Fairies outlive humans. That is a fact Maleficent has been aware of all along. Someday, Aurora will depart from this world, and it is unwise to grow attached to her, just as it was unwise to grow attached to Stefan. Nonetheless, one does not hide from the sun simply because it shall set, nor does one refuse to admire a flower because it shall wilt. Maleficent assures herself that she will not allow herself to care too much, that she will stand by and tolerate Prince Phillip’s clumsy wooing of Aurora, that she will bless them at their inevitable wedding, and that she will not burn and sicken at the thought of him claiming Aurora on their wedding night. Maleficent will remain a faithful friend to Aurora, and that is all she will ever be. It will be sufficient. It will be bearable.
But soon, spring comes, and under trees heavy with fruit, Aurora returns from her most recent assignation with Phillip. Maleficent determinedly does not scowl, and offers Aurora berries from the tree nearest their home. Aurora studies Maleficent’s non-expression quizzically, and says, “Feed them to me.”
“What?” Maleficent almost drops the berries she has cupped in her palm.
“Here,” Aurora says, and takes Maleficent’s hand. She raises it to her mouth, and holds it there, eating berry after berry, and when they are gone, she licks Maleficent’s fingers clean of berry-juice, her tongue all softness and heat. She is gentle, and thorough, and by the time she is done, Maleficent is dizzy with lust, her heart thudding within her chest.
And Aurora’s blushing, damn her, despite being forward enough to—
“What have you done?” Maleficent rasps.
Aurora blushes even deeper. “What Phillip advised me to do.”
“He… he is experienced in these things. And who else was I supposed to ask? Knotgrass? Flittle? Thistlewit? They’d call me mad for wanting to seduce you.”
“Seduce me?” Maleficent asks, faintly.
“Well, I…” Aurora hesitates, then raises her chin defiantly. “I’ve been waiting for you to kiss me again, ever since you broke the curse. But you haven’t. Just because it was true love’s kiss, doesn’t mean it only has to happen once.” Aurora sounds downright mulish. “It can happen over and over. Phillip told me so. He said that lovers can kiss for every day of their lives, and still do it with true love. He said—”
“Stop talking about him,” Maleficent growls, and drags Aurora in for a kiss. It isn’t chaste, and it isn’t careful, and it isn’t any of the things Maleficent had planned, when she had imagined this. What it is, instead, is starved, and feral, and dangerous, because Maleficent has crossed the line, and she cannot go back. Her skin thirsts for Aurora’s touches. She longs to bite, to mark, to possess. She longs to be so tender that Aurora weeps as she falls apart.
When Maleficent draws back, panting, Aurora’s lips gleam wetly, as red and swollen as the berries themselves, but Maleficent now knows that they are sweeter than the berries, achingly sweet, and that is a knowledge she can never forget.
Aurora trembles as she presses herself to Maleficent, slender and lovely as a vine. “You can do more,” she whispers in Maleficent's ear, equal parts shy and daring. “Much more.”
And it is Maleficent who shakes at the desire in Aurora’s voice, who tries not to grip Aurora hard enough to bruise her, who tries to be patient as she leads Aurora to bed.
Later, when Aurora curves around her in repose, warm and bare and perfect, Maleficent thinks: It is too late. She is everything to me, already.
Fairies outlive humans. That is a fact Maleficent has been aware of all along. It doesn’t prepare her for the end.
Aurora has aged, of course. There are wrinkles at the corners of her beautiful eyes, and her previously flaxen hair is fine-spun silver, as delicate as the rest of her and as fragile. Her knees ache and her steps falter, and while she cannot stray far from the bed that they have slept in and made love in for decades, she still smiles at the birdsong outside the window, and still smirks mischievously at Maleficent whenever they have berries. Diaval lets them be alone for longer periods, as if sensing their need to spend time with each other, and only with each other.
They all realize what is coming, but it does not cast a hush upon them, for Aurora stubbornly maintains her cheer. Though she weakens further with infirmity and illness, she chatters merrily about Phillip’s grandchildren and the harvest festivals, and though her coughing tires her, she persists in ensuring that Maleficent is looking after herself.
Finally, on a summer morning bright with sunshine, Maleficent wakes beside Aurora, and finds that Aurora’s soul has fled during the night, leaving her body cool and silent. No laughter bubbles from her, and her blue eyes do not open. Maleficent lies there, her arm around Aurora’s shoulders, her mind blank, because she can’t bear to think. Can’t bear to understand—
The birds are singing as they always do. Someone, somewhere, is happy. That would have made Aurora happy, too, but she is beyond both joy and sorrow, now. It seems so much like sleep, this absence of Aurora’s, that Maleficent wants desperately for it to be a curse, so that she might break it just as she had before.
So she kisses Aurora, and kisses her again, and again, and although each kiss is a kiss of true love, Aurora does not stir.
This is what they mean by eternal sleep, then. Maleficent cradles Aurora’s face, her precious face, and refuses to look away from it.
Eventually, Maleficent will leave this bed, and will permit Aurora to leave her. But not yet. For this moment, they are together, Aurora’s head indenting her pillow, her shape among the sheets familiar and dear. It would be easy to pretend that she is still here.
And so Maleficent pretends, for a few hours more, until the sun sets and day goes dark.