dream me a world where we can love.
The first thing the fairies ever tell you is what will define you for the rest of your life.
“Your mother was a monster. It’s our job to make sure you don’t become like her. But you must follow our rules, or we will not be able to save you.”
It’s the only thing they tell you about your mother. They don’t mention a father at all. It’s only after years of being locked away in the same ittle hovel that the fairies finally tell you her name: Maleficent.
You do not get bedtime stories or fairy tales or much of anything at all. The fairies whisper over your head, voices too low to be heard, so you ignore them and imagine what it would be feel like to be wanted.
You can’t imagine it.
Still you try; daydreams of a loving family, of hugs and laughter, of playing games with someone where you are the prince and the princess but never the dragon or the witch. And you are wanted.
The hollow in your chest aches. It’s all you’ve ever known.
“Why can’t I go out?” you ask one day, tired of being trapped in the same little hovel, the same little field. Ahead is the forest, which promises adventure and freedom and your feet itch to run into the wild and lose yourself completely.
The fairies flutter in worry and spin around you, guiding you back inside into the only space you’ve ever known. “You mustn’t go out,” they say in the same voice, “It’s dangerous!”
They don’t say if it’s dangerous to you or to what’s out there, but you know the answer.
You wonder if your mother was ever wild, if she every carried the same thrill in your veins that called for heart over mind. You wonder if that’s what got her killed.
When you are older, tall enough to reach the top cupboards on your own, the fairies finally tell you more. It’s not the full story, and it may not even be the truth, but you are lonely and desperate enough to listen to the fae and their ever twisting words.
“Your mother was cruel and heartless,” they tell you, brushing hands over your hair that were once soothing, but now leave you feeling trapped. “When the princess was born, everyone was invited to see her just days after her birth. Everyone but Maleficent. We gave the princess blessings of beauty and fairness and heart, but your mother arrive to curse the princess to fall into endless sleep on her sixteenth birthday.”
“But why?” you ask, trembling.
“She was a monster. They are cruel because it is their nature. She did what she did because she wanted to; there is no other answer.”
“Is that why the king killed her?”
The fairies pull away, and though the weight of their hands is gone, you still feel heavy.
They nod. “Maleficent cursed the princess to die on her sixteenth birthday. She was a threat and the king could not let her roam free to curse any others.”
The fairy who carries a blue glow speaks on their own for the first time. “Cold iron and righteous fury; with that he slayed Maleficent and freed the world from her cruelty. He could have killed you, but you were a child and he was a father. So he asked us to care for you, and we have.”
They all pull away and set to making dinner. When it is done, they prepare to leave as they always do.
You haven’t done this since you were a child, but you stop them and ask, “Where do you go? Why must you always leave me when I have no one else?”
“You know we can’t tell you.”
And with that, they’re gone.
All that’s left is a quiet hovel and the tears you can’t help but cry.
Cold iron, you think. The most harmful material to fairies; you wonder if its touch burns. Wonders what your mother felt in her final moments.
You don’t sleep.
There’s someone outside. You can hear her singing.
Your heart flutters nervously in your chest; you’ve never met anyone before.
The fairies have been gone for days. You can’t rely on their flimsy protection, the only thing they ever give you. So you lay your shaking hands on the table and take a deep breath, then move to a window to peer out at the intruder.
In the little field surround your hovel, is a girl with golden hair, eyes closed as she steps over the flowers without faltering. She spins, swaying with an invisible partner. At her feet, a rabbit hops around her.
And then she turns to face the hovel and opens her eyes.
Her eyes, which are bright and blue and looking at you.
It takes some time before she can coax you out. Her voice is soft and sweet, her hands gentle as they guide you to sit besides her in the flowers.
She calls herself Aurora, and when she asks for your name, you freeze.
The fairies never call you by a name. You know your mother’s name, but not yours.
You don’t have a name.
When you tell Aurora this, her brow furrows as she frowns.
“Well,” she says, “That just won’t do. Tell me, is there anything at all I can call you? I don’t want to refer to you as ‘The Girl With Magic In Her Eyes’.”
“Magic in my eyes?”
She reaches a hand out and cups your jaw. Her thumb brushes the skin below your eye. You freeze, and try not to lean into the touch which electrifies and burns in the most horrible, wonderful way.
“You have bright green eyes. I’ve heard that only those with powerful magic can have eyes like yours.”
“I’ve– I don’t have magic.”
“Maybe,” she says, smiling, “You just haven’t found it yet.”
Aurora leaves before the sun sets. She mutters something about overprotective guardians, and promises to sneak out to see you tomorrow.
You hold the promise close to your heart and linger in the warmth of her touch.
No one’s ever touched you before.
But then, no one’s ever known you before either.
Suddenly, you look forward to each new day. The fairies don’t remark on your improved mood, but they seem to enjoy how you hum when you help them clean and garden.
They still leave, every afternoon, and every afternoon, Aurora comes back for you.
She always smiles and sings and pulls you close.
You, always shy, always unsure, ask her why she touches you so much one day.
“I am alone, too,” she admits, “And I don’t want to feel alone. I pet the animals and let them sleep on my lap, but it doesn’t ever feel like enough. But then I met you, and I felt I found a friend. Why wouldn’t I always show you that I care for you?”
It’s enough to make you cry, but all she does is gather you close in her arms and holds you tight.
You hold her back, and wonder if this is what it feels like to be wanted.
“I still don’t know what to call you,” Aurora says one day, as you both lay in the flowers, turned towards each other with your hands clasped between your chests. “I’ve been going between different names for you.”
“Green eyes, the girl with the beautiful laugh, the mystery in the forest, sunshine,” Aurora pauses and brings your hand up to brush a kiss against your knuckles, “Lovely.”
You pull away to hide your face behind your hands and whine. It's high pitched and resembles a boiling kettle. Aurora laughs, bright and beautiful, and the rest of the day is lost in light.
The fairies have been frantic lately. They flutter around the hovel, worrying about she’ll be sixteen soon and there are no spindles in kingdom, but a curse is a curse and can we really keep her safe?
You don’t ask. You pretend you don’t hear. Whoever they are worrying for, it is not you. After all, your sixteenth birthday was many months before.
Still, you hope whoever it is will be okay.
The last time you saw Aurora was three days ago, when she danced with you and told you she won’t be able to see you the next day, for it was her birthday and with so many eyes on her she wouldn’t be able to slip away.
You assured it her was alright, pressed a kiss to her cheek, and wished her a happy birthday.
She leaves with a glowing smile and says, Tomorrow, we’ll be the same age!
But she doesn’t come back.
She’ll be sixteen soon, you remember.
No, you think, but your blood runs cold in your veins and you know better than to lie to yourself.
Despite how you longed to leave and lose yourself in the forest, you find yourself stuck at the very edge, terrified of what lies ahead and to leave behind the only thing you’ve ever known.
But it’s not the only thing that you’ve ever known. Not anymore. Not when you have Aurora.
Even in the day, the forest is tall and imposing, and you wonder if you really can do this. You don’t know where to begin, where to find Aurora.
There’s only one way you can go: forward.
It takes the day. It takes most of the night.
You wander, lost and scared, but you push on regardless and put one foot in front of the other until you find a little cottage, bigger than your hovel and covered in flowers and vines. You peer into the windows, but the cottage is empty.
Inside, the fireplace is still warm, the embers still glowing a faint orange. If Aurora is anywhere, it must be here, so you stay and look around, waiting and hoping and even daring to pray to gods that have never listened to you before.
The fairies come in, at sundown, and you think the gods have finally answered you.
They startle, then titter around you, flying too fast for your eyes to keep up with.
“What are you doing here? You shouldn’t have left, it’s too dangerous!”
“Oh, we were so worried when we couldn’t find you!”
“Are you alright? Have you gotten hurt at all?”
For once, their care and concern feels sincere. This is not done out of obligation; no, they truly do care for you.
You stand, and let them look over you. “I’m alright,” you say, “Scared, but alright.”
It takes a few minutes before the fairies begin to calm down and let you go. When you sit down, you catch a blur of red and green flying into the kitchen. The last fairy hovers in front of you, a gentle blue glow that reminds you of moonlight.
“Why did you come here?” the fairy asks.
You hear a soft sigh, and then the fairy glows brighter, bright enough to make you shut your eyes and turn away. When the light subsides, a tall woman kneels before you, pale hands on your shoulders. Her eyes are a bright blue, her skin is covered in strange patterns, and behind her are the barely visible outlines of wings.
The fairy’s true form.
“What do you know about Aurora?”
You think of sunlit days dancing in flowers, her laugh, her golden hair always soft under your fingers, how she giggled if you brushed your hand along her side, the songs she would sing for you.
“She’s kind,” you say, “And beautiful. She loves to sing and dance and dreams more than I do.”
The fairy smiles, but her eyes are sad. “Aurora is the princess Maleficent cursed. We did what we could, but the curse is strong. She went to the king for her birthday and fell into an eternal sleep.”
No, you think, but your voice fails you and all you have is silence.
“I’m sorry,” the fairy says, "If we could take her place, we would in a heartbeat.”
I would too, you think, but all you say is, “Please, tell me everything. Be honest, and tell me from the beginning.”
When Aurora was born and blessed and cursed, the king did whatever he could to protect her. He destroyed spindles and went to every fairy and witch in the land in search of help. But Maleficent’s magic was too strong, and no one could remove the curse. And so he begged the fairies to take Aurora somewhere safe, away from humanity, so that she would never encounter a spindle.
And then he went and killed Maleficent.
The fairies accompanied him, protected him, and guided him until he struck the cold iron into Maleficent’s heart, unprotected even as a dragon. He searched her home in search of a cure, but nothing would undo the curse. The only thing of value he found was you.
For years, Aurora lived safe in the forest. But on her sixteenth birthday, she heard the full story and ran away to meet her father. The curse took hold of her and led her to a spindle, where she pricked her finger and fell into eternal sleep.
“The only way to save her, we believe, is true love’s kiss.”
True love, you think, doesn’t exist. There’s no saving Aurora.
“Where is she?” you ask.
“Eat something and sleep first,” they answer, “Then we will take her to you.”
So you eat even when each bite feels like a stone in your stomach. You sleep, even though it takes hours before you drift off into blurry colors of dreams.
And then you go.
The fairies guide you through the forest to a tower, covered in ivy and stretching high into the sky. They lead you up the endless stairs, their glow enough to light the way.
At the very top is Aurora, asleep in a simple bed, hands clasp over her stomach. She looks peaceful.
She looks like she’ll wake up at any moment.
“Look after her,” the fairies say, “We will search for someone who can give her true love’s kiss.”
They leave, then, quick and elusive as ever. Such is the nature of fairies; efficient, without sparing a moment to feel and only focused on doing. They are wise, though their ways are nonsense to mortals. To err is to be human, but they are fae. They will bring the hero who will save Aurora. They will not allow for anything else.
It is only then that you realize that all these years, the fairies did care for you. You were just too human to see it.
For the first few days, you sit besides Aurora, holding her hand as you tell her stories and reassure her that all will be fine.
A few days is all you get with her before the first heroes and princes start showing up. The hope you had quickly turns into despair and rage as these men try to force themselves onto you, onto Aurora, and care only for themselves. Your hands shake as you push them away, use your body as a shield, and force them out of the tower.
You decide enough is enough, and wipe away the blood on your hands.
You think of your mother, powerful and cruel. You think of Aurora, how she called you “The Girl With Magic In Her Eyes”, and you reach deep down inside yourself in search of that magic Aurora always believed you had.
You did your best not to become a monster. But your magic shakes the earth and calls forth a wall of black brambles, filled with thorns. The sky is dark under heavy storm clouds and the air itself is filled with the heavy pressure of danger.
When you see your reflection, your eyes are green and glowing, with slit pupils. Small black scales cover your cheekbones, your arms, your neck. At the top of your head, you can see two bumps - horns - beginning to emerge. More monster than human, your reflection tells you.
You really are your mother’s daughter.
The days are quieter now. Less knights and princes and heroes pass through the wall of brambles and those that do run at the sight of a large black dragon.
(It’s an illusion, but they never find out. That would, of course, require them to fight it, and none have the courage.)
And then a prince slips through your guard and climbs the tower.
When he comes in, after politely knocking on the door - something no one else has done - he hesitantly peers in. When he sees you, he smiles and enters the room. Immediately, you place yourself in front of Aurora, tense and ready for a fight.
The prince doesn’t fight. He doesn’t draw his sword or demand to have the princess.
No, he holds he hand out and says, “Hello, I’m Prince Philip. It’s nice to meet you.”
You have no name to give you so he settles for calling you “Miss”. He startles at the sight of Aurora, sleeping, when you move away. When he asks if she’s alright, you stare long enough that he shifts and looks away, embarrassed.
“If you didn’t know about Aurora, why are you here?” you ask.
“Ah, well, you see, I heard that this tower was protected by a dragon. I left before I could hear what it was protecting and made my way here as fast as I could. But I didn’t see it?”
Prince Philip is strange and acts like none of the others who have climbed the tower.
“Did you come here to slay the dragon?”
“No!” he seems offended by the mere idea. “I came here to befriend it.”
He’s kind enough that you feel bad about the illusion. So you assure him that the dragon is just out at the moment, then use your magic to call upon a few crows and discretely ask them to find a friendly dragon for Prince Philip.
In the meantime, he’s content to wait with you and push selfish men down the stairs.
All the while, Aurora sleeps.
“If true love’s kiss will wake her up,” Prince Philip says one day, “Why don’t you kiss her?”
You flush and push him away. “I can’t!”
“Why not? You’ve been here from the beginning, protecting her. You know her better than anyone else. Do you not love her?”
“I’m a monster. Monsters don’t love. And true love doesn’t exist; that’s why the curse is unbreakable.”
He frowns and straightens up, drawing on his royal heritage like a cloak. He sits tall and strong, and you can see every inch of prince in him. “What?” his voice is dangerously low. “If anyone’s a monster, it’s the person who laid this curse, not you.”
“My mother laid this curse!”
“You are not your mother. You do not carry her sins. You are not a monster.” Abruptly, he pulls away, expression softening. “You protect Aurora even at the cost of your own safety, you conjure up new flowers for her every day, you keep her company and have more heart than most royals I have met. If anyone can wake her, it’s you. Even if you don’t believe in true love. It can’t hurt to at least try, right?”
It can. If Aurora doesn’t wake up when you kiss her, if this proves that you are heartless and can’t love, it would hurt more than any loneliness ever did. It would hurt more than cold iron.
But you would do anything for Aurora.
Prince Philip leaves when you tell him you’ll try. You hope the dragon your crows found will be here soon for him.
You take a moment to prepare yourself, then you sit besides Aurora, lean down, and kiss her.
It feels like coming home.
You pull away. For a moment, all is still. You feel your heart sink and shatter, and then–
Aurora opens her eyes.
Slowly, and then she sees you and she smiles, soft and slow. You swallow, blinking against the tears building in your eyes, and she lifts a hand to cup your jaw.
“Angel,” she murmurs, “I knew you would save me.”
And then you’re both crying and laughing and nothing has ever felt so good.
Prince Philip helps you both down the tower. He’s happy to finally be able to talk to Aurora, and ecstatic at the sight of a dragon just beyond the brambles. It takes a while for you to bring down the brambles with how Aurora steals your attention with kisses everytime the magic swirls around you.
Each time, you flush and glance at Prince Philip, who graces you with an impish grin that makes you want to push him.
He gives you his horse to the two of you can travel through the forest faster, and waves you goodbye as he chats with the dragon, an old, friendly creature that has lived long enough to see kingdoms rise and fall.
“I should let my father know I’m okay,” Aurora says, guiding the horse between the trees.
You hold onto her waist, reveling in her warmth. “How far is the castle?”
She glances back at you with a sly grin. “Far enough away that we won’t make it today.” She gently kicks her heels and the horse speeds up. “Let’s go home.”
Home: her cottage in the woods, your little hovel and its flower fields.
Home: wherever you and Aurora are, together.
You smile and press a kiss to her neck. “Let’s go.”
After you both stumble into the cottage, pressing kisses to each other’s skin, Aurora takes a moment to look at you.
“What?” you ask, ducking your head in embarrassment.
She brushes a finger along the scales on your cheekbone and you feel your blood run cold.
“You’ve changed,” she says, and tilts your head up to meet your gaze. “I like it.”
“I look like a monster.”
“You look like an angel. My angel.”
Aurora won’t listen to your denials, and kisses you until you forget what you look like. She kisses you until you forget everything but her, and you lose yourselves into the night.
In another world, the king can't kill Maleficient and Prince Phillip, love pure enough to count as true love, save Aurora.
In this world, Aurora stumbled upon a lonely dragon witch's daught and loved her. Now, Aurora is awake and loves you so fiercely it aches; you are not human, but you are loved.
What lies outside this forest can’t take it away. The two of you have drifted, lost and abandoned, until you came together despite the odds. ou love her enough to break your mother’s unbreakable curse. Aurora loves you enough to threaten giving up her title as Princess unless she can have you by her side, always.
The journey to this hurt more that you can endure, but, you think, as you dance with her in the cottage’s little kitchen, that you wouldn’t have this any other way.