Disclaimer & Notices: See Prologue

In Love and Into War
By Red Hope

Chapter 1

“Again, my queen!” the soldier demanded. He laughed in surprise at the queen’s excellent form. He ducked under her blade swing then returned with several of his own attacks. He was impressed by her development over the past few moons. He was equally impressed by her dedication to learn the blade.

“You seem rather slow today, captain.” Queen Aurora had a smirk. She had easily defended against his attacks. “Perhaps you were out too late last night… indulging yourself.”

The captain laughed and returned the verbal spar. “You are equally as slow, your majesty.” He thrust forward with the blade, missing her side. “You eat too many cakes.”

Aurora laughed because the captain knew her sweet tooth. “Those provide an excellent source of energy for my afternoons.” She spun behind the captain and tapped his metal back with her bronze blade.

The captain was pleased with Aurora’s well placed hit. He sidestepped a few times and put room between them. He wore his lighter armor today just to give the queen a more realistic feel to combat. One day, they would practice a more realistic scenario than their usual practice. “Do I infer that you cannot handle your afternoons with me?”

Aurora took a few steps back. She spun the sword in her hand twice. She held the blade diagonal to her body. Her knees were bent, and she was prepared to continue the spar, even the verbal one. “Not at all.” She still had a grin. “It simply means that I can indulge since I practice so hard in the afternoons.” She then raised an eyebrow, something she had learned from Maleficent. “However, I still acquire the necessary sleep… unlike some.”

The captain was baited by the remark. He surged forward with a laugh and sparred further with the queen. His bronze, plated armor reflected the afternoon sun, giving him a holy glow. His dark hair stood out against his paler features. He was easily taller than Aurora and much stronger. More recently, his physical advantages had weakened against the queen because she had learned to overcome them. He was proud of his queen.

From the corner of Aurora’s eyes, she noted that Prince Philip had arrived at the castle and was watching her and the captain. She continued the spar with the captain until they were both worn from it. The captain went over her weak spots, explained the best resolution, and then praised her for her excellent development.

“Do you find me ready for battle?” the queen asked.

The captain had sheathed his unsharpened sword. He frowned at the question. “I pray that I never find you ready, my queen.”

Aurora had already sheathed her blade at her side. She took a step closer, a slight concern in her eyes. She parted her lips to ask why.

“I do not wish to see you in battle,” the captain explained. He gripped the queen’s shoulder.

Aurora sadly peered up at the captain. “I wish not to be either, Captain Cynewear.”

Captain Cynewear said nothing else and left the rest unspoken. It was the unrest with King Hubert that most likely encouraged the queen to learn swordsmanship and archery. He held back his questions and only promised to teach her the best skills. After all, he was the Captain of the Guards and had worked hard to earn his role after the first captain was rejected by the queen.

Queen Aurora started over to Prince Philip, a smile on her face. She sensed the captain at her side. She greeted the prince with a hug, and she received a kiss to her cheek.

“And what of archery today, your majesty?” The captain allowed the queen to make the decision.

Prince Philip sensed that Aurora was about the cancel it so he intervened first. “I must wash up after the long ride from Ofsted.” He held the queen’s hand in hers and insisted, “Do not let me delay your archery lesson.”

Aurora nodded and promised, “I will see you for dinner then.”

“Very well.” Prince Philip said goodbye then left before he delayed the archery lesson any further.

The captain was happy that the prince allowed the queen to continue her lessons for the afternoon. He was proud of how much he had taught the queen in a short time. “We should not delay.”

Queen Aurora nodded and followed the captain out of the spar field and into a small barrack. She greeted a couple of soldiers and then went into the weapons room that had a variety of items. She returned her unsharpened sword.

Captain Cynewear had retrieved two bows and plenty of practice arrows. “I see you wore your trousers again today.” He indicated her attire.

The queen glanced down at her brown trousers and black boots. She also wore a white tunic that was more form fitting to her figure. She only wore them during practice with the captain. “I wish to have the seamstress design me leathers.” She noted the captain’s grin, which probably equaled her own thoughts. “But I suspect she would not be too taken with my request.”

“You are the queen,” Cynewear reminded her.

“Sometimes that part is forgotten in the castle.” Aurora even thought of the royal court that was too outspoken.

Cynewear chuckled and approached the queen. “You would be best to ask a tanner to make you something.”

“Do you know of any?”

“Of course.” The captain led the queen out of the barracks while he spoke. “We can visit him tomorrow, your majesty. We will end early so that we can visit him.”

The excited queen nodded. “That would be excellent.” She smiled. “Thank you.” She then noticed they were headed towards the stables. “Are we to ride today?”

“I did point out your trousers.” The captain grinned at the queen’s slight hesitation to ride today. “Few will see you riding the horse with either leg on the horse’s sides.” He had long ago learned that the queen enjoyed straddling the saddle rather than doing it properly as a lady. He also never spoke about it to any. “We will walk the horses to the gate.”

Queen Aurora was happy with that idea and grew delighted again to both ride and do archery. She was not as apt with the bow and arrow as she was with the sword. Yet, she still practiced nearly every day to learn the bow and arrow. Her aim had grown better, but she was slower compared to the blade.

The last hours of the afternoon were spent near the forest a short ride from the castle. The captain had designed a small archery practice area alongside the tree line. He and the queen practiced with the various arrows for nearly two hours. He then commended the queen on her improvements. And as normal, he instructed her on improvements, which she listened to carefully like any time. Afterwards, they mounted their horses and took a long ride back to the castle rather than a direct route. Captain Cynewear understood the queen’s love for a horseback ride.

Back at the castle, Prince Philip prepared for dinner after cleaning up and resting beside the fireplace. He wore his formal attire tonight and met Queen Aurora at the smaller dining room since it was only the two of them. He bowed to the queen and exchanged another chaste kiss. It had been over three years since he gave his first and last kiss to her lips. His last attempt was rejected, carefully by the queen.

“How does your father fair?” the queen inquired. She was enjoying her soup.

Prince Philip drank from his glass of wine. He set it down and replied, “Father is ill.”

Queen Aurora was saddened to hear such about King John. “Merely a cold?” she hoped aloud. She had met him a few times after visiting King John’s kingdom with Prince Philip.

“Much more serious,” Prince Philip answered.

Queen Aurora left her spoon in the soup and gazed sadly at the prince. “Then why are you not home with him instead of here?”

Prince Philip fidgeted then explained, “Father asked that I get away for a little while.” His father had noticed how taxing the illness had been on Philip. “I will return shortly.” He was glad to see Aurora and talk about his troubles. Long ago his mother had passed away from illness. Now it seemed like the same one would take his father.

“I am so sorry, Philip.” Aurora reached across the short distance and held the prince’s hand. She was seated at the head of the table while Philip sat to her right. The rest of the table was empty except for the servants in the room that pretended to blend in with the walls.

Philip squeezed the smaller hand in hers. He then decided on a different topic. “How goes your lessons?” He had seen Aurora with the blade near the beginning. He could tell she was apt with the sword.

“Excellent so far.” Aurora enjoyed her lessons with Captain Cynewear. “The captain is starting to show less restraint during sparring.” It was an indication that the captain trusted Aurora’s skill as a swordsman.

“Soon you will be much like one of those warrior females from the Norselands.” Prince Philip considered the legends and tried to recall the name of such female warriors.

“You mean a shieldmaiden,” Aurora offered. She brightened at the idea because she had read much about the Norselands. She was encouraged by the shieldmaidens in old mythology.

“Yes.” Prince Philip traded a smile with the queen. “Or even the legends about the Valkyrie.”

Aurora softly laughed and argued, “That would require a flying horse, Philip.”

Prince Philip returned the laugh and touched the queen’s knee, the fabric of the dress soft against his palm. “Dare I say that Maleficent could provide you with one.”

Aurora faltered at hearing the fairy’s name. She hesitated and softly granted, “Anything is possible with Maleficent.”

Prince Philip returned his hand to his plate.

A soft yet familiar sound caught Aurora’s ear, and her eyes cut to the open window high above in the arched room. It was always left open like many other windows in the castle, even in the winter season. In the open window, she spied a black raven with ruffled feathers. She recognized Diaval anywhere. Aurora smiled back at the prince and continued chatting with him. However, Diaval’s constant and silent watching was on her mind too.

After dinner, Aurora thanked Philip for his visit and promised a more eventful day tomorrow after her meetings. Philip was grateful and said goodnight to the queen. On the quiet walk to her quarters, Aurora considered Diaval’s arrival and hoped to speak to him tonight. She hoped he was well and brought news of Maleficent.

Aurora approached her guarded room, and bid goodnight to the two guards. In a new habit, Aurora gripped her dagger’s hilt as she entered the room. Captain Cynewear had given her the bronze dagger ages ago and insisted she keep it on her hip at all times. As she entered the candlelit room, she scanned for any trouble like the captain taught her. It was a good habit these days.

The room was plenty quiet and empty. The fireplace had already been started thanks to a servant so the room was warm. Aurora was thankful and decided first to go outside to see if Diaval was nearby. She stood on the large balcony that overlooked the city, her city and her kingdom. She could distantly imagine the edge of the Moorlands that she could normally see on a beautiful, clear day.

A low squawk caught Aurora’s attention, and she smiled after the raven landed on the stone rail. She affectionately petted him and warmly greeted, “Pretty bird.”

Diaval enjoyed the attention before he hopped off and landed on the balcony floor. He morphed into a human with a black leathers and a black cloak. “How are you, Aurora?”

Aurora never lied to Diaval, who had become her close friend over the years. “I am tired.” She started into the room with Diaval behind her.

“You have not been to the Moors in months.” Diaval knew the queen usually attempted to go once a month, but no more than a month a half.

Aurora swallowed hard and continued towards the fireplace. “There is much going on here.” She took a seat on the sofa and patted the empty spot beside her.

“It is King Hubert.”

Aurora peered up at Diaval and nodded. “Nothing I offer has appeased him.”

Diaval had heard the troubles from Maleficent after Aurora left on her last visit. He frowned and peered over at the girl. He realized as he studied her that Aurora had become a woman at some point in the past three years. He felt a puff of pride fill his chest.

“I worry he is like King Stefan,” Aurora whispered.

Diaval dropped his shoulders. He noted how Aurora ignored the fact that King Stefan was her father. Aurora had obviously disowned King Stefan from her heritage. “You must not fear him, Aurora.”

The queen licked her dry lips and peered up at Diaval. “He is a man worth fearing.” She had learned much about King Hubert that she would not repeat to any. Her spies were too informative sometimes.

“Your kingdoms will protect you,” Diaval reminded her. He leaned in closer and added, “Maleficent will protect you.”

Aurora bit her lower lip and shook her head. “And who will protect Maleficent?”

Diaval chuckled and reminded, “Maleficent does not need protecting.”

“She does now.” Aurora stood up and approached the fire, which needed more wood. “Now that she has a heart again.” She shoved several pieces into the fire. “At times,” she muttered under her breath, but Diaval heard her.

Diaval watched and knew better than to take over Aurora’s chore. He waited until the queen was beside him again. “You spoke to her.”

Aurora knew it was a statement. She fidgeted and offered nothing to the perceptive raven man.

“It did not go well,” Diaval concluded again.

Aurora leaned forward until her chin could rest in her raised hands. It was rather unlady like, but she was in her quarters with her friend. “She did not speak… not once.”

Diaval touched the queen’s back and rubbed there for a moment. “I am sorry, Aurora.” He could read the dismay on Aurora’s face. “She has been rather quiet since you left. She is constantly on patrol around the Moors.”

Aurora listened to Diaval. Her memories from that painful afternoon with Maleficent came back to her.

“She rests very little.” Diaval was openly concerned about Maleficent. “I have suggested many times for her to visit you.”

“But she does not,” Aurora stated.

Diaval tilted his head to the side and gently poked the queen in the side. “Nor do you visit.”

“I am far too embarrassed to do so.” Aurora was surprised she admitted it to Diaval, but she had nobody else to talk to about that afternoon.

“One of you must end this stalemate.” The human raven climbed to his feet and went to the fire. He studied the flames. “Maleficent is scared of her own heart, Aurora.” He looked back at the queen. “Some part of her may think history will repeat itself.”

Aurora was instantly offended and up on her feet. “I am not King Stefan.”

Diaval quickly crossed the distance and grabbed the queen’s shoulders. “No you are not, and Maleficent has not fully accepted that about you.” He shook his head and offered, “Perhaps that’s what scares her… that you are not him.”

Aurora shook her head and moved out of the space with Diaval. “She entered an iron castle to save me. Defeated her own curse. Fought off King Stefan.” She was halfway to the balcony. “She made me queen of the Moors.”

Diaval followed over to the queen. “She does love you,” he agreed with her assessment. He had heard Maleficent speak such words. “But what you asked of her was far greater than just admitting it.”

Aurora was confused and stared at Diaval.

“You asked her to act upon it.” Diaval sadly smiled at his friend. “Give her time to decide, not just close the door on her.” He tilted his head again. “If she has time, she will act upon it, and I do not doubt it would be a great love.”

“True love,” Aurora reminded the raven man.

Diaval smiled brightly. “Yes, exactly.” He then looked to the balcony. “I must return before she suspects my lack of annoyance.”

“Diaval,” Aurora fussed.

Diaval shrugged because they knew it was true. He loved to annoy Maleficent. He returned to the balcony and tightly hugged Aurora for a minute. He kissed her goodbye before he jumped off the balcony as a human then transformed into a raven. He swooped upwards and gave a final call in goodbye.

Aurora waved at him before she returned to her quarters. She was truly exhausted and decided to prepare for bed. Normally the handmaidens wished to help her, but she had schooled them on leaving her alone. She was on her own for most of her life and rarely required the handmaidens’ help unless it was an awkward piece of clothing like a corset. She damn well hated those things too.

Once in bed, Aurora placed the unsheathed dagger on her nightstand. Just under her bed, she kept a sharpened sword for added protection. She was ready, as the captain taught her. Aurora stared up at the bed’s canopy and considered Diaval’s words. They weighed heavy and exhausted her mentally as much as she was physically.

A restless sleep caught up to Aurora after a couple of hours. She stayed warm under the heavy sheets. Aurora had a strange dream about Maleficent and the darker side of Maleficent. She heard Maleficent’s staff hit the stone floor in the throne room, similar to when she was a baby. Aurora was stirred awake by the sound and then realized that it was a real sound that had mingled with her dream. Aurora tensed because she was no longer alone in the room. Her heart tripled in speed and her newly developed muscles curled in tension.

Aurora pinpointed the soft movements coming towards the opposite side of her bed. She retrained herself to sleep on the side closest to the dagger. She had never expected her training to be used on a night like this, but she was ready for her assailant.

Once the assailant was close enough, Aurora sprung from the sheets and wrapped her hand around the dagger. The blade scrapped against the wood nightstand before it was pointed at the assailant. Aurora cried out and launched at her unsuspecting attacker.

“Aurora!” a familiar voice called in worry.

Aurora’s initial aim was true until her mind adjusted her hand. She slammed into her attack, the dagger never making its mark, thankfully. But Aurora lost her grace and went tumbling over the bed with her assailant. Aurora landed on her side and the air was knocked from the lungs. She was in an entanglement of arms, legs, and feathers. Aurora blinked and focused on the familiar, striking features next to her. She bashfully smiled.

“Hello, beastie.”

Aurora blushed brightly after Maleficent raised an eyebrow at her. “Hello, godmother.” She returned the endearment even though they had both grown out of it some time ago.

Maleficent let out a low breath. She still remained on her side next to Aurora on the stone floor. “I see your training is going well.”

“Yes, quite so.” Aurora bit her lower lip. She tried recalling the last time she was so close to Maleficent like this.

Maleficent decided to get up and helped Aurora. “I will remember to wisely announce myself rather than surprise you again.”

Aurora nervously laughed and offered, “One can never be too careful.”

“No… one cannot,” Maleficent distantly agreed. She seemed to be taking in Aurora as if she were different than the last time they met. But her attention jerked to the door after a low bang, and two guards entered the room with a lit torch. “A bit late, boys,” she muttered.

“My queen,” a guard called in worry.

Aurora remained close to Maleficent. “It is alright.” She indicated the fairy. “It is only Maleficent that has come to visit me.” She now understood why Captain Cynewear wished her to keep a blade if the guards were slow. She suspected he would inquire tomorrow about their timeliness.

The same guard hesitated because he tried to imagine how it was only Maleficent, who was a former threat to the kingdom. He replied, “We understand, your majesty. Have a good night.” He and the guard backed out of the room and resealed the doors.

Maleficent rolled her eyes at the departing guards before she peered down at the queen.

Aurora caught up to the present and stated, “You’re here… in my room.”

“I am.” Maleficent pointed a finger at the forgotten dagger, and it floated in the air up to her. She noted it was made of bronze, not iron. The weapon could have still done some temporary damage to her, but it hardly compared to iron. “So you will not need this for the rest of the night.” She floated it across the bed and placed it on the nightstand.

“You are staying,” Aurora deduced aloud. She smiled, gratefully for the surprise.

“Just tonight.” Maleficent could only be away from the Moorlands for awhile.

Aurora sat on the bed and waited until Maleficent was beside her. “What brought you here?”

Maleficent sighed and showed some annoyance. “Diaval.” She studied Aurora before she explained herself further. “He had said he visited you.” After Aurora’s nod, Maleficent grudgely added, “He flaunted that he spent time with you.”

Aurora chuckled because she imagined that Diaval bragged about it simply to get under Maleficent’s skin, or feathers. It had worked because Maleficent was now here with her.

“We should rest. I am worn from my flights today.” Maleficent indicated the bed.

“Of course.” Aurora was still absorbing the fact that Maleficent had come to her. She climbed onto the large bed.

“I cannot sleep under the blankets,” Maleficent reminded the queen.

Aurora only nodded. She pushed the sheets back over but first pulled the pillows on top of the blankets. She waited until Maleficent was comfortable on the bed then she laid down nearby, careful not to harm Maleficent’s tucked wings.

Maleficent was on her right side, facing the human. “How are you, Aurora?”

Aurora nearly gave an instant replied, but she seriously considered it. She finally answered, “Better.”

Maleficent raised an eyebrow at the honest answer. She knew Aurora was better thanks to her arrival.

“How you been?” Aurora tucked her hands under the pillow. She already knew thanks to Diaval.

“Worn,” Maleficent admitted to the human.

“Diaval said you have been patrolling heavily again.” Aurora brushed a loose strand from her face. “You are worried about King Hubert.”

“Are you not too?” Maleficent knew the answer. “His army has been more active than normal.”

“Have they begun to march?”

“Thankfully not.” Maleficent expected it any day now. “But they are training heavy and more commoners are being conscripted for the army.”

Aurora closed her eyes briefly. She already heard the news thanks to her spies. She looked at Maleficent again. “I hope I can head off this war.”

“The riches of the Moors creates a powerful greed in humans.”

Aurora knew it was Maleficent’s way of telling her that it was impossible to change King Hubert’s mind. “I have to continue trying… even if it at least belays the war.”

Maleficent curiously studied the queen and then realized what that meant too. “You are preparing for the war.” It was obvious that the queen was buying time to ready her own army.

“Hope for the best… prepare for the worst,” Aurora stated.

Maleficent rolled those words through her mind a few times. She then quietly replied, “Were you prepared for the worst during our last visit?”

Aurora went still and absorbed what Maleficent was really asking her. She blinked away the sting in her eyes because she had cried enough about what had happened between them last time. “I was prepared… for many responses.”

“Just not a silent response,” Maleficent summarized.

Aurora for once stayed silent, not sure where the conversation was headed this time. She had learned her lesson not to push Maleficent on certain topics.

Maleficent realized her own treatment was being returned to her now. She frowned and rolled onto her back. “You asked a lot of me on that day, beastie.”

Aurora still remained quiet until she found golden eyes on her. “No more than what you did on your own to save me from the curse.”

“I cursed you,” Maleficent reminded her.

“And King Stefan took so much from you,” Aurora argued. “You both were ravaged by the hatred but there is one big difference.” She sat up and looked down at Maleficent. “You learned to love again… to forgive it.”

Maleficent had been staring at the canopy but now focused on Aurora’s beautiful features. Like Diaval, she wondered when the girl had turned into a woman.

“I would go through the curse again if it’s what saves you,” Aurora whispered. She saw the glisten in Maleficent’s eyes. “It was worth it… to me.”

Maleficent studied Aurora in the soft glow of the moonlight from the balcony’s partially open curtains. She finally reached out and took Aurora’s hand into hers. She sat up next and tucked her legs behind herself, like her wings. “I am…” She hesitated and squeezed Aurora’s hand harder.

Aurora was patient and placed her other hand over top of their linked ones. She gave Maleficent a reassuring smile in attempt to sooth Maleficent’s fears.

“I-I-I am terrified to…” Maleficent looked away and gathered her courage. She tried one last time with more determination than past times. “I am terrified to love again… especially you.”

Aurora removed her left hand and pressed it against Maleficent’s cheek. Her thumb caressed the sharp curvature of Maleficent’s features. “I know you are.”

“But, I wish to do it again,” Maleficent whispered. She swallowed hard. “I am not sure I know how to though.”

Aurora gave a tender smile and argued, “You do it every time we are together.” She tilted her head. “You have known me the longest of anybody.” She shrugged and continued to talk about the past. “Perhaps you did not love me at first when I was a child.” She traded a small grin with Maleficent. “But you cared for me better than my aunties and slowly loved me over time.”

“I did,” Maleficent quietly agreed. “Although Diaval would argue it was him that did so.”

Aurora laughed, grateful for the humor. “Yes, all of this is thanks to Diaval.”

“Praise Diaval,” Maleficent muttered in annoyance.

Aurora softly laughed but became serious. Her hand drifted down to Maleficent’s defined jawline. She found curious golden eyes on her. “I want to be with you, Maleficent.” She heard the next breath hitch in the fairy’s throat. “But, I will wait until you are truly ready for this.” Aurora then decided to ebb any of Maleficent’s trivial, unnecessary fears. “I know this is what I want.” She held Maleficent’s eyes with her own. “It is not some childish crush. I am a woman going on twenty summers old.” She canted her head and softly added, “I want you, Maleficent.”

Maleficent searched for any falsehood in those beautiful eyes. She knew there was only truth, like always. She had seen doubt in King Stefan’s eyes before he was a king. Aurora seemed to barely carry his blood or even King Henry’s blood. Whatever the former Queen Leila has passed onto Aurora was beautiful.

“I was yours, ages ago,” Maleficent admitted. She never believed in destiny until she formed a bond with Aurora. She softened at Aurora’s brilliant smile. “My little beastie,” she added for a loving tease.

Aurora chuckled and ran her thumb across Maleficent’s red lips. She lowered her attention to them before locking eyes again.

Maleficent realized it was a silent request. It seemed like a simple one too. However, Maleficent drew on her deeper courage to respond to the request. She leaned slightly closer, sharing breathes with Aurora. She noticed how Aurora waited on her, so patiently. Maleficent sadly smiled at Aurora’s devotion, and it encouraged her to close in the short distance.

Aurora released an unexpected whimper at finally feeling Maleficent’s lips against hers. She leaned in now and sealed their lips tighter. She struggled with the warmth in her stomach. Her focus remained on the chaste kiss that developed its own heat.

Maleficent moved her lips with Aurora for a heartbeat then she parted her lips. She was pleased when Aurora did the same. She slid her tongue between their lips and tasted the sweetness that was Aurora. She sensed that Aurora was hesitant, probably not kissing quite like this before now. It made Maleficent grin at the fact that Aurora was still innocent in some ways and also quite trusting with Maleficent. Needing to be careful for both of them, Maleficent slowly withdrew but not without pressing their lips together a few times for a tender moment.

Aurora drew out of the kiss with a dreamy look that made her a young teen again. Her strain from the possible war was no longer written across her features. Instead, she enjoyed her love with Maleficent that could break a curse, and possibly so much more.

Maleficent leaned her forehead against Aurora’s brow, and she whispered, “Beastie… can I have my horn back.”

Aurora cleared her emotions and timidly peered up at her left hand, which had hooked Maleficent’s right horn. “S-s-sorry.” She removed her hand as if it had been burnt by the earlier grip.

Maleficent started to chuckle deeply, and it shook her frame. “That is alright.” She freed her right hand, which still held Aurora’s smaller one. “We should rest though.”

“It’s late,” the queen agreed. She needed the distracting conversation after such a kiss.

“Yes.” Maleficent lowered them both to the bed, but she drew Aurora into her arms. “Turn around for me.”

Aurora rolled and placed her back against Maleficent’s front. She knew this spot very well, her favorite. She smiled when wings surrounded them and warmed their bodies. They had no use for the sheets when the feathers blanketed them perfectly.

Maleficent let out a low breath, the strain from her chest finally gone after months. She nuzzled the queen’s hair and smelled a distant lilac hint.

“You must leave tomorrow?” Aurora checked.

“I am afraid so.” Maleficent wished to stay, even in the dreaded castle. However, the Moors needed her attention as the protector. She squeezed Aurora closer and urged, “You must rest.”

Aurora gave a low nod and placed a hand over Maleficent’s hand that was across her waist. She murmured a goodnight before she drifted off. She slept much better than many nights before tonight. Aurora had won the important battle, even if a war still loomed upon them.

To be continued.