A/N: I do not own anything other than my OCs when they come out to play. Everything else is owned by either Disney or the Greek Myths.
Whew! Okay guys, story three is underway! I had thought it was going to take me much longer to get the first chapter written but apparently it just wanted to write itself! :D Plus with the way I left the previous story, I didn't want to leave you all hanging for long!
Hopefully you all enjoy this as much as you did Choosing Love! Let me know what you think :D
Mal smiled as she looked at her ring. It truly was beautiful—there were honestly days that she thought she had dreamt Cotillion and she was going to wake up to find herself still having Lady of the Court sessions with Natalie.
Or worse, wake up and find that she was still on the Isle.
But it hadn't been a dream. It had been real. Ben was now her fiancé. Her wonderful, optimistic, kind hearted fiancé. Thankfully, that bonk on the head that Freddy had given him eat Cotillion had only changed him in the fact that he did actually start using his guards a bit more.
Not so much that Akiho stopped ranting at him about the importance of said guards whenever he got the chance but enough that it soothed the worry in Mal's heart.
Mal sighed as she thought about him. Freddy, she meant though it would have been much more enjoyable to think about Akiho and his many antics with Ben and Emir. Two months had passed since Cotillion and they hadn't found Freddy. They suspected that he was somewhere in Auradon but they couldn't be sure.
Jay thought maybe he had gone to Apollo to heal his wounds but that idea was shot down as quickly as it came up. Apollo was the God of Medicine yes, but Freddy was so fanatical that he would have eaten his own femur before he accepted help from one of the Gods. It was the reason why he refused to have his wounds healed by magic after all.
Not to mention I'm pretty sure insulting Zeus' granddaughter the way he had at Cotillion put Freddy on the smite on sight list, Mal thought as she shook her head. The worst part about all of this was that their plans to bring the next group of VKs over had to be delayed.
Something that had not pleased the VKs in Auradon all that much.
"What do you mean we're delaying the group?"
"Harry, think about it," Mal sighed as she looked over at the pirate. "If Freddy's at large, it's not safe for us to bring over the new lot. I mean he almost killed Ben. What do you think he'd do if he got ahold of Dizzy? Or Celia? Or Gods Squeaky and Squirmy? Sammy would kill us and then find a way to bring us back to kill us again!"
Harry shook his head. "Mal, we promised that we'd start bringing kids over as quickly as possible. My sisters are still on the Isle!"
"And do you want CJ or Harriet to potentially be on the wrong side of Freddy's sword?" Uma asked as she sat down by him. Both girls had noticed Harry's use of the plural even though it'd been Harriet he had insisted fill out an application to leave the Isle. "Harry, I hate to say it but I'm with Mal on this. Delaying until we know where Freddy is just makes sense. He can't get back on the Isle with the barrier after all."
"We have so many kids who deserve to get off the Isle though," Jay sighed. "CJ, Ryan, Dizzy, Celia, Squeaky, Squirmy, Brooke even if she left us for the Angels…"
Mal sighed once more and brushed a strand of purple hair out of her eyes. Ryan, it had turned out, hadn't been fourteen like they'd thought. He'd been fifteen, a year older than CJ. He could have joined the face offs and scouting missions.
They of course had no reason to believe he wasn't the age they assumed he was—he wouldn't be the first VK to have his height stunted by the poor diet of the Isle. As well, Mal suspected that Ryan would have put up more of a fuss if CJ'd been older too. Plus…he would have been kept safe for his sister's sake.
The only reason Mal knew the truth was because she had looked through the registry, trying to help Carlos in updating the digital one. On a whim she went to Ryan's page and had stared in shock at the date. It was honestly likely that Ryan never knew—he always said that his sister was two years younger than him so if he'd been two, about to turn three when she was born…
Not to mention Mal doubted that Ryan's father truly remembered the year his son had been born after Ryan's mom died giving birth to Kristy. There was the added benefit of birthdays not exactly being a big thing on the Isle.
Mal was pretty sure the Rats didn't start celebrating birthdays until she and Uma became co-captains.
"Mal?" Jay asked, pulling Mal out of her thoughts.
"I'm fine," Mal said, shaking her head to clear it.
"Too many Queen lessons huh?" Jay chuckled. "Filling up the old brain faster than you thought they would?"
"Hey, as long as I don't walk into our dorm and find you putting in contacts again, I'll be fine," Uma teased and Mal rolled her eyes.
"Yeah yeah, maybe one day I'll walk in and you'll be out of your denial phase with Harry," Mal teased back and smirked as Uma nearly spat out her drink. "Turnabout's fair play cuz."
"I'm not in denial!"
"Uh huh. Keep telling yourself that."
A pair of hands wrapped around her waist and Mal had to smile even as they leaned forward against the stone wall she'd been standing by. She had no intention of toppling over, thank you.
"What are you thinking about?" Ben's voice whispered in her ear.
"How lucky I am to be engaged to you," Mal said as she turned to face him.
Ben gave her a small smile. "Emir and Akiho already did a fly by on the magic carpet. There're no reporters hiding in the trees, bushes, flowerbeds or compost pile."
"How'd they check—?"
"I don't know and at this stage in our friendship I'm scared to ask."
"But…you're the King…"
Ben shook his head. "When it comes to Emir and Akiho there are two options. Smile and nod as they do something completely insane because you know they mean well or potentially have your mind broken as you try to comprehend their explanation."
Mal chuckled. "I know some people like that."
"It was a dangerous move, having your friends and my friends unite in a common goal. But you, my Queen, have gotten me off topic."
"Not that hard to do," Mal smirked as she kissed his cheek. She loved the fact that, while they had not yet gotten married, Ben still referred to her as 'his Queen' whenever he got the chance. Of course that was in addition to his favorite nickname for her of 'dragon'.
Even if it brought up another worry of her's. There was a big possibility, in fact probably an almost certainty, that she had become immortal when her mom adopted her. Ben may have had the remnants of the Beast enchantment but that didn't guarantee an immortal life.
"Come on Mal. What's on your mind? You know you can tell me anything," Ben said as he gently cupped her cheek with his hand, pulling Mal out of her thoughts.
Mal sighed as bright green eyes met hazel green. Focus on one problem at a time, she told herself. "Freddy."
"Still no sign?" Ben asked with a small sigh of his own.
"Not one whiff of smoke," Mal shook her head. "I suppose we should take that as a good sign, that Freddy hasn't decided to take a leaf out of his dad's book and burn down all of Auradon until he gets what he wants. Me tied to a stake and set ablaze, or if that's not an option then he'll want me tossed into the ocean."
"Which will never happen," Ben promised her.
"Benny, I'm pretty sure Uma would kill you if you even thought about that, never mind what my mom and dad would do," Mal chuckled dryly but it was short lived. "Any word about Audrey?"
"None," Ben sighed. Aurora had reached out to them about a week after Freddy's escape, the blonde in tears as she hadn't heard anything from Audrey in all that time. There was a worry that Freddy had kidnapped Audrey but they had checked her dorm. There was no sign of a struggle.
Then again, Freddy had managed to convince three Rats to leave the crew, Mal thought with a small sigh as she looked back out toward the Isle. If he could do that, convince Shayla and Locklyn and Strat to leave the security of knowing where your next meal was going to come from, he could easily convince Audrey to go with him without a struggle.
"Hey, it'll be okay," Ben said, rubbing his hand over her arm, trying to comfort her. "We've got guards scouring the kingdom for Freddy. They'll find him, and they'll find Audrey wherever he's holding her. I just can't believe Freddy would steal Maleficent's scepter."
"That's what bothers me too," Mal said as she looked back at him. "He wouldn't. Ben, there's someone else out there with the scepter. And possibly my spell book too. Didn't the security guard list it among the missing items?"
"Well yeah but isn't that good for us? With how Freddy views magic, he'll focus on whoever has the scepter first allowing us time to regroup and figure out where he's holding Audrey."
Mal couldn't help but smile as she listened to the slight bit of hope in her fiancé's voice. No matter what Audrey had done to him, there would always be a bit of Ben that had a fondness for the brunette Princess. She'd been one of his oldest friends after all.
"Now come on, Harry and Jay are waiting for you," Ben said with a growing grin.
"I still can't believe we're bringing over more VKs while Freddy's on the loose," Mal sighed as they made their way off the balcony.
"We promised them that they'd be able to get off and—."
"A King keeps his promises," Mal finished. Ben truly was big on keeping promises. After all, Mal had to give him a love potion cookie just to convince him to remove his consent from the betrothal contract he'd been in with Audrey.
Thankfully Ben couldn't be love spelled but the cookie did its job—and Mal wound up with a pretty great boyfriend and now fiancé out of it.
"Wait, I need to reach out to Uma," Mal said, stopping in her tracks. "She's visiting her grandmother right now but she'd kill us if she realized we went to get Celia without her."
"Mama Odie lives in a boat in a tree in the bayou," Mal stated. "She's surrounded by water. Uma should be able to get to us with no issues."
After all, mom just started teaching us how to teleport ourselves. It's easier when you're around the source of your powers though, and since Uma teleports in a plume of water like her grandfather… Mal thought as she reached out with the mental link. Uma?
Mal, are you seriously bothering me right now? Uma thought back to her
Having a good time cuz?
Grandmama Odie's gumbo might just be better than your dad's cooking. Which is why someone better be on fire for you to be reaching out right now.
Wait doesn't gumbo have seafood in it?
Mama's restaurant is called 'Ursula's Fish and Chip Shoppe', you really think I'd have a problem eating seafood? But no, Grandmama Odie made a vegetarian gumbo for me since she didn't know if I'd be offended by it.
Nice of her.
I have to say I like her Mali. She and Uncle Hades would hit it off nicely, and honestly now that I know she's got a kid our age, I kinda want to meet my Aunt Opal.
How is that even possible? Isn't she over a hundred?
Says the girl who's the daughter of two Gods. Aren't your parents like eons old?
…touche. Anywho I thought you'd like to know that Harry is itching to pick up the new VKs but unless you'd like to wait or meet us at the school…
Way to bury the lede Mal! Give me five minutes, I'll be right there.
Mal shook her head as not five minutes later, a pale plume of water seemed to appear out of thin air.
"I am so glad you decided to do that outside," Ben murmured in Mal's ear as the plume dropped with a splash to reveal Uma.
"Are you going to share that gumbo?"
"Nope! I will however share this meat lovers gumbo that Grandmama made."
Mal grinned. "Then of course I missed you cuz! Let's put this food away and then go grab us some crew mates!"
"How has Harry not come in and dragged us to the limo?" Uma chuckled.
"Jay's holding him back," Mal stated. "Either Jay or Gil."
It had been to the surprise of everyone when Harry and Gil started hanging out without the First Mate attempting to murder the blond. Though with Gil dating Macaria and not latched to Harry's side, it was much easier for Harry to put up with him.
Or at least that's what Harry claimed. Mal held the theory that Harry never truly hated Gil but was just jealous at how much attention Uma would give the youngest LeGume boy. Of course Harry would never actually admit that.
"Come on! You lot're more slower than…"
"Slower than what Harry?" Uma chuckled as Harry grew silent upon seeing her.
"Cap'n! I didn't think…I thought you were with your grandma?"
Uma smiled. "I was. But Mal said we were getting the next group of VKs today so I figured I'd join in. I'm not missing Celia seeing Auradon for the first time."
"Wait!" Ben said as he rushed over to them. "As much as I'd love to join you guys—,"
"But you know why you can't," Mal cut in.
"Yes Akiho I know," Ben shook his head and handed Mal a small bag. "Sunglasses for the new VKs. They're polarized to help lessen the glare of the sun even more."
Mal took the bag and smiled, kissing Ben on the cheek.
"You missed," he teased.
"Oh did I?"
"Well let me—."
Uma rolled her eyes and shoved the gumbo into Ben's hands. "You two are so sweet you're going to give me a cavity."
"You know if you just admitted your denial, you could be sweet with Harry," Mal teased as Evie walked up, shaking her head.
"Honestly," she chuckled. "Give Dizzy a big hug for me. I'm just sorry I won't be able to come with but I know the limo's only so big."
"Don't worry Blueberry," Uma said but giving Evie a kinder smile than those in the past, as if showing the other girl that it was said in jest. "You'll be seeing that little fireball in no time."
"Do you often give people nicknames based on their hair color?"
"Hmm, do I Mali?"
"Considering you've never called me anything like 'grape head' I'm going to say no," Mal chuckled.
Uma shook her head. "I'm pretty sure you'd have killed me if that was the case."
"Nah. You're my cousin. I don't kill family after all."
"I'm growing ancient here cap'ns!" Harry called from the door and both Godlings burst out laughing as they made their way to the waiting limo. Mal gave one last glance toward the balcony before looking forward.
They could worry about Freddy tomorrow. Today it was time for the future.