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All the King's Man: Part 6

Title: All the King's Man
Fandom: X-Men: First Class
Pairings: Charles/Erik, Charles/Emma, Charles/Other(s), Azazel/Raven, Sean/Moira, possibly others.
Warnings: Courtesans, mpreg, anatomical impossibilities, dubcon, Shaw is always a douche
Summary: Erik is the king of Genosha, Charles is the son of Brian Xavier, a former merchant who has since died. Charles' stepfather, Kurt, has designs on marrying Charles off to a business associate, but Charles takes matters into his own hands and enters into life as a courtesan in Erik's court where he comes to Erik's attention.
Work will eventually get up on AO3 if you want a download. Mostly unbeta'd at present

~17~


Charles woke with a start as he was dragged from bed, hands on his arms, but not warm, comforting arms, they were hard ones that dug in deep enough to bruise. He whimpered at first, mind too sleep-fogged to do anything but register the wrongness of being tugged out of bed, but a few moments later he flailed, fought against the hands. A kick behind him met a hard leather boot and made him whine. His shin was likely to bruise from that.

"What is the meaning of this?" Erik growled.

Charles shook his head, again trying to clear it. He realized - belatedly - that he'd been dragged from Erik's bed, naked, dried remnants of last night's lovemaking on his thighs and still inside of him. He could still feel the pleasant ache where Erik had taken him. He was not on display for Erik, however, there were at least a half-dozen guards and... the Cardinal.

"Well." Shaw's eyes trailed down him, along his shoulders and his chest and his belly and unless Charles was mistaken as low as his cock, possibly even to the dried evidence of last night on his thighs. "It seems I was not overzealous to assume charges of witchcraft." He sneered.

"What the hell are you talking about, Your Eminence?" Erik said Shaw's title like a curse.

"There were some... irregularities with the messages we intercepted coming in for Margravine Frost from Xavier." The Cardinal took the opportunity to rake his eyes down Charles' body again and Charles tried to wiggle so he wouldn't be so entirely exposed for everyone in the room. He was not ashamed, but the hard look from the Cardinal made him feel uncomfortable somewhere deep in his gut. He couldn't move, though, his arms were pinned by guards, one on each side, and what little moving he could do felt more like a display. The Cardinal's gaze lit up every time he squirmed and that, more than anything, made Charles stand straight and tall as much as he could.

"To hell with your irregularities," Charles said, braver than he felt. "She is my friend and we discussed any number of things, most of them personal in nature."

"Yes, your personal relationship with the Margravine has been well noted by the court, almost as well noted as your engagements with any other number of lords and ladies who so chose to take advantage of your time." The Cardinal's eyes finally fell away, and Charles almost collapsed with relief. He turned to where Erik was climbing out of bed, tugging on a robe and tying it shut. "I am hard on a trail of evidence to implicate both Master Xavier and Margravine Frost in an attempt to assassinate Prince Kurt of Klettgau."

"That is a lie." His voice was hard, and he knew his eyes must have been as well. "I would do nothing to harm the boy. I traveled south to help save him. I could hardly have organized an assassination from the south while I was looking for the very herbs to help him."

"But that is the delight of accomplices," Shaw answered. "And the Frosts have long since proven that they are the most excellent of accomplices."

Charles' mind started to race and he actually started to wonder if perhaps Emma had... perhaps set him up. He trusted her, he did, but then she had released him from being her omega even though they had made a deal, and Charles hadn't much thought of it but Emma got nothing from the arrangement.

"No biting defense, Xavier?"

Erik came up to him now, finally, and wrapped a cloak around his shoulders and brushed away the guards' hands. His eyes, however, were not warm, but hard, and Charles looked up at Erik, eyes own already welling with tears. "You cannot believe this, Erik."

The king did not answer.

"I did nothing wrong," Charles answered, finally. "Any evidence you have has been misinterpreted at best. I helped Erik-"

Shaw backhanded him. "His Majesty," he corrected.

Erik barred his teeth, animalistic but apparently effective in communicating that if Shaw persisted in that behavior Erik would remove his hand from his arm, Cardinal or no.

"I helped His Majesty secure Kurt's safety to help keep war from coming with Klettgau. Whoever attempted to kill the boy wants war with Klettgau." Charles wondered if the Cardinal's reckless actions might be playing directly into the conspirator’s hands. The thought was chilling. He hated to ask, but... "What would you have me do to prove my innocence, then, Your Eminence?"

Shaw waved his hand, dismissing the entire concept. "There is an investigation underway. If you are, indeed, innocent, then clearly that will come out over the course of the investigation, the attempted assassin found, evidence taken, and your name cleared."

"Clearly." Charles had no doubt he was innocent, but... he could not deny that the Cardinal did not like him. "And where am I to be kept while this investigation is underway?"

"The Tower," Shaw answered immediately. "There are several very serviceable rooms there where you can be... comfortable."

A tiny box of a room with a slit window. He did not like the idea at all, but he saw no option that would not mean giving Shaw more ammunition against him.

"Might I...?"

Erik cut off his request, however. "You will wait outside and when Master Xavier is ready he will submit himself to your escort."

Kings did not ask, Charles took a deep breath as everyone left, hands wrapping around his own shoulders, shivering and cold. When they were finally alone, Charles took a deep breath. "Erik I would never betray you like that."

"I..." Erik fell silent. "I believe you."

"Then I can withstand anything else."

They kissed, just a soft peck of lips, and then Charles went about scrubbing himself a bit, his teeth and his thighs, before he was finally dressed. He kept the king's robe rather than his silk finery; the Tower was not warm and comfortable, from what he'd been told. A few of his things were already there when he arrived, pants and shirts and a few books - just novels, none of his herb books - and of course none of his herbs or ledgers or anything of the sort.

He needed a plan, but as it stood he was tired, dreadfully so, and he ended up curled up on the uncomfortable bed in his small - drafty - Tower room, curled in on himself as he gave in to a certain childish desire to just cry.

He rose again a few hours later and started a small fire, dressed and washed. He was starving and a quick check from his window slit allowed him to discover it was nearing noon. A harassed servant arrived with a fairly boring lunch and he reheated the chicken bits over his fire when Emma strode into his room.

"It seems we are both in a bit of a fix then, Charles."

"You're here too, then?"

She shook her head and sat neatly on one of his chairs, picking at her own food with quiet disdain.

"You didn't do it, did you?"

"Of course not. But you're to be commended for assuming that was a possibility. No." She sighed. "The conspiracy - as it stands - is that I slept with Logan to acquire contacts in the army, having gotten the contacts I enlisted the assistance of a hired gun and used him to attack Kurt."

"Do they have any proof?"

"No. The Cardinal does not appear to need proof." Emma patted the chair beside her and Charles slid in, starting to chew on his food with some disinterest. "Thankfully in looking for his proof he will naturally find all manner of other things and it will take him some time. If I did not know any better I would think he was looking for evidence to frame us."

Charles frowned and took a bite of chicken. It was very bland. "Do we know better?"

"What do you mean?"

"I know he does not like me, but..." Charles shrugged. "He said I was practicing witchcraft on Erik, perhaps he thinks--" Charles shrugged. "That Erik's reign lost God's favor or something?"

Emma rolled her eyes. "God's favor." But then she seemed to think about it. "He did bring the Princess to His Majesty."

"It could have been an honest mistake," Charles answered. He did not like the Cardinal, but to assume the worst in him was against Charles' nature. "King's Disease and its mechanisms are not well known."

"He does not like you being close to the king."

"I'm a courtesan, immoral and degenerate and corrupting." He rolled his eyes. "His dislike of me can be ascribed to simple prejudice. Her Majesty the Queen also does not care for me."

"But Shaw has had her ear for years, he was her closest advisor for the decade and a half when Erik was too young to be king."

"Erik's rule ending will not place Shaw back in charge."

"Perhaps it could."

"I don't see how," Charles answered. "He's a Cardinal, he can't be married or have legitimate issue, and he's common born just like me."

Emma sighed. "Stop arguing."

"Alright. Let us assume one of two things: Either the Cardinal legitimately believes us to be at the head of a conspiracy to destroy Genosha, or he is at the head of it himself. In both cases uncovering who is truly to blame serves us well."

"Good." She prodded her chicken and ate another bite. "I've had Logan working on it since we woke."

"We?"

Her jaw clenched, defensive. "Well he rather attached to me to keep from getting married."

"Attached?"

Emma made a crude hand gesture that suggested they'd gotten rather attached in the pelvic region. He just had to laugh, laugh to keep from going a bit mad. "So are congratulations in order?"

"He has no interest in children, he would be a poor choice for Margrave."

He snorted again.

They kept each other company for almost a week and a half before anything changed. Erik did not visit him, no one else did either, and he and Emma did their best to plot eventualities and consider ways Shaw might have benefited from their current position.

Change came in the form of Logan - who apparently had finally used his position as Emma's favorite omega to whine his way in for sex, and Hank had come as his doctor. Emma retired to her private chamber and started to bang about rather obscenely loudly while Charles tried to ignore how much he missed Erik.

"I need more treatment for Kurt," Hank said without preamble.

Charles just nodded and got to his feet, taking the herbs Hank had brought and started to work.

"And I wanted to check on you. Are you alright?"

Charles started his work. "I'm stuck in The Tower, my lover hasn't visited me even though he's the king and of course he'd be allowed to see me, I'm... tired, Hank, not sleeping enough, and I'm worried they'll find something even though I'm innocent."

Hank pressed fingers to his forehead, followed by his lips. "You are a bit warm."

Charles blinked.

"Have you had any other symptoms?" Hank started to poke and prod him; Charles shook his head, ignoring the weirdly impersonal way that Hank put his hands on Charles, pressing against his throat, under his arms, and on his abdomen.

"Yes, thank you, Hank. I'm fine, there's nothing wrong with me and I assume from all that fiddling that there's no reason to suspect infection?"

Hank shook his head and sat down next to him in a chair. "No, you seem fine, nothing out of the ordinary. I wouldn't even call it a fever, just a touch hot."

"Maybe it's because it's a bit cool in here?"

"I'm demanding you get more blankets, Charles, this is unacceptable. Are you eating?"

"Yes, mother," Charles answered. "The food is awful, but I am eating it."

Charles continued to work on the herbs.

"What is going on, Hank?"

Hank wiggled slightly, looking awkward and nervous. "Well... I heard from the Princess - who sends her thanks, she does not believe the accusations against you - that Shaw believes you have placed the king... under a spell. The king is not well."

Charles made a throaty sort of whimper in response.

"He is not ill he just... he does miss you, Charles. The Cardinal insists this is a sign of your sorcery, the Queen agrees and so the King has not come to see you in order to prove that you've not bewitched him."

So he would have to go without Erik. He hated the idea, but he was... proud of Erik for doing so. It would not help with Shaw, but it would not hurt, either. "Will you see to it that he knows I forgive him?"

Hank nodded, roughly. "Of course. Do you need anything? I am a physician."

"Moira, actually, if you can manage, and food, maybe at the same time, perhaps the palace staff could provide the food not whatever idiot thinks they know how to cook in the Tower?" His stomach gurgled slightly in response and he patted it. "See?"

Hank just shook his head, laughing despite the ridiculousness of the entire situation. "I'll see what I can do."

Emma returned a few hours later, breezing in and sitting down as though she hadn't been fucking Logan as loudly as possible for hours next door. Charles rolled sulkily towards the wall when she came in.

"Oh, Sugar, if I thought you wanted it from me, I'd offer, but pillow talk is the best time for conspiring." She handed him a thin sheaf of papers that contained very little of importance. There was no progress on finding the assassin, no progress on ‘decoding’ more of Charles and Emma’s notes, and no progress on proving any of Charles' herbs might be used for poison or any other application.

"How did you get these?"

"Logan."

"They didn't check him before he came?"

"You don't want to know."

Charles grimaced and continued to flip through he pages, sitting up now, still feeling sulky. "So no progress, that's... good?" He considers. "It's a point against Shaw potentially being the organizer, though, isn't it? He would have been forging evidence all over the place if he wanted us killed quickly."

Emma nodded. "So, either he's not organizing this or he hopes to have us around for some other purpose."

"Or he wants to make a convincing forgery."

"Or we're not the only factors in play."

"Too many options," Charles concluded. "We need eyes on the Cardinal, Gabriel Summers, maybe?"

Emma nodded. "He can't arrest all our eyes, thankfully."

"I'm worried about Erik," Charles finally admitted. "All of this... no matter who's doing it, it begins and ends with hurting Erik, ending his dynasty."

"We won't let that happen, Sugar, I promise."

~18~


The waiting was killing Charles. It had been weeks, and even though Moira had come and gone twice - with better food, and Hank had come and gone once a week for seven weeks for medicine for the prince, and Erik had continued to not come, it seemed as though nothing was happening. He'd even been allowed out of the Tower twice - with Emma - to go to services, even though neither of them were feeling particularly well inclined towards the Cardinal or his faith at the moment.

He could feel the stress ravaging his body. He'd never thought himself particularly prone to stress but it was driving him to distraction, he found himself waking early, unable to even consider food while nausea played with his body. If he was lucky he could tolerate food by midday but it was never what he wanted.

Moira had successfully sold most of their goods, enough that Charles knew she would be more than taken care of if the worst happened. The prince was improving enough to wake but he could not identify his attacker, there were no obvious attempts to forge evidence against him and Emma, although Shaw had been at least so kind as to point out the areas that were 'clearly code' outlining the pre-planned contingency of the assassination.

"You look a bit gaunt," Moira told him.

He shrugged; he'd been eating as well as he could in the Tower. "Any news, love?"

Moira shook her head, but Charles could read the evasiveness in it, she didn't want to talk about it.

"I'm stuck in a little box; please, entertain me."

"Sean... Lord Cassidy, apparently his fortune has evaporated. His father is so deep in debt he's all but sold Sean's younger sister to a merchant for the coin."

"Moira..." No wonder she hadn't wanted to mention. "I'm sorry. Which merchant?" He did know most of them, perhaps he could speak to them, one merchant man to another; his omega status would not help, but hopefully his status as king's favorite would eventually be restored and would hold some weight.

"That's why Sean's been looking for marriages, to get enough coin to nullify the necessity of his sister's marriage."

"Which merchant?" He asked again.

She clearly didn't want to say. "I'm sure you can guess."

"Cain?"

She nodded.

Charles felt... well he always felt a bit ill now, but the twist of morning tea and bacon and the idea of his step-brother ever being allowed to bed an omega made him run for the privy and vomit. Barely digested food and bright green bile couldn't exorcise the sick feeling from his gut, and he threw up again, more food and more bile, before his stomach finally stopped clenching and forcing him to be ill.

"Charles!?" She was behind him a few moments later, rubbing his back and making sure his hair didn't fall in front of his face. "Have you been vomiting?"

He shook his head. This was the first time the little nervous nausea had ever made him vomit. He laughed, bitter. "Weak little omega, poor constitution."

"Don't say things like that." She continued to rub his back. "I'll get you Hank, you must be ill."

He nodded, but as she stood he wrapped a hand around her wrist. "Moira, we'll... you'll do something, you're a merchant now too, surely you can manage to earn some coin in the south, enough to get the Cassidys back their daughter so that Sean does not need to marry someone for money."

"The contract doesn't go for another year, so there's time, she's too young thankfully, but that means I have to be working, with a ship, and with you. You're stuck here."

Charles had never felt so helpless in his life. He didn't like it. Normally these sorts of setbacks would have only disturbed him slightly, but for the past weeks every minor hurdle seemed insurmountable and every time he tried to consider ways out his mind came up blank. He felt as though his mind was not quite his own, drained and lazy. "I will get out, soon."

He brushed his teeth and curled up back in bed where Moira rubbed his back lightly until he drifted off to sleep and Hank returned, later, to wake him.

"Moira said you're ill."

"I just threw up," he said, morose. "Once." Twice really, but only at one time. It wasn't technically lying.

"How long have you been feeling sick?" He pressed a hand to Charles' head. "You still are a bit warm. Strip down, I want a look at you."

Charles climbed out of bed and grumbled about cranky, demanding alphas and their ridiculous behavior. Clad on only breeches, he looked down at himself and saw a bit of what Moira meant when she said he'd gotten gaunt, his ribs were a bit more prominent than usual - as were his hip bones even as his hips seemed a bit heavier. He frowned. Hank nudged him down on the bed and then started to poke his neck and his armpits, traveling across his chest. Charles winced.

"Tender?"

"Define tender," Charles bit out, annoyed.

Despite his cranky behavior, Hank continued to press against his belly and stomach and then lower. When he finished he leaned back in his chair and frowned.

"What?" He sat up, a bit nervous now. "Is something wrong?"

Hank shook his head. "I don't... think so... I'd like you to pee for me."

"How peculiar," Charles sniped at him, annoyed, but Hank waved a container at him a few moments later and Charles took it and headed to the privy while he waited for... nature to take its course. "You're thinking something, though. I can tell. You have a horrible face for ventiuna or any other card game."

"Nothing definite." Charles could tell it was a hedge. "I think you're malnourished, just a bit."

"I haven't eaten anything resembling a fruit or a vegetable in weeks," Charles grumbled.

"What!? Charles that's very serious you need to--"

"Hank. I just mean it's been these mushy greens and this horrid apple once."

"Oh." Hank sounded suitably mollified. "I want you to have a better diet, though. I'm going to speak to the kitchens again."

Charles grumbled while his bladder finally seemed to cooperate. The damn thing was constantly cooperating in the middle of the night when he was trying to get rest, but apparently he had performance anxiety. "You really think I'm malnourished? I've eaten worse when I was a kid. Once, I only ate grilled chicken for a month." His mother had hated that.

He handed over the urine to Hank and then sat down on the bed. It wasn't as though there was much else to do.

"I want you out in the yard more, stretch your legs. I'll order Emma out too, I should... check to make certain she's not suffering similarly."

"She's not," Charles answered, immediately. "Fit as a fiddle."

"Still, it will help make my case for better treatment. That damned Cardinal and his..." Hank trailed off again, sighed.

"Erik still won't see me," Charles said. It didn't even really matter in a general sense. He knew what was keeping Erik from him, that Cardinal and his damn rules and his investigation.

Hank patted him on the shoulder and then handed a piece of paper over to him and Charles unfolded it neatly. He recognized Erik's writing immediately.

Charles. I wish that somehow being king made things any easier. I have asked Shaw to desist with his ridiculous investigation but he continues to claim my bewitchment, and the bewitchment of Princess Raven. I know it is nothing but I cannot deny that part of the court agrees. I must be strong for Genosha, so we can stand against Klettgau as they continue to agitate. If my faculties become doubted, I will lose all their respect. All my love, Erik.

Charles took the letter and carefully folded it up again, pressing a soft kiss to the page. "Idiot."

Erik always did things his own way, unfortunately.

"You will not tell him I am ill. I don't need him worrying about me." He was doing enough worrying for himself, unfortunately. It continued to upset his digestion.

"I'll see to Emma and get you more food for today. I want you to get more sleep."

It was easier said than done, but Hank tucked him under blankets and he did sleep for at least a few hours, when he was shaken awake by Emma.

She was carrying an entire basket of fruit, some lettuce and carrots and even an onion. "I hope he doesn't expect me to eat that raw." Still he rolled over and sat at the table and grabbed a carrot, wiped off the worst of the dirt and then ate a large bite. "Did he make you pee?"

She snorted. "I've heard from Gabriel."

Emma had his attention now, fully. "Hank could have told me that, too."

"You're distressed. He did not want to work you up." Perpetually well-manicured fingers plucked a peach from the tray and began to cut it into neat slices, half of which made their way in front of Charles and he ate them a bit like a sullen child. "He believes Shaw may be employing a counterfeiter."

Charles straightened, picked a slice of peach and started to eat it while he waited for more.

"Apparently some sort of idol has been found in your room."

"An idol? Please. I have nothing that might even be construed as that, and even if it were so it's probably some harvest god or a fertility god or something completely innocuous." He shook his head, annoyed at Shaw's complete narrow-mindedness. "I could easily identify--"

"Well of course you could. That's the problem, maybe Moira could, too."

"Darwin might, if it were from the right area."

"He's also considered compromised."

"I didn't sleep with him," Charles grumbled. He didn't mind sleeping with people, but he'd only met Darwin after he and Erik's relationship had changed.

"Ah, yes, too hung up on his favorite little alpha."

"What?" Charles blinked. He might have felt sluggish and slow for the last few weeks but Darwin was an alpha, he wouldn't have fallen for another alpha.

"I thought you did not care about those things," Emma said, voice cool.

It took him a few seconds, as he realized first that Emma was first talking about Christian's situation, and then what that must have meant for Darwin, and then... and then who really was the most obvious choice for an alpha Darwin was close enough to to fall in love. "Alex?" More pieces clicked into place. "Is that why he didn't want to sleep with me?"

His dining companion snorted.

Still he frowned, it seemed as though today was the day of problems that he couldn't do anything about. Well, perhaps he could do something about that. He couldn't change how people felt about a relationship between two alpha males. "I'm confused why he wants me framed for witchcraft of all things, surely finding me guilty of poisoning someone or assassinating someone would be more damaging."

"I find it curious as well, and there hasn't been anything on me yet. To be honest... it might allow me the opportunity to get off free, claiming I was bewitched."

"If it comes to that, I want you to claim that." His stomach flipped annoyingly and he frowned; nervous and sentimental, lately, it was a bad combination. "Has the evidence gone to Erik yet?"

She shook her head. "I thought to ask Gabriel to destroy it, but it might be too much. He's a pious man, and he dislikes what the Cardinal is doing but there's only so much to be done."

"Is there anything... special about the charge? Something it gains him?"

Emma leaned back in her chair, and while she did, Charles continued to pick at his food and try to keep it down. His stomach still continued to be nervous and fluttery in an uncomfortable way that he didn't like. Perhaps Hank would have some potion or herb for the nausea tomorrow, it made it hard to think.

"All your possessions belong to the church if the charge is successful."

"I own nothing of particular value, some money, I don't own my father's house, or a business, or even the ship I rode south on. I have some books but none of them are unique or particularly valuable." He shook his head. "And he's already possessed most of my books."

"You... um." Emma didn't finish. Charles looked up, stomach sinking. "You are submitted to the church for reeducation at the hands of a church elder."

He tried to consider that for a moment; reeducation was quite a delightful turn of phrase as it stood, perhaps they would want him to be more pious, or simply be more committed to whatever cause Shaw supported. Shaw. The thought of the way Shaw's eyes raked over him when he was pulled out of Erik's bed came unbidden to the back of his mind, the idea of being at Shaw's mercy made him question what manner of education he might receive.

Bile rose up in his throat again, his hand clamped over his mouth in a desperate plea to his body not to vomit. His throat clenched, his stomach clenched, it was as though his entire body was clenching in opposition and he disliked it immediately.

"Charles?"

He waved a hand at her, brushing away her concern, before he let his hand fall and brush against the table. "All the more reason for you to claim I enticed you."

"There is no good reason for the Cardinal to want you in his purview. The same things that have forced you to become a courtesan in the first place make you not particularly worthwhile as an underling."

Charles made a face. "Thank you for that, Emma, but I am concerned the Cardinal's interest in me may be... personal."

Emma's lip curled in disgust.

"Still, it gives us a good idea what might be coming. What proof is required to convict me?"

"Three testimonies will be all he needs after the idol."

"What if I contest the idol's nature?"

She shrugged. "Do you think anyone will care? The south is a land of dark magic and dark people and dark ways."

Ignorance. Charles sighed. "So... what?"

"Hopefully no one feels particularly bewitched by you, Charles."

He wanted to throw up again.

Hank woke him viciously early, before the sun was even up the next morning.

"Charles! Charles!"

He paid Hank back for the interruption by vomiting on his shoes. Hank didn't even act distressed, just concerned and worried and he brushed Charles' hair out of his eyes while he went to clean up the vomit. "Oh god, I'm dying, aren't I?"

"What? No! You're not dying, this is all perfectly normal."

"Perfectly normal for what. I'm stressed, I feel terrible now, I'm going to get... locked in a box and..." He leaned back on his bed and felt tears start to run down his face. "And why am I crying at any provocation?!"

"Hormones."

"Well of course I have hormones!"

"You should have told me you knew you were pregnant, Charles."

"WHAT?!" He stumbled out of bed. "What? No. Definitely not. I mean... yes, Erik and I... but only once!"

"As I'm certain you learned as a child, once is sufficient."

"Look!" Charles hiked up his shirt and pointed to the slight swell at his belly. "It's just... a belly, from not getting out and exercising." He even sucked it in, demonstrating, and was annoyed to note that it didn't suck properly and was seriously undermining his very rational argument about why he wasn't pregnant. He wasn't quite certain why he was arguing with Hank. Two months ago he would have been thrilled by the news, but now his lover had all but abandoned him to the mercy of the church, he got to see no one but Emma on a regular basis, he felt swamped and overwhelmed and tired and cranky and flighty and over-emotional and he just couldn't think.

"Charles." Hank took him by the shoulder and they sat on the bed together. "I know... I know you've wanted children for a while, but... if you don't want one now there are options."

"Absolutely not!" He put his hand over his stomach, protectively. He might have been feeling a bit confused but he did know, however mildly inopportune, he wanted his child. He just... wanted to be alive to have it. "Hank I..." He ran his fingers through his hair, trying to think through the consequences and repercussions. It was a mess. "God, what better proof I'm practicing witchcraft than a one-off conception. Damn."

"Witchcraft?"

He waved a hand, dismissive.

"Well you need to tell the King."

"No, not now, not like this. He... he needs to be level headed and this won't help." Charles frowned. "I'll have to tell Emma, she'll help me hide it, and... I'll eat more, like you said." His hand went down to his belly again, eyes closed, wishing he could feel it in some way other than vicious nausea battling with his stomach. "I always wanted children."

Hank nodded. "I know."

"I've wanted Erik's children for a while..." He snorted. "You are... horribly inconvenient and I love you anyway."

"I assume you are talking to..." Hank gestured to Charles' belly.

"You are horribly inconvenient too, Henry McCoy." He leaned his head against Hank's shoulder. "I can't believe... If this child is a boy and an alpha, I'll need to seriously reassess my opinion of getting my belly painted by random southern medicine men."

Hank wrapped an arm around Charles' shoulder and kissed his forehead. "I am going to tell the Cardinal and the King that you have a nutritional deficiency that is being aggravated by the Tower, and that you need to return to your rooms in the palace immediately and be put on a more nutritious diet. I want you walking more, not laying in bed, no alcohol. You are naturally very slim, Charles, you only have a few weeks before it will become obvious. You cannot corset yourself either, to keep it... under wraps."

He nodded, taking it all in, the strange unrealness of the knowledge. Hank went over more and more guidelines, finally forcing him into a chair and eating.

After Hank left, he ended up laying back down on his bed, hand ghosting over the very faint bump. He'd barely noticed it, in truth, it was... admittedly a bit odd, but not outside of the shape his body took naturally, especially since he hadn't been out walking as much as he normally might have been. A child. Or, what would be a child months from now. The idea had not yet sunk in. He attempted to make it do so, to grasp the reality of the situation.

A child. An entirely new person, half Erik's and half his own. His fingers clenched against the swell of his belly, unthinking. He would not let Shaw - he would not let anyone - ruin this for him. The slight mental sluggishness and his emotional behavior made some sense now, at least. He stood, walked around a bit.

"Not a good time, your father must be at the top of his game, you know."

He frowned. He wondered if it was considered odd to talk to the bump that represented a tiny speck of human life. He decided he had run out of good sense at least a week ago and continued to yammer. He talked about hating it in this damn little room, he talked about being upset with Erik - an emotion he'd not really admitted to himself until that moment, he talked about wanting to show the child the world, he wanted to show them everything.

Frustration, fear, anger, worry, looming dread, complications, and unforeseeable factors, he let it all... slough off.

Eventually he found himself leaning up against the stone wall of the room, looking out the slit window, eating a plum, and finding himself reciting the story of how he met Erik - omitting the raunchy details for delicate prenatal ears.

"Now I know you've truly gone mad, Charles," Emma said when she walked in and found him later. "It seems two months was your limit. I can't say I blame you with His Majesty avoiding you like something contagious." She didn't sound cruel about it, but she came over and wrapped her arm around his shoulder and pulled him in to a hug. "You must not allow yourself to snap, we have more work to do."

"I'm pregnant."

Emma was quiet for an exceptionally long amount of time. "Well, it's not mine."

"Thank you. I'm well aware of who the alpha is. I need to hide it; the Cardinal cannot know and the king must keep a clear head. If he gets upset, or over-protective, or anything else of the sort, the Cardinal will use it against me. Hank is going to get us out of the Tower. I am 'nutritionally deficient' in his medical opinion."

"That will make it easier to get in touch with certain individuals." Charles nodded. "But harder to hide, you're more likely to be seen."

She stepped away from him, pressed her hands against his sides and then his waist, before finally nudging his belly. He had dressed in a neatly fitting vest, which unfortunately would only fit for a few more weeks before the fabric started to pucker at the waist. Emma was obviously thinking similar thoughts. She brought her hands up to his rib cage.

"There are several styles for the pregnant omega, but if you adopt one you might as well announce it with a little card." She sighed. "They're all so dreary though, mostly you're just expected to stay in and look demure for your alpha."

Charles' stomach twisted, thinking about Erik, but Emma's brusque businesslike demeanor kept it from being too painful.

"Maybe a high waist and something flowing? It will only work for a little while."

"Only you would decide the most important part of being pregnant would be what to wear due to the occasion."

"Sugar, that's why you come to me."

~19~


The move back into the palace took less than a day, apparently the Cardinal was only slightly difficult to persuade, and after he had agreed, Erik had voiced no objection. It meant he spent less time with Emma - who was now in her quarters down the hall rather than in the same room complex - but it was nice to have a bit of space.

It was barely a week before Emma had them both a variety of high-waisted items fashioned. Emma's were typical of her, white, well fitted, and barely covered her bits, falling so high on her thigh even Charles felt a bit scandalized. He ended up in slightly more modest blue dresses with modified trousers that would likely serve him another month or so before they become too tight and hiding would become nearly impossible.

Emma particularly enjoyed wearing her outfit to church that weekend - much to the scandalizing of the Cardinal and the interest of a few of the omegas; perhaps they would start a fashion trend.

"Who likes corsets," Emma remarked to herself when they were hiding in Charles' room after service.

"You like corsets, they show off your... assets."

"That they do." She turned sideways, looking at herself in a mirror and smoothing the dress tight to her body. The whole point of the outfit was it didn't show off Charles' rapidly developing curves, but Emma liked flaunting her curves. "Maybe I could get Logan to wear one; easy access."

Charles rolled his eyes but came up to join her, tugging up the dress and wondering at the slight bulge that would not move despite his efforts to suck in his gut. Even with the trouser waist slung very low, barely clinging to his hips, they still covered half of the bump. He patted it gently. "I really do look like I just over indulged at a feast."

"Not for long, those trousers had to be taken out since last week." She hooked her finger into the band. They were a bit tight again, actually, would need to be taken out again.

Each passing day brought a tiny increment of growth, and the first week since he'd discovered the pregnancy made each fraction of an increment seem incredibly large. He hardly could have ignored this much longer than he had. He sighed.

In the palace, at least, he ate better, which, in turn, meant he gained a bit of weight that seemed unrelated to the baby. A few more weeks passed and even Moira had noted Charles seemed to have gotten a bit 'thick around the middle' which he ascribed, very pointedly, to his diet at the direction of a trained physician.

It had been... weeks, months since he'd been free of this oppressive worry, the Cardinal trying to frame him, Erik possibly slowly falling out of love with him, and although his stomach had mostly settled, his nerves were still high, and his hormones were still wild. His stomach gurgled slightly and he frowned at it. He'd just eaten a few hours ago.

Hank had told him it would likely be another month or so before the child started to move within him, but in Charles' slightly stressed flights of fancy it was his child and his nerves made manifest. "Yes, your alpha is a very cranky man who has a... very mean man for an advisor. I should have tried to get him kicked out when I had the clout."

The privacy of his own rooms meant he felt more comfortable foregoing trousers, the damn things had to be let out constantly and another layer of fabric just made the swell of his belly more obvious. When he stood straight it was impossible to ignore, even with the looser cut of the top. "Gorgeous little bastard." He ran a hand over his belly, flattening the fabric.

Charles headed out into his sitting room and took the chafing cover back off his plate and picked at some of the chicken while his stomach grumbled. "Yes, yes, I'm eating." He found he desperately wanted mangoes, though, and the nearest one was probably days away.

A soft knock on the door tore him away from his efforts to anthropomorphize his growling stomach. He checked his clothes, showing, but thankfully just barely. It was one of the benefits of having a slightly more robust ribcage than a woman might; it kept the draped shirt-dress from showing the swell even more prominently. It was likely Emma, but it always paid to be careful.

When he opened the door, however, he was face to face with the man he hadn't seen in weeks, the father of his child, and quite possibly the love of his life. He might have whimpered a bit, grabbed Erik around the waist, and possibly cried.

"Shhh..." Erik pressed him into the room, hands running down Charles' back, heading towards his waist, and Charles leaned in more, just enough to guard his sides from roaming hands. "Charles... I'm sorry."

The door closed behind them and Erik guided Charles to the sofa and sat them both down, hands continuing to travel and Charles wondered how he was supposed to arrange himself to avoid giving the entire game away. He ended up nudging Erik down, hoping he could sprawl over him and avoid hands on his waist. He was spending too much time over thinking, not enough time talking. "Erik, I..." He was crying again, damn hormones. "It's alright, truly."

"It's not alright, or... well, it is now."

Charles blinked, blinked again, his eyes looking up into Erik's. "Really?"

"Shaw has decided there is insufficient evidence and is going to drop the investigation."

He would have wept with relief if he weren't already crying. He could tell Erik, they could... see each other, hold each other; Charles burrowed into Erik's shoulder. "I missed you so much."

"Me as well, Charles, God, I..." His fingers reached up and untied the clasp on Charles' hair, running his fingers against Charles' scalp, soothing and relaxing all at once. "Having you for one night and then having you ripped away... I cannot handle that. You can't leave me any time soon. I can no longer do this without you. Please stay."

He thought of the life growing inside of him and it made him laugh, just slightly, in another month he'd be more than cumbersome, and he'd hoped to spend even longer in the south, there was no way he could think to leave now. "Not for many months, my king, Erik."

"I want... I need you by my side, back in my bed, back in my life..." The king dragged him back down, kissing, and his hand slid up his thigh.

"I see 'bed' rates above 'life'," Charles said, trying not to be testy but he hadn't seen Erik in months. His body was not so choosy, however, and he would have gladly spread out to be taken. "I... sorry." Somehow he could be nothing but gruff and annoyed even though he wanted to cling to Erik desperately.

"No, I... I deserve that." He went back to stroking hair, another hand rubbing circles into Charles' back. "I have missed you, and I have been faithful to you."

"Myself as well."

He finally got to look at Erik, he looked so tired; he was a young man, really only a few years older than Charles, barely in his twenties, but he looked so old right now, his eyes were saddled with dark circles under them, his eyes, which were gleaming for Charles still looked tired and worn, his shoulders slumped, there were the beginnings of creases in his brow and at the corners of his mouth, as though he had been frowning almost constantly.

"The Cardinal is away for a few weeks, he is... seeking a new omega for me, but when he returns I have demanded he provide proof of your crimes immediately or he release you." Erik nodded. "I should have done this weeks ago but..."

"Your mother does not care for me, the Cardinal thinks I'm a witch, and you were concerned the courtiers would think so as well." He closed his eyes, leaning against Erik's throat and kissing very softly. "I am not happy, but... I think eventually I can accept that it was needed."

They talked, finally, again, like they hadn't talked in months.

"I have... been reconsidering Genosha's relationship with the church in the form of Cardinal Shaw." Charles' fingers clenched around Erik's waist. "He does not allow me to marry you, he... accuses you of witchcraft with no cause, accuses you of attempted assassination with no cause, and... your council has been wiser than his for some time."

"Perhaps... there is another Cardinal you can show favor to instead?"

They discussed options lightly, there were only a few in Genosha, and most of them were of a mind with Shaw. Charles wished he had an option for Erik, something that would make it easier to decouple Shaw from Erik and his family; it was hard not to see the slow drain on Erik, possibly even Genosha.

"The church will not be pleased," Erik said, finally.

Charles didn't know what to say, so he kissed Erik's chest very softly and nuzzled. "Maybe they won't mind." It was a fool's hope. He laughed, a bit, at his own naivety. "You're doing this for me, aren't you? You're doing this because..."

"Because... I'm going to run through Cardinals until I find one who lets me have you."

"You don't have to," he said, even as hope burned in his chest. "You have a country, it's far more important than me."

Erik didn't answer with words, just dragged Charles up his chest and kissed him, licked into his mouth and ran his hands down Charles' back, squeezing ever so slightly on Charles' ass. He tried not to think about how much rounder it had gotten lately, wasn't even certain why he was still trying to hide the pregnancy but for the just... the worry, he knew Erik wanted a child but this all seemed so much, the instinctual response to hide himself was becoming a bit overwhelming. Still, he wasn't going to deny the delight of Erik under him and they kissed and ran hands against each other, and Charles tried to suck in his increasingly unhideable stomach.

"Love you," Charles panted when they finally broke apart again. He wanted to take Erik back to his bedroom, to make love with him, but... instead he curled up on his lover's chest, tired, achingly so. Erik brushed his fingers along Charles' thigh and they rested there, lazy. He considered it, just telling Erik... maybe he should have as soon as he'd known... He just didn't know, now. It had made sense when he wasn't completely certain of Erik's feelings, now, however, it seemed rather certain Erik loved him...

Erik leaned up and kissed his temple. "I want to stay... but apparently countries do not run themselves and my cousin just lost his father; mother's seeing to it that he's settled."

"Cousin?" Charles asked, stretching slightly, realizing it would cause his shirt to be pulled tight and stopped.

"Yes, distantly, through my father..." Erik shrugged. "His name is Joseph. I don't keep track of such things but I suppose he would be my heir at the moment."

Charles blinked. "I'm sorry, I'm sure he's a good kid."

"Maybe when you're no longer under suspicion you can get to know him some." Erik sighed and kissed Charles' lips slightly. "I'll see you again soon."

Erik showed himself out and Charles ended up leaning back on the couch and just dozing, slightly; he was too tired lately.

He tugged a blanket up around his neck and tried not to think impossible thoughts.

"I wish... I wish I could give your father an heir." He wanted that, desperately, but kings just did not marry commoners, and the Cardinal apparently agreed. "Perhaps you'll be a Lord or Lady." He rubbed the slight swell. "Regardless, you will be my Merchant Prince - or Princess - and will rule the skies and ports with an iron fist for your fathers." It was the least he could give his child. "We will also make certain that Aunt Moira's lover does not lose his sister to your horrible... no, not even your Uncle, the wicked Cain Marko."

He snorted.

"I don't know if I can trust this, though..." He said, hand snaking up his shirt. "The Cardinal has kept me under lock and key for almost three months, and now, suddenly, he's going to release me? What's changed? Has he really given up on blaming me for Kurt's attack? Who attacked Kurt? It was someone in the palace." He hated not knowing the answer.

Emma interrupted his thoughts less than an hour later by barging in. "You look particularly pleased with yourself."

"Erik visited."

"Ah." She swept in and sat down nearly on his feet. "Well... Logan says the Cardinal has left for a few weeks."

"To find a new consort for the king." Charles ran his tongue lazily over his lips as he considered. "He said... the Cardinal will be dropping the investigation against me, and I can only assume you as well. I do not quite know what to make of it."

"It sounds dangerous, sugar."

He'd thought as much, in the back of his mind. "Something will happen then, soon."

"Likely before the Cardinal gets back, maybe sooner."

"I almost wish we could send Logan to Erik's bed." He hated the idea of Logan anywhere near Erik, but he knew the man was a soldier.

Emma sniffed. "Absolutely not."

Charles looked up at her and blinked owlishly. "Oh."

She crossed her arms in front of her chest and didn't look at him, rather pointedly if Charles did say so himself.

"Not his bed, then," Charles conceded, easily. "But he is a soldier, and... perhaps with your growing personal involvement he may be the only one we may trust completely."

Emma nodded stiffly. "You are right. I will make sure he sees to the king."

They fell silent for some time. Usually they would have any number of words between them, they could talk on any number of topics, and yet now Emma had little to say. Charles found himself sitting, hand pressed to the firm swell he had come to think of as his future child. "Do you love him?"

Emma didn't answer.

Charles didn't press.

"He is occasionally thoughtful."

She had not answered his question at all, although Charles supposed that meant that she was unsure of her answer. Emma did not like to seem ill informed, especially about her own motivations. Charles wondered how that had happened, but it seemed useless to wonder about right now. Whether he would make a poor Margrave or not, it seemed Emma had become at least a bit taken with him, more than she'd ever been with Charles. He reached out and pressed a hand to her shoulder and she accepted that moment of comfort from him without protest.

Her shoulders straightened, shrugging off his touch. "I believe whatever is being planned is going to happen soon."

"I'm... worried for Erik." Charles pressed a hand against his belly, as though that would somehow ward Erik from harm.

Emma nodded.

"Apparently a cousin of Erik's, Joseph, has come to the palace."

Emma's face grew icy. "He is... young, impressionable, and the next in line for the throne."

Charles frowned. "Do you think... Erik used to be that way?"

"I know he did," Emma answered, smoothly. "My father... Winston, said that the boy was so reliant on the Cardinal that he might as well have worn the miter while Shaw wore the crown."

Charles knew with sudden, icy certainty that he had changed all of that. Perhaps he'd begun by enticing Erik with his body, and then his mind, and then his body again, but he had changed Erik, however subtly, turned him away from the Cardinal. Perhaps that had put Erik in more danger than he had ever thought possible. "Damn. Erik was so content to know I would soon be released..." Charles had been so content as well. "I do not think he even has considered the possibility there is more at work."

"I'll have Logan on this, Charles. Do not worry."

It was impossible not to. Even though he knew he was courting disaster he left his rooms several times over the next two weeks, roaming all over the palace, careful to bring his hands nowhere near his belly as the guards to his room followed him closely in his rounds. By Hank's count - which for some reason began two weeks before conception - Charles was pressing quickly into the fourth month of pregnancy and it was now impossible to mistake the growing swell of his stomach for anything other than what it was. He had gained some weight in the face, and the hips, but not nearly enough to account for the pronounced mound of his belly. Only his exceptionally baggy clothes let him continue to hide, and only just barely.

The exercise let him know who his friends were, who came to see that he was alright, and who commented that he looked haggard. Far too many people did not. He tried not to let it bother him.

"Charles..." Moira saw him as he entered the kitchen. "You look like crap."

The two of them stole away with a few plums and then out into the gardens.

They didn't talk much, at first, Charles eating slowly as the two of them circled outside. He was getting tired - wanted to sit down - but he knew that would be unwise, any passing person might see, might start to suspect... He sighed.

"Something's wrong," Moira said, checking over her shoulder and down the garden paths.

He wondered if she was speaking about his awkward health, but he stayed silent.

"The kitchen got a delivery earlier today, we thought it was rosemary." Moira tugged a sprig out of her sleeve; it did look like Rosemary.

Charles took it and sniffed. "But it was bitter when you cut it?" He asked. He wanted to take one of the thin pointed leaves and chew it, but he didn't dare while pregnant.

Moira nodded.

"Did you taste it?"

She shook her head. He handed back the sprig to her.

"I believe it is poison."

"Several of the cooks tasted at least a sprig!"

"It's of no concern in its current state, it takes more processing to become lethally potent." He frowned and looked at the sprig again. "Would you taste it for me?"

"Charles Francis Xavier," she looked at him, stormy. "You told me it's poison and you want me to eat it? Why don't you?"

Too many answers, all of them revealing more than was probably wise. "It's... recommended I stay away from toxins in my current condition."

"You are sick," she hissed. "The kitchen has been talking, you eat and eat but you look so pale and tired all the time; they're worried about you."

"I am sick, it's nothing to be concerned about, but... I need you to taste that sprig for me, tell me anything you taste, anything at all. I need you..." He took her shoulders in his hands. "I need you to trust me, but not ask questions."

"Charles, you're my friend, of course I'm going to ask..."

He shook his head.

"You'll tell me... eventually, won't you?"

"Yes."

She plucked a leaf from the sprig and sniffed it.

"Bite it, on your front teeth, tear it and then taste it..." He tapped the tip of his tongue. "Right up here."

She did so, and spit it out a split second later. "It tastes vile."

"Burnt? Or a bit acidic?"

He watched Moira run her tongue along her teeth, tasting the oils of the herb that were still left there. She winced again. "Acid, I guess?"

"Describe it," he said, getting more and more concerned.

"Not... citrus, like... vinegar? A very harsh one." She closed her eyes for a few moments while she tried to sort it out. "Yes, and bitter."

"Have you gotten more goods for another trip south?"

Moira looked at him, awkwardly, surprised by the change in topic. "Yes, I did, but..."

"I need you to go, take Lord Cassidy, Alex, Armando... and leave Genosha for a time."

"Charles, you're scaring me."

"As well I should be. Moira, there are... a great many people for whom I am concerned, myself included, and I can only watch so many at the same time."

"We could help you," Moira insisted.

Charles leaned in, pressed his lips near her temple. "Moira, I am pregnant with the king's child, I have reason to believe there is a plot to assassinate him at work, possibly with the intent of framing me, and the Cardinal has taken no pains to disguise his dislike for me, and for anyone who has helped me, so, yes, please, I know you could help, love, but I must ask you to leave."

Her hand came to his waist, the heel of her palm pressing just lightly at the edge of the swell of his belly, and she gasped. "Charles."

"You must not tell anyone, and you must leave, please, for me? On our friendship?"

"On our friendship," she agreed after too long a pause.

Moira and the others had left Genosha before nightfall, and Charles felt horribly alone, but he could not protect them while worrying about everything else. It was not a choice he wanted to make, but like so many in his life before, it was needful. His oldest friend would be safe.

All that remained was to protect his king.

Comments

( 22 comments — Leave a comment )
furius
Feb. 6th, 2012 01:32 am (UTC)
I love this plot and I love that your Erik, for all the love he bore for Charles, retain huge blindspots and is confused when situations become slightly complicated. It's just...very XMFC.

Inconvenient pregnancies, false accusations, unsympathetic church AND queen mother, the Obstacles are becoming overwhelming but I'm sure Charles can overcome them. *hopes*

I love the beginning scene by the way, the incredible confusion and anger and terror are all there..

(And thank you for not making the imprisonment darker..because I'm tense enough as it is..*bites fingernails*)
pookaseraph
Feb. 6th, 2012 01:37 am (UTC)
Yes, it's actually my (much fluffier) variation on The Divorce. Erik will definitely dump Charles due to certain inconveniences, it's within his character. *Thankfully* we're working through that.

And yes, the Obstacles are... well they are all stacked up and I will knock them down in the next part (which will hopefully not be too huge because the longer it has to be the slower it gets to you, my dear readers)

Great!

(And yes, I just... can't do creepy/dark imprisonment, it's not my style and I think it would take this from slightly-tense-mostly-happy to OH GOD DARK! I'd thought to put Charles in like a dungeon, but really a more 'royal' prisoner - in this case b/c he's the king's lover - would be somewhere more like the Tower - cramped and sucky, but not a true dungeon)
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pookaseraph
Feb. 6th, 2012 01:39 am (UTC)
I love Emma, I'm sorry, he's 100% one of my favoritest characters I've taken away from XMFC which... is funny because the writing on her was not good and JJ (and the direction) was also not good on her. I am in love with the idea of Emma so she gets a lot of love from me. This is definitely the fic of some of the ladies getting to be BAMFs, Raven didn't get much - she was a bit of a mom-BAMF - but Moira and Emma were totally badass in this.

YES! It was mentioned in passing before, but YES! Such an omega, I was joking around with
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I love Emma, I'm sorry, he's 100% one of my favoritest characters I've taken away from XMFC which... is funny because the writing on her was not good and JJ (and the direction) was also not good on her. I am in love with the idea of Emma so she gets a lot of love from me. This is definitely the fic of some of the ladies getting to be BAMFs, Raven didn't get much - she was a bit of a mom-BAMF - but Moira and Emma were totally badass in this.

YES! It was mentioned in passing before, but YES! Such an omega, I was joking around with <lj-user = "afrocurl"> if I should have him and Emma have like adorable baybees together or not because Emma/Logan babies? OH GOD.

I'm sorry, *pets your brain* too much plot, I understand, plot-poisoning, take 2 PWPs and call me in the morning ;)
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pookaseraph
Feb. 6th, 2012 01:56 am (UTC)
Ug, damn it, just noticed my html fail in my comment! SAD! NOW I CANNOT FIX IT! Anyway, yeah I just love the idea of her, what she represents, etc, and it works for me. I want to play with her whenever I have a chance. January just came off a little too wooden for me to super love her.
miss_poste
Feb. 6th, 2012 01:43 am (UTC)
This was all sorts of exciting and dramatic and I felt like I should be reading it through my fingers. As Furius said, Erik is very XMFC in his blinkers. At least here he knows he's in need of guidance. I did like the Henry VIII overtones in his new approach to Cardinals!

POOR CHARLES. Morning sickness during imprisonment. I felt so dreadful for him here. Unexpectedly pregnant, unable to tell Erik, on a starvation diet; it's all bad and I blame you, Shaw, you skeevy bastard (though it serves you right, Shaw - I knew if you dragged him out pre-tea you'd be bringing troubles on yourself). I thought Emma's sudden fashion trend was brilliant, and I love her unexpected relationship with Logan.

Everything's so complicated and getting worse and poor darling Charles has to try to sort it out while vomiting every few minutes. A sense of impending doom was all throughout this chapter.

*wrings hands, rubs Charles' back*
pookaseraph
Feb. 6th, 2012 01:54 am (UTC)
Yes, I'm just taking all the history porn and smooshing it together! Erik 'well if this Cardinal won't let me get married we're going to have a Church of Genosha!' COUNTER-REFORM THAT, BITCHES! Sorry, I think my mind just went to a strange place there. Erik definitely has places where he is really dumb, and yeah... we see it right here.

SHAW IS A SKEEVY BASTARD! All of Shaw's full wickedness will be revealed next part! (which is kinda slightly spoilered b/c of the prompt, but WHATEVER, we can pretend it's going to be a surprise). I feel bad for whumping, Charles, but it's in furtherance of plot! And yes! Emma/Logan was hilarious, idk it just came out of nowhere and fit.

I'm so glad the doom was sufficiently doomy, there was a great deal of time (and stuff) that had to pass and I'm glad it passed tensely instead of having my readers sitting back and watching the clock for when it would be over.
miss_poste
Feb. 6th, 2012 02:46 am (UTC)
COUNTER-REFORM THAT, BITCHES!

LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOL!!!
shadowserenity
Feb. 6th, 2012 02:25 am (UTC)
This Shaw is evil after all! Skeevy evil, too.

Oh Charles, pregnant, cut off from Erik for many months, poison in the palace - the plot thickens!

To wrap this up all in one more update, I think that'll be a fairly big chapter. But I want it so much, so I'll wish you happy writing!
pookaseraph
Feb. 6th, 2012 02:31 am (UTC)
SKEEVY EVIL! He's had a few moments of it before, mostly just touches of evil, but this is where he starts to show his true colors.

I know, poor Charles <3.

Yes! We have much to do still, but admittedly each of these parts has been around 10k even with my relatively sparse/spartan writing style (if I were a more verbose writer - which I am not, but more power to those who can be - this would be like 3x as long). I could babble about my desire to be a more verbose writer, but honestly I don't know what I would do with myself then.
ilykujk
Feb. 6th, 2012 02:35 am (UTC)
Everything was daisies and then in swoops Shaw! This plot is amazing, so much suspense with all of the questions that Emma and Charles were pondering over and then with everything picking up near the end. I love your build-up! And the politics! Like one commenter above said, I'm totally on broad with Erik going all Henry VIII on Shaw and just declaring his own faith (hopefully with less beheading).

Its also amazing how you've fleshed out all your supporting characters even though we don't get as much time with them. Oh, to be a fly on the wall of one of Emma and Logan's encounters.

As always, looking forward to more (or the end?)! And Erik's reactions to pregnant!Charles, I keep laughing when imagining Charles doing inventive contortions to avoid any accidental bumping in that scene with Erik, lol.
pookaseraph
Feb. 6th, 2012 02:48 am (UTC)
DAMN YOU SHAW! Yes, he ruins everything. I'm glad everyone's enjoying! I was worried people would feel not much happened but it was all very important stuff! We'll see if we need a whole new religion or not shortly ;) I'm sure Erik will have less beheadings either way.

I always worry about my supporting characters, ultimately I (almost exclusive) write Charles/Erik, but I like my characters to all have their own agency within the fics I write. I almost want to write a little ficlet for some of my sides, but this fic has eaten so much of my life. <3

The next part will be the end! Hopefully satisfying for all involved with plenty of adorable feels! Charles was like 'oh god, Erik likes to touch my belly, NO BELLY TOUCHING' (hint, Charles, there's a reason he likes rubbing your belly, bb) Poor Charles.
iheartdraco11
Feb. 6th, 2012 02:51 am (UTC)
THIS IS SO GOOD!!! PLEASE UPDATE I WANT MORE NOW!!! I am in my living room supposedly watching the Super Bowl with my family, but I am in the corner of the room sqeeing over this fic lol my parents that I was excited about a touchdown. Love this story so much :)
pookaseraph
Feb. 6th, 2012 03:02 am (UTC)
Last part will hopefully arrive around Friday assuming my writing goes at its usual speed! Ahahah, wow, more exciting than the Super Bowl is awesome. <3 Thank you.
afrocurl
Feb. 6th, 2012 03:09 am (UTC)
Oh wait, I forgot to say this before, but...

FUCK SHAW!!!!!
pookaseraph
Feb. 6th, 2012 03:23 am (UTC)
Yes! OR MAYBE NOT, HE MIGHT ENJOY IT!
afrocurl
Feb. 6th, 2012 03:30 am (UTC)
Well, here's, let's be more accurate--can I have something uncomfortable take him up the butt? Like a broom handle? Something with splinters?
pookaseraph
Feb. 6th, 2012 03:33 am (UTC)
This we can do, fairly certain Erik will be all for this after part7.
afrocurl
Feb. 6th, 2012 03:33 am (UTC)
Oh good. I'm not the only one who can get on that train...
heresie_irisee
Feb. 6th, 2012 11:12 am (UTC)
I didn't think i could get more in love with this fic but, well, here i am. You're winding the plot threads so very beautifully, it's just adelight to read.

I can't wait to see erik's reaction tao learning he's gonna be a father! I love charles talking to his bump and how much he loves his kid already (and i like how you got him to not have his moon tea. I completely forgot about it until he started getting morning sickness)

Shaw is such a creeptastic creep, god. The idea of him 'reeducating' charles... Ick. Great job with that.

Emma was brilliant (of course, charles wearing empire cuts by himself would be weird, but if there's two of them, it's just launching a fashion! And also, just. INTRIGUE MASTERS. Gotta love it.) and so were moira and hank. So excited to see the repercussions of the poisonning attempt.

I'm metaphorically drawing littlehearts allaround this update.

(sorryforthe typoes, i'musing my sister's ipad. You should be able to feel my burning hatred for touchscreen keyboards an ocean away.)
pookaseraph
Feb. 6th, 2012 12:58 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I hope you continue to love it all the way through to the end. I'm glad people are loving the plot because it's totally my kink. I'm a huge dork.

Yes! Erik will find out next part - pretty much everything (I hope) will be tied up next part. In my head, even though the kid's a horrible inconvenience right now there's just no way that Charles couldn't love his and Erik's baby, you know? Lovable idiot love of his life, and all that. Charles is going just a touch stir-crazy, so of course he's going to be talking to his bump! (Awesome, thanks! The intent was for it to be naturally busy and crazy enough that it would make sense for pretty much everyone, Charles, Erik, Shaw, and the audience that Charles skipped dosing himself - the chapter/part break helps a bit too ;). And Charles had been off the moon tea in the south as well because 'why bother if I'm not having sex?'

Creeper Shaw! I love the idea of him being around all BAMF looking in his Cardinal robes but secretly he's a total asshole creeper.

I vaguely pondered explicitly putting Logan in an empire waist cut gown-thing too, but that might have been just too silly (you can just imagine it, though! 'what are you looking at, bub? This is high fashion!) It's actually a shout out! Empire waisted gowns replaced corseting in France after the revolution, and even though there's a Tower of Genosha and Erik's acting a bit Henry VIII right now (in the reasonably good ways) Genosha is largely based on France, so just a little history of fashion shout out. (tangent: my focus in school was on social and cultural history, so I totally love this shit)

<3

(no problem, sometimes I post comments from my phone and I go back and look at the spelling and I'm like 'oh god, you look like a 5 year old!' but I understand it's the nature of the beast)
baehj2915
Feb. 8th, 2012 05:41 am (UTC)
Shit just got real. Srsly, you hiked of the drama a shit ton with the evil machinations of creeper Shaw. And I'm not normally a demanding reader, but Charles and Erik best get married by the end of this.

For reals tho, I enjoy this universe immensely. I loved all the descriptions of Charles' and Moira's merchant trip south. It was like a swashbuckly Pride & Prejudice moment, as they talked about their relationship troubles and macheted through tropical underbrush. Nice.

And Charles and Erik are so very dear to each other. Unh, just... I want a happy ending.

Love this.
pookaseraph
Feb. 12th, 2012 10:07 pm (UTC)
Eep, sorry I didn't respond to this sooner. Thank you! Hopefully you enjoy the conclusion!

I think if P&P had more swashbuckling that would be... awesome, seriously, hilarious image to me now.

<3!
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