Chapter 1: Drive the Cold Winter Away
Emma firmly believes her mutation gives her the edge over humans and most other mutants until the night Charles appears without warning at the far end of the Frost Estate's apple orchard. It's the beginning of January, and the wind outside is bitter cold and carries on it the remnants of the snowstorm that had just passed through the area. She's confused for a moment - he was supposed to be halfway to Majorca by now, had been complaining for weeks and weeks about being made to spend more time in close quarters with Kurt - and shares as much with him.
Please just come out here, he says. It's positively frigid.
Exactly the reason I'd prefer to stay in my warm, cozy bed, she grumbles, but she dutifully bundles herself up and makes her way through the fresh snow drifts to where he's hiding.
"Charles Francis Xavier," Emma hisses when she finds him. "Where the hell is your coat?"
"At the mansion," Charles replies, his teeth chattering. "Mum and Kurt gave the staff leave while we were to be away, so the doors are locked, and I can't get back in." His lips are tinged with blue, and a violent shiver overtakes him suddenly. Emma barely gives ripping her own coat off and wrapping him in it a thought, just wills her diamond form into being. "Really, Emma, I don't -"
"Shut it, Xavier," Emma says. She takes him by the hand and begins pulling him back toward the house. "Should I ask why you aren't with Sharon and Kurt, or shall I just assume the worst?"
"I didn't want to go to Majorca with them," Charles says, as if that's all the explanation he needs to give.
And, Emma thinks to herself, it sort of is. She holds her tongue until they're back in her room and they're wrapped up in bed together, and even then she's unsure how to approach this. She knows, from all the time she's spent reading Kurt Marko's mind, that he is not a good person by any means, but this - she clamps down on the sudden rage welling up inside her.
"If you get frostbite," Emma says instead, "I'll consider it poetic justice and laugh in your face."
Charles snorts in the middle of another full-body shiver. "You can yell at me in the morning."
"It already is morning, you idiot."
"Good night, Emma." Moments later, Charles' shivers subside and his breathing evens out.
Emma reaches out and smooths his hair out of his face, twirls a lock of it around her finger. She sighs, then moves in closer to Charles and draws him into a hug. You're going to be okay, Charles, she thinks, and she falls asleep wishing the idea takes root inside his mind.
Chapter 2: Window Seat
A rainy afternoon calls for cuddling.
Charles generally takes Kurt's punishments more as suggestions than anything to be taken seriously, which is why he's sitting on the window seat in the small first floor study with the curtains drawn instead of in his room where he'd been banished to the previous night. It's raining softly outside, there's a thick, rolling fog covering the grounds all over, and despite the fact that it's August, Charles shivers against the glass and pulls a blanket over his legs and waist. Somewhere in the mansion, his mother and stepfather are arguing about Harvard and the best way to make him see that it's really the best school for him and - Charles tunes them out.
The curtain is suddenly ripped to one side. Charles jumps in surprise at the noise.
"You're the worst at hide and seek," Emma says as she and Tony join him on the bench and close the curtain behind them.
"And yet you could be the best, knowing how your mutation works," says Tony.
Inexplicably irritated by their presence, Charles scowls at the two of them. "Not in the mood for you," he grumbles. "Go away."
Tony grins wickedly and pokes at his face. Charles bats his hand away, but he keeps at it, and eventually Emma joins in by pinching and prodding at Charles' sides until he gives up and pokes back at them. The result is a minor wrestling match the ends with Emma wrapping her arms around Charles from behind and Tony using his front as a pillow.
Charles struggles for a moment before sighing and making himself as comfortable as possible between them. "We're going to regret sitting like this later," he warns. Possibly sooner than that if Kurt or Mum come down and find us this way.
"Shut up and cuddle with us," Tony says, and they stay that way for the rest of the afternoon.