schmerica: ([x-men] oh erik)
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Anchors That Hold
by Pearl-o

X-men: First Class, girl!Charles/Erik, PG, ~1000 words. Third in a series after Learning to Make Fire and Snip snip.

Content notes: always-a-girl!Charles, pregnancy, death of minor offscreen character.

Summary: Charlotte's family expands and contracts.

*****

It's already mid-morning when Charlotte wakes up. Erik's half of the bed is no longer warm with his body heat; he's been up for some hours already, she's sure. Erik has been the one of them to wake first as long as they've slept together, but the difference has become more and more exaggerated in recent weeks. Charlotte's not used to being tired like this, bone-deep.

She rises out of bed, rinses her face in the bathroom sink, and pulls on a bathrobe over her nightie. The hotel room is nice enough - it's palatial luxury compared to the sort of places they stayed early in their marriage, but she feels dissatisfied with it anyhow for any number of small reasons. The bed is the wrong firmness; the lamp is on the wrong side of the bed; the window faces the wrong direction, so she can't bask in the morning sunlight. It's not their bedroom, not their home.

After all this time, she's gotten domestic, Charlotte thinks with some surprise. How odd. They've never stayed anywhere long enough for her to feel that way about it before.

She's still sitting on the edge of the bed, mulling this over, when the door opens. Erik enters, wrapped up in his long winter coat, his woollen scarf, and his hat. He carries a small paper bag in one hand, and he waves his other hand behind him, the door shutting and locking as its metal components obey his whims.

"Good morning," Erik says. He sets his bag upon the nightstand and slowly begins to take off his outside gear.

"Good morning, my love," Charlotte says. She watches him with appreciation; no matter what else may happen, it's always a joy to watch Erik strip, even if only a layer or two.

"I went out to have breakfast. I thought I'd let you sleep," Erik says. "Do you feel up to eating anything?"

Charlotte gives the question some thought. "I'm not sure."

"I brought back some donuts. Chocolate." Erik does not say out loud: you were able to keep them down last week.

She can see the donuts in Erik's mind (he picked them out carefully, looking for the most aesthetically pleasing ones, the most symmetrical sprinkle patterns) and oh, they look utterly delicious. Her mouth starts to water thinking about it, and she can feel herself getting hungry. She stands up and crosses the room over to Erik, and he hands her the bag - but when she opens it up, the aroma wafting out suddenly turns her stomach, and she has to sit down again awfully suddenly.

Erik takes the bag away. She can feel his disappointment and faint worry.

"It's normal, you know. The doctor was quite clear about that."

"You've lost weight," Erik grumbles. "Shouldn't that be opposite?"

"It'll sort itself out in time." After the first three months, most of those symptoms would fade, the doctor assured her. From what Charlotte has gathered, she's lucky to have a doctor who even acknowledges anything is happening, that it isn't just womanly fussing. Still, it would be nice, Charlotte thinks, if she knew other women, other people who had gone through this and could answer questions. It's odd, how it feels rather like she and Erik are stumbling through the dark. They have been through so much together, fighting tooth and nail the entire time, and this is so ordinary compared to all the things they've faced.

A baby. People have babies every day.

Erik makes a noise, somewhat akin to a grunt. "Would you like me to draw you a bath?"

"Nooo," Charlotte says, slowly. "We don't have time if we're going to make our train. Perhaps just some tea?"

If Charlotte were to be utterly truthful with herself, she would not particularly mind missing the train. They're going cross-country by rail instead of by jet mainly in deference to Erik's inclinations (airflight bothers him, being trapped in such a confined space with no exits, while trains seem to be provoke some sort of almost childlike satisfaction and glee in him when it comes to their metal components). But it's also the case that she is in no hurry to get to their destination.

The letter from Raven had been sent to their last address but one. It was already almost two months old when Charlotte received it. By then, her mother was long dead. They had already missed the funeral and all the attendant social trappings. There was no need to rush back to New York. Instead Charlotte sent Raven a telegram, and began organizing this journey.

She doesn't grieve her mother. When she thinks about it, it feels like the mental equivalent of a loose tooth one can't stop worrying with one's tongue. She should feel something, Charlotte thinks, something beyond this blankness. She hadn't realized until now that she had a childish fantasy buried deep within her, that some day she would see Mother again and somehow show her, prove to her all the ways she was wrong and Charlotte was right, all the ways Charlotte has succeeded and perhaps made her proud, despite it all.

That is never going to happen. It never was going to happen, Charlotte knows, but now it is an utter impossibility.

Instead, Charlotte is going to return to that house again, for the first time in almost four years, and ... Raven will be waiting, right where Charlotte left her behind. Raven, who's older now than Charlotte was when she and Erik married.

She wonders if Raven is still as caring, as loving, as open as the child she was. Or if she's grown too much, turned into chill and ice. She wonders if Raven hates her. She wonders if Raven will come with the two of them if they ask.

Erik brings her a cup of tea and sits down beside her, arm coming around her to squeeze her in close. His hand rests, giant and splayed across her tummy. Her head fits perfectly, tucked under his chin. He's warm and comfortable and familiar and beloved, and she realizes with a little surprise that she's crying. Another one of those petty nuisances of her condition.

"The doctor says the weeping is perfectly normal, too," Charlotte says roughly.

"Ssssh," Erik says aggravatingly, and he presses a kiss to the top of her hair.

December 2015

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