1964-10-31 - A Stellar Decision
Summary: Rather than dwell on the past, the Sorcerer Supreme and Scarlet Witch create a new memory on a Hallowed late afternoon.
Related: None
Theme Song: Symmetry - White Moth Black Butterfly
strange wanda 


From whence it comes, that soft query, no one knows — except for the master of the manor happens to be in-residence, standing before the Window on the Worlds. He watches the traffic pass by below, the taxis playing chicken with other cars and pedestrians in their haste to deliver their occupants in a timely manner. The locals walk about the streets, holding up their collars against the mild and yet brisk autumn wind. It tastes of winter, that ephemeral zing in the teeth lightly metallic and whisper of eider-down in chill. Bmola will be happy far sooner than later, at least at the height of its bower in the high mountains. Pumpkins, carved and not, decorate the stoops and he’s been able to spot grocery bags containing the bright packaging of candy. Ah, consumerism.

Clad in his battle-blues, and with the friendly weight of the Cloak about his shoulders, his inwardly-turned expression gives him that formidable reservation of person that keeps most at bay. Add in the hands tucked to the small of his back and the pad of his thumb slowly wearing a hole in the peak of his other thumb’s knuckle and the effect may swing towards concern.

Still, someone stepping close enough to him might note the general state of the storm-blues as…pristine. Recently mended, cleaned and dare we consider a possible ironing? Even the Cloak has an extra facet of burnishing to its velvety outer layering. His hair is coiffed, goatee tended to precision, and a certain Witch’s nose will be sure to note the melange hanging about him — incense, shared sandalwood — cedarwood and deep spices, clove and nutmeg, the frizz of ginger and oakmoss, and to further accent those woody scents, musk in the sense of silvery-grey. This he doesn’t wear but rarely. His aura in iris-kissed celestine is the smoothness of a pond in early spring, disturbed only by subconscious musings on his part; the surface swirls with the passing thoughts like a leviathan’s wanderings, all shadow disappearing into the depths again.

«Care for an adventure?»

Glittering charm, irresistible silvery streak through the projection, attempts to wend about her with all the playful cajoling of a crooked finger and a slant grin.

The day wears on for someone out of sync with standard patterns, nine to five being a routine for the factory worker or the businessman. Not a woman bred to witchcraft and violence, for a certainty.

Hallowe’en brings with it many rituals to mark the time. Mothers turn into seamstresses and fashion designers, cutting bolts of fabric into serviceable garments that they painstakingly stitch sequins and buttons to. Piles of fringe become Incorporated into something other than hideous couches. Merchants hawk candy as gleefully as any carney or snake oil salesman in the Old West, certain to ply children everywhere with sugary dreams.

Witches gather specific herbs and components. Dark mystics use the ancient ebb of the year known to the Celts for their own purposes. A few pagans claim it’s the New Year, and generally receive little fanfare.

Wanda Maximoff darns her tights, silver needle flashing in the air, black thread pulled fast. Her stitches are neat and practical rather than elaborate. Her work wins no awards. It merely turns shredded lines into serviceable ones, and the snake pile in a basket beside her shows the rigors of her lifestyle do not allow for simple repairs using magic.

She could. She doesn’t. Probably something related to Agatha or the practicality of living beyond the Wall in a bloc of nations where make do was a slogan and a way of life.

Nonetheless, she stabs herself in the finger when the bond stirs. Pulling out the needle from her thumb leaves a pomegranate bead. Not the first to well up today and not the last, but she really ought to use a thimble. Oh well.

The laundry doesn’t give much hope. The mending hardly keeps her fast. In a moment’s notice, she puts her tights back and sticks the needle upright as a reminder of where she was. Aralune better not eat that, for her own safety.

Not so far for her to reach the Sorcerer Supreme, she needs only to send an affirmative pulse through the blended wavelength binding their stellar beings.

«Where are you?»


«The Loft, by the Window.» Only one window there deserving of such a capitalization, though they all do a fine job of letting in the late afternoon sunlight. There are a trio down a side-hall that aren’t really windows — more some Mystical mirror hybrid that shifts between portals at the turn of a dial.

The smallest tingling at the whorl of his thumbpad is cause for a frown, but even as he looks askance, relying more heavily on the bond rather than human sight alone, nothing more comes of it. A passing pain, it seems.

«I would suggest to dress warmly, but you are your own sun, «Beloved» Silky fondness ribbons away and towards her, a hug without the actual presence of one, the benediction of a kiss to her curls in phantasmal pressure.

Would the designers of the three sancta ever doubt the splendour of their making? They knew their business, those architects, same as the engineers illuminated by the Holy Spirit for all western Europe’s great cathedrals. The leading shines in the least light and every magnificent pane elevates the atmosphere to the divine.

No small wonder he so often stands there, silhouetted in magnificence, the Cloak’s volume stirred to puff up prouder than any peacock.

Dress warmly has an element of caution veering her off the given path into another route, trod near as oft. Not that she owns very much different than her current attire, for winter means more of the same: thicker leggings or pants, a longer sleeved shirt instead of the thinner weight. Same corset. Same coat. No scarf, maybe some mittens. Easily acquired, all three, considering the black and spartan abundance of her much-mended attire in the closet.

He and Pietro share in common their love of many outfits. Wanda missed the memo she could dress however she likes. No fur-lined hoods and Cloak's for this wee Anne of Slavic Gables, alas.

Give her another few minutes and she claims her place on the loft landing, tugging an extra pair of gloves into her pocket. At least the coat zips up to the throat, and the blood bright gems adorning her crown hum a faint wash of heat around her. Slotting in one attuned to fire was easy enough.


As a lantern in the gloom, he can sense her approach and pass into the master bedroom even without turning. It brings a small smile to his lips and when that indomitable light of her presence approaches again, the Sorcerer leads the turn towards her with a glance over his shoulder.

“Beautiful as always, «Beloved»,” he murmurs, and holds out a hand to her. Such an easy gesture on his part these days, to offer out red-lined proof of failure never taken as such, even if the trembling is a low thing. “Thank you for joining me.”

How…notably proper of him. A pocket of firefly-twinkling rapidly expands outwards per a loose-wristed circling gesture on his part and the Gate immediately lets in the crisp rush of sea-salted air. He inhales as he appreciates the far horizon beyond, its middling and close distance frothed by waves stirred in current and air. The lighting beyond hasn’t changed much, perhaps even brightened for the lessening blanket of clouds in the sky above. It catches on rare flat patches in the surf, reflecting in mirrored quartz-hues.

“Come,” he murmurs, and leads the way from the close comforting and incense-laden demi-shadow of the Sanctum into the pocket of wilderness found on the gentle slope of shoreline, its rock geography below counter to the clinging sedge-grass in lingering greenery.


No, they’re not in Nebraska anymore. Not that they ever were, and the cornhole state offers tangibly nothing to intrigue the witch. Had she wanted nothing but fields threshed and open skies, Ukraine would have suited just as well.

The witch takes Stranger’s hand, the stability of her own grip rarely contested. But for the occasional flecks of blood or damage caused by passing dream monsters, she experiences precious little trouble on that front. Slim fingers interposed among the gaps in his allow a close tether, useful in the event the ground abruptly drops out from under them or gravity inverts to fling them at a constellation of low hanging moons.

Such a burden, the chill kiss of oceanic proximity. Salt rattles through every breath, swallowing the moisture away in that curious balance of humidity and sapping dryness.

She shares the woes of wild hair flung about in handfuls of espresso curls, trailing out in a banner soon made messy. Plucking her path becomes more about not slipping on rocks than effortless ease. She’s no angel perfectly turned out in the most ludicrous of places. On the other hand, she is a witch through and through.

If her hair’s a rat’s nest and there are gulls chasing her like loving children, she’s doing something normal.


Only a few rocks among the hardy greenery on the gentle slope, though yes — the gulls are great in number, white sea-rats looking for the next handout. Popcorn? Bread? Half a hotdog dropped by a toddler?

None of that to be found here, even if they drift lazily by time and time again, eyeing the Sorcerer and Witch with cautious interest. A few settle on rocks far below, safe from all but the worst of spray, and either preen or consider the whitecaps below with natural indifference. What’s a splash when one’s been born and raised to the song of the surf?

Behind them, the architecture rises, already burning brightly in brilliance projecting in a sweeping circle beyond glass panes. The sun is setting earlier and earlier these days, and luckily enough…they’re alone at the small state park playing host to the earliest lighthouse commissioned by President Washington for the state of New York.

Strange glances back over his shoulder at the spire in white, with its band in brick-red, and then back to his Consort.

“I thought we might watch the sunset while it’s quiet.” Drawing her into his shadow, he makes a point of kissing each of her delicate knuckles with deliberate speed. The pursing of his lips lingers just long enough to perhaps induce goosebumps and he looks up from his task to find her eyes. “Watch it together.”

Emphasis on that personable hand-in-glove, though no gloves to be found on either at the moment save for what’s in the Witch’s pocket.

A very long time ago they waited upon this promontory where the surf falls away into the abyssal plain that separates Spain and North Africa from nestling against the Eastern Seaboard. How long? Thirteen turns of the moon, they gathered beneath the beacon for ships approaching dangerous reefs since the age of the colonies, and plotted the means to undermine Morgan le Fay. Such uncertain times then, clouded in a fog of doubt.

How different to have fates twined together on the ragged, bleeding edges spouting fire and the wrongness of her forefather’s hateful realm. Residing on the threshold of damnation, their lives hung in the balance, an equation solved by fifteen pounds of iron filings.

Once it satisfied. Again, doubtful the dread sorceress will be mistaken anon. Nevertheless, she tilts her head up to peer at the capped roof of the high tower. True, there may be greater lights and lost Pharos holds the platonic archetype in almost all western civilization. A light for safety, a call to shore. Whatever caprice spurs the sea-rats to flap about in hopes she brings bread will go unfulfilled, partly as she takes her fill of that lovely flame on high.

“Yes,” she agrees to Strange. For once the good Doctor is overshadowed literally and figuratively for a few moments. “I did not bring food.” He kisses her knuckles and she worries about breaking bread or those nasty milkshakes he tries to convince himself are tasty.

Fingers curl around his, their mirrors in gender, tawny hue, and tender creation.


“No matter,” he replies quietly overtop the shush of the surf far below. A gust rushes in and tosses about the crimson Cloak — or does it cavort in the sea breeze instead, taking joy in the rush? — before it seems to riffle and wrap half about the Witch. Still keeping her hand within his own, Strange scoffs at the relic, but that’s all the censure it gets in the end. He knows well enough how the grand garment dotes upon her in the ways that it can, like some friendly dog trained just well enough to come when called, but still, it gets distracted by the other half.

No matter on the aspect of food indeed. He isn’t hungry anyways, but neither does his stomach betray any sign of gurgling. With a sigh, Strange looks away and off to the horizon of the sea. The threat of imminent rain lies in the distant line of iron-dark clouds, but not for several hours yet. For now, the back-lighting of the dropping sun attempts to burnish them in bronze, gilt, pink tourmaline at the nearer heights.

“I remember a number of things about this place.” It’s a solemn thought, his voice low. “I remember that we were on the edge of battle; that the lives of millions of people rested in our hands and those of our comrades. I remember that the vision I received reeked of rot, of death unending and a world doomed to shadow.” Then comes the visible curl of his lips, marring the line of his goatee. He slides his attention to her now, with the softening of mien that only she receives, of all the beings in this reality and beyond. “I remember that I went into battle knowing that I wasn’t going to be alone in the end, even if we failed. I remember that you thought you loved me.” A faint laugh and that has to be the wind pinking his cheeks because the Sorcerer Supreme may twinkle, but he does not blush, pfft.

“I…” He pauses, the sentence dying out on half-breath. “I want to make another memory, here. Tonight.”


They are so close to the hour when they stared at the fiery demise of the sun along the western horizon, and the first beams of the sleepy lantern awakening into the deepening night.

Humanity raises pillars of fire on high to keep the monsters squarely concealed and contained, as they invariably have for generations. Fear lurks among the unknown cloying shadows.

“So many at risk.” Maybe she’s never thought of the consequences for Morgan before. Perhaps no one gave voice to the evident dangers prior to that moment, ideas buried deep under cotton fluff daydreams and beige, crisp to-dos.

With her hands in Strange’s, the steady position withstands whatever buffeting the wind delivers upon their exposed aerie. His softening expression under the burnished arrows shot through the diminishing day holds all attention. No second hand ticks forward without returning to its previous position, clicking over and over. His hesitation portends something fascinating, assuredly.

The moment begs attention; a momentary deviation from whatever more may be said. Not that the falcon-eyed witch is much for giving many words at the best of times, but her dark brows soar above those expressive features.

By dipping her head, so she assents to whatever may come, a mote in the wild current of fate.


His mirrored reply is at first a silent nod, almost more of a knee-jerk gesture than agreement to anything. Or by doing so, he commits to the course.

“«Beloved».” The silver-templed man pauses and rolls his lips, seeming to fight for fluency given the small divot of a focused frown at his brow. Better Tibetan than English for comprehension, he decides in the end. “«When I took the mantle of Sorcerer Supreme, I expected to be alone. I readied myself to be the last beacon against an encroaching darkness that the Mundane, despite their incredible abilities, cannot touch. I accepted that I would return alone to the Sanctum and if I bled, it would be my own hands blotting the wounds — if I awoke at night reliving chaos, it would be to empty bedsheets — when I made tea, it would be more often for myself. Days and nights spent whiling away hours doing what I pleased, for my druthers if not one of the Vishanti’s whims. Never did I expect to have the fleeting glimpse of the past reenter my life as you have. You have rewritten my reality with one simple word, redefined my life entirely by it: love. I cannot think of it without thinking of you — all of you, everything about you, the good and the bad. Wanda, I — »” He swallows again, seemingly energized at some innate level. Could it be nerves? “«As Sorcerer Supreme, I have claimed you as my Consort. Before the gods, you are the one I choose as companion and they have acknowledged this in their back-handed way many a time, I’m certain.»”

If only he remembered more of these instances, but that inkling of a suspicion is there!

“«I wear your colors and you wear mine and our heraldry is eternal, this much I know. Still, I remember that not everyone can see that our auras are one and the same.»”

He becomes suddenly more composed, all of the restlessness funneled away like snowmelt into some reserve within. A little nod again, as if to himself, and he sets his attention fully upon the Witch, possibly a palpable weight with the intensity of the focus. Both hands rise to reach within the collars of the Cloak, beneath the knotted gathering of his undershirt beneath the tunic, and within his careful grip rises a thin silver chain. He’s quick enough to grasp at what weighs it down, hiding it away within a fist, and cants his head to one side to remove the necklace from about his neck as a whole. A quick jerk between fists breaks the links and as he swirls the excess length about one hand, he’s meeting her eyes again.

“Wanda Maximoff, darkling mine, soniye,” he says as his left knee bends to bring him down beneath her regard to an elegant kneel; “I, Stephen Strange, would have you show all the world that you are claimed. Will you stand beside me until the end?” A rather breathless pause and even as he’s plucking the ring from one palm to hold it up to her, revealed to the sunset’s pastel-palette and gilting light, he adds,

“Marry me, mi cerhani?”

Between his thumb and forefinger is the bottom half of a band in a silvery hue that defies flat metallic sheen — no, the breath of an opal instead reflects the surroundings as if the nacreous blush of mother-of-pearl was painted upon it. No solid band, but instead a flowing weave not too unlike the impossible fluidity of the aurora borealis that manages a semblance of balance and symmetry against all odds to complete its circle without obvious break in pattern. What interrupts its haloing design is entirely appropriate, however:

An ovaloid star sapphire inset in a perfect fencing of flawless diamonds. The physical snaring of a celestial point within the gemstone seems to flicker with its own light, as if defying its place in stone. Brightest Venus, star of the dawn, might find jealousy in the mirroring six-rayed rutile — three rays for three mantras: faith, hope, and destiny. Peering into its center seems to cause a fae-shift of brightness. Its natural beauty appears to be accented by something else entirely, apparently attuned to her very own Mystical senses: the dragon-smoke curl of breath on a cold morning refracting in hanging ice crystals — ethereal flame burning hottest in spectra — a warm intelligence, not bookish but recognizable as humanity — a sliver of soul, his very soul, taken and so carefully integrated into the very matrix of the sapphire.

All the while, he gazes up at her, awaiting a response. Any response. A response would be good, yes.

Lessons learned from Chthon's high priest booked absolutely no deviation in attention. The man who stole the twins did not cosset them in any appreciable sense of the word. He delivered into Agatha Harkness’ gnarled hands the relatively worked and softened clay she spun into something capable of withstanding the intense heat and pressure of destiny.

Not without many bruised knuckles and skinned knees, smarting heads and stinging eyes, however.

Given some credit, Wanda can demonstrate above average measures of concentration upon a single subject. Meeting someone’s eye and holding it comes uneasily to any given mystic past a certain power level, at the very least because of the sight's odd habit of articulating esoteric qualities about the subject. Unnerving revelations are bad enough on a daily basis, much less among other members of the community.

Obviously those two stand far beyond the initial contact that collapsed any soul barriers, and she cannot flinch much from whatever ponderous concerns rest upon Strange's broad shoulders. Nothing urges him on to hasten himself to a conclusion because she has more important things to do.

Wrong twin for that.

The absence of words works to her advantage in the end, albeit at his expense. He must discover the poetry to his soul or put the unpleasant news in proper organized sentences from the chaotic mass ringing between the bell clap of heart beat and corresponding carillon chimes in answering thoughts. Quicksilver synapses deliver whole concepts to the dustbin in the time it can take to form a single syllable of any recognizable quality.

Yet he does attain language, and thus, the good little witch shuts her trap and ceases to really even think extraneous thoughts like the sensation of the stonework under her boots and how much warmer she felt last year. Was it the brimstone, the temperature difference, or the fact her shivering reaction comes regardless of cloak or leather corset or well-cut jacket?

The snap of his wrist breaking the links forces her to leap to the very wrong conclusion, or merely start on the spot. No, the braided tethers holding the golden Eye fast will not part so easily to a jerking motion. A green stone in its oiled bronzed housing isn’t sailing through the air… Though her eyes dart briefly seaward to assure nothing breaks the surf against the in rushing waves, foam broken by a priceless bit of jewelry.

Good, no irritable member of the divine mariachi band about to stamp up out of the water shaking his fist and shouting about ingrate no-good neurologists with a neurotic habit or twenty. Then.

The man descending to his knee in front of her sets off an inkling in a girl from no culture appreciative of church steeples, horrible marches, and white cakes, cake-like dresses, and all the white on ivory trappings to go with them. As far as expectations go, he has an advantage. Most of her people jump over a bonfire and lose their breeches, or shrug and show up wherever is convenient, depending on what side of the family one considers. It’s not as though as Chthon has a set ritual.

On second thought, he probably does. Check the certain dark grimoire banished from her presence, and inside that rotten binding, there is probably How to sacrifice your beloved for Chthon’s greater glory, a seasonal ritual! advertised somewhere.

The mellow half-mast sentries afflict her with a somnolescence worthy of a pretty courtesan in the Turkish harem, rather than the alert, dangerous melding of unholy genetics she is. Right up to the point her damask-rimmed gaze catches on something concealed under glass. No, crystal.

Frozen thoughts explode, the firebird rising from its ashen pyre, blowing off obsidian shell and obliterating the cinder cone nest it perched in. “Stephen,” she chokes out in a sound rather like alarm bells going off, the crackling frisson mixed with her solid pomegranate violet eyes seizing all the deepest shades of lavish sunset at once.

Somewhere must be a thinning, a hole in the ephemeral incandescence swept ‘round him in a vast cloud. The hottest stars burn within their gaseous nurses and he, Aetheric being, cannot be any different. Where lies the weakened mass that supplied that gift? What fatal incident plucked a piece free and bound such within the charged shape in likeness of matter, and at such cost.

(But truly, she barely knows what cost she will pay to give him their children, future debts put forward, so all’s fair in love and war.)

But this, this is a key.

This is a trust in pink compassion and plasma sun-tears, and they absolutely must know what he committed to offer up such a matchless prize. The ingress to their very vessel, a mortal, tangible way to turn an attack against him, them, the dimension, and so the thought patterns swivel at near light speeds, supraluminal in no time at all. It was, after all, what they beat and shaped her into being, a very smart little tool still ten factors slower than her brother.

Is it any wonder that her expression marks the dawning terror, awe, and shock, handmaidens to fair-haired comprehension rising from her bed and stretching out her arms?

One stellar finger extends, volition no longer a matter of things. The left hand, as might be European custom or just hers because she ceases to know where her shoulder ends and her arm might as well be floating off on a round-trip boat tour of the Danube or the Baltic, with a special stop in Helsinki to giggle maniacally among the Finns ready to stab her for intruding within their ten foot radii personal spaces.

Words. She used to have those. Somehow. Her madly chiming aura cannot decide on a single note other than entangled cacophony and, in the end, she devolves onto the most trustworthy response that won’t end up with her falling over into the sea headlong after non-missing Eye or reciting one of Pietro’s awful pithy phrases. She nods.

Along with something like fourteen dancing motes bobbing in frantic poppy spirals around them. The sunlight goes into a bloody stain, mixed up in a pinwheel whorl as her subconscious wills the immediate world around her to be yes, yes, yes, frozen right now as yes. But without any functional direction other than positive affirmation, the luck has to sit there in a puddle of molten chocolate, finding a missing hundred dollars, good mood, warm blanket in front of the fire glee.


Time and Fate will level the playing field of the ways they sacrifice for one another, choosing time and time again each other over temptations and the easy way out. Did it hurt to gather up that sylph-like ambiance imbued within the rutile sapphire?

In a way; in the same way the heart expands another size when seeing an act of beauty that resonates with an inner chord — and in the same vein, not at all. The most wondrous thing about the soul is that thinning will refill over time through his own works, through the enjoyment in a new day and knowing that he’ll never face a challenge alone. Glimmerings of transposed memory were seined in the depths of hovering meditation before the Window on the Worlds, during a time when she was away from the mansion and he was able to cleverly numb their soulbond, as is his wont from time to benevolent time.

The splitting of mist in the hanging midnight not barely over a year back.
Enough red to flag his interest, confidence and pithy humor and a challenge in black and gold.
Harmonies in soul-songs over a cup of tea that nearly trembled to the floor.
Flickerflashes of adoration in primal keys, runs up ivory and ironwood in variations to the chords of imagination and magic that begins in many ways and invariably ends in one.
Moonlight in sky and threads and Mystical summonings.
Captured warmth in tea and sheets and lazy mornings so few.
Brusque words of wisdom and the might of a clarion callback from the edge of life.
Fear and fright and chaos and conundrum and bitter risk.
Lust and life and love.
Above all, love, in every facet bright and pale and fragile as the dawn and strong as the stellar winds that sweep the nebulae into their confirmations.

Even as the light shifts to rubied lensing, his aura does a joyous bounding on par with a solar storm, an auroral maelstrom that wraps them further in the hang-time of shared gazes. The scent of petrichor and sun-warmed grass, of joyous and untethered life, inundates the pores and electrifies even as he takes that offered hand within his own, a tremble not denied to be found along his arm in pure nerves — for after all, even as Conduit and wielder of Mystical power beyond ken, he is but human and weak to the follies of the soul. His heart thrums in his throat as he slides the ring onto that finger, left hand, and when it settles home, fitted to her conformation as if made for her (oh wait…), he’s helpless against the weak laugh of relief.

Meeting those eyes of sun-dappled merlot is another shot of carbonation in his veins and he laughs again, a bit louder, finding an outlet for the vivacious adrenaline giving his own regard a twinkling incandescence on par with Rigel and Arcturus in ultraviolet hues. His smile slowly grows, a grin in purest delight.

“Yes,” he dares to whisper in echo to her nod, as if saying it aloud sets it in sapphire stone. Hesitation on his part, resting there on single knee, will allow her a breathless heartbeat or two in eternity to consider the weight of the ring, how it holds fast to her and immediately warms to her skin while emitting a counter-heat of its own, nothing more sinister than the same glow to be found in clutching a cup of hot tisane. Barring any immediate movement on her part, he’ll capture that hand bejeweled with gentle pressure, cup it in his scarred own with thumbs to frame, and bring her knuckles to his lips, pressing a chaste kiss there with pressure suggestive of deep affection. The atmospheric light catches in the sapphire again, in time with a particular palpation of his aura.


As betimes happens, Wanda’s aura anchored upon the threshold of earth and sea descends. Sky and earth have ever been paired as lovers in the essential mythology of mankind. Skyfathers claim earth mothers, and the sea courts the moon in their endless ritual rotations.

«We will have to perform a hieros gamos». Yes, that’s Greek among the Tibetan. She chews the inner lining of her cheek, dimpling the corner and skewing margins to favour the left side over the right. No question that they, three in one, may be jealous of sharing him any further with her.

Warm and heavy, yet weightless, the ring enfolding the perimeter of the slender digit gives satisfactory presence to any doubts. Allayed nerves sink back to their perpetual state of readiness for damned trials, hovering chained in place.

Slow breaths harmonize air to bedrock, facilitating unease back away and the jittery flood of endorphins and adrenaline follow. Wind moans around the point, dragging deep into skin, penetrating what thin veneer of heat mantling them. Clothing flaps about, her coat striving to peel open and reveal the inner woman rather than the crimson soft petals in leather.

Strange before her on his knee warrants a frank, almost shy regard. “Now, we…” Talk of pedestals and falling be foolish, in all things, and the statement bitten off lapses back into a cursory, startled silence again. What should be said in such times? Details and profound uncertainty weave around themselves, and he leaves her tipping her head.

Her cheeks warm a little, for all the cool air means to strip their colour to a weakened amber. “The children will be happy.” And legitimate! Even if they were raised apart, which speaks to a very troubled future or a habit of their parents to be far-ranged in their defense of the dimension. Or. Or. Or.

“Father. Pietro will need comfort.” Her thoughts spiral back around, and like an albatross, drop in a stumble bump that sprawls next to him. Totally meant to do that. “I am happy.”


Without losing his hold upon her hand, Strange rises to his feet, cursory height and all bringing him to tip his chin down rather than lift his face. Gods above and sidereal, the flush on her cheeks is a thing to be treasured — too easy to mirror it, as lightly as seen in her own, though his eyes have that tendency to show laugh-lines as well as twinkle.

She’s drawn in close, tucked in the wind-guard of his broad shoulders and Cloak that blows like a pennant about him, further shielding her sides. One arm wraps about her midback, curling fingers into the dip of her hourglass curve while her hand is tucked to his chest. His expression is all doting with admixture of mildly-nervy amusement at her musings.

“Yes, we’ll get to telling everyone. There’s no hurry,” the Sorcerer gently reminds her…with a good note of selfishness in it. Ripples will surely spread once word is passed along and this is their time still, clinging to the remnants of brief rubicund caesura and still gilded by the setting sun. “That you’re happy matters most in this world to me and to hear it is…very good,” he laughs, suddenly losing his usual smoothly-spoken nature.

“Mind, I…admit that I didn’t speak with your father or brother at all….during my planning, so…I…expect they may have opinions on things.” Despite the small wrinkle of his nose, he appears decidedly unrepentant as a whole, that smile still lingering around his lips. As if the Vishanti ever chose a Conduit who wouldn’t stand by his actions and like as not deflect concerns left and right with graceful diplomacy if not bladed words. “Also, another thing to consider, «Beloved». Would you have me wear a ring as well? I would have your opinion on matters.”

A round of breathing and he adds, “And on the matter of Anuttarayoga, perhaps,” sounding just enough of that perfect whiskey-warm in musing that even Billy might side-eye him and wonder about brain bleach.

The shivering begins later when the enormity of the decision strikes home. Chances are Wanda will be somewhere in the sanctum or awake in the middle of the night, staring up at the ceiling, when it happens. Perhaps there may be a silvery ghost walking through the wall any moment now.

The very prospect of Ms. Harkness making an appearance forces her to shoot a look over her shoulder at the striped bricks guarding the gnarled finger of Long Island from approaching ships unaware of the reefs and shoals. Strange’s scarlet cloak protects her from the chill but less from the impressions of an ancient Atlantean witch emergent at any time.

Cold comfort, given the rather warm embrace tacked around her by the Sorcerer Supreme. He might mistake the shiver for temperature or unease of any given sort, the soul bond leaking some of the gossamer ephemera kindled in deep worry. Opinions of so few matter. Her mentor, on the other hand…

“Pietro will have words. You are not good enough.” The old refrain comes easily to her lips. “No one is. Erik…”

What would her father say? “You are strong. He will like that.”


Should the formidable Ms. Harkness come a-calling upon them in this moment — or anytime soon, it’s no difficulty considering what the Sorcerer Supreme may think of her thoughts on matters.

His «Beloved»’s old mentor can go take a flying swan dive off the peak of Everest. Mind the boulders and shelves of icy rock on the way down.

He can’t count himself terribly surprised to hear that the pale-haired speedster considers him a lesser applicant for the scarlet-wrapped sister and wrinkles his nose even as he shifts his gaze to one side, off towards the sea, rather than outright rolling his eyes. The preening at observed strength is a more subtle thing still, seen mostly in the smoothing of brow and pleased lift of lips at their corners in that mysterious way. He presses a kiss to her temple, within the confines of dark waves caught up in diadems of garnets, and projects back the embrace of a hug on many levels, not just the firm wind of his arm about her; protective shadowing by grace of presence, not at all stifling.

“They’ll accept it,” he murmurs, the heat of his breath catching in her hair before being drawn away by the ocean breeze. “I’m not worried.” Strange can sense that unease on her part, tendrils of butterflies in the stomach, and accepts this state. He’s still got a few small moths battering about his rib-cage as is. Another kiss, upon the end of her nose, and he turns his attention then to the falling of the sun, painting its majesty upon the late-October skies above.

“For now, let’s just watch the sunset and enjoy a new memory, hmm?”

No one but the gulls to interrupt their moment and those white sea-rats daren’t try anyways.

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