Leaning on the railing of the ship, Erik Lehnsherr turned eager eyes on the city as they came up to port. He had always been excited to return home, but this time was special. Even though he carried a letter he did not fully understand in a pocket, given to him by Napoleon in exile himself, that didn't matter. Not as much as the news he could give to the person he could see standing on the dock waiting as the ship sailed in.
Charles Xavier stood at the quay, his arms wrapped around himself to protect a bit from the sea breeze. He was dressed in summer clothes, which was fine when the wind wasn't cutting through them, but at the moment he really couldn't care less. His blue gaze remained focused on the merchant ship coming in to dock. The young man was waiting at the base of the gangplank almost as soon as it had made contact with the dock, his smile bright as he finally spotted the sailor he was looking for on the ship.
Going through his last actions quickly, the captain well knowing his desire to flee the ship as quickly as possible, Erik was one of the first down said gangplank, scooping Charles up and spinning him around happily.
Bracing his hands against Erik's shoulders for balance, Charles laughed, "Goodness, Erik! I'm glad to see you too, but what on earth?"
"You have no idea how glad I am to see you," Erik replied, all but effortlessly holding Charles up. "How have you been?" he asked, his own news burning in his chest but holding it off for as long as he could manage.
"Oh, I can imagine," the smaller man laughed. "I've been good, missing you terribly, and desperately awaiting your return, but nothing has really changed here while you've been gone." He tilted his head enough to nuzzle his nose against Erik's hair, "How have you been?"
Erik tilted his head back, kissing Charles before he continued, as the rest of the sailors streamed off the ship, a few calling out to the couple, but most just shaking their heads and walking on. "Missing you doesn't begin to cover," he replied. "I have news."
Charles offered him another wide smile, "Do I get to hear this news with my feet on the ground, or are you holding me here until you tell me?"
"I think I'm holding you up," Erik replied with a grin. "I'm going to be made Captain."
The smaller man stared at him, trying to find words to express his thoughts, "C-captain?" He moved his hands from Erik's shoulders to wrap his arms around the other's neck in an embrace, "Erik, that's wonderful!"
Erik whirled him around again before finally setting him down, cupping his face in both hands and kissing him deeply. "Captain," he said when he finally pulled away. "I saved our captain's life and got an abrupt promotion to my own ship."
Charles' blue eyes were alight with a mixture of emotions ranging from pride to hope to love, "I...Erik, this...we..."
"We can get married," Erik said. "I can support you, give you a good home, and give you my name if you like."
"Married." He leaned up, kissing the other again, "Yes, a thousand times yes. I would be honored to take your name."
Erik leaned down into the kiss, happiness practically radiating off his skin. "I love you more than I can say."
"And I you. With everything I have in me. Forever, Erik."
Grinning, he glanced up. Night had been falling when they arrived in port and he pointed to a particular star. "Do you see that star up there?"
Charles tilted his head back and looked up at the star Erik was indicating, "I couldn't miss it. I wish for your return on it every night."
"It leads me home to you," Erik said, into his hair. "Every time."
"Then I pray it stays there," the smaller man embraced the sailor, holding him tightly.
"I'll ask Him as a personal favor," he grinned. "Everything feels like it's finally falling into place." He'd worked his way up from the bottom of the ship over the past several years, scraping together enough to one day propose to Charles.
"I don't think I've ever been so happy," Charles smiled brightly. "I love you so much. And to think...you've been promoted to captain, Erik! You astonish me."
Laughing, Erik twirled him around. "My love for you will be as constant as that star," he murmured into Charles' thick brown hair.
"As long as that star shines, Erik, I swear you'll have my love," Charles replied softly.
Leaning down, Erik kissed him again, unable to stop touching the smaller man. His head snapped up after a moment though when he heard someone clear their throat, his eyes narrowing at the sight of who it was.
Charles drew back from the kiss, but not from the embrace as he turned to look. He offered his cousin a bit of a smile, "Sebastian."
"It's getting late," Sebastian Shaw said, his voice calm though he well knew the look Erik was giving him. "Shouldn't you be coming home? The docks have such... unsavory types around."
Charles' smile faded slightly as he responded, "I'll be along later, Sebastian."
"If you're sure you'll be safe," Shaw replied.
"He will be. Besides, he can take care of himself," Erik replied. Alright, he wasn't entirely sure he ever wanted Charles taking care of himself, but he would defend the other to Shaw any chance he got.
"There, you see. I'll be fine. If you're that worried about it, Erik can see me home," he glanced up at the man he still hadn't let go of to confirm that. Erik offered him another happy smile and nodded. He could see Charles to the moon that night, the way he felt.
Looking far from happy, Shaw nodded curtly. "I just feel responsible," he said, voice still smooth. "Since you are my cousin, no matter how distant the tie."
Charles' smile was looking more and more forced the longer this went on, "And I appreciate the concern, but it is unnecessary."
Sniffing, Shaw realized the tide was turning against him and whirled on his heel to stalk away, Erik angry but also so happy behind him.
His cousin watched him go before shaking his head and turning back to Erik, "Sorry about that. Where were we?"
Erik shook his head slightly, grinning happily at him. "You're going to marry me?" he offered.
That brought the return of a genuine smile to Charles' features, "Yes. I'm going to marry you. As soon as possible, preferably."
"As soon as possible," Erik agreed. "I suppose tomorrow night isn't feasible?"
Charles bit his lip, considering, "It's not as though we need anyone more than the two of us, a priest and witnesses."
Erik blinked, having been joking. He buried his face in the crook of Charles' neck, breathing for a moment. "I want to give you a real wedding," he murmured. "You deserve that."
"I don't need that, Erik. Marrying you is more than I could have hoped for, be it a private ceremony tomorrow or something planned and lauded about town," the other protested.
Erik swallowed, pulling him closer by the waist. "The night after tomorrow," he said quietly. "I have some small business to take care of tomorrow night. I certainly want to be able to give you all my attention on your wedding night."
"What sort of business, Erik?"
"I need to deliver a letter," he replied. "And I would like to be somewhat more prepared to take you home with me."
The smaller man nodded, leaning up to kiss Erik again, "Alright then. The night after next."
"Do I have to walk you home now?" Erik asked, not relishing the prospect of letting the other go.
"I should be getting back, yes. Though, given my choices I'd much prefer to stay here."
Erik smiled against the side of his face, kissing his cheek. "I'd prefer you do so as well."
Charles offered him another smile, "I'll see you tomorrow at some point?"
"Yes," Erik said. "I'll stop by in the morning."
"Then I suppose I can let you walk me home now..."
Erik wrapped an arm around his waist, finally letting go enough to let either of them move. Charles leaned his head against the other man's shoulder, wrapping his arm around his waist as well, as they started toward his home. Erik rubbed a thumb over Charles' arm as they walked. "Would you like anything, as a wedding present?"
"Beyond life as your spouse?" He shook his head slightly, "I honestly can't think of a thing."
For that Erik had to kiss him again, quickly and awkwardly considering the angle.
"What about you, Erik? Any gift I could find you?" The smaller man lifted his head to glance up at his fiancé.
"You're all the gifts I need," Erik replied, knowing exactly how silly that sounded but entirely meaning it.
Charles offered him another bright smile, returning his head to where it rested against the other's shoulder, "I love you."
Erik glanced back up to the sky, hunting out their star before smiling back down to Charles. "You make me happier than all the wealth in the world could hope to."
"I could have every blessing the world has to offer, but without you, I would find no worth in it. You're the greatest treasure I could ask for, Erik."
Erik grinned, almost tempted to roll his eyes. "We sound like a cheap romance," he murmured. "Actually, I feel like a cheap romance. I can't believe I really can have everything."
Charles laughed again, "I'm alright with that comparison, in all honesty."
"Hopeless romantic," Erik murmured fondly.
"Hardly hopeless," the other retorted, "as this evening proves."
Erik laughed happily at that. "Perhaps that's true."
Charles leaned up to kiss Erik's cheek, "Either way, I am more than happy to be a romantic, and more than happy to live a romance."
"We have quite the romance," Erik agreed, slowing his steps as Charles' door came into sight.
"And the rest of our lives to deepen it."
Leaning down, Erik kissed him long and deep. Charles' arms moved to wrap around Erik's neck as he pressed up into the kiss, matching passion for passion. Letting his hands settle on the other's waist, Erik pressed into it just a little bit more, vaguely aware he was going to need to breathe at some point. One hand moving to tangle in the taller man's hair, Charles seemed to have disregarded the need for breath as he drew himself as close to flush against the other man as he could without toppling them both. Steadying them both, Erik pulled him those centimeters closer before finally pulling away or he wouldn't.
Charles made a small sound of disappointment at the retreat, but offered Erik another smile, his cheeks flushed, "I sh-should probably get inside."
Erik nodded, having not released the other. "I'll be by in the morning."
"I look forward to it. Good night, love."
"Good night, Charles," Erik said, nuzzling his hair before pulling away.
The smaller man offered him yet another smile before finally taking a full step back, "I'll see you in the morning." He turned and entered the house, hesitating before closing the door. Erik watched him, waiting until the door closed before he turned and went home.
Shaw was sitting in the front room reading, clearly waiting for Charles to come home. Charles paused when he saw his cousin there, but didn't say anything before starting for the staircase.
"Did you have a good night?" Shaw asked.
He closed his eyes, having been hoping to keep his good mood for the rest of the night. He turned back, nodding, "Yes. I did actually."
"Your sailor seems to have returned... unharmed," Shaw said, not sounding overly pleased.
That was greeted with a smile, "Yes, he's doing wonderfully."
"You could do so much better," Shaw replied. "You're related to nobility and yet you gallivant around with a sailor?"
"We've been over this, Sebastian. I don't want better. I love Erik," Charles sighed.
"One day you might have cause to regret that," Shaw told him.
"Not in the foreseeable future." He knew he was going to regret asking the next question, "Why would I possibly regret it? He's a good man, and he can provide for me. He loves me too."
"He can provide for you?" Shaw asked. "How?"
"He's just been made Captain," Charles answered, a note of pride creeping into his voice.
Shaw's eyes widened slightly. "He's rather young," he remarked vaguely, trying to process that information.
"Yes, but I don't see what that has to do with anything."
Shaw shrugged. "Captain or not, are you sure he'll be able to provide for you in the years to come?"
Charles' jaw tensed, having had a conversation of a similar vein one too many times, "Yes, Sebastian."
"How do you even know his intentions are honorable?"
"How do you know they aren't?"
"Has he ever done anything to prove they are? Who knows how many ports he lands in?"
Charles' entire body stiffened at that, "Sebastian...you have no right to speak of him in such a way."
The older man shrugged. "You're just young," he said. "And naïve."
"And engaged." The words slipped out before he could catch them.
Every muscle in Shaw's body tensed. "What?"
Well, they had been said and he couldn't rescind them, "You heard me, cousin. I'm sure of it."
"You're engaged to a sailor?" he managed.
"I'm engaged to a ship's captain," came the rapid correction.
"When?" Shaw asked past a dry throat.
"When what? When are we to be married? A few days' time," Charles did his best not to hear anything against it in his cousin's tone.
Shaw blinked at him, processing. "That's moving awfully fast, is it not? How will you be able to prepare a wedding in that time?"
"I'm not planning on a large ceremony, Sebastian. I don't want one."
"How could you not—?" he started and shook his head. "Congratulations," he managed past gritted teeth.
Charles would accept it, even if it was unwillingly given, "Thank you. Is there anything else you wished to discuss tonight?"
Shaw silently shook his head.
The younger man nodded slightly, "In that case, good night, Sebastian."
"Good night, Charles," the older replied.
He retreated up the stairs, retiring to his room for the night. Watching him, Shaw shook his head, brooding in his chair for a while yet before retreating to his own rooms.
Erik glanced once more at the name on the thick letter he held before knocking on the door of the ornate house. The door was opened moments later by an elegantly clad servant whose eyebrow arched at the sight of the sailor and the clothes he wore, "Yes?"
"I have a letter to deliver," he replied. "To a Monsieur Noirtier de Villefort? I believe he lives here?"
The servant stepped aside to allow him entry, "Wait here, Monsieur."
A woman, her red hair expertly coifed and her dark burgundy dress flattering her form, descended the staircase, meeting the servant halfway. Her face showed no sign of recognition as the man relayed news regarding Erik's business there. Dismissing the servant with a wave of her hand she continued on her way, reaching the bottom of the staircase, "May I see the letter?"
Erik blinked at the woman's appearance. "It is for Monsieur Noirtier de Villefort," he repeated. "I am to give it to him."
She looked him over, appraisingly, "I am Monsieur de Villefort's daughter, Jean. Unfortunately my father is indisposed at the moment. If you leave the letter with me I shall see that he gets it."
Shifting, he paused, considering who had given him the letter. But, if this woman was his daughter, then surely it would be alright to leave it with her? After all, all he really wanted to do was return to Charles for tomorrow night. "Alright," he said after a moment, taking the letter from his coat pocket and handing it to her.
She took it with a smile, looking at the script on the outside. It wasn't a hand she recognized, "Thank you for delivering this, Monsieur...?"
"Erik Lehnsherr," he replied promptly.
"Thank you again. I wish you well, good day to you, Monsieur Lehnsherr."
"A good day to you as well," he replied brightly. "I hope your father feels less indisposed soon."
"I'm certain he shall." She waited until the young man had left before retiring to the drawing room and opening the letter. With an unfamiliar script on the address, Jean wasn't about to trust her father with it. Her gaze quickly skimmed over the contents of the letter, her cordial smile from moments before vanished to be replaced by a severe frown. This would have to be dealt with. Her gaze flickered to the window—there was more than one way to cover something like this up. Folding the letter again, she slipped it into the bodice of her dress. She would dispose of it later.
Still thinking nothing in the world was wrong and that everything would work out, Erik whistled to himself as he returned home, thoughts swimming with Charles and the next night.
Walking home from lunching out the next day, Shaw surveyed the street around him with no small amount of distaste. He could not wait to leave this port town behind him some day and move to Paris itself.
Cain Marko stepped out of the doorway of a building, approaching the other man, "Sebastian Shaw, wait a moment if you would."
The other man paused and turned. "Yes, Monsieur Marko?"
"Perhaps we could speak somewhere a bit more private?" He looked around pointedly at the press of people on the street.
Blinking, Shaw nodded and gestured down the street. "My home is but a few more blocks if that would be private enough."
"It should be, yes." Marko fell into step beside the other, "You are cousin to Charles Xavier, aren't you?"
"Yes," Shaw said. "Is this something to do with him?"
"More to do with Erik Lehnsherr than your cousin, monsieur."
That got Shaw's attention in moments. "What of the sailor?" he asked.
Mark offered the other man a smirk at that, "It sounds as though you don't much care for him, unless I'm mistaken?"
"No," Shaw replied simply but his voice harsh. "Do you?"
"No. Not at all. I think you may be interested in what I have to say, in this case," they had finally reached Shaw's home and Marko waited until they were inside before speaking again. "I have a way to get Erik Lehnsherr out of both of our lives."
Shaw sat down after making sure the door was closed and Charles wasn't around. "Oh?" he asked, voice calm though his eyes glittered with excitement at the prospect.
"We accuse him of being a Bonapartist. He went ashore at Elba, and I know our captain gave him something to deliver. It may not be much at the moment, but build on those charges and we won't have to worry about Lehnsherr again."
Leaning back in the chair, Shaw considered. "Those are quite the charges. The issue would be finding someone to actually prosecute them on such small evidence."
"What about that new prosecutor, de Villefort. Still trying to make a name for herself, she might be willing to help us."
It took a moment for the other to consider before he nodded. "Yes, we can certainly try there first. Did you have anything else to do this afternoon?"
"No, I figured this would take up most of it. Didn't quite expect you to be so willing to work with this."
"He is engaged to my cousin," Shaw all but growled. "The sooner I get him out of the way the better. I am curious what you have against him though."
"In comparison to that, it might not seem much, but I had my eye on that ship he's now captain of," Marko replied, shrugging slightly. "Quickest way to get access to captaincy is to get rid of the other captain."
That got a low chuckle out of Shaw. "Ambition. That's always something to be encouraged."
"Shall we see if de Villefort is willing to joining us in this?" the sailor smirked slightly, glancing at the door.
Shaw rose in a smooth motion, holding the door open for the other. "I very much believe we shall."
The two men made their way across town to the de Villefort home. Marko knocked on the door, telling the servant who answered that they were there to see the lady of the house. They were shown into a sitting room and a few minutes later Jean swept into the room, her dark red and black gown seeming almost out of place during the day. "Good day to you, gentlemen. What can I do for you?"
Rising, Shaw bowed to her before retaking his seat. "We are here on the matter of a sailor, Erik Lehnsherr who we believe to have Bonapartist dealings."
Her brow arched sharply at that as she took a seat across from them, inclining her head in acknowledgement that both men had risen to offer her a bow, "Erik Lehnsherr, you say? Why do you believe this of him?"
Shaw glanced over at Cain, who actually had seen the events they were trying to base this off.
The sailor leaned forward, "He went ashore on Elba, and our captain who was known for his Bonapartist leanings before he died last night, God rest his soul, gave him something to deliver there. He also returned and I saw a letter that hadn't been there before when he came back from the island."
Jean's brow arched as she thought about the letter, "Did you see the contents of this letter?"
"An address on it?"
"Not for certain."
"This is slim evidence the two of you bring me," she considered for a long moment.
Shaw looked between them quickly. "As a character reference for the individual in question," he said, "I can say that he has always been lacking in... honor and decency."
The woman traced a finger over her lower lip as she thought, "What cause do the two of you have to bring this to me? And do try not to give me a line about nationalism and loyalty to the country. I won't believe that."
Shaw's mouth twisted and he glanced at Cain again. "He is a thorn in everyone's side but his own, and has seduced my young cousin into what can only become a shameful marriage."
She glanced at Marko, "And you?"
"Like he said, he's a thorn in my side. He's stolen the ship that is rightfully mine."
"So, family loyalty," she looked at Shaw, sounding like she didn't believe that entirely, "and a desire for promotion," her green gaze moved to Cain, sounding like she believed that a bit more. "I too have reason to wish Lehnsherr away."
Shaw's brows rose and he leaned forward. "What has he done to you then?"
"If I find any word of this on the streets or around town, so much as a whisper even, I will use every method in my power to see that the two of you men are ruined, are we clear?" Her expression hardened and something dangerous flashed in her eyes.
Marko nodded, "Yes, ma'am."
Pausing a moment Shaw nodded as well.
"That letter was intended for my father. I intercepted it, but Lehnsherr can easily point a finger in my family's direction due to that indiscretion. I want that man out of the city, away where he cannot damage this name. It seems we all have a reason to want him gone." She considered them, "I ask you again, why come to me? There are secrets in the dark streets of this city that could solve your problem just as easily, perhaps more so."
Shaw shrugged one shoulder, holding his hands out. "We are legal folk," he replied.
Jean smiled darkly, "Always good to hear of such upstanding citizens. With what you've told me gentlemen I'm certain I can have him put away by midnight tomorrow. Of course, I would need to know where he is in order to send the guards for him."
Having spent the morning snooping around every church in town, Shaw managed to say, "Tonight he will be in the St. Mary's church by the quay."
Her brows rose at that, "Very good, what time?"
"I believe starting right after supper, so say seven," he said.
"Perfect. We will need to get our stories straight, gentlemen. Erik Lehnsherr cannot be allowed to stay in this town. I have a place to send him, and I shall see him off before the sun rises tomorrow."
Shaw nodded, more than pleased with the very idea. "Then let us get our stories straight."