My first X-Men: First Class fic, and it's AU as hell. Let me just put my two favourite fandoms in a blender, 'kay?
Disclaimer: I do not own any small portion of the Marvel Universe. I do, however, look almost exactly like Rogue. I do what I want, I guess.
The Dementors of Azkaban did not have names, first and foremost. They got inside the heads of people and ate their happiest memories and eventually their souls, both of which required a fair amount of telepathic ability. This made identification exceptionally easy, as no two spirits were the same. They were like fingerprints, or pungent smells. Dementors rarely communicated, but when they did, they did so with thought, using concepts instead of words. Thus, names were completely obsolete. When you could convey everything about an entity with a single thought, why bother using a non-descriptive title? In-fact, the dementors had similar difficulty understanding any spoken language. They didn't need words to represent what they wished to convey.
There was one dementor who was a bit odd in that respect. It had listened, for hours on end, to the chattering of inmates, monitoring their thought processes keenly to connect certain sounds to certain meanings. Eventually, it had puzzled out the majority of the English language, and was considerably proud of this achievement. It had also discovered the bizarre thing called a 'name'. It searched an inmate's memory for all the common names the man had ever known, wondering if perhaps he could obtain a name of his own. They seemed like fun. In the end, the dementor settled on the name 'Charles'. It was a nice name. Simple. It was a male name, so the dementor supposed that it was a he now. Charles the dementor. It had a nice ring to it.
The other dementors thought Charles was psychotic, which was saying something. Charles had always been odd in comparison with the others, something of a Chatty Cathy amongst those who were almost perpetually silent. This language and naming and gender nonsense only confirmed their suspicions. Most had stopped being around Charles, snubbing him. Since when did a hunter learn the language of its food? Since when did it take the name of its dinner? Ridiculous. Absurd. Perhaps the insanity was contagious. Best not to risk it.
Charles didn't give a damn, to put it lightly. Dementors were boring. Humans were fun. Humans had happy memories and could produce them ad infinitum. Charles couldn't recollect having ever been 'happy' before, and the whole idea of it enthralled him. Surely humans were significant in that they felt it so easily. His colleagues didn't think so. Well… screw them, really.
He had been trying to figure out how happy memories came about. He wanted to know where his food came from, what made it taste better – the whole nine yards (colloquialisms and figures of speech had been very strange to learn, but he'd managed it). He found that his status as an outcast was rather to his advantage, because it meant that so long as he stayed in a particular area, right around his test subject, the other dementors wouldn't come near. He could maintain control over what would affect his experiments. His first experiment was a robber. He had never actually been able to find the man's birth name, because it was mixed in with about twenty aliases. Charles had gone through the unpleasant experience of fasting (it was for science!) and waited to see what would happen. What did normal people act like? Most of the creatures in his prison were hopeless creatures, not whole. The robber's natural activity needed to be observed and recorded as a control group.
Then Charles began slowly taking away the robber's happy memories, one at a time, making his observations. He found that the first memories always tasted best, bolstered in strength by their fellows as they were. The fewer memories remained, the weaker the remaining ones became.
But then he had made the mistake of leaving the robber's cell one day, after weeks of observation, and some other dementor had paid the man a visit, erasing all of Charles's hard work. Weeks of research. Dashed.
Charles was pissed. A shame he never found out which dementor it had been. No-one was willing to testify (or even speak to him, for that matter) against a colleague.
He was waiting by the front doors, as he had for a few days now.
He was waiting for the next new subject.
New inmates, untouched by dementor influence, were rare, but valuable. Fresh food instead of leftovers. Charles desperately needed another if he was to continue his experiments. He had been sensing a lot of activity beyond those doors, and was hoping that it was indicative of someone new.
The doors creaked and something bright spilled out. A Patronus! Charles found himself drawn to it, as all dementors inherently were. It smelled so wonderful… And how hungry had he been these past few days? Wait, wait, no! He was supposed to be paying attention to the potential new prisoner, damn it all!
Charles looked up and felt… felt coldness. Two Aurors were indeed escorting a new prisoner, his arms locked behind his back. But this new man felt so very cold. Normally, they didn't feel that way until after several dementors had already taken a crack at them. He peered into the man's mind. Ugh. More aliases. The most recent, the one that stood out moreso than the others, seemed to be Erik Lensherr. Well, it was better than nothing. He followed them along to Erik's cell, gliding up the stairs effortlessly.
The Aurors locked him up very quickly, hurrying the hell out of there. Charles frightened them immensely, especially given the way he had been following them, seemingly ignoring the Patronus. He was well-aware that they thought him a mindless creature. How good it was to prove them wrong. It was also funny to see them having little internal shit-fits. You took your fun where you could get it in Azkaban.
He stared at Erik. Maybe if he stared long enough, he'd see something interesting and research-worthy. Erik stared back.
That was a first.
Most newbies were too terrified to look a dementor in the eye. Or, well, in the hood. But there was no fear in the forefront of Erik's mind. Charles could tell. There was no happiness, just cold satisfaction. Looking closer, Charles found why.
Erik's mother had been murdered when he was a child. His mother had been a Muggle, and Erik had had no idea that he himself was a wizard at the time. The murder had been unsolvable by the Muggle police, since magic was the cause of death. The murderer, a wizard Erik knew as either Schmidt or Shaw (or perhaps both – more aliases, Charles sighed), got away with his crime easily. Erik attended Durmstrang and became a wizard, training solely for the purpose of getting revenge. Later, when Erik had finally found the bastard who killed his mother, he killed Shaw on sight. The Aurors, unfortunately, had picked up on that murder. How sad. And ironic.
Erik didn't seem bitter about it, though. As far as he was concerned, his life's purpose had been fulfilled. Had he not been sent to Azkaban, he really would not have known what to do with himself, Charles suspected.
But where in the hell were all the happy memories? Everyone had them, even the most depraved. Charles pushed his telepathy a little further, and little further still.
A memory, faded with age, of a young boy blowing out candles on a birthday cake, his mother wrapping her arms around him and mock-crying about how old her baby was getting and how old it made her feel to see him becoming so big and strong. The bashful pride and joy that came with it.
It had been buried far too deep for Charles's taste.
Maybe… if he could just…
Erik gasped, feeling something strange come over him. He'd been wondering why, with a dementor this close, he hadn't felt a thing. Did it just take a minute to kick in? He felt it shudder through him, confused as to why it felt so warm when everyone always said that dementor attacks felt as cold as a Norwegian winter. Suddenly, his mind was flooded with something he thought he had long forgotten. His birthday party, all those years ago. What had he been, ten years old that day? That odd warmth curled around every part of him, down to his toes and his fingertips, filling him and erasing everything that had gone terribly wrong since that day. His face felt wet… was he crying? Of course not. That would be ridiculous. But, God… He hadn't known he still had something like that in him.
Then, like a sheaf of paper dropped into a pool, the memory sunk back down, comfortably floating on the surface instead of completely overcoming him, or drifting into obscurity. It wasn't gone. He couldn't believe it. His happiest memory was still there. He had thought that it was a prelude to the dementor's proper attack, the one that robbed you of all joy, but that hadn't happened.
So what the hell did?
Charles, on the other hand, was pleased with himself. There. Now Erik seemed more like a proper person and less like a zombie. He had known that there was a happy memory in there somewhere; it just took some careful digging to unearth it. Normally, one only did such things when one planned on eating that happy memory, but Charles hadn't forgotten about science. He needed to have a proper test subject before beginning, and making Erik happy was designed to achieve that purpose. If he was also enjoying Erik's kind warmth, he acknowledged it to no-one, not even himself.
A week went by and Charles still hadn't left Erik's cell, worried that some other douchebag dementor was going to fiddle with his delicate test subjects again. He also had not removed any happy memories and was running out of science-y excuses why not. He liked to see the human happy. All dementors liked happy memories – they just usually preferred eating them to admiring them.
Well, Charles was an odd duck in general, so one more odd thing about him surprised pretty much no-one.
Erik was also very confused. A dementor – the same one, he assumed, but since all of them looked exactly the same, he couldn't really tell – had been lurking outside his door specifically since the moment he had arrived. Why hadn't the textbook dementor attack thingy happened yet? He felt, if anything, much happier an individual than when he first arrived. Most peculiar. Maybe his new friend the dementor was a defective one or something.
It was another week before Charles decided to throw caution to the wind and try something he'd never done before. He was going to speak to Erik.
He knew the theory, and he certainly had a mouth and knew how the tongue was supposed to sound. If he couldn't do it, he couldn't do it, and if he could, then great! If he managed to speak in such a way that he could be understood, he could chalk up yet another brilliant discovery in the name of science.
Erik saw the dementor finally move, and it shocked him thoroughly. Even worse was the way it was drawing in great amounts of breath, clearly into an open mouth. Azkaban dementors didn't administer the Kiss unless ordered to do so, right? Right?
"Good evening," it said instead.
Erik just sat there.
He blinked once.
Had a small mental breakdown.
Holy mother of God, it is talking to me it speaks English I think that's a London accent how in the hell did it – wait, can all dementors speak or is this one just fucking weird or insane or wait just a motherfucking minute. Erik's bizarre punctuation-less mental rant came to a halt. Maybe he isn't a dementor. What dementor speaks? What dementor stays in one place like this without feeding? What dementor refrains from attacking an inmate for two whole weeks? The answer seemed so clear, so simple. It wasn't a dementor. Maybe it was some sort of human who was pretending somehow. Maybe he was an Animagus or something (and Erik's mind was grasping at straws at this point). He had heard that Animagi who transformed into magical creatures had the unfortunate fate of never being able to turn back. Maybe that was what happened to this nutjob in front of him.
"Erm… 'Evening," he said.
Charles was delighted. They were communicating! The human's thought process was funny and wrong on every possible count, but he wasn't going to inform him of that. Let him think what he wanted so long as it made him a bit more sociable.
"I'm Charles. Pleasure."
Oh, bloody hell, he's got a name, too. What a circus Azkaban is turning out to be. "Erik. Likewise."
"You had a very unhappy mind, Erik," Charles said. "Very dark. Very cold. I do hope you did not mind my… interference, in that regard." He wiggled his bony fingers, gesturing between their heads to convey telepathy. His voice, at first rattling and rusty with disuse, was slowly changing, becoming smoother. It almost sounded human. Perhaps he could use that to his advantage somehow.
"You… you went into my head? That was you? Wait – how? Wh- why would y- I don't-!" Erik just sat there, being even more confused than he had been before.
"Sorry about that, dear. I just rearranged your cache of memories. I didn't alter any of them – I just made them easier to recall. I promise you I did nothing unfortunate to your mind," Charles said.
Erik couldn't get over how much the voice had changed. Now it sounded – no, he sounded – strong, but warm and soft all at the same time. The quiet voice of one completely in control of a situation and comfortable with that arrangement. He had a kind voice, and a good one. It had been a while since Erik had heard someone speak with such warmth to him.
There was only one question left to ask.
"Who are you?"
A heavy sigh from under that hood. "Charles. I was under the impression that my title had been established."
Sarcasm from a dementor. That was new. "Names tell you nothing about a person and who they are, or who they used to be. Names are largely irrelevant when it comes to who you are. And I'm asking now – who are you?"
Charles only found his excitement growing. Erik spoke of names as dementors did. Perhaps they were of an intellectual level. He found himself enjoying his companion more and more. Verbal communication was such a wondrous thing. The disparity between a person's thoughts and a person's speech told you much about their nature.
"I," he said, with more honesty than he would have believed of himself, "am your friend, Erik Lensherr. Do not forget that."
(A/N): My laptop Bartholomew got drowned in about a pint of water and now won't turn on. All of my stories, my half-finished chapters. All of my carefully recorded plotlines for other on-going stories. Gone. Ruined. I still don't know if the data can be retrieved from the hard drive after the whole thing went buzz-buzz, but in the meantime… sitting on my thumbs.
I'm not fond of sitting on my thumbs. So I wrote Cherik HP crossover fluff. I DO WHAT I WANT AND YOU CAN'T STOP ME. I've been reading stories on "Archive of Our Own" and I must say, I am in love with the writers on that site. I want an invitation so badly, I can't stand it.
My friend Katrina hates Cherik. I say GET THE HELL OVER IT.