“And all along I believed I would find you.
Time has brought your heart to me.
I have loved you for a thousand years,
I’ll love you for a thousand more…”
~ “A Thousand Years”, Christina Perri
The silver-haired woman smiled gently. “Hello, Erik.”
He stood faster than he thought possible and knelt beside her, pulling her into a tight hug—desperate to reassure himself that she was real. She was there, she was real, she was alive. So wonderfully, fantastically, amazingly alive. Before he could talk himself out of it, he pulled her in for a kiss.
It was intimate, it was desperate, and it was just what he had dreamed of for years. He cupped her cheek, searching her blue eyes.
Liebling, he thought, unable to rein in his awe and joy. She didn’t seem to mind. He felt her presence in the back of his head, wrapped around his mind like a blanket.
My love, she greeted softly and glimpsed into his memories following her death, his grief, the fighting, losing his powers, his mourning ever since. She lingered on a few memories—him, reading her letter and trying to hold back a sob so he wasn’t caught…the twins finding him anyways and their ensuing moment as an actual family…him, snarling at Pyro, “My single greatest regret is that she had to die.”…him at her gravestone, mourning and weeping…
She shared with him a feeling of warmth and love, soothing the ragged edges of his wounded heart. I’m here, Erik. I’m not leaving again. I promise. Never again, never again. Never.
“This has to be a dream,” he whispered. “An amazing, heartbreaking dream.”
Her smile was beautiful and exactly the same as it had been, years ago, when a compassionate woman pulled an angry, misguided man from the sea and rejoiced in their meeting. “It’s not a dream, I promise. I’m real and I am here and I am never letting you leave ever again. Bullet or no bullets. And I will always find you just as I will always love you.”
Erik brushed his thumb across her cheek. “How?”
She caught his hand in hers and motioned for him to return to his chair. Erik did and she explained, though Charlotte did not once release her hand from his. “Once again, my love, you forget,” she said and touched her temple with her free hand.
The gesture was so familiar but so forgotten. She hadn’t done it in years, decades even, but not often at all after Cuba. It was a mannerism he had gotten to know her as having and seeing it again left him with a feeling that maybe, just maybe, he had gotten a second chance after all.
“You recall the day we went to Jean’s house that first time, some twenty years ago?” she continued. “I projected myself there.”
He closed his eyes and nodded in dawning, amazed comprehension. “You did it again, didn’t you?”
He should have expected something like this. Charlotte would always find him.
A smile touched her lips. “Yes. I wasn’t sure about it all. I knew I would go into that house to speak with Jean alone and knew the possible outcomes. So I decided a little psychic trickery was possible. I never taught Jean that skill,” she added. “So she never learned to recognize it after so many years of my practice. That…paid off. It was a risk. But one I was willing to take. Had she caught me…” she trailed off with a shudder.
“What might she have done?” he asked, concerned.
“Made it impossible for my consciousness to return to my body, most likely. Possibly have just killed me all together. I’m unsure, but it would not have been pleasant.” She wrinkled her nose. “It wasn’t pleasant anyways.”
His brow furrowed. “What do you mean?”
She sighed and squeezed his hand. “In the projection, I died. That non-corporeal visualization of my body died. Had I been there, I would actually be quite dead. Because she ‘killed’ me before I could return to my body, I was…troubled in finding my way back.”
“What do you mean?”
“I was…lost, I suppose, for two months,” she replied and tapped her temple again. “Mentally, I couldn’t connect to my body again and so I was, technically, in a coma until two days ago.”
He stared in disbelief. “Who—who knew?” he asked hoarsely. “Did anyone?”
Hesitantly, she nodded. “Yes, Raven. After…after she was given the cure—”
“After I abandoned her,” he murmured.
She nodded in reluctant agreement. “She showed up at the mansion, asking for my help because she had nowhere else to turn. I kept her presence a secret—she was still a wanted criminal at the time. I told her my plan and warned her of the possible outcomes—the twins I only told after I woke earlier, actually. I feared I may not survive and so did not want to give them false hopes, should I never have woken from the coma. Raven watched over me after it happened. But she left me only to tip off the government about you. I instructed her to do that; don’t be angry with her for it.”
Erik shook his head. “I’m not.” Surprisingly.
The telepath smiled and kissed him again.
He studied her face, comparing it with his memory. Same hair, just a bit shorter, tamer curls, and completely silver now. Same blue eyes, if more tired but…happier. Laugh lines and smile lines showed that she had not lied when she wrote that she had lived a happy life. Small, thin wrinkles around her eyes that only made her seem distinguished, experienced, respectable.
Her eyes softened when she heard the thought and she brushed a hand through his white hair. The same can be said of you, still as handsome as the day we met.
For a moment, neither said or thought a word, merely enjoying the peace and contentment of being together, finally, wholly together for the first time in years.
What now? He eventually asked her. Will you return to the school?
Charlotte was visibly torn. I—no, she replied slowly. I will not go back if that means I won’t be with you. Storm should be capable of running it. If not her, Emma may be persuaded. Wanda, too, might be convinced; she’ll ensure it does continue, if nothing else. I dedicated forty years to that school. It will continue on without me. You, however, I promised to never leave nor let leave me.
If you wish to return to your school, I will accompany you, he offered. I tried this my way and look where it landed me: without you, without powers. Let’s try it your way.
Truly? she asked, blue eyes wide. You’re willing to give up the mutant superiority complex?
Erik sighed. “My dear, I believe I lost that quite quickly after I lost you and my ability. If nothing else, losing my powers has taught me a lesson in humility as well. Yes, if you will have me, I will join you at your school.”
The smile of shock and joy and amazement she gave him could have, had he his power, given him strength to manipulate a hundred satellites.
But she paused. I saw you trying to move the chess piece when I came up. Did it—?
I thought so, but was distracted, he smiled.
“Try it, Erik,” she said, gripping one hand tightly.
He nodded and held the other out to the white queen chess piece, concentrating. Drawing on the fact that Charlotte was here, alive, well, with him.
It wobbled slightly then, abruptly, shot to his hand, levitating in the air above his palm. She laughed in joy as she watched.
Carefully, like stretching a stiff muscle, he tested his control little at a time until he was certain of it.
This means the cure is temporary! She crowed. Oh, thank God! You—Raven—all the others—they’ll be okay! And we can work on something for Rogue if she still wants it...
Determinedly, he focused on the suddenly malleable metals in his hand and shaped it carefully before picking up the black king as well.
He squeezed her left hand to draw her attention back. “Liebling, you told me in your letter that you loved me. And now I finally have the chance to say that I love you as well. And, if you will have me, I’ll ask you this.” Gently he held out the delicate ring he had shaped from the white queen piece and the larger ring of the black king. “Will you do me the honor of having you as my wife?”
“Yes!” she nearly shouted, her telepathy projecting the thought as well. She flung her arms around him, pressing her face to his neck. “Yes, of course, Erik. Nothing would make me happier.”
That evening, as they entered the school’s front gate and went together toward the entrance, Charlotte felt a sense of peace fall upon her, a sense of contentment and serene joy.
As they strode toward the mansion and saw a waiting group of shocked and amazed faces— Wanda, Pietro, Logan, Storm, Hank, and several students—, a smile bloomed across her lips.
Home at last, Charlotte told him quietly, squeezing his hand in hers.
And now, it finally felt like her home was whole.
“I have died everyday waiting for you,
Darling don't be afraid.
I have loved you for a thousand years
I’ll love you for a thousand more.”
~ “A Thousand Years”, Christina Perri