Not So Unknown, After AllStarted by Lorna Dane at Sep 18, 2020 10:12 AM
December 10, 2023
"When they look at me they see a troubled young woman.
I'll show them trouble."
Dawn threw some more bread in the pond, making funny noises to try and get the attention of the ducks that usually took up residence in there. Disappointment crossed her face when none of them seemed to be coming or even answering with their usual quacks of great interest. She pushed back from the gazebo railing, huffing a little. “Duckies!” she called again.
Looking up from her position leaning on the same rail nearby, Lorna smirked, pressing the off button on her phone and saying, “Dawn, honey, I told you the ducks have moved on for the winter. They won’t be back until Spring.”
“Well, that’s just not good enough,” the five-year-old said.
Lorna sighed. “We go through this every year. You know they fly south for the winter.”
Crossing her arms over her chest Dawn stared defiantly at her mother for a few moments then relented. “Yeah, I know but why can’t just one of them stay to play with me?” she said, pouting, the question a rhetorical one.
Shaking her head a little and smiling, Polaris motioned for her to come over and sit down. “Daddy’s going to be a little late joining us for lunch. Come eat something while you’re waiting,” because Lorna knew if she didn’t cranky Dawn would be with them for the rest of the afternoon.
“No Mummy, I can wait,” and the little girl went back to the railing looking out over the pond at the bridge she knew her Daddy would be coming down any moment now.
Max approached the small wooden bridge that lead to the gazebo at the Japanese Garden. Certainly, it wasn't the first time he had walked that path, but it was the one he felt less sure about the outcome of his steps. Unlike before, when he knew Charles would receive him well and with a feeling of longing, he had no idea how Lorna would take his presence. There was no point to running scenarios through his mind. He had to go there and face the consequences of his earlier choices. Had Xavier already done what he had asked? Did his daughter already remember the time they had spent together at Genosha? There was only one way to know.
He felt a very characteristic magnetic field nearby. Not strong enough to cause any effect, but enough for a mutant with his powers to sense. He looked at the Gazebo and saw a small girl with his daughter. Lorna's green hair was unmistakable. Elizabeth had also sent him photos of her as she grew up. He knew how to identify her. But who was the little girl? Was she the surprise Charles had mentioned and said he wouldn't tell him not to spoil it? Was she?... He just stayed there motionless as his thoughts ran wild for a few moments.
A mixture of slight annoyance that she hadn’t listened, and that motherly feeling of adoration present in all her features, Lorna put some cheese on a cracker, eating it while simply just looking over at her daughter from the small built-in picnic table setting within the gazebo. No point arguing with her now. She’d try to convince Dawn to eat something again in a few minutes. For now, she was going to enjoy an initial snack while waiting for her love to get there. Hopefully, she wouldn’t eat all of the cheese in the meantime. That particular brand tasted so good.
“Mummy, who’s that over there?” Dawn suddenly asked, Lorna instantly putting the rest of a second cracker in her mouth and getting up. “On the bridge,” and Dawn lifted her arm up to point as her Mum came up beside her.
Hazel eyes took in the clearly older gentleman motionless directly opposite them on the other side of the pond. “I’m not sure,” she said, narrowing her eyes a little in suspicion. What the heck was someone just staring at her daughter for? Or was he looking at the both of them? Maybe he was getting so on in age he wasn’t really sure what he was doing. Lorna didn’t really know, but having an old man just standing there like that was a little disconcerting, to say the least.
Part of her thought maybe she should check to see if he was okay and had she been on her own Polaris most probably would have. With Dawn there, her safety was and always would be her number one priority. "He might have been coming to use the gazebo and saw it was already occupied," Lorna told her.
Dawn nodded a couple of times, head leaning to the side a little as she kept looking at him.
Max broke away from his own conjectures after looking down at the waters of the lake for a moment. He had to cross that bridge. Literally and figuratively. Courage was never something that he had lacked in life. Neither was boldness. Why was he so reluctant now? Lorna was the only living biological daughter he was aware of having and her rejection would be hard to take, but there was no point to just stay there thinking about what didn't happen yet. He had to move forward and that he did.
After crossing the bridge, he walked towards the direction of the gazebo slowly halting his steps at its entrance. His stance was calm and peaceful. It wasn't his intention to cause Lorna to overreact over the girl's safety if his previous thoughts had been correct. "Hello. I don't think you remember me, Lorna. It has been a long time..." He tried to start, but his words failed him. Nothing seemed to convey what he wanted to say. "Is she your daughter?" He finally blurted out. If that was confirmed, he had achieved what he set out to achieve with his decision to hide Lorna from the world as she grew up. To his estimation, he had given her a chance to reach adulthood and a full life unlike his other two daughters, Anya and Nina.
Lorna’s gaze never left the older gentleman especially when it became clear where they were currently waiting for Marcos to arrive was indeed his destination. Moving to stand in front of her daughter, Polaris would always be prepared for anything problematic, not that she had to worry so much about that now, here on the institute’s grounds. It was one of the safest places to be.
At his words, she caught his gaze directly, “I’m sorry but I have no idea what you are talking about,” she said, and when he asked if Dawn was her child Lorna felt the magnetic pull around the fingers of the hand hidden behind her back, as she discreetly activated it. “It really does depend on who is asking,” she answered, eyebrow raised and waiting to see what he was going to do next.
"Are you going to attack me, Lorna?" There was a faint hurt feeling in his words, but otherwise they matched his demeanor. Max then waved his left hand and cancelled the magnetic field she was trying to create. "I'm Ma... Erik Lehnsherr... I was just curious if the little one is the surprise Charles has promised me I would find when I got here. I won't do either of you any harm." He almost said his birth name but changed it just in time. Ma could be of Magneto as well, so he felt safe.
Within that very moment, while this unknown man was talking to her, Lorna felt a tingling in her mind, having been at the mansion long enough to recognise it as Charles wishing to speak with her telepathically. 'Yeah?' she thought. 'You know, now's not really a good time.'
*Lorna,* Charles began. *Please listen. This is very important. You do know who he is. Let me lift the veil,* and with that, Xavier did exactly as his old friend had asked of him, wanting very much to warn the person in question in advance of returning each and every memory related to the time she had spent with her father in Genosha. *It is Erik, Lorna, your father...*
“Magneto…” Lorna finished Xavier’s telepathic sentence out loud, her hand already lowered down by her side after feeling her powers disappear. She wouldn’t need them now anyway. In fact, she wouldn’t dare use them against someone with vastly more experience than her, let alone the man she’d wanted to meet since her Aunt had told her the reason why he’d seemingly abandoned his own daughter into her care.
Polaris shook her head, the slight pain of the memories flashing fully back into place now subsiding thanks to having been very carefully and expertly returned by the one she now realized had taken them. Then came the feeling of being torn between wanting to welcome him, go off because he had taken so long, or demand what the hell anyone was doing messing around inside her head without her permission?!
Max could see the confusion on Lorna’s face. Xavier must be fulfilling his request at that moment. From then on, she would remember their five years together when she was as little as Dawn. It had been a happy time until they nearly died during the attack that destroyed the mutant community at Genosha. He was thankful he was able to save both Lorna and Charles to this day. “That name will hang over my life, but there’s more to me.” His demeanor still calm as his words filled the air.
“I hope one day you’ll forgive me and understand why I did what I did.” He looked at Dawn again and smiled. “So... is she?” He repeated his unanswered question in shorter form, but her previous reaction had already confirmed it. He just wanted to be sure and for his daughter to trust him with the information herself.
More to him? Wasn’t that true of everybody, really? Even the worst of the worst had some sort of secrets that could oust them as not being completely evil. For the most part, that is. Polaris knew there were ones out there, human, mutant and alien that were just plain nasty and there was nothing more to it. For a moment she thought about her own choices, her stint with the Hellfire Club something she would always regret and what she’d done to the plane…
“Not now, Lorna,” she told herself silently, catching his gaze. “I think I already have forgiven you for that,” she explained. “Not so much on how long it’s taken you to finally show up again, however.” Glancing back at Dawn, Lorna motioned for her to come out of where she had moved to hide behind her mother, peeking out from under her shoulder from time to time.
The little girl shook her head, astute enough to already figure out this was someone very important. Too overwhelming, meeting her Daddy for the first time back in February. Now her Grandpa too. “No,” she said, softly.
“It’s okay, sweetheart,” Polaris said, running a hand the length of the ponytail she’d fashioned for her earlier in the day. “Remember the man Mummy has been telling you she wanted to meet. This is him,” her attention went back to Erik. “Yes, she is,” was all she said in answer to his question, Dawn very cautiously pushing her way under her mother’s right arm so she was more visible but felt protected all at the same time.
"I have been known by many names. Max Eisenhardt. Erik Lehnsherr. Magnus. Magneto. Each name marks its own sin. And one day I'll answer for those offenses."
“I’m glad to know it.” Max was truly relieved that Lorna seemed to, at least consciously, be at peace with their past. Her next words were expected though. He walked a few more steps and stood right into the gazebo, but still many steps away from mother and daughter.
“I thought about coming before.” He started, but didn’t know how to finish it properly. How could he say he got sidetracked trying to recreate a past that was long buried in the form of Lied? “You must be wondering why I’ve changed my mind.” He started, having decided that the truth was the best way to go. “I was among the vanished.” The revelation followed by the sincere thought that had brought him back. “It wasn’t fair to either of us to keep the distance any longer.”
He smiled at Dawn’s negative to his question, knowing well it was just a natural reaction from a scared child that has had too much too fast, but later Polaris confirmed the information as he expected and also revealed something else. She had been longing to meet him as well.
Polaris’ face changed to one of painful recollection of the time she’d lost the man she’d loved right in front of her and her Aunty had disappeared the exact same way after coming in to see why her niece had yelled Marcos’ name for. She was careful to catch her father’s gaze this time. “I’m sorry,” she managed. “We survived,” and she motioned to Dawn, “but Marcos, her father, plus Aunty Liza, they were among the dusted as well.”
“Mummy, can we not talk about that, please?” Dawn interrupted. “Daddy is back. Aunty Liza is okay, and that’s all gone now.”
Lorna smiled at her daughter’s attempt to try and draw her attention away from a tough time for both of them, not that being a baby, she could remember much. It was more Dawn’s way of trying to look out for the emotions she knew could often so easily overwhelm her mother. “Come on, Dawn, now it’s time to meet my father properly,” she said, holding out her hand.
Taking it slowly, the dark-haired child glanced over at him with a look of concern on her face. Her Daddy had been so very familiar to her already. This man she hadn’t even known what he looked like until now. She let her Mum lead her closer, but stopped suddenly and had to be urged on again. Standing around a little over a metre away now, brown eyes just looked at him, wondering what to expect next, while Lorna started picking up on something trying to pull her closer still.