Next chapter!

It is finally here! Sorry for the long wait again..

Also, thank you so much for your reviews, they mean a lot!


For every week that went by without word from his brother Al became more and more jumpy and worried. The other teachers had asked what was bothering him on the staff meeting and Al had answered truthfully mostly just to shut them up.

"What do mean, war?!" Sinistra asked shrilly. Al decided against rolling his eyes.

"He's been called back to Amestris since our neighbour country are trying to invade," he explained patiently. "They want the State Alchemists there."

"But he's just a child," Pomona said sadly. Al shrugged.

"He's been in the military for long enough and they want all hands on deck," he answered.

Sinistra had spluttered for a while, but Dumbledore put a stop to it by diverting the conversation.

His classes were going okay. Not great, because it wasn't as fun without Ed and he didn't want to advance them without his brother there. It didn't help that the oldest students were still quite disrespectful towards him. He had given out more detentions this last two months than even Ed had in all his time teaching. He had a feeling Ed would be impressed.

More and more students had begun demanding he explain how both he and his brother could do alchemy without a transmutation circle. Al was tempted to pull an Ed and threaten them into submission. He wouldn't, but he could certainly see the appeal.

McLaggen had taken to showing up wherever Al was and badgering him. Clearly, the idiot had learned nothing. Al was amazed at his stupidity and persistence. The worst part was that McLaggen had friends in the other houses who were still in Alchemy classes, and the fourth years had quickly become Al's least favourite class. They were even worse than the sixth years, who still acted like it was a personal insult that they were being taught by someone who was younger than them. They had tolerated Ed, since he was their age and had earned their respect (or fear, Al wasn't sure which is was).

Al flopped down in his favourite armchair in his and Ed's rooms. Remus was coming to visit later in the evening, but for now Al was alone. Well, almost. Mae jumped onto his lap and curled up there. She was purring within minutes. Al was so grateful for the company, but he still missed Ed so much.

Al's reason for coming here in the first place had been because he missed his brother. After everything they went through together the last years, and then spending so long apart while everything around them crumbled, Al didn't want to be away from his brother. He knew it was clingy of him, but in his opinion it was well justified.

There was a knock on the door and Al shouted a come in, making Mae twitch, but surprisingly not wake. Remus came in and went straight to the couch where he sat down with an exhausted sigh. Al knew that Remus had been teaching Harry a 'Patronus' charm that was supposed to chase off Dementors. That was what Remus came back from now.

"Is it tiresome even with only one student?" Al asked curiously. Remus sighed.

"It's a bit more than that, but it's hard to explain, and I'm not sure it's in my place," he answered. Al shrugged.

"Then don't worry about it," he said. He continued petting Mae behind the ears and the purring increased. Remus huffed a laugh.

"That cat is already becoming so spoiled," he smiled. Al grinned back.

"She'll handle it," he said. "I need the company when Ed's not here."

"Heard anything today?" Remus asked, the same way he had asked every day since Ed left. Al shook his head.

"Nothing," he sighed. "I'm worried about them."

"Them?" Remus repeated.

"It's not just Ed," Al explained. "Of course I'm most worried about him, he's my brother, but there's not just him. Mustang and the rest of the team; Hawkeye, Fuery, Havoc, Falman and Breda. They've worked with brother since he joined the military. Breda is already so injured that he's been sent away from the fighting. Major Armstrong is certainly going to be there. Maybe even Heinkel and Darius, even though they're not official members of the military anymore. Me and brother travelled through all of Amestris, and we've met so many people. And we're from the south. Our village isn't that far from the border, and what if Aerugo breaks through the first defence and manage to invade further into the country?" Al looked at Remus beseechingly. Remus was slightly wide-eyed and was looking pitying again.

"I didn't know you knew that many of your brother's co-workers," he said. Al shrugged.

"Where Ed went, I went," he said matter-of-factly. "Before I got ill and lost so much muscle and body-mass, I travelled with him and fought with him. We were separated for a while last year, and that's the longest we've been apart. Before he was sent here. Before this."

"You two has led an interesting life," Remus said eventually. He looked sad now instead of just pitying. Al wasn't sure it was an improvement.


Al was woken by knocking on the door in the middle of the night. He got up quickly and went to open. Pomona was outside, which was a surprise. She was wearing a nightgown with sunflowers on them and a brown knitted night gown. Her hair was a mass of curls around her head, clearly she had been awoken just a bit before Al.

"We have an emergency," she said quickly, looking and sounding distressed. "Sirius Black managed to get into the Gryffindor common room. We're doing a search of the castle. Minerva would like for you to be in the Gryffindor common room, just in case." Al nodded and got dressed in something warmer. It was early February, so it was still cold in the hallways.

He spent the night sitting in front of the fireplace of the common room, staring at the back of the portrait door. He was worried, but prepared. If Black tried to get in now, Al would have him trapped in the ceiling immediately. It came in handy that the floor, walls and ceiling was made of the same material.

Breakfast Sunday after was a sombre affair. Al was listening to the teachers talk quietly amongst themselves in concerned tones. Nothing had happened and they hadn't caught him. Al was frustrated and he wasn't the only one.

Immediately after breakfast there was an emergency staff meeting.

Al stayed silent as Snape loudly suggested that Black had inside help. Several of the teachers kept giving Remus sideways glances. Remus looked uncomfortable and pale. Al knew that there hadn't been a full moon recently so that was clearly not the reason for Remus' discomfort. He had trouble believing Snape was actually suggesting that Remus had let Black into the castle.

"I didn't help him into the castle, Severus," Remus eventually said. He didn't raise his voice, but everyone turned toward him anyway. "I would never help Black into the castle." Snape, who Al had sort of liked before, sneered.

"Of course you wouldn't," he said nastily. "You would never help Black with anything. You've never broken any rules with Black."

"Severus," Remus said, sounding a bit snappish now. "I haven't seen or spoken to him since before his arrest. I have no wish to see or speak to him again after the things he did. He is the reason James and Lily are dead. He killed Peter! Why would I want to help him get to James and Lily's son?" Everyone was now looking mighty uncomfortable and Al was very confused. Not only had he never seen Remus so upset before, despite Snape's snide comments on every staff meeting, but the things he said alluded to something Al had no knowledge on.

"Gentlemen," Dumbledore interrupted before Snape could come with an answer. "If we may focus on the matter at hand. Severus, no one in this castle would let Black in. Remus, no one here thinks you would help Black get to young Harry." Al blinked in surprise. He thought he got what they were talking about now, and he didn't like the sound of it.

"No one in the Gryffindor common room was harmed," Dumbledore continued. "Young Mr Weasley was understandably quite shaken, but he is physically fine. We have restored the Fat Lady and she is back on duty, with some added protection. We have hired some security trolls to patrol the hallway outside the Gryffindor common room. This is for the protection of the Fat Lady and the Gryffindor students. I would ask that you let them do their job without interference." Everyone nodded in agreement. Al had seen the grumpy things in the hallway that morning and he had no wish to interfere with their job.

They continued to discuss the safety measures of the school for some time after that. Even Sinistra was keeping her testiness under a lid.


Harry was tired. He was sitting at the Gryffindor table at breakfast. It was Friday, which meant that the day before had been another patronus lesson. He was exhausted.

Ron and Hermione was sitting on either side of him in stony silence. Ron was still sore about Scabbers and Hermione was still angry that Ron could blame her for her pet's natural instincts. Harry had given up on being the peacekeeper a long time ago, but at least they were sitting together again now.

He was just about to take a bite of his toast, when with a weird sound and a crash two people suddenly appeared in the middle of the Great Hall. Harry wasn't the only one to jump up and stare.

The two people had immediately fallen over upon their arrival. The one on the bottom kept yelling in a language Harry didn't know, but recognized. The one who had landed on top, said something in the same language and got up. It was a girl, with straight blonde hair and wearing a sort of overall tied at the waist.

Professor Al, as the students had taken to calling him when he started channelling his brother's behaviour, ran from his seat.

"Ed!" he yelled and stopped just before the person on the floor, who was still talking loudly in the unknown language. It didn't sound like whatever he was saying was particularly friendly.

Harry got a good look at him when Al helped him up.

Professor Elric wasn't wearing his usual red coat, or even his black jacket. His hair was in a ponytail instead of the usual braid, he was wearing a regular black shirt, and he had on loose-fitting blue trousers.

Then, Harry's thoughts screeched to a halt. He vaguely heard Hermione gasp next to him.

One the legs of Professor Elric's trousers was rolled up to somewhere around knee height. But there was no leg underneath!

The girl picked up a pair of crutches and handed them to their suddenly one-legged professor, who took them casually and situated them under his armpits. Al gave his brother a worried look, and talked lowly, but quickly stopped frowning.

The whispering was very loud at this point, since everyone in the room had now noticed that Professor Elric was clearly missing a limb.

Suddenly they switched to English.

"Headmaster Dumbledore, this is Winry, she's a friend who sort of has to stay with us for a while," Professor Elric said loudly, not sounding any different from the last time Harry heard him. "Is that okay?" Headmaster Dumbledore was standing, as was half the staff, and nodded to Elric.

"Of course she can, Edward," he said jovially. "But maybe you would like to sit down now?" Ed grinned.

"I would, actually," he said cheerily and moved towards the staff table. Neither Al or the girl, Winry, tried to help him move, and it did look like he had it covered. Winry picked up a rather large suitcase and carried it with surprising ease. "And I'm starving! The hospital food sucks and no one would sneak me any outside food." Al laughed.

"Well, if you were a bit more careful, you wouldn't end up in a hospital!" the girl said, in slightly broken English. Elric pushed her with one of his crutches before he sat down.

The rest of the hall was watching them avidly as the Elrics and their friend ate their meal. Al looked a lot happier now that his brother was back, although Harry couldn't understand why he could be so happy when his brother was missing a leg.

The entire Hall was buzzing with the whispering from the students. It didn't look like anyone was very focused on eating.

The three Amestrian left before breakfast was finished, Professor Elric loudly complaining about the number of stairs he would have to climb. Al looked vaguely sympathetic, but Winry just casually hit him on the back of his head and told him something in Amestrian. Professor Elric didn't seem to put out about this, only complaining louder.

"What do you s'pose happened?" Ron asked curiously with a mouth full of porridge. Harry shrugged and quickly finished eating his neglected breakfast. Hermione was stressing quietly in her seat, and Harry couldn't distinguish what she was mumbling. She wasn't talking to him anyways.

"Maybe we'll get an explanation in class?" he suggested. Hermione was rooting through her bursting schoolbag now, still mumbling to herself. Harry secretly thought his friend was losing it. All those classes were frying her brain.

"Let's get to Potions," she eventually said in a volume people could hear. Harry and Ron reluctantly got up from their seats and followed, still silently discussing what might have happened to their Alchemy teacher.

The classes before lunch went pass at a snail's pace. Potions was always a chore and never easy, but it was particularly slow today. Even Defence was slower than usual, and Professor Lupin was slightly distracted. Flitwick had been a bit off in Charms too, so Harry figured the teachers were just as curious about Professor Elric as the students were. Harry hadn't noticed anything different about Snape, but then again, that was Snape. The greasy old bat probably didn't care anyway.

All the students for Alchemy was gathered in front of the door before lunch had even finished. Harry and Hermione was in front, since Hermione had insisted they get there very early. Al opened the door and didn't even look surprised to see the students there so early.

Professor Elric was perched on the desk, Al went over to stand next the blackboard.

"Sit down, kids!" Elric yelled in his usual style. Harry and Hermione had gotten seats in front and sat down hurriedly. Now that Harry was close to their teacher he could see that Professor Elric had a bandage on his forehead, and several scratches on his face. There were clearly some bandages peeking up from his shirt as well. What in the world had their teacher been doing?

"I hope you've all behaved yourself when I've been gone," he started strongly. Al rolled his eyes.

"This is the most well-behaved class, brother," he said. Professor Elric grinned.

"Good to hear, or I'd have to get creative," he said, his grin growing decidedly evil.

Justin raised a hand, looking like he had lost a bet. Elric pointed at him.

"Professor, what happened to you?" Justin asked hesitantly. Their teacher just rolled his eyes.

"Nothing," he said and waved a hand carelessly. "It was a small incident with some explosives." The entire class stared wide-eyed.

"A small incident with explosives?!" someone in the back squeaked. Elric shrugged.

"I was lucky it was that leg and not the other, that would have been a problem," he answered. Harry was certain he wasn't the only one looking at their teacher as if was insane. He was pretty sure their teacher was insane, actually.

"I think you should explain a bit more, brother," Al said before anyone else could comment on the absurdity of that statement.

"Yeah, yeah, I was planning on it," Professor Elric said and waved a hand carelessly. "Their faces are just so funny." Al punched the professor in the shoulder.

"First off; this –" Professor Elric started, waving at the missing leg, "– is nothing new. I actually lost the leg years ago. I have a prosthetic leg, something called Automail, apparently you don't have it here. It's a mechanic limb connected to the nerves in my leg, so it works just like a normal leg would." Hermione was taking notes at this point.

"Winry, the girl who came with me, is my mechanic," the professor continued, like he wasn't sharing earth-shattering news with the class. "She's making a new automail leg now. I'll probably be back on two feet on Monday or Tuesday."

"How it got ruined and any other injury you might see, is none of your business," he ended sharply.

"But - explosives?" Finnigan asked regardlessly. "How in Merlin's name did you come in contact with explosives?" Professor Elric glared.

"None of your business, Mr Finnigan," he said shortly.

No one had any comment, and Professor Elric just continued the lesson like nothing was out of the ordinary.

The class was extra well-behaved that day.


Ed and Al was lumped in the couch. Ed was exhausted. Not only had he wobbled everywhere on crutches for the entire day, and man, Hogwarts had way too many stairs, but the two months before this hadn't been relaxing in the least.

When he had arrived at the headquarters Mustang's unit was stationed in, there had been chaos. Several military personnel were running around in the controlled panic official people handled so well, and there was at least four people having frantic phone conversations. Mustang was surprised at Ed's sudden appearance, but masked it well.

"Fullmetal," he said stonily. Ed did a half-assed salute at his superior officer and walked over to the side he saw he rest of the unit at. He kicked Havoc out of the couch and sat down.

"I need to change my automail before we do anything," he said and opened the bag he was carrying. "I'm wearing my winter automail now, and it's a lot more breakable than the regular one." Hawkeye came to help while the rest gathered around. Ed grimaced at the audience, but then Mustang started briefing and Ed got that they were just impatient.

The next two months had been gruelling. Ed was used to fighting, he really was, but this was a whole different animal. The enemy were soldiers who were just following orders. Not evil undead monsters, zombie-dummies programmed to kill or insane preachers. Just people doing their job. Ed had even been given a gun, to his displeasure. Then he was told he had to get in uniform. Ed griped and complained, but put on the offending piece of clothing.

In the end they had defeated the Aerugan forces. Mostly with the help of massive offensives by the State Alchemists. Everyone had suffered some sort of injury, even Hawkeye who spent most of the time far away with her trusty sniper rifle. Man, Ed was happy that woman was on their side. Mustang had been shot in the leg, and was in the same hospital room as Ed. Fuery, Havoc and Falman had all some minor injuries that required some stitches, but no surgery.

Ed ended up the most injured, except for Breda who was being prepared for his automail surgery. Ed had had small grenade thrown at him, it had broken his automail leg into tiny little pieces and sent him flying. The fall had broken two ribs and scratched his flesh arm and face. The automail arm had gotten minor scrapes that Winry fixed quickly while Ed was hospitalized.

Winry was keeping him company most of the time in the hospital. It was clear that she had been worried. He hated that he made her worry even now. Mustang was clearly itching to get out. On their third day in the hospital, Hawkeye, Fuery, Falman and Havoc came in, the guys wearing huge grins.

"Good news!" Havoc said with glee. "Promotions!" Ed stared suspiciously. Mustang sat straighter.

"You are getting promoted to Brigadier General, sir," Hawkeye said, handing Mustang an envelope. Mustang looked very smug. Ed sank down in relief. He didn't want any sort of promotion or dreaded ceremonies.

The relief lasted until Havoc gleefully dropped an envelope on his bed. Ed stared at it as if it was personally responsible for his discomfort. Then he shifted his glare at Havoc.

"Congratulations, Lieutenant Colonel!" he said with a wide grin. Ed's eye twitched.

"There will be an official ceremony when you're released from hospital," Hawkeye continued. Ed stared wide-eyed at her.

"No way!" he said quickly. "I'm getting out of here! Winry, where is my leg?" He turned to Winry, who was shaking her head.

"I haven't even started on it yet," she said. "I need my tools and a lot of parts. I have to rebuild the entire thing, you know." At this point she gave Ed a look that clearly stated she hadn't forgiven him yet. Ed was getting desperate. He did not want to be a part of this ceremony.

"What if you get everything you need and come with me to Hogwarts?" he asked urgently. "You can finish it there and then Dumbledore can get you back here in no time. You'll even get to see how good Al is doing!" He could see that the idea appealed to her. The rest of the unit was watching amusedly. Everyone one of them knew Ed's dislike for military customs and rules.

"You know, I know why you're asking this, but I'm going to agree anyway because I want to see how Al is," she answered eventually. "And it would be fun seeing you teaching alchemy to someone."

They had quickly gathered everything Winry needed and Ed had gotten dressed. His winter automail was still at the headquarters from the war, and the area was quarantined – massive fires and sink-holes would do that to a place –, so that would just have to stay behind. Hawkeye promised to retrieve it for them when they were allowed into the area again.

Ed took a good hold of the rope and told Winry to hold on. Then he activated it and disappeared from the hospital.

Now, Ed was happily slouched in a couch. Winry was already hard at work at the desk in their room, having gotten a big kerosene lamp situated on the desk and metal parts spread out over all of it. Ed and Al knew better than to disturb her. Al had already been to the house elves and has asked them to get food for three sent to their room for the meals over the weekend. The less Ed had to walk those stairs, the better.

There was a staff meeting again after dinner, but he had two hours to relax before he had to get there. One of the house elves popped in with food and quivered in excitement when Al generously thanked the little creature. Winry didn't even look up, she was so focussed.

It took Ed and Al's combined forces and stubbornness for her to leave her seat to eat some food.

When they had eaten, Winry retreated back to her table, even though both Al and Ed tried to stop her. Ed rolled his eyes and gave up. Winry knew her limits, she could handle herself.

"McLaggen has been a bit of a nuisance since you left," Al said suddenly, interrupting Ed's dozing.

"What?" Ed sat up. "Hasn't he learned?"

"Apparently not," Al grumbled. "I found him in class the day after you left. I had to throw him out. He's been ambushing me in the hallways too, asking about us doing alchemy without a circle." Ed sighed.

"Awesome," he said unenthusiastically. Al snorted on a laugh.

There was a knock on the door, and Remus entered when Ed shouted permision to enter.

"Hi, Edward," Remus smiled. He looked a bit awkward, but relieved. Ed waved cheerily back. Remus was very clearly trying not to stare at the space on the couch where Ed's left leg shoulw have been. Ed ignored it, mostly since he was sure he would be forced to explain in half an hour anyway.

Winry turned around at the arrival of a new voice, and exchanged greetings before turning back to her work.

"Hiya," Ed said. "How's it been while I was gone?" Remus sat down in a the available chair with a sigh.

"Oh you know, teaching, eating, sleeping, and looking for mass murderers who break into the castle," Remus said wearily. Ed lifted both eyebrows in surprise.

"He got in again?"

"He made it into the Gryffindor common room this time," Al answered for Remus. "Ron Weasley saw him. He got away again. Those trolls you nearly obliterated in the hallway? They're extra protection for the portrait."

"Oh, that's why you stopped me from doing anything to them," Ed nodded. Remus smiled amusedly, not surprised that Ed had reacted violently to the Fat Lady's new protection detail.

"Let get to the meeting," Ed said and grabbed his crutches. "It will take me awhile to hobble over there."

"Let's race," Al said with a impish grin. Ed threw a pillow at him.

Remus looked massively uncomfortable and Ed almost felt bad. Untill a bolt hit him square in the forehead. Remus did a double-take, clearly wondering if he just saw what he thought he saw. Al just grinned.

"Winry!" Ed yelled. "What was that for?!"

"You're making your guest uncomfortable," she answered, her back to him. Ed hadn't even noticed that she had moved, or that she was paying attention to the conversation. That girl was just as terrifying as Hawkeye sometimes.

"You should have kept her away from Hawkeye, brother," Al mumbled. Apparently, he agreed.

Ed grumbled about her all the way out of the room and though the corridors. He only stopped when the moving staircase nearly caused him to fall over.

"Damn these things!" he yelled and righted his crutches. Remus was suspiciously shiny-eyed. Ed ignored him again. He was not about to comfort crying older men. It was bad enough escaping Armstrong's terrifying emotional hugs. He wasn't looking forward to the interrogation that was waiting for him at the staff meeting.

They managed to get to the room where the staff meetings were held just in time for the meeting. Everyone was already there, which was a bit unusual. Burbage, who taught Muggle Studies, were always a few minutes late, and Trelawney were sometimes totally absent. Both were sat in their seats now.

Ed sat down in his usual chair, and said a forced cheerful greeting to the table at large. Most of them were staring at him. Even Sinistra was looking less despicing than usual. Ed raised his eyebrows at them and waited. Al sat down next to him and didn't say a word.

"Edward, why didn't you come to see me after your classes?" Pomfrey asked, leaning forward in her seat. Ed smiled.

"There wasn't any need," he said. "I've been in the hospital for the last days, they've patched me up and Winry is making a new leg as we speak." Pomfrey looked highly disbelieving.

"You come to my office after this meeting and I'll see what I can do about those scratches," she said. Ed nodded, knowing there wasn't any point in arguing.

"Edward, can I ask, what in Merlin's name happened to you?" Pomona asked worriedly. Ed turned to Al.

"I thought you said you told them?" he asked. Al shrugged.

"I told them about the war," he answered.

"I mean - what happened - to your leg," Pomona asked quietly, near whispering at the end of the sentence. Ed rolled his eyes, and Al promptly elbowed him.

"As Poppy can tell you, I had a prostethic leg before," Ed said patiently. Only Al recognized the forced patience. "It got blown up and now I need a new one. Winry, the friend who came with me here, is making it."

"I've seen prostethics, you can't move that well with them!" Sinistra said. It wasn't the biting tone she usually used when talking to Ed, but she wasn't holding back either.

"We've got something better in Amestris," Ed said. "It's called Automail and it's connected to the nerves so it can be moved like a regular limb. It's a bit heavier, and in some ways more problematic, but a lot better than plastic, or even worse, wood."

The rest of the meeting went on from there. Ed explained more about how Automail worked, and how there was quite a few amputees in Amestris who used it. Then they started asking about the war he had allegedly - that was mostly Sinistra - been called to. Ed explained shortly about it, but refused to talk much about it, giving only the bare minimum to keep them satisfied.


Ed, Al and Winry hid away in their rooms for the rest of the weekend.

Or, Ed was hiding.

Winry was working on the new leg, and Al was keeping Ed company.

The trip to the infirmary had been good, even though Ed complained all the way there and all the way back to their rooms. The ribs didn't ache anymore and the lacerations that had remained on his arms and chest was all healed. As was the cut on his forehead.

Sometimes even Ed had to admit that magic wasn't all bad.

Saturday morning saw Ed sleeping soundly, even when Mae jumped up on the bed and nested on his neck. He didn't get up untill well over midday, when Winry sat on him and told him that if he didn't get up, she'd go on a strike and he would be a gimp for a week. Ed reluctantly got up from bed, but sulked for two hours.

Remus came to visit, and as the considerate guy that he was, only asked if Ed's friends back home was okay, and then didn't visit the subject of the war again. Ed was very grateful.

He was immensely curious about Automail though, so Ed gave him a more thorough explanation of his automail leg. Winry interjected with facts and the odd bolt or two. She was using a tiny hand-held welding machine and wearing a pair of spectacular magnifying goggles. Remus eventually got used to their violent and loud interractions.

"I still don't understand how it works," Remus said for the umpteenth time. When he had realized that Ed really had no problem talking about his prostethic limb, the questions kept coming. Eventually, Ed sighed and relented.

"Let me show you how it works, okay?" he said and sat up from his slouch. Remus looked bewildered, but nodded. Ed quickly took off the jacket and right glove so his Automail arm was clearly visible. Remus's eyes widened and his mouth fell open.

"What-?" he whispered.

"This is how a good Automal limb looks like," Ed said proudly. Winry turned around long enough to throw him a quick smile. Ed held the arm out and moved the fingers around. Remus was watching avidly.

"That is extraordinary," he said eventually. He touched one of the fingers and tried moving it. Ed resisted on purpose and moved it around. "It moved like a real hand. I've never noticed that it wasn't flesh and bone."

"Well, my mechanic is the best Amestris has," Ed said matter-of-factly. "And considering how much I pay for the things, they better be good."

"If you stopped breaking it, you would save a whole lot of money, you weirdo," Winry said shortly, still with her back to them.

"Don't complain, I'm your best customer, you gear-head," Ed sniped back. Al was watching amusedly from his seat on the floor next to the fireplace. He had moved out of the couch when Winry threw something at Ed for the second time. He didn't like being in the throw-zone. Mae had happily settled in his lap. She wasn't even taking the time to hiss at Remus anymore.

"How did -," Remus began, then stopped himself. "When -?" Ed helped Remus out of his misery.

"How did I lose the arm? When?" he hedghed. Remus shrugged guiltily.

"I lost both arm and leg at the same time," Ed said, grimacing. "When I was 11." Remus took on a decidedly green tint.

"Eleven?" he repeated. "How in the world do an eleven-year-old lose two limbs?" Ed and Al exchanged looks. Al lifted both eyebrows, and Ed frowned.

"Alchemy," Ed said finally. Remus coughed, choking on air.


"We tried something with alchemy that we shouldn't have, and we paid the price," Ed said. Al shuddered.

"I carried brother to the neighbours, Winry and Granny Pinako," Al said. "They fitted him for Automail."

"How can alchemy do that?" Remus asked incredulously. "We're teaching these kids something that dangerous?"

"Don't worry, Remus, they wont try what we did," Ed reassured him. "They don't have the resources, the know-how or the will." Ed's look was grave.

Remus left them shortly after, shocked and disturbed, but with more answers than when he had arrived.


There it is! I've been looking forward to writing this chapter for so long, and then it went and became difficult to write!