Knights and Knaves
A Professor Layton fan fiction by Lady Norbert
A/N: Despite the fact that I have a number of other writing projects backed up in the repository of nonsense which serves as my brain, some part of my imagination demanded that I follow up my silly crack piece, "Beloved My Cheeseburger," with a serious visit to the Laytonverse. There's no outright pairing here; the only one treated as canonical is Layton/Claire (though in my mind, Luke and Flora eventually get married when they grow up).
Please note that this fic and the other one have absolutely no correlation; this is not a sequel to that crazy piece, which was fueled by sleep deprivation and sugar. Though it was fun to do.
Spoilers for the entire first trilogy ahead. Also, the next chapter won't be up for a few days because my goddaughter will be visiting, but I promise to post the rest as soon as I'm able.
When Flora had first met Professor Layton, he lived in a tiny flat near Gressenheller University. He was a confirmed bachelor, with spartan needs; more than anything, he required plenty of space for books and filing cabinets bursting with papers. There was a little spare room, too, where Luke sometimes slept; but Luke did not live with the Professor on a regular basis. He had parents of his own, after all, and although he spent more than half his time engaged in "apprentice duties," and was certainly with them more often than not, he still lived with his own family.
However, the acquisition of a daughter - however nominally - caused the Professor to rethink the entire matter. Though she'd only brought one suitcase from St. Mystere, Flora needed her own space, and after a few days of investigating the matter he announced that he'd purchased a tidy little house. While he threw his energies into boxing up his various academic paraphernalia, he presented Luke and Flora with a map of the area and challenged them to find all the different routes he could now take to work, including the longest one without retracing any part of the path, and the shortest one, and the one with the most possible right turns.
Their new home was hardly to be compared with the Reinhold Manor, but Flora was delighted with it. A sunny parlor with a piano, and a spacious library that seemed like it might even have enough space for all the shelves the Professor would need, and four bedrooms - one each for the two permanent residents, one for the occasional resident, and an extra guest room for the unexpected visitor. It was a perfect little dream house.
There had been formalities. Bruno had, before their departure from St. Mystere, entrusted the Professor with all of the necessary documentation that Papa had left behind for her future guardian. With these important papers the Professor had taken her before a judge (a friend, in fact, which probably made the whole thing easier) and after two hours of questioning and signing and sealing and stamping, she was declared to be the Professor's heir and assign and legal ward. Luke had some slight jealousy about this, but as it became very quickly apparent that the arrangement created almost no change at all in his own relationship with the Professor, he recovered his usual cheerful disposition in short order.
She had pocket-money, which was new; all her life, she had only to name what she wanted and it was hers. Now she had a little income, a monthly installment of her inheritance. The Professor explained that touching the Reinhold treasure - that is to say, the gold - would have ended the existence of her beloved robot companions; but there was other money, her mother's money in truth, which had been properly stored in a bank, and it was this that she could access without any fears for St. Mystere. And then he had taken her and her pocket-money into town, and she had new clothes and all manner of pretty things for her new bedroom, and sheet music for the piano that he said might be hers if she wished. Luke and his parents came to dinner that evening, and Luke brought his violin, and they entertained the adults following the meal with the instruments. It was not altogether harmonious, and Luke clearly had some way to go with his music lessons, but Mr. and Mrs. Triton and the Professor had seemed pleased.
For the first few weeks in the new home, she was content. She spent hours arranging the bedroom; Flora liked to have everything just so, with her hair ribbons sorted in neat coils inside a mahogany box and her dresses hung facing to the left in her little closet. The walls were adorned with framed pictures, of her parents and her friends in St. Mystere, and one carefully restored portrait of her mother sitting in a chair she almost remembered and gazing out at the full moon. The Professor had discovered the scattered fragments throughout his investigation in St. Mystere and had it reassembled for her. The Professor went to teach almost every day, and Luke almost invariably came home with him, and Flora played the piano and taught herself to cook and solved puzzles with them in the evenings.
Then they had visited Dr. Andrew Schrader, and came home to tell her that they were going on a journey by rail and would not return for some days. And a terror welled up inside of herself; they would not, indeed could not, name their destination, nor assure her of when they might be expected back. That night she had not slept, for every time she did she awoke in boundless fright. What if they didn't come back at all? So she had donned her old disguise, and stayed out of sight long enough to follow them onto the train, and by the time they discovered her it was too late to change anything. And it was wonderful - the fair in Dropstone was more fun than she remembered having in years - until someone grabbed her, and everything went black, and the next thing she knew she was waking up in a barn. The drug which had been given to her made her sleepy for days, so the passage of time was incomprehensible. They had found her there, smiling with relief to find her unharmed, issuing fond scoldings about how this was why they didn't bring her in the first place.
"I didn't want to be alone," she said. She had said it already, when they first identified her, but she wanted them to understand. After all that had happened, she simply couldn't bear to be alone. For a few hours during the day, it was bearable; the Professor was teaching, she could name the hour when she might reasonably expect him home, and if she truly needed him she knew how to go to his office. But for longer than that, it was intolerable. Her body shook and her mind raced and there was no one, no one in the entire wide city, that she could turn to for solace when the Professor and Luke were not to be found. She hoped that now they understood.
A couple weeks later, when they disappeared without so much as a note, it became very apparent that they did not understand. The Professor had been at his most mollifying, and she had relented, and made them tea and cucumber sandwiches...only to discover that they left through the back door. Incensed at their cruelty, she had given chase, running into Inspector Chelmey and Officer Barton in the process, and cornered them in a rather out-of-the-way clock shop. To her surprise, the officials seemed inclined to take her part in the matter. Even Luke, once she pointed out the reasons for her distress, had sympathized; she was less angry with him. He was only a boy, after all, and would go and do what the Professor bid.
But the Professor, despite his apologies and soothing words, simply could not seem to grasp her point of view. He kept protesting that it was unsafe, that she needed to remain at home, that the investigation was too dangerous. Unfortunately, he lost the battle in the end, for by the time they had finished the fight, they were already in Future London. Traveled ten years into the future - where, evidently, the Professor and Luke gave her no more thought than they had in their own time, since they admitted that it never crossed their minds to wonder what her future self might be doing. Having evidently seen enough of her in distress for one day, the Professor had sidestepped the issue by proposing to take them all to lunch at a very good restaurant, and she - well, she never could stay mad for long.
Then there was the matter of future Luke, or Big Luke as they called him. Taller than she, and grown surprisingly handsome, and so attentive. Far more solicitous than Little Luke, giving her his arm over the difficult patches of walking and promising to protect her. Still, she found that when danger was imminent - such as when Dimitri Allen locked them all in a cage - she wanted not him but her guardian, seizing his arm in fear. Then it had turned out to be a decoy Professor, and she realized in horror that she was clinging to her kidnapper, and the destroyer of the St. Mystere tower - Don Paolo. But he too seemed different in the future, asking the Professor (the real one) to allow him to prove himself a gentleman to "the young lady."
The Professor, however, split them up into two groups and sent her off to the hotel with Big Luke. She had protested, frightened; why couldn't this man see that she didn't like not knowing where he was? But he had adopted the supplicating, gentle tone that she had long since learned to love, and to identify as something he reserved almost exclusively for herself, and promised that he would meet her at the hotel very soon. And to his credit, Big Luke had continued to be attentive and civil, and had escorted her to the hotel with great ease and calm. She had to admit that even the Professor could probably not have done better. All the same, she'd been deeply relieved when he and Little Luke joined her there, less than half an hour after they parted.
Together they had broken into Dimitri Allen's research facility, joined once again by Don Paolo, and also by a woman who identified herself as the sister of the Professor's college sweetheart Claire. He had never mentioned this woman to either herself or Luke, but Flora had spied a photograph during the move which strongly resembled this Celeste individual, so she found it easy to believe. They'd been forced to separate once again while fleeing the facility, with Don Paolo and Celeste going one way and the Professor leading Little Luke and Flora another, and all reunited at a public house called the Thames Arms. Big Luke met them there, as did Inspector Chelmey and Officer Barton, and they all listened while the Professor explained everything to them.
They were not in the future at all, but in a false London miles under the surface of the earth, an elaborate scheme concocted by Dimitri Allen. He had kidnapped prominent scientists and put them to work on building a real time machine, all with the hope of going back in time to save Claire - Claire whom the Professor had loved, and so had Dimitri, and so had Don Paolo. Flora found it all a little improbable, but it was also romantic, and she held her tongue and paid attention to the Professor's every word.
The worst was to come. Dimitri himself had been hoodwinked by his partner Clive, who had redirected the efforts of the scientists toward a terrible weapon designed to completely destroy all of London. Clive, whose parents had died in the same accident which had killed Claire. Clive, whom the Professor revealed as none other than Big Luke. His laughter had been cold and cruel and bitter as he acknowledged every particular...and then he had made good his flight from the Thames Arms, but not before pausing long enough to pull Flora from her seat and drag her along behind him.
While the adults all stared in shock, the real Luke, bless him, had leaped to his feet and given chase. He might have succeeded in at least preventing her abduction, but Clive had kicked a large potted plant down the stairs, knocking Luke to the floor. By the time he and the Professor had followed them outside, Clive had already wrestled her into a motorboat and was speeding across the river to the lighthouse.
"What are you doing?" she had asked him, almost too stunned to be afraid.
"What's the matter, Flora?" he countered. "I thought you didn't like to be left behind!" They reached the lighthouse and he pulled her inside, snapping orders at the men they ran past. He all but threw her into a peculiar sort of lift, punching buttons, and scarcely waited for the doors to open when they reached the ventilation chamber.
"In you go, my pet," he barked, forcing her into a cage made of glass. "Pound away if you like - that glass is five inches thick, you won't break it with those dainty hands of yours. Scream all you want, there's no one to hear you."
"The Professor will find me," she told him. He just laughed.
"I'm sure he will...that is, if he can catch us." And he left the room.
The truly unsettling part of the whole thing was that he'd evidently prepared the cage for a hostage. She was smart enough to realize that it wasn't originally meant to be herself; after all, she wasn't really supposed to be there. If she had stayed behind like the Professor wanted, it would be someone else in the glass capsule. But who?
Luke. The answer came almost as soon as she began to ponder the question. This was Clive's way of making absolutely certain that the Professor would pursue him - he had surely intended to put Luke in this prison. When he had discovered that she was also along for the ride, he probably changed plans at once, reasoning that she would be much easier to subdue. Yes, it made sense, though it did lead her to wonder why he hadn't done it sooner. The Professor had left Flora in Clive's care during the escape from the Towering Pagoda; he could have locked her in here long since. But perhaps that would not have been convenient, for reasons she might never know.
What she did know was that she was alone, and more frightened than she could remember ever being. This was more terrifying than escaping the crumbling tower in St. Mystere; even with the building threatening to collapse around them, she hadn't been this scared, because the Professor had been right there with her, calling her 'dear' and maintaining such a perfect calm that it calmed her too. Not this time. Now...she might never see him again. The thought depressed her so utterly that she couldn't even cry; she felt weary, fatigued by fear and sorrow.
An hour passed, or maybe two; she had no way to know. Maybe it wasn't even that long. But she heard sounds - a man's voice, sounding too hard and angry to be the Professor. The door to the ventilation chamber swung open, and she stiffened in alarm.
It was the Professor. "You poor girl," he had said. "Hold on just another second, Flora!" And then to Luke, he had said, "I can't stand to see Flora in that awful thing." Tears began to threaten at that. He neatly deduced the puzzle lock on the glass capsule, and it opened with a reluctant hiss, and the next thing she knew she had rushed forward to fling her arms around his waist as he clutched her to him.
"I'm so glad to see you!"
"No need to worry. You're safe now, dear." Her special tone again, only warmer and gentler and more filled with relief than she had ever heard it. She had pulled away to bestow a second, quicker hug on a beaming Luke, and then they had gone in search of Clive and the Prime Minister and somehow Celeste had persuaded Don Paolo to send her to join them in his flying machine, and then they were all in the Laytonmobile and somehow that was flying too. And they were on the ground, and Luke was helping her out of the vehicle with his own hands, smiling all the while, and the Professor and Celeste plucked Clive from the fortress before it imploded. It was all something of a blur. London was a mess, but it was still there, and the Professor was the most celebrated hero in the city. There were jokes about renaming Trafalgar Square in his honor, and more serious suggestions to at least add his statue to those collected there, but he demurred at most every idea of such honors. He'd been through quite enough; Celeste had turned out to really be Claire, shot forward in time for real the way they'd originally thought they had all been, and he had lost her all over again. All he wanted was to go home.
And that, Flora mused as she closed her diary, brings us to now.