'There isn't a single student I like.'
Mal spent the night and next day wondering why Aurora had phrased it like that. Why had she said student? It left so much open to interpretation and with Mal's dream still floating around it really didn't help. Never the less, she had decided to act as though everything was normal. She wanted everything to return to how they had been before...
That evening, Phillip appeared, wielding his sword. Mal was lying on a blanket, reading a book for next week.
"Evil qween!" He cried and leapt on her, knocking the air from her lungs.
"Prince Phillip! I haven't kidnapped anyone in weeks!" She protested when she'd regained her breath.
"Can't find Rora."
Mal sat up.
"What do you mean you can't find Aurora?"
"Dad yell at her and she run."
"When Phillip? This evening?" Phillip nodded and Mal stood up. "Come on Phillip. I'll help you find Rora."
They looked around the garden, and a little way down the road but there was no sign of the blonde. When the light started to dim Mal decided she had better take Phillip home.
"I'll keep looking Phillip." She promised him at the door before it opened.
"Oh, there you are." Stephan said. "Been causing trouble for Miss Moore huh?"
"No, he's been a delight." Mal replied, fighting back the urge to glare. "Is Aurora around?"
"No. Thought she'd be at yours."
"Well she'd better get back sharpish. I've had to order dinner because she's not here to cook."
"How traumatic for you." Mal bit back. "I suppose you've been looking for her?"
"I have better things to do. Goodbye Miss Moore." Stephan glared and shut the door in her face. She scowled and beat back the urge to kick the door. He clearly didn't care and wasn't fit to be a parent. She wondered if she should call someone and tell them?
First thing is first. Aurora.
Mal jumped in to her car and decided to scan the neighbourhood. She drove for an hour and hadn't found Aurora. With a sigh she decided to return home, thinking reluctantly that she should ask Stephan if she had returned. As her car pulled in the headlights lit up her front door, and the huddled figure sitting there. Mal jumped out of the car and hurried to her, frantically pressing the lock button as she ran.
"Aurora I've been looking everywhere for you." She said as she reached her. "Are you alright?"
The blonde shook her head from where it rested in her hands, and Mal glared at the thought of Stephan causing this girl any harm.
Aurora shook her head again and Mal became frustrated that the girl wouldn't look at her. She wanted to check that she was okay; hear her say it.
"Aurora, please. Look at me. What do you need?"
Slowly, Aurora's head rose a little. Her hair hung around her face, shielding her from view. Mal knelt in front of her and, gently, stroked her hair back and lifted her head more.
The bruise was forming along her cheek and her eyes were red and puffy from crying. Rage boiled in Mal's throat and stomach.
"Hell no." She growled. "He did this to you? Stephan?" Aurora nodded. "Has he done it before?" The blonde looked hesitant, but nodded. "Come on. We're getting you inside."
Mal opened the door and helped Aurora inside. She sat her on the sofa and got her some ice for the bruise and some ice-cream for... well, comfort.
"Here." She said gently, sitting beside Aurora and handing her the ice-cream and a spoon. Aurora gave a dry little chuckle and opened the tub and putting it on the table to warm a little.
"Thank you." Her voice was dry and choked and it made Mal even angrier. She reached up and gently placed the towel with the ice on the bruise. Aurora hissed.
"Hold still. It's for the swelling." Mal stroked Aurora's hair out of her face, hooking it behind her ear. "I'll kill him Aurora. I'll knock him so hard he-"
"No." Aurora said, laying her hand over Mal's that held the ice. "I need to be there for Phillip."
"You can't let him do this to you."
"He doesn't do it a lot."
"Aurora..." Mal protested, outraged.
"Mal please. Please don't. If you tell someone, they'll take Phillip away and I won't see him. I won't have anywhere to live, I won't have money for University... he doesn't do anything to Phillip. He loves him. It's just me."
"It's not 'just' you. It's you! He can't get away with this Aurora."
"Please Mal. I only have this year and then I'll be working more and doing my masters. I'll be able to get a place of my own and I'll convince him to let Phillip live with me."
"And what if he says no? What if you decide you can't leave Phillip and decide to stay? What then?" Mal argued.
"Mal... please." Aurora begged, gripping both of Mal's hands so tightly that Mal had to drop the ice. "Please. I came because I thought you would understand."
"I don't. Aurora, I can't let you stay there. I can't let Phillip stay there knowing-"
"He doesn't touch Phillip! You think I'd stay there if he did? I'd have been the one calling social services."
Mal bit her lip and frowned.
"What happens when people see the bruise?"
"I'll tell them Phillip smacked me with his sword, play fighting." She answered so quickly, Mal knew she must have used that excuse before.
"Aurora... how many times have you had to say Phillip smacked you?"
Aurora's eyes filled with tears and she bit her lip.
"Aurora... I..." Mal's anger was making her shake. "You have no idea how much I want to go and take a bat to Stephan's head right now."
"But you won't?" Aurora asked, hesitantly.
"Not if you don't want me to."
"Want?" Aurora laughed. "I want you to, but you can't, and I need you to not. You have no idea how much I wish you could."
Mal brushed Aurora's bruise gently with her thumb. The girl didn't flinch.
"What kind of monster would hurt you like this?" She asked, and then remembered that she had pushed Aurora against the wall. She quickly withdrew her hand and looked down. "I... I'm so sorry. How could you not hate me after what I did? When you've been through all of this?"
"Because you weren't angry at me. You were scared. Don't you dare compare yourself to him." Aurora said, shuffling closer and drawing Mal's head up gently.
"I hurt you."
"No Mal. No." She stroked Mal's hair, her finger nails scraping gently against her scalp. Mal drew in a sharp breath. Aurora moved a little closer. "You didn't hurt me at all." She leaned in gently and placed a soft, hesitant kiss on Mal's cheek, at the very edge of her lips.
"Aurora..." Mal breathed, the smell of the blonde circling her and making her feel light headed. She felt the soft lips smile against hers, and then Aurora kissed her again, on the lips. She was gentle, and her hands cupped Mal's face as she drew her in to the kiss. "Fuck..." Mal took her hands and held them away, pulling back a little. "We can't do this."
"Why not?" Aurora asked.
"Because you're upset and you're just... you just want comfort."
"Don't be stupid Mal." Aurora chuckled. "I've wanted to do that since the moment I met you."