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Lion Eyes.

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People like you are why I was afraid to go to school as a child.



Raven is sorted into Hufflepuff.


No, really: Raven looks less than eleven when she meets Charles in the kitchen, but a very brilliant scientist in another version of her story points out out that when she was forty, she would still look like a teenager. Her cells age along a decreasing curve. When she was an infant, she aged at normal speed; when she was less than a teenager, she aged at roughly 75% of normal pace.

She is sitting next to Charles. They are eating breakfast the drawing room in the west wing, and she is idly chewing on a crust of toast when the maid brings the mail in. No postcards from Charles's mother, and no presents either, but there is a letter with a big red wax seal and a capital H. Charles reaches for it, and Raven settles into her chair for a bit of listening to whatever --

Raven Darkholme

"I didn't know that was your last name," Charles says inside her mind because the maid is still there.

"I didn't know either," she says back, inside her head.

Raven Darkholme
The Bedroom With Stars and Birds in the Wallpaper


"The Darkholmes are an old wizarding family, my dear," the man says. "Very old family indeed. Is that your natural form? I daresay in your natural state you have the family eyes, don't you? Very handsome yellow. Lion eyes."

Raven looks down at his shoes, which are purple and curling with gold embroidery, then back up to his face.

The maid seems to be convinced there isn't anyone in the hallway, but does, somewhat absently, take the pointy purple hat and put it on the hatrack.

Charles is practically jigging with delight in the doorway.


"Is that what they call it in America? In England, you'd be a Metamorphagus. In France, you're une Metamorph. And in Goblin -- " he says a series of syllables that she doesn't understand. Goblin? The man has a long white beard and welcoming eyes, and his last name is stupid-sounding enough to makes Raven feel a little less bad about how strange her last name turns out to be.

He studies her for a while, chewing on a bit of cookie that he calls biscuit, then dusts himself off.

"That is what Charles calls it," she says. He had learned the term out of one of his genetics books and had been going around, telling the staff that they were mutants in one way or another.

When the man looks back up, his eyes seem very, very kind. "You don't want to leave Charles, do you? That is a commendable quality, and it speaks well of him that he has earned your trust so well. It is not easy for Metamorpha -- excuse me, mutants, even when they are not forced into hiding."

Raven picks at the hem of her dress that is actually the scales of her knees, re-divided and colored.

"But I'm afraid Charles isn't a wizard," Dumbledore says, and he holds his hand out to her.


"He believes what he's saying."

"I'm not going."

"And then he made the table sing God Rest Ye Merry Hippogriffs.'"

"I'm not going."


"But I'm afraid Charles isn't a wizard," Dumbledore says, and he holds his hand out to her.

Raven does not take it.

Dumbledore touches her knee, then puts his hand on her hand. They are sitting close enough together for that, and Raven rather abruptly wishes they weren't. His eyes are not so kind now -- it's strangely hard to read him when he does not want to be read, and this, Raven thinks, is part of why she does not trust him entirely.

"You do not trust me," Dumbledore says.

Her head whips up. Is he like Charles? Doesn't that prove that Charles is a wiz --

"Not yet, anyways, because you do not know me, but we have been watching you, Raven. Metamorphagus usually cannot change their clothes. They can only mimic living things. You are the most gifted of your kind in a dozen wizarding generations, possibly more. There are no limits to what you might learn at Hogwarts."

"Isn't there a school closer to here? Aren't there any wizards in America?"


"He said there were wizards in America. He could try to get you into one of those schools."

"Why does he care anyways?" Raven can't look at Charles. "I'm not even British."

"He explained to me, you know. Do you remember when we held hands and swore over the candle? Apparently, it's binding on wizards. Mother is British, and I was born in London and all that, and -- "

"You believe that?"

"I read his mind."

There is a long moment of silence. "Listen, Raven," Charles says. "You can write me letters. We'll get you an owl. He told me about those." Charles shifts. "And we'll have summers, and we'd been talking about having me stay here so we could go to school together in the fall, but now that the war is over, they could send me to grandfather's school. It won't be so bad, and -- we'll be pretty close to each other. And the feasts. He told me about the feasts. You won't go hungry there."

Charles slides his hand into Raven's.

"And if you slip at Hogwarts, if I'm not there with you at Hogwarts -- did you hear what he said about the yellow eyes?"


"Hufflepuff!" the hat screams out. The third of the fourth tables claps, and Dumbledore looking ridiculously pleased, but Raven has to take a deep breath before sliding off the stool.

Having another voice inside her head makes her miss Charles so much it physically hurts.


Dumbledore hadn't mentioned Quidditch, though. Nobody mentioned Quidditch.


Christmas in London: a hotel suite, heavy curtains, and two weeks of dinners that arrive on a cart under silver trays. The chairs are too low to eat comfortably at the table, so they take their food to the table in front of the sofa, and spend their days playing under gray skies at the park across the street.

"Mother is sick again, and staying in Connecticut," Charles had explained, after meeting her at the train station. "And Potential Stepfather No. 1 was called to some -- somewhere in the Pacific by the government."

"So she hasn't married him yet?"

Raven wrinkled her nose; Charles smiled, and Raven reached out and tucked her mittened hand around his gloved one. After dinner, they lie in front of the grate. He reads her school books, puzzling over the moving pictures and illuminated lettering, saying the words of spells and having nothing happen, even if he holds her wand. Raven works her way through three months of newspapers where the photographs do not move and fits her mouth over non-wizarding words: United Nations. Soviet Russia. Nuclear.

The hot chocolate has been drunk, and the mugs are sitting empty on a tray a few feet away, and Charles curls up on his side, head on her knee while she sits cross-legged on the floor. He had been a little uncertain at the train station: he had not been sure what she would look like coming down off the train.

"Did you find anything out more about the Darkholmes?" Charles says, sleepy with warmth.

"There is a book by a L. Darkholme in the Restricted Section of the library," she answers back, and tucks a strand of his hair behind his ear. It had fallen down around his face. "I took a peek at the catalog, but I didn't have time to read the whole card."

"I'll read Dumbledore's mind the next time we see him. Even if he won't answer any questions." Charles yawns hugely, and Raven smiles, touches his cheek again, and while Charles drifts off to sleep, she watches the fire darken and dim. As long as there is some light, her eyes glow yellow, and as long as the room is not completely dark, the headlines on the papers closest to the fire stay visible. October 1946. Hangings in a gymnasium.

Charles turns over on Raven's knee. Raven watches the fire.

Six miles away, Erik Lensherr stirs from a long, wonderful dream of murdering Sebastian Shaw.