Ill Met By Moonlight
She snaps lightning through the halls of his palace and smiles at the terror that strikes through the crowd as she rises like a sharp edged dark flower from the stones.
“Well,” she says with the acid bite of sarcasm between her teeth, “quite a glittering assemblage, King Stefan.”
It was not always like this between them.
They brought this curse on themselves, really. For long years the queen’s infertility contented her. It was an unsatisfying revenge, but it was an adequate one. They must have gotten those idiotic little fairies to break the spell she’d cast long ago in the throes of hysterical anger. Admittedly not her best work.
When she hears the news of the royal birth she throws a tantrum that sends her imps scurrying in terror. And then she hears the proclamation of the great holiday to celebrate the infant princess. Amongst themselves in fearful mutterings her imps concur that her laughter is worse than her curses.
His first thought is fear for his infant daughter. This new fragile girl-child terrifies him even as he loves her to the point of madness and he knows he would do absolutely anything to protect her.
His second thought is hysterical anger that she would come here, today. He has spent years keeping Maleficent separate in his thoughts from the everyday waking concerns of his kingdom.
She’s taller than he had remembered. She must be wearing tall boots under her long inky robes. Before she rose from the shadows in a flash of green flame he had not seen her in almost ten years.
Maleficent almost laughs when the little golden bitch asks if she’s offended, though she appreciates the honorific. She almost says, though you have managed to give him a child despite my spells, you will never have him the way I once did.
She remembers the first time she ever saw the fair queen. She’d been a visiting princess then, the youngest daughter of a neighboring king. She’d been sitting at a spinning wheel turning thread for a rather magnificently large, if insipid, tapestry depicting the old parable of the maiden and the unicorn.
Maleficent, whose name at the time had been something else entirely, had paid her very little mind. Dismissing her without a second thought. She regrets that.
Underestimating the allure of innocence has always been a stumbling block of hers.
“Maleficent doesn’t know anything about love or kindness or the joy of helping others,” Fauna says. This is not entirely true.
She has known little joy and even less kindness over the years, but she once knew a great deal about love. The little fairies cannot see this. They understand nothing of love.
She laughs while Stefan burns every spinning wheel in the kingdom. Curled around the wisp light of her staff, watching the bonfires. As though she couldn’t make a thousand spinning wheels from nothing with the merest wave of her hand. She considers turning every stick of furniture in his castle to a spinning wheel, just to see him burn it to the ground.
Her crow sidles nervously along the banister and her imps cringe.
When the child disappears she imagines the way it must tear at Stefan’s heart and she smiles. Of course, she had expected to find the child sooner rather than later, hadn’t counted on her idiot imps looking for a baby for all this time. Good help is so hard to find when you’re known for your habit of throwing lightning at those who displease you.
Honestly, she could have forgiven those little winged insects for hiding the child from her. She imagines they were desperate, and anyway the thought of them living without magic and raising a child for sixteen years amuses. But one of those little rats turned her crow to stone. And that she cannot forgive.
What right have they to interfere at all in the affairs of mortals? For though she has touched powers deep and dark that allow her to bend the lesser demons to her will, Maleficent is human. Was human, once.
How dare they?
Her rage is ancient and cold-blooded, heated by fire. It has leathery wings and claws like iron knives.
She does not accept the futility of her actions. Why should she? She has nothing else to grasp at.
In a far away land, long ago, lived a king and his fair queen. Many years had they longed for a child and finally their wish was granted. A daughter was born, and they called her Aurora.
The king was a good man and the queen was a good woman and their daughter was sweet and beautiful and their kingdom was prosperous. And if the king spent the waning years of his life staring out the casement window at the Forbidden Mountains where lightning storms no longer warred amid the clouds and assiduously avoiding the sight of the cracked and blackened canyon beyond the castle walls where once his good and brave son in law had slain a fearsome and mighty evil… no one in the kingdom was stupid enough to comment.
Not even fairytales have happy endings for everyone.