Disclaimer: Technically, JKR doesn't actually own Nicholas Flamel, but for all I know she does own Perenelle. I own their characterizations, at least in part... I think...
Actually I just looked it up and she doesn't own Perenelle either. Mwahahaha. However it is still set in her world and as such I don't claim complete credit, blah blah blah.
A.N.: Yes, I should put all energy towards working on Insider, but I'm going through another set of ansty emotions that really don't need to touch that story...damn teenage hormones.
Takes place, oh, I dunno...early 1900s? Maybe around the time of the Great War, probably earlier.
One Short Visit
Perenelle Flamel sighed as she straightened up her husband's workbench. It was a downright wretched sight, with potion ingredients and bits of metal strewn all over the place, creating smears and stains on numerous piles of scrawled-on parchment. There wasn't even a reason for the table to be this messy; she new for a fact that he hadn't started any new projects in the last fortnight. Clearly, however, he'd been pointlessly experimenting.
Or more likely blowing things up for his own amusement, she thought wryly, judging by the sheer number of visibly new scorch marks. She glanced over to her own bench, perfectly organized, though covered in a thick layer of dust. Perenelle quickly averted her gaze. It does not do to dwell on the past. Still, she couldn't help the pang of regret, followed by a quick sigh.
She didn't really regret giving up alchemy. In fact, she hadn't actually even given it up, in those words. She'd just become too busy. For years she'd been her husband's partner, though sole credit had always been given only to him, no matter how much he tried to spread it evenly. In all honesty, she couldn't care less. It was only to be expected, after all Medieval Times had hardly been a period for gender equality, and she was one of the few out there that delighted so much in the work itself that recognition was merely a trivial thing.
She began sorting the tiny chunks of metal into piles- platinum, silver, gold, bronze, and the occasional bit of tin or copper or other oddity- and summoned a few small, round glass jars over from a shelf to place them in, organizing almost without thinking.
It was together that she and Nicholas had discovered the Stone, after years of carefully documented research and false leads and the time where they'd thought they'd finally gotten it, only to realize the piece of quartz in question was changing wood into pyrite, not gold, and water into very potent wine (which had lead to a rather nasty time cleaning up when, out of frustration Nicholas had chucked it into the Thames). There had been times when they'd both given up, times when they'd wanted to chuck each other into the Thames, times when they thought the other's theories were borderline (or far beyond) insane, only to find out the other was right. When, finally, after all of those years, they had succeeded, it was the best feeling in the world.
The celebration that night hadn't been to bad either, she thought. It was still only out of sheer luck that she hadn't gotten pregnant... She banished the now mostly full jars back to a shelf and started sorting potions ingredients in much the same way.
After the stone was perfected, they vowed to use it for good. From that day on they'd used the gold to help those in need, be it homeless bag ladies or underpaid families or hopeless orphans, one or two of which the couple always found themselves taking under wing.
So it had gone for years, until Perenelle's sister and brother-in-law had perished in a fire just down the street, leaving behind a toddler who had mysteriously survived with only the most minor of injuries. Suddenly, the orphan they took in wasn't just one who'd shown strange powers in another home or on the street, he was family, and as much as that shouldn't have changed things, it did. Nicholas had set out to teach him everything he knew, urging her to do the same, but she could tell the boy had his heart kept elsewhere- where, however, she never found out. When he was eleven, he left for Hogwarts and only ever came back for the summer holidays. After graduating, he disappeared. Nicholas had been, perhaps, even more heartbroken than she. For centuries he vowed to never again take an apprentice, and she just as adamantly thanked Merlin for their early decision never to have children of their own.
It was not until around the late sixteen-hundreds, she pondered as she rightened, straightened, and in some cases waved the contents back into several vials, test-tubes and decanters on Nicholas' desk, that she had even begun to think of letting the occupation go. The owner of what had been the equivalent of a soup kitchen in that day in age had died down the street, and the building was left to some not-so-kindhearted relative. Nicholas and Perenelle had taken to running the food distribution center out of their house instead, and for a great number of years between all the cooking and hosting and cleaning, help from magic or not, she just didn't have the time. Of course, after a while things became suspicious even to the Muggles. Though Nicholas was old enough to have silver hair, and Perenelle's own mane seemed to be more white than blonde, the two never aged much, and certainly didn't go anywhere near their deathbeds. When the rumors started, a significant amount of money was sent to a friendly young thing a few streets down, with the request that she pick up the operation, which she did.
Again Perenelle was free to work alongside her husband, and again they made a few small discoveries, and again things went wrong. Time after time their house had been opened and reopened to different charities and associations, until finally they just bought the larger building across the street and staffed it to get some peace and quiet. Still, someone had to manage it all, and Perenelle took up the mantle. After all, good intentioned as he was, Nicholas could never abandon what had become his hobby as well as his job. He was the kind of man who made Felix Felcis for the fun of it, who got a kick out of hiding bowls of Amortentia high up in the house so that it would smell appealing to any visitor, who would put different ingredients on the tips of his fingers and pretend to have the Midas Touch to entertain children while telling the story. She could never even think of asking him to give it up.
And so, over time, the second bench was sat at less and less, gradually moved farther and farther towards the corner, and over time Nicholas went back on his oath to never take on another apprentice. There had been several, more than Perenelle could count, and hardly any had lasted more than a week with her barmy husband. Most of the select few that didn't leave were asked to, as they never seemed to live up to Nicholas' expectations. There had been three exceptions, the latest of whom had been Albus Dumbledore. He'd stayed longer than any of them, and also been the most successful, as well as the only to have a catalyzing effect on Nicholas.
Perenelle sighed again as she through papers on the desk, sorting them by topic. Though they seemed nonsensical, with random spots of writing all over the bits of parchment, she knew Nicholas always wrote the main idea, as it were, of the scribblings first, where ever on the page he started. It followed that this bit was always written in neat, flowing cursive. His thought process could be traced along the surface by the writing getting progressively messier, until it reached the point of being identical to that of a badly-educated first year, or perhaps a primate.
She rather missed having Albus in the house. The boy (for she could never think of him as a man, despite his unprecedented maturity and wisdom) had held quite an effect over Nicholas; not to mention he'd never let his mentor's workbench regress to this state. She remembered countless days when she would walk into the sitting room (the laboratory took up the space that would normally be a guest bedroom, and the other had collapsed due to one of Nicholas' more disastrous experiments, something no amount of magic could repair) to see the youth sprawled out on a transfigured (or transfigured, after the harder nights) fainting sofa, fairly long, dark red hair spilling over his face after the two men had stayed up all night with some new theory or another, no matter how many times she came in and threatened to hex them if they didn't get to bed.
A smile tugged at the corners of her mouth after a flood of memories. All the times she'd had to remind them (even force them) to eat, the numerous explosions that shook the house, the three months straight that neither of the men had eyebrows... There were so many.
More than anyone, child, teenager, or young adult who'd ever stayed in the house with them, Albus had truly felt like their child. She was constantly chiding him not to eat dessert or too many other sweets before dinner, reprimanding him for little things that he would never cease to apologize profusely for despite the fact that more often than not she was only teasing, and in response she had changed from Mrs. Flamel to Mrs. Perenelle to eventually just Perenelle, and even on a few occasions, when he'd replied unthinkingly, Mum. Of course, that always left him embarrassed for at least an afternoon, and her beaming for a week.
Albus had been the one to bring in the kitten from the street that Perenelle had named after him without a second thought, for the cat was so like him- curious, always ready to great anyone who came into the house, overly curious, and, they all discovered after he got into the pantry, with a sweet tooth. Apparently Albus Jr. hadn't before seen the ill effect chocolate had on other members of his species.
Of course, he hadn't always been as happy as he became during his stay. When Albus had come he'd been forlorn, utterly miserable it seemed, though still as polite as ever. She'd never pried to find out what happened to him, and though she suspected he'd told Nicholas a bit of the truth, she didn't need or want to know. The fact that he was happy even now, a year after leaving them to accept a teaching post at Hogwarts, was enough.
She finished cleaning the workspace with a quick Scorgify charm, and glanced at the clock. It was twenty past twelve in the morning. Frowning, she walked back into the sitting room. Albus had come to visit today, and in the moment she'd left the two men alone to fetch a new pot of tea, they'd come up with some plot or another that had both of them more hopped up than the bag of jumping beans Nicholas had been fooling around with that morning.
They'd both pulled on cloaks, insisting they'd be back by the night, and practically ran out the door, Nicholas hastily kissing her on the cheek before disapperating after his protege.
Perenelle was more accustomed to this than she'd care to admit, coming from them, and hadn't worried too much; though Nicholas did crazy things and so did Albus, the younger man was always insistent on not putting her husband in any danger...well, any more danger than was necessary, as he'd often said. Besides, they hadn't died yet, and they'd never come back with more than a couple broken limbs or a knocked out tooth between them.
However, only rarely were they out this late, and it was always times like these when the broken bones had happened. She began to get nervous.
Thirty minutes later, the anxiety was steadily growing. She was sitting on the edge of a chair, staring at the clock on the wall opposite, tapping her wand on her knee, oblivious to the sand that was pouting of its end and Albus Jr., who was on the arm of the chair attempting to play with her hair. Eventually she decided that she could at least change into her nightclothes and be more comfortable. She stood up and was surprised by the crunching sound from beneath her feet until she noticed the sand, which she quickly vanished.
Halfway through washing her face, she heard a small pop, and a significantly louder thump.
A.N.: Ooooh, cliffie. Next and only other chapter up soon