Harry Potter and the Children of X

Chapter one - Movie Night

"Under the curtains, the exits are closed

Go now and no one will know.

If you try later it may be too late

Don't read the lines and get

Lost in the lights on the stage"

-Enter the Haggis, "The Apothecary"

It was the early 1990's, when a single mother somewhere in Scotland awoke to a significant popping sound. She reached over and turned on the light. A tall, wizened man with a long white hair and beard, clad in a dressing gown, was standing in her bedroom.

"Ah, Ms. Rowling, you are awake. Excellent." He spoke softly, and as she looked behind half-moon spectacles into those twinkling eyes she knew she'd seen him before. "There is much we need to discuss."

It suddenly dawned on her, and she shook herself. "This is a dream. Only a dream. You're a character from a story I'm trying to write."

"It may do you good to think so, madam, I dare say it will ease your mind." His voice dropped, becoming serious, "And it is about this story that I must speak with you."

She wrapped her blanket tighter around her. "What of it?"

"I know of no easy way to say this, Ms. Rowling, and I do not mean to impugn your delightful writing skills, but you are what is known in the Muggle world, as a member of homo sapiens superior, that is to say, a mutant…"

"Me? A- a- a mutant? It can't be!" Mutants were not unknown in Great Britain, but they were rare. The telly had reported on the early exploits of Magneto, and of those X-men, but to think that she was one was nigh inconceivable. "I'm as normal as the next person."

She paused, peering at the robed figure, then continued, "And even if I were, how would you know? If this isn't a dream, and you aren't just playing a horrible joke on me, then you would be a wizard, not a… mutant."

"Ah, this is true. I am neither dream nor cruel joke, but I am indeed a wizard. And normally our worlds would not interact." He smiled, sadly, as if a painful memory had come to mind. "Alas, several years ago, my world, that of magic, did intrude most terribly upon yours. You were caught in an attack by the followers of the Dark Wizard Voldemort-"

"Death Eaters?" she scoffed, "Really, this has gone on quite far enough. I'm ringing the police now." She reached for the phone at her bedside.

A wrinkled hand shot out with remarkable speed. "Diffindo." The phone cord fell, cut neatly in twain. "That would be inadvisable, madam. I cannot stress the importance of what I am about to reveal to you. You are a mutant, and when those same Death Eaters assaulted you, it catalyzed your ability to peer through dimensional barriers. Even though our Obliviators subjected you to a Memory Charm to erase the trauma of the attack, I have a theory that the magical nature of the attack caused your Inner Eye to peer through all the spells and Charms that would normally keep our society hidden."

Joanne's eyes darted nervously to the severed cord, fear gripping her chest. "I don't understand… what does it matter? Who would believe a simple children's book is real? Even if I sell my story, I don't see how it would endanger your world."

"Oh, I have no fears of the Muggle world reading your text in the slightest. It is my world that causes my apprehension. And your own safety as well…"

"My safety…?" she said in a very quiet voice.

The old man smiled, "You have nothing to fear from me, Ms. Rowling. You have written of me, and I hope that gives you some inclination to trust me. My concerns are more exotic. As I said, your ability is to peer through dimensions. You see not what is happening here, in the world we live in, but that of another world, apparently, I think, one where time moves more quickly than here.

"In this world, you see, Harry Potter is a small boy, still living with his Aunt and Uncle in Little Whinging. He has not come into his magical heritage, and will not for many, many years yet. If you are to publish your works, especially if you are able to print the whole story, you will place our entire existence in jeopardy."

"But why?"

"Most obviously, there is the danger to Harry. Were his enemies know where to look for him, he would never be able to leave the protections on that house on Privet Drive. I have little doubt that Voldemort's supporters would target him and his family, if they only knew where to look. But beyond that," he paused, moving to a window and peering through to the streets below, "Imagine knowing the ending of a war we have yet to fight. Knowing the costs involved, the sacrifices needed. Now give that knowledge to both sides of the war, that both sides can see the mistakes they will make, learn the secrets of the other. I believe you can see the result – the events will not unfold as they did. Human nature will cause us to pursue alternate paths, to save some, to destroy others before their time. It casts all in doubt, destroying the foundation of our reality, and quite possibly yours as well. And can you also imagine what those who would misuse the knowledge would do to you? You and your loved ones would never be safe."

Shaking, she asked, "You – you are going to erase my memory, take away my knowledge… you can't! I need this, I need to be able to support myself – my baby!"

The wizard peered at her over steepled fingers. "I could attempt a Memory Charm, but I have no guarantee that would work."

"You- you aren't going to k-kill me?"

"Me? Oh, you do have quite the imagination, my dear. And I would not wish to deprive the Muggle world of the amusement your works will provide. If such a time it so happens that our worlds do come in contact, I can think of no better ambassador than your story. But something must be done. I will, of course, make it so you do not remember this meeting, but that you will instead continue to believe that the images you seen are naught but your own mind. At worst, you may think of this encounter as the flimsiest of dreams."

"What will you do?"

"Oh, I have a spell in mind. I've been crafting it since I first realized what you were doing. A touch of Confundus, a modicum of Oblivio, wrapped in a Disillusionment Charm, with a Protean Charm to project it through perpetuity. It is a tricky one to cast, and I imagine that perhaps six wizards in all of history could successfully create and invoke it. I am, as you know, quite a clever wizard, perhaps the greatest of my age. The responsibility falls to me to protect my people. I will make it so Muggles will be able to read your works and all that stems from them, but Wizarding folk will not. A Witch or Wizard attempting to read your book will find themselves disinterested, and it will slip from their minds as quicksilver. The knowledge will simply not exist for anyone connected to the magical society."

Joanne Rowling nodded, her mind reeling at the idea. "I don't like it, but yes, I do… trust you."

"Excellent," he said, softly. "And thank you."

"Professor Dumbledore?"


"I have to ask – why? Why are you subjecting Harry to such a horrible life?"

Albus Dumbledore looked back at her sadly. "I hope… I pray… that it is necessary. To temper him, prepare him for the hardships he will face. I fear, deep in my heart, that I am wrong and that I am turning him into that which destroyed his parents. But I must trust in my own judgment, or else all I have done and prepared for is lost."

"Now sleep, madam," he spoke softly, muttering "Oblivio" and pointing his wand at her. Her eyes grew dazed, and she blinked several times, even as he vanished with a soft "pop."

The woman shook her head, wondering why she felt vaguely uneasy, but feeling a renewed sense of purpose. Her novel would sell, she knew it now. She laid her head on her pillow and was soon asleep.

. . .

An hour later, there was another soft popping sound in her bedroom. The wizard, his face glistening with sweat and leaning heavily on a staff, pointed his wand at the telephone by the bed and whispered "Reparo", softly berating himself for getting careless in his old age. He Apparated again, back to Hogsmeade for a well earned glass of butterbeer.

The two women burst through the door of the mansion, arm in arm, laughing at a rather naughty joke. Peter saw them, and wondered if he should run and lock himself in his room, his ears burning almost reflexively. He knew that whatever his fiancé and sister were discussing, it was most likely very, very wicked, and most probably involved him in some way.

He reflected on the wonder of it all. A year ago, his sister was considered dead. And now she was back, alive and hearty and had immediately resumed her close friendship with Katerina. He smiled, and in his hesitation, was lost, as the pair had seen him.

"Peter!" exclaimed Illyana, running up and hugging her brother. "We were just talking about you!" Since her return, she'd begun to exhibit a great need for physical contact.

Maintaining a calm face was a challenge as he returned her embrace, "I am awash in trepidation at the thought."

Kitty gave her best friend a gentle push, "Hey, no hogging my fiancée, blondie!" She reached up and pulled him down into a soft kiss. "So, Piotr Nikolievitch, do you have plans for tonight?"

His eyes darted from one mischievous face to the other, and said, "Why do I feel I am about to be in a great deal of trouble?"

"That's why you're marrying me, silly! I'm your knight in shining armor - or at least, your ninja in non-reflective spandex. And it won't be too much trouble, I promise! It'll be fun!"

He could only sigh. "Faced with my two favorite people in the whole world, how could I refuse?"

Illyana took a step back and crossed her arms, looking a little pensive. She spoke, "Well, you could say'no', or even 'no thank you' if you're being polite. Or you could run screaming in terror. You could armor up and pretend to be a statue, but then we'd put you out in the garden for the pigeons…"

With a pained expression, he objected, "Little snowflake, you know that is not what I meant…"

She moved forward again and wrapped her arms around him, leaning in close. "You know I'm kidding, right Peter?" she asked with her blue eyes wide. There was a vulnerability there that pained his heart, and he nodded with a grin.

"So what nefarious schemes do you two lovely ladies have planned for me?"

Kitty pulled some cases out of her bag, "Movie night! It's a Harry Potter filmfest in the theatre tonight… and you're making the popcorn!"

Peter sighed – the movies were all right – he'd seen most of them in the theatre with Kitty, but it wasn't exactly great cinema. And they got confusing if you hadn't read the books, which required time that his life as an X-man and a teacher at the Xavier Institute simply did not afford.

Still, he was cheered by their attitude, and made his way to the kitchen and started pulling out the necessary components. A large pot, oil, popping corn. A smaller pot with real butter – it would do them no harm to deviate from Dr. Reyes's nutritional guidelines for a night. With a deft hand, he maintained just enough motion to prevent the kernels from scorching, and the machine gun pop of exploding corn soon reached his ears. He poured it into a large bowl, and carefully drizzled the melted butter over it. He fetched a six-pack of soda from the fridge. It would be a good night.

"An entire subculture, living among us? I'm sorry, Charles, but I find that a little difficult to believe."

"Is it so difficult? I understand your skepticism, Iron Man, but the Inhumans lived for how many centuries without notice?

"Remote islands or the Himalayas are not central London. Or Salem, or Paris, or any of a thousand other places these alleged wizards are hiding in plain sight. I'm struggling to see how a sizable population could live completely off the grid, undetectable by the most powerful of satellites?"

Professor Xavier's eyes narrowed. He was trying not to pry, but there was no doubt about it. There was a certain degree of agitation in the Golden Avenger's synthesized voice, almost fear. Fear of the unknown. "Nevertheless, I have spoken with a representative of theirs, a Professor Dumbledore, while investigating a nascent mutant in London. I was also able to determine that the British Prime Minister is aware of their existence."

Tony Stark did not like being caught unawares. The idea that there were thousands of powerful beings – an entire society – that he had not factored into his equations was bad enough. But that Xavier was willing to let them go, unmonitored, unchecked. The fool.

"These self-named 'wizards' are not unknown in the Magical community," Dr. Stephen Strange spoke up to the assembled members. "The Ancient One told me that their origins are lost to antiquity. The source of their power would appear to be internal; I've studied them and cannot seem to replicate their abilities, even with one of their wands, which are the focus of their innate abilities. I saw little benefit to pursuing my investigation, and my presence amongst them was decidedly unwelcome. The entire society is quite nearly xenophobic, wanting nothing to do with the outside world. One of their Ministry members went so far as to attempt to modify my memory of my time there.

"While they lay great store in bloodline, with those who can trace their magical ancestry back the furthest held in the most esteem, there are still new members being born on a nearly daily basis. It is my belief that they are a separate offshoot of humanity, much like mutants."

"Homo sapiens veneficus?" suggested Reed Richards. "'Wizarding Man'," he translated, "although I suppose the word could also mean 'poisonous'. It wouldn't surprise me. Our genome has been compromised multiple times in history, from the Celestials to the Kree. These 'wizards' are probably the magical equivalent of Inhumans or Deviants."

Tony Stark was agape behind his helmet, "How can you all be so blasé about this? How many hundreds - how many thousands of people are we talking about here? How many Britons were killed in that war Charles just mentioned?" He threw up his gauntlets in exasperation. "This is exactly the reason we need these meetings. Stephen has known of these people all along, people that constitute a potential threat, and if it hadn't been for the Professor mentioning them, we would have remained in ignorance."

"They are hardly a significant threat, no more so than others in our respective rogues' galleries. They have some limited mind control techniques, curses of varying degrees of efficacy, and one specifically for killing. As Professor Xavier indicated, they have the capacity to interfere with most physics based technology, particularly at that school in Scotland."

"I believe," Xavier said, "that it is best at this juncture to allow them to live their lives in peace. The United Kingdom's version of S.H.I.E.L.D. – called S.T.R.I.K.E. – should provide an adequate warning if intervention is required."

"Agreed, then?" asked Richards. And despite Stark's fuming, the motion carried.

"Oh my god, he is so young!" exclaimed Illyana, watching the opening scene of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. "Who knew he'd grow up to be such a hottie..."

Kitty laughed, "I know! Did you see the pictures of him from Equus? Wow... just wow."

Peter coughed uncomfortably.

"Kitty, you total perv! He's, like, four years younger than you!" The blond Russian girl laughed, "Old ladies like you shouldn't be looking! Besides, you already have your man. Not that I see what you see in him, but you got him to give you a ring and everything!" She shot a smirk over at her brother, who rolled his eyes dramatically.

The chestnut haired beauty snuggled close to her fiancé, "You know exactly what I see in him, you tried harder than anyone to get us back together. Don't you remember that story you told around the campfire – 'Lockheed the Space Dragon and his pet girl Kitty'?"

"I can't believe you remember that!" she laughed, "What can I say? You were miserable apart. I am glad you two figured things out while I was... away... because I don't think I could have dealt with you two staring longingly at one another from across the room anymore. Just like Ron and Hermione..."

"Gah!" exclaimed Kitty, "You don't think - me and Peter - are Ron and Hermione? Ugh! Totally, totally ugh! That whiny little brat so doesn't deserve her!" She paused, reflecting, "Now, maybe her and Krum - that might've worked."

Peter shifted in his seat, trying to pay attention to the movie, but finding the banter between the two friends both amusing and reassuring. "I wouldn't think you would identify with the character of Hermione, Katya. While certainly the brightest of them all, she seems much too reserved and cautious to be you."

"Yeah, she is a bit of a goody two shoes. And totally obsessed with schoolwork and studying. Not to mention she's bossy as hell, and not that much fun for the first couple books..."

"Ah, she is bossy. That explains why you relate."

"Peter!" she cried, but before she could continue he had pulled her into a passionate kiss. "You big goof-" His lips trailed searing kisses along her neck. "Oh, you... you... c'mere, you."

"Ewwwww! Totally not a private space here!"

"Maybe your eyes should be on the screen then, and not - mmmmmm - staring at the two consenting adults showing their affection for one another."

Illyana made fake retching sounds. "That's it – I'm going to get a drink."

"But there is cola right there on the table," Peter pointed out.

"Some of us need to watch our girlish figures, big brother, and you forgot the diet." She walked towards the kitchen. "And the vodka," she added, under her breath.

Fingers danced over the panel, stirring up dust motes that had collected over the years. A button was pressed; red lights flickered and grew brighter. A surge of green crackled around the glass and steel sarcophagus, and again. Silt was wiped away to provide a better view of the enclosed figure and the energies that caused it to spasm repeatedly. A screen display tracked the progress of long dormant biologic processes being restarted, ticking off each category with a green dot, from the first tentative breaths to the initial firing of the neurons in the cerebral cortex.

A slider moved left to right. The template secured to the adjacent bed convulsed as the device ripped years of memories back through a tangle of cables all leading back into the sarcophagus.

Two sets of eyes opened wide, two screams erupted from two mouths.

And then there was silence.

The template lay still, eyes still wide, but unseeing. A trickle of blood congealed slowly around the nose. The chest expanded fitfully, and then was still.

A hand reached a lever and pulled, and the top of the sarcophagus rose slowly, releasing a cloud of steam.

"You know your task."

The figure's voice was unsteady, "Yes, Master."

"Good. Take the robe. Take the wand. A servant will be along to take you to France. Madame Maxine is expecting you."

The second movie was playing, and Kitty was happily snuggled up against Peter. Illyana had taken to throwing popcorn at them whenever they got too comfortable, even as she watched the screen.

"I wonder if Alan Rickman knows..." she said thoughtfully, taking a long drink from her glass.

Kitty shot her a look, and brushed a kernel from her chestnut hair. "Knows what?"

The blonde girl's grin was almost sinister in the soft light emanating from the screen, "Just that he's destined to be my devoted love slave."

Peter nearly choked on his popcorn, and was forced to sit up in a paroxysm of coughing. "Illyana Nikolievna!"

"What's the matter, brother dear? Your little snowflake not as pure and white as you thought?" She smiled, but her eyes had an edge to them. "Or is it that he's too old for me? What can I say, you two have corrupted me."

With her fiancé stunned, Kitty sized up the situation. "Not very nice, 'Yana. I was settled in rather cozy, you know." She put an arm around him. "She's teasing you, Peter. Aren't you, blondie?"

"Well, maybe a little. He's pretty dreamy, tho'." She glanced at her brother, "You can breathe again, Piotr. I'm not going to 'port over to England to stalk him. Besides, he was cuter as Hans Gruber in Die Hard."

They all settled back into their seats, watching as the three protagonists, the so-called Golden Trio, with little to no help from the surrounding adults, solved the mystery and defeated the monster.

Kitty leaned back, "It would've worked if not for those pesky kids!"

"Da, Katya," replied Peter, "It does seem as if the teachers do not do the best of jobs in protecting their students."

"'Snot that much different from my time in the X-babies," asked Illyana, using her friend's derogatory term for the New Mutants. "Or even the current buncha snot-nosed brats that make up the junior team."

"I'd like to think it is. Most of your mischief happened while the senior class was away. All of this stuff happened right under the noses of allegedly powerful and wise wizards and witches." Kitty pointed out. "But I guess it wouldn't be much fun if Dumbledore saved the day every time."

A while later, as the credits to the second movie rolled, Kitty spoke up, "Should I fast forward through to the last scene with Kenneth Branaugh?"

Peter looked at her quizzically. "Last scene?"

"Oh, yeah, you'd run to the restroom before that when we saw it in the theatre..."

He blushed a bit, "Well, it was a very long movie..."

"... not to mention an obscenely large soda!" she laughed.

"Speaking of drinks," Illyana said, "mine seems to be empty. I'll pop out and refresh it…"

Kitty nodded as she pressed the fast forward button on the remote, making the names fly up the screen. "How many effects companies did they need to make one House Elf? Sheesh..." She hit play, stopping just as the screen resolved into Branaugh, as Gilderoy Lockhart suffering from a backfired memory charm, promoted a book entitled Who Am I?

There was a soft chuckle from Peter, clearly amused by the character's comeuppance; self-aggrandizement was not one of his favorite traits. Then he spoke, "I am a little confused. The control of the little redheaded girl by the villain was a major plot point, but she was barely in the film. And she is the sister of one of the major characters, and three others, yes? How could they be so ignorant and callous to her? Is it this way in the book?"

"It ain't always that simple, Pete," came the voice of Sam Guthrie, who'd joined them halfway through the movie. "I know I always try t' be there for my family, but sometimes things get in the way. 'Specially when you're a kid, an' you're just out on your own for the first time." His voice was light, but there was a tightness around his eyes, as they could see he was thinking about his brother Jay, how he had missed the signs leading up to his apparent death at the hands of William Stryker. Although that had turned out to be a Skrull imposter, explaining why his healing factor had not worked, the guilt still weighed heavily on Cannonball.

"Sam, that wasn't your faul-."

"In mah head, I may know, but in mah heart, Ah should've been a better brother. Ah've been blessed that Ah've gotten a second chance."

They sat in silence for a moment, as Illyana came back in and loaded the next DVD - The Prisoner of Azkhaban - into the player. Looking to change the subject, she spoke, "Sure Ginny was a bit of a twit at first, but she def'nitely gets better later on." She hiccupped and giggled a bit. "Excuse me."

Peter Pettigrew knew he was in far, far over his head. The castle loomed in front of them, seemingly impregnable. Soldiers lined the battlements, pointing long sticks at him. He'd been a mediocre student at best in Muggle Studies, but he knew that they had weapons that could kill a man as surely as any wand, and just as fast.

The stone causeway seemed to stretch interminably before them. He felt his steps falter, then forced the shakiness out of his knees and continued forward.

"Master, I don't mean to question your judgment…"

A hissing, high-pitched voice escaped the backpack the short, rodent-like man wore. "But you do, Wormtail. And this is why you never rose above your station. Your cowardice shames your blood."

"Yes, Master. But seeking aid from this... muggle king..." Pettigrew stammered, "I-I've heard things, even when we were in Albania. And those muggles in the village. They fear him, Master, as much as wizards rightfully fear you. They say he consorts with demons and devils…"

"And you believe such superstitious nonsense? They are the dirt beneath your boots. This 'Von Doom' may cause his subjects to cower before him, " Voldemort sneered, "but we are wizards. We are gods amongst men, and shall not be cowed by one such as he." He laughed, hollowly, "Besides, it is at his invitation that we approach. Let him think we are at his mercy, that we bargain from weakness. You may find it impressive that he discovered our existence; I say even a blind goblin may stumble upon a Knut. I am more impressed that he recognizes that we are people of power and extended the invitation to examine the artifact he has unearthed, as befitting one of my stature. Even in this wretched state." The deformed creature spat out his words, "If the Muggle king ends up being worthy of my compassion, I may allow him to continue to reign as my vassal once I restore myself to power. Otherwise, I will make him my puppet, or will dispose of him and install a replacement of my choosing."

"Of course, M-master," stammered Pettigrew, "It will be as you s-say."

"Perhaps I shall kill him and put you in that armor in his place. It may take some modifications, but a little pain is nothing to fear in my service, isn't it?"

His servant gulped audibly, then nodded nervously, with sweat breaking out on his brow. "Y-yes, my Lord." He continued up the causeway, eyes wary.

"Continue, Wormtail," came the hiss. "We do not want to keep our host waiting. If he has indeed found the cauldron, it will go far towards restoring me to my rightful power."

The Goblet of Fire was playing now.

"No Privet Drive scene in this one. No Diagon Alley either," commented Kitty, somewhat wistfully. "You know, Peter, I kinda miss London."

"Oh?" he asked, "Did you want to show off your engagement ring to your ex, Wisdom?"

Kitty laughed, "Oh, that's bad. I'm sure he got the message after our last talk, anyway.

But really, we haven't had a chance to get over there since Meggan came back."

"Now there is an idea," came a German accented voice from the door. "An Excalibur reunion is long overdue." Kurt Wagner, the blue furred mutant better known as Nightcrawler, walked in with the red-headed Rachel Grey on his arm.

"You two are home early," Kitty commented, "I thought the filmfest lasted for another hour or so."

Rachel scowled. "Apparently Mr. John David Campbell, host of `Our Modern Crusade' and all around swell guy, got a tweet that we were at the theater and sent his brain dead audience to protest. Kurt tried to talk sense to them, but you know bigots like that are allergic to thinking…"

Kurt sighed, "Anyway, the owner asked us to come another time, on the house. He was very apologetic…"

"Not enough to treat us with any respect. You're too forgiving sometimes."

"Perhaps," he admitted, "But then, we'd already seen The Thief of Bagdad and The Black Pirate and I felt that The Taming of the Shrew was a bit of an anticlimax. Sometimes, in the face of unreasoning hatred – and relationship discord – discretion shows its worth."

"The Douglas Fairbanks marathon was your idea…"

"Ja, and we seemed to both enjoy the first two films."

"Enough!" snapped Illyana. "That'sh quite enough bick- bickering outta you two! You should be ashu- ashamed of yerselves. I mean, serioushly. What will Brian an' Megg'n think of you fightin' when we see them!"

"Illyana," Kitty asked in a level tone, "What are you talking about?"

The blonde turned to her friend, "Oh you are sooooo cute when you're acting motherly! You said you wanna go see Brian an' Meg, so I'm gonna take us there. 'Smy power, remember?"

"Snowflake, are you… drunk?" Peter's voice was full of concern.

"Yup! I owe you a bottle a' vodka."

"Then I do not think you should be-"

Kitty cut in, "No drinking and teleporting, 'Yana."

"It is not a problem," Illyana said, her face a mocking serious. "I could do this 'port in my – hic – excuse me – in my shleep."

Kurt held up his hand, "Sam, can you go get Dr. Reyes?" When the young man ran off, he continued, "Illyana, as a fellow teleporter, I know I would never try such a risky maneuver under the influence…"

"Oh pish posh, fuzzy elf. Ish a shna-." She was wobbling on her feet, trying to snap her fingers. Peter was sneaking from behind, his arms reaching out to grasp hers. "Ish a schnap!" she said triumphantly.

She snapped her fingers.

The floor glowed white, one huge stepping disk.

A couple minutes later, a handful of teenagers came into the theater room.

"Um," said one, a girl who had taken to going exclusively by her codename, Hailstorm, "Are you guys done with the room? 'Cause we were gonna watch this movie?"

"Looks like no one's home," said Victor Borkowski, hopping into one of the chairs. "They left all their popcorn, though, and a DVD's running. Think something happened to them? Should we left someone know?"

"Nah," came a gravelly voice. "Prob'ly had a mission come up. You know how it is." Santo Vaccarro, better known as Rockslide, plopped down on a loveseat, his rocky form filling it completely. "Pop in the show, Haley."

"'K", she said. She pulled out Goblet of Fire and placed it in the case. The TV flipped back to show Attack of the Show, with host Kevin Pereira talking to the hottest name in software – Douglas Ramsey, whose CypherLock Corp had come out of nowhere with top selling games for PC, game systems and mobile devices.

"Hey, isn't that guy a mutant?" asked Vic. "Former New Mutant, back from the dead."

"Yeah," Santo answered, "but a total wussbucket. Let's get that movie in, Haley."

Hailstorm finished inserting the disc and hit play. The logo for Fox Animation appeared.

"What is this one about?" asked a quiet Afghani girl named Sooraya.

"Oh, it's an old cartoon called Anastasia, about the last remaining survivor of the Russian Tsar. It's got Christopher Lloyd as a funny zombie Rasputin."

Author's note: Wow, been away for a while. Started this 2 years ago, had it on the back burner for ages. Important notes - Marvel is alleged to run on a three years to one sliding timescale, so the X-men have been in existence approximately 16-17 years as of 2012. The ultimate genesis of this story was a cameo in the pages of New Excalibur, where a startled Harry, Hermione and Ron were nearly run over by the Juggernaut as he tried to save the day.