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Little Lion Man

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Ororo was rarely seen as she was.

She knew what Scott thought of her, how he thought she was just a sweet, innocent girl, how he adored being able to teach someone something, in her case, English. She knew what Jean thought of her, how she thought that poor Ororo had been mistreated and used in her years before the Institute, how she needed a friend to help her.

These things weren't necessarily untrue.

She did need help with her English, and she was even-tempered, though not entirely by nature. She had been mistreated and used in her youth, and she did need a friend.

What neither understood was that Ororo was so much more than those parts.

Because while Scott and Jean were both so powerful they had yet to grasp control, Ororo had not only mastered her power as a child, Ororo had been a goddess. Jean was beautiful, envied, vied for, but they had knelt to Ororo. Scott was popular, was strong, but it had been Ororo people had been willing to shed blood for. Ororo they had paid tribute to, Ororo they had loved, and Ororo they had feared.

And it was Ororo that little John Allerdyce followed with wide, worshipful eyes. Not Jean, not Scott, but her.

“Why does it rain?” he asked, in the very serious tone of a six-year-old on a mission.

“Because I tell it to,” she answered, and with a wave of her hand, clouds formed overhead, grey and ominous. The rain fell at her thoughts, and John smiled.

“Why is the thunder so loud?” he asked.

“The thunder is my lion, roaring for all to hear, telling them all of my power, warning them of their fates,” she answered, and the thunder rolled overhead, a lion's roar. “The lightning is his teeth, gnashing down on the bones of those who oppose me.”

John laughed, delighted, and she smiled at him, pulling him close, kissing his cheek. He smelled like dirt and plants, like a little boy should smell. He'd been helping her in the garden today, as he did most days, though so far his skill only extended to pulling out the clover that kept trying to take over. It was still a help.

“The lion is my guardian,” she said, as she made it flash in the distance. They were quickly getting wet, but John didn't mind, and the rain was good for him. All children should play in the rain. “And so he guards you, my little prince.”

“I'm not a prince,” he mumbled, eyeing the mud forming. There would be frogs if there was mud, and John dearly loved to catch them in his hands, inspect them.

“I am a queen, and you are my John, so you are a prince,” she insisted, and he grinned as she released him into the rain and mud. In only a moment, he produced a bullfrog, skin slick with water and mud. “What a clever boy you are,” She cooed, as he showed her his prize.

“You want him?” he asked, and she took the frog gladly, his tribute to her. “Miss Grey is scared of frogs,” he said, with a bit of a sulk working its way to his mouth.

“She just does not understand them,” Ororo told him, as she released the amphibian back into the muddy earth. “Not like we do.”

He came back to her, covered in mud, crawling in to her lap, streaking her skirt and shirt with it. She cuddled him close again, and kissed his dirt-streaked cheeks, standing with him so they could spin. He was still light enough she could lift him easily enough, could still play these games. The rain poured down on them, and as they both laughed, the lion gnashed his teeth and gave a great roar around them, queen and crown prince.