This work is a colaboration between myself and Sphinu - characters of Fullmetal alchemist and Harry Potter are not owned by either of us.
Curious and Unexpected
Snape could tell as he approached the meeting place that something was amiss. The landscape of the secluded courtyard had changed dramatically since the last time he'd been there. Stone walls stood haphazardly at odd angles as if they had just shot up out of the ground. Trees were uprooted and a putrid stench from something undesirable burning hung thick in the air. It should have been easy to navigate because of the full moon but its light was dulled by the hazy smoke.
Occasionally, as he picked his way through the rubble, he happened to step on dark masses that squished unpleasantly underfoot. At one point some thick black goo stuck to his shoe and he did his best to scrape it off on a protruding rock cursing under his breath.
No one seemed to be there but he wasn't ready to leave just yet. This might be a test from the Dark Lord of some kind. He attempted to peer into the shadows as he skulked about.
Then his cloak caught on something causing him to stumble. He looked down expecting to see a tree branch. To his surprise he saw a pale hand gripping the material.
Snape hissed and had his wand out in an instant, wrenching himself free. He leapt back with a flourish, ready to duel. "Who's there?" he demanded.
The hand fell limp to the ground. There was no answer.
It was then that he noticed the crumpled figure attached to it lying motionless. He regarded it for a moment, poised for attack. It remained motionless so he lit the end of his wand. "Lumos!"
The body was no more than a tangle of what appeared to be a scarlet coat and a tousled blond head of hair with a braid sticking out the back. It didn't look threatening but Snape still approached cautiously circling it.
He knelt down next to the figure lying on its side. From what he could tell it was a teenage boy very pale and apparently unconscious. Snape gave the boy's shoulder a rough shake. "Hey! Boy! Wake up!" he commanded as he might one of his students who'd fallen asleep in class.
The youth opened his eyes slightly, enough for Snape to see that they were amber and very glassy looking. He murmured something but it was unintelligible to the potions master. He then again closed his eyes and seemed to lose consciousness.
Snape began to lose his patience and shook him again a bit harder. "Hey! Wake up! What's the matter with you?" he demanded. Instead of opening his eyes, the youth whimpered and clutched at his stomach as he rolled onto his back.
Snape gasped as he saw the answer to his question. The boy's clothes were slashed, ragged and soaked with blood. Snape leaned back, repulsed by the sight and something sharp stuck into his leg. He removed it, glad for the momentary distraction and found he had a broken wand in his hand.
He looked back down at the boy and cursed under his breath. It simply wouldn't be possible for him to walk away from this. This young wizard, whoever he was, had obviously had some sort of a run-in with the Deatheaters he had come to meet. Whether on the side of the Order or part of some dispute among the followers of the Dark Lord he would have to take the lad back to Headquarters. And as distasteful as the job might be it would be Snape who would have to do the taking.
Molly Weasley awoke in the middle of the night to the screeching of the portrait in the hallway. She might have ignored it. She was that tired from all the work she'd done on the house that day but then she heard her husband Arthur calling, "Molly! Come quick!"
The tone of his voice alarmed her and she jumped out of bed immediately, imagining something horrible had happened to one of the children. The sight that awaited her at the bottom of the stairs filled her with dread. Severus and Sirius were leaning over the limp figure of a pale teenager boy obviously in great pain. His clothes were slashed up and bloody and he was covered in splashes of dark slime. She realized it was a total stranger and relief washed over her. She pushed it aside and began to take charge.
She bustled downstairs amid the ruckus. "Goodness! Who is this? What happened?" she exclaimed kneeling down next to the prostrate form and smoothing back straw-coloured hair from the youth's face. Now that she was close she realized there was a foul stench clinging to him.
"Arthur! Be a dear and go and get some towels and hot water," she said to her husband. He was a mere boy she guessed to be about Ron's age and her heart went out to him.
"What happened?" Sirius repeated. "I'm afraid our friend the Professor doesn't think we're worthy of knowing what happened." He glared at Snape over the form on the floor looking quite a bit like the portrait of his mother that raged at them from the wall.
Snape sneered back at him with contempt, "I don't report to you!"
"Never mind that!" Molly snapped at the two of them as if they were her disobedient twins Fred and George. How could they be so insensitive! "This boy needs immediate attention! Snape, help me get this boy upstairs and away from this horrible shrieking and Sirius see if you can do something about that noise."
Sullenly Sirius rose and went to close the curtains over the painting amid the profanity and curses that rained down at him.
Snape used his wand and levitated the injured youth upstairs as if he was on an invisible stretcher while Molly followed behind giving advice and instructions. They took him into a room she had cleaned out a few days before in anticipation of the arrival of her children. Arthur showed up with the items she had requested and was then shooed away with instructions to keep Sirius out of the way. Smoothing over the squabbles between Snape and Sirius were the last thing she needed at the moment.
Molly set Snape to work helping her cleaning the boy up. Together they removed his coat as gently as they could. The teenager drifted in and out of consciousness as they worked, whimpering and gasping in pain. A few pieces of debris fell from his coat which Snape examined for a moment with great interest before resuming the task at hand.
When they started to work on removing the remains of his black shirt it was more difficult to be kind as the blood had dried. Removing the shredded material opened the wounds fresh. As Molly set to bathing the grime and goo from the boy being careful not to contaminate them she was surprised at how hot the touch of his skin was.
When they stripped the sleeve off his right arm Snape shared her surprise that it was a metal prosthetic. "Snape, who is this boy?" she asked in shock.
Snape regarded her for a moment as if debating whether to answer. "I found him like this," he answered simply returning to his work.
"I wonder what happened to his arm," Molly wondered out loud as she started working on bandaging up the wounds now that they'd been cleaned. When that was done she insisted on removing the rest of his filthy clothes before they put him to bed. When they removed his pants and saw his left leg was also a metal prosthetic one, she gasped, "His leg too! The poor dear!"
Snape gave an indifferent shrug before roughly throwing the thin blankets over the youth.
Molly remembered that Snape hadn't answered her question about the boy's identity so she decided to try approaching the matter from a different angle. "Is he a friend or an enemy?" she inquired.
"Dumbledore will decide that," he answered cryptically.
Molly smoothed back the boy's hair from his face. He was sweating even though the room was cool. "He's quite warm. I wonder if he's caught a fever. He lost some blood but his wounds don't seem that serious," she observed frowning.
Snape looked at the teenager lying pale on the bed breathing shallowly. "Its venom," he said darkly. "Venom of the Acromantula. This…" he added, holding up a piece of debris he'd put on the nightstand. "Looks like a bit of a leg. A juvenile I think."
Molly covered her mouth in horror. "No!" she exclaimed.
"Oh don't worry. I have something so it won't be fatal," he said matter-of-factly. "Though I expect that he'll wish it was. I'll be right back" He left the room.
Molly sat watching the boy in the silence that followed. He began to grow restless and opened his eyes. They were unnaturally bright and yellow, and began to look around the room wildly. "Mother!" he called out in a hoarse whisper. "Mother! Don't go!"
The desperate tone of his voice wrenched Molly's heart. She tried to soothe him but he twisted away from her, knocking her hands aside. She was caught off guard by his strength and lost her balance. It was then that Snape came back in the room with a small bottle in his hand. He rushed over to the boy who immediately calmed and let Snape push him back into bed. Molly sat back up.
"I think he's beginning to hallucinate," she said worriedly.
"It's common," Snape said as though this was to be expected. "This should help though."
The potion's master uncorked the bottle then held it to the young man's lips. Carefully Snape poured a small amount of red fluid into his mouth. Almost immediately some color came back into the boy's face and his breathing came easier. He mumbled something too quiet for them to hear as he slipped away from a conscious state again. Molly let out a sigh and at the same time Mr. Weasley slipped his head into the room.
"Molly," said Arthur from the doorway. "Dumbledore's here. Sirius called him over. Is there anything else you need?"
"I don't think so," Snape replied for her. "Everything should be alright as long as you keep that mutt out of here."
"And just who are you calling 'mutt'?" demanded Sirius as he joined Arthur by the doorway. Dumbledore appeared standing behind him.
"Stop!" said Mrs. Weasley in a strict tone. "I don't want the two of you fighting in here. Is that clear?"
Snape and Sirius continued to glare at each other. There was nothing that the two of them would like better than to vent their frustrations with each other: Sirius; because he had no idea what was going on and Snape; because Sirius was a nuisance to him.
When it became apparent neither of them intended to stand down Dumbledore excused himself and pushed by Sirius and Mr. Weasley, entering the bedroom. He smiled kindly at Molly. "How is our guest doing?"
She joined him as he turned his attention on the boy drifting in and out of consciousness. "I'm not really sure," she admitted the worry evident in her voice. "He seems to have lost an arm and a leg," she added though it was perfectly obvious.
"I think Snape owes us an explanation," said Sirius with a growl.
"I owe you nothing," Snape shot back.
"I would like to speak with Severus alone for a moment," said the headmaster giving Sirius a smile. The rough looking man began to quietly sulk. "Molly, would you be so kind as to make me some tea? I've had a rather dreadful evening."
"Of course" she said giving him a smile. "Come on now. Sirius. Arthur."
With that she and the others left Snape and Dumbledore alone with the boy.
Dumbledore took a look at the youth, examining his arm with interest. "So Severus, tell me what happened."
Snape explained everything to Dumbledore, about how he had gone as agreed to meet the Deatheaters and how he had found the boy. Dumbledore interrupted on several occasions to ask about details. He examined the spider remains as they talked. When he was finally finished relating his tale Snape sat down on the bedside chair.
"That's quite the story," said Dumbledore walking over to the red coat hanging on the bedpost that the youth had been wearing. He stood fingering the material examining the symbol that was emblazoned on the back. "This is his?" he asked.
"Yes," Snape answered, wondering if the image had some sort of significance. He hadn't noticed it until now.
"And the wand you found, do you still have it?" Dumbledore asked still fascinated by the coat.
"Yes," Snape replied producing the broken wand from his robes.
Dumbledore took it from him gently, looking at it with great interest. "Would you mind if I borrowed this?" he asked.
Snape snorted. "Keep it as far as I'm concerned. I have my own and I doubt whether it will be of much use to the boy now," he scoffed.
A small smile twisted on Dumbledore's lips as if thoroughly amused. "You're quite right."
"So what's to be done with him?" Snape asked.
"For the moment – cared for and watched," Dumbledore replied. "I'd like you to do it if you can spare the time."
"Me!" Snape exclaimed surprised. "Why not Sirius or Molly or one of the others?"
"I think we may have found something quite out of the ordinary. It may require a certain amount of finesse as it were," Dumbledore explained. "You're by far the best choice given your abilities in knowledge of the mind."
"I see," Snape said looking down at the boy.
"Of course Legilimency or even Veritaserum are out of the question at the moment," Dumbledore nodded at the youth. "But it's essential that we find out what role the boy has in all this. He is most curious and unexpected. I'll know more once I call on a few friends."
"Right," Snape said with a nod.
"I'll see that your things are brought over. It shouldn't be more than a few days," Dumbledore said as he headed to the door. "And I'll see to it that the others understand the situation."
Inwardly Snape smiled to himself as the headmaster left. His being there on Dumbledore's orders would irk Sirius to no end. He wouldn't have much trouble using it against him.
He watched the lad as he moved in his semi-conscious state, knitting his brows in pain. Just who was this boy wizard with the metal arm and leg? Was he some new Voldemort recruit?
Curious and unexpected Dumbledore had said.
He had to agree.
Curious and unexpected.
The pain in his abdomen was excruciating was the first coherent thought that Edward had as he came to consciousness. He tried to fight to stay asleep but the memories of his battle filtered through. He remembered being attacked by four figures in black robes when he'd come through the gate. He'd rather thought he'd been winning when he'd sent the one fellow through the air with a roundhouse kick.
It had been beautiful. Al would've been proud.
He felt his heart lodge in his throat remembering the scene in the theater. He might never see his little brother again. He wondered if his sacrifice had been worth it. Was Al alive and whole somewhere now? Or was there something else that had replaced him out there instead, something evil?
A slight breeze caressed his face soothing his burning skin. Fresh air. But it felt like he was lying in a bed on his side. An open window maybe? Though his eyes were closed he could tell there was natural light in the room. The only noises were distinct household sounds and his own breathing. Or was it his own breathing?
Suddenly there was the sound of a sniff near his face and Edward instinctively opened his eyes. He found himself nose to snout with the ugliest face he'd ever seen! Large watery eyes peered at him widening in surprise allowing Ed to make out every vein. But the most amazing feature of the ancient bald head were the large triangular ears sticking out the sides. They looked like large paintbrushes had been stuck handle first inside them!
Edward pushed himself back as far as he could and cried out not only in shock but also from the pain that crashed through him when he moved. As if on cue several things happened at once.
There was a large dark flourish from the corner of the room as a figure in black rose to standing and the small creature that had been standing beside the bed examining him went flying into the air with a high pitched squeal and hung there. Ed thought it looked like a hairless ape with too much skin. It was naked except for a dirty rag tied around its waist. He might have felt sorry for it but it radiated an evil and unwholesome air.
"Kreature! You filthy beast! Just what do you think you're doing?" the man asked acidly as he strode forward addressing the small form suspended at eye level. He looked very stern dressed in black robes with black hair hanging limply on either side of his face. His nose was hooked and his lip lifted slightly in a sneer that showed utter contempt. In his right hand he held a slender piece of wood.
Edward recognized it from a flash of memory from his battle. It was a wand. The people he had fought had also had them and appeared to be able to perform magic. Just like this man appeared to be levitating this horrid being in mid-air. Was this one of the people he'd fought? He hadn't been able to see their faces.
Kreature as the man had called him wrung his hands and attempted to explain, "Kreature is cleaning! He is cleaning! Please Master Snape, forgive Kreature! He is only cleaning!" Even Edward could see through that pathetic lie.
"I'll do a bit of cleaning myself!" Snape snapped. With a wave of the wand in his hand the door to the room opened and Kreature was propelled flying through it. There was a sickening thud and a moan that Ed assumed was him striking the wall outside. The door slammed shut behind him and locked itself.
"House elves!" Snape muttered. "More trouble than they're worth." He then turned his attention to the youth who hadn't moved. "So you're awake then, are you?"
Ed licked his lips nervously not taking his eyes off of Snape's wand. "Uh, yeah," he said with a small nod. He knew that he was in no condition to defend himself if this man decided to attack him. It took every bit of energy he had just to lie there.
Snape noticed his discomfort and pocketed the wand in his robes. "Don't worry," he assured him. "After all if we intended you any harm we hardly would've gone to the trouble of bandaging you up and putting you to bed, now would we?"
Ed relaxed a bit. It did seem reasonable after all but he couldn't help noticing that Snape had used the word "we" wondering to who he referred to. Somehow he couldn't see him working with that Kreature fellow. At least he hoped that thing hadn't been touching him. It gave him goose bumps even thinking about it.
Ed looked around the bedroom. It had a heavy dark feeling even though the drapes were pulled back and the window was open. The wall paper was dingy and peeling and for some reason there was a blank picture hung on the wall slightly askew. There was another twin bed across the room made up with thread bare blankets. Next to it was a rather hard looking wooden chair and a night table. A wardrobe stood in the corner, though his coat hung on the bedpost.
"Don't bother looking for your wand," said Snape interrupting Edward's inventory of the room.
Ed turned his attention back to the austere man standing before him. It was evident his glittering dark eyes missed nothing. But what did he mean his wand? What was he talking about?
"We've taken it," he continued crossing his arms across his chest. "A precautionary measure, you understand? Though you may find yourself in need of a new one as it was broken."
Ed blinked at him. "I see," he said noncommittally wondering if perhaps he was dreaming after all. This man seemed to assume he knew what he was talking about. Perhaps he'd been transported into someone else's body and life like the time Dante pushed him through the gate. There were no voices in his head though. He looked down. He still had his auto-mail arm and he moved his leg. Yes, his leg too.
He needed to think. To figure out where he was and what was going on but his head was pounding. It was impossible.
The man cleared his throat. Ed looked up at him staring at him expectantly. After a moment when he realized Edward didn't understand he said, "I assume you have a name of some sort."
"Edward Elric…" he began and stopped just short of giving his military title. He'd gotten caught off guard and just after he said it he wondered if he should've given a false name.
"Do you know who I am?" the dark figure prompted him.
Ed gestured weakly toward the door. "That…creature called you Master Snape."
"I'm Professor Severus Snape," he said annunciating his words clearly. "I am Potions Master at Hogwarts."
Edward looked at him blankly. Again this guy seemed to think what he said should mean something to him. He sighed and closed his eyes hoping that sleep would take him and he could wake up again with this all having been a bad dream.
Just then, the doorknob jiggled. Edward opened his eyes wondering who would come through the door next. He noticed the door handle was in the shape of a serpent's head and couldn't help but remember the last time he saw Envy. He looked back at Snape but he hadn't seemed to notice.
The jiggling was followed by an insistent knocking and a voice, "Hey the door's locked!" Still the Professor made no move to go open it.
The knocking turned into pounding doing nothing for the pain in Ed's head. The voice got louder. "Snivellus! Dammit! I will not be kept out of a room in my own house!" Ed could now hear other voices in the hallway.
"Just a moment" Snape said going to the door. He partially opened it and did his best to block Ed's view of people outside the room. "Our guest has awoken," he informed them.
There was a small cry and a matronly woman pushed her way past Snape. He made no move to stop her and she hurried towards Edward.
"My dear! How are you feeling?" she fussed. She pushed the hair off his face and felt his forehead. "You're still rather warm."
Ed did his best to look around her and try to keep his attention on Snape and who he was hiding. He heard them talking in low angry voices. "Are you forgetting your situation?" Snape asked the unseen person. "It wouldn't do us any good if you were seen and the shock of it certainly wouldn't be beneficial to his health either."
Ed's curiosity doubled. The shock of seeing someone? Who was out in the hall? Was it Envy? He was not about to find out. Snape closed the door with a sense of purpose.
His concern must have showed on his face because the woman did her best to soothe him. "Don't worry about Snape and … Snuffles! The two of them don't get along at all. Staying here it's something that you have to get used to," she confided.
Once Snape had finished his conversation he returned to stand over the two of them. "Molly, he must stay out." He instructed the woman.
"Yes, yes Severus," she agreed. "Dumbledore said so as well. I'll do my best to see to it but now the two of you must be hungry, hmmm?" Molly said standing up. "Shall I see to lunch?"
Lunch. Edward hadn't realized until he heard the word how hungry he was and array of mouth watering dishes past through his imagination.
"Clear broth only. I doubt Mr. Elric's stomach will handle much more," Snape directed.
Ed gave a small cry of disappointment but the potions master showed no sympathy.
"Mr. Elric?" the woman asked a bit confused.
"I suppose some introductions are in order. Edward Elric. Molly Weasley," he said indicating them both in turn.
"Elric. Hmmmm. I'm not familiar with your family name, dear is it new?" Mrs. Weasley inquired.
Edward wasn't at all sure how to answer the question. His father was more than four hundred years old but he'd been in this dimension less than a day. "We're not from around here," he answered, hoping that would satisfy her.
"Is there someone we should contact and let know that you've been laid up?" she asked kindly.
Ed thought for a moment .
"No," he answered his voice cracked with emotion. He was totally alone. "There isn't anyone left to tell."
"Well Edward," Molly said smoothing out the sheets and tucking them in. "I'm pleased to make your acquaintance but I'm sure I can do better than clear broth," she said giving him a wink.
The two of them watched her leave before Snape returned to sit sullenly in his hard wooden chair.
Wands and magic. Some mysterious person named Snuffles that it would be a shock to see. Edward couldn't help wondering what else lay beyond that door.