Nicolas Flamel had always considered himself a private man.
Famous, perhaps, but private. He and his wife found it quite lovely to live an unassuming life together without scores of witches and wizards banging down their doors for the secret to immortality. Merlin, if Nicolas only knew what racket the bloody wizards would cause over it, perhaps he never would have developed the Philosopher's Stone in the first place!
But, of course, he had been a proud man.
He'd wanted his greatness recognized. And he had wanted to achieve the thing no mortal man had ever achieved or, truly, sustained: immortality.
He had also been a fearful man - fearful of the end, of the unknown. Fearful that he'd be lost to time - a man of flesh and blood turned into a man of ink and parchment. A mere name on a tombstone.
He'd achieved it. Even though his body had still aged and withered into an old man's wrinkles, aches, and pain, he'd turned death into a choice.
That was the very thing that had fascinated witches and wizards over the ages, the very thing that attracted them to his doorstep.
Unfortunately, after nearly six centuries, the bloody wizards still harassed him - mostly wet-behind-their-ears witches and wizards straight out of Hogwarts who thought they deserved immortality, too. Some were historians seeking history from the man who had lived it (and in nearly every case he'd had to tell them that he hadn't been in that place in whatever year because he was only one person!)and others were wizards seeking magical knowledge, like young Mr. Dumbledore.
He didn't mind the latter as much as long as they weren't arrogant little fools.
He loved to teach.
That was why, in the early afternoon one late November day in 1899, Nicolas nearly ignored a knock on his door. His wife, however, bade him to answer it (and bless his soul if he ignored his wife!). Scowling, he'd gotten up, made his way to the rickety old door, and opened it.
Expecting to see a rosy face sparkling with youth, Nicolas instead found an old soul.
The man was a handsome fellow with sharp features and a crisp mustache. He looked to be in his mid-thirties yet he had this sort of agelessness about him. His blue eyes swam with memories and burdens, the kind Nicolas saw upon looking in a mirror every morning. They were not eyes which belonged to a young man. Perhaps he had fought in a recent war, though Nicolas could not recall any at the moment.
(But of course, he had isolated himself from the magical community and his visitors only wished to discuss his work.)
More astonishing, however, was the man's dress. If he hadn't known any better, he would have assumed the man were a muggle: he wore a fitting muggle suit with a dark tie and black top-hat, which he tipped off to Nicolas.
"Good afternoon, sir. Might you be Nicolas Flamel?"
Crisp, clear, and right to the point. Well, he's certainly English.
Nicolas blinked. "Well, yes, but you already knew that, didn't you, Mr. . . .?"
The man smiled and offered Nicolas his hand. "Morgan. Henry Morgan. It's a pleasure to meet you, Mr. Flamel."
Nicolas raised an eyebrow at the proffered hand. "I hope it will be a pleasure to meet you, too, but, you see, I've learned to withhold my judgement. Now that you have found me, Mr. Morgan, what is it that you want?"
A little rude perhaps, but he'd long lost his patience when dealing with other human beings - particularly wizards. To his credit, however, Mr. Morgan didn't even look slightly bothered.
"I have heard that you are quite the expert on immortality, Mr. Flamel." Nicolas snorted. Expert was one way to describe it. Owner was an even better way. "Might I persuade you to discuss it with me?"
Ah, so this Mr. Morgan was one of many wizards seeking his secrets. Well, Nicolas had only one thing to tell him!
"Sorry, no. I don't share my secrets. They're called secrets for a reason, you realize." Nicolas shook his head and made to close the door, muttering, "Bloody wizards."
But a hand stopped him.
"I'm afraid you misunderstand, Mr. Flamel," Mr. Morgan insisted. "I don't wish to discuss your methods. I merely wish to discuss the results."
Nicolas raised an eyebrow. Then he just laughed. "You expect me to believe you, boy? That's what they all say. Then next I know, my office has been ransacked. Please leave, Mr. Morgan."
He tried to close the door again, but Mr. Morgan's hand remained. He opened his mouth to threaten the wizard, but Mr. Morgan beat him to it.
"Please, Mr. Flamel. Give me one hour. I assure you this won't take long."
Something in the man's eyes weakened Nicolas' resolve. Desperation. Weary desperation. Not ambition. Not greed. Simply need. Perhaps that was what rendered Nicolas speechless. He'd never come across a request quite like Mr. Morgan's nor someone as earnest about a simple discussion. Hesitating a bit longer, he finally sighed and released his grip on the door.
"Fine, Mr. Morgan. One hour. Then you leave. And we'll do this outside on the porch so you won't get any ideas."
Mr. Morgan's shoulders slumped in relief. "Thank you, Mr. Flamel. Truly."
"Yeah, yeah," Nicolas grumbled.
Harrumphing to himself, he turned around, yelled, "Darling, I'll be an hour!" and, after she acknowledged him, closed the door. He directed Mr. Morgan to one of the chairs at the left end, taking the little chair whose back faced the house for himself. He whipped out his wand and, checking for muggles, whispered a few privacy spells. Mr. Morgan watched silently, waiting.
After a few minutes of incantations, Nicolas put away his wand and Mr. Morgan's discussion began.
True to his word, Mr. Morgan had only been interested in Nicolas' results.
"I take it that the Philosopher's Stone does not grant eternal youth?"
Nicolas had grimaced and replied, "Unfortunately not. I haven't been able to work out that kink to this day and I'm rather resigned to it. It would have been nice to live forever without aches and pain, I must admit."
He also had to admit that he was absolutely delighted by the conversation. Not once had Mr. Morgan questioned how he achieved immortality - only what happened next. It was as if he were talking to a researcher much like himself. Of course, this he asked Mr. Morgan: "Are you some kind of magical researcher, Mr. Morgan? Your questions certainly give me that impression."
The man had allowed himself an odd smile, as if he were recalling a personal joke, and replied, "Yes, I suppose you could call me that."
The most interesting part of the conversation, however, began near the end.
"You tell me your stone grants you immortality, but can you choose to give it up even after drinking the Elixir, Mr. Flamel?"
Nicolas sensed that this was the question to which Mr. Morgan truly wanted the answer, but he couldn't quite figure out why. The man leaned slightly forward, then relaxed his stance, as if catching himself, but his eyes spoke all. Desperation. Intense focus. Weariness. Blue eyes like the sky before a storm, struggling to hold in all that water so it could release it at the appointed time.
Still, Nicolas found himself mind-boggled. Mr. Morgan had the chance to ask the man who had bottled immortality any question—any question in the world!—and he chose to ask if Nicholas could undo his life's work. Who in his right mind would willingly choose to give up eternity?
Nicolas imagined his reply sounded rather indignant. "Well, of course," he sputtered. "The source of my immortality is external, you realize, and should I stop imbibing the Elixir, I would die - but why would I wish to do that?"
"So you have a choice," the man murmured. For an instant, Nicolas nearly thought he saw a flash of jealousy in the man's eyes, but when he looked again it was gone.
"Yes, well," Nicolas laughed, "unless someone decides to behead me. But choice is the theory of it all."
Mr. Morgan didn't laugh with him. Nicolas wondered whether he had hit a nerve (and if that were the case, then it certainly told him something very interesting about Mr. Morgan).
Mr. Morgan proposed one more question: "Mr. Flamel, do you think you could create an inverse Philosopher's Stone - one which could nullify eternity rather than grant it?"
Nicolas blinked, furrowing his brows. What an odd question. He was quite tempted to tell the man so.
"You mean create a stone which would bring death?" He snorted. "That would be rather pointless, don't you see? Not very unique. I'm sure the muggles already have what you're looking for. I do recall a series of daily stonings back in my birth village."
Mr. Morgan winced. "Yes, well," he coughed, "That's not what I meant. Suppose you met another wizard who had managed to discover his own means of immortality. Theoretically, could you create something which would annul his immortality?"
Nicolas' eyes narrowed.
Now that was an even stranger question, one which assumed the existence of an immortal man by means which Nicolas had never conceived, or - his body jolted and his expression darkened - perhaps he had . . .
His grip tightened around the armrests. Oh yes, he knew exactly to what Mr. Morgan was referring.
Those abominations. But another path to immortality all the same. An evil one. What the devil has this man gotten himself into to have contact with those blasted things?
Quietly, he replied, "I'm afraid not, Mr. Morgan. Magic does not nullify; it transforms."
Mr. Morgan's shoulders drooped. He seemed even more weary than he had upon arrival and a noticeable frown marred his face. Nicolas knew he had not found what he was looking for and he wondered whether he ever would.
Horcruxes . . . what a nasty business.
"I suggest," Nicolas murmured, "that you turn this man over to the Ministry and allow them to resolve this mess. Dark wizards are forces to be reckoned with."
For a second, the man seemed utterly surprised (Nicolas took pride in that - Ha, can't pull one over a man fifteen times your senior, laddie!) before a flash of realization spread across his features.
Nicolas smirked as the man nodded.
Of course, he was worried he might have offended his guest when Mr. Morgan stood up. Nicolas furrowed his brows. "Leaving so soon?" His guest chuckled.
"My hour is over, Mr. Flamel." Eyes widening, Nicolas cast the Tempus spell.
"Merlin's beard, you're right!"
Then Nicolas laughed, too, and stood up. "Well, I'll be, Mr. Morgan. I enjoyed our little discussion more than I thought I would." Grinning, he continued, "You must stop by again sometime."
Smiling faintly, Mr. Morgan agreed, "Of course, Mr. Flamel."
Taking something out from his pocket - a muggle pocket-watch of all things! - and peering down at it, Mr. Morgan frowned. "I'm afraid I must be off, Mr. Flamel. I have another appointment to attend today. It has been an honor to meet you." He stuck out his hand and this time Nicolas shook it.
"You as well," Nicolas smiled. "Come back in a few weeks and we'll actually have tea."
Chuckling, Mr. Morgan nodded before walking down the steps and taking a left down the street. Odd chap. Doesn't Apparate either. Perhaps he hasn't passed that blasted test? The Ministry had been shoving their bloody noses into everything these days. When he was young, there certainly hadn't been a government test to travel!
Mr. Morgan visited a few more times. He offered Nicolas the most interesting conversations and they weren't limited to immortality either. He discussed magical diseases with the man, whom he soon after referred to as Henry, and found Henry to be most informed as to the causes and symptoms. In fact, he'd encouraged the man to write an encyclopedia. Magical hospitals could use his knowledge.
Unfortunately, Henry disappeared a year later. He tried to send owls to find him. He even tried a location spell or two. But it seemed the man had disappeared from England and Great Britain entirely. Perenelle was perhaps even more upset than he was. She'd been quite taken with the handsome young man. Nicolas soon gave up his efforts to find Henry.
It seemed most likely to him that Henry had died. He probably hadn't listened to Nicolas' advice about turning the dark wizard over to the Ministry, the fool.
So he got on with his life.
Henry became but a fond memory.
Little did he know he had been talking with an actual, not manufactured, immortal - one which he would soon see again.
Sorry for the long hiatus. College and work kept me busy. Hope you enjoyed this!