Sans Birthday Cake – part two

Notes: Just in case you didn't get the memo last chapter, this chapter contains MAJOR Half-Blood Prince spoilers. You have been warned.

-o-o-o-o-

The next morning, Ed finds himself gently poked awake at nine o'clock. He rolls over onto his side and throws his arm over his eyes. "Go away, Al," he mumbles.

"Niisan, you've got to get up," Al persists. "Winry's coming, remember?"

"Mmf," comes the reply. Ed sits up slowly and it all comes back to him; Winry is coming to Central today for a visit. "When's her train getting here again?" he asks.

"Ten-thirty," Al answers, tossing Ed his clothes.

A little while later the brothers set out, Al carrying his trusty copy of Half-Blood Prince. He had barely been able to contain himself when he reached chapter two. How could Snape truly be on the bad side? Sure, Snape was awful, but...

Al hadn't finished the book, though the temptation had been great; he'd read it slowly, with the idea of making it last. He has less than two hundred pages left to read.

As fate would have it, it is lucky that Al brought something to do to the train station, for ten-thirty rolls around and there is still no sign of Winry's train. The two continue to wait on a wooden bench, Al wrapped up in the adventures of Harry Potter and his friends. Ed sighs and shifts, eventually coming to rest with his back against Al's side.

For some reason, Al is easy to fall asleep against. He can stay in one position for as long as he likes, considering his legs never fall asleep and his back never gets sore. Indeed, on more than one occasion Ed ends up spending the night sleeping against Al, his red trench coat like a blanket.

...Plus, something about is just...comforting. When the nightmares come calling and Ed wakes with a start, there is his little brother, solid and simply just...there.

Ed sighs again. Al hasn't said anything for a while; all because of Al's dumb book. Ed glowers. It's all the stupid book's fault he's so bored.

...But really, what could be so interesting about it? He looks furtively out of the corner of his eye, but no dice; he can't see any of the text with Al's arm in the way.

"Al."

"Mm?"

"Why's the train late?"

"I dunno, Niisan."

"...Think something's wrong? Maybe it crashed..."

"It's probably fine, Niisan."

Ed shifts again; now he's sitting up next to Al. He leans over just a bit...He wants to see the book, just because he's curious. He peers at the top of the page.

"Niisan?"

Ed jumps and looks up. "What?"

"...Are you reading my book?"

"No," Ed answers quickly. "Just...just looking. What's a Dumbledore?"

Al would have smiled if he could. "It's not a thing, it's a person. He's the headmaster at Hogwarts - oh, that's the school where Harry learns to be a wizard, see - and Dumbledore's one of the greatest wizards ever, and-"

"Right," Ed interrupts, regretting that he asked.

"I've heard he dies in this book," Al says, in a slightly hushed tone.

"Huh." 'That's it,' Ed decides. 'Just stay noncommittal.'

Al seems to be reaching the climax, for he tenses up slightly and mumbles occasionally.

Ed finds himself nodding off; probably out of sheer boredom, he realizes.

"Oh, no!" Al laments in a strangled whisper, and Ed snaps to attention again.

"What is it?" he asks, slightly drowsy.

"S-Snape just killed Dumbledore-!" He'd hoped, though he knew it unlikely, that Snape was actually double-crossing Voldemort; but no, this was proof, wasn't it...? Al felt as betrayed as Dumbledore himself.

"Uh...sorry to hear that?" Ed offers.

Al shifts nervously. "And Hermione, I don't know where she is; I hope she's okay..."

"I'm gonna stretch my legs," Ed jumps in, before Al goes off on a full-fledged rant. Al doesn't reply. Ed rolls his eyes and stands up, pacing the platform a few times.

Then... "Finally!" Ed cries in relief. The train's finally come.

"Hey, Al!" Ed calls over his shoulder, as the train chugs to a stop. "Winry's here!"

"Be there in a minute," Al calls back, distractedly. He's at the funeral scene; there's not much more left now...

Ed rolls his eyes and turns back at a familiar voice shouting his name; Winry's stepping off the train, waving...

-o-o-o-o-

As the three leave the station for the hustle and bustle of Central City, Winry can't help but notice the book under Al's arm.

"You got it?" she cries.

"Mm-hm!" Al answers. "Niisan got it for me, for my birthday!"

Ed feels a bubble of pride swell in his chest.

"I was hoping I'd be able to get one while I was in the city," Winry grins. "Can we go to the bookstore now, please?"

"Sure!" Al beams. Not that a suit of armor can really 'beam'.

"Why not," Ed shrugs. The three change direction and Ed falls back, as Al and Winry begin their rabid Harry Potter talk.

"Is it good?" Winry wants to know, poking at the book.

"Mm. Very good."

Winry laughs. "That didn't sound very convincing..."

"Oh, Al's just upset 'cause...Snake killed Dumble-whatsit," Ed jumps in, annoyed at being ignored.

"...You mean...Snape?" Winry says slowly, dangerously, turning to Ed. "Snape...kills Dumbledore?"

"Y-yeah..." Ed says nervously. He is afraid he is in trouble now.

"Y-You're not supposed to TELL me that!" Winry shrieks, pulling her trusty wrench out of nowhere.

"Crap," Ed gasps, breaking into a run, as the wrench comes flying at his head.

Al sighs and shakes his head. "I guess...I should've explained what 'spoilers' are..."

-o-o-o-o-

Notes: I just love picking on Ed.

I actually had the book spoiled for me, too, and at some point I threatened to start throwing wrenches at people if they spoiled any more of it for me. Teehee.

Comments? Criticisms? Cheesecake?