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Turning Pastel Into Neon

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When Jane turned 14, her wings grew, small and delicate and shimmering, beautiful little things. Her mother smiled at her, that fixed, would-be smile that’s not quite a smile, eyes regretful and sad. She picks out a dress, soft blue, light and human, a dress without space for her soft, new wings.

There is something to be said about restraining wings under pastel blue dresses and locking magic behind teeth. It claws at her throat, paints swirls in her vision, whispers to her, when she wants nothing more but to cut the tips of her ears off because what if somebody notices them, what if they have noticed them all this time. Her magic sparks under her skin and Jane wishes she could make it stop, wishes that she wouldn’t feel cold whenever she sees her mother’s wand and thinks about just what it can do. Her mother raised them from the dead, she keeps them imprisoned, it’s her mother’s magic, it’s not the wand, it’s not the wand it’snotthewand.

Sometimes, she asks herself if her magic could do the same, if she, too, could keep Maleficent at arm’s length, with a flick of her finger.

Most days, she just thinks about how her mother doesn’t use it anymore. Thinks about the king and his fear of all things magical because there was once an enchantress who cursed him to be a monster, there was once magic that didn’t benefit him and he still has not forgotten his paws and his fangs.

She drapes her hair over her ears, ties her wings tightly to her back, and never goes to the museum again (Bibidi babidi boo, her mother says, at all times, as if, somehow, she could still use it as a spell. The words fall carelessly from Mal’s lips, violet hair tucked behind fae ears, eyes too green to be human, and Jane can feel the magic oozing off of her. Mal never learned how to be ashamed of her power) and she tries, oh, how she tries, to fit into pastel pink dreams of happy endings.

(she grabs her mother’s wand, later, when it is all too much to take, and her wings itch, and her throat aches, and her magic starts to boil)

 

Mal doesn’t have a name, not really, has half of a name, and a second name that is human because her father was a human man and it makes her weak, weak, weak, thins the magic in her veins, the curses on her lips. Her mother is a dragon, has cursed a child to fall deep deep into a sleep like death, has watched the colour fade from lips that shame the red red rose. Her mother is magic, even under the barrier, where there is no magic to control, where it rips at her skin but never comes out, where the only sign of her magic are her ears and her eyes, glowing uselessly, a threat that can never come true.

She cuts off her hair, shows off her ears, look at them, look at me, don’t you dare presume I am human. Her hair is vibrant and unnatural and magic and sometimes, she twists it up into horns.

When they arrive in Auradon, when all they see is pastel and smiles and no magic, she tucks her hair behind her ears and lets her eyes glow. Fairy godmother is no threat, is so human that she cannot see the fairy buried beneath the smile and her spell brings no sparks. Oh mother, she thinks, what have they done to her.

After the worst of it, after the coronation, after facing her mother with nothing but her eyes, and no magic to help her, she slips into the kitchen, hides behind the fridge, and studies spells. Curses and wishes and malevolence and benevolence and magic, that is hers, that sleeps in her bones and wants nothing but to be let out.

 

Jane joins her, hesitantly, brows furrowed, fingers shivering, and she tells Mal about the curses in her throat. I feel like a wolf sleeping in a flock of sheep, she says and Mal laughs and thinks about the two little bumps on her head, thinks about all the curses she would like to unleash at every christening she attends (they like that, the Auradonians, to prove that she is not her mother, to forgive, they say. Mal wishes she were still on the isle, sometimes, when the smiles are too bright, and the colours are too soft). He was cursed why doesn’t he understand, Jane asks and Mal shrugs and tells Jane about Gaston, and how he insists he’s not one of them, how he’s the hero who wanted to slay the beast.

She never taught me, Jane says and Mal thinks about her mother, about her speeches of evil and power and magic. But I want to learn.

 

Evie doesn’t know she’s magic until Chad snatches her mirror and it doesn’t work. She fabricates an excuse, some silly remark he won’t remember, and thinks about all the rotten apples she painted red so she could bring herself to eat them, thinks about her mother and her obsession with fairness and her stomach tightens. Snow White was 14 and beautiful and dead and she is 16 and beautiful and magic and the mirror works for her and she remembers her mother’s talk about prettiness and power and princes and beauty.

Is magic conditional, she asks Mal, and Mal shrugs. I don’t know, she says, human magic is different, mom only told me about fairy magic.

She has never felt magic inside of her, has never felt an urge to use curses on new born children, she has never understood Mal and how she displays her ears, she was just a girl with a mother who wanted what’s best for her (not for her oh no never for her stupid stupid little girl be pretty and snatch a prince do not think for one moment that this is about you) but now, in Auradon, her fingers itch at the sight of apples, and oh, how she loves chemistry, there is nothing more soothing in this world (except Mal’s smiles, when her magic floats around her, green and bright and beautiful), and she knows things, things she has never been taught (emotional tears are more potent, never use a tear of happiness for a love spell it doesn’t work) and sometimes, she dreams of kettles, and a raven, and of sparks flying from her fingertips and she’s magic.

 

(she joins them, chest heaving, mascara smudged, after crying for the entire night because how will she soothe this itching inside of her, this want that has no place in Auradon, amongst heroes, and royals, and a man so afraid of magic, he locks a wand behind a siren and a force field and please, let me study with you)

Jane unfolds her wings, and they teach her how to fly, how to untangle the mess she has made of herself. Mal grows grows grows under flames and stretches into a dragon, all scales and bones, and scorching fire, and they teach her how to be, how to live with the horns growing out of her scalp. Evie collects recipes and curses and paints apples red. As long as she is the fairest, this is hers, and when she isn’t anymore, she will still have Mal’s wings and glowing eyes, and somehow, that is okay.