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Korë

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Mal her mother’s voice says as she breathes in and closes her eyes. Fae she reminds herself. You are fae. Your word is truth. Your Promises are always fulfilled.

 

Korë her father’s name for her echoes through her mind as she exhales. You are half-goddess. Don’t forget. Never let anyone hold something over you .

 

She opens her eyes.  

 

“Every child currently on the Isle of the Lost will be given a chance to come to Auradon if it pleases them,” she swears. Uma’s eyes narrow and she completes her vow, “I Promise.”

 

She feels the weight of the Promise settle on her. Underneath her tongue, in her bones and her teeth. It thrums in her blood. She will keep this Promise, or she will die.

 

She has come too far to die.


 

From the moment she was born, Mal’s mother made sure she knew that she was fae. She was a fairy, and that meant things. It meant keeping the power balance in her own favour- if someone did something nice for you, you repaid them instantly so they couldn’t ask for more from you. Hold their Promises close to your heart, take them at their word even when they don’t mean it. Don’t promise them anything, Maleficent would remind her every night. Never owe anyone anything, Mal, because that’s no way for a fairy to live.

She also liked to snap at Mal- don’t give handouts. We’re not Seelie. We don’t do favours for friends. We’re fae, and we have pride.

 

Of course, it wasn’t that simple. Mal wasn’t just fae, couldn’t be. Because her magic worked on the Isle. She could cast and conjure and curse people to her heart's content. But she didn’t say anything, never asked, because her mother would never tell her the name of the man she’d allowed into her bed.

 

Mal doesn’t really mean to start helping the kids of the Isle of the Lost. 

 

It starts with Carlos de Vil, six years old and on the verge of death (he cannot die on the Isle of the Lost, but tas long as he doesn’t get food, he will not get better, so instead she lets her magic- magic that she shouldn’t have- find him and heal him). 

She does his chores too, without even having to lift a finger or say a word (she comes back the next night, fully intending to only check up on him. Instead, she does his chores again, as he is asleep and whimpering {she tells herself it’s because she can’t stand the pathetic whispering noise, but she’s lying to herself}).

 

She starts helping Uma, Ursula’s daughter, next. It’s still not something that she’s doing on purpose (her mom thinks that she’s out all night committing crimes. She refuses to disavow her of this belief ). But she hears a wet smack on her way back from the hideout she’s started creating near the docks, and she can’t help herself. 

Uma has a throbbing welt on her cheek, and she’s mopping the floor of the fish and chips shop. It’s not hard for Mal to put two and two together (she’s lazy, and doesn’t bother waiting for Uma to fall asleep to start casting. She stays out of sight, though {Uma must be well-read by Isle standards, because the next night, she leaves out milk and honey. The milk isn’t spoiled, and the honey is sweet, if raw. Mal wonders how she got it and doesn’t ask).

 

She creates a collection of VKs that she secretly helps. She leaves trinkets for Jay so that he always has something to give to his father (he leaves her liquor, which she drinks even though she shouldn’t). She does Harry and Uma’s chores, and they leave her milk and honey. She helps Carlos, and he leaves her nothing (he’s her favourite, for this, because she doesn’t want to acknowledge what she’s doing, that she's acting Seelie). She does Evie’s sewing for her mother so that Evie can focus on her own pieces (Evie leaves her acorn shells filled with brown sugar. It’s a witch’s gift, and Mal smirks and says nothing).

She helps them and pretends she doesn’t, but when she’s around them, her magic echoes one word. Mine, it says. Mine, tattoos her heart. Mine.

 

It goes on for years. She wonders how she pulls it off every night, slipping out and fixing problems. She wonders how her mother doesn’t catch word of it. She’s scared that one day, she will. Mal tries to not think about that day, and what she’ll do when it comes. Although she helps her VKs, they owe her nothing. She keeps it that way. She’s doing favours, but she’s not like Celia, who holds the favours over people’s heads. She doesn’t want payment.

 

A year into her scheme, she realises that it might be helpful to have her VKs officially on her side. She doesn’t call in any debts (they don’t owe any). Instead, she starts courting each of them, slowly. She starts with Carlos, who is desperate for any sort of protection- from his mother, from the others on the Isle. She gets Jay with wild exploits and adventure and theft. She pulls Uma in by regularly tipping at the fish and chips shop (with other people’s money, but still). Harry and Gil follow Uma like it’s the most natural thing in the world for them.

She gets Evie with sweet words and a promise from her mother to lift the banishment (Evie does owe her for that, but Mal doesn’t tell her).

 

It works, for a while. Two other gangs form across the Isle- the Huns, Harriet and the rest of the pirates- but her people are stronger, better, faster than everyone else. Mal doesn’t tell them about the magic running in her blood like a wildfire. She’s recruited them, but she doesn’t trust them, Not yet

 

Uma leaves her several coins. She doesn’t know what sparks the change (Uma’s mother found out she was wasting the milk and honey and hid them). They’re probably worth less than the milk and honey, but Mal refuses to help her after that. She’s not a servant, she doesn’t want payment. She doesn’t want to be owned (those coins are the reason she kicks Uma out of the gang. She can’t look at the girl without feeling like she serves her, now. Harry goes with Uma, and Mal says good riddance even as Carlos and Evie look at her reproachfully).


Mal is twelve when she meets her dad for the first time. It explains a lot of things. Why they’d never met. Why she could do magic on the Isle when no one else she knew could, not even her mother, who was the Mistress of All Evil.

 

She had been at Coward’s Market, walking aimlessly. Thinking, she liked to say when people were stupid enough to ask (before staring them down with luminous green eyes). Really, she was feeling. Letting the tendrils of her magic swirl out across the market, picking up emotion, secrets, power. People cleared out of her way as she walked, which was how she managed to quite literally bump into her father (not that she’d known it then).

 

Hades swung around to glare down at her, hair flickering into fire and eyes pitch black. Mal had stared up with wide eyes and had braced herself for the first hit. The villains were temperamental, every child on the Isle knew that, and Hades had a reputation amongst the villains. No one on the Isle could die, but she’d heard stories of people left for worse-than-dead (she’d been told those stories, as something akin to bedtime stories, by her mother- on the Isle, age was no measure of what someone could handle). The blows never came- nothing, not even a smack across the cheek. The god bent over, to stare into her eyes, and went as far as to push her chin up so that he could see better before saying, quite loudly, “What the fuck has that woman done to you?”

 

Mal had bit the inside of her cheek and said nothing. If she’d learned anything in her short, ugly life, it was that talking ill of Maleficent lead nowhere. But Hades had grabbed her wrist and pulled her back to Maleficent’s palace, holding tightly enough that there would be bruises for a week.

 

The god burst through the door and Mal finally managed to pull her wrist from him. She rubbed it and glanced around for her mother.

 

“Maleficent!” He roared, voice shaking the foundations of the crumbling house that Maleficent insisted was a palace, “Maleficent! What the fuck have you done to my daughter!?”

 

Mal let the words wash over her, closing her eyes to hear the words thrumming in her veins. My daughter. My daughter. My daughter.  

 

It was how she missed her mother as she sauntered down the stairs, laughing softly {not the wild cackle that sent cowards running for the hills. The soft, sinister laugh that chilled Mal to the bone}. 

 

“I made her fae,” Maleficent said, and Mal could remember every time her mother had said it. I’m making you fae. Be grateful. If it weren’t for me, you’d be human. You owe me. She opened her eyes to see her mother smirking, to see Hades ( her father ) glowing with the effort of keeping his power contained.

 

“You made her you,” Hades growled, stepping forward, closing the gap between them.

 

“Mal isn’t me, unfortunately. It’s a shame, but that’s what I get for reproducing the human way.”

 

“Mal?” Hades scoffed, lip curling, “That’s not even a real name, Maleficent. And it’s not her name. We agreed on her name.”

 

“You decided,” Maleficent shot back, “But I was never going to name my daughter after your wife.”

 

“If I’d known you just wanted to remake yourself in our daughter, I’d have told you to go fuck yourself when you came to me.”

 

Our daughter

“Well, I guess you made the wrong choice when you fucked me instead,” her mother had snapped. Hades’ eyes had glowed, and Mal had been certain that her mother was about to die.

 

But instead, her father had rolled his eyes and stepped back ( not a victory for Maleficent, but mercy from Hades ). His eyes landed on her, and she’d felt his power ( that felt like iron against her skin ) settle around her. She’d looked up at him through blue hair and black eyes and magic that was like hers but harsher, and he had knelt to her height and looked her in the eyes.

 

“Your name is Korë,” he told her.

 

“You are my blood. The daughter of Hades. I expect you not to waste the gift I’ve given you.”

 

He turned to leave, and she was perfectly happy to let him, but- “How do I do that?”

 

He grinned wickedly at her.

 

 “By doing whatever the hell you want.”

 


 

Mal ( Korë ) takes her father's message to heart. She lets herself run wild in the street of the Isle. She burns down buildings and ruins people. She runs with Evie, Carlos and Jay in the day, and does chores for them at night (she doesn’t tell anyone, but now, she refuses to be shamed by it). 

In private, her hair is blue and her eyes and wings are black, but no one with any sense of self-preservation says anything (she learns to cast glamours like it’s breathing, and switches between purple and blue like it’s what she was born to do). 

Mal lives vicariously on the Isle, she does stupid shit and knows that she’ll be bailed out by her mother’s name (and her father’s, if necessary). She makes alliances (Dizzy, Celia, CJ) and she runs the Isle’s teenage underground.

 

She kisses Carlos first, at midnight (the year they’ll be sent to Auradon, even though they don’t know that). She kisses Evie within the same minute and Jay after that. 

They make sense, the four of them. They run together anyway, and they spend most of their nights together, curled up in their hideout (it’s a miracle they haven’t figured out where she slips away to yet- or maybe they have, and are granting her a small mercy by pretending they haven’t)(it’s the second one).  They love the same way they fight- wild and magical and angry (at the world, at their parents, at Auradon).  They do whatever the hell they want, and they’re beautiful while doing it.

 

They promise each other that it won’t change when they go to Auradon. Mal spells Ben and then falls in love with him (she thinks). Evie finds someone for whom she can be Princess Charming. Jay finds a new family in like-minded people. Carlos finds solace in animals and being away from his mother. And in all of this, they hold tightly onto each other, as if the other three are the only reason they still exist.

Chapter Text

The Princeling starts an “initiative” that’s supposed to bring all of the kids from the Isle of the Lost over to live in Auradon. She assumes he’ll start with the babies, the kids who need it the most, who are the worst off while they’re trapped with their psychotic parents.

Instead, he “randomly selects” her, Evie, Carlos and Jay, and Mal riots. The Isle is in her blood- for all intents and purposes, it’s her birthright, and he’s ripping her away (and, by extension, the one thing that protecting Isle kids, and stopping all-out warfare from breaking out amongst the citizens of the Isle {she’s got a mole, somewhere, and she calls all of her people together and threatens to burn the Isle down if they aren’t found}.

She spends the rest of the single day she has before being shipped off to Auradon securing her magic. She binds it to every object of magical value, regardless of the fact that they’re all worthless right now. She weaves a net across the Isle, and attunes herself to it so finely that she knows when someone steps outside their home (she doesn’t know if the magic will hold when she’s in Auradon, because it’s part-fae {like her}, but she does it anyway, because the Isle is hers, and these people are hers, even if they don’t know it) (even Uma, who fights with her on every available occasion and pushes her to the point that Mal would be well-justified to raze her to the ground, is hers).

 

Leaving the Isle is the hardest thing she’s ever had to do. Her magic screams at her to stay in her place with her people {it’s harder than when she had looked at Uma and told her to leave, because then her magic had screamed ‘stay’, too, but her pride had said ‘go’}. 

Before she leaves, her mother looks her in her eyes and says, “Promise me you’ll steal the wand.” 

 

She doesn’t have a choice.

 

They make it to Auardon, and between the sun beaming down like it’s out to get them and the people whose smiles are stretched so wide it’s almost grotesque, Mal loathes it. It’s all she’s never wanted.

 

They’re in a land where magic is real and available, and yet she feels nothing. There are sparks when she’s in the vicinity of Hesperos (who is a god ), but mostly, she walks around with the desert-dryness clinging to her skin and feeling like absolute shit. People thank her for coming to Auradon (for nothing at all) and she grins through the weight of Promises that people don’t know they’re making. 

 

They try to steal the wand that night. It’s reckless, because they’re going in with no plan, no background knowledge at all (it feels like years ago, before they’d developed a network of Isle kids who told them everything they could possibly need to know), but they just want to be gone from this place where it feels like magic should be, but isn’t (at least on the Isle, the only magic was Mal’s and her father’s. Mal didn’t expect any other magic to exist, there).

They fail, and Mal expects them to be sent back without even a trial (like their parents). But the museum must have the worst security in the world, because even though she waited up all night for the Auradonian Guard Force to come to break down the door to their dorm, it never comes (she lies on Evie’s bed, holding her girlfriend tight- it might be the last night that she gets to)(she plans to say she coerced the others. They can’t go back empty-handed, because Maleficent will kill them. Hades will keep her mother at bay for her, though. She thinks).

 

They end up in ‘Goodness 101’ the next day, staring blankly at the Fairy Godmother as she tries to drill them on the ‘good’ option (Mal sketches the wand and thinks about how morality isn’t objective, how all of Auradon society is based on a logical fallacy). She parrots the answers the headmistress expects of her and ignores the consequences that would come with following through on these actions. Whatever the hell you want, her father had said, and sitting in ‘Goodness 101’ is not it.

 

She sends Evie off to Science with a smile and encouragement to keep her intelligence under wraps (Evie is brilliant, but underestimation is a handy tool and people like Evie-the-Ditz more than Evie-the-Genius because Evie-the-Ditz isn’t a threat). She sends Jay and Carlos off to Tourney, with similar instructions- Carlos should look weak and intelligent, Jay should look strong and stupid. It’s their tried-and-true method, and no one on the Isle really buys it anymore, but she’d bet her life that the people of Auradon will.

 

She corners the Fairy Godmother’s daughter in the bathroom- and picks her apart before she even makes a move. Her name is Jane- plain Jane, Mal would bet. She thinks she’s ugly because she doesn’t know how to dress for herself. She wants to be like Audrey, looks up to the other princess (so far, every time that Mal has bumped into Audrey, she’s thought the girl weak of spirit, and so far, she hasn’t been proved wrong). It’s so easy for Mal to hurt the girl- hell, she hardly has to try. She places a basic glamour over Jane, similar to the one she holds in place over her own looks, and Jane thanks her profusely. Mal doesn’t let her lips curl into a smile, even though Jane now owes her a debt and Mal knows her name (her mother is the Fairy Godmother, Jane is a fairy. Shouldn’t they know better? ). She doesn't even have to lie- nothing she can do to Jane’s looks will be permanent, but anything the wand does will be.

 


 

When she sees her in their dorm, Mal barely makes eye contact with Evie before she kisses her, hard, because there’s something is Evie’s eyes that Mal knows, and hates (it’s the look  of a girl who’s been using her looks to get what she wants, it’s the look Evie came home with every day on the Isle). Evie’s doing two sets of homework and stitching a dress, and she’s doing it all without any magic. She’s a saint, Mal swears.

 

Furious steps echo outside their door, and they hardly manage to pull themselves apart before Jane storms in, already complaining about her mother. 

 

They tune her out, providing some commentary if necessary but mostly just letting the girl talk herself hoarse while they banter in the background (“you’ve never had one”- no, she’s had two, and a girlfriend). But their luck must be holding, or maybe Mal’s magic is working for her because Li Lonnie steps through the door (inviting herself in, how Auradon of her. On the Isle, you’d get hurt for that).

 

Evie tries to save her, she really does, offering to do her hair so that she doesn't owe Mal anything, but Li Lonnie all but demands a spell, so Mal smirks and accepts the debt (on the Isle, Mal didn’t take debt from unsuspecting kids because they didn’t have anything to give- here, the princes and princesses expect things to be given to them and hand out their full names, and Mal can’t wait for the day when she calls it and asks for something and they have to give). 

 

Li Lonnie gives Mal an idea, though. Because people want things, and Mal can deliver those things, and it’s all too easy to tell her to spread the word that Mal will do people’s hair (she princess’s debts and it’s like taking candy from a baby).

 

But it’s making people think she’s nice (and it turns out to… not feel bad, having people think she’s nice. It’s also brilliantly useful for her strategy, which is falling apart around her. She encourages Jay, Evie and Carlos to open up to a couple of people, let everyone think they’re softening).

 

She spends what little free time she has with the three of them, and they kiss softly in their dorms where no one can see. She drops her glamour in that free time, letting her hair fade back to blue and letting her wings spread out. But when they leave the dorm, she recolours her hair and hides her wings and eyes, and she and Evie walk with pinkies linked in corridors, and Jay and Carlos sling their arms around their girls’ shoulders. Mal thinks about whatever the hell I want, and imagines kissing them in broad daylight instead of behind closed doors (she doesn’t, though. Her father’s advice is all well and good, but it’s not helpful, not in Auradon where everyone is expected to curb their desires).

 


 

So, as it turns out, Mal needs to seduce Ben. They consider doing it the old-fashioned way (Evie’s way), but now they have access to magic and spells at their disposal, and nothing can be allowed to go wrong. So they use a love spell (in the spellbook, it warns of a time the spell was used to make a man fall in love with a horse- Jay laughs and says that it’s the perfect choice- Mal hits him).

 

Li Lonnie is their saving grace, barging in in the middle of the night and crying over their parents not loving them enough (Mal thinks of Hades roaring at Maleficent in fury, and wonders).

 

They spell Ben, and it all goes to hell. 

 

I would give my kingdom for just one kiss,” he tells her, and Mal promises herself that she won’t kiss him (she’s not above collecting debt made by unknowing kids, but this- this is wrong, she tells herself. That’s not a debt, that’s a Promise that Ben’s making, and her mother’s words- ‘take them at their word even when they don’t mean it ’ ring in her head. Mal tries to shake off the Promise, but it seals itself into her bones and her lungs).

 

She goes on a date with him, a date which her girlfriend helps her prepare for and her boyfriends coach her through. They need to do this, even though they’re them and Ma hates this plan. 

 

But then he nearly dies and that would wreck every single plan she’s made, so Mal dives in to try and save him (her Promise to her mother presses down on her lungs and she can’t breathe until she sees Ben, alive and well).

 

He tries to introduce her to his parents not even a week later, and she rolls her eyes at Evie, Jay and Carlos but plays along, smiling prettily and pretending she understands having loving parents (her mother stutters when she says I miss you, because she’s lying and it hurts the fae to lie). 

 

Audrey’s grandmother convinces her to go through with it. Because if her daughter grew up with fairies, she should know better than to antagonize one. Then Chad attacks Evie, and Mal wants to fucking kill him, but Ben and Carlos are holding her back (Jay gets a good punch in, though) (she undoes Jane’s hair in a fit of pettiness. She feels like her mother, like a fairy when she does it. Afterwards, she feels worse than before. But still- whatever the hell she wants ).

 


 

Mal doesn’t know why she unspells Ben. Probably because she doesn’t want him to be panting after her while she’s ruling his kingdom with Evie, Jay and Carlos at her side (even her mother can’t live forever. Eventually it will be Mal’s turn- it’s what she was born for). She doesn’t love him, but he doesn’t deserve to be in love with her (when he reveals that he’s been free of her love spell since the enchanted lake, she freezes. Her plan never accounted for him actually wanting her. Eventually, she smiles and him and turns her face just in time, so that his lips meet her cheek instead of her lips).

Mal plans on going through with it, but only after Ben is king. It’s a lot easier to take a kingdom from a week-old king than from the man who established it. Plain Jane beats her to it, though, threatening to “do it herself”.  Mal doesn’t have to think about it, her mother’s warnings- magic in the hands of the inexperienced can be more dangerous than magic in the hands of the experienced, Mal- ringing in her ears as she snatches the wand from Jane. Her lovers run down to meet her, and she wants to run because she’s so close to fulfilling her Promise, to having the suffocating weight of it off her chest.

 

But Ben asks her if she wants to do it. The answer is no, but she doesn’t have a choice.

 

She tells him as much, but can’t find the words to explain that it’s not her mother she’s scared of, it’s her own magic.

 

She doesn’t have to, though, because her mother appears in the centre of the cathedral.

 

“Give me the wand, Mal. You promised.”

 

She did. She Promised she’d steal the wand. And she has. But she never promised to give it to her mother.

 

What follows next is a blur. Years later, Mal won't be able to exactly place the series of events, but she knows that a couple of things happen: her mother turns into a dragon, Ben tells her he loves her, she gets the wand back, and her mother shrinks down to the size of a lizard (the Fairy Godmother tells her that it’s the size of the love in her heart, but Mal thinks that it’s not that deep. She’d wanted to make her mother feel as small as she had her whole life, and this was the result).


 

After the Coronation, Mal does something she doesn’t want to. She breaks up with Evie, Carlos and Jay. She hates herself for doing it, hears Evie crying herself to sleep every night for a week. But Mal can’t trust that it’s not her status as the king’s girlfriend keeping them safe and off the Isle. Mal has been using her status to keep herself and her people safe for years , and this is no different. She will be Ben’s loving, dedicated girlfriend, his Lady of the Court, his anything and everything to keep her people safe.


This is what she tells herself now, but after months of collecting debts from people who introduce themselves and thank her for saving them from her mother, after feeling the people on the Isle rioting against her magic and protection, after seeing that Evie, Jay and Carlos are Auradonian enough that they won’t be left to rot from the moment she leaves, Mal lets her glamour slip off and she goes back to reclaim her kingdom and her people. Because it’s what she wants, and she tells herself that she’s spent long enough denying her father’s legacy.

Chapter Text

A week after the coronation, Mal dyes her hair blonde (it’s the same day she breaks up with Carlos, Evie and Jay- she can’t bear to look like herself and not be with them, but when a pale-haired girl looks out of the mirror, Mal can remember that she’s in love with Ben).

Two weeks after the coronation, she asks Carlos to teach her to read English (her mother’s spellbook, the only material she ever felt the desire to read, is written in the old tongue of the fae- that it sounds like silly rhymes is an old party trick that fairies used to use to keep their spells secret).

 

Three weeks after the coronation, when her roots start growing out and she has to bleach her hair again, and the words blur in front of her eyes as she struggles to make it through a page of the etiquette book Queen Mother Belle has leant her, so she puts it down and pick up her mother’s spellbook. It feels like fate when she finds a spell to change the colour of hair, and she casts it without really thinking. She’s fae, and it’s natural for the fae to use magic to ease their burden. 

She forgets all about it.

 

Four weeks after the coronation, she and Evie are laughing again, like they used to ( that’s a lie- Mal doesn’t kiss her when she giggles wildly anymore, and so it’s nothing like it used to be ). She and Jay sneak out to spar, to keep their skills sharp ( they’ve always been the protectors, and that’s not going to change because they’re in Auradon, or because they’re not dating ). And Carlos is still trying to teach her to read, but it’s slow going. So when Evie and Carlos approach her with a speed-reading spell, she thanks them profusely ( wants to press kisses to their noses and cheeks and foreheads and lips, but doesn’t ).

The spell doesn’t suddenly make her reading perfect, but now she’s fast enough that even when she has to read a word four times to get it right, it only takes a couple of seconds. She managed to give the Queen Mother her book back within the week, and Belle looks slightly put out (she’s had the book for two weeks) until Mal asks her for another, and then she beams.

 

Life goes on like this for a while. Mal’s trying her best to be the perfect girlfriend for Ben, and she thinks it’s working. She’s in love with him, which definitely makes it easier. They’re going on pristine dates, and she loves him for it, for how much he loves her. 

 

She meets her stepmother two months after Ben’s coronation. She and Ben (well, Ben, and by extension her as his current date to everything) had been invited to a ball hosted by the Olympians, and, naturally, the Queen of the Underworld was there.

 

Queen Persephone watches her with dark, unreadable eyes. She’s wearing a crown made out of daisies, and a black toga, and she’s talking to - who Mal thinks are- Hera and Amphitrite.  Mal tries to shake it off. She’s sure Persephone knows, although she doesn’t know how. No one else seems to, and Mal doesn’t really want them to. So she walks around on Ben’s arm, glitzy and ditzy, trying to prove that she isn’t a threat ( no one is really a threat to the gods, but they like deference ).

 

The goddess of spring corners her in the bathroom (while she’s talking, Mal tries to forget her abrupt, cruel conversation with Jane. It doesn’t work very well).

 

“I’d like for you to drop the glamour,” she says pleasantly, but it's nothing but a thinly-veiled command. Mal follows the instruction, letting her magic fall away to reveal navy hair and black eyes, nearly-blue skin and feathery wings. 

 

Queen Persephone nods as if it’s what she expected.

 

“He told me he named you Korë,” she says (Mal wonders how Hades managed to tell her anything, and then she remembers that she’s talking to a goddess), smile playing on her lips like it’s a joke, “He named you after me, as if that would appease me. After he cheated on me. After he had a kid without me. After he married your mother so that you wouldn’t be a bastard, because bastard fairies are killed. Is this true?”

 

Mal nods silently. She’s never been cowed like this before, not by her mother or her father or anyone, really, and she hates the feeling. 

 

“But you don’t go by it,” it’s a statement of fact, and Mal feels her muscles tense, ready to defend herself should this goddess choose to try and take revenge here and now ( she knows it’s futile. That doesn’t stop her ). She shakes her head, confirming that she doesn’t use her given name.

 

“Why?” Persephone is unfailingly polite, but there’s a fury behind her eyes, and Mal understands how she managed to love Mal’s father. They’re alike.

 

“Speak, Korë. I won’t strike you for it.” Another command.

 

“My mother,” the words bubble out before Mal can think it through- before she can decide if she wants to protect her mother. Persephone knows her name, and Mal can feel its influence over her, pulling the truth from her, “was furious when I was born more like him than like her. Because she reproduced the human way, she said. So she made me what I’d be if I’d been born fully fae. She made me fae.”

 

“Did she think I would hate her less if her child with my husband didn’t look like him? I still know that you’re his.” Mal watches the queen warily. 

 

“With all due respect, your grace, you have a daughter that’s not his,” the words slip out before Mal can stop them, defending… something. Her mother, or her father, or her birth. She’s not sure. Fury cracks behind Persephone’s eyes and Mal is sure she will die. She thinks that if she dies here, tonight, she will regret having left Jay, Evie and Carlos at Auradon Prep with only a “see you later”. She will regret having kicked Uma to the curb even when her magic screamed at her that Uma was one of her people. She will regret not having used every last drop of the magic in her veins.

 

But she doesn’t die. Persephone sighs, and brushes back the dark curls that have fallen from her crown.

 

“You know your history, Korë.” Mal’s knees nearly give in when she realizes that she’s not about to die at her stepmother’s hand for mentioning her daughter.

 

“I love Melinoë. She’s my daughter. And I remember how terrified I was that my husband would murder her, just because she wasn’t his,” there’s a silence between them, and Mal waits for her sentencing.

 

“Who knows?” The question startles her, it’s so out of place. 

 

“You. My mother. Him.” She has to fight to keep Evie, Jay and Carlos’s names from following, and she manages only by telling herself that she’s never explicitly told them.

 

“I want you to Promise me that you won’t tell anyone else.” Mal stares at her with wide eyes, somewhere between terrified and grateful.

 

“You said your mother made you fae. Is that true?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“The fae must keep their Promises. So Promise me that no one will find out from you, and I’ll let you live. Peacefully. Free. I just don’t want anyone to know.”

 

“I swear that no one will ever find out that I’m Hades’ daughter from me,” her voice comes out hoarse, made that way by a mixture of relief and fear.

 

Persephone nods once and leaves. Mal thinks she hears her say thank you but then convinces herself that she dreamed it.

 

She rushes out of the bathroom behind her, already having been gone for too long.

 


 

It only takes a couple more events of the same calibre for Mal to snap. She’s not surprised by it, not really. She was never cut out for this life, this perfect and wholesome and good existence. And she’s not cut out for being glitzy and ditzy. She’s made to run with her people, made to collect debts and hold her family close and fight for her life.

 

Ben finds out that she’s been using spells, and it’s all downhill from there. 

 

She runs from the responsibilities she hated, the life she didn’t want, and the scrutiny of Auradon. She runs from her boyfriend, who has asked her to be engaged-to-be-engaged-to-be-engaged without her realising. She runs from her ex-lovers, and she regrets it, even as she bursts through the barrier and tastes freedom on her tongue. 

 

She runs into a turf war. 

 

Uma and her gang are practically in the middle of a street fight with the Huns, hissing and spitting curses at each other. There are knives and pieces of glass { and a hook } being brandished, and the tyres on Mal’s stolen scooter squeal as she stops between them.

 

Maybe on any other day, she would have tried to be diplomatic. Maybe if she and Ben hadn’t just fought, she’d try for peace and not war. As it was, she was angry and tired, and it was the Isle, and Uma was hers. Her magic was fracturing and rebuilding itself beneath her skin, becoming reaccustomed to access to only her godly powers.

 

She watches her magic flare out around her, bringing the Huns to their knees, and then she feels the world go dark.

 


 

“Wake up, Queenie!” It’s Uma’s voice, harsh and angry and home, that wakes her up again. 

 

“What’s- where’s-” as she comes back to herself, she sits up. It’s too fast, and she feels her head spin with the exertion.

 

“Circe! Calm the fuck down, Queenie,” Uma’s hand push her back down to the bed, and Mal lets her, exhausted magically and emotionally.

 

“Where am I?” 

 

“Back of the shop.”

 

Mal raises her eyebrow at Uma, but the sea witch says nothing. They both know that she shouldn’t be here. They both know the other won’t say anything.

 

“Your lover came after you,” Uma informs her, and it’s the detachment in her voice that confirms for Mal, “Ben’s here?”

 

“Sharp, aren’t you, Queenie? Yeah. E, Carlos and Jay brought him when they came to fetch you back after your temper tantrum.”

 

“It wasn’t a temper tantrum. I’m not going back.” Mal insists, and she can feel Uma’s disdain.

 

“You’re going back,” Uma tells her, “because you’re the only one with the power to bring the rest of us over. It’s always been your job to look after the kids, Queenie. Make good on your Promises .” 

 

Mal shakes her head, but her eye catches on the short blue curls that go flying. “My hair-”

“-did that when you broke through the barrier, yeah. No clue why. Ain’t you supposed to be Maleficent, Queenie?”

 

“Something like that,” Mal tells her, her promise to Queen Persephone thick on her vocal cords.

 

Uma purses her lips and says nothing.  She’s not an idiot and has definitely already figured it out. Mal changes the subject.

 

“Why are you calling me that?”

 

“Calling you what?” Uma feigns ignorance, but Mal just lifts an eyebrow at her.

 

“Ain’t like it’s not true,” Uma changes tactics, “Didn’t lover boy, like, propose already?”

 

“He didn’t- I mean, I didn’t know,” Mal tries to stutter her way through and explanation, but Uma just cuts her off again.

 

“Calm the fuck down, your majesty. Look, I’m not actually calling you that because of Ben.”

 

“You’re… not?”

 

“No. Look, I know what this is gonna sound like, but- we took a vote.” Mal knows what that means. It’s a catch she put in place when she still ran the Isle. If Auradon ever wanted to negotiate, they needed to come under one banner, and the Vote was made to choose the banner. But there’s no one who would call the Vote without her, unless- 

 

“Evie.”

 

“She’s a fucking force of nature, you know. After you came rushing back in here an’ took all the Huns down with you, we were ‘bout to take the fight to the King instead.  Then E came charging in saying that his majesty would speak to a representative fo the Isle, but only one. We called all the gangs together, but no one wanted to send another group’s leader. The Huns wanted to end Lei, the Witches wanted to send Freddie. I eventually nominated you- you’re already off, you ain’t just gonna be fighting for you, E, Carlos and Jay.”

 

“And you figured that I might at least fight for you considering our history.”

 

Uma shrugged, unrepentant, “I don’t know hat I did to offend you, Queenie, but I know you’re fae enough that your magic is attached to me. That it hurts you when I’m gone. I’m gonna use that to my advantage.”

 

Mal pushes herself up from the bed, shuddering as she feels the glamour she cast settle over her again. It feels like she’s underneath a blanket, just slightly muffled. 

 

“Let’s go, then,” she says, and Uma leads the way to the front of the shop, no questions asked. As they get closer, Mal hears a familiar voice- “Please, Evie, who am I meeting?” Ben is questioning her... ex- girlfriend. 

She lets herself step into the light; she’s got purple hair and green eyes and no wings again, but Ben still looks at her like she hung the moon. 

 

Mal, ”  he breathes, and she feels a smile crawl onto her lips. She may often be frustrated with Auradon, with the expectations it has of her, but she loves Ben.

 

Queen Mal,” Evie emphasizes, pride in her voice and her eyes, “of the Isle of the Lost.” 

 

You’re the representative?” It’s not scornful or disbelieving, but relieved.

 

“In the flesh,” Mal tells him and then waits for him to sit down. She’s been negotiating for years, and there’s a pattern that she follows, these are steps that she knows. She breathes in deeply, exhaling through her nose. 

 

Let the games begin.

 


 

Cotillion is bright and beautiful and the decorations remind Mal just too much of the party on Olympus for her to be completely comfortable ( or maybe it’s the guests, she thinks as she watches Queen Persephone from the corner of her eye ). But Mal is finally in her element. She’s not glitzy and ditzy, but she’s bright and bold, her hair purple and her dress (redesigned after she and Evie returned, now black and purple and a beautiful mix of Isle and Auradon) still glitters, but it’s finally not what people care about. 

Their eyes are drawn- as she knew they would be- to the crown she wears. It’s made of obsidian and inlaid with moonstone, and she’s reminding them all that she’s Queen of the Isle before she’s anything of Auradon.

 

It’s a beautiful feeling.

 

Persephone watches the girl who looks nothing like her father from where she stands, hardly paying attention to what Belle says. The girl has claimed a kingdom and a people and has done it all without her father’s name, and she wonders what Korë could accomplish with blue hair and black eyes and the title of Daughter of Hades.

 

Carlos spins Mal around as they dance- they were always the dancers, of the four of them- and he thinks about how she’s fae and goddess and a queen how no name or title is as important to him as the one she’s given up.

 

Jay stands at the railing with her in the quiet hours, when some of the guests have already gone home, and they sip the illegal champagne he snagged when a waiter wasn’t looking. He stares at her, openly, because she broke their hearts and she should  know  that.

 

Evie flits around all evening, socializing and making connections, that stuff that Mal hates, the stuff that she was brought up to do. The entire evening, she keeps track of Mal, expecting her to crack, but she never does. Evie’s heart swells and shatters again when Mal kisses her cheek before they climb into bed (still the one bed, pushed together. Broken up or not, they still have nightmares).

 

Ben dances with his girlfriend until his feet are sore and his cheeks are flushed. He holds Mal close for as long as possible- Mal, a queen, one day  his  queen.


Mal lets herself forget, for a night. Forget the problems that await her, forget that she’s responsible for a people now and lets herself revel in her success and in love.