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Softly Creeping

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Aurora circled the space in her cottage room, pulling the feather duster over the walls. When she paced and did nothing else, her aunts would scold her for oddness. But, she supposed, the result wasn’t so bad. It wasn’t as if they could do a better job of cleaning it themselves, and she ought to contribute something to the place they all lived in. It kept her safe and able to go where she most wanted to be. Even if that place was one she didn’t understand much about.

She didn’t know why, but she knew the Fair Folk were more relaxed when she came to visit Maleficent. She’d noticed when they were playing with the mud, just before Maleficent joined in: they had all stilled and waited. What made her separate? Why were she and Diaval the only ones who looked like Aurora and her aunts? The feathers brushed a smear of dust over her nose; Aurora had forgotten it and tried to raise her hand to her chin. She sneezed, giggled at her daydreaming. Then she thought of the question again. Diaval was a bird and Maleficent had had wings; had Maleficent been a bird too? She looked at the feather duster. Was she holding—no, that had never been a possibility. It would have been mentioned earlier. She cringed anyway and dropped it, kicked it into a corner. Anyway Maleficent also had horns. Horns and mighty wings. Did she have, or used to have, the shape of a dragon? Horns, Aurora thought, and noticed the shape at her window. She smiled.

 

Maleficent caught her words before speaking. She was tempted to turn the feather duster into a stuffed bird. But Aurora was kind enough that she might actually be hurt by it. She was also forgiving, but Maleficent didn’t want to need forgiveness. Or any more of it. Suddenly the urge grew stronger.

She was treating Aurora better than her former pixie subjects. Silly traitors true, but pixies, and the silliness she had known in them since she was a child nearly made her forgive their choices. But Aurora, at least, had more appreciation for the Moors. Yes; the beastie was the opposite of her ‘aunts,’ her origin an accident. That was reason enough to afford her feelings more respect. She watched the girl approach, alert to keeping her thoughts off her face.

 

Aurora could see the little pull on Maleficent’s face and the narrowing of her eyes. It said her godmother was trying to hide a momentary loss of focus. That and her lack of literal speech, although silence was a common feature of their interactions. She seemed to need regular provocation. So Aurora provided it—her and Diaval, which further suggested Maleficent was another kind of creature entirely. “Is it time to introduce you to my aunts? You know they might be coming any moment, just to make sure I’m doing something.”

Maleficent raised her finger to her mouth. “That is not likely to happen. I came only because you didn’t.”

A continuing lack of interest in being a part of her side of the world. Aurora added that to her list of questions but kept smiling. “I didn’t think I’d be able to go out the door today. They’re very upset about the frog invasion but they’re paying attention to everything in sight, just to see if they can finally settle on a culprit.” She noticed she was floating. Maleficent drew away, beckoning; the window flew up and Aurora rode the air like a current after her.

They might have to talk about this sort of thing.

 

The beastie had done it again; Aurora’s supreme innocence might have made her an exception among humankind, but it stung Maleficent in another kind of way. She didn’t know how to answer, and she wondered if Aurora could divine that out of her, if she guess the reason for her terseness or if she just thought that was how godmothers should behave. Friendly but closed. There to give but not of themselves. Just to bring their charges delight—no, if she got into that way of thinking she might drop Aurora, whether by accident or by impulsive design. That shouldn’t happen. Aurora was, after all, just eager to share with her. Maleficent wouldn’t destroy that eagerness, both for Aurora’s sake and for her own.

They were within the edge of the Moors. Maleficent set her down.

 

“You know,” Aurora trailed off, and then began again. “That was very lovely! I felt like a bubble. It could only be more lovely if you were to tell me before doing it, next time.”

Maleficent looked back for a moment, yet continued walking. Aurora kept her cheery tone, though it was soft. “I do appreciate it. I would like for it to happen again.” She hoped she hadn’t offended. “I’m glad you really want me out today!”

Nothing made her godmother less remote than an act like pulling her along, even if she wasn’t doing it with her hands. It meant Aurora’s company was actively desired. She wasn’t hiding that in the least, no matter what her silences and refusal to meet with her aunts meant. She was just different in her way of caring. Aurora could see them all in the kitchen now, Maleficent spattered with porridge, a bowl dangling from one of her horns, as her aunts bustled around in another impromptu food fight. She laughed; the vision made its own kind of sense. She imagined even her aunts would take a moment to consider Maleficent’s cool tranquillity and perhaps that would finally calm them down. Her godmother did know how to draw attention with her stillness.

She would not revisit her questions today, though. Not ones about Maleficent. If she hadn’t answered, she didn’t want to. Insisting on Aurora’s presence was more than enough.

 

“I’ll keep that in mind. Come and meet the water fairies. You wished to know why they seemed so much more human than most of the others? Water is an adaptable element. But I think they will tell you.” That much Maleficent could give. Aurora would learn of her by seeing how the Moors fit around her rule. If she wanted to learn, it was there for her alone. Maleficent chose what she had to offer; Aurora could judge it.