Mal did not see Aurora and Prince Phillip for a couple of days after the party. She had finished moving everything in to her house with Diaval's 'help'. She'd also received a visit from Bella, who seemed to be more interested in Di but was never the less very friendly.
Occasionally, in the garden, she would hear Phillip next door. He was usually complaining about going back to school; it appeared he wasn't a fan. Even less frequently, she heard Rory replying.
Three days before she would begin her new job, Mal got a knock on the door. She had agreed to go with Di to the University, to look around and get used to the campus, but she was meeting him there and was supposed to have left five minutes ago. She hated being late but an old friend had called and they'd gotten talking about their University days. She ran to the door and pulled it open, bag and keys in hand.
Blue eyes stopped her in her tracks.
"Hi." Aurora smiled.
"Aurora... hello." Mal stopped in her tracks. "Is Phillip hiding again?"
"Oh... no." Aurora looked at her feet, an embarrassed flush spreading across her cheeks.
"What...?" Mal's phone began ringing; it would be Diaval wondering why she was running late. She had sent him a text when she realised the time. Aurora glanced at Mal's hands and saw her keys and bag.
"Oh... you're heading out. Sorry. I'll just go."
"No..." Mal said, before she could stop herself. "No... I shall be back tonight. Whatever it is, could it wait? I don't want to be rude but I'm late and-"
"That's fine. Yes. I'll come back."
"I don't want to seem..." Crazy? Weird? She bet her hair was flying everywhere and she looked out of breath.
Aurora laughed and shook her head.
"Really, it's fine. I have work to do anyway."
"Oh... good. Tonight then?" Mal stepped out of the house and closed the door, locking it.
"Yes." Aurora grinned happily and Mal had to remind herself that she really had to leave. Now.
"Great. See you then." Mal smiled and hurried over to her car. She waved at Aurora as she backed the car out of the drive and set off towards the city.
Diaval was only slightly put out by her lateness. He was sitting on a bench, texting.
"Who has you so engrossed?" Mal asked as she reached him.
"Someone who wouldn't leave me sitting on a bench for fifteen minutes."
"I couldn't find a space to park."
"And Leila called."
"Oh the joys."
"Come on, enough about the crazy fairy, time for a tour and lunch."
Mal sighed and joined Di on a walk around campus; at least, the parts that she definitely needed to know. The library, her building and office, where her classes were and so on. When they had finished they went to the campus pub/bar for lunch and sat looking at the water.
"You know, you don't have to put on the evil face. The kids are quite nice." Di peered at Mal over his glass.
"Di, you know full well I'm entirely evil and it isn't put on." Mal cackled. Her friend laughed and shook his head.
"No, you can't pull that on me. You forget I've seen you in your new home. With Phillip. And Aurora."
"Well..." Mal huffed and looked away. "I can't exactly scare my neighbours off can I?"
"You didn't mind in the city."
"That is the city. Full of weirdos. You being a prime example."
"Thank you darling." Di replied, smirking. Mal rolled her eyes.
"I'm only evil when they deserve it. It's not my fault that it leaves a lasting impression."
"Well... I can't argue with that. But I've seen you make twenty year old men cry. Hell I've seen you make a forty year old man cry."
"He deserved it."
"I'm not debating that. Anyone who grabs your butt without permission gets what they deserve. I'm just saying; you've got a skill in making people terrified. Try to not let it slip in to your new life. I like them."
"I do too." She admitted, thinking back to the party where Aurora had laughed at her and called her an Evil Queen with no hint of malice at all.
"Dear god, the ice queen has truly melted."
"Repeat that after my first week."
"I'm sure I won't be able to." Diaval smirked again. "In fact I give it less than a month before faculty members are coming to me asking me to speak to you."
"In which case, tell them if it's not important enough for them to come to me, then they'd be best to not leave a message at all."
"And she's back." He winked. "So, what are you doing with your last few days of freedom?"
"I have no idea. I have everything prepared."
"Of course you do." He smiled. "Well then, why not stay here tonight? We can go out, like old times."
"I-" She remembered that Aurora was expecting her. "I can't. I have a visitor this evening."
"Oh? May I enquire as to whom is visiting?" Di put on his poshest voice, until he frowned and looked at her seriously. "It's not Leila is it?"
"No Di, it isn't."
"Thank god. She's best off wherever the hell she is. Or whatever part of hell she's in I should say."
"I still don't understand why you hate her. If anyone should, it should be me."
"Yes well... you're not sensible enough to hate her. So I do it for you."
Mal laughed and got up out of her seat.
"Well thank you for caring so much. I have to get going."
"Ah the mystery visitor calls you away."
"Bye Diaval." She rolled her eyes and waved goodbye. He blew her a kiss and she left, shaking her head and smiling.