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Fourteen

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It was 1946, and his name was Charles Xavier, and he was fourteen.

He was fourteen and the war had ended just one year ago. He was fourteen and until two years ago he didn’t have a single family member who cared about him. He was fourteen and he’d just made one of the most important decisions in his life.

The entire family was gathered in the mansion’s living room, the one with a view of the grounds. His mother looked confused. His father looked annoyed. Raven was hiding, invisible, but he could her her thoughts wondering what it was he wanted to say so dearly but was so anxious about.

He had been pacing the floor, wringing his hands for the past twenty or so minutes. His father checked his watch. “Can we get on with it, Charles? I have work to do.”

“Er, yes, right, sorry.” He took a deep breath. “Mother, Father,” Raven, he added mentally, “I have something rather important to tell you. I hope it doesn’t come as too much of a shock and I do hope you’ll take it well.”

His mother’s eyebrows scrunched together and his father looked intrigued. He himself was sweating, far more anxious than he’d ever been in his life.

“Well, I’ve been thinking. The thing is, I’ve never really had a crush on a girl, you see, and—”

“Charles,” his mother interrupted, “there really isn’t an issue with that. The time will come. Besides, you should be focusing on your studies for now, not any trivial romances.”

“Right. Yes. Well, you see, I don’t think I ever will. Because the thing is—” he sped up the pace, sensing another interruption— “the thing is, I think I might be— well, I’m almost sure— I think I— I’m— I’m a homosexual.”

A beat.

“I like… I like boys. Not girls. Not like that.”

Another silent moment.

Then, all at once: “Absolutely not.” His father. “Well… well, we can fix that, you know?” His mother. What? Raven.

“There are camps, you know? And therapists, psychiatrists. They can help you. They can… they can fix you. They’ll know what to do.” “Absolutely not. No son of mine is going to be a pansy.” Charles, I’m on your side, but you know that’s illegal, right? “They can fix you, and then you’ll be normal, like everyone else.” “This is because of that stupid boy at school, isn’t it? He’s the one who converted you.” Charles, can you answer? “Have you tried… not? There’s that very nice girl in your science class, your friend, you know. You could go out with her. I’m sure that would cure this. It’s temporary.” “I’ll teach you to man up, boy.” Charles, are you okay?

His father moved towards him, fury on his features. His mother sat on the couch, frantically naming solutions, cures, anything that could “fix” him even though there was nothing broken. (Was there?) Raven was frantically thinking at him, asking for an explanation, an answer, asking is he okay? And he was crying and as always whenever there was too much going on he stopped being able to stop everyone’s thoughts and they all came flooding into his mind, so loud, so much anger and grief and worry and rage and sadness and concern and so fast and so loud and so so so much and-

“STOP.”

A moment.

He opened his eyes, tears still running down his cheeks, and saw his parents and Raven, sitting on the couch or lying on the floor as if they’d fallen there, a dazed expression on their faces. Then, they all came back to consciousness, Raven quickly changing back to invisibility so she wouldn’t be noticed. His father looked at his watch again. “Goodness, the time’s gone. Charles, I don’t know what it is that you have to say, but can you do it quickly? I have a dreadful amount of work to do and I’m sure your mother does too.”

…what just happened? Do they really not remember?

“Son, I don’t know why you’re crying, but whatever it is, you’re going to have to man up. Boys don’t cry.”

“Y- yes, sir.”

“What did you want to say, Charles?”

“N- nothing. It’s nothing. You should… go back to work.”

His father shook his head disapprovingly, got up and left. His mother followed suit. Raven morphed back into her usual blue self and scrambled over to him. “Charles, are you okay? Why’re you crying?”

“It’s… do you really not remember?”

“Remember what? I’m sorry, I think I zoned out for a minute there.”

“It’s… it’s nothing.”

“…okay. If you say so.”

The two children left the room. The incident would forever be carved into both of their minds, but Raven would only find out what happened many, many years in the future. Charles would remember the looks on his parent’s faces every time he tried to tell someone for a very long time, so he never would.

He was fourteen.