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Now We Are Free

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“Where’s the recipe? There has to be a recipe, doesn’t there?”

“No, there doesn’t. Pass me the apples you’ve already washed.”

“What’s the magic word?”

“Give me the damn apples, Charles.”

Charles rolls his eyes and chucks an apple at Erik’s chest. “So it’s passed down via oral tradition, then?” He doesn’t stress the word oral. Really.

Erik catches the apple and gives Charles a stern look. “When your sister volunteered to take the twins for the day, it was so we could cook, Charles. And I won’t have you perverting my charoset. My mother taught me to make it.”

Charles brings the rest of the apples over to Erik and slips his arms around his husband’s waist. Erik can slice the apples with his powers after all, so it’s not as if he can accuse Charles of disrupting the process.

“I promise not to corrupt your mother’s cooking,” Charles says dutifully.

“Why don’t I believe you?”

“Because you’re a cynical bastard, darling. You never believe me.”

“Hmm. You’ve got me there.”

“I’ve got you right where I want you.” His fingers dance over Erik’s belly.

“Charles! Don’t tickle me while I’m using a knife!”

“Alright, alright!”

Erik continues to cut the apples and Charles pulls out the walnuts and wine from the cupboard. For a while, they don’t talk. The food processor whirs as it grates the nuts, and though they could always communicate mind-to-mind, there’s something pleasant about performing these simple tasks without conversing. They’re still getting used to being parents, and the relative quiet is a nice change from the constant chaos associated with their two mutant toddlers.

“Everything on the seder plate is a symbol, right?” Charles asks once the walnuts have been ground. “So what does the charoset stand for?”

"There’s still debate over that, since the Haggada doesn’t specify a meaning. When I was little, I learned that it represented the mortar we used to make bricks when we were slaves in Egypt. I’ve read other interpretations, though. It might be the sweetness of freedom, for instance. I’ve always liked the interpretation that it’s both—the legacy of struggle and oppression as well the sweetness of having survived.”

Charles nuzzles Erik’s shoulder and squeezes him tight for a moment. “I like that interpretation too.”Erik mixes the apples and the nuts, then pours in the sweet wine and stirs again. Charles takes a drink from the bottle before Erik can snatch it away from him and scold him for drinking before the meal. Erik pretends that he’s too occupied adding the cinnamon to notice.

At first Charles doesn’t realize that he’s been basking in Erik’s thoughts about the holiday, but then he finds himself humming a tune he doesn’t know. He gives Erik a questioning look, and Erik joins in, singing the words.

“Avadim hayinu, hayinu. Ata b’nai chorin, b’nai chorin. Avadim hayinu. Ata b’nai chorin, b’nai chorin.”

“What does it mean?”

“Once we were slaves, but now we are free.”

Erik reaches a hand out to the drawer and it opens. A spoon floats out and dips into the mixture, and apparently Erik is satisfied with the taste when he tries it, because he turns around in Charles’ arms and kisses him.

“There’s another interpretation I’ve read,” he murmurs against Charles’ ear. “That the recipe for charoset is in the Song of Songs.” He begins to whisper the words between kisses: “‘feed me with apples and with raisin-cakes’” and “‘your kisses are sweeter than wine.’”

"I like that take on it as well,” Charles breathes.

 

Tomorrow night, they’ll gather the whole family together for the seder, and Edie will bring them her homemade matzo-ball soup, Charles will drink a little too much wine, and Pietro will use his speed to find the afikomen before Wanda does. Tomorrow night, Charles will gleefully reveal that he’s hidden two halves of the afikomen separately so that both children can win, and Erik will look on fondly as Wanda uses her magic to find the second piece.

For now, though, they’re happy enough to take advantage of the time they have to be alone together. For now, they take the time to taste the sweetness of freedom.