It was an average Westchester morning, which is to say, it was beautiful. The grounds beyond the bedroom window were bathed in soft sunrise, dew-flecked grass reflecting the warm light and twinkling like earthbound stars.
‘Oh, Erik, you’re waxing poetic,’ Charles teased, a gentle voice echoing in his skull.
“I didn’t know you were up,” he responded, somewhat tersely, as he turned to look at the man in his bed. It was a little embarrassing to be caught in such a mindset; Erik did not like to openly broadcast his penchant for romantic reflection. As of late, however, it had been more difficult to keep in check. Things were going too well. He had secured a home in the middle of nature’s glorious solitude, kept away from the society he couldn’t bring himself to trust and close to the family of mutants he had allowed himself to care for. He could wake each morning and run through quiet paths under the shade of towering oaks and maples, hear birds as they rose to meet the dawn, and return to the mansion drenched in sweat and just in time to eat a real breakfast at the head of a table full of incredible young men and women. His seat would always be directly across from the man who now shared his bed, and they could converse secretly across invisible airwaves while everyone else ate obliviously. It was a far cry from the human ash and mud of his childhood, and he treasured it more than he let on.
“How long have you been up?” Charles asked groggily, this time speaking out loud. “And have you been for a run already, or might I be able to join you?” He rolled clumsily out of bed, yawning as he stabilized himself on weary legs.
“I was just leaving. If you can get ready fast enough, you’re more than welcome to come.”
“Let’s say five minutes?”
“Five minutes would be fine.” Erik had a sneaking suspicion, though, that it would take Charles more time than that to ready himself. He took so long in the mornings sometimes. Sighing with exasperation that he didn’t really feel, Erik moved back to the bed and sat at its foot, smoothing out the rumpled sheets with his hand. He smiled to himself, sure that his life never was and never would be as perfect as it felt in that moment.
The run was glorious and invigorating. Breakfast was divine. The shower he took was hot and the smell of the soap reminded him of Charles. When he shaved, it was close. His clothes fit him well. He had been awake for three hours and the day had already proved itself to be striving at perfection. A small part of him expected a swift downward turn; he was suspicious, as his life had trained him to be, but he tried to smother the feeling.
When he had moved into Charles’ world, something had shifted in the universe, and he was still trying to learn to play by the new rules. Trust like Charles trusted, love like he loved. Expect that tomorrow will still be good, but enjoy the current day to its fullest potential nonetheless. It was a difficult shift to make, but he was glad he had to make it.
“Erik, is my watch over there?” Charles called from the bathroom, where he was just stepping out of the shower. Erik could feel the blades of his razor as they swept across the other man’s chin. He glanced at the bedside table.
“Yes, it’s right here. Do you want me to bring it to you?” He swept the wristwatch upwards with a pulse of careful magnetism.
“That would be lovely, thanks,” came the voice from the bathroom. Erik gently urged the small bundle of tight metal gears and clasps that made up Charles’ watch forward, drifting it around the corner of the doorframe and resting it where he knew the counter to be. A gentle ‘Thanks, love,’ wrapped around his mind. Erik could feel him fastening the watch to his wrist, its cogs whirring pleasantly and smoothly. Charles poked his head into the room and positively beamed at him. Erik knew he must have been projecting, sending a steady stream of perfectperfectperfect Charles’ way.
It was 10 o’clock, and things had started to wind down for the night. If Erik concentrated, he could still feel a quiet thrum of activity through moving pocketfuls of change and earrings drifting around the mansion, but most everyone was getting ready for bed. It was time for his nightly game of chess with Charles. They would talk about how the training was going, what their plans for the next day were, what their day had been like, how the weather was, anything. It was just another pleasant ritual to add to the ever growing list. When Charles returned to the bedroom that night, though, he did not seem as relaxed as he usually did.
“Are you up to a game, tonight?” Erik asked. It was almost a rhetorical question, since they always played. He was already seated in front of the board, a small glass of brandy on the table beside him.
“Uh, not tonight, actually,” Charles responded, shifting his weight uneasily. Erik couldn’t stop the slight quirk of his eyebrow. He ran a mental inventory of the day, trying to isolate a reason he might be too tense or weary for a game of chess, but could find no explanation. Doing a cursory investigation of Charles’ person, he saw only that his muscles were a touch overdrawn, and that he had an unfamiliar but small, magnetically insignificant piece of metal in his right pocket. Its magnetism was too weak to give Erik a clear picture of what it could be, but he dismissed it as likely being some curio Charles had found on the ground and decided to keep.
“Alright, then,” he responded, rising from his seat. “Perhaps tomorrow.” He made a move to the bookshelf, intending to resume his reading of The Prince, but Charles put a halting hand on his elbow.
“Wait,” he implored. Erik could feel the fingers on his arm begin to tremble, but the motion stopped almost as soon as it began. Charles was broadcasting an unfamiliar feeling of overwhelmingly intense trepidation mixed with a strong pulse of adoration, one that was confusing and a little worrisome. “Um…”
“Is everything okay?” He locked their eyes forcefully. If something was wrong, he wanted to know. If Charles was hurt, he was going to fix it. He was going to hurt someone. He was going to send a message. He was going to—
“Yes, everything’s fine, I just… I’m a little shaken, is all.” Charles provided a shaky laugh. Erik’s eyes narrowed dangerously.
“What happened?” He clasped his own hand over Charles’. “Are you hurt?”
“No, no, I’m perfectly fine,” he insisted gently, trying unsuccessfully to project pure comfort and security at Erik. The apprehension was still there, palpably thick. “I’m just about to do something incredibly frightening.” Erik’s brows raised of their own accord again, his anger softening. “I, uh…” Charles took a step back from Erik, shoving his hands bashfully into his pockets.
“Charles…” Erik ventured carefully, unsure of how to react to the truly bizarre way his— he supposed the correct word was boyfriend— was acting. He was about to step forward and reinitiate contact when Charles’ knees apparently gave out beneath him. He looked up at Erik from one knee on the floor, prying a small blue box open with his shaking fingers.
Erik’s mind ground to a complete halt. His synapses were firing wildly, trying unsuccessfully to make ties in his brain that he knew he should be making, but his thoughts were in complete disarray. Charles on one knee— what’s happening?— unfamiliar metal in a blue velvet box— what’s happening?— perfect, perfect— this can’t really be happening—
“Erik Lensherr, will you make an honest man out of me?”
And so it happened. A new comforting metal pulse was given to Erik, wrapped around his finger in the form of a gold band that glinted cheerfully in the low light of the bedroom that he shared with his fiancée. Where his coins shrilled and his watch hummed, his ring sang. Where seasons changed and people came and went, Charles vowed himself a constant, steady as a rock to lean on.
The grime and horror of his past swirled around his feet always, a part of him he couldn’t and wouldn’t discard, but there was now around his head and shoulders a mist of calm and love and perfectperfectperfect. It was not a life he had ever imagined himself capable of having. He was sure, in the camps, that his ability to even feel such a pure and clean happiness had been beaten into nothingness. Lying in bed that night, however, his only worry in the world was whether or not he could deter Raven from domineering the ceremony and making his small, intimate wedding— God, he was really getting married, wasn’t he?— a lavish affair. He sighed, more amused than anxious, and folded his legs into the negative space between Charles’, where his body seemed to fit perfectly. He fell asleep to the ubiquitous hum of familiar metal, his body harmonizing easily with the force of the universe moving steadily around him. And so ended a magnificent day, having transcended even the boundaries of perfection.