Priestess Adularia: The first part takes place after Birthmark, then it skips ahead to two weeks before Valentine's Day, then I'll have a chapter or two, and then Valentine's Day, which will probably take place a long time after the real one. Unless I receive like eight reviews, I'm probably going to take a while to update, because I'm a published author and I'm working on a new series and that takes priority over…everything except school.
Also, I won't be making up Slade/Trigon's plan, or their defeat/victory. I know the makers of Teen Titans have thought of something, and I don't want to make up something else.

«§Ж§»

Exiting the bathroom, Raven dressed slowly. The designs still burned upon her skin, and the fabric felt as if it were suffocating said skin. But she felt safer when she was dressed, no longer so bare and exposed. But the bath hadn't helped enough, neither had dressing: she still felt as if she had been violated, corrupted…

Raped.

Sitting down, she gazed moodily into the mirror.

According to Beast Boy, she was 'creepy.' She couldn't say she thought any of the Titans would disagree, or anyone who had ever looked at her, for that matter.

But something about the long hair softened the look, made her look younger. Many times, she had contemplated growing out her hair to the length it used to be, and she could see that it was the right look for her.

But she wouldn't keep the current masses—they were Slade's mark. She felt like a little girl, a helpless little girl who could be raped by Slade as her mother had been raped by Trigon.

When she first joined the Titans, she had looked (and acted, for that matter) much creepier. Her hair had been long, her face and body gaunt from food deprivation, her eyes haunted and empty and much too large for such a thin face.

She had cut off her hair, but cut too much of it, so that the sides reached her chin but the center was as short as a boy's hair might be.

Opening a drawer, Raven extracted the same pair of scissors she had used back then, and experimentally snipped at the air once or twice. The noise was a pleasant change from the utter silence plaguing her room.

Taking a thick handful of her hair, she cut through it, and found the sound as strangely pleasing as she had found it before. Violet locks drifted to the ground. Snip-snip-snip, she chanted silently to herself, careful not to overdo it as she had last time. As each stand fluttered down, she imagined that it was one of her troubles disappearing forever, as she wished they would do in real life.

There!

Gazing into the mirror, she saw…well, she saw herself. The same girl she had been last week, before this all started.

Sixteen now…she thought numbly. A year younger than Cyborg, a year older than Robin and Starfire, and two years older than Beast Boy. But she felt older than sixteen. She felt ancient. And tired.

But more alive than she had felt when she returned to the Tower with Robin, barely an hour ago.

All her life, it had seemed that her path was set out for her—a path that she would rather die than follow. The Titans had been a new door for her, though it was over a year before they (not including Starfire) could truly consider her a friend, and vice versa.

But, though the Titans had been a new door, it seemed she was still going down the same path, and she could not stop for long, could not turn around, could not save herself or her friends.

…or the world.

Skies will burn
Flesh will turn to stone
The sun will set on your world
Never to rise again

"Never to rise again…" she whispered, haunted. She liked the dark, but not that much! She wanted the sun to rise. She wanted her friends to live. She wanted Slade to leave her alone. She wanted Trigon to disappear.

She wanted this day to be over.

She wanted a new door to open, one which could take her away from pain and sorrow, and show her things she had never before realized existed—at least not for her.

The Titans had shown her friendship. Now she wanted love.

«§Ж§»

Robin sighed, leaning against the couch, watching Beast Boy and Cyborg play video games. He was to play winner, but he couldn't focus on it. He kept thinking about Raven, and their recent encounter with Slade.

"Friends!" cried Starfire, appearing out of nowhere and causing Robin to jump and nearly fall off the couch. "Rejoice! For soon to come is the day of the courageous utensils!"

Robin blinked.

"…Huh?"

"Valiant Tines Day!" she crowed, raising two forks that she had dressed as what he assumed were Tamaranian fighters. Robin and Cyborg stared at her as she began to make the two dressed-up forks fight. Beast Boy continued playing the video game.

"Umm…Star?" said Cyborg uncertainly. Starfire stopped the Fork War and looked at them inquisitively.

"It's called Valentines day," said Robin.

"Oh," replied Starfire, blinking. She placed the "Well…Valen Tines are nice too, I suppose. Umm…what is a Valen Tine?"

"Ha!" shouted Beast Boy, jumping in the air and doing something ludicrously similar to the chicken dance. "I win! I win! Go Beast Boy, it's your birthday, won the game now! Yah!"

"Hey!" shouted Cyborg. "You cheated!"

"Yah snooze, yah loose, Tin-Toes!" retorted Beast Boy. Cyborg's face turned red and he lunged. Beast Boy yelped. Within moments they were attempting to rip one another to shreds.

"What did he do now?"

The Titans blinked at the sound of the familiar monotone. Even Beast Boy and Cyborg stopped fighting, though Cyborg didn't let go of Beast Boy's throat. They all turned to the doorway to see a slender figure dressed in blue and black.

"Hey, Reye," said Cyborg casually, still holding Beast Boy in a strangle-hold. Robin glanced at him. He had never noticed this before, but Cyborg had a nickname for Raven that no one else had ever used. And was this strange twisting feeling in his stomach?

"Hello, Cyborg. Robin. Starfire. Beast Boy." She said the last part with a lifted eyebrow, seeing that Beast Boy was slowly changing from green to blue-green.

And why did she say Cyborg first? Wait, that was because he had greeted her first. Why did he suddenly wish he was the one who had greeted her first? Calm down, Robin. You're being irrational.

But he couldn't be calm, and he didn't know why.

"Hi, Raven," he greeted, managing to make his voice sound even. "We're talking about Valentine's Day…you do know what Valentine's Day is, right?" he asked suddenly, remembering that she, like Starfire, was from a different planet. It was hard to remember, sometimes, because she always seemed so much wiser than anyone else—wiser than human.

"Isn't Valentine's Day that sickening holiday where people hand out heart-shaped candy and cards and say 'I love you' and act all mushy? And people who have secretly harbored crushes on people tell the people they love them…Yeah, I know what it is. Why?"

"L–Let–me–go," gasped out Beast Boy, who was now a very interesting shade of purplish-green.

"Sorry," muttered Cyborg sheepishly, crawling off him. Beast Boy changed into several different animals before becoming himself again, rubbing his swollen pinkish-green throat.

"Valentine's Day is coming in a couple weeks, and we were thinking of celebrating," Robin explained. He noticed that Raven's hair was a bit longer than it used to be, though not as long as it had been after their encounter with Slade.

"Haven't we had enough celebrating for a while?" Raven asked.

The Titans glanced at one another, before Beast Boy spoke up. "I read about this really cool thing called a 'Secret Valentine.' You put names in a jar and draw them, and whoever's name you pull out, you give them a gift every day or so, then when Valentine's day comes you go to your secret Valentine and tell them it was you!"

"Fine," replied Raven, her expression unreadable. She raised her hands, and five equal strips of paper appeared in the air, written on in delicate calligraphy. They read Robin, Raven, Cyborg, Starfire, and Beast Boy. Silly though it was, Robin felt strangely glad that it was first. A cupboard opened and a jar flew out. The strips folded and dropped into the jar. "Me first."

She raised a hand, and a piece of paper flew into it. She didn't even look at it.

Robin went next, watching Raven warily. There was something different about her, a vulnerability that had not been there before, which she was trying to hide with her usual coldness.

What did Slade do to her? he wondered for the millionth time. He had a guess, one which had been plaguing him since Slade had reappeared. But he wouldn't ask Raven.

He respected her too much.

His hand hovered over the jar, but he didn't reach inside. Suddenly, a piece jumped up and his fingers closed over it. Blinking, he stared at his fist. He glanced from it to Raven, but she showed no sign of having done anything. Beast Boy, Cyborg, and Starfire all reached in and pulled out a fold of paper, but none of their papers flew into their hands. Was he the only one then? Or had he just imagined it?

Beast Boy, Cyborg, and Starfire all unfolded their papers and looked at the names. Slowly, uncertainly, Robin did the same, looking at the name written there with fancy swirls and dainty flourishes, the name more beautiful to him than the writing itself:

Raven.