[personal profile] hat_writes_stuff
Title: Prometheus and Pandora
Author: Almighty Hat
Fandom: Monster High
Characters: It's a surprise!
Word Count: 1300 (thematic and accidental)
Rating: G
Pairing(s): None, but some background historical het referenced.
Warnings: Extramarital affair resulting in late-teens pregnancy (based on real history), strained relationship with father figure (canonical)

Author's Notes: I wrote this four months ago, by the time stamp, and never posted it. I found it yesterday, and decided that I still liked it even if the Big Reveal at the end isn't as dramatic as I'd like.

Summary: He's a young doctor whose scandalous experiment has rocked the Mad Science world. And parts of the mundane world. She's a young writer who sees something far more interesting than the scandal.

It had been a dark and stormy night, when she’d written the piece.

The day was cool and clear, now, but as she watched the young doctor’s eyes scan the page, she remembered the gloom, the heavy air, under which she’d indulged herself in her writings. It had been a perfect retreat for horror stories, for the challenge of trying to work out what would send shivers down one another’s spine… though she’d worked fervently on an image, an idea, that had plagued her since she’d first heard the rumors of the doctor’s experiment.

The young doctor in question set down the story-- barely a snippet, really, just enough to catch the mind, ending early enough that the frightening part was a reader’s need to know more. Still, she was pleased with how vivid the language had turned out. “Well,” he said, and she did know that look-- it was the look of a gentleman considering the softest way to tell a lady ‘no.’ “It’s certainly a gripping piece of writing.”

“I shall not be crushed if you loathe it,” she assured him.

“No, no-- truly, gripping and visceral. You pull the reader along with the experience.”

“I have been writing for some time, Doctor.” She knew she didn’t look it, and that, at her age, she truly hadn’t had as long to refine the craft as she might otherwise. “Most of my friends are writers of one sort or another-- it’s a rather poor sign when a reader hesitates to use the word ‘good.’”

“But it is-- I assure you, it’s a good piece of writing,” the doctor said, hurriedly. “The trouble is, I suppose, that it isn’t accurate. But then, I suppose it can’t be.”

“I’m not sure I should want it to be,” she admitted. “What if someone tried it?”

“… If they were to try this, they’d end up with…” He glanced down at the page. “… Something that smelled of roast pork.”

“And it isn’t integral to the story I want to tell.” The doctor’s gaze snapped back to her, his blue eye peering over the rim of his monocle. “Accuracy, that is.”

“The story you want to tell,” he echoed, suspicious but still civil. “You want to publish this.”

“Oh, not as it is,” she assured him. “There’s barely enough for a short story. This must come, I think, at the end of the first act. No, I want to expand it. I think I could get a novel out of it.”

To his credit, the doctor did not scoff at the notion of a such a young woman as she happened to be writing a novel. “I will… allow you to try to convince me that is in any way appropriate.” His expression was shuttered, his tone haughty, but it was not, she noted, a dismissal, so she heartened and dove in.

“Whether I write of it or not,” she began, having rehearsed this a dozen times in her head, having considered using it as a foreword, or at least as a message to herself as she wrote, to keep her on the right path, “it has happened. It’s been done. Someone will attempt to repeat the results, because that is simply what humans do when we know something can be done.

“There is a touch of scandal shadowing me,” which was a gentle way of putting her situation, the devoted lover of a baronet’s son who had abandoned his wife for her sake, “and I am quite young. If I can get this written and published before I’m past twenty, people will read it simply because it was written by… me.” The only other thing she’d published was a single travelogue, but she was not above trading on her sordid (if happy enough) life, and her youth, to sell her novel. “I think I can write it so quickly.”

“Why do you want to?” the doctor asked.

Because people will read it,” she said. “Because what you managed will be repeated--”

“You may notice, Miss Godwin, that I didn’t manage it perfectly.”

“The outcome was perfect,” she told him. “Mishandled, but you accomplished what you set out to accomplish.”

“And what you want to tell is the story of an unusual family row?”

She nodded, beaming at him. “Yes. So that the next person who attempts your feat understands that he or she is creating family.” The light caught the doctor’s blue eye as he blinked, surprised, and she pressed on eagerly. “That is the most important thing, isn’t it? Anyone with the training or luck might replicate your results, if not your method, thinking they are creating something, when the truth is that they are creating someone. The act of creation must be entered into with kindness.

“Doctor, I believe I can help the world to learn from your mistakes. I very much hope you’ll give me your permission to try.”

The astonished look faded into something thoughtful, and the doctor said, “One day, I will have a grandchild who will bear my name. Perhaps I’ll live to see that grandchild grow up. Perhaps I’ll be dust before they are even a spark in their parents’ eyes. What I ask you now, I ask on behalf of that grandchild-- that as you write, and as you imagine the world will read your book, also imagine whether or not you’re writing difficulty into the life of an innocent child who doesn’t yet exist.”

“I shall do my very best,” she vowed, readily. Family was obviously desperately important to the young doctor, and she could certainly understand concern for an unborn child-- though she hadn’t shared that news with anyone yet.

“The only other condition I have is that you’ll have to convince my son yourself.”

“… Your… he’s in a… state to be spoken to? … Spoken with, rather?” Well, that was clumsy of her.

“He doesn’t speak much with me,” the doctor admitted, “and I can’t entirely blame him for that. But it can’t be simply your decision and mine to air all this to the world, even if you do intend to embroider a bit.”

“Or tilt the facts to suit the moral.” She’d had no idea the doctor’s son was still alive. The rumor mill had ground fast and fine, but not with much truth. “I don’t want to make your son’s life more difficult, or your grandchildren’s lives, but--”

“Create with kindness,” he said, nodding. “I understand, and if any message can set the world on fire, that’s a good one. I leave it to you to convince Adam. … And I think it best that I put him in touch with you, rather than letting anyone know where he’s decided to sit and brood. Would you be open to accepting his call?”

“Of course-- of course. A relatively simple matter.” The patina on her reputation put her into contact with far too many fascinating people to be considered tarnish.

“I am your servant should you want more facts of the matter than rumor can give you.” The doctor offered her the manuscript, which she accepted, then offered his hand to help her rise.

She accepted that, too, and let herself be steered gently toward the door. “For that, you have my most sincere thanks. Whatever your Adam decides, would you pass along my best regards to him?”

“I will,” he agreed, nodding. “It has been a genuine pleasure to meet you, Miss Godwin. Whatever Adam decides, you have enough skill that I hope to see your name in bookshops.”

“Thank you, Doctor Frankenstein. I hope to have the opportunity to ask you to call me Mary.” It wouldn’t be quite appropriate if Adam ended the whole endeavor with a word, and it wasn’t appropriate quite yet, but she did hope.

Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (nee Godwin) was seventeen or eighteen when she started work on Frankenstein: The Modern Prometheus, and twenty (and married to the by-then-widowed Percy Bysshe Shelley) when it was published, single-handedly creating science fiction as a genre. If you are a young girl and some jerk tells you that you’re not supposed to like monsters, horror, or science fiction, or that you’re just feigning interest for the attention, or that women have no place in “male” fandoms, remember Mary Shelley and laugh in their big jerk face.

Monster High Headcanons involved in this story: The way I figure it, all or most of the books about MH characters’ monster parents exist in the Monster High universe (see Papa Stein exclaiming “Mary Shelley’s ghost” in Frankie’s signature diary), but usually as tell-all exposés instead of landmark works of horror or speculative fiction. Probably even some of the classic movies got made, before monsters realized they could sue for libel or royalties.

Frankie’s father goes by Adam Stein (because ‘Adam’ is the closest to a name he gets in the novel and Frankie’s last name is Stein), and while he and Sparky aren’t on great terms, neither of them wants to undo the other’s existence. Using ‘Stein’ instead of ‘Frankenstein’ is a way for Adam to distance himself, a little, from Sparky, and a way for me to play with the ‘Frankenstein is not the monster’ trope.
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