"Hello." she said pleasantly and they turned to stare at her speechless.
Rogue could only stare at the woman in front of them. She wasn't as tall as Marie, but she was taller than Astrid. She had ebony hair which fell in a riot of curls over her shoulders and down her back. The woman's green eyes sparkled and were dark and lush like new leaves on a tree in spring. The woman was one of the loveliest Rogue had ever seen, and she smelled like some botanical dream. "Hi." Rogue was almost amused to see both Bobby and Peter speechless looking at the woman. The woman wore a plain men's white t-shirt, and snug jeans. Her feet were bare.
"I'm Rhos. Is there something I can help you with?"
"Um, Professor Xavier asked us to come get Astrid."
"Astrid, she's the healer?"
"Yes." Peter breathed.
"Would you like me to get her?" Rhoswen offered.
Rogue shrugged and took a step back.
Rhoswen knocked softly. "Might I come in?"
Astrid sighed on the other side of the door. Someone new. "Come in." she called. The woman who walked through the door startled her. "Who're you?"
"I'm Rhoswen Manos. I'm new here just like you. Professor thought it might be a good idea for us to get to know each other."
"Yes. You see, while my powers can be aggressive, in most circumstances I'm quite passive."
"Really?" Astrid asked hopefully.
"Really. Why don't we take a walk?"
Astrid eagerly agreed. "What about…"
"Why don't your friends come to? That way they're assured of your safety?" This statement seemed to please everyone.
The five mutants began walking and made their way outside. It was beautiful outside and Astrid felt better feeling the sunshine caressing her face. "What can you do?"
Rhos smiled. "A little of this, a little of that. I commune with plants and animals. And if I ask them very nicely, then they do as I ask. The earth and nature also heals me."
Astrid was enthralled. "Show me?"
They had just passed a huge weeping willow, and Logan stepped out from behind. He was smoking a cigar. Rhoswen looked at him with interest. "I do hope you aren't going to extinguish that out here."
"Wouldn't think of it?" he murmured. He was shocked at the vision in front of him. Gone was the beaten woman and in her place was some woodland goddess.
"I was just about to show the students something fun. Any suggestions?"
Astrid pointed. "That tree. It makes me sad."
"It's been dead since the soldier's came." Bobby murmured.
A tinge of sorrow touched Rhos's face and she approached the charred remains of what had once been a lovely apple tree. "Hello sister." she whispered for none but herself to hear. Logan heard the words faintly. "Wouldn't you like to grow again? Bear your children for all to enjoy?" Rhos placed her hands at the foot of the tree and knelt.
Before their eyes the charred pieces of tree fell to the ground as new shoots sprung up and the tree grew to the size it had been when it had been destroyed.
A tear slid down Astrid's face. "I can't do things like that."
Rhos looked at the lovely girl. "You're a healer Astrid. You do for people what I do for nature."
"But I can't help everyone."
"Oh, Astrid, I can't help everything either. Some things are beyond even the most powerful of us."
"Vincent Marone thinks I can do it all."
"Marone searches for me for the same reason."
Astrid was startled. He was after Rhoswen too? "Why?"
"Where he looks for you to cure him, he thinks I can find the cure." Rhos explained and leaned against the tree. "He will have to learn that he cannot have everything he wants, won't he?"
"Yeah. I keep thinking I should just run away."
"Astrid!" Rogue gasped.
"I'm not gonna, I just worry."
"We're sisters you and I. Made that way by a greedy man." Rhos smiled. "Neither of us will run. We don't give up do we?"
"No Ma'am." Astrid said and pushed her chin in the air. "Looks like I'm gonna have to double up on those self defense lessons."
Logan smiled and nodded in respect to Rhos.
Astrid hurried down the hallway after her last class of the day. Not quite paying attention she slammed directly into the person in front of her and hit the ground again. She was stunned for a moment before scrambling to pick up all of her books she'd dropped.
"You do not pay attention to where you go." Peter sighed in admonishment.
Astrid gave him a smile. "Sorry. I was thinking about something else."
"Perhaps you were thinking of Ghost?" he frowned.
"Ghosts?" she didn't understand. "Oh, Ghost, Jeff. No, why would I think of him?"
Peter shrugged. "He seems taken with you."
Astrid cocked her head to the side. Weird. "Really? I didn't think so. He's an okay guy."
Peter continued to scoop up her books and frown at the ground.
He was so cute when he was all upset. Before she could rethink what she was about to do Astrid leaned in and kissed him. Peter dropped all of her books back on the ground. Astrid blushed furiously, scooped up the books , stood up, and hurried away. He hadn't moved from the spot when she turned the corner. You are such an idiot, she told herself with a sneer. Peter Rasputin could have any girl at this school. As if he would ever look at a ninny like you Astrid!