All X-men and the concept of the Morlocks are the property of Marvel. Minstrel, Hermia and Snug are mine, but not for profit. Written for the 2007 LivewireWorld Writing Competition challenge to write a ballad of a hero

"Sing it ag'n!" demanded the mauve colored child. "Sing it, Minstrel, please?"

The Morlock musician smiled down, "Aye, little Hermia, I'll do just that. Straight from the Windrider's mouth, this one is. I think it's worth something, don't you?"

"Awwww, but I ain't got nuffin' right now." The little girl pouted. "Snug, you got anyfin'?"

"But I c'n get you more gitar strings, next time I gets t' go topside!" said a small boy with an oblong skull and elongated fingers..

"That'll do, children." Two of Minstrel's arms pulled out what could loosely be called an instrument, full of holes and with only two strings. As his fingers began to strum, the guitar shimmered, seemingly become whole, and a gentle cascade of notes were coaxed from it. "Remember, Jean Grey was one of the pretty ones, topside, and the Windrider's best friend. She did good, but she did bad things too, killed a whole lots of peoples. But in the end, 'cause she loved everybody, she killed herself, saved us all!"

The two Morlock children looked suitably impressed, oohing at just the right times.

And then, he whispered "The Ballad of Phoenix", and began to sing…

In Annandale-on-Hudson our story begins
With a young girl, hair the color of flame
Sit down, o children, and I'll spin you this tale
Of a tragic hero, Jean Grey was her name.

The death of her friend brought her power to light
Xavier came in to help heal her damaged mind
He trained her to use her psychic abilities
Then she joined the X-men, with more of her kind

Across the universe, the raptor cries
Marvel Girl's born, soon the Phoenix will rise

Aside Cyclops, Angel, Iceman and the Beast
Jean fought villains and monsters, on Earth and in space
For Xavier's dream she would risk everything
To bring mutant acceptance to the human race

Another team, with different faces
Taken by metallic foes up beyond the Earth
A daring escape, a willing sacrifice
A terrible crash, a miraculous rebirth

Across Jamaica Bay, there's no time to mourn
Marvel Girl's gone, now the Phoenix is born

Mad D'Ken threatens the entire universe
His sister calls on the X-men for aid
The Phoenix triumphs, the crystal's repaired
But back on Earth terrible plans have been made.

The Hellfire Club begins its deadly gambit
Their evil Mastermind puts her in a horrible dream
Her passions exploited, a Black Queen is crowned
Her dark side takes hold with a heart-wrenching scream

Across New York, to both spiders and mages
Jean Grey is no more, Dark Phoenix now rages!

Her fury unleashed she attacks those that she loved
The D'bari fall prey to insatiable thirst
For only a moment the threat seems abated
But the Shi'ar arrive to do their very worst

A sentence of death, but Xavier says no
A battle for Jean's life is now underway
The X-men defeated, the Phoenix escapes
But Jean, out of love, has the last say.

Across the moon, Cyclops for his lost love cries
Phoenix disappears; for them all, Jean Grey dies.

*several years later*

"Oh, Scott, here's another one… she's only a child." Jean used her telekinesis to lift up the debris. Arclight, damn her, had collapsed this part of the tunnel. Rage filled her, and she threw the heavy stones against a far wall, pulverizing them to dust with the impact.

She was far gentler as she carefully picked up the little mauve colored girl. With deft flicks of her mind, she wrapped temporary bandages around the many cuts and bruises and strapped her into a stretcher. Cyclops was carefully extricating the body of a boy, his skull crushed by the stones. "How's the girl?" he asked, grimly.

"I can't tell – we need to get her back to headquarters."

"Are you an angel?" a weak voice asked.

Jean, startled, looked down. "I'm afraid you have the wrong X-man, dear. Can you tell me your name?"

The girl coughed, and blood trickled from her lips. "Her- Hermia. What's your name, pretty lady?"

Looking at Scott, who was carrying the boy's lifeless form a little ways ahead, she dropped her voice low and said, "I'm Jean. Jean Grey."

Hermia's eyes grew wide. "Ph-Phoenix? But Minstrel said you were d-dead. Are you coming to take me, like Snug got taken?"

Jean's eyes grew wide at the name, "No, dear. I'm not –" she paused, biting her lip. "I'm not Phoenix anymore. And I'm here to help you get better."

The girl coughed again. "Thank you," she whispered. And then she began to hum a little tune Jean didn't recognize, and then slipped into unconsciousness.