Disclaimer: I don't own the Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel books. I wish!

A/N: So, Perenelle/Machiavelli is one of my favorite pairings of these books, but I couldn't find any stories about them, so I wrote one! I don't have a beta yet, so it might be a bit rough, sorry. Anyway, hope you enjoy!

The sun is setting now, so he holds her close as the sky turns blood-red, a color Machiavelli has seen far too much lately. She sighs. "It is beautiful." Sentimental romantic men would reply, "So are you." But Niccolo Machiavelli is not sentimental, nor has he ever considered himself romantic. So he settles for, "Beauty is far too scarce nowadays." She smiles, a knowing, deliberate expression that tells him how much she has seen of the world. "Not if you know where to look."

He smiles back at her and holds her tighter as they lean against the couch, watching the sunset through the floor-to-ceiling windows he had installed in his apartment just for her. Well, his second apartment actually. She blew up the first one that was in Paris. So he moved back to Italy, his home country. Maybe he is a little sentimental. But right now, he savors the last moments of the sunset because he knows when the sun sinks all the way below the clouds, he will have to talk. Really talk.

She knows it too and he feels her tense slightly against him as the sun dips lower and lower. She turns to face him and there is a silence as they study each other, waging a battle with their eyes. In the end, it is she who drops her gaze and speaks first.

"Niccolo, I-"

"Shh."

He places a finger on her lips. "I know what you are going to say, but let me tell you again. I can take you away from all this. I know a Shadowrealm where nobody would ever find us. I can arrange for someone to guard the borders. I would make you a queen."

She looks up at him, her eyes impossibly sad. "I cannot, Niccolo." He starts to argue but this time she stops him. "I cannot leave him, nor can I leave the codex." "Time stands still in this Shadowrealm, the codex would have no hold over you." He replies.

"But I will not leave him." Her voice is firm and final and there is only the merest hint of sorrow in it.

He gets up, then, and paces across the room furiously, his legendary calm shattered by this obstinate woman. "Why? What has he ever done for you? Dragged you all over the realms in a misbegotten quest for the Twins? Left you trapped and in peril countless times?"

"Remember, one of those countless times was your fault." She reminded him, eyes gleaming with amusement.

He returns to the couch, his blaze of anger abating, but the coals still glowing.

"I didn't know you were the love of my life then, and it was partly your fault the volcano exploded." He shoots back, giving her a soft kiss. He puts his hand on her face, stroking her cheek gently. "Perenelle, won't you at least consider it?"

She leans into his hand. "I can't, Niccolo. He needs me." She pulls away, a certain tenderness lighting her eyes. "He has told me so and I believe him."

"But so do I." He says quietly.

She puts a hand underneath his chin, lifts his head up to meet her eyes. "Niccolo. You know I love you and always will. But Nicholas... He is a child who still needs to be told he is loved before he can fall asleep."

He sighs. "You always were the noble one." She smiles half-heartedly. "And yet, there are times when I wish I was not." He pulls her back into his arms and they sit, silently now. When she finally stirs, the stars have come out, like white glitter on a black background. She begins to gather her things.

"Perenelle." His voice stops her. He searches her face, trying to memorize every last detail. "Would you stay? If things were different... Would you stay?"

She kisses him, long and short, hard and soft, and bittersweet to the last.

"Yes."

SHe looks deep into his eyes and seems to read his soul. "I love you." She murmurs. The she gets up, walks out the door and doesn't look back. He knows, then, that she has left him forever. So he sits back and sighs deeply.

"Goodbye, Perenelle." He whispers to the still night. "My love." And then, like all broken-hearted men before him, he watches the stars and mourns that which could never be.

A/N: Well, what did you think? It's an odd pairing, I know, but for some reason I love it! Anyway, please review! Constructive critiscm is welcome!