There’s an audience of several small mutant child gathered in front of Illyana, completely mesmerized by the five spheres of bright, blue light she juggles for them. There’s a few more hanging off the playground structure behind her, peering over her shoulder like they’re trying to discover her secret. Her lower lip is in her mouth, teeth sunk into the tender flesh and there’s a crease in her brow to show for her effort. One by one, she tosses the spheres into the air and each of them burst into tiny little ‘fireflies’ that swarm around the kids like a Disney movie come to life, seeing an eruption of astonished gasps and giggles from them before the magickal bugs disperse into the sky and fade away. The grin on Illyana’s face is almost bigger than the ones the younger mutants are wearing.
“Do another one!” A kid shouts from the little crowd, his request echoed by the rest of his friends. Illyana is all-too-eager to comply, crouching down to grab a top hat she has propped up against a leg of the playground equipment. Back to her full height, she tips the open of the hat towards the kids to show them it's empty, twists around to make sure the kids behind her can see it, too. She digs her hand into the hat and pulls out a small, spotted rabbit, held by the scruff of its neck. The kids gasp again, shouts of “how did you do that” and incoherent squeals fill the autumn air. Illyana just shrugs her shoulders and sets it down to run free around them.
As one of the kids wrestles the rabbit into their lap, Kitty rolls her eyes. She’s standing at the window in the mansion’s kitchen, a mug of coffee cradled in her hands and a secret smile on her lips for the impromptu magick show going on in the garden. Unlike some of Illyana’s peers, the kids she’s entertaining aren’t scared of her, aren’t uncomfortable to be around her or apprehensive of where her so-called tricks are coming from. Their eyes dance with excitement and wonder rather than fear, and Illyana looks even happier than they are.
Illyana leans down to put the hat on the ground, open end up towards the sky, and as she goes to stand up straight one of the braver kids leaps from the structure behind her and latches onto her back, legs hooking around her torso. Caught off guard, her eyes widen for the brief moment it takes her to realize what just happened. She reaches back to hold on to the girl’s legs so she doesn’t fall, but no sooner does she do that that the kid finds her own way of holding on — the biggest two of the four black protrusions sticking out from her head.
“What are these?” the little girl asks, tugging on them. She peers down over the top of Illyana’s head and the blonde rolls her eyes up to look at her.
“Those? They grow from your head if you don’t eat your vegetables,” she warns, her tone completely serious despite the obvious lie. Inside, Kitty snorts, and the girl wrinkles her nose in disgust and lets them go, dropping her hands to Yana’s cheeks instead and the sorceress chuckles. She takes a few steps back until her lower back hits the structure’s platform and she gently urges the kid off her back. Her tiny shoes clang softly against the metal, and Illyana feels her weight slip away.
“Okay, one more. Then we’re all going inside for movie night, da?” Illyana steps back up closer to her little audience while they voice their agreement — with a few protesters. The blonde mutters something under her breath that Kitty can’t hear from inside and for a few seconds after, nothing happens. A few muttered complaints come from the onlookers, but they’re quickly drowned out by the sound of a large beast’s roar. It comes from the clouds above the playground, its long, serpent-esque body like gently rolling waves in the way it descends from the sky. It’s blue and purple and so translucent it looks like it would be untouchable, a ghost of a dragon, but Illyana holds her hand out to motion it towards her and when it lands its considerable weight hits the ground with a thud and her fingers don’t pass through it. They stroke over the scales of its head and trail down one of the tendrils hanging from its snout. Kitty thinks those are a nice touch.
There are a few soft gasps, and as one, the kids lean back away from the creature, their eyes wide. But as the dragon opens its mouth in a wide, toothy grin and nuzzles its rough face against Illyana’s hand, they relax. A collective cheer goes up amongst the crowd, and one by one the kids clamber to their feet, begging to touch it. Magik holds her hand out to keep them from getting too close and calls out over all the other voices, “Bo, do you want to ride it?”
From her vantage point, Kitty watches as the little mutant hesitantly steps forward and mutely nods her head. She’s shy around strangers still, even when the other children are mutants just like her. Illyana doesn’t waste any time lifting her up and setting her a few feet behind her dragon’s head, and Kitty slips her phone out of her pocket to take a snap of the smile that lights up Bo’s face. One at a time, the other children are positioned behind her, each of them gripping onto each other’s waists, emboldened by the contact. Kitty swears that the dragon extends to accommodate for them all. Illyana is the last one on, settling in just behind Bo.
Wood chips go flying as the beast uses its four, stubby legs to push off from the ground, and children cry out in delight as its long, undulating body circles the equipment of the playground, spiralling out further and further and higher and higher until Kitty has to press herself against the glass to watch it get higher still.