Forget-Me-Not

July 25, 2018:

Father pays daughter a visit. Directly before Primogeniture. Magneto written by Pietro.

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Characters

NPCs: Magneto

Mentions: Pietro Maximoff

Plot:

Mood Music: Daughter - Pearl Jam


Fade In…

Dreams take Wanda Maximoff to stranger places than most.

In fact, over the years, she would have had ample cause to wonder whether she even truly dreams at all, or whether what she sees at night are visions of what was, what will be, and what is, somewhere far away. Usually, her dreams are terrifying and incomprehensible things, inhabited by monstrous creatures and saturated with the constant sense of being watched by too many eyes.

The dream she finds herself in tonight is, in comparison, almost mundane.

She is home, or at least at the place she and her brother once called home many years ago. The copse of trees that bands their village on three sides is just as she remembers it… as is the forbidding face of Wundagore Mountain rearing up just beyond it, its jagged peaks blue with distance where they reach up to rake the clouds.

As children, she and Pietro never went to the slopes of the mountain — too far, too dangerous — but in dreams one often does what one never did in life.

I am looking for a woman, she can hear between the rustling of the trees: a familiar male voice. The sigh of branches echoes with the muttering reply of villagers, unwilling to answer the querent. She must have come here. She had family. You must show me to her!

It was never 'must' with you, answers a woman. Sadness clothes her voice. Until one day it was always 'must.'

There is a footpath that winds up the slope of Wundagore, narrow and barely-there between all the desolate scrub and unforgiving rock. She is now at its base, with that timeless and weightless ease of displacement that moves people in dreams. She has never seen anyone use this path.

Someone is using it now, walking steadily up despite the treacherousness of the ascent. Someone with white hair. He is fifty feet ahead of her.

Her brother?


The witch often avoids sleep.

Foremost, she hates leaving her twin behind — thinking even her wandering into dreams an unreasonable abandonment to a man for whom hours drag by like weeks. Her split soul binding their minds mitigates much of the damage it used to do to him — being left alone — but even that never entirely cures his boredom.

She is also not allowed to have her own dreams.

The years passed when they were, and Wanda grew up tormented by her own mind. Her dreams regularly twisted into ugly realities, and so many of them she nearly lost herself in the fear and pain and madness. Her first grasping of control was to banish her own dreaming away, deemed too dangerous ever to return, and in lieu — she communes.

It is like dreaming, but at a disconnect, like the difference between experiencing and watching. Where there were dreams for her, there is only a screen most of the time — a viewing into some distant primordial miasma that Wanda cannot begin to parse or understand. There are before and afters. They are nevers made always, and sometimes made sometimes not. She sees and does not feel, because feeling leads to recall, and recall to rumination. In rare moments of lucidity, she thinks she stands at the crossroads of possibilities, though she has not the fortitude to think of it long, or well.

Tonight, however, there is no screen. There is no amorphous nothing that whispers in a million tongues. There is no prolapse of time pressing down on her, knots she could work at if she wanted to, a linear trapping she could tear apart.

There is only home.

In this dream, Wanda wastes moments running her hand over flowering weeds, thick at the side of her footpath. She would touch them every time she passed. Hello! Goodbye! They were friends, because they were quiet like she was, colourful like she thinks herself too — a Roma weed, overgrown but pretty to those who matter. She could pick one for mother. She could pick one for Pietro! She wants to be a child again, a human child, back home, and free.

Hands full of flowers, Wanda escapes the forest loam and stops, arrested by the familiar, tainted body of Wundagore Mountain. It meant nothing to her as a child, but now it makes her teeth ache and her eyes sting, and she drops her flowers to touch her head. No longer a child, she tells herself. Not even in a dream. Always the witch, who sees, who hears, who knows.

Voices come to her as they always have. The memory of vehemence moves her black skirts. Her eyes turn, and focusing through the ache, pierce through that mountain. She is not alone.

White hair means only one thing to Wanda, the center of her universe. "Pietro?"


Pietro?

The man walks on. He vanishes among the rocks. Farther up and farther in.

Not Pietro, then. Her twin would never leave her calling for him. Every time she has cried for him, he has always come running.

This man, whoever he is, seems to expect her to come to him.

It both is and is not a far journey. In dreams, the normal laws of time and space mean nothing. Wanda begins to walk up the path, and within moments she is at her destination… but with a mind full of memories made along the way. Things she saw. Things she heard.

She saw this man wandering the path alone, day after day after week, after month. She heard him calling, though she could not make out the name. The seasons changed, and the decade changed, and he changed, but reliably he appeared again and again. Reliably, he never seemed to find what he sought. Reliably, he would disappear again.

There is a point in time after which he no longer appears.

Wanda finds herself on a ledge of the mountainside, a small spur jutting out of Wundagore's great body. From here can be seen the spread of Transia's countryside, and her own village — small and meaningless amidst all the green.

The white-haired man is seated on an arch of rock, waiting, old now — and alone. He faces out towards the horizon, hands on his knees, cloaked in purple, his back to the mountainside and Wanda Maximoff.

"Come," Magneto beckons her. There are many places for her to sit. Where, is left to her choice. "My dreams are few these days, and my sleep short. We will not have this one for long."


Never Pietro.

If breathing meant anything in this dreaming, Wanda would hold hers. It comes in a heartbeat's sting to think her twin brother would ever turn his back and walk away — and the witch knows possibilities, is a mother to them, and cannot deny that any of them exist, but she avoids this ugly possibility for the sake of her sanity — but she knows it could never be him.

Possibly, she fears, the nightmares have returned to torment her, and bypassed the lock she made on herself —

Still, Wanda Maximoff is a fearful creature, hiding in the stronger shadow of her brother, but she has never been confused for a coward.

Unwilling to wait for her, the white-haired man recedes from her watch, climbing the slopes of Wundagore, and she makes the decision to follow him. Decisions — never her strong suit, always novel when she must make them. Pietro has always taken mind of her possibilities, her eyes ever blind by chaos to ever choose hers well.

No Pietro here. Wanda must believe what is right, or at least right for her, even as a man's voice haunts her in a walking reverie. He calls for a name that escapes her in the fade, memory unable to hold long here — but along the roof of her mouth, she tastes his determination and anguish. He is used to having things taken away from him. He is not used to seeing them leave —

Wanda Maximoff stands on that rocky ledge, seeing her home spread distant and small. Small, but never meaningless — not to her. Her heart aches to see it again, if just in dreams, the place Pietro has fiercely put at his back. And her?

She faces her past, home and blood father both.

"So you are the one who has me dream," says Wanda, no steel in her voice — no anger needed in a stand of patient remove. Her eyes search, in them a question she will not ask, not when it's safer to dismiss. "If you knew me at all, you would not dare."


If you knew me at all, you would not dare.

A laugh escapes the man. The sound is rusty, gone to long disuse, yet perhaps it is encouraging a man like her father still knows how to at all. Less encouraging is the way the world shifts around them, in one of those phase transitions that come so often in dreams — there is no rhyme, no reason, no connective tissue of logic or reality between being in one place, and suddenly being in another.

She watches her own village, one moment.

The next, she sits before her father on a spur of stone, facing him.

She did not make use of the choice he left her, so he made it for her. Even that has a familiar feeling, exacerbated by his white hair and his blue eyes. Men in her life, always making choices for her when she cannot — or will not.

"So you do not just look like your mother," he observes, of her familiar recalcitrance. "I see."

His gaze turns away from his daughter. Magneto considers the sweep of the land from where they sit, and the village below. Familiar, yet a closer read yields much that is different. It is the place Wanda grew up, but not quite the place she remembers. It is a place someone else remembers.

"Do you imagine this is a dream of yours?" he eventually says. "It is one of mine. You are a guest in my memory. I came to Wundagore many times." His eyes consider the village. He knew one like it, many years before; as he knew a woman like the girl before him. "And once I stopped… there you were. Come into being, without a shred of my knowledge."

Who dares? is the unspoken question. Who would have dared withhold from me what was mine?

There is something else familiar in his voice now. It is the same anger Wanda has lived her life hearing, in her brother's voice.


In the absence of her twin brother, the father assumes control.

The dreaming contorts to the man's will, and her world rearranges: Wanda sits high, the Transian wilderness stretching distant and vast below, with Magneto eclipsing all of it.

Her hands curl against her knees, and her back tenses, unused to a changing, reconfiguring reality not compelled by her own hands. Unused to ceding to any sort of authority that is not Pietro, though the similarities here come with the thinnest seams that she cannot deny an aching familarity. But, despite the blood, this man is not her father — Wanda tells herself — and she refuses to play the part of a child brought to heel.

She has not been a child for a long time. If ever she was allowed to be.

Wanda's lips twitch to say more, but Magneto arrests that with a laugh, and she goes quiet under the strangeness of the sound — its rarity.

He mentions her mother, and it holds her tongue. The comparison is not unwanted, at least in that searching in her face — a daughter who still idealizes the parent never met. The mother who wears her face, passed them down their proud Romani blood.

Wanda nearly forgets herself a moment, before her guard returns, looking on skeptically as her father, with their same blue eyes, surveys the open vista of — his memory. His mind, his dreaming, and not her own. So this is why there are no nightmares.

Feeling a little defeated by the thought — for a moment, she'd hoped, hoped it was her dreaming something so simple as being home again — Wanda turns her eyes down on her lap, listening.

"And why did you stop?" she questions. "I heard you — it was your voice. Demanding for our mother. Pietro and I lost everything. We had no one. He gave up everything to keep me alive. You should have been there."


It is transparent that Wanda is not pleased. Not pleased to see reality change to a will not her own. Not pleased to submit to the authority of anyone but her brother — no matter how much the man before her may look and act like him. Not pleased to find herself upon a stage which she did not set, and which she does not control.

So much the better. It is as her father intended. Whatever the mechanism he used in order to orchestrate this encounter with his older daughter, he does not share the specifics. Let her wonder.

Instead, in silence, he surveys Wanda. Magda's daughter in every way, in look and limb… even down to her refusal of him. He laughs outwardly, but the memory is still bitter even after six decades.

His son was a simple read. This one will be harder. Or so he thinks — until he mentions her mother, and she goes silent. Magneto's blue eyes turn, sensing the crack. If there is one thing he knows, one thing that is graven instinct in his synapses, it is finding weakness. Regardless of his purpose for so doing, it is a habit he has never been able to break.

Neither is he a man accustomed to being questioned. That much is plain in the expressionless look he gives Wanda when she questions why he stopped. He is silent long enough that it is plain he is debating whether to answer, rather than how.

"Your mother was extraordinary," he finally says, a little dryly. "I sought her for decades. If I could not find her, nor any trace of anything she left behind, she was assuredly dead… or there was a reason she did not wish to be found. She hid you both from me well, that much is plain."

His eyes darken, watchful. "I asked you before to tell me what happened to you both, but your actions have shown clearly enough what that was. I stopped because what happened to you was happening everywhere, to all mutants, to all of our kind. Fate has brought you both back to me now."

There is a brief hesitation. "But not your mother."


Never have twins been so different.

Pietro is every bit in temper as he is in ability: quick, direct, impatient brevity of a man forced to live in a world where the minutes slip past as slow as days. Wanda is an opposite creature, who survived her gift — who endures it still — not with directness but with secrecy. The moon to his sun, constantly covered, and some days forced to hide without light. She exists in years of schisms, like the removal of her dreams, fractured deeply in both soul and mind that she exists in her own self-formed compartments.

The son makes sure the world sees him all as he crosses the sky, like an arrogant Apollo. The daughter severs and buries parts of herself, left in the dark, and finds peace in her own absence.

But there is something — something Wanda has not yet excised from herself — when Magneto mentions her mother. Wanda, who has never fit in anywhere, not with her foster family, not with the Roma, not even with her reunited blood, grasps for some kind of connection — some anchor to hold her to this world. If not for Pietro, and existing through his desires, there is nothing for her. No place for witches among men.

But a mother, and to hear that Wanda is similar to her in more than just her face? She holds with quiet indecision, skeptical of her father's presence, but wanting to hear more. And her mother was extraordinary.

Wanda's blue eyes slip away, stealing a look of distant Transia, perhaps seeking familarity to center herself. Thought plays at the edges of her profile.

"Pietro would disagree," Wanda answers, carefully, hiding behind mentions of her brother if he cannot be here. He is a shield for her in many ways. "He does not believe in fate. Does not let it speak for his merits."

She is silent a beat. Her eyes, his colour, fasten back on Magneto. "I question why she left us. If she's alive. If she's dead. If you frightened her to leave us behind — could such a thing be true? Did something else frighten her? Surely something you could stop, in all your power? Or did she not want us?" Without realizing it, Wanda's voice changes, that patience bleeding out, her words quick, upset, switching into Transian. "Who is she? Who are you? Who am I? Why do I see so much and know nothing?!"


Never have twins been so different. And already, Magneto is learning a great deal about what those differences are.

To regard his son is like looking in a mirror. It makes Pietro easy enough to handle; Magneto understands his anger, his volatility, and his pride in himself and his gifts well enough. But Wanda? Wanda is as much a cipher to him as Magda was, all those years ago. Wanda hides from herself and her own powers in ways neither of his other children do.

But Magneto is a perceptive old man, with a keen eye and a keener ability to read between the lines of others. In his many years of life he has seen many iterations of human nature. There are certain keys to unlock the doors of any human personality, if one has the patience and perspicacity to find and fit the correct one. People like Wanda, they all want connection.

He gives it to her. And he knows he has found the correct key when she lingers.

Pietro, she says. Always Pietro. Magneto absorbs that with a neutral sort of silence. The mention of his son is more important than whatever Wanda says about him; even here, she grasps for his presence to help her. "Perhaps by fate I truly mean 'inexorability,'" he dismisses. "Not even your brother, contrary as he may be, will contest that some things are simply inexorable. As to his merits — we will see. I will speak to him in his turn, when we are finished here."

He falls silent, however, the moment Wanda begins to speak again. His eyes search her, reading her expressions and the rise and fall of her voice with shrewd watchfulness. He registers her change of language. If there is pain to be felt in his breast at the questions she asks — questions he asked himself for many years, until he finally ceased to ask them at all — there is no indication on his features. His face is a lock, even at the prospect that the wife he loved might still be alive.

"She wanted you," her father says, his quiet voice lapsing into fluent Romani. "I do not know the answers to your other questions. That one, I know." He saw it in Magda's eyes when she first held Anya: the look of a woman whose mother's love would always be unconditional.

He is silent for a time, before he closes his eyes and continues. He speaks Romani still, though the intimacy of that shared childhood language is slightly marred by the dispassionate quality to his delivery. An old man hardened by decades of war. "You see much and know nothing because you balk from your gifts," he says, his voice flat. "You fear them. You were raised in a world where to embrace them and their practice meant your persecution and your death. I have, for the past many decades, been the one force seeking to change this in any meaningful way. So that what happened to us may never happen again — "

He stops. Suppressed rage slowly works itself back under control.

"I am a cause, Wanda," he eventually finishes, his features as cold and remote as the statement would imply. "What you are remains to be seen. You and your brother have something of mine. It is a gift. It is there to teach you that you are not the one who should feel fear. Do not squander it."


"Pietro's merits are immeasurable," answers Wanda, with a sharpness in her voice pulled as abruptly as a hidden blade. "He has nothing to prove to this world. His every day has been conscious and willing sacrifice. There is no soul worthy to be his judge."

Not a surprise, considering the Maximoffs' undeniable bond. Pietro who overwatches every aspect of his sister in his temporal crawl: centuries, by now, spent purely to the management of her safety. And Wanda, who forgets her temerity and doubts, fixes her eyes forward, and says only once to her father who could fell entire nations: "Never hurt him."

There are few creatures left in this world that would deign a command on Magneto, much less one that, under a certain shadow, could bleed into a threat. Wanda's blue eyes, for a moment, are hard, made that way by one reason only.

Not because she trusts in her ability. Not because she thinks herself powerful, more powerful than her famous father. But because she loves her brother more than anything in a billion spinning realities.

After that moment, her eyes fall away, the recalcitrant daughter unable to play threatening for long, perhaps imbalanced in her father's presence, perhaps yearning from glimpses of her lost home, and mentions of her lost mother — perhaps such a thing is simply not her nature. The Scarlet Witch born to wield unfathomable power, and with no impetus to use it, no will to want it. Barely enough of her hold, in even a dreaming, a laboured control to keep the shake out of her little hands.

Especially to hear — Magda wanted them. Magda wanted her.

Magneto speaks in their birth tongue, and a brightness stings at her turned eyes. The evidence is undeniable: Wanda believes him, her father, the man whom she's known all of minutes. Something in his voice soothes her doubt. Her mother wanted her.

For a witch like her, rejected again and again wherever she went — and it felt like running, with Pietro, running away rather than seeking toward — to be wanted by anyone is a precious rarity.

Her father speaks, and she stares down at her hands, quiet, though there's a tempered meter to her breathing to suggest she is listening. His words move through her. She sets her jaw, trying to remain at a remove, safer that way, safer for her heart —

Familiar anger, however, draws up Wanda's eyes. Surprise covers every corner of her face, realization and understanding both in one fell swoop to see down to the source of her twin brother's temper. Identical in every way.

Somewhere, Wanda Maximoff sleeps, peaceful even as the tears run down her cheeks.

They run here too. "I fear everything," she tells him, a hitch to her voice to say it, weighted by thirty years of exhaustion. "Them. What they haven't done. What they will do. I fear their world. And me. I'm not like you and Pietro. I'm not gifted. Something went wrong. I'm cursed."


Magneto pauses as his daughter suddenly shows steel — and predictably, in defense of her brother. He listens to her declarations in silence. His son's infinite worthiness. His endless self-sacrifice. His immeasurable merits. No soul on earth is worthy to be his judge, Wanda declares, and then she states something even more dire. Something that goes beyond mere threat into a declared truth. Dangerous, from a woman with the ability to make her personal truth into reality.

Never hurt him.

It has been a long time since anyone threatened Magneto to his face. Yet it is not the threat itself that draws his attention, but the underlying reason she makes it even despite her fears of her own powers. It is not a threat born of confidence or a sense of strength. It is a threat born of desperation: the hackling of a girl who cannot bear to live without the only one she loves. The only one who has ever loved her.

With exacting care, Magneto touches that fracture point, memorizes its contours, examines where this scratched line in the sand falls… and then pulls away again. "Of course you would think so," he finally says, and it is all he says to that.

He speaks of other things instead. The love of their mother. The purpose to which he has dedicated his own life. The gift he made to them, to teach them they are not the ones who should fear. Is it a genuine attempt to connect with his daughter? Is it only the baited hook he dangles to bring her under his own discerning eye? What reason, for that matter, to bring her under his control? For love? For some last shred of humanity in him that sees Magda when he looks into her face?

For the power in her veins, which could do so much for the cause he has placed above all else in his life? Which stands as raw evidence of the inexorability of mutant evolution to greater and greater heights?

He says nothing. He only lets her speak. He let them have the Brotherhood for… oh, many reasons. One of them might even be the one he just claimed to Wanda aloud. Yet it has not made her feel less afraid, she confesses. She fears everything, she admits, because she is cursed —

Magneto stands up. The fall of his cloak whispers along the bare rock.

"This belief is the reason you fail," he declaims, as stark as the stone around them. "Your fear gives them their power over you. You are a lion fearing the bleating of sheep."

He is in front of her, standing over her. It is so like Pietro, and so not like Pietro — they look so much the same, and yet her father's drowning shadow freezes her where her brother's has been her only safety. His gaze fixes on her face, her features, and he reaches for her. His fingertips brush lightly against her hair. "You do not even know how you insult your own blood. You are the next step for mutantkind, and you squander it in terror of your inferiors…"

There is a pause, and his hand jerks back. He curls his fingers into his palm, turns his back, and steps away. He lifts his head, delivering a silent command, and the dream begins to fragment. He is done.

"I have given you the tools. Now use them. Your mother and sister died because men could smell we feared them, and not the other way around," are his parting words. "Continue to hide in fear, and they will take your brother."


Of course you would think so.

Wanda holds her father’s eyes for a beat too long, before she — as always — is the one to cede first, submitting, looking down and away. She holds her tongue against further words, fettered when Pietro is always free, wearing chains of her own forging and never forgetting their weight.

Of course she believes so. It is the one truth that imparts meaning into her world of unending, constantly-changing possibilities. Something to drag her back with its infallible anchor every time the current pulls her deep and drowning.

Whatever she gleans off her father’s few words — and there is much, to an esoteric soul like hers — Wanda says no more of it. Her first dream in years she does not want to spend fighting, vainly convincing a man who knows her less than some of her human torturers. Whatever judgment he would pass on her, or Pietro, is meaningless.

And she spoke the only warning she need give anyone who seeks to cross too-close into her brother’s life.

Her guard reasserts itself, but after that too-long exposure down where she is raw, it comes shaky now, with no more of the dismissive ease Wanda could wield before. Not after talk of her mother wanting her.

Wanda cannot let that truth go. Her mother wanted them. Wanted them! Why would she let her children go? Why leave them to be raised by strangers?

Good strangers. The Maximoffs. Her family. Her father who died one way for them, his hands battered and bloody and broken from work. Her mother who died another, screams snuffed by smoke, giving herself to see her children safe. Magda must have known their souls to choose them, must have known they would have loved Pietro and Wanda as their own.

Then, why? Why leave her? Why leave Pietro? What frightened their mother? Was it truly this man, seated before her, who has killed, massacred, split nations to save their dying race — was it him who precipitated such fear?

Was it someone else? Something else?

Was it Wanda? Did Magda sense it, the curse marked over her daughter’s flesh and soul? What else, other than herself, is terrifying enough to scare a loving mother off her young?

No answers to these questions. Nothing for Wanda but the ephemeral sensation of tears streaking her cheeks. No answers save one that comes to her, through the confusion and despair: she did inherit from her mother. Face, bearing, and fear.

Wanda does not know how it happens. She hears it, as if spoken by a stranger, her own voice low and broken, whispering a confession to her blood father she’s barely known a day. She is nothing but her fear.

Magneto’s rising body swallows her into shadow.

Wanda looks up, startled, but remains unmoving — arrested in place by something that burns from her father’s matching blue eyes. She holds still, though the mountain wind moves her hair over his fingers in a familiar way. Her mother’s hair.

She does not breathe as Magneto’s words brand her. It glues any argument dead in her throat. She realizes it’s because she wants, so badly, to believe what he says is truth. She wants to hope such a thing could be possible: not afraid of herself, not cursed, not misshaped and malformed, not broken but simply something else —

His hand flinches off her. Her father no longer deigns her a last look. Not that Wanda has even a moment to wonder why, as the dream begins to fragment, Wundagore Mountain and distant Transia dusting like blown ash.

They will take your brother.

Wanda rises to her feet, stricken, reaching out through a reality that breaks away around her fingers. She begs, “Wait —”

And she awakens. In America. In New York City. In bed, with the shadows off Manhattan’s distant lights moving over the ceiling. Her tears are fresh, hot on her skin.

Inhaling sharply, Wanda uses her first breath to cry out her brother’s name.


The wind moves her hair through his fingers. Even in dreams, the sensation is vivid. After all, it draws from memory.

A curl tangles his ring finger in a familiar way, and just like that — it is seventy years ago. They have just escaped the camps, escaped from Germany, escaped from all the concentrated evil in the world that two young people who have lost everything can bear. They are headed east, together, and he is telling her about the house he will build her. She talks about the children they will have.

He can remember his hopes and dreams as if it were yesterday, and not seven decades gone. They would go where evil and hate would never find them again. They would build a life together.

They had one, for a little while.

It would be easy to lose himself in the memory, in his daughter’s resemblance to his last recollection of his wife’s face… if not for the look on Wanda’s upturned face. The tears are familiar. So is the fear.

But the hope does not belong.

It jars him back to the present. His hand pulls away, and he turns his back. If he knows — or even guesses at — the true reason for the fear that made Magda leave her children behind, he does not say. He simply ends the connection with a warning.

The frail do not survive in this world. If she cannot hold her brother tightly enough, they will rip him from her arms.

He leaves his daughter calling for him to come back.

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