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The weather-witch straightened her back painfully and looked up into the clear summer sky. No sign of rain, and she was of no mind to tamper with the world's weather patterns simply to water her beautiful flowers. No, the water bucket would do again today for her lovelies.

Ororo came to her feet slowly and gingerly, her movements those of a woman well past her prime. Once again she cursed Time, the Great Betrayer. Although she could still command the weather and coax life out of the barren soil of her home, even her mutant physiology had not rendered her immune from the ravages of age. She was a Crone now, respected by her people even more now than ever, for they esteemed the great Wisdom that came with a woman's aging. Hardly a day went by, though, when she didn't long for the days when simply rising in the morning didn't require a conscious effort and the assistance of her young companion.

In the days when she had been known as Storm, leader of the X-Men, she had been strong and vital, athletic and beautiful. The power of the elements enlivened her every move, lending strength to her natural dignity and regal bearing. Adversaries quailed when lightning flashed in her eyes and strong men cowered when she brought thunder down about their heads. But advancing years had robbed her of her speed and agility and, in time, she left the X-Men, convinced she had no more to give to the struggle for Charles Xavier's vision. Her mother's people had welcomed her back, given her a home, and valued her for her compassion and experience.

Her step was slow and her skin was seamed. Her long white hair no longer hung loose down her back, free to blow in the wind and twine about her body. It was now piled high on her head and covered completely, as befitted a woman of her station. Unconsciously, Ororo raised a gnarled hand to her head, as if to smooth the silken strands. He had run his hands through that hair once and told her that this must be what starlight felt like. She laughed then, teasing him for the hidden poetry in his soul. Her heart still clenched, after all these years, at the remembered pain in his face at her careless comment and the way he had shut down towards her for so long after.

It was never meant to be, Logan and Ororo. There were too many women who had claimed a permanent hold on Logan's heart. Mariko, Heather, even young Jubilee. And then there was Jean. . . always Jean. Willingly or not, Jean held Logan's heart in her hand, able to crush or elate him at will. Jean had never abused that power and Ororo respected her for that, but she couldn't and wouldn't compete with the idealized love that Logan had for her.

That pride and unwillingness to share had cost her a great deal. The love she had borne other men in her life had always crumbled eventually under the weight of her expectations. If she could not rule her lover's heart the way she expected duty to rule his actions, then she wanted no part of him. Dignity was often mistaken for coldness and loneliness for self-sufficiency. Yet passion often raged through her soul like the storm whose namesake she was. Logan had recognized that kindred tempest, she knew. He'd come to her more than once, with unspoken promises of fierce love and powerful repletion.

The wildness in his eyes and the turbulence in his soul had called out to her untamed spirit. She wanted to soar with him, to love him, and to lose herself in the maelstrom that was Logan. She yearned to answer his call with an ardor that would drive thoughts of all other women from him forever. Yet that was not possible, and she knew it. And Ororo Munroe would take second place to no woman, not even a woman she loved as dearly as a sister.

And so she had turned him away each time, gently and regretfully. There were no sorrows on her part for what might have been. It had been a good life, a worthy life. She had nothing but gratitude for the Goddess who had blessed her and illuminated her way. When her time came, Ororo knew she could join her ancestors peacefully and with pride in a life honorably lived.

Yet the dreams were coming more frequently these days. She had never been one to dream in her entire life, nevertheless it was now a rare morning when she didn't wake up without the image of Logan in her mind. He appeared as the strong, young-looking man she had known in past years, very likely how he still looked today. His harsh features were softened by a smile of genuine happiness and she could feel the contentment in his soul. With him stood a tall, stately woman with mocha skin and a look of radiant serenity. They lived together in a world tranquil as it was joyous, untainted by the tragedies that would befall them all in the years to come.

Each night Wolverine and Storm lived the life that could have been theirs. Each morning Ororo woke to those memories. Fantasies, they were, of life as it might have been but wasn't. Strangely enough, the dreams made her happy.

Bit by bit, the villagers noticed a change in Ororo. Her labored step became a touch lighter and the slight stoop in her shoulders disappeared. The Goddess-light shone once more thorough her brilliant eyes and the summer rain, in its warmth, fell just a little more frequently than before. And, it was whispered with awe, if you looked towards the rising sun at dawn, on some mornings you could just see the image of a naked woman of breathtaking beauty soaring many, many feet in the air, bathing in her own personal rain shower.

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