Tuesday, May 23, 2017

What a Girl Is - What I Am - A Tribute to Christina Grimmie:

I didn't even know I knew who she was until she was senselessly shot down at her concert in Orlando. 
Christina Grimmie collaborated on one of my favorite Dove Cameron songs. What a Girl Is has touched me so deeply. I've always had a very bad relationship with food. It didn't have anything to do with my body at first. I've just always had this mindset that I shouldn't have food unless I deserve it. I started having issues with the way I view my body after a devastating thing happened to me in 2011. I still remember the first time I looked in the mirror and thought, "They're crazy. I am not beautiful." I still have issues with that sometimes (especially since my body always so sick), but I listen to What a Girl Is, and I remember, I am not just my body. 
But my heart has been devastated for the past 36 hours (and especially now after hearing about the mass shooting at the club in Orlando, seven minutes away from where Christina was shot). This young girl shouldn't have died. There was no reason for a girl, not two years younger than I am, to die living out all of her dreams. She was so beautiful. She was so happy. Christina was an angel. 
And I cannot lie when I tell you that her death has caused me to think a lot. 
And to reevaluate my life. 
At the beginning of this year, the one thing I told myself was that I had to be picked up for publishing before 2017. But as most New Year's Resolutions go, I kind of... stopped thinking on it. But events over this past month, poor Christina's death included, have fueled that fire back into me. I AM going to be picked up for publishing by the end of the year. You can be certain of that. I already have two different boutiques for the independent author looking toward me. I CAN do it. I believe in me. 
And I would just like to thank Christina for making me believe in myself again. I think, up there in Heaven, she can somehow see that. 

(This post was accidentally removed, hence the new publish date. I am very sorry to Christina's memory for this.)

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Fairytales in 2016~

Yes, hello, I know I have been away all this year. But I have been sick. I have been busy. And I have been working on my newest novel project. 
In fact, I am writing about fairytales!
Both in my new project, and on this new post today. 

I groan and blink my eyes. My dark eyelashes float in and out of my vision slowly. I’m looking up at marshmallow shaped clouds. Wait a minute. The clouds are actually shaped like mashmallows?

I started 2016 (after finishing Richelle Mead's Soundless, of course) with reading fairytales. The old fashioned fairytales. Grimm Brothers and before. 
Five months into the year, I still have two more fairytales left to go: Cinderella and Peter Pan. 

“Because that is Cinderella’s story,” I pointed to the castle. “And it’s the final part of my mother’s world.”

And now you're probably asking yourself what fairytales I have read this year. So let me tell you. Sleeping Beauty. The Sword in the Stone. The Black Cauldron. Rapunzel. The Snow Queen. Snow White. The Little Mermaid. 
And now I am going to ruin your probably perfect views on these tales. 

“So which fairytale will you go to first?” I gestured all around us. We stood exactly in the center of the nine tales, their castles and towers looming straight over our head. She didn’t have a clue.

Sleeping Beauty was a real beauty. In fact, she was so beautiful that, upon finding her and thinking her dead, a king performed necrophillia on her. Little did he know, she was actually alive and she became pregnant. With his twins. Even throughout the labor, she stayed asleep. In fact, she did not wake up until the girl twin sucked her finger trying to find the breast, and ended up sucking out the splinter from the spinning wheel that evidently put the princess to sleep. The king found her again and found out that she was alive and with twins. He continued seeing her on the side of his wife. After his wife found out, she sent a servant to kill the twins to feed the king them. The servant, of course, wouldn't kill babies, but the king didn't know that when he was told he ate his own kin. 

Constance spoke up, “Did you know that in the very first written version of Sleeping Beauty – though it was actually called Talia, Sun and Moon – the man who came and found her was actually a king, he wasn’t a prince. He was married and everything. But then he screwed Sleeping Beauty, thinking she was actually dead. I think that’s called necrophilia.”

The Sword in the Stone and The Black Cauldron are not traditional fairytales, you may say, even though Disney did animated films of them. Both of the books were written in the 1900's, even. But they are two stories that take place in my book, and there are definitely some twists. Such as dead fairies in The Sword in the Stone and a suicide in The Black Cauldron. 

I turn to find Megan le Fay lying out on a bed of lard. The queen of fairies is an awful gluttonous woman, and the form she’s taken shows it. Her hair is long and black, but really greasy. I open my palm to show her my dagger, and she flinches away.

“I’m not going to let anyone die!” she cried.
And at that, he grabbed her face and kissed her. It was a harsh and hard kiss that I was really afraid would hurt her. Of course, that made me want to hurt him.

In the original Rapunzel, it was an Ogress that took her. After the prince helped her escape, the Ogress cast a spell that caused the prince to go blind, but a tear from Rapunzel's eye fell upon his and cured him. And then the Ogress tripped while running and died. 

“You are not taking my princess anywhere,” Mother Gothel said. “She was the prize I received for the King stealing herbs from my garden.”
“Herbs,” Constance scoffed. “You can get those anywhere.”

There is not one troll in Hans Christian Anderson's The Snow Queen, thank you very much, Frozen. What there is, though, is a looking glass that shows your reflection as something truly ugly and horrid. And this looking glass broke into millions of little tiny shards, and happened upon the luck of piercing one unlucky little boy in both the heart and an eye, causing him to see everything as truly ugly and horrid. This little boy was taken by the Snow Queen, and his neighbor friend spent the whole story following talking crows and reindeer to find him. 

I felt a small prick in my eye and a tug at my heart. If I had not been standing there, Kay would’ve been struck with the shards of the looking glass that turns everything beautiful into something horrid and ugly. I was struck with them instead.

Snow White is... Snow White. Admittedly, Disney's film doesn't divert from the story of it too much. The original fairytale traumatized readers with a death during labor and Evil Queen being killed by being forced to dance in heated iron shoes until she fell dead, but the rest of it as just as innocent as Saturday morning cartoons.

"Paul," she leaned over the bed toward me. "In Grimm's fairytale Evil Queen is forced to wear iron hot shoes in the end and dance until she dies. But today, I can simply trick Evil Queen into eating her poisonous apple instead. Now, tell me, which death is more merciless?"

The Little Mermaid is the original fairytale I find to be the most traumatizing. The mermaid doesn't lose her voice, she loses her tongue. And she never even wins her prince. She dies instead. 

"What is the next fairytale?" she asked. 
I pointed just as we approached the crashing waves. 
She backed up, "No way."



Now, you may wonder what exactly my novel is about. Well. It is about this girl who gets stuck in a world of these fairytales, and to get out she must play them all out. But she's not the kind of girl that will simply play them out and leave them that way. She's the kind of girl that will get the princesses out, so that maybe they might find themselves. 

I had to explain it to her, “The only way to get out of my mother’s world is to get through it. And to do that, you’re going to have to play the heroine in each of my mother’s fairytales. In the proper order. And with that ring on. If you take it off, it’ll just disintegrate.”

My favorite fairytale that I've read in 2016 is another untraditional fairytale like mine. In fact, most people probably would not call it a fairytale. But because I am writing a fairytale and this story has helped inspire parts of mine, I am calling it my own personal fairytale, because fairytales inspire. 
And the book that I am talking about is called The Glittering Court. 
I already knew I love Richelle Mead, especially after meeting her last year. And now I know that I love how she can spin a fairytale. 
First, she takes you through a world filled with glitter and glam. A world our protagonist is used to, until she runs away and has to pretend she's not used to it. There are storms and ships and pirates. And then our protagonist is thrust into the gold mining industry. I just never knew what she was going to do next! And I think that is the truest trait of a fairytale, and the trait I hope my own fairytale has the most of. 



"Tink?" I turned toward the sound.
"Is that Tinkerbell?" Constance asked. 

Friday, January 15, 2016

Happy Birthday, Camryn- Er, I Mean, Dove Cameron! The Beginning of a New Novel:


“I still can’t believe you’re leaving tomorrow,” he said.
I laughed at him, “Don’t be such a drama-baby. I’m only going to be gone for the summer.”
“The summer can last a really long time,” he told me. “You watch Phineas and Ferb with me.”
I laughed again. Phineas and Ferb were pretty crazy. I moved in to hug him, feeling his warm body against mine. As I pulled back from him, I said, “Goodbye, Garret.”
“Camryn, wait,” he grabbed my wrist to pull me back into him so I would get to feel that warmth again. “I have to tell you something before you go.”
“What?” I laughed. “Can you make it fast? I have to be up at four in the morning to leave.”
“Uh, I don’t know how quick I can be,” he laughed as well. “It’s kind of important.”
“So is my leaving in the morning,” I tried pulling away again to get to my house next door.
“I- I like you,” he turned me to face him.
“And I like you, Gare,” I tweaked his nose.
“No- No, I mean-” he sighed, and looked up at the star filled sky as if trying to come up with the right words to say me. “We’ve known each other for such a long time.”
“Garrett, what is it?” I changed my tone, noticing how serious he was being.
“We were practically born together,” he said.
“We were born in two different hospitals across town,” I looked up at him.
“Yeah, but we were born on the same day, and that’s gotta account for something,” he shrugged.
I giggled.
“And then we moved into our houses on the same day,” he gestured to either side of us. “Right next to each other. Who would’ve known?”
“I think our parents knew.” I took his hands and pressed them back down to his sides.
He intertwined his fingers with mine, and sighed, “And then we grew up together.”
The porchlight at my home flicked on, my parents letting me know I needed to get in for bed.
I started to step back, breaking the bridge our hands had created between us, “And will our life story form a point anytime soon?”
“I like you,” he told me again.
“Garrett, I already you that I like you too.”
“No, he took a deep breath, his chest puffing out. “I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’m in love with you.”
“Well,” I let out a long breath. I moved close again and shoved my fingers into his so thick sandy hair. “It’s about time.”
“Oh,” his sigh traveled throughout his whole body, and I could feel it through the length of mine. It was the sweetest sigh I’d ever felt come from him.
He leaned in.
“Camryn!” my dad called just before Garrett’s lips met mine.
“No,” I groaned, turning my head to look at my father’s silhouette.
Garrett’s mouth landed on my cheek, but I relished in that feeling still.
“You’ve gotta be up in seven hours,” Dad called. “Let’s get to bed.”
“You heard him,” I slowly backed away from my best friend – if not more than that now.
“Wait, just another minute,” he said.
“Garrett, I don’t think I have another minute,” I pointed back toward my dad.
“Then just take this,” he pressed something into my hand. “I found it at the flea market. It’s kinda a sort of promise ring.”
“Garrett,” I held the ring close to my heart.
“You should go,” he pointed as my dad called for me again.
“I’ll see you in three months,” I started to back away one last time.
“Don’t forget me,” he said.
And I asked him, “How could I forget you when I love you just so much?”
He mouthed the words, “I love you.”
And then I turned away from him before he could see the tears starting to form in my eyes.
I ran back to my house for my last sleep before I would officially become NASA’s next summer intern.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Aimee's Mal-oween~

Descendants first premiered on Disney Channel on July 31st. I didn’t watch it that night, even though my sister bought the DVD for me that very day for my birthday two weeks later. I had to wait until I finished Melissa de la Cruz’s prequel book, The Isle of the Lost, first, of course.


In Isle of the Lost, Mal – daughter of Maleficent – is a sneaky little thief who paints the town with graffiti. She refuses to believe that she has any friends until situations push her into relying on them. She wants to be bad… but maybe she’s actually a little bit good.
Dove Cameron plays Mal in the sequel movie, Descendants.


I really admire Dove Cameron so much. I probably talk about that a lot. I know I wrote my one article on Cambio about her.
You see, while we were still dating, my last boyfriend drove me to Wal-Mart for a middle of the night rendezvous. He paid for a copy of The Isle of the Lost for me. For me, Dove Cameron’s relationship with her boyfriend is my goal for a relationship. And I’ll have it one day. But for now, I just enjoy having Dove as an inspiration. And her character, Mal, too.
So, I’m sure you can guess by now who I costumed as for Halloween.


That's right.
Maleficent's daughter.
Mal.



On October 18th, Disney Channel did a special Mal-oween night. They showcased a few Liv & Maddie episodes, sported a Wicked World marathon, showed a special Descendants fans thing, and, of course, played Descendants itself. Well, since our satellite went out that very weekend, I had my Mal-oween on HALloween.
And that's what I wanted to tell you all about.
The day started nice and slow with me waking up at four in the freaking morning. I have no idea why I woke up that early. But alas. Shanghai and I started, and read a third of in two hours, a really good book.


It’s called Switched and it’s the first book of the Trylle Trilogy by Amanda Hocking.
It’s really good. You should read it.
And then my sister woke up at eight, and the first words from her lips were, “Let’s go to Wal-Mart.”



My sister had a couple of last minute items to pick up for her own Evie costume, and she wanted to go ahead and pick up a birthday present for our niece to get that stress out of the way.


Inside the store, I asked for assistance in finding 5 Seconds of Summer’s newest CD (it was funny, because as soon as I told her the cover was super colorful, she knew exactly which album I was talking about). The worker and I happened to be standing right next to the Descendants CD, so I told her that my sister and I were going to be Evie and Mal. She got really excited about that. It made me really happy.
And then it was time to get home and get ready!
I took a couple of hours so I could get ready slowly. It’s easier and less painful for me that way. And by the time my niece came over, I had just put on my shoes.
That's when I discovered that my sissy-in-law and I looked like twins! (She's not technically my sister-in-law anymore, as she and my brother divorced, it's simply just easier to call her that. Plus, she's still one of my best friends!)



And then I had a mini photoshoot. See, my iPod broke, I can’t remember whether I told any of you that. So I use my sister’s iPod for the work I have to do on apps. And I borrow her iPod for pictures too. Only her front camera is broken. But I really needed pictures of my adorable costume. So I came up with this brilliant idea of setting it up as a video recorder and posing in various ways for the back camera. Then I just made screenshots of my favorite poses. And voila, photoshoot done!








 I’ve never thrown or been invited to a Halloween party, and Mobile weather can be tricky instead of treating. But every year my Church celebrates with a Fall Fest, and it is my favorite outing of the year.


I had been impatiently awaiting the festival for weeks. Every day of the last week, I kept asking my sister, “Why can’t tomorrow be Halloween?” I even asked the day before Halloween, and then I just screamed, “BUT IT IS!”
So, it’s pretty much an understatement to say that I was excited for it. I was shaking when we got there. But, then, of course, my aunt had to stop us for pictures.


Look at my niece’s face! She was a cat cop, of course, and she was very rotten.
However, my sister and I – Evie and Mal – were truly rotten to the core.



Our Church is raising a lot of funds for the youth and childrens’ departments. With all of the older kids having graduated and gone off to college, it’s not so easy to do the fundraisers we used to. So, for the Fall Fest they sold raffle tickets for awesome prizes and $10 gourmet caramel apples. I joked to my aunt, who helped make them, about them being gross because I detest caramel. She somehow mixed the three showcase apples in with the apples for sell, and would you believe that the only showcase she accidentally sold went to my mom AKA: HER SISTER? Also, they had one of those candy count guess games with candy corn, and I kept guessing low numbers like 12 and 2 just to bug the guy in charge of it.
The night was really fun and cute because I got to spend it with my niece and young cousins.
My eleven-year-old cousin brought his girlfriend of a year there, and so I finally got to meet her (I will not provide a picture of her since she’s not a part of my family, and privacy). She is just too cute. And she’s almost a whole foot taller than my cousin is. Their costumes went together, but I’ll hold out on telling what they were because it was weird and his mom didn’t like it too much. But what’re you gonna do. I mean, kids, right? After spending some time flipping around in the bounce house with my niece and the two boys (don’t worry, I didn’t go in it when other kids were(; ) and chasing the three-year-old all over the parking lot for a good half hour, I went into the cafeteria like room of the Church to kill time with my sister, eleven-year-old cousin, and his girlfriend. We were the only four in the room, and after telling my cousin that he had cooties because his girlfriend sat on the opposite side of me (I think she’d decided she really likes me!) from him, he got up and ran into the kitchen. The kitchen is set up so that there’s an entrance into it from either side of the cafeteria. He kept running from one doorway to the other, sticking his head out and making faces at the three of us girls. Then he ran out into the hall, making silly noises the whole way. His just too cute girlfriend looked straight at me, and said rather seriously, “At least he’s fine on the eyes.”


There is a cake walk at the Fall Fest every year. The fest has been going on for maybe six years, and I had yet to win one darn cake walk. My sister has won, like, four times. I was soo determined this year. They play three or four rounds at a time with fifteen minute breaks in between. The first round I was eating, so I only got in halfway. My youth pastor’s wife watched the second round. She said hey to me with a mouth full of drink, took another sip of it, and then said hey to my sister with a mouth full of drink. It was funny. What was even funnier, though, is that almost every cake walk win was a number that I had been seconds from landing on. So, I was determined to win the third and final round. My sister and I sat on a number for the whole fifteen minutes so we wouldn’t miss a chance (we kind of started a trend, though, because a bunch of younger kids started sitting with us, haha). My number was 2, which is my lucky number. The game started. After I lost the first call, I was certain I wouldn’t win at all. Then I landed back on my 2 for the second call, and I finally won! A sweet, little girl – I’m sure I’ve had her in one of my VBS classes at one point – gave me the exact batch of cupcakes I wanted without me even telling her. I gave my eleven-year-old cousin and his girlfriend one cupcake each, then he ended up stealing a second one and dropping some of it in my drink.

My youngest cousin, at just three-years-old, spent most of his time playing in the little “fishing pond” they’d set up for the toddles. Meaning to keep my eye on him while his mom was inside working, I tried to play “fishies” with him, but he fussed because he wanted to play all by himself so he could make the shark eat the fishies. What a big boy!


We ended up getting rained out, which is the first time that’s ever happened before. We ended with an early trunk-or-treat and door prizes. It even stormed too hard for trick-or-tricking. But I’m sure we all got enough candy at the Church. The rain melted my purple hair to a nice silvery lilac, which looked really pretty, but I still had to try on my sister’s wig and niece’s cat ears!




FORTUNATELY, the festivities did not end there! Most of my Halloween preparing and costuming had been for Dove Cameron, the true face of Maleficent’s daughter, so, of course, I tweeted a whole bunch of my pictures to her on the night after Halloween. And I still can’t fully breathe, because all of that. Resulted. In. This.



I’m so happy. And I so hope your Halloween was just as good as mine.


Monday, October 5, 2015

Welcome to my Wicked World~

Wicked World...



Have you ever wondered what would have happened if Mal Daughter of Maleficent had just let her mother get Fairy Godmother's magic wand?
Disney's Descendants graced our screens and our lives on the 31st of July in 2015. But we all knew this story would not end. Before it begins again, I have given you an alternate ending of it. And I really hope you enjoy it 💜

An Alternate Ending of Auradon~

“Do you solemnly swear to govern the peoples of Auradon with justice and mercy as long as you shall reign?”
Ben Beast is kneeling at the front of the throne room, dressed dapper in a blue suit with brass buttons. And there is a crown on his head.
He looks up at Fairy Godmother, “I do solemnly swear.”
“Then it is my honor and my joy to bless our new king,” Fairy Godmother christens him with a tap on each shoulder from her sparkling wand.
But then everybody screams.
The room breaks out in commotion as people try to get away, as sparks fly from the wand, as the barrier breaks.
“Child, what are you doing?” Fairy Godmother screams.
“If you won’t make me beautiful, I’ll do it myself!” Jane struggles with the fairy wand.
Ben rushes to shield Mal.
“Careful, Mal!” Belle yells.
For Mal had run up to throw her arms around Jane, reaching to grip the wand.
Everyone screams as Mal gets a firm hold on the wand, and then they all stop.
“Mal, give me the wand,” Ben runs to the front of the throne room again.
“Stand back!”
The large doors behind Mal open up, and her friends run in.
“It’s okay,” Ben bravely steps forward.
Mal shouts, “Ben, I said, ‘stand back’!”
“I told you so!” Audrey tries to run to her ex-boyfriend.
Mal points the wand toward her so that everybody screams and pulls her back.
“Let’s go!” Carlos reaches her.
“Revenge time,” Jay tries to pull her back.
“I know,” she breathes out.
Ben catches her attention once again, “You really want to do this?”
“We have no choice, Ben!” she cries. “Our parents…”
“Your parents made their choices,” he says.
“I know,” a tear slips from her eyes. “And they’re on their way here, right now. Our parents are not good people, Ben. They are not princes and princesses who love their kids. I have seen Cruella hit Carlos before. Jafar has spent Jay’s whole life making him thieve for him, all for that ‘one big score’. And Evie. Precious Evie has been kept locked up with her mother much like Rapunzel and Madam Gothel. And if we don’t get this wand to them, they will kill us.”
“If you do get the wand to them, they’ll kill us all!” Ben shouts.
She shakes her head, “I can’t do that to my friends.”
“Are you saying you love them more than me?”
“I really love you, Ben,” tears are pouring down her face now. “But I have grown up with these three. I have been Jay’s partner in crime since before we could walk. Who do you think has helped him try to steal his big score?”
Jay reaches over and squeezes Mal’s hand.
“And Carlos throws a bomb party.”
Carlos laughs.
“Even if he does accidentally release my mom’s evil bird from its eternal sleep while throwing it. And I may have held a ten year grudge on Evie once…”
Evie starts crying too.
“But she is my sister now, and I couldn’t ask for a better one.”
Ben looks from one of the kids to the other to the other, before his eyes finally fall back on Mal, and he studies her for a minute. “Who are you really?”
“I’m rotten to the core, and I come from the Isle of the Lost.” Mal tosses the wand up in the air, “I’m sorry, Ben.”
The room flashes three different shades of purple. The fear around them is palpitating. You can’t even hear one mouse scream.
Maleficent catches the wand mid-air and lads just between her daughter and Kind Ben.
“Let’s go!” Jay pulls on the hand of Mal that he’s still holding.
Mal hesitates for only one moment before she takes off running after him.
Evie and Carlos follows. Carlos scoops Dude up in his arms as the dog comes running in for him.

They flee. They flee from the throne room. They flee from the school. They flee as far as Mal can remember to get them.

Chapter One~

Ben grapples with Maleficent for the other side of the fairy wand. Lights of purples, blues, and greens flash around them as they fight for it. Finally, something shoots out of it and knocks Ben back on the ground.
Maleficent cackles evilly.
Ben snarls.
“Mal, wasn’t that great?” Maleficent cackles. “Mal, I wasted your little pet! Mal-”
The citizens in the room start to clamor as Maleficent looks around.
“Well, Mal, where did you go?” she asks out loud.
“Mal’s gone?” Ben whispers, looking around, himself.
Maleficent turns back to the king, “Where is my daughter?”
“I didn’t even know she left,” he answers honestly.
“But you know where she went, don’t you?” the fairy asks.
Ben doesn’t answer that time, knowing he won’t be able to lie.
“I said-” Maleficent points the wand straight to the right of herself.
Queen Leah screams, “No, don’t hurt me!” The wand is pointed straight at her heart. “You’ve taken enough from me as it is!”
“Who says I’m going to hurt you?” Maleficent skooches the tip of the wand a little bit forward.
Audrey doesn’t even have time to scream before a large hole appears in the place of her heart. She falls to the floor, dark blood staining her pink princess dress. It looks really wrong.
Ben knows that you’re supposed to be able to remember everything about a person after she dies. But all he can think about is the pretty look on her face that she had when she told him that the evil fairy was just that, an evil fairy.
“Where is my daughter?” Maleficent turns back to him.
“Audrey!” Queen Leah’s shrill squeal bounces off the council walls. It was so loud it should’ve actually broken the stained glass window.
“Don’t,” Maleficent points the wand to her once again. Her eyes still bore into Ben.
“I-” Ben looks at Audrey again. “I can only think of three places where she could be.”
“Then give them to me,” the malice drips from her tongue.
“The- The courtyard-”
“Then that is where I shall go.” Maleficent’s cloak covers her as she turns around. She runs down the red carpet and pushes out the castle door.
The tension inside the castle melts slowly. People start mumbling again. Everyone crowds around the dead body.
“Audrey!” Ben crawls over to her and puts her head in his lap. He caresses her brown hair off of her fine face. Her brown eyes are still looking up at him. But they’re empty. Ben drops her eyelids respectfully. He leans over her face and carefully kisses her already cold lips. He whispers over her dead face, “I’m so sorry I never gave that to you when you were alive.”
“This is all your fault,” Leah screeches.
“No, I didn’t do anything,” he looks up at her in a rush.
“You brought those- those kids here!” she yells.
“Quiet!” Fairy Godmother races over. “It was my daughter that opened the portal on the isle.”
“But those kids just left us here with that witch!”
“She’s a fairy,” Ben whispers.
Leah glares down at him.
He shrinks back.
Fairy Godmother says, “What did you expect them to do? You heard what Mal said. She’s terrified of her.”
I’m terrified of her!”
“At least she did something about it,” Fairy Godmother argues.
“She just ran off!” Queen Leah screams.
“That’s right, she ran off,” Ben whispers to himself. He gently rests Audrey’s head on the floor and scrambles to his feet. He runs down the red carpet after Maleficent.

Chapter Two~

“Do you think we’re safe from our parent’s wrath?” Carlos asks as Mal leads them across the bridge.
“Where are we?” Evie looks around. They settle down at a rock emcropment near a lake.
“This is the safest place I think we could be,” Mal says to Carlos before explaining to Evie, “It’s the Enchanted Lake.”
Jay wanders from the back of the group to lay his hand on Mal’s arm. Concern fills his eyes, along with a small brim of tears, “Are you okay?”
“Yeah,” she says. “I’m just fine.”
“No,” he turns her around to fully look into her eyes. “You’re the very first friend I’ve ever had - the only if it weren’t for these two - and I can see right through you.”
“I- I-” she shakes her hand, drowning in his dark eyes. “She broke the barrier. I wasn’t going to take the wand after all.”
“I know.”
“Would you have?” she asks, knowing his answer already.
“No.”
“Hey,” Evie comes around and slips an arm around Mal. “It’s beautiful here. Isn’t this where you had your first date with Ben?”
She chokes back a sob.
“What’s wrong?” Jay asks.
“I just left Ben,” she cries.
“If Ben really knows you,” he says intently. “Then, he’ll understand.”
“But that’s just it. He doesn’t know the Isle of the Lost side of me. The only side of me he knows got left behind when I ran away from that castle.”
Jay sighs, “I think that tells you all you need to know.”
“Well, what about you?” she says.
“I know every side of you,” he shakes his head.
“No,” she whines. “I mean, did you leave anybody you care about behind?”
“Everybody I love is standing with me,” he says
“Oh, my,” Evie throws her hands over her sparkled red lips.
Mal swings around in Jay’s arms to look at her.
“Doug.” Her hazel eyes are wide.
“Oh, no, Evie,” Mal says.
“No, it’s alright. Doug’ll be alright,” Evie shakes her head as if assuring herself. “I have no doubt he can take care of himself.”
“Well, I brought Dude with me,” Carlos speaks up. “So, you know, I’m all good.”
Mal chuckles, trying to add light to the mood.
“But- But-” Evie stutters for just one minute. “But what if somebody does die?”
“Hey!”
Mal swings back to Jay, “How did you make yourself sound like Ben just now?”
“That wasn’t me,” Jay furrows his brow.
“Uh, guys. I think that actually was Ben,” Carlos points.
Mal swings around to see King Benjamin Beast running across the rope bridge. “Benny-Boo!” she cries.
Ben races down the bridge to her, his face tensing up at the nickname Audrey gave him. He says, “I thought for sure you’d be here.”
“I came to the one place I knew you might meet me,” she says.
“Did Doug..?” Evie moves up to him.
“Doug’s okay, and I have no doubt he’ll remain safe,” he looks at her. “I’m just so glad the four of you are safe.
“What’s that?” Mal points to the things crowding Jay’s arms.
“My bag! “ Evie grabs for the red little box bag showcasing an apple on the front.
“It is your bag,” Ben hands it to her. “Along with all of your bags.”
“You brought our bags?” Mal takes the rest and hands them out. Carlos struggles to keep Dude still while he straps his onto his back
“Well,” Ben turns away from watching Carlos’ fidgeting. “I figured as long as you’re in hiding, you may as well have some provisions.”
“So where’s your bag?” Mal looks at his empty hands.
“I didn’t bring my bag,” he said. “I- I’m going back.”
“I was afraid you would say that,” Mal mumbles.
“I have to protect my kingdom,” he tells her.
“You have to protect me!” she cries, wanting to pitch the kind of fit her mother never allowed her to before.
“I’m their king, Audrey!”
Mal’s jaw touches her collarbone, leaving her almost speechless. Her face turns red, and she spits out, “What did you just call me?”
Ben takes her shoulders in his hands, “Mal, Audrey is dead.”
“No,” she shakes her head, denying. “No, that doesn’t make any sense. My mother has never killed anybody. She’s only put them to sleep. Are you sure she didn’t just put Audrey to sleep?”
“Mal, Audrey was not asleep.”
“D- Do you love her more than me?” it’s close to what Ben asked her about her own friends before she fled the castle.
“I never loved her,” he grips her shoulders tighter. “That’s what I regret most of all of this.”
“But, do you still love me?” she looks at him, open-mouthed.
“The choices of others don’t change our feelings for them,” his jaw clenches. He kisses her forehead. “I have to go.”
“N- No,” Mal watches him turn to go. As soon as he takes a few paces away from her, she yells, “If you leave me right now, it will change how I feel for you!”
“As much as I love you,” he says without looking back at her. “I care more about how my kingdom feels for me. You’ll find a cave behind the lake. Hide in there if you must.”
Jay watches Ben leave them to fend for themselves, before taking Mal’s arm again. “Did you mean that about changing how you feel for him?”
“I don’t know what I mean anymore,” she watches the empty space where Ben had just stood. “I really just wish we had never left the isle at all.”
“None of this would have happened then…” Evie looks away.
“Hey, Mal?” Carlos points a thumb behind him. “The cave? Dude is getting pretty restless in my arms.”
“You’re right,” she turns away from Ben’s empty space. “I think I remember seeing it the other day.”
“I really hope Prince in Shining Armor packed some clothes for us,” Evie sifts through her little red bag. “I am not getting my brand new coronation dress all torn up.”
“Come on, Evie,” Mal waves her forward. “It’s this way.”
“Okay.” Evie takes Dude from Carlos to relieve the weight in his arms. She shifts him on her hip and climbs up after Mal to get to the cave.
Jay stays behind the girls to catch hem each time they slip. He has to pull Carlos up along as well. He’s the last one to make it to the cave, and scouts behind him to make sure nobody else is around. “We seem to be pretty safe,” he tells the others over his shoulder.
“Thanks, Jay.” Mal pulls Ben’s tourney jersey out of her bag and frowns. She tosses it away, and it snags itself on a crag in the cave. She pulls out a pair of leather skinnies and digs inside the bag for another top, but, “There isn’t one.”
“Did you say something?” Carlos asks. He’s busy fishing beef jerky out of his pack to share with Auradon Prep’s mascot.
“It’s nothing,” she mutters.
“I think she’s looking for something to wear,” Jay says. “Here,” he grabs his own bag and opens it up at Mal’s feet. His own jersey is at the top of it and he hands it to her.
“Well, at least it won’t remind me to worry about Ben,” she holds it close to herself.
“Do you guys want to, like, go outside so us girls can get changed?” Evie props her elbow on Mal’s shoulder.
“Oh, right,” Carlos blushes. “I don’t even like being in the boys locker room.”
Jay rolls his eyes, grabbing Carlos’ arm, and drags him outside.
The girls look down at the brown little mutt they left behind. Evie purses her lips, “I guess it’s safe to say Dude won’t gawk at us.”
Mal laughs for the first time since she left Ben’s castle.

 Chapter Three~

Maleficent’s cloak flutters as she turns around and around and around in the courtyard. She comes face to face with King Ben once again, “I have yet to find my daughter.”
“Well, that’s because you wouldn’t listen to my full list of places she might’ve gone,” he says.
“Give me the rest, then,” she snivels.
“Her dorm room or the boys’ dorm room,” he stares her down.
“I do not know where those places are! You will have to show me, boy,” she presses a finger to a button on his crisp white shirt.
“I figured you would ask,” he says.
She flicks the button and removes her hand. She tells him, “Lead the way.”
Ben turns on his heel and heads straight toward the school. He pats his leg twice as he comes up to his father’s statue, so that it will transform right before Maleficent’s eyes.
“Well, color me impressed,” she slurs sarcastically. “My daughter, you relentless little prince.”
“I’m a king now,” Ben mutters under his breath. “And I’ll show you exactly what you need.”
As they head into the school building, Maleficent moves to climb the stairs, just like her daughter once did.
“Uh, M- Ma’am,” Ben points behind him as he looks up at the bad fairy halfway up the stairs. “Dorm rooms are this way.”
“Right, of course,” she turns and trots down the stairs, her black cloak flowing behind her. “I knew that.”
“Of course you did,” he leads her in the right direction. It doesn’t take him long to reach Mal’s and Evie’s dorm room door, and when he does, he knocks twice.
“Oh, just-” Maleficent pushes past him and twists the doorknob. It opens. “Ew.”
The dorm room is very pink. Pink curtains, pink bed, even the light coming in through the windows is rather pink. There’s a mess of blue fabric over the sewing table. Books and loose pages scatter over both of the beds. Clothes hang out of dressers. But neither girl is there.
“She’s not in this one,” Maleficent turns on Ben. “Show me where Jay and Carlos sleep.”
“It’s just down the hall,” he says. He leads her to it and opens its door without even trying to knock.
“Now, see, why couldn’t my poor girl have this room? I would’ve gone crazy in the other one, too,” Maleficent looks around the room coated in reds and blues. It’s even messier than the girls’.
“Mal didn’t go crazy,” Ben leads Maleficent inside. “She just wanted to be with me and go to school. And all Evie wanted to do was sew. The boys, they just wanted to play turney and video games.”
“What are you talking about?” the evil fairy snorts, She’s standing against one of the boy’s canopy bed.
“I’m talking about,” Ben steps close to her, “how you interrupted the life they actually wanted to live.” He grips a corner of the red canopy curtain and swings it around Maleficent.
She doesn’t even notice what he’s doing to her. “Where is my daughter, Prince Ben?” venom drips off of her tongue as she speaks the words ever so slowly.
“She’s hiding in a very safe place.” He yanks the curtain, and suddenly Maleficent is all tied up. “And I’m the King.”
“Wha- What are you doing, insolent boy?” Maleficent tries to fight herself free, but she’s caught.
“Buying myself time,” he says.
“You know it won’t take me long at all to get out of this,” she growls. “And the other villains are already on their ways here.”
“Yes, but by then, I’ll have my army ready to fight them.”

Chapter Four~

The shrill screams of villains’ kids echo around the Isle of the Lost.
Static crackles throughout the hallways of Dragon Hall, trying to catch the attention of all of the children running around.
“Villain Kids, Villain Kids,” Dr. Facilier’s voice comes through the intercom. “Calm down all Villain Kids. This is not a drill. School is in session until we figure out what is going on. Please return to your classes and calm down.”
Freddie Facilier leans against her father’s desk tossing a skull shaped pencil holder up and down. “I know what’s going on,” she says. “The barrier was broken, Dad.”
“What?!” he turns around to face her, his tall spindly frame towering over her shorter one. “How can that be?”
“Turn on the TV screen,” she tells him.
He gapes at her for just one moment, before he huffs and moves over to the armoire he has set against the far wall. He jerks it open to reveal a TV screen small enough to fit the requirements of Auradon’s rules over the isle. He turns it on.
Mayhem is playing out on the screen. The halls of the castle are showing, lights flashing across like lightning.
“That looks like magic,” he says.
“It is,” she steps closer. “Look again.”
He squints at the TV screen, “Is that one of their princesses, dead on the floor?”
“Audrey,” Freddie studies her chipped nails, non-chalantly. “Daughter of Sleeping Beauty.”
“What happened to her?” he asks his own daughter.
“Maleficent happened,” she answers.
Dr. Facilier turn fast to face his daughter. “Maleficent?!” he squawks. “How did she get there?”
“One of the prissy princess daughters of Auradon stole the wand.”
“Why would she do that?”
“She wanted to be pretty,” she waves her fingers in the air. “Whatever all of that means.”
“And where are you getting this information?”
“Dad,” she exasperates. “You had the coronation playing on all of the screens in the school! Well, obviously, except for yours.”
“I didn’t feel the need to watch it, no matter how many reminders that King sent me.”
“Former king now,” Freddie answers.
“Ben was crowned?”
Freddie nods, “Just before the princess took the wand.”
“Wait a minute,” Dr. Facilier taps his chin with his long tapered finger. “Wasn’t Mal supposed to be the one to take that wand? I thought she was headed this way with it.”
“Mal flaked.”
His face whitens, “What does Maleficent think of that?”
“Nobody knows,” she shrugged. “All anyone knows is that Maleficent is looking for her.”
Dr. Facilier turns to his window to look out toward the kingdom, lost in thought, “I wonder what she’ll do when she finds her.”

Chapter Five~

“Mal, we have to find Mal!” a lilac haired girl runs through the dirty streets of the isle. So much noise fills her ears. Shop windows are breaking as villain kids loot what they can. Heavy footfalls echo off the walls as their parents drag them away. Directions to the bridge to Auradon is shouted over every head, over and over again.
“Mom!”
Yzma, former advisor to Emperor Kuzco, turns around in the middle of the street. She looks straight at her eighteen-year-old daughter, “Isa, what are you doing? Our ticket out of here has finally come!”
“I know, Mom,” she calls over all the noise still cascading around her. “But we have to make sure to find Mal when we do.”
“Why?” Yzma asks. “What does it matter to you that Mal is found?”
“She started all of this.”
“No, she could have, but she let that little fairy girl start it, instead.”
“Mom!” Isa whines.
“You’re not a little child, Isa,” Yzma reprimands.
“But Mal still is,” Isa stands her ground. “I’m going to be the one to help her grow up, now.”

Chapter Six~

Carlos groans and sits on the cave’s cold floor, “I’m soo bored!”
“You want me to throw you in the lake?” Jay smirks at him.
“Ha ha ha,” he laughs.
“But seriously, Mal,” Evie settles down next to her best friend, resting her hand on her shoulder. “Are we just going to sit here while all of that is going on?”
Mal peers out of the cave toward where they can see magic flashes across the sky. She says, “We’re just going to sit here and watch the fight that’s going to happen until it’s our time to rule next to our parents.”
“You want to rule beside Maleficent?” she asks.
Mal turns to her, “You know that all I’ve ever wanted for myself is what my mom wants for my life. And this is what she wants.”
“But you didn’t grab the wand,” Jay says.
“Because things were different when she couldn’t get to me,” she turns to him.
“And then Jane grabbed the wand instead,” Evie speaks back up. “It’s all her fault.”
“No, it’s really mine,” she shakes her head. “I’m the one who put all of that in her head about needing magic to be beautiful.”
“But nobody told her to grab the wand,” Jay says. “You were told to grab the wand, and you didn’t. You’re different from her.”
Evie grabs Mal’s wrist, “What do you think would have happened if you did grab the wand?”
“Everyone in Auradon would be after us,” she says.
“You don’t think they’re after us now?” Carlos asks. He resituates Dude in his arms so that his legs aren’t so cramped up.
Mal shakes her head, “They’re all too busy dealing with what’s going on over there.” As she looks out toward the kingdom again, she finds her cheek pressing against Jay’s shoulder next to her.

Chapter Seven~

Ben stands in front of the castle doors, arms crossed over his coronation lapels.
Grumpy almost looks cheerful as he leads the Sidekick Council to the castle stairs. “So, you’ve decided to let us sidekicks in on this fight?” Grumpy pulls of his grimy mining cap and squeezes it between his hands.
“I can’t think of anyone better,” Ben shrugs.
Grumpy grumps, “Typical King of Auradon, getting us sidekicks to fight their dirty battles.”
“No, it’s not like that this time,” Ben drops his arms, a show of good faith. “I’m fighting alongside you.”
“You’re-” Grumpy drops his cap. “You’re fighting alongside us?”
“It’s been too long,” Ben shakes his head. “Too long without magic and our weapons. You guys have done amazing things. Grumpy, you yourself helped to save Snow White.”
“And now it’s time you help to save us?” Grumpy asks.
“Exactly,” Ben says. “My dad may have always thought it best to make you do all of our dirty work, but I… I never thought that was too fair. Maybe I can’t get the other royals to fight with us, but I know a bunch of their kids who are willing to help.”
“Like, who?” Andrina bubbles to the surface of her bathtub. “Not my niece?”
“No, not your niece,” he shakes his head.
“Doug,” Ben gestures to Dopey, “your son.”
Dopey nods, making a tiny sound in the back of his throat.
“Mulan’s and Shang’s child, Lonnie,” Ben nods.
“That makes sense.” Still worried Ben might be holding out on her about her niece fighting, Andrina asks, “Any other children?”
“Yes. Chad Charming.”
A rumbling gasp moves throughout the sidekicks, Grumpy being the loudest. “Boy,” he says. “I never thought I’d see the day.”
“Why is that brat helping us?” Andrina says.
“With all due respect, don’t talk about it like that,” Ben crosses his arms over his chest again. “That ‘brat’ lost his girlfriend today.”
“I thought Audrey was your girlfriend,” the mermaid tilts her head inquisitively.
“I-” he grits his teeth and looks away. “I chose Mal, instead.”
“And look what she’s done to you,” Adrina says.
Ben turns back to her, his face heating red, “Mal didn’t do any of this! If Jane hadn’t grabbed that wand and broken that barrier, Mal would still want to go to school here and Audrey wouldn’t be dead!” He sighs, “And that is why Jane is fighting with us.”
Grumpy lifts a curious eyebrow, “I can’t believe her mother is letting her go through with this.”
“Fairy Godmother is the one who told her to do it,” Ben answers.
At this, there is a bit of a revolt. Grumpy shushes all of the sidekicks, long enough to say, “She’s putting her own daughter up for dead?”
“Godmother isn’t putting anybody up for dead,” he says. “That’s why she’s fighting alongside us.”
Dopey sways, his eyes rolling into his head.
After catching him and setting upright, Grumpy says, “Now that’s the most surprising of all of this.”
“Godmother doesn’t believe in sitting back and letting them fight us when we have the magic and power to keep us protected,” Ben shakes his head, “And neither do I.”
“So, together,” Grumpy kneels down on one knee in front of the king, “we fight.”

Chapter Eight~

“Where do you think she is, Mom?”
The villains of the Isle of the Lost made it past the barrier and are now picking their way through the outskirts of Auradon, finding a way to the kingdom itself.
Yzma turns back toward her daughter, “What are you talking about now?”
“I’m talking about the same thing,” Isa says. “Mal.”
“I still don’t know why you want to find her so badly,” Yzma shakes her head and continues her hiking. She no longer has the luxury of Kronk carrying her on his back like she did in the days of Kuzkos. Now she has to walk on her own, dragging her ratty dress behind her.
“She deserves to know,” Isa tells her.
“To know what? All that’s going around her? She started this. I’m sure she knows.”
“She didn’t start this,” Isa says. “That other little fairy girl did. And you know what I’m talking about.”
“I can see the kingdom!” one of the other villain kids cries. A cheer starts up among the villains.
Yzma, who is the loudest of them all, yells, “Let’s go!”

Chapter Nine~

“M, where are we going?” Evie asks. She’s standing against the back of the cave, feeling the rocky wall underneath her fingers.
“I don’t know that we’re going anywhere,” still, the purple haired fairy is packing up her bag.
“But you’ve decided you don’t want to rule next to your mom after all?” Jay watches Mal as she kneels next to him.
“I don’t know what I’ve decided,” she huffs, her hair falling over her face. “I just know I can’t stomach watching that anymore.”
For the past five minutes or so, the four villain kids have been watching as sparks fly and different colored lights shine, the villains from the isle learning how to use their powers once again.
“You know they’re just going to take it all out on the kingdom,” she looks up at her friends, tears trying to fight their way to her eyes.
“I know,” Jay whispers.
“Yeah,” Evie agrees.
“If we are going anywhere,” Carlos stands next to Evie, jostling Dude up and down in his arms. The mutt whines. “He’s gonna have to, you know, go, before we do.”
“Well, take him outside, man,” Jay tells him.
“I don’t wanna go by myself!” Carlos says.
“You won’t be by yourself. You’ll have the dog with you,” he grins.
Mal reaches over and slaps the hard muscle of Jay’s bicep. She turns to the younger boy, “Carlos, just go right outside the opening. We’ll all be able to see you.”
“Yeah, yeah, okay,” Carlos sets Dude down and leads him toward the entrance of the cave, making soft kissing noises as he does. “But you should really think about where we’ll go.”
“He’s right,” Evie says. “We can’t stay here forever.”
“I know he’s right,” Mal says. But she doesn’t want to think about that right now.
“And, uhm, M, I have a problem myself,” Evie shifts against the back wall.
“What’s that?” Mal looks over her shoulder at her friend.
“I have to go too.”
Jay chokes back a snicker.
Well, at least that’s something else to think about.
And Mal thinks about it while she stares wide-eyed at Evie for a full moment. “W- Well, you used to have to go outside on the Isle of the Lost too. What’s so different about doing it here, really? Except that there’s a lot less of a chance for people to see you.”
“I guess I just got too used to indoor plumbing,” Evie groans.
She lets out a long sigh, “Nothing we can do about that now.”
“Carlos and I can stay in the cave,” Jay says. “You might as well both go if we’re getting ready to leave.”
“Alright,” Mal groans and stands up. She gestures Evie to the cave opening.
“He was such a big Dude!” Carlos cheers the little dog as he comes back in carrying him.
Mal pats Dude’s head as she walks pass and leads Evie outside.
“Wait, are we leaving already?” Carlos calls after them.
“You don’t want to go where they are,” Jay tells him.
Carlos shoots him a confused look.
“Evie has to pee,” he says.
Carlos’ freckles pop out as his face flushes red. He resituates Dude in his arms and settles down next to Jay on the floor. He watches the older boy flex his fingers in and out of fists. “Ready to punch somebody?” he asks.
“It’s strange,” Jay says. “I haven’t wanted to punch anybody in days.”
“Well, then, what’s wrong?” Carlos asks.
He looks at him, a corner of his mouth up in his signature smirk, “I keep thinking about what Mal wants now.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean,” he shrugs. “When we first came to Auradon, grabbing that wand was her only goal, and I thought it still was. All the way up to the end, that is.”
“I think she started changing when she saw how much Ben loves her,” Carlos speaks honestly.
“But he didn’t love her enough to stay with her through this,” Jay speaks even more honestly.
“And her mom has never loved her enough to raise her right,” Carlos sighs. “It’s just like nobody has ever loved her enough.”
“Hey,” Jay looks at him. “We love her, don’t we?”
“Who do you love?” Mal steps in, drying her hands off on the seat of her pants. She must’ve rinsed them in the Enchanted Lake.
“I don’t love anybody,” Jay reaches out to playfully pinch her side as she passes him. “I don’t need to.”
“Stop it!” she pushes his hand away, and bends over to pick up her bag.
“Are we going?” Carlos scrambles to his feet.
Evie stand close to the back of the cave again, clutching her red bag, and almost looking scared.
“Are you okay?” Jay asked her.
“We were just thinking about it,” she nods. “If the fight goes on, and the kingdom comes crumbling down, we don’t want to be stuck here with no way out.”
Jay nods solemnly.
“It makes sense I think,” Mals shrugs, shouldering her bag, “to leave before it all really starts.”
“Where are we going?” he asks.
“I can only think of one place,” she says.

Chapter Ten~

“You call this puny little gathering an army?” Maleficent laughs. She stands before Ben and his group just at the castle steps. She is flanked by Evil Queen and Cruella de Ville on either side, while Jafar stands tall, shielding her back. All of the most evil characters and their children stand behind all of them. But it was Jafar, Cruella, and EQ who rescued her from her, honestly quite measly, trap in the boys’ dorm room.
“No,” Ben crosses his arms. “I call this a kingdom.”
A cheer takes up behind Ben. All of the sidekicks. The children that agreed to fight with them. And loudest of all, Fairy Godmother, holding her sparkling wand high above her head.
Maleficent chokes on a laugh, a horrid sound. “A kingdom that will soon be ours,” she says.
“Speaking of ours,” Jafar leans over Maleficent’s shoulder. “What have you done with our children?”
“I haven’t done anything with your children,” Ben looks at him. “As I’ve told Maleficent about Mal, they’ve taken hiding in safety.”
“Safety from us?!” Jafar asks, bewilderment spilling out of his mouth. “         I thought my Jay wanted to fight with us.”
“Jay is done doing your dirty work,” Ben’s jaw is stern. “It doesn’t make him happy anymore.”
“Why you-” Jafar tries to push past Maleficent.
But she holds him back, “Ah, ah. This one is mine.”
“Well, then, what are you?”
Everybody turns to see Evil Queen studying Doug in disgust. He puffs his chest out to seem even taller.
Evil Queen asks, “Are you a spawn of one of those puny dwarves that kept my own step-daughter away from me?”
Doug steps forward, only to be stopped by Ben’s hard arm. He shouts, “My father is not puny!”
Dopey pulls off his purple little mining cap and twists it around in his hand.
Evil Queen laughs, stepping forward, “Your father is that little dopey one? He can’t even speak to me! What can his child do to me?”
Jane is standing next to Doug, wringing her hands and biting her lip nervously. There’s a small hand mirror sticking out of the waistband of the fluffy skirt she’s wearing. Doug grabs it by the stick handle and yanks it out. Feeling it, Jane turns in a circle to see what’s going on. She’s just in time to see him lifting it up and swinging it at Evil Queen like a tourney stick.
Glass shatters all over Evil Queen’s cheekbone, and while it hardly fazes her, blood does stream down the side of her face. She slowly glares back up at him.
He says, “That’s for raising Evie to think she has to play dumb to get by in life.”
Her lip raises in a growl, “You love my daughter, do you?”
“I do.”
Her hand raises now.
“Doug, run!” screams Ben.
Doug chases heel and moves faster than he ever knew he could until he’s safe inside the castle walls.
The oak double doors slam behind him.
And that’s when all the fighting starts.

 Chapter Eleven~

“Hey, Mal?”
“What’s up, Carlos?” Mal pushes past a strand of tree branches. They’ve just passed the bridge they watched Ben walk away from them down not long ago.
Carlos shifts Dude in his arms, “He’s getting a little heavy, here.”
“Come here, baby,” Evie takes the dog from her friend’s arms and gently tosses him up and down. He pants in happy response.
“Man, stop complaining,” Jay lightly shoves Carlos at the shoulder.
Carlos turns on his heel and tries to shove Jay back. Only that’s like trying to shove the wall of the cave they just left from. Jay grabs him at the neck and noogies his head. “Hey, stop that,” but Carlos is laughing.
“Boys!” Mal claps.
Jay lets go of the younger boy, his signature smirk set on his lips.
“We really need to find a leash for the dog,” Mal looks around. “Evie! Does the strap of your bag come off?”
“Well, yeah,” she looks at the red leather across her torso. “But, then how would I carry it?”
“We can put it in my bag,” Mal says. “That’s the plus of having such a small purse.”
Evie shrugs and passes Dude over to her purple-haired friend. She works the strap off of her little box bag and hands it over to Mal.
Mal sets the dog on the ground, kneeling down beside him, and attaches the strap to the collar at his neck. She passes the loose end to Carlos.
“Cool,” Carlos laughs. “Now you can walk with us, Dude!”
The dog yips.
Mal rolls her eyes as she accepts Evie’s little bag and sticks it inside her own. She slips the strap back over her shoulder, and Evie helps her stand to her feet.
“Where to now?” Jay asks.
“We continue on,” Mal says.

 Chapter Twelve~

On the Isle of the Lost, blood is a regular thing. Villains get in street brawls, villain kids tear their skin on fences as they try to get away from their mischief, even animals bleed as they get in fights from time to time. Isa never thought she’d see more blood than from a random nose bleed in Auradon. But every single person in the kingdom must be experiencing nose bleeds for all the blood she watches pool in the streets.
Honestly, though, most of it is coming from the villains.
They’re all still learning how to use their magic and powers again, and for the most part they’re only using them on themselves. They are their own punching bags. All the Auradonians have to do is stand and wait for them to wear themselves out.
As the villains start to thin out and Isa’s own mom accidentally drinks a potion to turn herself back into a cat, Isa slips into a grove of trees to the side and ran off.
Under her breath, she sighs, “I’m coming to show you, Mal.”

Chapter Thirteen~

"Ouch!" Mal slams into something and falls sprawling.
Jay scrambles to help her to her feet.
"Oh, come on," Isa daughter of Yzma brushes her own self off. She mutters under her breath, "This dress is brand new."
Mal studies the figure before her, from her lilac clad feet, to her Aztec-style purple dress, and finally up to her lilac topped head. "Isa?" she asks.
"No, way!" Carlos pushes forward, Dude pulling his leash taut. "Is your mom here? She never let me into her lab while we were on the Isle!"
"Along with everybody else," Isa shrugs. "But she's accidentally turned herself into a cat."
"Again?" Mal sets her palms on her hips. Yzma had only been a human again for the past twenty years, as she was graciously turned back from a cat when Beast banished all the villains.
"Are all of the other villain kids here?" Jay asks Isa.
"Every last one of them."
"Some of those are as close to friends as the two of us have ever had," Jay whispers to Mal. Only the two of them had been friends from childhood. Mal was merely schoolmates with Carlos until the event that brought them together to find Maleficent's scepter a while ago. And, as everybody should by now know, Evie was castle-stuck up until her sixteenth birthday. Which is why she hangs back now.
"I know," Mal looks at Jay for one minute before turning to Isa again, "How's it going over there?"
"Not too good," the older girl replies honestly.
"Oh, my badness," Mal sighs.
"For us villains that is," Isa grins.
She looks back up at her with bright eyes.
Evie finally, if a little shyly, steps forward, "And our parents?"
"All four of them are still standing." Isa raises her eyebrows, "And I think they're still going to try to take the kingdom even when nobody else is standing behind them."
Mal stutters, "So, why- Why aren't you-"
"Back there fighting with them?"
She and Jay both nod.
"I came to find you."
"To get me to fight?" Mal backs up, finding her spine pressing warmly to Jay's chest. "Oh, no, I'm not doing that."
"And neither am I," she says.
Mal tilts her head.
Jay grips her shoulders.
"I'm simply showing you where you come from."
"I already know where I belong. It's the only place I'm meant to be." Mal shakes her head, "It's all I'm meant to be."
"You only know half of your upbringing," Isa tells her. "The part who raised you."
"You mean-" Mal tries again to find the right words, "Are you talking about my-"
"I'm here to bring you to your father."

Chapter Fourteen~

"Woah, would you look at that?” Jane solemnly stares at the landscape all around Ben and herself. Most of the villains and even some of the villain kids have rendered themselves incapacitated by their own newly found powers.
“Yeah,” Ben rests his hand on her bony little shoulder. “Looks to me like good conquers evil, after all.”
Jane smiles up at him.
“Well, then, look again.”
They both pop their heads up to see Maleficent striding toward them.
She says, “I have both my scepter and Fairy Godmother’s wand. It looks like I conquer all.”
Jane whimpers.
“It’s okay,” Ben presses her gently behind him. “Stand back.”
“Oh, I’m not going to do any harm to the little fairy girl,” Maleficent smirks. “She’s the one that got me here in the first place.”
She bites back a sob.
“My daughter, however…” Maleficent tilts her head at Ben, “Where is it again that you said she is? She and I have some business to attend.”

Chapter Fifteen~

“So, who is my dad?”
“I can’t tell you that, Mal,” Isa stomps to free her boot of some sort of thorny plant.
“Where is my dad?”
“I can’t tell you that, Mal.”
“How do you know my dad?”
“I can’t tell you that, Mal.”
“How do you even know he’s my dad?” Mal presses as they trudge toward the end of the grove of trees.
Isa stops and faces her, “Mal, I can’t tell you that.”
“Why not?” Mal’s bicep is tense in Jay’s hand.
“Because he doesn’t know he’s your dad.”
Mal doesn’t take another step forward even as Isa continues ahead of her and her three friends. She calls out to her, “Why not?”
Isa waits for the four of them to catch up to her, then sighs, “Your mother hid you away from him because she didn’t want you to be influenced by his humanness.”
“He really is human?” Mal’s eyes shine again.
“Isn’t that the only thing you knew about him?” she smiles at the slightly younger girl.
“And how do you know he’s my dad again?”
“It’ll all make sense when you meet him.”
The four of them press on again. They finally make it through all the trees and dumb green foliage, and reach a clearing with a bunch of braying animals.
“There he is over there,” Isa points.
Mal squints to see the figure silhouetted against the setting sun. She asks, “With all of the llamas?”

Chapter Sixteen~

Ben continues to push Jane back toward the castle doors. She fumbles only a little. “Try to find Doug,” he whispers to her over his shoulder.
Once the castle doors are slammed again, and Ben is certain Jane is secured behind them, he turns to Mal’s mother, “I already told you about the three places she’d most likely be. It’s not my fault that you don’t listen.”
Maleficent lifts her scepter up and eight of an inch. “You’re holding one other place out on me, aren’t you?”
“No other place,” he shakes his head.
“Someplace the two of you have shared together.”
“Hey, this school is the only place we’ve ever shared.”
Maleficent lifts up the wand to match its height with the scepter. “You’re not saving her life, noble prince. You’re only belaboring our fate to rule this place.”
“Mal would never take my kingdom away from me,” the king sets his jaw. “And I’ll prove that to you.”

Chapter Sixteen~

“Uncle Kronk!” Isa moves toward him. She explains to Mal and her friends, “He’s not really my uncle. I just call him that since he still assists my mom from time to time.”
Mal nods. She’s slower at approaching the man still feeding the llamas grass by handfuls.
“Hey, Isa!” he looks up as he scratches a llama under the chin. “Where’s your mom?”
“Still at the castle,” Isa shrugs. “Turned herself back into a cat.”
He sighs, “I told her not to take part in the fights. But she hasn’t listened to me since that day the Emperor fired her.”
That’s your dad?” Jay whispers in Mal’s ear, and it reminds her of the time he mocked her mother’s spinning wheel. She doesn’t blame him, though. She kind of wants to mock the man too. He cannot be her father.
As if seeing the four villain kids for the first time since Isa brought them, Kronk asks her, “What’s Mal doing here?”
“Uhm, I thought you said he doesn’t know who I am,” Mal tells Isa.
“Everybody knows who you are.” She explains to him, “Mal wanted to meet you.”
“I didn’t-” Mal interjects.
But Kronk interrupts her, “Why did you want to meet me, little fairy child?”
Mal blurts out, “Are you really my father?”
Kronk blanches, “Surely your mom let you meet your own father.”
“No, I have no idea who he is,” she shakes her head.
“I- I mean, I was only with her for those few times,” his face whitens.
“Mal, I think he is your father,” Evie leans forward. “You have his misguided goodness.”
Dude whimpers in Carlos’ arms, though it’s as if he agrees.
“Yeah, I do, don’t I?” Mal reaches out and touches Kronk’s hand slightly. “I think you are too.”
Kronk lays his other hand over her own, sniffling, “I have a daughter.”

Chapter Seventeen~

“Doug!” Jane practically barrels into the dwarf kid, but she catches herself by grabbing his shoulders.
“What’s going on?” he fixes the bow over her bangs, an instinctive measure to protect the little fairy, kicking in.
“Maleficent,” she fights to catch her breath. “She’s still going after Mal and the rest. I think Ben needs us to shelter them.”
“Evie?” he asks.
She nods, his shoulders shaking under his fingers.
“Let’s go find her!”

Chapter Eighteen~

“So, you’ve figured it out, have you?” Maleficent asks. She stands behind the four VK’s, facing Kronk. Mal and her friends all turn around.
“I haven’t figured anything out,” Mal says. “Somebody finally told me! Why didn’t you?”
“All that I have or haven’t done for you has been the means for the same end,” Maleficent says.
“To teach me to be more like you,” she whispers.
“I couldn’t very well let you run off to the parent who isn’t me.”
“I sure wish you would have,” Kronk whispers.
“Your humanness would have destroyed her,” Maleficent seethes at him.
“Mom!”
Mal’s mother turns on her, “Ever since that day you picked up the spilled apples for that- that goblin when you were only five-years-old, I’ve done everything I could to push that humanness out of you. And I really thought that I have.”
“Well, maybe you just pushed too hard,” Mal crosses her arms.
“And what is that supposed to mean, young lady?”
“When we lived on the island, I didn’t think I was human at all,” she sighs. “But the minute I got here, I realized that human is all I am. And maybe it’s all I want to be.”
“Now, Mal-”
“Who says you have to be one or the other?”
“What?” Both Mal and Maleficent turns to look at Kronk.
He continues, “You have both human blood and fairy blood. And isn’t that enough? You are you no matter what you’re made of.”
Mal gasps, “Are you telling me-”
“Enough of this!” Maleficent says.
Still, Kronk continues, “You don’t have to be your mom or dad. We may have made you, but that doesn’t mean we have to make who you are.”
“You shut your mouth!” Maleficent shouts.
Kronk ignores his old flame. He speaks to his daughter instead, “Back in the days of Emperor Kuzko, he had to learn how to be both a llama and a human. And that was how he found where his heart lies.”
Mal asks, “I’m made up of both of you?”
He nods, “You most certainly are.”
“And that is why you’re coming with me, little missy,” Maleficent grabs Mal’s wrist.
“No!” the fairy child pulls free. “I wish I hadn’t met you!” she tells her dad, before turning to her mom and crying, tears spilling out of her eyes, “And I wish you hadn’t gotten to be as evil as you are!”
“Hey!” Jay grabs her shoulders and turns her so that her tear-stained face looks up at him. “You can’t say things like that! You should be grateful for the way you were raised, because it did make you who you are today.”
“But, Jay, my mom-” she sobs. “She raised me to only be evil.”
Jay’s face softens, “At least you have a mom.”
Jay never got to meet his mom, just like Mal hadn’t met her dad. Only his story is much more tragic. He never got to meet her, because she passed away before she ever even held him. The Isle of the Lost isn’t exactly the safest place to have children, after all. He always saw it as a miracle that Mal, Evie, and Carlos all got to keep their own moms. But then again, maybe that’s just because they were all such powerful villains. Maybe his own mom wasn’t.
When Mal and Jay were just children, he never much liked talking about his mom to her. After all, villains aren’t supposed to care what happens to their loved ones. The truth is, however, that Jay has always cared just too much. And right now, Mal can see it in his eyes.
“You’re right,” she reaches up to dry her own eyes. Jay helps her with his calloused thumbs. “I’m sorry,” she sighs.
“It’s not your fault,” Jay winks at her. “I feel that way about my dad too, sometimes.”
“I think we all do,” Evie steps toward her.
“Yeah,” Carlos bounces Dude up and down. “You think I liked being the servant of my mom?”
“Of course not,” she laughs.
“Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah,” Maleficent waves her hands in emphasis. “That’s enough, Mal, let’s go.”
“No, Mom!” Mal turns to her. “All you’re going to do is loot, and kick everyone out of their castles, and imprison their leaders, and destroy everything that is good and evil. And I want no part in that.”
“You’re walking out on me?” Maleficent’s body is trembling in anger.
“I’m offering you a chance to rule on your own,” Mal stares her mother down, her eyes turning a neon-potion green. “Isn’t that what you’ve always wanted?”
“Well-”
“And I want no part in your life, either,” Mal turns to her father. “Because you didn’t raise me, and I don’t know you, and I don’t think you should know me.”
“Mal, we should go,” Evie holds out her hand.
“You’re right,” Mal accepts it.
“You’re turning your back on me?” Maleficent asks.
“No, Mom,” she turns to look at Maleficent over her shoulder. “I’m turning my face to what I want for me.”

Chapter Nineteen~

“Where is Maleficent?” Jafar asks.
“Oh, who knows,” Cruella de Ville studies her chipped nails. “Who even cares?”
“Don’t you think we should find her?” Jafar asks her.
“I’ll find her. I’m not letting her rule this place by herself,” Evil Queen says.

Chapter Twenty~

“Are you sure you’re okay?” Jay asks again for probably the seventy-seventh time.
“Yeah, I’m fine,” Mal answers, wrapping herself up in her arms. They’ve moved on from her mom, and are heading toward the edge of Auradon. “That whole thing just felt pretty pointless.”
“It is you,” somebody sighs behind them.
Evie is the first one to look, stopping short, “Is that you, Doug?”
“Heigh-ho.” He looks worn out, with ash smeared across his face and bloody tears in his clothes. It must’ve taken him a lot to find her. And now he’s standing there, and Evie has never seen him look so great.
“Doug!” Evie runs to throw her arms around him.
He holds her tight.
“So, it is you, Doug,” Mal laughs. “How’s everything going?”
“Pretty great,” Doug reluctantly peels himself away from Evie. “I like to think we’re winning.”
“I don’t know about that,” Mal chews on her bottom lip.
“M, I can’t go anywhere,” Evie says in a rush. “I’m staying here with Doug.”
“Oh,” Doug touches her tenderly on the cheek.
“Darn-tootin’ you’re not going anywhere.” A new voice cackles behind them.
Evie turns slowly, “Mommy?”
“Hello, Evie, my little evil-ette in training,” Evil Queen grins, showing off menacing white teeth.
“Don’t call me that.”
Doug tightens an arm around Evie’s waist.
“Well, why ever not?” Evil Queen asks.
“I don’t want to be called that anymore,” she answers.
“What do you mean you don’t want to be that? Don’t you want to be bad like me?”
“I don’t think I want to be… anything,” Evie speaks slowly. “Why do I have to be either bad or good? I don’t want to live in a world where the two sides have to fight anymore. All I really wanna be is me.” She looks over to her greatest friend, “M, I think that’s what your daddy was trying to tell you…”
Mal shifts uncomfortably.
Evil Queen glares at Evie.
She turns back to her mother, “I just want to be smart, and I want to be talented, and I want to be with Doug.”
Evil Queen looks the dwarf son over, “He does not look like a prince.”
“In his own way, he is,” Evie looks up at him lovingly.
Doug smiles back just as endearingly.
“Hmm,” Evil Queen places a finger on her chin. “Here. I think I have something for you, son.”
Evie gasps. She gets a feeling like somebody is piercing her heart as Evil Queen pulls out the bright red apple. She turns around and pushes Doug back. “Doug, don’t take the apple!”
Doug smirks at Evil Queen, “My dad told me all about you and your poisonous apples. You think I’m dumb enough to take a bite out of that?”
Evil Queen humphs, “You will not stand in the way of my daughter’s chance at a prince. Surely you’ll fall for this.”
As Evil Queen throws the apple straight at her daughter, Doug leaps to catch it. A flurry of black cloaks and dark winds fill up Evie’s vision. When she looks back up, Dough is gone, already falling fast down the well that is hidden behind him. “No!”
The deep walls of the well echo the sickening sound of Doug’s bones snapping. He’s surely dead.
Evie throws her hands over her gaping mouth, and tries her best not to sob in front of her evil mother.
Her three friends are positively quiet.
“Bipidee-bopidee-boo!”
Evie turns again just as Ben and Jane run up to fight for them. Evie seethes at the sight of Jane holding Fairy Godmother’s wand. But she needn’t wield it, for there is no fight to be had. Evil Queen is already gone. “What did you do?!”
“Everything’s okay,” Ben holds out a reassuring hand. “You mom’s just run away.”
“Everything’s not okay,” she sobs. “Doug died.”
“What?” Ben’s face pales as he looks down the well. A wince tears from his throat.
“This is all your fault,” she seethes.
“Wha- But, I didn’t do anything,” Ben holds up his hands. “Doug was a good friend. I would- I would never…”
“I mean, her fault!” Evie thrusts her arm out to point at Jane.
The fairy girl lets out a little cry.
“If she hadn’t grabbed that wand she uses so flippantly in the first place, none of this would ever be happening.” Evie’s practically screaming now, “Have you ever stopped to think that in her quest to be beautiful, she’s killed off so many good people?”
Jane backs up to the well, grabbing the side of it hard to keep from falling.
Evie turns on her.
“No!” she cries. “No, please don’t send me down the well. I don’t want to end up like him.”
“Oh, you’ll have a fate much worse than his.” Evie’s eyes practically blaze as she spits her next words out at Jane, “If you harbor darkness in your heart, you will surely look the part. The face is the woe of a witch: pimples, puss, and pockmarks. Moles will surely pitch. Black lips no prince will want to kiss, say goodbye to your bliss. And with it, your looks, you’ll begin to fear.”
“Wha- Wha-” Jane sinks to the ground as a tiny blue light floats around her. She cringes as it sinks into her face. “What did you just do to me?”
“Mirror her, E,” Mal folds her arms over her chest.
Without hesitation, Evie digs into her purse to bring out her little magic mirror. She holds it out toward Jane.
The once plain fairy gapes in horror at the image of her new face. Her skin is gray and wrinkly, covered in red blots and boils. Her once shining eyes now look as if they’re sinking. Her black lips look as though they’re rotting, her tooth crooked and yellowed underneath them. Her hair is also graying and decaying, falling out in clumps. She brings her gaze back up to Evie’s gorgeous face, “Why?”
Evie whispers for her ears only, “You broke my heart, so I broke your face.” She stands up to turn to Mal again, “You were right, M. It’s time to get out of here.”

Chapter Twenty-One~

“Are you okay, Jane?” Ben helps her up after the VKs have left. He doesn’t even have time to be heartbroken about Mal anymore. She’s made her decision. Or, just maybe… he made it for her when he put his kingdom first.
“Don’t look at me!” Jane tries to cover her face.
“Hey, you don’t look all that bad,” he smirks. “You’ve just got a little something all over your face.”
She doesn’t want to laugh, but a tiny little tinkling escapes anyway.
“My daughter is getting really good at her spells,” Evil Queen walks back, sounding almost speechless. “It’s too bad she had to waste it on a little fairy like you.”
“Well, well, well,” Maleficent walks up behind Evil Queen. The step-mother of Snow White had just found her like she told Jafar she would, after all. “Look what the queen’s dragged in.”
“Leave us alone,” Ben pushes Jane behind him again. “We’ve already defeated most of your army.”
“Oh,” Maleficent laughs. “The villains only need to learn how to use their powers again. And once they do, we’ll more than outnumber you.”
Jane whimpers behind Ben’s shoulder.
“Get back!” he whispers to her.
“You may as well bow down to me,” Maleficent says.
“You mean us,” Evil Queen shoots her a glare.
“I mean us,” Maleficent gestures with her hand.
“I will not,” he says. “And I will not lose to you.”
“Listen up, you little prince,” venom practically drips from the evil fairy’s tongue. “We will loot. And we will kick you out of your castles. And we will lock up your leaders. And we will destroy all that is good and beautiful, just like my daughter said we would.”
“How many times do I have to tell you I’m the king?” Ben exasperates. “And we don’t need Auradon to be a great kingdom.”
“What are you going to do?” she asks. “Take Mal’s lead and leave?”
“Maybe that’s what it takes,” he says. “Maybe the bravery is not in the fighting, but in knowing when to call it quits.”
“You have spent way too much time at that goodness school,” she tells him. “You can quit and go somewhere new, but know this, I will come after you.”
“Not if we go somewhere you’ll never want to.”
“And what is that supposed to mean?”
“Come on,” Ben gingerly lifts up Jane. He turns his back on Maleficent, being the second person that day to do so.

Chapter Twenty-Two~

“Come on, E, just a little bit longer,” Mal coddles a sobbing princess Evie.
“Where did you say we’re going again?” Carlos asks, pulling on the leash of his tired puppy.
“We need some place to rest for the night,” Mal tells him.
“We’re going to Doug’s house,” Evie sniffles, trying to dry her tears as fast as they spill.
“We’re breaking into someone’s house?!” he asks.
“We’re villain kids,” Evie states only a little proudly. “That’s what we do.”
“But what if his parents are home?”
“They’re not,” Jay answers for the girls. “They’re out there fighting the battle.”
“I really hope they win,” Mal rubs on Evie’s arm.
“I really do too,” Evie whispers to her.
“Come on,” Jay gestures them forward. “Is this it?”
“That certainly looks like some place Doug would live,” Evie says.
They all stop and take in the sight of the tiny little cottage. It’s the color of cream and kind of shaped as a mushroom. The top- er, roof – is light green.
“It looks like that’s his bedroom window over there.”
Sure enough, the window which Mal is pointing to displays blue and gold Auradon Prep curtains.
“Or maybe his parents are just big fans of the tourney team,” Carlos says.
“Come on.” Jay playfully shoves him and then races to the window. It opens easily under his expert lock picking hands.
“Thanks, Jay,” Evie says as he lifts her up under the knees to slip her inside.
“You’re welcome.” He takes Mal’s hand and helps her as well. She, of course, won’t let him lift her up, because she’s not a prissy princess (that’s not to say that Evie is exactly). Jay clambers in after her.
“Oh, great, leave me to climb in by myself,” Carlos states, rather annoyed at Jay.
“Here, hand me the dog,” Evie reaches out for Dude.
Carlos passes the little mutt to her.
She sets him down on the floor, and he whimpers happily as she takes his leash off. He lies down next to her.
“Now you be a quiet puppy. We don’t want anyone to know where in here,” Mal points a finger in Dude’s face. She moves to Doug’s bedroom door to put a locking spell on it. She tells Jay, “Just in case.”
He nods wisely.
A whole lot of noise is made as Cruella de Ville’s son fumbles in through the window.
“Carlos!” all three of the other kids turn to shush him.
“Sorry,” he brushes off his jacket, not at all sorry. “It’s not like anybody would help me.”
“You’re such a nerd,” Jay tells him. “Even the girls could get in by themselves. I only helped them because it’s gentlemanly and Auradon actually rubbed off on me.”
“Shut up,” Carlos says. “Just because you’re better at everything.”
“Guys!” Mal seethes at both of them.
Jay holds up his hands.
“You’re good at the computer stuff,” Evie pets Carlos’s hair. Her face is still streaked in her leaking mascara, blue for brown eyes.
“Thanks, Evie,” he reaches out to wipe a stray from her face.
Mal closes the window behind Carlos and puts a locking spell on that too.
Jay sits in a leather recliner close to the wall opposite the bed.
Carlos settles on the window seat.
Evie sighs and plops down on the bed. She looks up at Mal with big, teary eyes, "It smells like him."
"I know, E." Mal grabs Carlos's bag and digs through it, being careful of all of his computer stuff, and pulls out Dude's box of beef sticks. There's no reason for him to starve just because the kids have been finding it hard to feed themselves. Maybe they can raid Doug's kitchen in the morning if they really have to.
As Mal feeds Dude a couple of the sticks, Carlos asks Evie, "Hey, can you hand one of those extra blankets to me?"
"Oh, yeah," Evie shifts over so she can lift a fuzzy Auradon throw from off of Doug’s plaid blue comforter.
"Thank you," Carlos takes it. "Hey, remember that time you gave me your extra comforter on the Isle."
"Yeah," she smiles at the memory. "I gave you a pillow too."
"You know, you're the reason I'm not so scared anymore," he looks over his shoulder at her; the way he's sitting, he's facing Jay.
"Oh," she places her hand over her heart.
"You cared more for me in those first few days of knowing each other than any of those Auradonians have in all our time here," he continues on to her. "It makes me wonder if things would've been better if we'd just stayed on the Isle. Nobody would be dead."
Evie chokes on a sob.
He shakes his head, "And you wouldn't be hurting so much."
Tears start pouring down Evie's face, afresh. She curls up on her side and lies on Doug's bed.
"I'm so sorry," Carlos looks down.
Evie rocks, sobbing, "M, M, M, M."
Mal takes her cue and slides in next to Evie. She carefully pulls Doug's comforter back and places it over Evie.
Evie clutches a handful of the comforter close to herself, and then she grabs Mal's arm to wrap it around herself.
"Oh, it's going to be okay," Mal settles in next to her, resting her head in the mass of blue curls. She can't believe that just earlier this year she called the girl Princess Blueberry with sarcastic venom. Evie is far from a plump, delicate blueberry. She's beautiful. And she's brave. Last year she wouldn't have even known what death felt like if she saw it right in front of her. Today she's moving forward even through the tear Doug's death rendered on her heart.
"Does it hurt less," Evie hiccups, "knowing that Ben is still alive even though you'll never have him again?"
"This isn't about me and Ben," Mal tells her, sweeping the blue hair off of the shattered face. Looking at her like that reminds Mal of the old vases and dishes they got on the island. The ones that were sent from Auradon because they were broken, but had been repaired with melting searing hot metal between the cracks. Evie is still standing, even between her cracks.
"But, does it hurt?" Evie asked.
"I guess..." Mal sighs. "Knowing he's still alive makes leaving him worth it, because he has a chance to be happy again."
"Is it awful that I'm sort of glad I was the last person to make Doug happy?" Evie looks up at her.
But Mal doesn't know what to say.
"Of course not," Jay speaks up for her.
Mal turns her head to look at him. He's still relaxed in the recliner, one leg propped up over an arm of it.
She can see Carlos too, leaning against the closed curtains of the window. It seems that he's fallen asleep with Dude curled up on his chest.
Jay continues to Evie, “He loved you, and he died because of that. Of course you’re happy that you made him happy until the very end of his life.”
“Thanks, Jay,” Evie says, but it’s barely audible because she’s already falling asleep.
After Evie starts snoring softly, Jay says to Mal, “Was it just last night that we were in our dorms thinking about how much we didn’t even want this to happen?”
“It was,” she sighs, “just last night that I made the cupcake to break Ben’s love spell for me.”
“I’m sorry,” he tells her.
“I’m not.” She gathers up another throw blanket and stands up off the bed. “Can- Can I sit with you?”
“Oh, yeah, of course.” He shifts to move the leg he has hanging over the arm of the chair so she can fit beside him, but she places a hand on his tensed up thigh to stop him. She curls up right in the middle of his legs and drapes the blanket over both of them. He looks down at her softly, “This is weird.”
“Why is this weird?” she whispers to him, not wanting to wake up their two sleeping friends. Or the puppy.
He shrugs, “It’s just that, usually, whenever I’m this close to another person, I’m pounding on them.”
She giggles, covering her mouth so that it doesn’t come out too loud. She asks him, “Is it a bad weird?”
“No, it’s an alright weird.” He shrugs again, “What’s really weird is how much I don’t want to pound on you.”
She laughs again, “I’m so glad. Everybody knows you shouldn’t hit even villain girls.”
“Yeah,” he smirks. And then, “But, really, does it hurt?”
“You mean would it hurt for you to hit me?” She pinches his biceps, “Have you seen these things?”
“No,” he chuckles. “I already told you I’m not going to hit you. I’m talking about what Evie was asking you.”
“You- You mean about Ben?”
He nods.
“Why do you care about that?” she asks.
“You’re my oldest and closest friend. I… care about you,” after living on the Isle of the Lost for so long, it was still hard for Jay to admit that he cares about… anything, let alone his best friend.
“I love you too,” she says, taking it one step further. “With friends like you, I think I’ll be okay.”
“Okay,” he nods. He leans his head back against the chair and closes his eyes.
“Are you going to bed?” she asks.
“It’s been a long day, Mal; I need to get some rest.”
“Then I’ll go to bed too.” She curls her legs up into herself and presses even further into him, her head fitting right in the hollow of his shoulder.

Chapter Twenty-Three~

“Come on, you have to get some sleep,” Ben kneels down next to Jane. She’s curled up on his bed, covering her face.
“I can’t sleep knowing they’ll all see me like this tomorrow,” she’s talking about the Sidekick Council he called to meet first thing in the morning.
“So you’re just letting Evie win?” he says.
“What?” she reluctantly removes her hands to look at him.
“Evie knows that the superficial is your weakness, so she used it against you. She felt like you took her down, but really, she’s taking you down, now.”
“Just go to bed, Ben,” she turns away from him under the covers. “I’ll fall asleep when I’m ready.”
Ben sighs and stands up. He doesn’t know why he’s taking such good care of this ungrateful fairy that started the whole thing to begin with. But something about her innocence and insecurity makes her seem like a homeless puppy in need of help.
Ben crosses the room to the door so he could make it to his parents’ room.

Chapter Twenty-Four~

“Carlos?” Mal wipes Jay’s long locks from in front of her eyes and gently lifts her head up from his shoulder. Light is streaming toward her. Carlos is peeking out through the curtains. “What are you doing? Close that curtain before somebody sees us.”
“I’m sorry,” he does as she asks. “I just wanted to find out if I can see what’s going on out there.”
“Can you?”
He shakes his head.
Mal gets up, making sure to leave the throw blanket over Jay. She walks over to Carlos and wraps her arms around his neck, “It’s going to be okay, little brudder.”
“You think of me as your brother?” he looks up at her.
“Yeah,” she loosens her arms enough just to look at him. “We all think of you as a little brother.”
“Really?” tears shine in his eyes.
“Really,” she taps his chin. “And we’re kind of sorry for dragging you into this mess.”
“I’m not sorry!” he sits up. “If it wasn’t for coming with you guys, I wouldn’t have grown as much as I have. And, I, you know,” he scratches Dude’s ear. “Wouldn’t have this little guy.”
She scratches behind Dude’s ear and then accidentally does the same thing to Carlos by reflex. She blushes, but he just laughs. “You’re braver than you know,” she tells him.
He finally hugs her back this time.
She holds him for a moment longer, until Evie starts mumbling in her sleep. “I should,” she tells him.
“Go ahead,” he says. “Fight her nightmares away.”
Mal taps his chin again and turns to slide into Doug’s bed. She wraps her arm around Evie and wraps herself up in the comforter.

Chapter Twenty-Five~

Evie is sobbing as the morning light streams into Doug’s bedroom.
“Are you okay, Evie?” Carlos asks her sleepily, his voice vibrating against the window he’s still leaning on.
“I’m fine,” Evie mumbles. “A little cold. Mal is a blanket hog.”
Mal pops her head up to look at the other girl. Her eyes are only partially open, her eyelashes casting shadows over her cheekbones. Her face looks fresh and seems at peace. She’s not sobbing at all. “Then who-”
All four kids jump up.
Mal stares at the bedroom door as the sound creaks even closer. She whispers, “Go, go, go!”
“Dopey must’ve found out about his son,” Jay says as he double-taps the window to undo its locking spell from the inside. He throws it open and starts tossing their bags outside.
Evie scrambles to find Dude’s leash strewn across the floor. She puts it back on him, then attaches the free end to a bracelet on her wrist.
“Let’s go,” Jay strains through clenched teeth. He grabs Carlos’s arm. “You first, brave boy.”
“Ah, okay, okay,” Carlos practically shouts as Jay shoves him through the small opening of the window.
“Guys, shush!” Mal whispers just as the sobbing sound reaches the other side of the bedroom door.
“Are you sure you’re ready to go in there?” a momly voice says outside the door.
A whimpering sob is her answer.
“Evie, go!” Mal pushes the back end of the other girl.
Evie passes Dude through the window, and Carlos grabs him. Jay gives her a hand up so she can climb out.
The doorknob jiggles, but Mal’s locking spell from the night before holds hard.
She whines, “Evieee!” as Evie seem to stop right in the middle of the window frame.
“I can’t-” she jerks her arm. “I’m… stuck!” she jerks on her arm again, and the bushes next to her rustle as Dude’s leash yanks against her. Dude whimpers. “It’s the leash!”
“I’ve got ya!” Carlos grabs Evie’s wrist to pull the leash free.
“Come on, come on!” Mal bounces on the balls of her feet as she waits for Evie, standing beside the bedroom door.
With one last pull on her wrist from Carlos, Evie sprawls through the window, tossing both her and the boy into the bushes nearby. Dude stands next to them on all fours, tilting his head inquisitively at the pair.
“Mal, let’s go!” Jay tries not to yell.
Mal double-tabs the knob of the door as quietly as she can, then flies across the room as if she was one of those carpets Jafar had gone after years ago, to get to the window.
Jay lifts her up and all but throws her out the window, sliding right out after her.
She stands up and slams the window shut just as the bedroom door opens on the other side of the glass.
Jay pulls her into him down in the bushes as Dopey’s sobbing sounds much too close to the window frame.
“What? Did you hear something outside of the window?” Dopey’s wife’s voice carries outside to the kids.
As does Dopey’s whimperings.
Mal presses as hard into Jay as she can to avoid being seen, her feet digging into a pile of drying leaves.
Across the window from them, Carlos and Evie are huddling close to the ground, hiding a whimpering Dude under them.
Much to Mal’s chagrin, she hears the window sliding open. Jay’s heartbeat swiftens against her back.
Evie lifts her head up, and mouths to her, “If he turns his neck, we’ll be goners.”
Mal nods that she knows.
Suddenly, Dude shoots out from underneath Evie’s chest and runs straight for Dopey’s front door.
“Du-”
Evie slams her hand over Carlos’s mouth and pushes him even deeper into the ground. She throws her cloak over both of them as Dopey starts to turn his neck.
Dude starts yipping around the front of the house.
Dopey makes an inquisitive sound and slides the window shut.
All four kids let out a collective sigh, but Evie and Carlos stay on the ground while Mal remains in Jay’s arms.
In the distance, they hear a door opening.
That’s when Carlos takes off running.
“Carlos!” Evie stage-whispers. She goes off after him.
“Time to go!” Mal grabs Jay’s hand and pulls him to his feet. They quickly follow the other two.
Dude runs back around the house and leaps into Carlos’s arms from yards away. Carlos only stumbles a smidgen as he fully wraps his arms around the dog.
Mal grabs Evie’s hand just as the blue haired girl finally reaches Carlos and grabs the other end of Dude’s leash to keep her tethered to the young boy.
Jay’s hand stays on the small of Mal’s back so he can keep watch on the girls as well.
And the four run straight for the barrier at the edge of Auradon.

Chapter Twenty-Six~

Maleficent steps slowly up the castle stairs. Her eyes shift from Evil Queen to Cruella de Ville. She looks over her shoulder at Jafar. She tells the three, “It seems like even the castle is empty.”
“Everyone has left?” Evil Queen asks.
“Where do you think they’ve all gone?” Jafar asks.
“And what are we going to do about it?” Cruella de Ville scratches her scalp.
“Well, I scared that little prince into thinking I’m coming after him, so I don’t think he’ll be coming back for us,” Maleficent reaches the tall double doors.
“So what do we do now?” Evil Queen looks at her.
“Well, now we loot and destroy all that is good and beautiful.”

Chapter Twenty-Seven~

“I think it’s time we all learn how the other half of this kingdom lives,” Ben stands in front of the Sidekick Council at the edge of the Enchanted Lake. Maleficent never did find out that was Mal’s secret hiding spot. In fact, he’s not sure if she ever found her daughter at all.
“Why?” Grumpy asks.
“Well, it’s just like Doc once said,” Ben says to Grumpy. “I decided to step foot outside of the castle. I’m not that same little boy I was at our very first Council meeting.”
“Well, doesn’t that seem like it was forever ago?” Grumpy crosses his arms.
“Why is that little girl hiding her face?” the hearing device in Ben’s ear that allows him to understand the animal sidekicks squeaks. He turns his head toward Mary the mouse who is settled next to a bird’s nest on a branch. “Isn’t that the little fairy daughter?”
Ben turns over his shoulder to look, “Jane, drop your hands!”
“I can’t,” she shakes her head. “I don’t want them to see me like this.”
“Hey,” he moves closer to her and wraps his fingers around her wrists. “We talked about this. You have to let them see it. And if you feel like it’s a punishment, then maybe you shouldn’t have taken the wand.”
She lowers her hands, if only to glare at him, “Well, you don’t have to be so harsh.”
“But it got you to drop your hands, didn’t it?” he grins. He squeezes her wrists a smidge before turning back to the Sidekicks.
Most everybody is looking at Jane with horrored expressions.
Adrina, Ariel’s sister, pops her head up to the surface of the lake. She asks, “Why does that little girl look like that?”
“This,” Ben grabs Jane by the shoulders and pulls her to stand in front of him, “and worse, is what’ll happen to all of us if we return to that castle. It’s time for us to build a new kingdom.”
“And you expect us to build it for you in our neighborhood?” Grumpy grumps.
“No,” Ben shakes his head. “I expect the princes and princesses and all of the children of Auradon to rebuild their own kingdom. It’s about time we learn how to work for ourselves and meet our own goals.”
“Impressive,” Doc says. “It looks like you’re really learning what it means to be king.”
“Yeah, well,” he shrugs. “Now that they have a new king, I’m ready for them to have a new kingdom.”
“Hmm,” Grumpy lets his arms drop by his sides. “Seems like something we could be ready for as well.”
“And it’s something,” Ben turns toward the lake. He looks out toward all of his kingdom, watching him from the opposite shoreline, “I want all of you to prepare for as well.”
Jane looks up at him in awe.

Chapter Twenty-Eight~

“This kingdom is ours,” Maleficent holds her arms out wide. “That little prince gave up defeat and left us to live here by ourselves. I guess he wasn’t all that relentless, after all.”
The whole kingdom of villains and villain kids roars up in a cheer.
Maleficent laughs maliciously. “That’s right,” she says. “We get to keep everything they left behind here. We get choice pick of all of the houses and castles.”
“I know which castle I’m going to pick,” Evil Queen mumbles under her breath next to her.
Maleficent glares at EQ from the corner of her eye. “However, I,” her voices raises loud enough to be heard on the Isle of the Lost, “will be taking ownership of the castle of the little prince.”
EQ gapes at her unabashedly.

Chapter Twenty-Nine~

The four VKs stand at the edge of the bridge overlooking the broken barrier of the Isle of the Lost. They’re all clasping each other’s’ hands.
“Are we all ready?” Sofia asks everybody.
“Yeah,” Carlos tells her.
“Let’s go,” Jay says.
“No.”
Everybody turns to look at Mal in shock.
She doesn’t look at anybody as she says, “Not until I tell you something.”
Evie leans forward to get a better look at her; she’s on the other side of Carlos from her, “Well, what is it?”
Mal looks straight at her, “I love you.”
She lets out a little, “Oh.”
“I love all of you,” Mal looks from one of the boys next her to the other. “We all started this together from the moment we ventured out to get my mom’s scepter. I’m so glad we’re ending it the same way.”
“We love you too.” Carlos jokes, “But we’re not ending it with the scepter.”
Mal laughs. “No,” she shakes her head.
“And I agree with Mal,” he looks to his other side at Evie. “We’ve been through too much together to not end it like this. I love you, Evie.”
“Oh,” she touches his cheek. “I love you too, my little bedding buddy.”
He laughs at that.
But she’s not done yet, “If not for you, I wouldn’t have been through all of it with any of you guys.”
He smiles through tear filled eyes. He turns to Jay, “I love you too, man. And so does Dude.” He jiggles the red leash wrapped around his wrist, “Dude loves all of you.”
“I love you too,” Sofia bends down to kiss at the tan, little mutt. She straightens up to take a peek at a Jay, “And you know I love you over there.”
“I know, Princess Blueberry,” he smiles shyly.
She returns his smile, brightly.
The three VKs watch Jay, waiting for him to say it to all of them.
Jay looks down and kicks a stray rock that has found its way upon the magical bridge. “Do you remember that night Lonnie came into the kitchen and found us making Ben’s love spell?”
Carlos and Evie nod.
“Uh-huh,” Mal squeezes his hand gently.
He smiles up at her a little. “She came to that conclusion that our parents don’t love us or whatever,” he says. “I was looking at the three of you and you all looked so broken, but I- I mean, my dad has always loved me in his own way. He chose me, after all. It’s just that I’d never had those words said to me until we were in Doug’s house the other day.”
“They were true,” she whispers.
“But I’ve never said them, either,” he looks up at the three of them. “My dad always taught that it was Aladin’s love for Jasmine that ruined his life. So, I always- I always thought that-”
“Love could ruin the world,” Mal finished for him. “That’s what we were all taught.”
“And maybe there’s some truth in it,” Carlos said.
They all three turn to look at him.
He finishes, “Audrey loved Ben, and look at what happened to that. This whole mess started after Maleficent killed her. And don’t you think she killed her because Audrey had wanted to protect Ben?”
Mal nods slowly, “I guess you’re right.”
“But even if you are,” Jay looks at him and then each of the girls in turn, “and even if it destroys us all… I love you guys. More than I ever even knew what love feels like.”
Mal bites her lip, eyes shining. “Well, let’s go,” she says.
“Wait,” Jay holds them back this time. “We’re new people now. We’re not castle-stuck,” he looks to Evie. “Or slaves to our moms,” then Carlos. “Or thieves,” finally, he looks at Mal. “But there is one more thing I need to steal before we go in there.”
“And what is that?” she asks.
He doesn’t even answer as he leans down to kiss her.
She quickly pulls back. And then she laughs, “You can’t steal something that is given to you willingly.” She grabs his face and kisses him back.
Their friends cheer them on.
Mal pulls back and states, “Let’s all go home and make it ours this time.”
The four step foot on the Isle of the Lost.

Chapter Thirty~

“I was having so much fun, I almost forgot… You didn’t think this was the end of the story, did you?”