Mal wakes up to kisses. It’s not unusual, and definitely not unwelcome. The soft flutter of lips on her skin is cold, but entirely needed. In her opinion. Mal can’t help but feel warm and safe as Evie continues to powder kisses along her neck. With a snort of laughter, Mal burrows into her pillow and feels the bed dip as Evie shifts and continues to press loud, wet kisses to pale skin. With a smile, Mal finally gives in and rolls onto her back as Evie settles a hand on either side of her head and stares down at her with that familiar look in her eyes. Adoration. Evie adores her, and Mal doesn’t think she’ll ever be able to understand just why that is.
“Good morning, my love.” Evie grins.
Mal reaches up to tuck messy strands of hair behind Evie’s ear, “G’morning.”
“You slept in.” Evie whispers as she drops her weight to settle against Mal. “I already went for a run and did a little...practicing this morning.”
“By yourself?” Mal demands as she sits up and barely misses colliding with Evie. “Babe, we talked about that. You’re not in control of your magic yet, you need to make sure you don’t do anything to overwork yourself. What if something would have happened? I wasn’t there and…”
Evie rolls her eyes and reaches out to cup a hand over Mal’s mouth, “I didn’t use any spells, Mal. I just did some mediating and tried to tune into that thing you always talk about.”
Mal narrows her eyes as she tugs her fingers against Evie’s until her hand falls away. For a moment, she simply stares at her girlfriend with a hesitant expression. Evie’s magic is a little terrifying, and a whole lot of out of control; try as she might, Evie can’t seem to find the zen that Mal has in order to keep herself in line. Instead, Mal has realized that all of Evie’s magic is brought on by her emotions; to say her girlfriend spits fire when she’s mad unfortunately isn’t a figure of speech anymore. No, it’s an actual reality that Mal has learned to deal with. Fire meant anger and ice meant sad, either way Mal found herself patting out one too many fires and using spells to unfreeze random objects.
“You have to trust me.”
“I do!” Mal assures her with wide eyes. “E, of course I trust you. I just...I don’t trust magic. I don’t trust the way it works, it’s a lot to handle. Especially when emotions are involved.”
“Is all of this worry because I accidentally blew up your sketchbook?” Evie demands. “I apologized for that, and I bought you a new one. You only had three sketches in there! And two of them were of you giving Carlos a wedgie.”
Mal shakes her head lovingly, “It has nothing to do with my sketchbook, you dork. It has to do with me wanting to make sure you’re okay, that nothing happens to you.”
“I’m okay.” Evie murmurs as she cups Mal’s face and pulls her closer. “You can’t keep me safe from this forever, M.”
“But I can try.” Mal grumbles.
Evie smiles into a soft kiss, “We need to get ready.”
“No.” Mal whines as she chases Evie’s lips. “I just want to stay right here with you in this bed, in this castle, and never leave again. The kingdom will be fine on its own.”
“While I believe that to be true, there are other things that need tending to.” Evie reminds her. “I don’t want us to be late, Jay will go crazy if we’re not on time for this.”
Mal pouts in annoyance, “Fine.”
“This was our idea, my love.” Evie giggles as she turns to roll off the bed. “This is a good thing, we’re going to change lives today.”
“Fine.” Mal repeats.
“Come on, baby.” Evie pleads, and she sees Mal’s lips twitch. “We have an hour before we have to meet Jay and Carlos. I think we have enough time for a shower.”
Mal glances to her slowly, “Together?”
“Together.” Evie laughs.
“Thank evil.” Mal breathes out as she excitedly begins to scramble from her bed sheets. “Last one to the shower doesn’t get an orgasm!”
Evie gaps after her, “That is so not fair!”
“Babe, you’re going to burn a hole in the concrete if you don’t stop pacing.” Jay yawns as he leans back against the limo. “They’ll be here soon. They wouldn’t miss this.”
Carlos smiles half heartedly, “I know.”
“If you know then why all the pacing?” Jay chuckles. “You’ve been a little skittish since we made our picks...what’s going on?”
“Nerves.” Carlos admits as he pauses in his frantic walk. “Maybe a little fear. Being on the Isle just kind of does this to me, even if we are doing an amazing thing.”
Jay pushes off the limo, “Why didn’t you tell me?”
“I didn’t want to be the reason why this didn’t work out.” Carlos shrugs. “Mal and Evie are so excited, and you got so involved. I didn’t want to keep you from this.”
“I wish you would’ve told me.” Jay sighs as he swings his arms around a small waist. “You come first, okay? We could be saving the world, but if you told me to stop in the middle of it then I would. You’ll always come first.”
Carlos looks up at him with big eyes, “Yeah?”
“Of course. You’re my boyfriend.” Jay points out with a roll of his eyes. “So, you being comfortable and happy is a priority for me.”
“I am happy.” Carlos assures him. “This is good. Evie’s idea is good. There are so many kids on the Isle that deserve second chances, they deserve a chance to better themselves. I want this. It’s just...scary.”
“And that makes sense.” Jay nods as he presses a kiss to white curls. “A lot of traumatic things happened to you on the Isle, but I won’t let anything else happen. No one can get to you when I’m around. I promise.”
“She won’t be anywhere near you, she’s not allowed to even come into town.” Jay cuts in. “I talked to Mal and we’re having the parents kept in their homes until we’ve made our decree and we’re back in the limo.”
Carlos sinks in relief, “You thought of it all.”
“To be fair, the parents thing was an idea Mal and I came up with together.” Jay shrugs. “Her eyes get that crazy, scary green whenever you even mention Evie and Isle in the same sentence. I don’t blame her though, that place has caused nothing but pain for them.”
“This will change that though.” Carlos whispers as he pulls away from Jay slowly. “This will be a good thing. This will help make the Isle something positive for the both of them.”
Jay smiles softly, “Hopefully.”
A laugh catches their attention and the couple turn their heads to see Mal and Evie approaching; like all the times before, their love radiates off them. Evie looks so comfortable with her fingers intertwined with Mal’s as her girlfriend leans into her side and turns her head into blue waves so she can whisper into her ear. A smile crosses both Carlos and Jay’s faces as the couple comes a stop before them and shares one last laugh. They’re so in love that sometimes it makes Jay want to roll his eyes, but then he remembers how hard they fought for this. For each other. All it takes is that thought to cross his mind and all he can do is sigh in acceptance and move on with his life.
“You’re late.” Jay hums.
Evie bumps her hip against Mal’s, “I told you.”
“I’d say I’m sorry, but it wouldn’t be sincere.” Mal admits with a proud grin. “All that matters is that we’re here and we’re about to change so many lives. Today is a good day.”
“A good day.” Carlos echos.
Mal nods towards the limo, “Shall we?”
“We shall.” Jay chuckles.
Evie likes the Isle.
She does. Parts of it make her feel a little stronger, a little safer. She doesn’t understand why, this place has brought her nothing but pain but she likes stepping out onto the wet cobble and seeing excited faces. She lives for the way kids tug at her jackets and ask her a million questions that she struggles to answer. She adores the way eyes light up when she gives them small trinkets she brings from Auradon, and how thankful each child is to receive something. It’s the small things that matter to her, small things that remind her why she’s doing this. She’s trying to build a better world for these kids, and she’ll be damned if she lets her past experiences here keep her from that.
“Hey, you okay?”
Evie smiles as she feels a hand slide protectively over her thigh, “I’m fine. Just doing some thinking. You ready for this?”
“Ready as I’ll ever be.” Mal nods.
“We should split up, let the kids know in advance who we picked.” Jay suggests. “Carlos and I will hunt the twins down.”
“I’ll go find Dizzy.” Evie chirps.
Mal hesitates, “I’ll go with you.”
“Babe.” Evie begins, the warning clear in her voice as she narrows her eyes. “I’ll be perfectly okay by myself, and I’ll have three guards with me. Nothing is going to happen, okay?”
“Okay.” Mal breathes out as she tilts her head towards Evie. “I’ll see you in a little bit, okay? Lemme know if you need me.”
Evie presses a soft kiss to her lips, “Okay.”
The second they step out of the limo, they are swarmed by herds of kids. Evie laughs loudly as children twine themselves around her waist, cling to herself as they squeak out greetings. She manages to get a few hugs in before she is swept away by a guard who begins to lead her down an alleyway. The darkness of the Isle looms over her and she pauses for a second to take it all in, to center herself. Sometimes she still has flashbacks of that day on the ship, sometimes it causes her to stop in her tracks and crumble. But she can’t. Not today. No, today is the day she gets to whisk a kid away from here. Today, she gets to save Dizzy Tremaine.
Evie remembers the first time she saw Dizzy, the girl was covered in paint splashes and soot. But she still took the time to approach Evie, bowed to her and told her how much she loved the outfits she designed. Evie thinks she was taken by the child the moment she saw her, there was just a sweet aura that flowed from Dizzy. With a smile, Evie wanders into the shop and pauses to watch as Dizzy sweeps the floor and softly sings under her breath. Evie knows that Dizzy could do so much more outside of this parlor, she could be so much more. That’s where her first choice came from, from the remembrance of those doe eyes looking up at her and asking Evie what it was like to be loved and safe.
A head turns her way, “Evie! You’re here!”
“I told you I’d come back.” Evie laughs as she opens her arms for the child to fly into. “I just had to get some things sorted.”
“Everyone says they’ll come back, but that doesn’t mean they will.” Dizzy shrugs as she burrows into Evie. “But I knew you wouldn’t lie to me. You couldn’t.”
“Not to you.” Evie whispers as she pulls back and takes Dizzy’s hand to guide her to the couch. “Do you mind if we talk for a second?”
Dizzy blinks excitedly, “Uh huh!”
“You are such a bright light, Dizzy.” Evie coos as she cups a hand under the child’s chin. “You belong somewhere that lets that light shine, that allows it to grow.”
“We want you to come to Auradon.” Evie breathes out with a smile. “You are so bright, Dizzy. You have a beautiful future ahead of you, and we want to help you get there.”
Dizzy gaps in awe, “A-Are you sure? You really want me?”
“Of course we do.” Evie beams. “You have always been my first choice. You don’t belong here, you belong in Auradon. I know it’s going to be hard leaving your grandmother, but you’ll still be able to visit her.”
“Oh.” Dizzy frowns as her shoulders droop. “I can’t leave her, Evie. She needs me. Someone has to keep the shop clean and keep Harry Hook from robbing her.”
Evie tilts her head, “You’re just a kid, Dizzy. That shouldn’t be a burden you have to carry. You deserve freedom, you deserve to enjoy life. If you give it a chance, I know you will find everything you need in Auradon.”
“You think?” Dizzy frowns.
“Take it from me, I know best.” Evie smirks as she taps Dizzy’s nose. “As for your grandmother, I assure you that she’ll be taken care of. We’ll send a guard to check on her periodically and you can call her every night.”
“Okay.” Dizzy whispers. “I trust you.”
“I’m so glad to hear that.” Evie laughs as she stands and extends her hand. “We’re having a bit of a ceremony to celebrate the kids we picked to bring over, and it should be starting any minute. Come along.”
Evie glances into wide eyes, “Yeah, Diz?”
“Do you promise that Auradon is going to love me like they love you?” Dizzy asks with a nervous glance to her feet. “I’m not gonna be a princess, but I can do hair and…”
“And nothing. You don’t have to impress anyone, you’re already good enough.” Evie assures her with a small smile. “It’s going to be different and a little scary, but you’ll find your place. And until you do, I’ll be there for you.”
Evie cups Dizzy’s chin softly, “I promise.”
As soon as they leave the hair salon, Evie is greeted by the sight of excited children running towards the Isle town square. It’s a beautiful sight. So much different from the dreary place it once was, even with the clouds looming over them and the watchful eyes of petty villains glaring from their windows. None of that mattered though, what mattered was the way Evie’s heart thumped in happiness as she allowed Dizzy to drag her towards the growing crowd. As soon as they reached the balcony stairs, Evie gave Dizzy’s hand a tight squeeze and the two parted ways with one last smile.
“Hey, gorgeous.” Jay smirks.
Evie accepts the hand he offers her as he helps her up the steps, “How did Squeaky and Squirmy take the news?”
“Well, they’re uh...very quiet.” Jay shrugs. “I hope this is something they’re ready for, they’re so young. It has to be terrifying.”
“We were young too.” Evie reminds him.
“Toddlers, Eves. We were toddlers.” Jay points out. “I just hate the idea of ripping them away from their pops, y’know?”
Evie presses a soft hand to his chest, “I promise that they’ll be okay. If they get scared or if it’s too much, we’ll talk to them and decide if sending them home is what’s best.”
Jay looks at her with pride shining in his dark eyes, “You’ve really thought all of this through, huh?”
“They deserve the chances we had, and I want to make sure they flourish when they get there. If I can help out just a smidge by going the extra mile then I will.” Evie shrugs. “I’ll fight in any of these kids corners.”
“You’re too good.” Jay chuckles as he drops a kiss to her forehead. “We’re lucky to have you, Eves. We really are.”
“I know.” Evie chirps.
“Mind if I steal my girlfriend?”
Evie glances up into an amused gaze, “Hi!”
“Hi, princess.” Mal smirks as she wiggles her fingers towards Evie. “Are you ready to get this all going?”
“Of course.” Evie nods as she threads her fingers through Mal’s. “How did things go with Celia? Did she seem excited? Nervous? Scared? Should we consider therapy?”
“She’s excited.” Mal assures her as they walk towards the railing. “She wanted to make sure she’s still going to see her dad, but I explained that the barrier will be open for her anytime and she took it okay.”
Evie winces, “We need to regulate the days the kids are allowed to visit. I’m not too crazy about the barrier being opened and closed like that. It’s dangerous. I want this to work, but there still needs to be precautions.”
“Because of Uma.” Mal mutters, and she feels Evie tense beside her. “You don’t think she’s going to pop up today, right?”
“Not really.” Evie whispers. “My parents have so many guards set up that I don’t think she’d even consider coming back.”
Mal presses a kiss to her shoulder, “I hope you that even if she did come back, I would never let anything happen to you. I will always keep you safe, E. You’ll always come first.”
“I know.” Evie smiles as she turns her head to brush her nose against Mal’s. “Now, I do believe we have some announcements to make.”
“Let’s do this!” Mal cheers. “Welcome to VK day!”
Together, the foursome call for the kids they’ll be taking over; much to their surprise, no one reacts poorly. To their relief, the rest of the kids are happy for their fellow villains. They all know they’ll have their chance eventually. As soon as the celebrations begin, Evie feels Mal tuck herself against her side and she immediately curls a protective arm around her shoulders. Around them, everyone buzzes. Colors fill the air. Happiness coats faces. Around them, hope swells as they ready themselves to gift these children with a new future. Jay and Carlos throw themselves into the fray as they lift kids up and cheer excitedly with them. Evie beams with happiness as her eyes take in something that her and Ben created. Their dream. Their dreams were coming true and Evie couldn’t be more excited.
“We did it.” Evie breathes out.
Mal lifts her head, “You did it. You and Ben.”
“This is going to work, right?”
“With you leading the way? Of course.” Mal assures her as she nuzzles a kiss against Evie’s shoulder. “This is it, E. You finally get to live out your dream.”
Evie beams excitedly, “And with you by my side? Mal, I’m invincible.”
“Yeah, babe,” Mal laughs. “You are.”
And for a moment, Evie really feels like she is.
Evie lifts her head suddenly, “Ben. Hi.”
“What are you doing up this late?” Ben frowns as he moves towards her, the floor of the castle creaking under his weight.
“I think I’m still buzzing with adrenaline.” Evie admits. “I keep thinking about how happy everyone was. I wish you could’ve seen it, Ben. It was so beautiful.”
“I wish I could’ve been there.” Ben whispers with a wistful frown. “But all that matters is the fact that you were there, representing Auradon and our family. I’m proud of you, Evie.”
Evie preens, “We did this together, Ben.”
“Maybe. But you’re the reason I even dreamt this up. You coming into our lives is the reason I even thought about the Isle.” Ben shrugs. “You were the catalyst, Eves. And now you’re the face of it. This is all you.”
“I won’t accept credit for all of this.” Evie huffs as she narrows her eyes.
“Yeah, yeah. I know.” Ben chuckles as he slides into the chair across from hers. “Why are you here? I figured you’d be with Mal.”
“She’s upstairs.” Evie replies.
“Do mom and dad know that?” Ben smirks.
“Ben, we’re eighteen. I think I should be allowed to have a sleepover with my girlfriend.” Evie scoffs, but her expression quickly falls. “But don’t tell them, okay?”
“I swear.” Ben assures her as he lifts his hand. “I think I owe you a couple of passes, you covered enough for Audrey and I over the years. I’ll even help you sneak her out in the morning.”
Evie rolls her eyes, “She’s a dragon. She refuses to leave this house without taking a nosedive from my balcony first.”
“She’s something else…”
“You don’t know the half of it.” Evie mumbles, and she can’t hide her sudden grin. “But she’s everything I could ever want in a partner. She treats me so well and she always puts us above everything else. She protects me and loves me and listens to me. I’m so in love with her that sometimes I physically ache.”
Ben leans back in his chair, “Yeah?”
“She’s the one for me, Ben.” Evie whispers. “I-I want to spend the rest of my life with her. I want to marry her.”
“Whoa, whoa, whoa...you got a little too much dip on your chip there, Eves. We’re eighteen.” Ben points out with wide eyes. “There’s still time to enjoy your relationship without putting it into overdrive.”
“It’s not like I’m planning on proposing, you doofus. I’m talking about the future.” Evie huffs with a pout. “But nice to know how much support I’d get from you if I did decide to propose.”
“I’d support you. I’ll always support you. But you’re my little sister, it’s sometimes hard to process you growing up.” Ben explains. “I know we’re the same age and everything, but it’s just different. I don’t know how to put it into words. I just want to keep you safe.”
“That’s all anyone ever wants of me these days. My safety.” Evie sighs. “I wish you’d all just calm down. I’m fine. I’m not as vulnerable as I used to be, it took a lot of therapy but I’m okay. Dad even taught me how to sword fight.”
Ben laughs softly, “That was quite the sight.”
“I’m okay.” Evie assures him as she reaches out to grab his hand. “Your little sister is growing up, and she’d like to enjoy it without her big brother breathing down her neck. So, can you just be here and enjoy it with me?”
“Ugh. Those stupid eyes.” Ben groans as he squeezes her hand. “You pull out this puppy dog eyes and I immediately want to say yes. You don’t play fair, Evelyn.”
“Puppy dog eyes? This coming from Beastie Boy, Benjamin?” Evie teases, and Ben releases her hand with a growl. “I’m kidding!”
Ben smiles at the sight of his girlfriend, “Hey.”
“About time you got home.” Audrey yawns as she patters towards him. “How long did this counsel thing take? I’m going to have to talk to them about keeping my boyfriend awake all night.”
“I think I’ll be okay.” Ben laughs as he wraps an arm around her waist. “Come on, let’s get you back to bed. Evie was just heading up herself so she could get some sleep.”
“Gah. Ever since you became the king, you’ve been so bossy.” Evie whines. “Always telling me what to do and telling me how you’ll have me locked in a dungeon.”
“Benny Boo!” Audrey scolds. “That’s not nice!”
“She ate the last of my cereal.” Ben pouts as he glances up to his girlfriend. “I’ve got to have some type of threat for her.”
“You’re ridiculous.” Audrey giggles.
Ben grins adoringly before he sweeps her off her feet and listens to her laughter, “Goodnight, Evie. Go to bed or I’ll have you sent to the darkest dungeon of the castle!”
“Yeah, yeah.” Evie smiles, and she shakes her head as she hears Audrey’s laughter up until they reach the stairs. “Those two.”
Evie thinks back to her conversation with Ben and opens her laptop with a curious expression; she falls asleep looking at engagement rings.
“You never came back to bed.”
Evie smiles as arms twist around her waist and lips settle on her shoulder, “I know. My mom caught me sleeping in the study.”
“Am I not enough for you? Not warm enough for you?” Mal teases with a small laugh. “Cause my dragon heat is basically a fireplace, you should feel honored to sleep beside me.”
“Honored?” Evie repeats with a snort as she turns in Mal’s arms. “Who’s the one dating the princess of Auradon?”
“Hm? I don’t know. Lucky girl though.” Mal shrugs. “I mean, the princess of Auradon is absolutely stunning. I also heard she’s like...amazing in bed.”
“Mal Bertha.” Evie hisses as her cheeks flush a bright pink. “You can’t say stuff like that in public, there’s cameras everywhere.”
“They’re not paying attention to us.” Mal chuckles as she glances around to see the attention on the stage. “They’re too busy eating up everything your brother is saying.”
“And we’re supposed to be paying attention. Why aren’t you with Jay and Carlos?” Evie demands with an arch of her brow. “I left you with them because they’re better at controlling you.”
Mal pouts, “I missed you.”
“It’s been five minutes.” Evie points out with a roll of her eyes. “I told you I’d come find you after Ben gave his speech.”
“Well, I’m here now. Carlos and Jay are here too. They followed me.” Mal chirps as she nods to where the couple is listening intently to Ben speak. “So, shh. I’m trying to listen.”
Evie narrows her eyes, “You’re a brat.”
“And you love me for it.”
“This day is important. Amazing.” Ben declares as he scans over the crowd. “Today, we get to take four awesome kids and give them a chance to have a new life. We get to show them how Auradon works, how open we are to change and to growth. It’s going to be amazing.”
“You said that already!” Jay yells.
Ben laughs along with the crowd, “I’m sorry, I’m just a little excited. I just...there’s something I really want to say, someone who deserves twice as much praise as I do. And that’s my sister. Evie, come here.”
“No.” Evie scowls.
Mal gives her a nudge, “Go, babe.”
“Absolutely not.” Evie replies as she continues to struggle against Mal. “I’m not going up there, this is his moment.”
Mal continues to fight Evie towards the stage and her girlfriend continues to protest up until she is standing beside Ben while the crowd roars with laughter. As soon as her brother has an arm around her, Mal flashes her a wink and hurries back down the stage stairs to join Carlos and Jay. Immediately, Evie slips into her familiar persona and paints that forced smile across her face as she looks up at Ben with a glare. Much to her dismay, the look does nothing to detour her brother as he slips his arm away and takes her hand to address her directly.
“You and I did this together.” Ben beams. “I wanted this to happen because I remember how thankful I was to grow up with you. You’re my best friend, Evie. So, making this dream come true is just as much my doing as yours. You did all the work, and I did all the political stuff.”
Evie flushes, “Ben…”
“You are my inspiration.” Ben whispers, and the crowd goes quiet at his words. “I’ve learned so much by being your brother, and Auradon deserves to know how much you’ve done for them. You’ve fought for them, loved them, taught them, and opened them up to change. You are the reason this dream came true, and you are the reason half of us can see past what the Isle is and that’s because of you and Mal.”
“You and Mal.” Ben repeats. “As Auradon knows, I love Audrey. She’s going to be my queen one day and I will spend the rest of my life giving her all my best. And you taught me that. You taught me how to love someone with everything I have, how to be understanding, how to not give up on someone out of fear or anger. You two taught me that no spell, no ocean, and definitely no pirate can keep me away from someone so long as my heart beats for them and them only.”
Evie shifts uncomfortably, “Thank you, Ben.”
“Wait, wait!” Mal calls, and all eyes are quick to turn to her. “Don’t I get a chance to make a speech?”
Ben chuckles softly, “Of course, Mal.”
“Good. My turn.” Mal beams, and she bypasses the stairs by using Jay to climb on stage. “I’m stealing their thunder for a second, I hope you guys don’t mind. Judging by the loud applause, I’m going to guess not.”
“What are you doing?” Evie hisses.
“Rescuing you.” Mal mumbles before she flashes a smile. “Thank you, Ben. We’re glad that our um...love and happiness has helped you. But let’s talk about how it’s helped me. A girl from the Isle.”
“The stage is yours.” Ben nods.
“When Carlos and I first got here, I was livid. I couldn’t understand why I was here. I wanted to go back to the Isle because I thought that’s what I deserved.” Mal shrugs. “I thought that’s what my future held, but I was wrong. A few days into being here, my future walked right into my hospital room and took over.”
Evie looks to Mal with adoration, “Babe.”
“I didn’t know that I could be good, I didn’t think that was an option. Until Evie. Until I looked at her and realized that being good is all I wanted for myself, it’s all I’ll ever want for myself.” Mal scoffs. “Her family gave me love, her friends gave me acceptance, and she gave me the world. That’s why they’re doing this, they’re doing this to give those kids a chance to choose good. To choose Auradon. Carlos and I had our chance, and now it’s theirs. So, thank you. Thank you to both Ben and Evie. Now, how about we go get those kids and start this thing?”
Mal gives a dramatic mic drop and Evie is quick to cup her face and pull her into a soft kiss. Around them, cameras flash and people cheer but all they can focus on is each other. Evie pours all she has into the kiss and Mal smiles softly as teeth nip at her bottom lip and a tongue sweeps over the sting. Slowly, Mal pulls away and rests their foreheads together as she meets soft brown eyes that are filled to the brim with so much love. It doesn’t matter that everyone is watching them, that Evie’s parents are watching them, all that matters is the moment they’re standing in right now. Mal sighs softly and presses one last lingering kiss to her girlfriend’s lips before she steps off the stage and carefully helps her girlfriend down.
“Oh, Mal!” Belle exclaims.
Mal laughs as she’s pulled into a hug, “Hi.”
“That was beautiful, honey.” Belle coos as she steps away with tear filled eyes. “We’re so glad that you can feel the love we extend to you. We love you so much, sweetheart.”
“I love you, too.” Mal whispers.
Adam grins brightly as he yanks her into a hug that has her gasping out a giggle, “You really pulled a fast one on us there, kiddo. Thought you were going to propose to my baby girl.”
“Not without your permission.” Mal assures him as she draws back to punch him in the arm. “I know you’d be furious.”
Adam winks, “Just a little.”
“You just keep surprising me.” Fairy Godmother hums as Mal finally reaches her. “You’re making such headway here, and you’re doing it all by yourself. You’re not going to need me for much longer, are you?”
Mal rolls her eyes, “I’m always going to need you. You’ve helped me so much and I learn more from you than I could’ve ever learned from my mother. I owe you so much.”
“Oh, Mal.” Fairy Godmother coos as she wraps her arms around the teen. “You are going to do such magical things.”
“I hope so.” Mal whispers into her ear.
Fairy Godmother pulls away with a smile, “Now, go get those kids so we can get them started on a path to making a difference.”
“On it!” Mal laughs as she steps away.
“Come on, gorgeous,” Evie orders as she passes by Mal with a bright smile. “We have a few kids to go and scoop up.”
“Right behind you, beautiful.”
A cold hand catches Mal as she makes a move to follow Evie, “Mal.”
Mal blinks in surprise as she meets wide blue eyes and a frown, “Jane! Hi!”
“Must be nice.” Jane snaps as her eyes flicker over Mal’s face. “Acceptance from the kingdom, love from Evie’s parents, love from my mom. Guidance from my mom.”
“Yeah. She’s helped me a lot.” Mal nods with a look of confusion. “Is there something going on? Are you okay?”
“She’s taught you magic. She’s spent her time and affection on you.” Jane hisses. “I’m her daughter, and she won’t even give me that. What makes you so special? What makes you think you deserve all this treatment? You’re the child of a villain.”
“Jane, I don’t know what…”
“Don’t worry, Mal.” Jane cuts in as a sweet smile replaces her scowl. “In due time, things will make sense. Things will be as they should be. I will get my chance to make a difference.”
Mal blinks owlishly, “We’re making a difference for those kids on the Isle.”
“Speaking of kids.” Jane hums as she nods to where Evie, Ben, Carlos, and Jay are being piled into the limo. “You really must be going.”
Mal let’s Jane’s words sit heavy in her chest as she follows everyone into the limo. She barely pays any mind to their excitement, she doesn’t know how to. She tries to make sense of what just happened, what Jane meant. She knows her and Fairy Godmother spend a lot of time together, it’s where she learns everything she needs to know about her magic and past. She knows Jane has felt left out, but she didn’t think it was enough to turn to the doe eyed girl into something so hot headed. Mal goes through the motions of picking up the twins, Celia, and Dizzy. She barely waves to bystanders or returns hugs from excited Isle kids, she merely waves and joins the kids in the limo so she can get back to Auradon and stew over Jane’s words.
Mal turns her head towards Ben, “Hm?”
“You seem a little out of it.” Ben admits as he fixes his tilted crown. “I didn’t cross a line with my speech today, right?”
“No. It was a good speech.” Mal assures him as her gaze cuts to where Evie is speaking quietly to Celia. “I just knew Evie was a little uncomfortable when you mentioned Uma.”
Ben winces, “I thought so.”
“Don’t worry, Benny Boy,” Mal smirks with a forced look of amusement. “I came to your rescue and knocked it outta the park.”
“Yeah.” Ben chuckles. “You really did.”
“I’m good at...” Mal trails off as the limo jerks and the sound of sparks rocketing breaks from behind them. “What the fuck?”
“It’s Hades!” Evie exclaims as she dives for the door and yanks at the handle. “Stop the car, he’s trying to escape!”
“Evie, wait!” Ben scolds as he reaches to grab her sister when the car begins to jolt. “You need to stay in the car!”
Evie flashes him a glare, “Like hell.”
The second the tires screech and the limo lurches, the teens are piling out of the car in time to watch as Hades stretches through the barrier. His eyes are wild and his hair bursts into flames as he zeroes his gaze on them. Mal looks towards Evie who is stuck behind Jay’s protective arm while they try to figure out what to do. They can only imagine what’s happening back in Auradon, only imagine them running in fear of having to deal with the villains escaping. Hades releases a snarl that snaps Mal back to attention as he curls his hand around the blue ember in his hand and pushes his torso through the barrier that hisses in protest.
“I don’t belong here!” Hades yells as he continues to push at the barrier. “I’m a God! You can’t lock me away!”
Ben, Carlos, and Jay rush forward but they don’t get far before a blast sends them flying back and skidding across the bricks of the bridge. Mal can already feel the fire sitting low in her gut, crackling as she sees the people she loves being thrown around like rag dolls. And then the fire bursts as soon as Hades turns the stone to Evie, sends a jolt that nearly misses colliding with her. That’s all it takes before her head ducks and her eyes brighten, and then the swarm of purple surrounds her and her body contorts painfully into her dragon form. She expects this to be easy, one fireball and Hades will be gone, but she doesn’t expect the line of lighting to hit her chest and her body to tense.
“Mal!” Evie cries.
The painful squeals of the dragon cause Evie’s ears to ache and she has to resist the urge to cover them as the screams continue. Above her, the blue presses against Mal’s chest as her dragon begins to submit to the pain and her wings give way slowly. Evie feels the anger and dread that seeps through her veins and slowly pumps its way into her bloodstream. Before she can stop herself, Evie feels a familiar rush and her head tilts back as she attempts to swallow down her urges. Except it doesn’t work, it takes one last screech from Mal to have Evie raising a hand and watching as a fireball warps its way from her palm and closes the distance between herself and Hades.
The shot has him stumbling, his stone dropping and giving Mal enough time to escape. With a snarl, his dark gaze turns to Evie and so does his stone but the blast never comes. Instead Mal is spitting fire, spitting hot flames that cause him to shrink away until he is rolling backwards and the barrier zaps shut quickly. As they watch him shrink back in defeat, Mal gives a roar of pain as she begins to flap her wings and make her descent to the ground. Evie barely pays any mind to anything other than her girlfriend as she rushes towards her to wrap a protective arm around her as soon as the puff of smoke reveals Mal’s human form.
“Hey. You’re okay.” Evie coos as she scatters soft kisses into purple locks. “You’re okay, Mal. You did good. You’re okay.”
“Evie, he was…” Mal trails off with a soft cry and turns to bury her face into Evie’s shoulder. “I could feel him draining my magic.”
“Is she okay?” Carlos demands as he rushes towards them.
Evie attempts a nod, “Check on the kids.”
“Evie, he was draining my magic.” Mal gasps into the crook of her neck. “I could...I could feel all my powers slipping away. That ember, whatever it is, it’s dangerous.”
“You’re okay, baby,” Evie assures her as she twines her protective arms around Mal. “He’s back where needs to be. We’re safe.”
Evie swallows hard as she looks towards the TV that rests at the beginning of the bridge, “Oh my Gods.”
On the screen, the act of her magic replays in a loop. Over and over, stuck on a painful repeat. She stares at the video of herself, the way her body stands so rigid and how much control she seems to have; for a moment, she’s proud of herself. For a moment, she feels good. Until she sees a camera pan across the faces of the kingdom and she sees her parents standing with looks of horror and fear.
Suddenly, she doesn’t feel so proud anymore.
“If I have to sit through one more fitting…”
“Don’t even start.” Audrey scoffs as she looks to a pouting Mal. “The last time you started the whining you decided to run off to the Isle and cause a mess of trouble.”
Mal flashes her a glare, “Low blow.”
“Acceptable blow.” Audrey corrects. “This is an important fitting, our loves are making an insanely amazing proclamation for the counsel tonight. It’s going to be beautiful.”
“Evie’s read me her speech a quarter of a dozen times. She’s terrified.” Mal chuckles. “I don’t know why, she’s going to sell this thing so hard. You can’t help but be enchanted by her voice, she sounds like an angel.”
Jane looks between them, “What’s happening?”
“Oh.” Audrey frowns as if she just noticed Jane’s appearance. “I’m not really sure if we’re allowed to tell anyone.”
“It’s kind of a secret right now.” Mal explains as her and Audrey swap glances. “We didn’t even think about it before we started talking about it. Sorry, Jane.”
“Oh.” Jane whispers. “It’s okay.”
“You’ll find out soon.” Audrey assures her as she stands from the picnic bench. “Mal, come back to my room. We can swap pointers for dinner.”
Mal whines, “Fine.”
“We can start with your posture.”
Jane watches as they walk away and feels the first stir of something building in her stomach; it’s a mixture of sadness and jealousy.
It’s almost embarrassing how easy it is for her to sneak into the museum, to make it past the snoozing guard. He doesn’t even startle as she walks by his desk, and she knows he won’t wake anytime soon. She makes a note to do something about that, she makes a note to change a lot of things about Auradon; and she plans to start with Mal. She plans to take away all the things Mal holds dear, show her what it’s like to go from having everything to having nothing at all. To feeling so alone that the only way she can find solace is by crying herself to sleep.
The first thing Mal took from her was her friendships, slowly but surely. Her and Lonnie are roommates and Jane wasn’t surprised by that one, but it still hurt. It hurt everytime Lonnie waved her way only for Jane to realize she was looking past her, looking to Mal. Then came Doug and Chad; they simply gave up on seeking her out, they gave up on trying to start conversations with her. Her own boyfriend gave up on trying to communicate her, she knows Chad can be a little dense but he didn’t even pick up on her sadness.
The final straw was Audrey.
Audrey has been her friend since they were children, since they played Fairy Godmother and Sleeping Beauty in Audrey’s castle. They had been through so much together; from loathing the idea of villains coming into their world to crying over the drop off of Mal and Carlos and all the memories it drug up, memories planted by their parents. But Audrey has slipped away. She has left the comfort of her friendship with Jane to find solace in Mal because Mal understands. Mal is with her at the parties, reluctantly dances with her at dinners, and keeps her entertained during meetings their forced to sit through. Somehow Mal gets it, can provide Audrey with a comfort that Jane can’t.
Chad grins happily, “Hey, babe.”
“Are you almost ready to go?” Jane asks, and she sinks at Chad’s confused look. “We have plans to go to dinner.”
“Oh. Oh! It must’ve slipped my mind.” Chad frowns. “But I made better plans for us anyway! Evie and Mal are throwing a party at the castle while her parents are away.”
“Chad, it’s our anniversary.” Jane points out with a slight heartbroken whimper. “I don’t want to go to a party, I want to spend time with you.”
“It’s only our six month.” Chad groans with a roll of his eyes. “We’ll do something crazy for our first year, okay? But like everyone who’s anyone is going to be there, babe.”
“Mal invited me.” Chad jumps in, the excitement clear in his tone. “It’s like her banana branch or whatever. This is a good thing, she’s not gonna hate me anymore.”
“Why does it matter if she does?” Jane demands.
“Because is she hates me then like everyone else does.” Chad scoffs. “She’s everyone’s favorite person right now, Jane. Everyone loves her. She’s dating the princess of Auradon, and she saved us from her mom. This party is a big deal, if we miss it then we’re done.”
Jane drops her head, “I don’t want to go.”
“You don’t have to.” Chad shrugs as he presses a kiss to her head. “I’ll go by myself, and we can have dinner tomorrow night.”
Jane gives a forced smile, “Okay.”
“You are the absolute best, babe.” Chad groans as he wraps his arms around her. “I’m literally dating the best girl in Auradon.”
“Well, Evie is but whatever.”
The words cause a familiar stir and she closes her eyes to quell it, but it doesn’t work; something flickers and Jane is afraid she’s going to explode soon.
The crown is so beautiful. She remembers being young and staring at the dazzling blue jewels with awe in her eyes. It’s a sign of power, a sign of knowing she’d have everyone bowing at her feet. This crown is Audrey’s, and she almost feels bad about shattering the glass case so she can take it for herself. Yet a part of her is laughing in glee because this is what they all deserve, this is what they’ve done to her. She’s going to rule Auradon and she’s going to show them what they’ve done to her; Jane is determined to show this entire kingdom that they can’t get away with breaking her the way they have, with ruining her self worth.
Jane cuts her hand on a piece of glass, but she pays it no mind. No, all she can focus on is how a surge of power sweeps through her as soon as the heavy golden crown is on her head. A breath leaves her and she closes her eyes to take it in, to feel the ripple of energy that races through her. As she turns to walk down the stairs, she sees a glimmer of green a few feet away. The villain section, the cut off area that no one is allowed to go near. It holds poison apples and Jafar’s staff, but all she can focus on is the glowing green orb that is seemingly calling her name.
Or maybe it actually is.
With slow steps, Jane moves towards the scepter so she can listen closely to its calls. It reminds her of her mother’s wand, it holds so much reminder of all she can be. It reminds her of all the things her mother is making Mal into. It reminds her that she’s been neglected, pushed aside, so her mother can focus all her time and energy on teaching Mal how to become something Jane has always dreamed of being. Mal is powerful, loved. And Jane? Jane has been shoved aside and left to figure out how to do all of this by herself.
Fairy Godmother spares her a smile, “Honey, hi. What are you doing here so early? We didn’t expect you for another hour.”
“What are you doing?” Jane demands.
“Teaching.” Fairy Godmother replies. “Mal wants to learn control, and she came to me for assistance. I wish I could tell you more, but I’ll explain later. We’re busy.”
“Can I watch?” Jane asks. “Can I learn?”
“Oh. No, sweetheart,” Fairy Godmother frowns as she glances to her daughter. “This isn’t something you’ll understand. Mal’s magic is stronger, more complicated. We’ll talk about it some other time, okay?”
“Close the door behind you, Jane.”
Jane sinks away and slips into the hallway just as her mother bursts into excited claps while she begins to praise Mal. With tears in her eyes, Jane looks through the crack of the door in time to watch as her mother gathers Mal into a hug that is eagerly reciprocated. It pains her that she has to sincerely jog her memory to remember the last time her mother hugged her like that; just like that, the stirring in her gut explodes and the anger finally takes over.
Jane thinks of that moment in her house, that final straw the broke her completely. She stares at the glare of the green glass and hears the hiss of her name, feels it pulling her in. It sounds so beautiful, so overwhelming. Jane smiles wildly as she fixes the crown on her head and reaches out to grab the scepter
Finally, she feels complete.