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Changeling (Síofra)

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Aurora laid back against the fluff that humans of her realm considered to be “pillows,” and groaned. Maleficent had often said that they were indeed soft as a cloud, but horrendously bad for posture. True enough, when she awoke this morning at a quite unseemly hour, her back and front had ached very badly. Her faery was nowhere to be found, and Aurora’s sighing loudly did not make that tenaciously ruby smile appear behind the dressing screen. It was unusual for Maleficent to venture too far from Aurora’s open window and widow’s walk when they stayed in the palace, though it was unfortunately typical that she would wander here and then, too fidgety still in this “palace of horrors.” Six years later, copious jobs and economy created in beautifying and restoring the grounds and castle to their former glory… and all Maleficent could see outside of Aurora’s bedchambers was dank, sharp, burning cold iron. It had been shipped and sold to a northern kingdom long ago, truth be told; just one more of Aurora’s intelligent ways to make capital on her father’s ignorance and ruin.


It was a slight bone of contention for the peaceful pair that Maleficent did not hide her nervousness of her surroundings from the humans, or rather that she couldn’t. Aurora hummed at a long ago memory, of when she accused and hurled the hurtful words at her love.


“Why can’t you just stop putting on airs, and making such disgusted faces at every change I make? I try to ask you for your opinion, but all they see is the disdain and coldness in your eyes. This is your home too!” Aurora had all but shouted.


She vaguely recalled stomping her foot, and chuckled at that. She had been a headstrong seventeen, a maiden coming into her womanhood. Nearly anything set her off during that year.


“And just what has you so glowing this morning that mere silence has elicited you to laugh, my pet?” a voice with unmistakable timbre invaded the shell of Aurora’s right ear, the cool faery breath buffeting the curls laid behind enough to make her shudder in delight and surprise.


“I was just remembering how bloody awful I was every one in my seventeenth year, especially you…” she whispered, doe-eyed in an attempt to appear apologetic, even years later.


There was a slightly hard edge to Maleficent’s reply. “Will you please pardon yourself? I cannot stand the self flagellation any longer.” Her ivory cloaked arm raised across her forehead in a feign of human emotion; aghast perhaps? Agape? Agog? She began to chuckle herself, and let her arm fall slowly and elegantly to her side. Such silly words for emotions so fleeting these humans had!


Her large grin suddenly fell into a surprised ‘oh,’ and the groove between her eyebrows deepened. She sought to press it out with her thumb, only to stay her hands at her side and take a deep breath.   Faeries were not quick to emote, but her Beastie often brought out the worst, and best in her. Beastie was now sobbing into her hands, snotting and snuffling about like a toddler. The gasps coming from the younger woman were heartrendingly familiar, and it reminded Maleficent how her heart had felt for many years. How fleetingly humans felt – but how deeply. It was something that amazed her, and she surmised would never stop.


“Darling, hush…” her lush lips drew out the “Shhhhhh…” so that it sounded like a soothing gesture, but in truth Maleficent was attempting not to clack her teeth together, gnash them a bit, all in an attempt to not join the crying. “The words I said then, all those years ago…I didn’t mean them. I didn’t mean to say this wasn’t my home, or that it was an ugly monstrosity of doom. I just meant to say that you are my home – whether here or in the Moors.” Maleficent stopped to think a moment, taking a silent and deep breath when Aurora kept on her sniveling. Honesty paired with a bit of romanticism could either break an argument or cause a war between humans. Though she was indeed not the same as her Beastie, she endeavored to keep her Aurora’s heart in mind.


The Fair Folk had no qualms about speaking plainly, and her sweet had grown to see this over time. She’d also come to learn that while Maleficent would never outright lie, she would stretch the truth as far as it would go to protect her dignity and privacy. “I would have said anything logical that day to hide the fact that I am indeed afraid of this place. My mind has made up that it is safe, but my body can’t seem to grasp it quite yet. Perhaps my wings hold a grudge?” A little humor never hurt to enter levity into a situation such as this. Seven hells, her woman was crying all for naught and nothing she said seemed to help. Did her Aunt Ulla forget to pay her Tithe to Hades when she was born? She pursed her lips and thought the evil woman might have done on purpose, for Aurora sobbed even harder.


She had one last gambit, a play she didn’t often use because it reminded her of when Aurora was younger, and she merely her Lady Protector – and not both lover and protector, proper. Tamping down her guilt that would sometimes creep into her stomach when she sang her lullaby, she cleared her throat to inflect a more sultry pallor to the song. Let it be known, she was not singing this for some wailing babe. Well, she smirked as she gathered her love against the ridiculous fluff atop her bed, curling the golden woman against her breast…at least not a wailing infant. She furled her wings about them, cuddling closer.


“I know you, I walked with you once upon a dream…I know you, that look in your eyes is so familiar a gleam…” She paused momentarily as she heard a snuffle and a sigh come from beneath her wings. “And I know it's true that visions are seldom all they seem. But if I know you, I know what you'll do…” An even deeper exhale was sounded; a squeeze of arms was around her waist. “You'll love me at once, the way you did once upon a dream.” She tried not to be discomfited at the gentle rocking motion she felt against her body. Close as they were, Maleficent was unsure if it was she rocking, or Aurora. Independent as the Fae were, such mimicry of childish comfort between lovers still felt odd, though not entirely unwanted. She loved her Beastie, odd or not.


Many had thought them odd for their pairing. Stefan's kingdom had long been regarded as a bastion of propriety, though perhaps too much. Neighboring kingdoms and city states often thought the land acted holier-than-thou in response to it's borders being trussed by the Moors to the North, known for it's magic and natural affinity for free love, and Ulaidh to the South. Thank the gods and goddesses that Phillip's older brother Tristan had been lost, or some nonsense. The shyer, more regal and polite Prince had stepped up to become King, and stopped his ridiculous courting of Aurora. 

For all her patience, Maleficent couldn't explain to Aurora's courtiers that she meant not to sully their beloved Queen with her love. Theirs was an equal love, a stable partnership, and a true affinity. She decided she would show them, in her own way, how true it was.


The littlest things spoke volumes to those that watched them over the years: the gentle touch of a hand to an elbow at pausing to look at a ladybug on a rose. Calling her beautiful Queen "My Rose," whenever in earshot of those not privy to their more base and true pet names. While wary at first, the court soon took a deep breath. Happy that their shining Queen had not been married off to some strange, faraway kingdom, they had even taken to calling Aurora "Queen of the Roses" while in residence at the Castle, and Maleficent "Queen of the Briars," after the Wall that used to surround the Moors. She loathed to think of what in the heavens Aurora's subjects would think of what they called each other while in private. Surely, she could not call her Beastie in front of them, nor could Aurora call out…


“Malle.” So soft, it was nearly a whisper. Maleficent might have thought her keen ears had misheard, but she felt the warm breath on her breastbone. She thought the nickname dignified, akin to her Aunt Ulla’s name, and less of the awful conglomeration the beast had laden the innocent child with for “daring to kill her precious sister.” In all honesty, who names a child Maleficent and curses her with horns for eternity? In human language, her name meant ‘malicious.’ In Fae, it meant ‘destroyer of reputations,’ or ‘sinful.’ Clearing her throat served a dual purpose now; to clear the tears forming in her eyes, and to let Aurora know that she acknowledged her name. Her new name, which meant ‘rebellious,’ or even ‘beloved,’ or even still… ‘wished for child.’ Had she ever been wished for?


Rustling inside her feathers was the glowing being that she had wished for, and Maleficent smiled gently down at the inquisitive and still so precious face of her lover. Aurora thought to steel her face into a conversational repose, but Maleficent knew better. “Yes, my deepest and most darling wish?”


Aurora’s cheeks reddened at her term of endearment. “Enough of your faery flirting now. “ A smile graced her now relaxed face, which for a moment seemed confused and recalled it had only just been tear stained. “I am sorry…” she winced as Maleficent’s left eyebrow raised in consternation for that phrase.   “I was remiss in telling you why I was crying. I know you are confused. Truthfully, so am I.” A tired and almost relieved look fell upon Aurora then, as she admitted she did not know why her emotions were in such an upheaval.


“I haven’t been sleeping well; I am awaking when you take your morning flights. Too early…and my stomach and back hurt…” she cradled her rounded belly, softened by love and care, and too many sweets while sitting at desks all day. “The doctors say I’ve a woman’s temperament, and that my lady bits are politely reminding me that our kingdom needs an Heir. They told me I have the hysteria! Isn’t that ever so odd?” Aurora barked out, her eyes gleaming a bit madly. Maleficent watched closely, and winced in anticipation. Here came the wail.


“Whhhh….aaaat’s wrrrrong wif’me?!” Aurora nearly shrieked. “I cannot bear it!”


Maleficent smiled a knowing smile. The doctors were indeed correct. Her Beastie was in mating season, as most humans were once or so a month from their teens until their dusk years. She had smelled her lover’s scent on and off for years, relishing as it grew deeply with her age. Of course, she didn’t often mention such a thing to Aurora. Such truthful, blasé Fae sexual talk sent her lover into titters, which she often had to smooth over with kisses. Lots of kisses…not that she minded. She’d never told Aurora, even when she was in rut. It seemed an indelicate thing to discuss until the time was right. Tucking Aurora’s head below her chin, Maleficent took a deep breath of her love’s heady scent about her hair.


“My Rose… Though indecent to mention to you in such a degrading way, the dear doctors are correct.” Maleficent did not smile at this pronouncement as Aurora bobbed quickly up from her wings. They buffeted back against the bed, twitching a bit, surprised at the boldness of their dismissal. “Now dear… Let’s talk frankly about this. You are in your twenty-second year, and you do mention adoring the townsfolk babes as we fly home. Does your heart crave to have a wee bairn?”


Aurora’s mouth moved open and closed, the perfect bow of her lips stretched in awe or consternation, Maleficent wasn’t sure. She was sure that she shouldn’t compare her lover to a codfish at the moment, even in jest. She filed that joke for later.


“A baby? A baby for us?” Aurora wondered aloud. “How is that even possible?” Maleficent wiggled her fingers at Aurora, grinning wildly like a cat who got the cream. Pursing her lips together and nearly rolling her eyes, Aurora stopped the playfulness before it got out of hand. “Oh, stop. If your fingers do the work, then mayhaps we’d have a nursery full of bonny lasses by now.” She huffed a golden blond curl out of her face inelegantly.


“I didn’t say it was just my fingers.” Maleficent chortled. “I do magic with these fingers.”


Now Aurora truly rolled her eyes. “Of course you do, Malle. Both inside and outside of our bedchambers.”


Maleficent’s smiled dropped. She wanted to discuss this topic seriously with her Queen. A little levity was good, but it was getting them off track. She took up Aurora’s hands into her own and sat them upright. “Aurora…” using her full name to gain sincerity, “I am being truthful. The Fair Folk have their share of sexual relations, but as we’re spirit beings, preternatural… Any Fae can have a baby. We can impregnate ourselves, though it’s frowned upon. It wouldn’t do a Fae child good to only have one protector. We invoke magic to place a part of us into our love. Once done, it can never be revoked.” Her throat grew dry on that last statement. A flash crossed her mind. ‘this curse will last until the end of time…no power on earth can change it…’ She shook her head, and steadied her heart. She would never again use magic to harm her love. She would rather cast herself into the depths of the Earth, never to again see Tir na nÓg at her End of Days.


Aurora’s breathing quickened to near hyperventilation as she threw her arms around Maleficent and suddenly kissed her with abandon. “Truly!? A baby? Would it look like me or you? Would it have wings? Will it be a faery or human?” The questions came spilling out in a stream, much like the bubbling creek that the wallerbogs’ mud wallow was next to. Maleficent held her long index finger to Aurora’s soft pink lips in a request for deference.


“There are other rituals that must be performed. Well, more like traditions.” The faery added slyly, “You must partake of some of my food in the Moors, after I have kidnapped you!” she added excitedly.


Aurora stared in amusement at her lover. Maleficent was almost never this animated, unless angry. She snickered quietly into her hand.


“Beastie, are you laughing at my traditions?” Maleficent questioned, her wings deflating a bit behind her, until their ends dragged onto the floor beside the bed, rather sadly.


“No! No, my darling one. I am just overjoyed to see you so happy about this.” Aurora quipped, and smiled broadly.


A knock loudly thumped at the Queen’s bedchamber door. Maleficent swept up to answer it, it being she who was properly dressed at such a late hour in the morning. As it was, her Beastie and she had been conversing for near to an hour. Surely, it was a worried handmaiden. Ah, but she could dress, and undress her Beastie. Opening the larger privacy peep hole in the door, she came face to face with the Doctor, who sputtered upon seeing Maleficent behind the Queen’s door at such an hour. He’d never quite gotten used to their pairing, being an older man and a conservative one at that.


“Yes, Maester Doctor?” Maleficent’s tone brooked no argument: he was interrupting something important.


“Yes, well…My Queen’s Lady Protector…” he stammered nervously, hand curling his long beard under, “I’ve come to attempt to relieve some of the Queen’s symptoms. You see, there are some techniques that can be done…”


Gods above, this man! Disgust raged across Maleficent’s face. Techniques? For hysteria? On her Beastie? She slammed the peep hole shut in his face, only to open it back up immediately while barking “I think not, good Maester! Good day!” and slammed it firmly shut once more.


Stomping back towards a startled Aurora, she quickly swept her out of bed and into her arms. Aurora let out a shriek of excitement. “Where are we going?!”


Maleficent yelled loudly as she launched out the window to all that could hear. “I’m a Faerie, come to ‘nap your Human Queen and take her to my Moors! She will eat and drink of what is mine and become mine forever more!” With that, she turned and gazed at her amazed Queen, who had chosen that moment to peep and squeak in surprise and desire.


Maleficent’s cool, though noticeably passionate laughter was heard through the kingdom their entire flight there. As they passed over the farmsteads of the older generations who knew her father, Lysander, they smiled in joy. Especially the women, for though they had always dreamed he would come for their crackers and sweet cakes left out and take them in the night, he had taken Hermia – the blonde maiden from down the lane.