Disclaimer:  I don't own the X-Men, Marvel does.  I'm just borrowing them for a little while and tweaking them a bit but I promise I'll give them back when I'm done.  So please, no suing, I have no money so it ain't worth it.

Author's Notes:  The above disclaimer applies to the whole story, I won't write it again in any form because it would be kinda redundant and I'm too lazy to anyway.  I also won't respond to any reviews in my story because I find it a waste of space.  I don't want to offend any one and I really enjoy reviews, I just don't want to clutter my story with responses to reviews every chapter, I find it rather annoying.  This is also my first fan fiction attempt [I have a story on FictionPress.com if anyone's interested.] so any suggestions or advice are welcome.  This story is AU and is similar to late Middle Ages Europe but I've changed some things, just because I can!  Well I hope people don't find this story to be too confusing, it should get better later so hang tight and enjoy the story.

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~Prologue~

            Dark and mysterious things are said most often to take place on the night of a full moon.  Whether it is men who take the shape of wolves to stalk the night in search of human victims or some dark meeting of supernatural beings, the night of a full moon would be the time for it.  Just like this night.

            The air was thick with humidity and the scent of rain as the black clouds obscured the full harvest moon.  The sky flashed irregularly with flickers of lightning and the only sounds were the faint rumblings of approaching thunder.  All the animals and insects of the forest were silent due either to the late hour or the coming storm.  There were no villages in this part of the Bayrische Wald, not only was it incredibly isolated but it is also rumored to be cursed.  The only people who dare come here are the Gypsies.  Only these mysterious nomadic folk dare to enter areas such as this.  They do so to escape from those who would persecute them, to leave human society behind in favor of nature.

Gypsies, long considered by all to be the scum of the earth, who in their right minds would willingly seek them out on a night such as this one?  The Count of the Bayrische Wald, Johann Wagner, that's who.  Under normal circumstances he would not be out here looking for Gypsies, he would rather be at home in bed with his wife.  But even if he were at home right now, his wife would not be there.  She had disappeared a few days earlier, only hours after the birth of their first child.  Now he was left to raise the child, a son, alone.

            So why was he out here in the middle of the night, when it was threatening to storm, in a part of his forest that was cursed, looking for Gypsies?  The answer to that question lay in his newborn son, Kurt.  His son was also the reason why his wife had vanished, for Kurt was different from other newborn infants and not necessarily in a good way.  When his son had been born the attending mid-wives had taken one look at him and broke into a panic and run.  Only the Count's quick thinking and very loyal head of the guard had prevented their escape.  God only knows what could have happened if they had been allowed to leave and tell his subjects what they had seen.  Kurt had been kept secret for now, but if he was ever discovered the Count would be ruined.  So now here he was looking for Gypsies in a part of his lands that was haunted, searching for a solution to his son's "problem".

            He had been walking since sunset, heading for this place after his head guard, Heinrich Brunner, learned of rumors that Gypsies were heading that way.  If even half the stories concerning these "Romani" were true then they could at least point him in the right direction, if not fix the "problem" themselves.  So Johann continued looking despite his growing fatigue for the rumored Gypsy tribe camped in his forest in a desperate attempt to save not only his son, but himself.  For if his son were ever seen by any of his subjects or anyone outside his realm he would be denounced as a sinner of the highest order for siring such a creature.  He would bring his noble family to shame, lose all his holdings, and be lucky if all they did was burn him at the stake.  And he did not wish to contemplate what fate would befall Kurt himself, his innocent child who had not yet truly had the chance to live.  This was what drove him to such extreme lengths, what made him stoop so low as to beg Gypsies for help.  There wasn't any guarantee that they would even hear him out, let alone help him, but it was all he could think to do.  At least they wouldn't tell anyone about Kurt except other Gypsies so there was no risk of anyone else finding out.

            It was so dark now that Johann couldn't see his own hand in front of his face, forcing him to find his way by feel.  The flashes of lightning were growing more frequent now, and the following crash of thunder followed swifter and with greater volume.  The lightning illuminated the forest with an irregular, eerie light and the air grew heavier, more oppressive with each passing minute.  When the storm finally decided to let loose, it would be hell on earth for awhile.  The Count forced himself to ignore the threatening weather and continued his, so far, fruitless search for the elusive wanderer tribe.  He took advantage of the lightning when he could to better navigate through the forest and prevent himself from losing his way in the murky darkness.

Nothing would stop him from finding them, not the thick humid air, not the threat of the storm, not the lightning nor the thunder would stop him.  The storm was so close now that the next lightning flash was followed immediately by a tremendous crash of thunder that seemed to make even the ancient trees shake.  But the thunder had an unexpected side effect that did stop the Count, it woke little Kurt up and made him cry.  For a moment Johann was at a complete loss, he knew nothing about babies, that was for women to worry about.  But he didn't have a wife anymore, he was in the middle of nowhere with a crying baby and he didn't have a clue. 

For a moment he was frozen, what should he do?  He couldn't leave baby Kurt to cry, that would be cruel and the infant's wails would drive him insane any way.  Johann removed the child from the improvised sling on his back and thought to what he'd seen his women servants do with the child in the days before he decided on this course of action.  As he tried to soothe his son he wondered for the hundredth time what on earth he'd done to deserve this.  He done his best to be fair to his subjects, always been loyal to his Kaiser, treated his servants and wife with the utmost respect, and never missed his Sunday mass.  Now his wife, who he loved with all his heart, had left him with a son who could destroy him simply by existing and he didn't know what he could do about it.

Johann wondered if the heat and sleep deprivation was getting to him because right at that moment he wanted to burst out laughing.  Here he was, the Count of the Bayrische Wald, trying to calm down a bawling baby in the deepest part of the forest while looking for the wandering tribe of Gypsies.  He must look so ridiculous at this moment trying, rather clumsily, to rock his infant son to stop his cries.  And it wasn't working, at all.  If anyone was watching him he was sure they would be laughing their head off, but no one was in sight so he was safe from that embarrassment.  So he near jumped out of his skin when some one did laugh

The Count immediately sought out the witness to his scene in the patchy light, hoping this person would lead him to some shelter or better yet, the Gypsies.  After a few frustrating minutes he spotted a small child holding a partly covered lantern half hidden by a massive tree trunk.  The little girl child giggled at his obvious inexperience with infants and probably his bad luck in general.  But on closer inspection she was not the average little girl in the woods, she was dressed in a unique, gaudy style which could only mean one thing.  He had finally found what he had been looking for.

After what felt like ages to the exhausted Count he managed to communicate to the young girl that he needed help and a place to stay for the remainder of the night.  He first tried to speak directly to her, but that got him nowhere.  The Count tried Hoch Deutsch, Platt Deutsch, and a host of minor Germanic dialects before he remembered that Gypsies weren't German.  The Gypsies have their own culture, separate from the rest of Europe.  They have their own customs, traditions, religion, and, just to make his life miserable, their own language.  So the Count was left to try and use hand gestures to get across what it was that he wanted from her.  Johann was about to give up when she finally seemed to understand, or at least guess what his request was.  She cheerfully led him to an area where the trees were a bit more spread out and there was room for the brightly painted wagons that served as homes for the nomadic tribe.

He received many stares from the other Gypsies as he passed, some curious, most hostile.  He was an outsider far from home, and as far as they saw it, on their turf now.  But the little girl was oblivious to this as she continued to lead him through the maze of wagon houses, campfires, horses, and Romani.  Their brightly colored wagons were drawn in circles around the fires; the horses were just outside tied to trees or bushes.  The Gypsy men were crowded around the fires talking and laughing about things.  But when they saw him they would stop and watch him pass, studying him to see if he was any threat.  Johann was glad that he had accepted Ulrich's advice in what to wear, if he had worn his usual well made clothes they might have stopped him.  This night he was wearing old, borrowed clothes, he looked like a harmless beggar man with a baby.

She finally stopped in front of one wagon and called to whoever was inside and young boy who looked very similar to her in age and appearance poked his head out side, saw Johann, and then promptly fled back into his home.  After a few long minutes a woman greeted him, or at least he thought she greeted him for he didn't understand a word she said to him.

"I'm terribly sorry," the Count replied.  "But I don't speak Romani; I do need some help though."  The Gypsy woman stared at him in utter disbelief before she burst out laughing.

"Well look at what we have here!"  She crowed in strangely accented German.  "A German who wants help from the Romani!  What in the world would you need help from one of us for?"  She asked, clearly amused by this strange turn of events.  Johann paused for a moment to gather his courage to continue with his plea.

"Well for one thing it looks as if it will rain soon and I have nowhere else to go, my home is too far away.  And for another I was hoping I might get your assistance.  I need some help with my son and you were the only people that I think could help me."  The woman paused to consider before she answered him.

"You look terrible of course you may rest with us out of this coming storm.  But I don't know if we can help your son.  Come inside and we will see what we can do."  The Count wearily obeyed as the two little children milled around his legs and generally made a nuisance of themselves.  The woman first spoke with the girl, her daughter he guessed, then turned to him.  "Let me see this son of yours."  She demanded, holding out her arms to take the infant.  Reluctantly the Count relinquished his hold on the now calm but still alert newborn.  When she saw him, really got a good look at him she nearly dropped him.  Her eyes grew wide in her horror at the sight of him and she let out something in Romani that Johann suspected were curses.  After she recovered her composure she demanded he explain himself.

The Count did his best starting with the birth and his wife abandoning him and ended with his arrival in her camp and the help he was hoping to find here.  She eyed him a long time as if she were reading his soul to see if he told her the truth.  Then she seemed to come to a conclusion and let out a sigh.  "You may stay the night.  In the morning I will have to meet with the heads of the families to decide if I will be allowed to help you.  I want to help, but we all must agree.  And the price for such an action must be decided for it will not be free.  Go to sleep now, I will take care of your son for the night since, according to Jimaine, you don't have a clue."  The Count was too wrung out to disagree; he lay on the bed provided him and immediately fell asleep.  A few minutes later the skies opened up and the rain came pouring down as the storm finally began.