“You stole another girl’s boyfriend.” They didn’t listen to the end of Chad’s tirade, couldn’t have even if they wanted to, the bout of laughter that came over them had been too sudden, too incredulous. They knew the others were staring, but Mal? She couldn’t bring herself to care and she knew the others felt the same.
“I’m sorry,” Evie began once her laughter had faded, sounding every bit as apologetic as a cat who’d just drank all the milk in the house – so not very – “but I could’ve sworn you just called Mal a boyfriend stealer.” It wasn’t a question, it wasn’t meant to be, but it very nearly set them off again.
“Yes, he did, why? Do you find this funny or something?” Audrey cut in, her tone carrying disgust at their blatant amusement at what the Auradonians probably considered one of the worst insults known to man.
“Extremely.” Jay drawled as he draped an arm around Mal’s shoulders, the mirth in his eyes carrying an underlying threat. “She has no want or need for any of you.” They watched as Audrey floundered, obviously trying to decide whether to be relieved or offended.
“Oh, you know that for certain do you?” Jay barely managed to bite back his retort, his protective older brother instincts smouldering at the audacity of this spoiled princess who seemed to be under the impression that she knew Mal better than them.
“We do.” Carlos jumped in this time, both to show his support for his sister, and to prevent Jay from doing something he’d regret. “Not that it’s any of your business. But Mal is already in a relationship, has been since before we got here.” They hear the crowd’s murmurs; see the eyes shifting between Mal and Chad, likely trying to figure out what to believe.
“ Right.” Chad scoffed, glaring at them coolly as though them being there was an insult to his existence, to him it probably was; though it was pleasing that Audrey at least seemed to be thinking their words over instead of blindly going on the offensive. “Do you really expect us to believe that? Huh? To believe that someone could be foolish enough to love the offspring of the Mistress of all evil?” Gasps sounded throughout the crowd, Mal refused to allow the hurt to show on her face while her friends barely resisted the urge to growl at the prince’s idiocy.
“What do you want from us here Chad? Proof?” Mal’s voice was calmer than she felt, her eyes locking on Chad’s as though daring him to challenge her. Foolishly, he complied.
“Yes actually, we can’t really afford to trust anything you say to us after all.” He was either oblivious to the glares some people were sending him or was simply choosing to ignore them. Mal couldn’t decide which option was worse.
“Fine.” Her tone carried a tinge of annoyance as she pulled an old photograph from a hidden pocket in her jacket; the photo had been taken with the only working camera any of them had managed to find, they hadn’t really cared about the quality of the photos at the time, too busy enjoying having something new to occupy their time. She handed the picture to Lonnie, trusting that she wouldn’t do anything to it.
“There’s three people here.” Ah, right. Auradon was used to relationships involving only two people, she decided to ignore Chad and Audrey so that she could explain it to Lonnie, the girl would back her up if she knew what she was backing up.
“Yes?” She phrased it as a question, wanting Lonnie to voice her thoughts on it before she attempted a proper explanation, she knew if her partners were here they’d be laughing by now. The thought caused a longing ache to spread through her heart, one that she would have to ignore for this to work.
“So which one are you in a relationship with?” She knew Lonnie wasn’t asking because she doubted her, that the question came from genuine confusion instead of a desire to prove she had been lying. She couldn’t keep the smile off her face as she replied.
“As you pointed out, there are three people in the photo.” She watched as Lonnie’s confusion morphed into understanding, Mal was pleasantly surprised when the girl immediately stood next to her and began asking questions about the other two in the photo.
“What are their names?” Mal felt her respect for Lonnie grow when she asked for their names instead of who their parents were.
“Alfa and Shane.” She left it at that, giving their full names would only end with people asking about their parents, she knew how much they all hated being compared to their parents, Alfa most of all.
“What are they like?” Once again steering clear of asking about their parents, Mal could tell that this annoyed Chad and Audrey, they obviously wanted something to prove the VKs were truly evil. Mal wouldn’t allow it.
“Shane is a huge dork but we love him for it, he’s one of those people who can be easy to overlook at first but once you start talking to him you’ll start to wonder why you haven’t spoken to him before. He’s pretty good at putting things into perspective, you know, making something seem doable. He’s loyal too, something which is pretty rare where we’re from.” She left out information about his combat ability and skills, things that would have been normal conversation back home, but would yield completely different results here.
“He sounds like a good guy.” One glance at Lonnie’s expression was enough to know she’d chose that description on purpose, Mal merely nodded in an attempt to avoid laughing at Chad’s incredulous expression. “What about Alfa?”
“She’s, I don’t even have the words.” Mal smiled as she thought about her other partner, mostly because she knew how the other girl would react whenever they told her how much they loved her. “She’s kind of similar to Shane, except Alfa is impossible to overlook.” She could tell Lonnie was confused; she couldn’t really blame her for that.
“How do you mean?” She took a moment to think about her words, many of the aspects that people back home had admired about Alfa was her combat prowess, something that wouldn’t hold the same weight in Auradon.
“She has this kind of energy that people just can’t ignore, she could enter a room as silently as she liked but you’d know she was there, even if she never commanded attention.” Lonnie motioned for her to continue. “She’s self-sacrificing to the point where we’ve had to force her to take a break more times that either of us can count but we wouldn’t have her any other way.”
“How so?” Mal gave a sad smile as she replied.
“If the only way to keep either of us from ever being hurt was to chop off her own arm, she’d do it in a heartbeat.” The truth was she’d already done something even more dangerous than that, but the example she’d given was as morbid as she’d go for this conversation.
“She must really love you.” Lonnie’s grin was infectious, mostly because Mal could tell she was genuinely happy for her.
“More than either of us deserve honestly.” It was a thought that both Mal and Shane shared, one that Alfa had denied every time it came up in conversation.
“Oh yeah, who are their parents?” Chad demanded, obviously thinking their lineage would be enough to override what Mal had just said. She decided to humour him; it wouldn’t really do anything at this point.
“Shane’s father is Shan Yu.” She paused for a moment to gauge Lonnie’s expression and was pleasantly surprised when the girl showed no signs of changing her initial view of the boy. “Alfa’s father is Farkas.” She rolled her eyes at their confusion but couldn’t really blame them for it; his story had been edited the most out of all the villains. “The big bad wolf.” There were a few gasps at this revelation, though only from those who had played a leading role in the creation of the Isle and therefore the investigations into the villains.
“Oh, and do tell us, how exactly has the Isle treated them?” Chad continued, unknowingly falling into her trap, she doubted they’d believe her words but she had a backup plan.
“I’m glad you asked actually. Shan Yu has really mellowed out over the years, he can still be a bit hot headed but he’s one of the few parents who actually care about their child’s well-being.” She could tell some people were surprised by that, something which only angered her though she forced herself to remain calm. “He’s already promised part of his territory to Shane for when he’s ready to officially form his own clan and is supportive of his relationship with Alfa and myself.” The last part had honestly surprised Mal, of all the villains she hadn’t expected Shan Yu to become someone she could talk to about relationships but now she couldn’t imagine it any other way.
“And Farkas?” Chad spat the name out as though he was disgusted to call the man by his actual name, honestly? Mal sort of agreed with him, she would have to choose her words carefully here.
“I wish I could say the same for him, but then I’d be denying that there’s a reason Alfa hasn’t set foot in that house since she was twelve.” She used the term ‘house’ loosely, there was no way that dungeon could ever be considered a home but she couldn’t afford to be so blatant.
“What are you saying?” Jane asked this time, making herself known for the first time in the conversation. This time Mal struggled to find her words, she didn’t want to brush off what that monster had done to her partner, but she also didn’t want to make Alfa look like a victim. Not after how long it took for the other girl to call herself a survivor.
“Life hasn’t been kind to Alfa; she definitely drew one of the shortest straws when it comes to parents.” She decided to leave it at that, partially because Alfa herself should be the one explaining this, and partially because Mal wasn’t strong enough to talk about the years of abuse the other girl had suffered because of her father.
“I don’t believe you.” Chad stated simply, though Mal already knew that. Time for plan B. She whispered a short chant and watched as the air in front of her appeared to ripple, she knew this move would be a gamble but it was a risk she was willing to take.
“What is that?!” Audrey shrieked; pointing at the ripple that seemed to grow as it warped into a humanoid shape.
“A simple communication spell, it conjures an image of the person you want to speak to but you won’t actually be able to touch them.” The Fairy Godmother explained before Mal could, she took that as permission for what she was about to do.” She allowed her eyes to glow as she said their names and watched as both of her partners materialised in front of her, obviously shocked that she was standing there.
“Mal?” Shane asked hesitantly, obviously not believing they could see her. She smiled softly at them, realising just how much she’d missed them.
“Hey Birdie, it’s been a while.” She watched his expression brighten; chuckling as he shook Alfa’s shoulders as though she hadn’t noticed who was standing before them.
“I know Shane, I see her too.” The wolfish grin on Alfa’s face spoke volumes, the girl didn’t always find it easy to express how she felt about them but her actions had never made them doubt their place in her life. “How’s Auradon treating you?” Alfa’s tone was stern; Mal knew what she was really asking.
“Better than the Isle that’s for sure.” She watched as Alfa’s stance became more relaxed, fists unclenching as she loosely crossed her arms in front of her, showing off the leather and bronze bracers that had been gifted to her months before. “It would be better if you guys were here though.” She saw them exchange confused glances before Shane spoke.
“So you’re not standing in the warehouse right now?” She shook her head and quickly explained the spell she’d used to them, Alfa immediately nodding in understanding. “Well then, greetings Auradonians, I can’t really see any of you but hi anyway.” That set off a chain of laughter through the crowd; trust Shane to make everything easier.
“The others say hi by the way.” Alfa added on, Mal laughed picturing the rest of the warehouse crew yelling their own messages for Alfa and Shane to pass on. “Guys, one at a time.” Alfa called out, Mal laughed again at the thought of them clamouring for their messages to be heard first.
“First one’s from Seus; we’ve had to prioritise this one.” Shane sounded worried; Mal immediately felt the other four approach, obviously wanting to hear what had been said. “Mal, your dad wants to speak to you.”