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Stolzes Siegel

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"Der Freundschaft stolzes Siegel tragen viele, die in der Prüfungsstunde treulos fliehn." – Friedrich von Schiller

 

Raven is not grateful.

It took her years to learn not to be, and she still divides her life into "before Charles" and "now". Maybe it would be harder if she hadn't experienced only cruelty Before Charles, if he hadn't been the first kind person she met – the first person who saw through her disguise, who saw her in her true form and didn't recoil. Before, to her, is still a time shrouded in darkness and pain and fear and anger, and she doesn't think about it at all.

"You're my sister," Charles keeps saying to her, "of course you deserve all the same things I get." And more, he sometimes adds, not with his mouth. He loves her, she knows this, and she knows he truly means it. When she says "thank you", when she even just thinks it, it hurts him, because to him it's like she's saying "I'm not really your sister".

So she doesn't say it, and she learned not to feel it – not towards Charles. She is grateful they met, grateful her life changed so incredibly, but she isn't grateful to him for perpetuating that change.

And when he stands up for Warren, she barely hesitates before joining her brother. This doesn't mean she isn't utterly, utterly terrified; she's so scared, in fact, she barely registers anything. She balls her hands into fists and concentrates on breathing and inwardly clings to Charles, a soothing presence in her mind even though he's as agitated as she is. She's not alone this time, she tells herself again and again, she has Charles, and Charles has her, needs her, he always has, and they have the Xavier name and reputation and money to back them up.

We're in public, Charles tells her, we're open, the more people know, the more will pay attention, and the less they can make this go away. The less they can hurt you, he doesn't say. This is something she told and their stepfamily taught him, to know better – someone always can hurt you.

They're not there when Kurt finds out – the teachers call home, and nobody comes to pick them up, someone (likely the housekeepers) just sends a car, but there isn't anyone they'd like to see anyway. Raven is terrified of what he'll do, but Charles just looks at their stepfather, and Kurt goes white and backs down, walks away. They don't see him or Cain ever again.

Sharon is drunk.

They go to school like normal the next day, and some of their classmates stare at them, recoil, avoid them, but there are also some curious ones who ask questions. Some of the teachers tell them that they are brave. Some of the parents take their children from the school. Outside the school, there is chaos – people try take pictures of them, especially of her, but they aren't let onto school grounds and they never come into contact with them. They're reporters, Charles says.

 

Charles keeps holding her hand. He tells her she's beautiful, and it's the first time anyone has ever said it to her – she didn't know he thinks that. All he ever did was tell her to hide, that nobody can see her; she had always thought he meant it like that. She isn't sure she herself doesn't mean it like that either, but suddenly Charles says it, and he leaves no doubt that he means it. She doesn't know what to think, but the terror abates a little.

Nobody comes to expel them.

Warren doesn't come back.

Charles searches through their teachers' brains, and eventually he figures it out even though they try to hide things in their heads now. It's the first time since this whole thing started that she sees him falter. Warren's father, he explains to her, Warren's father doesn't want to let his son out into the public, doesn't want to let him back into the school, and if he doesn't want it, the school can hide behind that, can claim they didn't expel Warren, he was withdrawn by his parent. It would even be the truth.

Raven doesn't understand much of the complicated ways adults do things, but she does understand something. If you want something, you have to bring others to give it to you – taking it is the last option, the most dangerous and most desperate one. If you make others want to give it to you, however, everyone will be happy – you, because you got what you wanted, and they, because they wanted to give it to you. By the time they regret it – if they ever will – it will be too late.

When she explains that to him, Charles looks at her with wide eyes, and then he smiles that painfully bright smile, the smile of someone who has never taken anything in all his life. That's not to say Charles had it easy, but it's a good thing in his case – because Charles could take whatever he wants, even the things that are impossible to take for others. He could have made his mother love him.

Raven thinks she would have, if she could have. Maybe it's a good thing she doesn't have Charles' abilities and that he doesn't have hers, the way she sometimes wishes things were. She still isn't sure whether Charles isn't stupid for not getting what he wants most. He says it wouldn't be real then, that it would be cheating and cheapening, like getting a print of a beautiful, exclusive painting. Raven doesn't know why the difference matters, as long as it's yours to look at. Charles is really complicated sometimes.

They speak to a reporter. Sharon signs anything if you'll give her back her glass – Charles keeps saying it's a good thing she still uses glasses, she's not that far gone, but they both know that's a lie – and the lawyer Charles keeps speaking to makes a contrast to ensure they're "fairly represented". It's so their words can't be spun into lies.

Charles asks her beforehand if she wants to be there for the interview, because he's going to do it but he would never force her, and she wants to snap at him. She's in this as much as Charles, perhaps even more because people can plainly see her mutation, now that she isn't hiding anymore. She hasn't put on the mask since she shed it when Charles stood up, and she's still terrified, but she's not going to back down.

It's an interview for the magazine Mutant Affairs, and Charles says pretty things about how tolerant the school has been ("I only wish it weren't extraordinary, you know, but they did their best to support me and my sister ever since we told the truth") and how worried he is about Warren. "We haven't heard from him in over a week," he says. By that point, Raven has caught up with what he's doing; she only wishes he would have let her know what exactly he's planning in advance, she could have played into it more.

"I know what it's like," she adds when Charles pauses artfully, lowering her eyes and blinking prettily; the interviewer looks sympathetic. "Having a physical mutation, I mean. People stare at you. They're scared. My mother…" She sniffles and bites her lower lip, swallowing noisily. Charles scoots closer and wraps an arm around her shoulders, and the photographer's camera clicks in the silence, the poor not-orphans comforting each other. "My mother left me on the steps of an orphanage when I was just a week old. I was told she tried to scrub the blue off my skin, and when it didn't work… maybe…" Tears start to drip down her cheeks, and Charles gives her a tissue.

"Warren is a good friend of ours," Charles takes over again. "We tried to call him, we wrote him letters, but he hasn't replied to anything. We're just worried."

That's as far as they go. They don't imply anything, they don't accuse anyone. But over the next couple of days, the headlines get more and more outrageous; Warren Worthington II's refusal to speak to anyone or to let anyone see his son gets blown up until child protective service has no other choice but to investigate the case.

It turns out Warren spent the past two weeks locked up in his room, only visited b y various scientist and physicians. It's not difficult to figure out why exactly his father found it necessary to have so many experts examine his son, the way the wings are attached to his back in particular. Some of them are plastic surgeons.

His father claims his son is being homeschooled because the trauma of his change was too much for him; Warren doesn't say much at all, except that he hasn't been homeschooled yet. It turns out he likes the wings and is only worried how people will react. When he's informed that his best friends Charles Xavier and Raven Darkholme have revealed themselves to the school as mutants as well and that they're being treated well he seems somewhat confused, but tentatively happy.

Nobody forces Warren Worthington II to let his son back into the school, but the pressure and attention aroused by the media eventually force him to give in, if only so people will stop making up rumors that he's hiding his son, that he's ashamed, that he's trying to find a way to "cure" him. Because now, people have strong opinions about this sort of thing.