I don't own them (mores the pity!); they're Marvel's and Ah'm usin'em without permission:):) Ah ain't makin' a plug nickel! If ya'll sue me Magnus is gonna be right *peeved* ...

Rated PG-13 for implied sexual content and some violence. So if that sort of thing bothers ya'll skedaddle:):)

This story is in response to The Breakup Challenge on OTL! It occurred to moi that The Powers That Be at Marvel (Hallowed be thy name!) never *have* gotten around to breaking up the relationship between Magnus and Lee Forester. So, Ah did it for them:):) Also special thanks go to Sigil, Jennifer Colbert and Carrie who answered some important questions for moi that helped shape the story. Thanks honey:):) And yet another special thanks to my beta readers Sigil, Terri, and Mickey:):) Ya'll are the greatest!

A couple of small notes heah! Yes, Ah *know* Storm tried to kill him the same way and no, Ah'm *not* kidding about the Dolcetto costing 200,000 lira! And , again yes, Ah also know that women aren't allowed to Run with the bulls:(:( To which Ah reply: PSSSSSSTTTTTTT!! They wouldn't let moi do it in RL so Ah have to do it here in the guise of Lee Forester!

The verses of the great Spanish poet Lope de Vega and the comtemporary poet Sonji Rush belong to themselves, of course, and are used without permission. Ah am only borrowing their greatness:)

Now - Onward!

Sunshine And Violets

A Tale Of Romance by Dannell Lites

I recall the exact moment I began to love Lee Forester.

She stood over my bed with a knife poised at my heart. A metal knife for the love of God. To kill *me*. But she could not. The look in her eyes said plainly, "This is a man. Perhaps not a good man, but a man nonetheless. He does not deserve to die." Without knowing it, as if it were the most natural of things, she gave me a precious gift. In that moment she gave me back a bit of my hope, something I thought burned to ashes along with the bodies of the dead in the fires of Auschwitz. Too many people have judged me who do not understand me.

When Lee pulled me from the cold embrace of the sea, I was grateful, never doubt it. But she was human and I do not trust humans. How can I? They slaughter their own kind, ruthlessly. They kill without thought or malice like any great predator. But they shall not prey on me or my kind any longer. Not while I yet live. From the beginning Lee was different, however. She gave no thought to helping a stranger. It was simply the thing to do in her eyes. She did not know who I was. I had presumed that to be my salvation. But when she crept into my room that night to slay me, she knew *exactly* who I was. I was the terrorist Magneto, bane of humanity and supposed killer of helpless thousands. And still she could not do it. But she had courage enough to try.

I recall the exact moment I began to desire Lee Forester.

I do not like the tropics. I have no good memories of them. For my entire stay in Brazil I groaned and sweated under the assault of the sun. And Isabelle died there. Let others bask in the burning light. I prefer chillier climes. The cold is cleansing. The Antarctic landscape is sparse and sere like the art of Picasso or the haiku of Matsuo and just as beautiful. Perhaps it is simply that the Earth's magnetic field is strongest there. I am more comfortable in its familiar embrace. My hidden island is convenient but it is eerily alien and grates on the senses. I do not spend much time there. The slow pace of tropical life does not suit me either. I am always busy; I do not stand idle for long. It doesn't please me. And it leaves too much time for ... thinking. But it was on my island sanctuary that Lee Forester became a part of me. Fully recovered, I made plans to return her to her previous life. I went to tell her so. It was midday and she was dozing in the room she had taken command of, much in the fashion she commands her fishing trawler, the Arcadia.

She lay naked, neatly tucked into the safety of her commandeered bed. For many moments I watched the slow, gentle raise and fall of her breasts as she breathed. She stirred and her hands gripped the sheets with white knuckled fear. She was having a nightmare. Tentatively, I perched on the periphery of her bed, an univited hawk spying on a dove. I wished to help her. After all, I understand about bad dreams. Suddenly she woke and threw her arms around my neck clinging to me like a child, her eyes wide.

"You were dreaming," I soothed. Her breath came in short quick gasps and her embrace tightened. "I was ... drowning," she panted. "Can ... you ... believe it ...? ...live and ... work on a damned fishing boat ... and I'm terrified of drowning ..."

I remembered the feeling of suffocating in the damp darkness; of being crushed beneath the bloody bodies of my family, my lungs crying out for air. And I remember clawing my way to the sunlight.

Oh yes, I understand about nightmares.

And then, like rusty hinges, my arms went around her trembling form and gathered her in haltingly, hesitantly, as if I hadn't touched anyone in a very long time and might have forgotten how.

"It's all right," I reassured her. "You are safe with me." She smiled, then.

"Yes, I think I am," she said.

We traveled a great deal in the beginning. Lee had seen little beyond her small domain of Florida and the southern United States. All her life, she has worked hard and has had no time to explore the world. She confessed to me that she had always wanted to run with the bulls in Pamplona. So I indulged her and took her there for the Fiesta San Fermin. I stood behind the stern barricades erected by the Guardia Civil at the entrance to the Santo Domingo corrals and watched her as she ran before the enraged animals. Smiling, her lean lithe legs pumped over the hard Spanish cobblestones. Her long pale blond hair trailed behind her like a comet's tail and sparkled in the harsh light of the hot Iberian morning sun. Rounding a corner onto the long dangerous length of the Calle Estafeta, she slipped and fell. Alarmed, I almost intervened. My heart jumped and I called her name. Laughing, she picked herself up and sprinted neatly away from the searching horns of a huge black beast. At the Plaza de Toros on the Paseo Ernest Hemingway, where I waited breathlessly for her at the end of the Run, she threw herself into my arms.

"Would you have saved me?" she laughed.

"No," I said and made a sour face. "You are a foolish woman, Lee Forester. I would have left you to the horns." But I was smiling. Her kiss was almost bruising in its passion. Never before had I met anyone so alive. She always made me feel more alive than anyone I have ever known. And I am so very tired of death.

"Liar!" she teased.

In the cool of our rented villa, we lay together nestled like spoons. She rested her head on my chest and listened to the triphammer beat of my heart. Like her Run with the bulls, Lee makes love at a frantic pace as though it were a rival she must outdistance. Whatever she does, sailing her boat, strolling or even resting in the afternoon sun, Lee lives her life at a dizzing pace. With one hand she languidly traced the muscles of my thigh.

"Do you love me?" she asked. I stirred and found my voice.

"I thought I just had," I smiled. Her hands whispered over my body again.

"It isn't fair, damn it," she sighed. "Why do you have to be so beautiful, Magnus? I could refuse you if you were ugly. Then I could leave." Icy fear gripped me.

"Leave?" I said. She must not do that. She must not. Not like all the others. There was no sign of my fear in my voice, at least. I was grateful for that.

"Why would you leave? Aren't you happy?" She sat up and regarded me wistfully.

"You first," she invited. "You didn't answer my question." I hesitated. When she lay back down and covered the length of my body with hers, she was calm.

"Never mind," she smiled sadly. "I think you just did."

I understood then that I had failed her. Lee has spent her life working at a man's job. In order to be captain of her vessel and command the repect of her crew she must toil beside them and be one of them. She does not see herself as a beautiful woman. She depends on others for that. Such things take their toll.

"Dad wanted a son," she told me once. "What he got was me." It was intended as a joke. But she did not laugh as she said it. She needed signs of love from me, beacons in the darkness. And I did not know how to give them to her.

I blinked back astonishment. I have been called many things in my life, but never beautiful. Lee's delight in my body has always been plain. She has never made a secret of it. And I am vain enough to be pleased with her obvious desire. My body is a lever with which I move primal forces; it must be strong and fit. And still, all too often it has failed me, frail and weak thing that it is. It has never been a match for my will. Lee was brimming with many astonishments like that, a neverending source of amazement. A prisoner devouring a last meal did not fling themselves at life so frantically as she.

Later, at the Mercado del Sol slumbering in the shade of the Plaza Consistorial, I bought her a sculpture of a bull, all carved ebony grace with silver hooves and horns in honor of her achievement. Her eyes shone with pride.

"It's beautiful," she said, and stroked first the bull and then my cheek. Lee has a habit of touching things that she desires when she suffers strong emotion. As if she must prove to herself that they were real and not fleeting illusions in danger of disappearing.

"Four hundred pesos, Senor," pompted the eager Spanish merchant and waited.

"How much is that worth in real money?" asked Lee.

It was by far her most annoying propensity. Americans are arrogant people, I had found. To them, Europe and all the rest of the world with it's rich history and divere cultures are a mystery. A mere shadow of former glory that remains just that, an echo, picturesque and quaint. "Real money", indeed! In all our travels, I never broke her of it. We would be dining at Maxim's on the Rue Royale or the Jules Verne atop the Eiffel Tower, investigating the shops of Montmarte on the Left Bank delighting in the bright colors of a scarf, or drinking a bottle of Dolcetto that cost 200,000 lira on the Via Veneto in Venice and suddenly ...

"How much is that worth in real money," Lee would blithely inquire.

The attitude was too ingrained to be excised; too much a part of her safe and busy world to be lightly discarded as the excess baggage it was in her sojourn through my life. So I said nothing. At first, it was almost refreshing in its charming way to see someone so blissfully untouched by privation. Not since Charles had I met her like in that regard. Lee was splendidly American in all her graces and her faults. Like Charles, she has never known hunger or great suffering. America is, after all, the only country in the world where two million people will pay $29.95 for a *diet* book. She was wonderful to me, this untrammeled creature of strength and joy.

The first time she viewed the earth from space, Lee wept like a child. We stood on the remains of Asteroid M encased in the protection of my power and watched our mother planet turn slowly, majestically beneath us, a bright blue and white jewel shining in the firmament. Viewed thusly, there are no boundaries, no national borders to seperate her children. Only men do that. Not least of all myself, I am told.

"Oh, God, it's so beautiful," she cried. I smiled and kissed the gleam of starlight shining in her hair. "We cannot tarry long," I said sadly. "But I wanted you to see this." She buried her head on my shoulder and moistened my body with her tears.

"When I was a little girl," she clung to me in confession, "I wanted to be an astronaut. I was going to be the first woman on Mars. I wanted space so bad I could taste it." Her sad sigh tugged painfully at my heart. "It never happened, of course. No money for education and , well, girls don't become astronauts. So many dreams that never came true ..."

I held her tightly against the press of the lonely vastness surrounding us. I did not want her to be frightened. All that emptiness can be intimidating. Not to me, of course. But then I am used to being alone.

"I wanted to be a teacher like my mother," I said. "Foolish children both of us." She kissed my eyes because she knew it always left me breathless.

"Well, this is one dream you made come true. Thank you for that."

"Que bella," I said. She gave me a puzzled look. "Italian, the language of love," I translated. "It means, 'You are beautiful.'" She kissed me and we hung there suspended against the sparkling crown of eternity.

"Bella," she whispered in my ear, "que bella!"

But it wasn't until I brought her to Magda's grave in the shadow of Wundagore Mountain that I plumbed completely the depths of her hunger for love.

Try as I might there were no violets to be had. I searched the village almost frantically but there were none. Puzzled, Lee trailed silently in my furious wake. By the time we had left the fifth florist shop emptyhanded, I was seething with anger. There remained only one last shop to try. There were no others within a hundred miles. Lee squeezed my hand but kept silent in the face of my fury.

"Here are some nice roses, Mein Herr," said the anxious florist who had no violets. He smiled at Lee. "Surely the beautiful lady likes roses!"

"No," I cried and pounded his countertop with my fist. "Violets! We were married in the Spring and she held violets. It must be violets!" At my side, almost unnoticed, Lee frowned. I thought it was for the sake of the now frightened florist. The roses were beautiful; as Lee is beautiful. When she touched their softness with such calm longing, I closed my eyes. Perhaps the violets were not so important, after all. Another time there would be violets. For now, there were roses ... and Lee. Angrily, I bought the roses the nervous florist offered and gave them to a suprised Lee. All but one. Then I gathered her in my arms and we departed the disappointing village where there were no violets. Lee clung to me tightly.

"Magnus, where are we going?"

"To bid farewell to someone," I told her.

We touched the earth lightly within a stone's throw of Magda's grave. At the sight of the unadorned granite tombstone Lee understood. This was where Magneto was born. And where Eric Magnus Lehnsherr died. I had come home. It is no accident that I placed my orbital retreat, Asteroid M, in geosynchronous orbit above this spot. My lover kissed my palm and ran her fingers through my wind blown hair. "She never meant to hurt you," Lee said. "She was frightened."

"She was human," I responded and for once the word did not leave my lips as a curse. I lowered my head. And found that I could not speak. What was there to say, after all, that had not already been said?

"Monster!" she had cried.

"Don't leave me!" I had pleaded.

Magda and I never talk of important things when I come here. Instead I tell her the small things; she is ignorant of my many disastrous defeats and failures. But I have spoken to her often of Luna, our granddaughter. She knows the child's quick smile and I have described many times for her the feel of that small body as it clings to my neck. Silently I sank to my knees and lay the rose on my wife's grave.

"Forgive me," I implored my Gypsy Star. "I couldn't find violets."

At my side Lee stirred. She pressed her body close to mine offering me the warmth of her compassion and stroked my hair with gentle fingers.

"For her, they'll always be violets, Magnus," she murmurred.

"When wrapped in the light

of the golden sun
the rose opens its
petals with love." I whispered.

"That's lovely," Lee said. "Did you write it for her?" She did not say it but the sadness touched her voice and my heart. I nodded and leaned against the strength of her legs for a moment.

"I was young and foolish," I sighed. "I did not understand then that love is not all passion and fire. You must take me as I am now, old and sad." She knelt beside me and took my face in her hands.

"If that's all that left, then I'll take it. It's enough." Even then, I was unsure of that. But I kissed her and when I let go of her she was smiling.

"And who knows?" I said lightly, "there may yet be poetry for us."

The one thing I cannot recall for you is the exact moment it all began to fall apart.

When I first took up Charles' mantle to follow his Dream we corresponded often, Lee and I. There were many long phone calls in the cloaked intimacy of the night; many whispered words of love. But gradually as the months passed they grew less and less. I missed her terribly but there always seemed to be something that needed my attention. Tomorrow, I told myself. I'll see Lee tomorrow. But tomorrow never came. Illyana would whisk my students off to Limbo in search of adventure and I must fetch them back. Rahne needed more tutoring with her science studies. And then there was Sam Guthrie ... Samuel needed a father. He has been thrust too abruptly into the malestrom of adult responsibility. And I must try to be that father for him. Always there was something in need of my attention. Lee will understand, I thought.

Until the day that Logan sat down in my office and handed me a plain manila envelope. Annoyed at the uninvited intrusion, I looked up and waited.

"Thought you should see these," he said quietly.

The man in the photos was tall and pale blond, his tanned face glowing in the sun. And Lee was smiling at him, held safely in the crook of his protective arm. She must have been very happy for even in the photographs it was possible to see that she was stroking his face. Touching a thing she desired as was her habit. Logan would not met my eyes. He reached for a cheroot and then slowly lowered his hand, doing me the cruel, seldom extended courtesy of respecting my wishes in this matter. My lips thinned.

"Some ... friends ... o' mine been keepin' an eye on the Florida Friends of Humanity," he said. "Somethin' big goin' down there. They're tryin' to find out what. One of the things they came across were those." He nodded at the photos laying on my desk.

"Who is he?" I asked.

"Name's Carlo Peruzzi," he replied with a curl of his lip. "Real piece o' work, this one. He's dangerous, Magnus. Likes to pound on things. Came all the way from Rome to help organize the scumbuckets. They're up to something." On the inside, where no one could see, I bite my lip and tasted blood.

"Is Lee in any danger?" I demanded. After a moment, he nodded slowly. Gathering up his clandestine photos with a grunt, he frowned.

"She lied to him about her name," he told me. "He calls her Belle." I closed my eyes. Ah, Lee! It seems you have not left me completely, after all. Some small piece of me remains with you. I wonder if you cry my name when he touches you.

"No, she didn't lie." I managed a small smile when he looked at me strangely.

"Not Belle," I explained absently, "bella. In Italian it means, 'beautiful'."

"Somebody needs to warn her," Logan said after several moments of silence had passed.

On his way out the door he paused. "For what it's worth," he said, "I'm sorry, Magnus."

"For what it is worth," I replied, "so am I."

You must not blame Manuel. He did not want to betray his Captain. I left him no choice. I told him that Lee was in danger; which was only the truth. He wouldn't meet my eyes either. I was beginning to weary of that; all these people who at once contrived to discover something fascinating lurking just over my shoulder or developed an insatiable curiosity regarding their shoes grew tiresome. There have been many people who have refuse to met my eyes, of course. But never before for these reasons.

"Jamaica," he said, reluctantly and stared into my eyes at last. "They went to Jamaica."

"Damn you!" I heard him cry as I flew away. "You shouldn't have left her alone, hombre! She *needed* you!"

I found her in a beach house in Montego Bay over looking the Harbor. "Das irie," laughed the local taxi man who nevertheless resented my pale hair and white skin, "Jamaica she be de big, mon. But you friends come to de island fo' luv, dey gots to be Mo'Bay, mon!" He was right. The house was light and airy with the smell of the salt sea in the air. In my mind's eye I could see Lee again as she had been on my island in the beginning, smiling and laughing. The sun suits her and she seeks it as naturally as a flower. Jamaica is a fine place for dreaming lovers. But it is not a place for such as I. After all, the dying have no need of dreams. Subtlety has never been one of my strong points. I ripped the door from its hinges and wordlessly violated the sanctity of Lee's trust. The quiet settled in around me and after a moment I knew I had arrived too late.

From the walls my face stared down at me, vast and huge. They were covered in posters wrought in my image. I remembered the photograph they must have been taken from. In it, a bright and sunny day shines in Westchester and I am smiling. Eerily, I gazed up at my smiling face, larger than life, and my spine went chill with fear and anger. Whatever Peruzzi had planned for Lee, he wanted me to watch. I felt my eyes blaze actinic fire and miniature lightening danced between the fingers of my hands. Signore Peruzzi and I would ... talk ... before this was done. Yes, we would. I was so immersed in my wrath that I almost didn't hear it at first. But there it was. A low, faint moan.

She had managed to drag herself into the bathroom. He left her there, broken and bleeding, amongst the cool blue ceramic frescos and the golden water spigots in the shapes of dolfins. Her eyes were swollen shut, caked with dried blood. She must have lain like this for many hours. Trembling I knelt and gathered her up carefully into my arms. She could not see me but she knew the feel of my hands on her body.

"Magnus ..." she whispered, "I knew you'd come." She was smiling.

"Guess I'll never get that poem now, will I?" she murmured between puffed and bleeding lips and lay her head on my shoulder. As if she knew that, even now, she was safe.

And it was there, surrounded by the evidence of her passion for me and carrying her battered body in my arms that I finally knew that I did love her. Without hesitation or reserve. I discovered at last the depths of my passion for this vibrant, lonely woman.

Too late, of course.

At the hospital I stayed with her until I knew that she would recover from what Peruzzi had done to her. And then I left her briefly. When I returned I did not leave her side again for many days. "Get some sleep," the Hospital staff urged me. "I have slept for too long already," I told them, "I am not weary." They shook their head and let me be. They were very kind to me. When the X-Men arrived, the Hospital staff thought that now I would rest. But they were wrong.

Now I could write the poem. Words flowed from off my frantic pen like water, spilling onto the pristine paper in a torrent of pure and untouched beauty. Late into the night I labored to seize them before they departed from me. Again.

"Funny thing about Peruzzi," said Logan, later. "He must be a real busy man. For some reason he just packed up and left. Lit out like Ol' Scratch himself was on his tail. Left everything in a big mess. Whatever the FoH had planned, it's not gonna go down now. But you wouldn't know anything about that, wouldja." It was not a question so I did not answer it.

"Are you gonna be okay, Magnus?" he asked.

"No," I said.

I took Lee to the airport the day she was released from the hospital. Manuel and the Arcadia would be waiting for her in Florida. It was somehow comforting to know that he would look after her. She leaned against the wall in the thin light of a dying midwinter day and read the hand-written sheet. I am a poor poet. Lee will forgive me my tired metaphors and creaking syntax. I am an old man and love is for the young. But Spanish is a loving tongue and one which Lee speaks fluently. So I wept for her in Spanish verse because I could not do it otherwise.

Versos de amor, conceptos esparcidos

engendrados del alma en mis cuidados,
partos de mis sentidos abrasados,
con más dolor que libertad nacidos;

expósitos al mundo en que perdidos,

tan rotos anduvistes y trocados
que sólo donde fuistes engendrados,
fuérades por la sangre conocidos*
Strength returned to her body after she stood for a while and she poised in her old fighter's attitude. She did not cry. Not then.

"It's the only copy," I said.

"I won't lose it." she promised.

A flight attendent beckoned us to Lee's flight. I carried her hand luggage for her to the embarkation ramp. Our ears rang with the shriek of taxiing jets as we stood at the foot of the runway waiting for the small private plane I had hired to carry her away from me; out of my life. I put my arms around her to shield her from the jostling crowd. Lee could not bear the pressure of a kiss yet. Our faces were very close together. For the last time I allowed myself to inhaled the perfume of her hair.

"There's this, Magnus," she said. "No one will ever love either of us again the way we loved each other." That was when she began to cry, softly without any fuss. I suspect she hoped it would go unnoticed. For a moment she touched my cheek with her hand and then it was gone. My voice shook.

"How much is that worth in real money?" I asked.

The End

*Poetry of love, scattered conceits

engendered by my soul upon my woes,
delivered of my smoldering senses' womb,
and with more pain than freedom surely born;

abandoned to the world, in which so lost,

so battered and transformed you wandered free
that only in the place you were conceived
would you by your own blood ever be known