In the end, it’s the baby’s bright green hair that makes the decision for them. For the last few years, there’s been plenty of times Erik brought up the possibility of a move with Magda. Ever since Nina first began showing signs of her mutation. However, between the two of them, they could always find an excuse to delay it. Too risky, too expensive, to hard for Erik to find a new job, too difficult to explain to the children. An endless list of excuses to put it off, but who could blame them? An intercontinental trip to show up at your old enemy’s academy and practically beg for a second chance; that was no one’s idea of a fun time or simple task. Not to mention the fact that once they left there would be no coming back. They couldn’t really leave their home without a trace and expect it to be waiting for them. So even while the children grew older and their powers became more and more obvious, between him and Magda, they’d always found some excuse to delay it further.
But then baby had been born with a head full of little green fuzz.
The main thing that had kept them safe in this tiny Polish village was how willing all its residents are to pretend. Pretend there is never an unusual amount of animals always trailing after Nina. Pretend Pietro’s white hair is merely an odd shade of blond. Pretend that Henryk Gursky the factory worker doesn’t share an odd resemblance with Erik Lehnsherr the terrorist. Even the midwife had, on her way out, offered to pretend she’d never seen anything different if tomorrow the baby showed up bald or dyed. But Erik and Magda both knew that the village would be considerably less kind if faced with anything undeniably out of the ordinary. Green hair was certainly harder to ignore than white and neither Erik nor Magda were about to condemn an infant to a life of hiding.
Even if it had ever been an option before, it certainly wasn’t now that Erik has first held her in his arms. She is his fourth child already and it still shakes him to the core how deeply one could love another. Erik would do anything for his children. Anything to make sure they had the best life possible. Frightened as it might make them, neither he nor Magda are foolish enough to pretend that ‘best’ is anywhere other than Charles Xavier’s academy an ocean away in Westchester. So with the baby no more than a few hours old, Erik and Magda have to begin their planning to move the whole family away.
“She’s so little to be traveling such a long way…” Magda murmurs regretfully, caressing the baby’s head.
Erik knows she’s right. He hates to think about carrying such a tiny baby half a world away, and Magda so soon after giving birth, but Erik also doesn’t want to take his chances staying here. Perhaps we can travel to a big city nearby and wait some time there for the both of you to gain some strength and then we’ll make the jump to New York. We’d certainly be safer in a city like that. It’s easier to blend in, no matter the oddities.”
“We’ll just… we’ll pack our bags and go. Where we’ll go and how long, we can decide once we’re on the way.” Perhaps she and Erik were sometimes a bit too rash or dramatic in their actions to keep their children safe, but they had both lost their families due to not choosing to flee quickly enough. Neither of them is going to run that same risk again.
Erik tries to relax, at least for now, and nods. “Of course. I’ll get the children back home in a bit and we’ll pack.” Since having to leave quickly had always been in the back of their minds, their house has always been arranged in just the right way to allow for their lives to be picked up and moved from one day to the next. The only thing that would be a bit more difficult would be packing the baby’s things, but Erik will manage. As he thinks more of the baby, he asks, “What have we decided to name her?”
“Lorna.” Magda smiles down at their tiny, green-headed child, sleeping peacefully in her mother’s arms and unaware of all the upheaval she’s caused. “Her name will be Lorna.”
Erik agrees that’s a beautiful name for their baby girl. He spends a bit more time between the three of them, just pretending that everything is beautiful and perfect in the world. He wishes it were and that his girl being born with soft tufts of emerald upon her head is no cause for concern. It was what he’d fought so ferociously for back when Erik had been younger, angrier, and with nothing to lose. In those days, Erik might have wanted to stay, standing tall and proud and daring the village to give them any problems. But that is Erik no longer. These days, Erik stands to lose far too much, this entire family he cherishes so deeply. So soon, he will go off to pick the older children up from the neighbor’s home where they’d stayed during the birth. He’ll explain as gently as he can that they’re leaving and then he’ll help his family pack away their lives into as little bags as possible so they can run long and far from anyone that might cause them any harm. Erik of the past might have called this cowardice, accused him of bowing down and running away from the humans. However, the man Erik had grown into cared for one thing only: keeping his family safe, no matter the amount of running or cowardice it took.
Moving his family wound up being one of the most stressful experiences of Erik’s life, which was saying a lot for a man whose childhood was spent in Nazi Germany and who’d once spent a decade in solitary confinement. In the twelve hours between Lorna being born and their family being on the road to Warsaw, Erik sees more tears than he has since he had toddlers in the house. They all cry about having to leave their home, and then cry even more about not getting a chance to bid it a proper farewell. It breaks Erik’s heart to see their tears, but he wouldn’t be doing this if he didn’t wholeheartedly believe it’s for the best. He wishes there were some other way, but unfortunately, this is just one of those difficult decisions parenthood is forcing him to make. Erik wishes it could be different. He just hopes the children will be able to make a new home of Westchester.
In the two days they stop to rest in Warsaw, Erik fills their head with stories of the mansion. Nina is soothed by being assured that there will be plenty of critters on the ground; Pietro by the knowledge that he will have more than enough room to run in; and Wanda by the promises that there is a great big flower garden for her to explore. He tells them a few stories about Charles he shares with Magda, whose nerves are calmed slightly by knowing there is a good man waiting at the other end of their journey. As for Erik… well, there’s no one left to soothe his nerves, but he’s content with knowing that his children will be safe soon.
Originally, they had planned to stay in Warsaw at least a week, but preferably two or three. In reality, they barely make it past forty-eight hours when Erik and Magda are too anxious to remain there for much longer. Magda is still tired and sore from childbirth, while Lorna is still almost unbearably tiny, but they depart the city and start on the way to New York. Erik is as paranoid a traveler as always. Through car, train, and ferry, they make their way to London for a fight .This leg of their journey, though, is stretched out into nearly two weeks, due to Erik’s second nature of constantly backtracking and switching routes, should anyone be following. The children see it as a game and Magda indulges him in it, though she is undeniably thankful when they are finally in a plane over the Atlantic. Paranoid traveling makes her as ansty as Erik. Even though eight hours in a plane with a crying infant and a fidgeting Piero is enough to drive anyone mad, Magda really feels as though she grows calmer with every mile closer to their destination. As the plane begins its descent, Magda feels an exhausted sort of relief.
A few seats away from her, Pietro presses his face up against the window, fascinated with the city he sees spread out in front of him. “This is America, Mama?” he asks, unwilling to pry his face from the view for even a second as he asks her this. It’s night time already, so the view is a beautifully twinkling field of lights.
Magda nods, reaching over to make sure Pietro hasn’t undone his seatbelt yet again in his endless wiggling. “Yes it is, Pietro. That’s New York City in the horizon and where Papa will be driving us is called Westchester. He tells me it’ll be another hour.”
By now, Wanda’s interested has been piqued and she wrestles a spot at the window from her brother so she too can see the lights as they land. “Another hour, Mama? And then we’ll be where Papa told us?”
“Not quite yet, ketsele. But we’ll be somewhere we can sleep and rest. Then tomorrow, we’ll see the school,” Magda promises. Erik is confident that Charles will make space in his school for their children, no matter the past between him and Charles. Magda herself is not so sure, but of course, she always presents an optimistic point of view to her children.
That makes the children happy enough and between the twins and Nina, they distract themselves for the remainder of the landing. Lorna, miraculously, sleeps through it, and Magda couldn’t be happier for that. Soon enough, they are disembarking and Magda watches the children from the back while Erik leads them in the front, a well practiced routine to keep the children in line while away from home. Together, they shepherd the children through customs and just as Magda had refrained from questions as to where all this money to run away with had come from, Magda turns a blind eye as Erik procures forged passports and papers for all of them. She’s learned to trust her husband, and have faith that the only illegal things he does these days are for the greater good and for the sake of their family.
Getting through only takes another half hour or so, but Magda feels like it’s taking an eternity, since she has Lorna asleep in her arms, Wanda drowsing off as she perches on her hip, and Pietro practically clinging to her leg. Erik is helping as well, carrying a sleepy Nina in one arm, but he’s taking their luggage, so Magda is left to juggle their three other children. Magda also doesn’t question where the money for the rental car comes from, she only happily loads the children into the back and settles in for the drive to Westchester. Tonight, they’ll focus on their family. They’ll pull up into the first dingy motel off the interstate when they take the exit for Westchester. They’ll distribute themselves and the children between, at most, two beds and a couch. They’ll sleep, as both Erik and Magda struggle to feel safe in the knowledge that Charles Xavier and his school will be a stone throw away, so the children will be near refuge should anything happen. Tonight, they’ll rest, then tomorrow, `Erik will go off in search of rekindling old ties.