New Beginnings

In the weeks that followed, much occurred for the team.

As predicted, following the battle, mankind learned about mutants. There were a series of mixed reactions from the humans, but it was only to be expected. Whether or not mutants would be fully accepted had yet to be seen, but whatever happened, no mutant would be alone. The first step had been made. No one could say for certain what would happen next.

Before long, those on Shaw's side had either vanished or were in custody. Charles had pulled some strings with the director of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the military division had locked away Shaw forever in a place that no one could retrieve him from. Hank and the others were staying on at the mansion, having finally found the place where they belonged and people to share it with.

Moira had been returned to the CIA with much of her memories erased as while they knew she was a good person, they couldn't risk her ever revealing their location or the rest of their secrets. As promised, Charles was turning the mansion into a school. Officially, it was to be known as a school for 'gifted youngsters.' Unofficially, it was to be a haven and training area for mutants. A newer and better Cerebro was being built, as was an infirmary, a landing pad for their new jet courtesy of Hank, a "Danger Room" was also in the midst of being built so that the students would have somewhere to train and learn to use their powers properly and so much more.

Erika and her children were staying at the mansion for the time being. Pietro and Wanda needed time and a sanctuary in which to recover from their ordeal and Charles's home was the best place for it. Much to Erika's relief, Pietro and Wanda were well-liked among the other mutants, and the two of them were coping well. Charles was quite fond of Wanda and Pietro and the feeling was mutual to the point where they had even started calling him 'Father.'

Erika and her children were quickly making up for lost time, though one wouldn't have thought any time was lost between those three, just by looking at them and seeing the happy family they were. With Shaw out of their lives for good, it seemed like they were finally at peace.

One afternoon, Erika and Charles were taking a stroll around the mansion's gardens together. Erika held Charles's arm and he was covering her hand with his own. It was a beautiful day and the garden was in full bloom, making the serenity and magic of the moment all the more beautiful.

"So, Charles, how many students do you think you'll have, once you finally get the school up and running?" she asked.

"More than you can handle, that's for sure," said Charles. "Did you hear they're calling themselves 'X-Men' now?"

"Yes, I did. It's a fitting name. They're your men, after all," said Erika, smiling. "Professor Xavier."

Charles nearly blushed as he chuckled. "Oh, please, they're not my men. And don't call me 'Professor Xavier' just yet. I may be a professor now, but it makes me feel so old. Next you know, I'll be going bald."

Erika laughed as they walk into the garden gazebo and she sat on the bench beside him. "Charles, for someone so smart, you really are failing to see all you've accomplished."

"I can't take all the credit. I didn't do it alone."

"That may be, but you were the one who blew the spark into a flame," said Erika. "Look around you. Our kind has gained a sanctuary and so many mutants now have a chance few of us had before. I am free of Shaw and have my children back at last. You saved us and you brought back what once was mine." If he had not been there, when she attacked Shaw's yacht, who knows what would've occurred. He'd saved them all in so many ways.

Charles smiled as he squeezed her hand. "It was no trouble. I'm glad I could be of help. Besides, they brought me to you, the most amazing woman I've ever known." A thoughtful look crossed his face. "So, speaking of your children, how're Wanda and Pietro doing?"

"Quite well," said Erika, smiling.. "They're moving past what Shaw did, making friends, learning new things and enjoying life here at the mansion. They've remade their uniforms and are now calling themselves the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver."

"That's excellent news. Although, I must say, I've noticed that Kurt and Wanda seem smitten with one another," said Charles, thoughtfully. "Not quite sure how Pietro's taken to that."

They both chuckled at that.

It was true. Pietro had always been quite protective of Wanda, as he considered himself not just her twin brother, but her bodyguard as well. But there was clearly a spark between Wanda and Kurt. While Kurt hadn't hesitated to help both Wanda and Pietro, he seemed quite taken with Erika's daughter. Kurt and Wanda were often going on walks or sitting in the library, talking and looking quite happy. Erika knew that if anything was going to happen between them, then Pietro wouldn't be able to stop it. However, she also had the feeling Pietro had no true objections to the match, knowing just what kind of person Kurt was.

Erika herself had no objections, as Kurt was a fine and honorable young gentleman and he'd won her approval long ago. She trusted him to take care of her daughter. Though, she might request that any courtship take a year or two as she had just gotten her daughter back.

Charles smiled again and then looked down at their joined hands. "Erika, once Pietro and Wanda are sufficiently recovered from their ordeal, what'll happen with the three of you?"

Erika shrugged. "I don't really know exactly. With all that's occurred of late, we haven't had time to discuss it yet. Why?"

"Well, I was hoping that you would stay here, you and your children," said Charles. "Wanda and Pietro can stay however long they wish, and may even become teachers one day. You could work with me, as Headmistress of the school. I think you'd enjoy it and you'd be brilliant at it."

"Perhaps I would," said Erika. Truthfully, she agreed with him. She was being evasive on purpose. Charles wasn't quite telling her something and she wanted to know what it was. "Perhaps we will. I can't say for certain right now, of course. What's really on your mind?"

Charles took a deep breath and then said, "Normally, I would've asked your father's permission before doing this, but in this case, I asked Pietro and he gave me his full blessing and his permission."

"What're you talking about?" asked Erika, slightly confused. What on earth would he need Pietro's permission and blessing for?

Charles reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out a small ring box. He opened the ring box to reveal a beautiful engagement ring. The sight of the ring shocked Erika to the core. While she loved him greatly, she had never once dreamed of him proposing.

"Charles," whispered Erika.

Charles knelt down on one knee and held up the ring. "Erika Lensherr, I love you more than life itself. Will you do me the honor of marrying me and becoming my wife?" he asked.

Tears came to Erika's eyes as she kissed him.

"Is that a yes?" asked Charles, when they broke apart.

"Why do you ask questions to which you already know the answers?" she teased. "Of course it's a yes. Yes, I will marry you, Charles."

Charles smiled as he slid the ring on Erika's finger before they kissed again. It was the start of a new beginning for them all.

The End