now it's time for his party!" Akiho's voice called from behind Ben and Mal burst out laughing as Ben was scooped up and placed on the shoulders of his Tourney teammates.
"What—come on guys put me down!"
"No can do Ben! It's a dramatic entrance!"
"You drop him, I get to hurt you boys," Mal promised.
"Don't worry Mal, we've got Jay and Carlos as spotters," Emir promised. "Your boyfriend is perfectly safe."
"Her boyfriend would also like to be on the ground!" Ben called.
"Nope! Onward team!" Akiho called and Mal shook her head in amusement as they started to make their way out of the cathedral.
"Mal!" Lonnie and Jane called, rushing toward her.
"Oh thank Gods you two are all right!" Mal sighed in relief, surprised she had actually been worried about the two girls.
"Don't worry about me, are you okay?" Jane asked. "Mom's wand is extremely powerful—"
Lonnie shook her head in amusement. "Well, shall we go and make sure the Tourney team hasn't just kidnapped our king?"
"That might be a good idea," Mal chuckled and then turned to look at Evie, who was hanging back near the side. "Evie, you coming?"
The blue haired girl looked shocked. "A—are you sure Mal?"
"Evie, like I said, we may not be the closest friends but you made a mistake," Mal said. "You're not going to release Maleficent again are you?"
"Then no worries," Mal smirked before the four girls chuckled, making their way back to the school. Sure enough the party was in full swing and Mal grinned as she saw Ben get carried in.
"One king as requested Mali," Jay chuckled. "Unharmed and unspoiled."
"Good," Mal smirked. The smirk changed to a smile as she saw Ben. "Oh come on Ben, surely it wasn't that bad. Stop acting like a disgruntled pelican."
"…how do you even know…you know what never mind," Ben muttered as the Tourney team set him down and he smiled as he pulled Mal into his arms. Mal chuckled as she melted into his embrace.
"Come on, let's go dance," Ben said softly, gently pulling Mal onto the dance floor.
"Ben!" Mal chuckled. "I don't dance!"
Ben smirked as he twirled her around. ""Well then what are you doing now? Why…I do believe you're dancing Mal."
"You know nobody likes a smart aleck."
"You know you love it," Ben teased gently as they continued to dance. Mal chuckled as the night carried on. Ben couldn't help but smile as he looked out at his classmates enjoying themselves—Carlos and Jay were off to the side with Akiho and Emir while Jane and Lonnie had gently dragged Evie onto the dance floor, where they were quickly joined by Emma White and one of Chad's sisters. Judging by the strawberry blonde hair, Ben had to say it was Kitty.
Speak of the devil and she shall appear, Ben thought as Kitty popped up in front of them.
"Oh, hey Kitty," Mal said, looking slightly confused. "Weren't you just—?"
"Listen, can I borrow you for a second?" Kitty asked. "It's a surprise for his highness here."
Ben sighed. "Kitty, you've known me since birth. You don't have to—"
"Ben, you're pretty much going to have to make a proclamation telling people not to call you by your title," Kitty chuckled as she dragged Mal away. Ben sighed but went over to the side where Chad was standing.
"So…what does your sister have planned?"
"Search me," Chad chuckled. "But she roped Lonnie and Jane into it, plus Emir and Akiho."
"Will the school still be standing?"
"We can only hope."
Chad chuckled and Ben looked to the dance floor as a different song began to play. He couldn't help but smile as he saw the girls take the stage.
"Don't have to win the gold on all your own," Lonnie began to sing followed quickly by Jane. Ben's smile only grew as Mal and Evie joined in on the song only to have his shadows jump in accompanied by Carlos and Jay.
"Because we're better together, stronger side by side, this is our moment, it's our time. So we're different, whatever, everyone can shine. This is the moment of our lives, cause we're better together."
"Should have known," Chad said, shaking his head. "Akiho went to Kitty about three weeks ago after you gave your proclamation, wanted her to come up with a song that fit the spirit of it or something."
"She didn't have to—"
"Once Akiho asked her, there was no stopping her Ben," Chad said, patting him on the shoulder. "You're practically another older brother to her, our families have been friends since we were born. Now if you'll excuse me, Audrey was supposed to be here."
"Chad," Ben said and the blond stopped for a moment. "I'm glad you're happy."
"…thanks Ben," Chad said softly, as if not expecting that.
"What? Expecting a speech about not going after your friend's ex?"
"Pretty much, I mean the guys on the team already gave me a talk after Audrey basically implied I was cheating with her behind your back after the Championship game."
Ben shook his head. "I know you weren't dude. Besides, I may be king but I can't control other people. If Audrey makes you happy, good for you."
"You know one of these days you're going to have a human reaction to something," Chad chuckled as Mal came down to pull Ben onto the dance floor.
"Because we're better together, stronger side by side," she sang softly, her voice blending into the others but Ben only had ears for hers. He couldn't help but smile as the lights caused her green eyes to glow, the small smirk never leaving her face. All Ben knew was that he wanted to kiss those perfect pink lips…but knew Mal wouldn't want something public like that.
It'd be their first kiss after all.
As the song finished and everyone applauded, Ben pulled Mal into his arms. "That was amazing," he said softly.
"Eh if you say so," Mal shrugged. "Truthfully I could have done with some warning that we were going to be involved in a musical number."
"Yeah that doesn't happen in Auradon. Warnings of impending musical numbers I mean."
Ben chuckled before pausing. "Hey, Mal? Can…can I show you something?"
"Hmm, something at the school we both attend?" Mal teased gently before smiling at him. "Of course Ben. If you can slip out without being detected. You are the king now."
"I was crown prince before and I slipped away from Family Day without anyone noticing," Ben smirked. "Come on."
Taking Mal's hand, Ben took her to a hidden grove that was a short distance away from the party.
"This is a nice spot," Mal said softly.
"Kit designed it," Ben said gently. "He said everyone should have a secret spot to call their own, or at least he did according to mom when the school was being built."
"Is it really a secret spot if the parents know it exists?"
"I have no clue," Ben chuckled before leaning down and giving a gentle kiss to Mal's lips. Mal froze slightly, as if she hadn't expected the kiss, before returning it gently; slowly raising her arms so that they rested around Ben's neck.
Ben smiled against Mal's lips. He knew he'd need to go back to the party—hell Emir and Akiho would probably drag him back. But for right now, he was content to just be a guy and spend some time with his girlfriend.
Life certainly couldn't get any better than this.