Wings of Destiny

Chapter 6: The Lonely Hearts Club

Disclaimer: I do not own any part of Shadow of Destiny, or Nicolas Flamel

** This chapter switches back and forth from Homunculus's point of view to Margarete's, so it might be a little bit confusing. Hopefully it won't, so I may not get so many flames. Oh, by the way, I have a feeling I'm misspelling Eckert's name. Can someone tell me, if I am, how to spell it correctly?**

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Margarete raced up the stairs of the Brum building, into the Art Museum section. She knew Mr. Eckert's office would be the room with the brown door, as it stood out from the rest. However, when she opened it, nobody sat at the office desk, save for a trio of kittens yawning and stretching lazily.

She closed the door, and was heading for the stairs when one of the kittens streaked through her legs and through one of the open doors down the hallway. Thinking Mr. Eckert may be in one of those rooms, she followed the kitten.

The room was bare except for the pictures that lined three walls. The fourth held the twin windows, which let the daylight stream through and illuminate the paintings. She looked at them each in turn, and the memories came flooding back. She traced a finger over the painting of the square, where a man was planting a tree. Suddenly she was more than appreciative that Carl Franssen ( A/N: I know I'm spelling this wrong, too) had been born in her time.

Then she came upon one title 'a grieving mother', and Margarete's heartbeat sped up. She recognized the woman's face, weeping over an empty bed (she recognized the room, too.). The woman was no mother-it was her aunt.

Margarete looked at the other paintings. Franssen painted things that really happened. Could her aunt really be grieving over her absence that much?

"Of course." She thought. "We were all each other had... Then again, no. She wasn't all I had. Dana was always there for me, too. Oh, how could I have been so stupid and selfish? They cared for me, and I left them, and now my aunt really is all alone!" Margarete fled down the stairs and out of the Brum building. She had an idea. She was going to make things right again.

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Margarete paused in the square, struggling to catch her breath. Perhaps from here she could find it. She looked around, desperately trying to remember. Five minutes later, something clicked, and she ran towards the old church.

"He said he left it outside town..." Margarete found the gate, pushed it open, and walked out.

It was a bit hard to find at first, but Margarete caught a glimpse of something glint under the cover of a couple of bushes. She pulled the brush away, revealing the complex mechanism of Hugo's time machine.

"I think I understand..." Margarete murmured as she brushed her fingers over the bronze surface. "The machine in our basement, father's old laboratory, that thing brought us to this time. And this... this takes us back." She pressed a random button, and the glass lid drew back with a soft hum.

"And where do you think you're going?"

Margarete jumped in alarm and whirled around, nearly stumbling over one of the machine's legs. Homunculus smirked arrogantly, his arms crossed over his chest. "Not home, I hope?"

At first Margarete was at a loss for words, her voice gone, as if it had fled from fright. She struggled a bit, her mouth moving up and down, like a fish. Finally, her voice crept back to her.

"I, ah, was just going to visit..." She didn't sound too convincing.

"I hope you didn't think that just because you took a permanent vacation to another era, that I wouldn't be able to find you."

"Of course not." That was the truth; she hadn't forgotten his time-shifting powers.

"But why are you leaving so soon, Margarete?" His voice took a different tone now, like he was teasing her. "I thought you were having fun. This is where you belong, in any case."

"I... what?" His statement caught her off guard, she was unsure what he meant by saying 'this is where you belong'.

"It's a pity Eike didn't tell you. I grow so tired of having to explain everything to everyone."

"Well perhaps you wouldn't have to explain things so often if you didn't screw around with other people's destinies for your own benefit."

"Ooh, touché." Homunculus chuckled. "When I learned that Hugo planned to leave you in this time to wipe Eike out of existence, I traveled twenty years before this time. You see, you had just been born, and were just about Margarete's, the REAL Margarete's, age. I took you to the feudal ages, and switched you with the one you now know as Dana." Margarete gasped as Homunculus finished.

"No! It can't be true! It just can't!"

"Well it would, in the very least, explain why you look nothing like your parents or your brother."

Margarete still refused to believe it. "You're lying, you have to be!" But in the back of her mind she knew he was not. It made too much sense. Tears filled her eyes. Hugo, not her brother?

Homunculus rolled his eyes and put his hands on his hips. "Oh, please. Really, what would I benefit from lying about something like this? And must you always cry? Ugh, I swear."

Twin tears of hot fury raced themselves down Margarete's cheeks. Her fists shook slightly on either side of her. "You! This is all your fault! None of this would have ever happened if it weren't for you!"

Homunculus sighed. "You know, I'm really getting tired of being blamed for everything. Why don't you blame Eike, too. Hugo didn't seem to have a problem with that. Then again, look where he ended up."

Homunculus's last retort went too far. Margarete let out a cry and tackled him, who yelled in pain as they both went down.

Homunculus winced as the sides of Margarete's fists came down on his chest. He evaporated quickly, but suspected a couple of his ribs were already broken. He reappeared a few feet away from Margarete, who got up and came at him again. Ready for her this time, he held out his hands. Margarete stopped, inches from him, her fists frozen where they were about to beat his chest again. Margarete sobbed uncontrollably, sinking to the ground against Homunculus's legs.

Homunculus sat down as well, leaning against the time machine's leg and holding his wounded chest. He had spent too much energy binding Margarete's movements, and was afraid he would lose consciousness soon.

He hadn't expected that sort of reaction from her, but clearly the subject of her would-be brother was an oversensitive one. Margarete stopped struggling suddenly, shaking slightly as she overcame her tears. Still pissed, she slowly, carefully got up into a sitting position, feeling no resistance. She looked at Homunculus, who was sitting right in front of her. He looked like he was about to lose consciousness.

Margarete immediately regretted her actions. Even if Homunculus deserved to be killed, she would be no better than him if it were her hand he died by. Whatever he had done, fate would take its course, it did not need her help.

Margarete grabbed Homunculus's ankle and murmured his name, shaking it slightly. Homunculus's head rolled and he looked at her, too weak to muster a sufficient glare.

"Homunculus, I'm sorry, are you all right?" At this comment Homunculus gave her a very clear 'no shit Sherlock' look. Margarete ignored it and got to her feet. "God, I can't believe this, look what I've done!" She stood there for a while, at a loss for what to do. Finally, Homunculus spoke.

"A couple of my ribs may be broken." Margarete winced, and then began to dash towards town.

"I'll go get some help!"

"No!" Homunculus cried, wincing in pain afterwards.

Margarete turned around, perplexed. "What? Why?... oh. Oh, right." How could she have forgotten about those blood red eyes? Not only that, but the existence of a heart between those ribs was doubtable. Scientists would have a field day with him. "Well..." She looked around, trying to come up with something. "The only place I know to take you is the Brum building. But I suppose it's better than leaving you out here."

Margarete tried to place her arms around Homunculus to support him, but he pushed her hands away.

"Don't touch me."

Margarete drew up to her full height and placed her hands on her hips. "Don't be silly! You'll let me take you to the building, or I'm going to break some more of your ribs."

Homunculus could only glare as Margarete pulled him up and placed one of his arms around her shoulders as they made their way to Brum Museum and Library. He would have most of his energy by tomorrow morning, he figured. All he needed was a good rest. Until then, he would have to comply with Margarete's whims. Hopefully she knew what she was doing.

Margarete helped Homunculus sit down on the front steps of the building before running up to Mr. Eckert's office. Thankfully, he was there this time.

"Mr. Eckert, may I borrow a bedroom? It would only be for a couple of nights."

Thrown of guard by her question, he paused slightly before answering her. "...Uh... of course. Stay here as long as you like, no charge."

"Thank you!" And with that she was back downstairs within a heartbeat.

"Here." Margarete shifted Homunculus to the small bed in the room she had found, and he lay down. "You're so light! Are your bones hollow?"

"They might as well be, shouldn't they?"

Margarete giggled, and then stopped abruptly. "Oh, I'm sorry, that wasn't funny, was it?" She bowed her head in apology, and then changed the subject. Homunculus smiled inwardly. Actually what he said wasn't really meant to be serious, but he didn't know why he found her reaction so... endearing. "Um, I'm not quite sure how to mend broken ribs, but I should probably brace them as much as I can." (**A/N: actually, as a woman living in the renaissance, she most likely DID know how to bandage broken ribs. But I don't, so therefore she doesn't. Isn't that a shame? **) She pinched her lower lip in thought. "I... I think it's best if we got that shirt off."

Homunculus simply lay there, and Margarete was about to repeat herself when he pulled himself up.

"Careful."

"Of course."

Homunculus slowly shifted out of his shirt, holding back cries of pain. Margarete tried to help here and there, but he suspected she was either too frightened to hurt him more, or too embarrassed to touch him.

Homunculus's long sleeved shirt off, Margarete could see the purple and blue bruises showing vibrantly against his pale flesh.

"Uh, okay, hold on." Margarete left the room; she needed some bandages and perhaps something to stabilize his chest. The best she could find for that, however, was a book; and she doubted that would help much. She returned with only a roll of bandages.

"I think this might help." Margarete sat on the edge of the bed, and began to roll the bandages around his chest. With enough of them, perhaps it would brace him some, but Margarete could only assume. She hated being so inexperienced in such an emergency.

She tried to bandage him as gently a possible, but she could see the pain in his eyes. Margarete could find no words to explain how sorry she felt, but then again, no words would have to.

Pain coursed through his body with every breath he drew. He could tell Margarete was trying to be gentle, and he wondered why she was doing this after all he had done. He had insulted her and used her, but she still showed compassion to him. It was very strange, but he didn't want her to stop. For some reason, he wanted her to stay this close to him.

"There." Margarete finished and pulled her hands away. Her voice was trembling. "All done." She sat there for a moment, seemingly admiring her work, but Homunculus she could tell she had no idea what to do next. He rolled backwards, laying down, and closed his eyes. What she did at this point was no concern of his. There was silence, and then the bed creaked and shifted as Margarete stood up. He heard footsteps, and the groan and click as the door opened and closed again. Homunculus opened his eyes; she was gone. He tried to evanesce, but nothing happened except more pain shooting down his limbs. He still didn't have enough energy. Homunculus gave a defeated sigh and closed his eyes again.

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No amount of commitment was going to get Margarete to concentrate. She rubbed her forehead and eyes with both palms, exhausted. She had lost track of time after bringing Homunculus to the building, which had been around noon. Since then she had steered clear of the room he now occupied, attempting to study to take her mind off him.

Knowing she would get nowhere tonight, she went back to the room to check on Homunculus's condition.

He was still there, of course; he didn't have much choice on the matter. Margarete sat at the foot of the bed, watching him as her eyelids grew heavier. Gravity drew her head to the mattress, and she was asleep within seconds.

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Homunculus opened his eyes when he felt pressure on the foot of the bed. Margarete was sprawled across the end sideways; her breathing the slow and even beats of a sleeper.

He didn't know why, but he was drawn to her, just as she had been drawn to this age. He sat up, the pain not as great anymore, and, without thinking, stroked her cheek, pushing hair out of her face as he did so. His finger trailed down to her mouth, and he brushed her bottom lip with his thumb. Then, as if just realizing what he had done, he quickly drew back, only inviting more pain as he did so.

He shouldn't be feeling this way about her. But he wouldn't make a big deal out of it. As soon as Margarete completed the Sorcerer's stone for him, he would no longer have to worry about his emotions. He wouldn't have to worry about his physical weakness, either.

It would all be memories soon.

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Wow. How much did that suck?

No, really. How bad was it? *Covers eyes with hand* Too scared too watch! Okay, but it's all right to send me flames. I actually like them. They tend to point out my flaws so I can fix them.

P.S.: That wasn't meant to be subtle.

I noticed a whole bunches of places where I could have added dirty undertones when I reread it. I hope you didn't though. The whole shirt thing was SUPPOSED to be innocent...