Update 13/8/2016: Time for another makeover, I'd say. 2016 edition!

Disclaimer: Nah, still don't own anything.

Moonlight shone dimly through the drawn curtains, casting shadows on the walls. The window was slightly open, just enough so the sea below could be heard. The sound of the waves crashing against the rocky shore was like a lullaby to Erik's ears.

It was one of the reasons why he liked this particular hideout so much.

The never-ending train of his thoughts kept him awake even at this hour, when the whole world was supposed to be resting in the arms of Morpheus.
He might desire sleep, but there was always something to plan, something to solve, something to ponder about. And so his mind jumped from topic to topic, weaving the web of his endless night-time musings.

The wallpaper was starting to peel off in the corner of the room, he noticed. It was an old-fashioned one, beige with brown rose silhouttes, but he liked it.


There was an apt description of him.


Erik absent-mindedly stroke the scales on Raven's hand with his thumb. She snuggled closer to him, her back warm against his chest.

These were the moments he valued the most, if he were to be honest.




As he looked on Raven's sleeping form, he felt his heart tighten. She was his anchor, his most trusted friend, his other half. He couldn't imagine losing her, didn't think he'd be able to keep on living.

Surviving, maybe. But not living.

Erik had lost many people he loved. Too many. He wouldn't let anyone or anything take Raven from him too.

Especially not the damned cure.

He still didn't know if it existed, but the bits and pieces of information he had managed to get so far were all quite convincing.
If everything went according to the plan, Raven would be snooping around an FDA facility in just a few days to get to the truth.

Cure, cure, cure.

Why should it be called that, anyway? Mutation wasn't a sickness! It was a part of this world, not a tumor humanity needed to cut out before it spread too wide!

No matter what anyone said, Erik knew far too well how things like this progressed. If humans got their hands on a new weapon - and anything like the cure was a weapon, that was for sure -, they were bound to use it, even if they had to create an entirely new conflict as a justification.

At the back of his mind, Erik was aware that there were mutants who'd gladly use something like the rumoured serum to make their lives easier. Mutants whose powers were out of their control, mutants who were scared, mutants who'd lost people they cared about because of their abilities.

And perhaps, if such a substance was in the hands of the mutantkind and it was truly voluntarily taken, perhaps Erik could accept its existence.

Unfortunately, there was no way the government would leave the cure alone.

And sometimes one had to strike before being struck down oneself.

A year ago, when he turned Charles' focus from mutants to humans in Stryker's Cerebro, Erik wasn't aiming to destroy humans. He just wanted them to feel the pain mutants had to endure mere minutes before.

He knew the X-Men wouldn't let their beloved leader do something as horrific as wiping out a half of the Earth's population and therefore it was only a matter of time before they put their heads together and got Charles out of the machine.

Obviously, it turned out he was right.

With the cure, though, it would be something entirely different. Humans would proclaim how miraculous, how good it was, but Erik was quite sure it would already be quietly mass-produced in the form of ammunition.

Oh, and they would speak so wisely, their looks full of understanding and benevolence, sage rulers showing the path of enlightenment to the poor confused peasants.

How dare they? How dare they boast about progress and a better future? How dare they -


Raven's sleepy voice broke Erik's thoughts and he realized he'd let his emotions take over his mind. As a result, metallic object in the room were now shaking violently - or, in the case of their bed, floating a few inches above the floor. With a sigh, Erik focused and let everything return to its natural state.

"Sorry," he said and kissed the top of Raven's head.

She turned to him, her golden eyes searching his face for a clue to his mental state.

"Thinking about the cure again?" she asked.

"What else?" Erik murmured, more to himself than to her.

"You know, it really is of no use to torment yourself with endless what ifs," the blue mutant said, stretching her arms, "we'll know where we stand soon enough."

"Yesterday was already too late," replied Erik. He sometimes admired Raven's ability to clear her mind of doubts and focus purely on her objective. It was probably the reason why she was able to sleep when he just stared at the ceiling all night long, thinking.

"Let's just hope we'll be ready before they decide to preventively vaccinate us all," he said.

And they would if they found a good enough reason, he had no doubts about that.

"Have you thought about protection?" asked Raven suddenly, a thoughtful look in her eyes.

Oh, so she wasn't completely immune to the endless questions the night brought.

"Against the alleged cure, you mean?" said Erik, shifting into a more comfortable position. "Yes. Kind of. There aren't that many things we can do other than applying extreme caution."

"And if someone gets hit or injected or inhales the damn thing?"


Then Erik said quietly: "I don't know. What to do with a human in our ranks? On one hand, the person would still probably be on our side. But on the other..."

His voice trailed off.

He honestly wasn't sure.

Would the effects of the cure be permanent? Would the affected person truly become a Homo sapiens? And if they did, how should he treat them? If it came down to a war, should he choose puryfying the Brotherhood over sheltering ordinary humans?

A fleeting thought flew across his mind, a mere spark that returned a second later as a bright flame.

What if the two of them got...cured?

Erik couldn't - wouldn't imagine himself or Raven without their powers. The X-gene was a part of who they were. Magneto and Mystique, both too cunning, too good to let their guard down.

If it were anyone else, there would be doubts and weighing pros and cons.

But if by some fault in the stars Raven was affected by the cure, he knew with absolute certainty he couldn't let her go.

Not her. Not his blue angel.

Not after everything she'd done for him.

But he needed to say it out loud, he realized. She needed to know where they stood.

"If," Erik started slowly, trying to find the right words to express himself, "if someone from the Brotherhood were to get the cure into their system, I truly don't know if I'd allow them to stay among us. But know this, Raven," blue-grey eyes found golden ones, "no matter what happens to us, I'm never, ever leaving you. I owe you too much. And," - oh, this was still hard, old habits don't die easily - "I love you."

Something flickered in her gaze. He hoped it was assurance.

"Then you can count on me to do the same," she replied, leaning forward to kiss him.

Raven moved instinctively, without thinking, at the very moment the guard pulled the trigger.

The dart hit her in the shoulder, the little syringe pumping its load of the Cure into her body.

She fell on the floor of the trailer, shaking and trembling in pain as the substance tore through her cells.

"You saved me," whispered Magneto.

There was fear in his eyes, fear and uncertainty, cracks in his mask of cold indifference.

As the last blue scales disappeared from her body, Raven reached out to him with her hand: "Erik - "

The sound of her voice snapped him out of his shock. A flick of his finger turned the gun in the guard's hands into a long strip of metal and plastered him against the wall with it. With a wave of his hand Erik threw all the other mutants out of the trailer, not caring how hard their landing was going to be. Another gesture brought together the metal walls at the end of the vehicle, shielding them from the outside world.

Kneeling, he took off his cape and covered the now black-haired woman on the floor with it.

She grabbed it so tight her knuckles whitened, holding onto the fabric as though her life depended on it. Then her eyes darted to her hands, her pink, soft hands and a horrible realization started to form on her face.

Erik felt a wave of rage in the pit of his stomach. A rage so cold it burned. The same rage he felt back in Poland when his mother died.

They hurt her. They hurt Raven.

His Raven.

He raised his head and met the terrified gaze of the guard who fired the shot. He had no metallic accessories, not even a belt buckle, but Erik didn't need that. Not in his current state of mind. Not when there was enough of it in the man's body, not when the magnetic field was at his disposal.

A flick of Erik's wrist and the guard rose in the air, a puppet at the mercy of his puppeteer.

"You shouldn't have," Magneto growled.

He could feel the man's heartbeat, so, so fast.

There were plenty of things he could do to him, countless ways to make him suffer, techniques that would keep him alive but screaming in endless pain.

But he didn't have the time to truly satisfy the fury inside him. Not when Raven needed him.

And so he merely ripped a few bolts from the walls of the trailer and shot them through the man's chest like bullets.

Letting the corpse drop to the ground, Erik pulled Raven into his lap and wrapped his arms around her.

"It's alright, it's alright," he murmured over and over.

God, it'd been decades since he'd felt so afraid, so helpless.

"I'm not gonna leave you here. I'm here. It's alright. I'll keep my promise. Don't worry."

She turned her eyes to him - blue, not gold, the warm gold! - and seemed to gather some courage.

"What's going to happen to me, Erik? I'm not a mutant anymore. I'm human. I'm...normal."

She spat the word as if it were a poison.

"We'll find an antidote. I'll find someone who'll help you. We can fight this. Don't worry."

Truth to be told, he had no idea what to do, but he needed her to know that he was here, that he wasn't going anywhere, not without her.

Raven bit her lip. She wanted to scream and run and cry, but she couldn't afford to do that.
No, even if she wasn't a mutant anymore, she could still help the Brotherhood.
Help Erik.

Don't cry.

"Leave me here," she said firmly.

Erik frowned: "What? That's insane. I'm not going to do that!"

She took a deep, shaky breath.

"I can pretend that you left me here and give them false information. I can send you messages about their plans. Or something. I still want to be a part of the fight, not someone who the others will see as a cripple amongst their ranks. It would kill me to be around them when they have what I -"

She broke off, blinking furiously.

Don't cry don't cry don't cry.

Erik stared at her, disapproval written across his features. His hold on her tightened as if he was trying to make her understand that leaving her would go against his very being.

But she did.

Oh, she understood him better than he himself knew. She understood his need to protect what he saw as his, she understood his feelings towards her, she understood his fear of being alone once again.

Raven focused on his eyes to avoid looking at her skin.

"How could I abandon you, Raven?" Erik asked almost pleadingly. "How could I keep going without you?"

"Erik, you need to go. If you don't lead them, who will?"

He pulled her closer to him, a sound that sounded too much like a sob escaping his lips.

"God, Raven, I can't lose you," he whispered.

"You won't," she said firmly, sounding stronger than she felt. "This is my choice and mine alone. I choose to keep fighting. You need to do that too."

There was sadness in his eyes, sadness so great it tore at her heart. But he nodded slowly.

"I'll find you when this is over," he said. "No matter what happens, I'll find you. I promise."

Raven smiled.

Keep smiling don't let him see keep it inside don't cry don't cry don't cry.

"I know."

Slowly, reluctantly, he rose to his feet, helping her up as well. Raven moved her hand to her shoulder to give him back his cape, but Erik was faster. A twirl of his hand and a snap of his fingers and small pieces of metal clasped themselves onto the fabric so it hung on her body as a dress of sorts.

Raven was glad for that. This way, there was less skin she would have to look at.

Oh, God.

Erik pulled her into his embrace, his hands stroking her back soothingly.

There were his lips on the top of her head and he stepped back, a sad old sentimental fool afraid of letting go.

"I'll find you," he said.

And then he was in front of her again, pulling her into a kiss.

She felt as if it was a lifetime since the dart hit her, even though it couldn't be more than ten minutes.

When they finally parted, Erik took a few steps towards the end of the trailer, turned back and smiled despite the fact a tear was slowly making its way down his cheek.

"I love you,Liebling."

Then he pulled apart he walls at the end of the trailer, flew out and closed the hole behind him.

Raven listened until she was sure everyone was gone.

She concentrated and tried to change, urged her mind to work, wishing to at least have her beautiful scales back, but nothing happened. Her skin was still ugly pink - no more blue - and smooth. Her hair was dark black, like the wings of a raven - no more mystique - instead of bright red.

She sat down on the floor and leaned against the cold wall.

And she finally let the tears flow.

She cried when she left Charles, when the family the two of them formed so long ago lay in ruins.

She cried when she left her only son at the German circus, when she promised herself she'd return for him one day when she could take care him, knowing full well that day might never come.

But now she cried because everything she was, everything she'd become, was gone.

No more mutant and proud. Now, she was normal.

Raven remembered the way she and Hank used to say that word.


Oh, they were so, so naïve. Dreaming of fitting in, hoping to overcome the obstacles their appearances put in their way.

And now the only thing Raven wanted more than to be with Erik, to snuggle up in his arms and forget the world, was to be different again.

Erik was no stranger to pain, having had his share of experiences both from the war that took so much from him and from the course of his long life. Pain he could endure, pain he knew how to deal with.

But there was another feeling, one that he hadn't known in more than eighty years. It wasn't a feeling per se, more the absence of one.

He'd forgotten what it was like to not feel the metal around him, to not be able to reach out with his mind and take control.

Now he knew.

And it was terryfying.

With a trembling hand he ripped the darts out of his chest and whispered: "I'm - "

Wolverine, standing above him, finished the sentence: " - like them. Yeah."

Erik felt numb. It was as if someone threw a thick blanket over the world, silencing all sounds. All he could hear was the blood pounding in his ears, his ragged breathing, the clank of his helmet falling off his head and hitting the ground.

Like a drowning man, desperately reaching out in one last attempt to save himself, Erik turned to Phoenix, still standing on the edge of the bridge, watching the battlefield below her with a bored expression.

This can't be over. Not like this.

He shouted: "Do you see? This is what they want to do with all of us!"

She merely lifted an eyebrow and turned her stare on Wolverine.

The feral mutant yelled at her: "Jean! It's over!"

The soldiers, encouraged by the fall of the Master of Magnetism, began to regroup, taking aim at Phoenix, fingers itching to pull the trigger.

His voice laced with desperation, Logan yelled: "Don't shoot!"

Too late, thought Erik. Too bloody late. This is human nature at its finest. They're not going to stop just because you told them to. Foolish boy.

Every move hurt like hell - is this how old people really feel like? - but he clenched his teeth and with all the energy he could muster crawled behind a car wreck.

This wasn't going to be pretty.

The soldiers fired.

All the darts stopped in midair and then, as if someone flicked a switch, Phoenix's eyes went black.

She blinked and all the darts turned into ash. Before the men could understand what had really happened, they met the same fate.

Anger radiated off Phoenix, anger so raw Erik felt the hair at the back of his neck stand up.

Slowly, gracefully, she rose into the air, a goddess of fire and destruction about to smite her enemies. Everything around her fell apart, everyone who got too close becoming mere dust. She finally landed on the top of a pile of cars, the deadly calm eye of the raging hurricane.

"What have I done?" asked Erik himself quietly as he pulled himself up, only to fall against the railing of the bridge.

Oh, really is no controlling her. No reasoning with her. No persuading her. I woke up the sleeping dragon and now it's going to burn us all to the ground.

He saw Wolverine talking to Storm, determination mixed with fear on both their faces. The white-haired woman put a hand on his shoulder, then pulled him into a hug all of a sudden. They clung to each other only for a second before she ran away, heading towards the rest of the X-Men.

Phoenix turned her stare to Logan, the image of a firebird around her pulsing slightly. With a loud SNIKT, Logan ejected all of his claws and began to walk towards her, fighting against her power with every step he took.

And oh, what a power that was. The less Phoenix let the hurricane destroying the island rage, the more she focused on the mutant climbing up to where she stood.

Soon, the adamantium of Wolverine's bones was visible through the shreds of his skin and flesh. His body didn't even have the time to heal itself properly. It seemed like he was going to perish, to become a pile of ash like everything else that stood in Phoenix's way.

But he walked on.

Erik had to say, he was a bit impressed.

Finally, after what seemed like eternity, Logan reached Phoenix. Erik didn't hear what was said between them, but then Wolverine stabbed her. A fast and practiced move, through the stomach up to the chest. Fastest way to the heart.

Phoenix - or was it Jean? - collapsed into Logan's arms, the feral mutant howling his sorrow to the skies.

The battle of Alcatraz was over.

Magneto was gone.

But when Erik turned around and walked away, a tired old man in a cape, he couldn't bring himself to let go of the helmet in his hand.

The park was beautiful at this time of the day. Fresh green grass, families chattering and laughing, sun shining from the almost cloudless sky.

The first few weeks it made Erik bitter and tired, tired of being reminded of the beauty of being young and free and careless and able to do anything.

Now, he didn't even care anymore.
Now, he just sat the chess table and stared at the game pieces, aware of the pointlessness of anything he did.

He tried locating Raven, but to no avail. None of his old contacts responded, none of the hideouts he could get to showed signs of being used.

Maybe it was better this way. She was resourceful and intelligent and strong and really, what could he offer to her now?

He no longer had an elegant suit with a billowing cape, a fitting helmet on his head.

Now it was a flanel shirt with a waistcoat and a cap.

For two months, he came to the park every day. Even though watching people and playing chess were the only things he could do, it was still better than sitting alone in his flat.

Chess was frustrating, if he were to be honest.

The game itself allowed him to focus on something other than his situation, but he couldn't help but feel like those little pieces of metal on the board were taunting him, challenging him, mocking him.

Each day he tried to move them with his mind and each day he failed.

He wondered just how long could he keep it up before he finally slipped into the abbyss of madness lurking in the depths of his mind.

Seeing the mutants in the crowd around him didn't help either. Some he knew - like that blasted Worthington boy with his pretty wings, flying around the city like an oversized piegon-, some he recognized from the way they watched the world around them. Careful, always on edge, ready to defend themselves.

Was this reality now? The never-ending fight and the hopelessness of it all?

He never knew what the answer was.

Today, however, something was different.

Ever since he woke up in his small flat a few blocks from the park, he felt as if something was pressing against his brain at the back of his head.

He didn't care at first, pushing it aside as another sign of the old age overcoming him, weakening him, but when it didn't stop and even grew stronger when he passed a big truck on the street and walked by a metal statue in the park, he began to think.

Could the poison wear off? Fade away?

Now, Erik sat at the chess table, his eyes closed and his hand spread in the oh-so-familiar gesture towards the game pieces.

He gathered all of his willpower, every bit of concentration he had

(the point between rage and serenity)

and as he opened his eyes, he pushed at the corners of his mind.

And the queen moved.

It was unbelievable.

It was impossible.

It was amazing.

He tried once more and the queen slowly flew from its place to the other side of the board.

Erik felt a smile spreading across his face. He was back. Oh, he was back.

A shadow fell on the chessboard.

"Nice move."

Erik moved the chair back and stood up, more than ready to test just how much power he had against anyone who dared to provoke him.

Blue eyes met his and the wind toyed with strands of short black hair.

"Raven," Erik more breathed than said, a weight falling off his heart, the never leaving fear that she was hurt - or worse - melting away. Without thinking, he crossed the distance between them and pulled her to himself, the familiar feeling of her body in his arms making his heart sing.

"I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. God, Raven, I'm so sorry," he repeated, tears forming in his eyes.

"Shhh," she murmured, "it's alright. We're here. Together. That's all that matters."

She entangled herself from his embrace and smiled at him, reaching up to cup his cheek with her hand.

And Erik smiled back at her, the smile turning into a grin, the joy in his heart so powerful he wanted to laugh out loud.

Because in the palm of her hand,


he felt scales.

Thank you for reading - and have an eXcellent day!

~hervissa :)