A/N Hi and welcome to the last chapter of this story! Sorry for a late update once again, but this chapter's longer (nearly double). I want to thank everyone who's read this far, you did a great job. I honestly didn't think I could finish this.
To DemonRaily: I guess I didn't express myself clearly; I never planned to write that far. But it was also not supposed to end in the third year. If you must know, Ed beat me up because he didn't want to play wizard anymore. He said it's the most ridiculous thing he's ever had to do and asked me to finish it up already... Well, basically the story took on a life of its own (I know that's bad because the author's supposed to be in control, but I can't help it either).
To Nordlicht: Danke, dass du mein Deutsch lobst. Dein Englisch muss auch ziemlich gut sein, dass du so weit gelesen hast. Wir haben in der Schule Deutsch als Hauptsprache, aber ich kann es eigentlich nicht so gut. (Kasusfehler usw.)
Disclaimer: Don't own and probably never will.
Ed was lazing around on the bed early in the morning, Draco's bed to be precise. The other teen had already gone up to have his breakfast. Blaise's Kneazle was shooting him wary glances; apparently he wasn't what he expected him to be. Ed found he rather enjoyed scaring the irritating thing. Ginger was much happier without Scabbers around, but Hermione and Ron were either arguing or completely ignoring each other. Ron accused Hermione's cat, namely Ginger or Crookshanks as he had recently found out after overhearing one of the arguments, of having eaten his rat.
'I couldn't have eaten that disgusting rat even if my life was on the line.' Ed thought.
Now that Crookshanks had protected his owner, he seemed pretty bored, so it might be possible to ask for his help once more. But currently Ed was waiting for news from either the minister or Sirius, he hadn't heard from either of them since he had received the letter. So, naturally he was distracted and was trying to think of possible places where this magical gate could be. When he actually thought about it, he came to the conclusion that it would have to be someplace with a high concentration of magic. Places that came up were Azkaban or other wizarding prisons if there were any, the Ministry of Magic, Hogwarts, Diagon Alley and the alleys connected to it and possibly houses belonging to rich and old wizarding families. Ed sat up abruptly when he heard loud footsteps racing down the stairs and then two huge boys nearly slamming the door open.
"Here kitty, kitty, kitty..." Both Crabbe and Goyle were repeating over and over again while slowly closing the distance between them and Ed. "Pansy said we should strangle you, because then Draco would be happy with us. So, don't take it personally..."
As soon as they were close enough, Ed jumped and climbed up Crabbe's arm while scratching it up, jumped off his head and dashed for the door. Just as he was about to run up the stairs, he banged head first into Draco's leg, who was also rather stunned, especially when the other two came lumbering out.
"What, may I ask are you two doing?" Draco asked with a raised eyebrow.
"Uhhh... Pansy said you'd be really happy if we handed her your dead cat..."
"Can't you guys think for yourself for once? Why in the world would I be happy if you strangled my cat?"
Draco picked Ed up and walked back into the room, grabbed his school stuff and left, leaving the two confused idiots standing there. After walking for a while, he set Ed down near the kitchens.
"There's a cats' place here, right? None of them should know about it, so you'll be safe. I really wonder what that idiot Pansy is thinking though..." Before he left, he took out a letter from his pocket and gave it to Ed. "I think this is for you. Good luck!"
Ed looked at the letter and looked who it was from.
'Snuffles? Now where have I heard that before... ?'
And then he remembered that it was what they had called Sirius during they're escape.
'What the hell is he thinking! After what happened to the other letter, he could have contacted me some other way...'
Ed walked into the cat place and put the letter down. He looked around to see that no one was there yet, so he decided to open it there. Using one of his sharp claws, he carefully slit the envelope open and pulled out its contents.
'Everything's okay. Back already.' Is what it said.
Ed clapped his paws and destroyed the letter. When the House-Elves looked over because of the blinding blue light, he just sat there and pretended not to know anything and looked back at them hungrily.
They hadn't decided how exactly they were going to proceed with Dumbledore. Monitering Dumbledore would be more difficult than monitering Scabbers, because it would be painfully obvious who they were and what they were up to if they did. But Ed wondered if he even followed a daily schedule besides appearing for meals most of the time and occasionally Quidditch games.
'If Elmar or Crookshanks could try and find out...' At that moment Elmar came in running and crying. She flung herself onto him and continued to sob.
Ed motioned her to follow him to an abandoned classroom.
"Shh... Stop crying, you'll be heard. What happened?" He asked her when they were alone.
"Sir! Mr. Dumbledore asked Elmar to go back home, sir! Now Elmar can't help you, sir!" She wailed, not really able to control her tears.
"It's alright, and you can even tell Trisha and Alphonse that I'm fine. You don't have to be so sad." He said to her.
Sometimes it bugged him how sensitive some House-Elves could be, but he couldn't really get angry with them.
"Really, Edward?" She asked him after rubbing her fingers together nervously for a long time and getting her tears under control.
Her tear streaked face cracked into a small smile. After a little more sniffing, she finally said: "Elmar should be going back now. Good luck Edward." All the while she rubbed her fingers together nervously.
"Yeah, thanks I'll need it." Elmar then used her elven magic to apparate.
Ed changed back into a cat and wondered aimlessly around the halls, trying to come up with a plan. He now had one ally less in this fight.
Back in Amestris, he and Al hardly ever relied on other people; he was too stubborn to ask for help anyway. A meowing sound brought him out of his thoughts. Crookshanks motioned for him to follow, so he did. They walked up to the Forbidden Forest and entered it. Ed was getting tired after walking around in there for ages, but just a little later they exited the forest again. To his surprise, he realized they were on a hill overlooking what must have been Hogsmead. It seemed to be bustling with activity; the whole place was filled with students. Ed remembered that it was the Hogsmead weekend, which only served to puzzle him as to the reason why Crookshanks would bring him here. Then he thought they might not actually be heading for it, but just passing by. That idea was quickly thrown away, when Crookshanks continued walking straight for it. The village was actually much bigger than Ed had expected. All the houses were old fashioned, but well maintained, especially those closest to what was no doubt the main road. It was difficult to wind their way around the students' legs, but eventually they bent into a less crowded street. There were no shops there; it seemed to be the living quarters. Crookshanks walked up to one of the bigger houses and entered it through the cat flap in the door. Ed followed, although he felt uncomfortable about the situation. The house was much warmer than the autumn air outside and much better for him, because lions generally enjoyed warm climate more. Footsteps came down the stairs, Ed ran and hid under one of the couches, looking to see who it was. Crookshanks didn't move and a moment later Ed found out why. It was none other than Sirius who had come. Ed crawled out from underneath the couch again.
"Sirius! What are you doing here?" Ed asked.
"Hey Ed! I know it wasn't the best idea, but I hope you got my letter?"
"Yeah, I did, but-"
"I know, I know. Let me explain. When I went to the Ministry of Magic, I let Fudge and a few other people he trusts see the serum you brewed, don't worry, they swore an unbreakable vow with me, same conditions as with Fudge. They were most impressed with it and agreed that it should be used to interrogate Dumbledore. They also told me, that with proof we've gathered of the actual murderer of those muggles and the one who betrayed James and Lily, I'm as good as free. They just can't announce it yet because they also can't announce that Pettigrew is alive and guilty."
"And so why are we in this house?" Ed asked impatiently, it was good news and all, but he feared someone might enter and discover them.
"One of those guys who's now on our side lent it to me. Said it'd be more comfortable than sleeping outside in the forest. How right he is. Don't worry, really no one can come in here, it's well locked up. The only way in is through the flap on the back door. Well, accept if you had the keys, which I do have, but it's just easier to keep this place locked up."
"But wouldn't it look weird if he had animals coming in here all the time?"
"Nah, although he doesn't know about our Animagus forms, in some random chitchat he said that he has quite a lot of animals at his main house just outside of London, said he's an animal lover."
Ed breathed out a sigh of relief and dropped himself onto the couch. Since there was obviously a reason why they shouldn't be using the Shrieking Shack, it was nice to know there was a place they could talk in undisturbed.
"But there's no time to rest just yet. We need to come up with something." Ed said.
"Yeah, true. I just have no idea what." Sirius said.
Then he went to the kitchen and got out some food for Crookshanks.
"Sirius, do you happen to know where the Headmaster's office is?" Ed asked thoughtfully. "The last time I was there, I was unconscious on the way."
"Yeah, I do know, in fact I know it all too well. I was a frequent visitor with all the pranks we were pulling. I know nearly all the hallways and rooms. You could even say that I know it like the back of my hand." He said proudly, but then sobered up a bit.
"But so does Remus. I wonder if he got the map back, I hope not. We wouldn't be able to travel Hogwarts grounds undetected if he really did get it back."
"Why what does it do?"
"It shows Hogwarts with all its passwords and halls, but not only that, it will show the names of all people currently on the grounds, where they are and where they're going. So, I don't even know if you should go back onto the grounds..."
"What! Why didn't you tell me earlier? Dumbledore might already know that we're here! Lupin might have already told him!"
"Calm down. I doubt he had the map; it was confiscated sometime in our last school year by Filch no less. If you've ever met him I'm sure you can imagine that he wouldn't let go of something he had confiscated that easily, especially if that something was an object he could not identify. I'm pretty sure he wouldn't even return it if the person became a teacher."
Ed thought for a bit, sure Sirius had a point there, but one also had to consider the situation. They were 'highly dangerous criminals', who broke out of jail and there was a chance that they'd attack the students, or from the rumors that floated about, one particular student. Then something Sirius said made him wonder.
"So he doesn't know what it does?"
"If he hasn't found out over the years, then no. It looks just like any spare piece of parchment, you see. But it has an activation password and it won't give up its secrets with just a simple spell. It was made by us after all."
Ed nodded taking in the information. "Is there any chance either one of you could recreate it?"
"Hell no, Remus put in quite a few spells, but James did most of them, especially concerning the location of people at any time. I did most of the drawings, together with Peter, although he really didn't do much and we all explored Hogwarts together. There's no way either one of us could recreate the map in a useful way. And I probably wouldn't be able to draw the castle in the correct proportions without checking out the place again."
Ed had to agree to that, he did make something similar all by himself, but he hadn't put in those tracking spells and all the other fancy stuff they seemed to have put into it. Besides, Sirius claimed he knew Hogwarts really well, so it wouldn't make a big difference if they had a map or not.
"Okay, that's good then. But we'll have to come up with a plan that doesn't involve us staying on the grounds for long periods of time."
"Argh, isn't that hopeless? What plan involving the capturing of Dumbledore, will not involve us being there for a long time?"
"But you agree that with a good plan, we could lessen the time?"
Sirius grumbled something, but it seemed that he agreed. Ed stared into the flickering flames in the fireplace, trying to come up with something. After thinking things through for a bit, he thought that he had come up with a reasonably good estimation of the time they would need and the best time for their attempt at capturing the old headmaster.
"Okay, listen up. This is what we'll do..."
Several days later, Crookshanks came back through the cat flap in the door to report what he had seen.
"Crookshanks will keep track of Lupin for a while to see if he has the map, if he does come back and tell us, okay? If he doesn't go, and see if you can learn anything from Dumbledore."
The cat reported that Dumbledore was mostly in his office.
"Do you know what the password is?" Ed asked hopefully.
The cat gave him a sign that it did; now the problem was finding out what it was exactly. But there seemed to be a solution for that as it motioned for Ed to follow it out onto the streets. Sirius had to stay behind, since wizards could be extremely superstitious and even if they weren't, a big black dog would stick out like a sore thumb. They winded their way through the streets. It wasn't as crowded as the other day, but still there were quite a few people out today. Crookshanks stopped in front of Honeyduke's. First Ed was wondering what Crookshanks intended to do, as it had its virtually flat face pressed against the window. But the next thing he knew he was running away from the shop as if his live depended on it. Crookshanks had run into the shop as soon as someone entered and had opened the door. The bandy-legged cat was fast, really fast. It snagged some sweet and then rushed out of the store, Ed running after it as soon as he had realized what it had done. Of course they were being followed closely by one angry store owner. They had to make a large detour and run around the villager twice before finally being able to lose the man. When they got back into the house, Ed was too tired to even think of being angry with the cat. Running on four legs was still quite a challenge, especially for a long time and at a high speed. Sirius twirled the confection in his fingers, trying to figure out the meaning behind it.
"So, that's the password?" Ed asked, changing back after he caught his breath.
"This is the password?" Sirius repeated. "Oh yeah! That's possible. During my school time Dumbledore's password could have been any sweet, from muggle sweets to wizard sweets." Sirius said, then after thinking about it a bit added: "But usually they were muggle sweets. Anyway let's stop wasting time here, can't allow him to do any harm to Harry or any others..."
"Right, let's go through the plan once more and then get going."
It was nearly dusk when both Ed and Sirius made their way through the cat tunnel at the entrance.
The Great Hall was filled with laughter and chatter.
"We'll make our way to his office while they're eating."
As expected, no one was around, not even Mrs. Norris. Sirius led the way up to Dumbledore's office. The voices could now be heard in the halls, the meal was ending, and some who left early were on their way to their common rooms. Ed and Sirius had to hurry. The choice of timing was purely intentional, their plan wouldn't work if they were too early, but being too late wouldn't be good either, as they would either be on the grounds too long for their liking, or Dumbledore would be waiting for them. Crookshanks joined them on their way there, they were not on a path people normally took to get to their common rooms, so there was not a big fear of being detected. The darkness also helped them hide from the portraits. The stone Gargoyle guarding the headmaster's office was easy to find. Both of them made sure that the hallway was clear and then changed back.
"Sugar Quill." They whispered into the darkness.
The gargoyle jumped to the side, surprising Ed. Sirius grinned at that, but refrained from laughing, because it might blow their cover. Crookshanks was the first to make a move; he climbed up the spiral staircase, followed closely by the other two. The room was just as strange as Ed had remembered it. The silver instruments whirred around on the odd spindly legged tables.
"We'll make a trapdoor to hide in, so we won't be seen."
Before he could look around more, a fiery red object assaulted him, knocking him backward onto the ground. When he opened his eyes again, he saw that it must have been Dumbledore's bird, a phoenix judging by the looks. It wasn't in its best stage in life, but the colors were still very vibrant. The ginger colored cat jumped and scratched the bird, which screeched in response. Before it could compose itself, it was attacked again, this time the cat jumped onto it and tried lodging itself there. The bird shrieked louder. Ed quickly transmutated a hole with a trapdoor in the floor, cast an Imperturbable charm on it and grabbed the phoenix, that was flapping around madly trying to get the cat off of it. Crookshanks let go and Ed stuffed the bird in the hole and shut it, sealing it with another transmutation. He wasn't an animal torturer and he felt bad for shutting it down there, but it was just making too much noise. Still, he left a hole just big enough for it to get enough air, but not big enough for it to come out or stick its beak over the silencing boundaries. Those charms were actually pretty nifty, as you could hear what was around you, but no one else could hear what you were talking about. The cat walked out of the room, as it felt that its duty was done. He proceeded to make a space under the floor for the two of them and cast an Imperturbable charm on it as well. Sirius meanwhile searched for any signs of a Sneakoscope, he found one and cast a Silencing charm on it and put it somewhere in a corner where Dumbledore wouldn't see it. Sirius decided to try out a new spell he learned. After casting it, the floor looked ordinary from above, but from below they were able to see clearly into the room. Satisfied that that was the best setup, they went into the hole and hid. They didn't have to wait long 'till he finally came, but he brought with him unexpected company.
Sirius jaw dropped open slightly.
"Now, I expect both of you don't know why you're here."
"Neither do I, headmaster."
Dumbledore nodded and then picked up his wand and pointed it at the office door. A soft click could be heard and Remus understood that the door was locked, which made him fidget a bit. Harry didn't know what to think about this situation.
"I shall make it short for the both of you. You are a hindrance to my plans!" He said and pointed his wand at them.
"What do you mean, headmaster?" Remus asked disbelievingly, drawing his wand slowly. Any sudden movements could make Dumbledore attack them; he needed to get some time. Harry's hand moved to his robe pocket too.
"Exactly what I said, Remus. Once I kill both of you, it will be much easier to control and destroy the wizarding world!"
"So it was you after all." Remus said.
Not a moment all three of them had their wands drawn, Both Harry's and Remus' at Dumbledore and Dumbledore at Remus, his other hand prepared to fire wandless magic at Harry.
"Professor Dumbledore, it's true then, what Ed told me?" Harry started, his voice wavered a bit, but his wand was held firmly.
"I wouldn't know what he told you, now would I, Harry?"
"You're trying to destroy the wizarding world? Then James and Lily's muder... Were you also responsible for that?" Remus asked, Sirius knew his friend really well and judging from his deadly calm demeanor, he was pretty angry.
"Yes, yes, and I have to thank your friend Peter Pettigrew for siding with me. The good side shall prevail after all. But enough with the chitchat."
Harry saw how the glass of the office froze and icicles formed. The two hidden people knew that feeling all too well.
"Both you shall die here tonight. A sad tragedy it is, the Boy-Who-Lived and one of his parents' best friends, dying in the headmaster's office..." He said, opening the window.
"WHY!" Harry shouted at him, as the first cloaked figures came into the room.
"There is no need for you to understand why." Dumbledore said with a small smile on his face.
Ed's mind had gone blank for a moment, but then without thinking he clapped his hands and touched the floor, transmutating it into a fist that knocked the dementors away from both Harry and Remus and cleared the floor for them to get out of their hideout. Dumbledore took a shocked step backward. Remus summoned his Patronus to block off some of the beasts. Another clap resounded and a dementor flew into bits and pieces.
"Petrificus Totalus!" Sirius yelled, throwing his spell at Dumbledore, who blocked it just on time.
Ed continued clapping and destroying dementors, but there seemed to be far more than anyone had expected. Remus pulled Harry aside, so he could better protect him.
"Sirius!" He called.
Sirius couldn't afford to spare him a glance, so he just nodded after avoiding one of Dumbledore's return attacks.
"I can help too!" Harry insisted.
"You're annoying!" Dumbledore said and shot a spell toward Harry. He then turned to Ed to try to land a few spells on him, but the teen avoided quickly and continued creating bigger heaps of dementor dust in the office.
Remus pushed him aside, intending to protect Harry with his life. Harry however didn't feel like losing anyone in the moment and pushed Remus away again, who fell onto the floor. The spell seemed like it would hit Harry, but just before the impact, it change course and smashed into some of Dumbledore's silver instruments instead. They blew up sending bits of silver flying throughout the room. Harry threw himself onto the floor beside Remus to cover his face and Ed created a wall by means of Alchemy. Dumbledore created a shield to protect himself and clicked his tongue, he had been expecting Remus to shield Harry, but he didn't think Harry would have pushed Remus away. The spell Voldemort had cast to protect the boy were still strong. But Sirius, who was standing furthest away from the explosion, cast a stunning spell on the elder wizard with more force than would have been necessary. He hit Dumbledore, knocking him to the ground and rendering him unconscious, but not protecting himself had its consequences.
"Sirius! What happened?" Remus yelled again, now standing up and running over to him.
Harry and Ed came over too. Sirius clutched his left eye, from which blood was dripping onto the floor.
"No worries, just my eye... Nothing big..."
"Let me take out the shard." Remus prompted.
"It's fine, I can do it by myself. More importantly, Ed, check the old man."
"Right." Dumbledore was indeed unconscious. Ed bound him and took away his wand, although he probably didn't really need it.
"Remus, Ed, what's going on?" Harry finally decided to ask, he seemed extremely lost.
Remus was about to start explaining, but then both Sirius and Ed cut him off and then Sirius elaborated: "We need to get this guy questioned first. We only have this one chance, so let's get a move on. I suggest you come along, Harry." Sirius expression softened as he looked at Harry's face. Harry looked to Ed and Remus to confirm that Sirius could be trusted, and they both nodded. Remus cast a spell on his friend's eye.
"It'll help with the pain." He said.
Ed ripped off part of his pants and transmutated it so it would be better suited as a bandage and helped Sirius cover his wounded eye with it. Sirius thanked them and took out Fudge's handkerchief.
"Just grab on and don't let go, Harry." Sirius said.
Remus and Ed each took hold of Dumbledore from different sides and held the cloth as well.
"Cheesecake!" Sirius said.
And then the headmaster's office spinned out of sight and the Wizengamot courtroom appeared before them. Harry having never travelled this way before landed on his behind.
"What's this? Looks like we have more guests than we had anticipated." One of the violet clad wizards said.
A few people rushed to them, including Fudge. Some went to check Dumbledore's status while a few went to lead the others to some seats in the back of the room. Ed guessed that nearly everyone in the Wizengamot was present, not all of them were necessarily on their side. Remus quickly introduced Harry to Sirius, his last remaining friend from their school days. Then he started explaining to Harry how he had retrieved the Marauder's Map from Filch's office and noticed that Pettigrew was alive, thus making him suspect something fishy was going on with Dumbledore . Harry was still not very comfortable around Sirius, which both Ed and Remus could see pained the godfather a great deal, but neither of them said anything about it. The room quieted and the attention shifted to the wizard in the front who was now giving Dumbledore, who was locked to the magic disabling chair, the Veritaserum that Ed had brewed. After feeding him every last drop from the vial, the wizard retreated to his seat and another one casted a 'Rennervate' on Dumbledore. As soon as Dumbledore stirred the questioning began.
"Full name?" Someone asked.
"Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore." He said without wavering.
As the others were still stunned that two kids and two adults really managed to capture and contain the famous Albus Dumbledore, Fudge decided to take the lead, Ed had warned him that Albus might fight the potion relatively fast.
"Did you kill the Potters?"
"Yes, I did."
"Was He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named trying to destroy the wizarding world?"
"No, he wasn't."
"Yes, I was."
Throughout the questioning the delay between Fudges questions and Dumbledore's answers had been growing steadily longer.
"Why are you trying to destroy the wizarding community?"
Dumbledore didn't answer, he must have been fighting the potion in hopes that whatever plan he had was not revealed before he was free and had magic to fight back with.
Just when Fudge was about to ask him again, someone in the Wizengamot stood up.
"We have to stop this, this is absurd! Obviously one of them must have messed with the potion or with Dumbledore's memories. We must let him go now!"
Before anyone could react, the wizard had drawn his wand and pointed it straight at Dumbledore's chair. A yellow light engulfed the chair and then the locks opened up. Dumbledore started laughing evilly and everyone, including the wizard who had just let him go, was so startled that they didn't move.
"I must thank you my friend. You ask why? It's simple really, because everything about wizards is driving me nuts! All wizards do every day is fight amongst themselves and discriminate against our non-magical brethren! That is why I aim to destroy the whole wizarding world and none of you are able to stop me!"
At once the whole room was in chaos. Those in the back fled the room hurriedly as Dumbledore flicked his hands on both sides, causing powerful gusts of wind to lift everything from parchment to small wizards into the air. The four special guests quickly ducked onto the ground and managed to protect themselves from the gusts with the help of the benches. Waving his hand, Dumbledore summoned a wand to himself and proceeded to close all the doors, so no one could escape. Ed clapped his hands and slammed them onto the locked door, breaking through the magical lock and then completely vanishing the door so that there was more space for people to escape.
"You Elric are the most irritating little brat I've ever met!" Dumbledore shouted.
"WHO THE HELL ARE YOU CALLING SO SMALL HE COULD BE SQUISHED BY AN ANT'S SPINDLY LEGS!" Ed shouted back at the old wizard, while he smashed his hands on the floor again, causing earthen spikes accompanied by blue lights to shoot out of the ground and head towards Dumbledore, who merely lifted his hands up and with that simple gesture floated high enough not to be hit by the attack.
"I'm not going to lose this time, you sick old man!"
Ed clapped again and placed his hands on the wall. More spikes shot out horizontally headed straight for Dumbledore he lowered himself slightly too little. Other than his hat, nothing was damaged. Harry, Remus and Sirius were the only other ones left in there shooting spells continually at Dumbledore. Now that the room wasn't crowded, the old headmaster was an easy target for the four of them to gang up on, so he decided to try a different approach. With a few flicks of his hands, Dumbledore soared out of the room and floated backward through the corridors, all the while shooting spells at his pursuers. It was easy for Ed to avoid, but less so for the other three, especially Sirius, who seemed to be having difficulties judging his distance from the spells. So instead of avoiding all of them, he blocked a few here and there, leaving the rest to Remus. They followed him all the way until the elevator, where the old man entered one of them and descended to the ninth level. The four of them quickly got into the other one and anxiously followed the man down. Ed had no idea what was down there, but there was no way he'd wait up there for the old man to come up again, when in reality he might have already let Dumbledore escape. From the expression the two adults had on their faces, they did not know what Dumbledore was planning either.
"Be careful all of you, the Department of Mysteries is down here. We don't know what's in it, so watch yourself." Remus said.
"Got it." Ed said, the scientist in him wondering what the place was all about.
When the elevator opened, all of them were standing to the side, just in case Dumbledore would fire something directly at them when they tried to come out. A red bolt of light, presumably the Stunning spell, hit the back wall of the elevator; however it caused no damage, since it only worked on living beings. Ed crouched low and put his hands together and then quickly touched the floor with one of his hands, sending spikes at Dumbledore again, just to distract him long enough for them to exit the lift. They found themselves in an extraordinarily plain corridor with a simple black door at the end, towards which Dumbledore was heading. The old man seemed to be waiting for them to reach him while firing spells at them. When they were quite close, he opened the door and floated through it into the next room. The four of them followed him into the circular room. Ed looked back only as the door shut itself and the walls began spinning, so fast that his eyes couldn't follow the door they had come from, while casting spells at Dumbledore and avoiding those cast by the man. When he had to do a dodge roll to avoid one of the spells, Ed finally saw the floor. It was so highly polished that it could have been mistaken for standing water. For a short moment it made him lose his balance, his mind telling him that he should be falling into it. That was when the wall stopped rotating and Ed saw the handle-less black doors, each exactly the same as the other. Dumbledore moved up to one of them and turned back to smirk before entering it. Ed, provoked by that small gesture, followed him into the chamber. The other three entered as well. In contrast to the previous room, this one was squarish. It was fairly big and dimly lit and somewhat resembled the courtroom they had been in before the chase had started. The whole room seemed to be made of stone. Stone piers led down to the center where upon a dais a tall ancient stone archway was presented. From this archway hung a black tattered cloth which swayed gently in a non-existent wind. Taking a few steps closer to it, Ed thought he heard voices and felt completely drawn to its elegant shape and gentle movements, despite getting a bad feeling from it.
"Ed, stop!" Sirius yelled, already busy with restraining Harry from trying to approach it.
"It's no use! The stupid child is completely mesmerized by it!" Dumbledore stated laughing like a maniac.
But Ed didn't really care about the voices around him. As he got closer the voices from beyond the black veil became louder and more distinguished from one another. He thought he could make out what a few of them were saying. Remus couldn't get him to move away from it as Dumbledore kept him busy with some spells. Ed took a step up the veil and closed his eyes, listening to the voices calling him to go to them.
'You're mine now.' One voice louder than the rest said.
Ed's eyes opened instantly and took a step back. Those tempting voices, the calls, he remembered what they were.
'The gate!' Ed thought.
The headmaster seemed surprised at him being able to tear away from the tempting of the veil. Ed drew his wand and aimed it at Dumbledore, who was floating right above the archway.
"Stupefy!" He called.
Red light shot out. Dumbledore avoided to the side before the spell was even close to him. But to Ed's surprise, the spell suddenly changed course and headed right into the black cloth-like substance. It absorbed it, leading the archway to glow for a moment. Ed stepped back in fear that something would happen, but nothing else happened. The voices threatened to make him lose his focus again. But he aimed his wand at Dumbledore again and consistently fired spells at him. But like before, all of them were just absorbed into the tattered black cloth.
'Shit! What the hell is this? I can't use my magic? Then why the hell can he do it? Damn! He's too high up, I'll waste way too much energy making spikes that tall!'
Not only Dumbledore's but the other three's magic seemed to be fine as well. Harry had also regained his composure thanks to Sirius' persuasion.
"Hah! Your magic is useless, Elric! Expelliarmus!"
Ed felt his hand jerk and he lost grip of his wand which flew in the direction of the veil and then disappeared beyond it.
Despite knowing it would cost him a lot of energy and possibly lead to a disadvantage, Ed clapped and shot spikes toward, Dumbledore. The spikes were normal, but Ed realized the transmutation lights were purple.
'Oh no, a bad sign...'
A strong gust blew from somewhere, sending Dumbledore towards the floor. The wind seemed to be rushed wildly around the room and it felt as if the gravitational force had increased. Ed clapped again, this time a hand shot out of the ground and was about to slam Dumbledore, but he countered with the Reductor curse. Again, it was accompanied by purple light and the stone archway lit up, now glowing a bright yellow.
"What the hell are you doing, Ed!" Sirius yelled down to him from the edge of the room.
"I'm not doing anything! It has to be the room reacting or something, I don't know!" He yelled back.
Although Dumbledore was equally puzzled, he used the confusion of the moment and was about to fire a spell at Sirius, Harry and Remus who were standing together, trying to help each other resist the weird storm in the middle of the ministry of magic. Ed noticed on time and clapped again, transmutating more spikes so that Dumbledore was forced to avoid.
"You stupid annoying brat!" He called.
Ed rushed forward, attempting to knock the wand away from Dumbledore, at least then his spells wouldn't be that strong. The voices became louder as he approached, because Dumbledore was standing in front of the structure. Just when Ed tackled him and slammed him to the floor, Ed noticed something out of the corner of his eyes. With one hand still on Dumbledore, he turned around and his eyes widened when he saw little black hands shooting out of the veil and grasping every inch of his and Dumbledore's bodies. The voices became so plentiful that they melted into a collective buzzing in the back of his mind. And then in a single moment they vanished completely.
The wind died down, the glowing ceased and the gravity seemed to have returned to normal.
All was quiet.
"What just happened?" Remus asked.
"No idea man." Sirius replied.
Both of the adults had to hold Harry back to stop him from jumping in after his friend.
"Ed!" He called desperately.
Ed found himself staring up at the gate surrounded by a vast plain of white. This gate was the way he remembered it: black and menacing with double doors and what appeared to be an upside down tree. But something else caught his attention. Engraved onto this gate were four magical beasts:
'Two Thestrals, a Griffin and a Hippogriff.' Ed thought to himself.
"What is this place!" Dumbledore asked in a panic.
Ed didn't know what to say either.
"Yo! It's good to see you again."
Ed turned around to see an invisible figure, as absurd as that sounded. It was invisible, yet it stood out from the white in the background. It was clearly sitting there on the ground, yet it didn't cast a shadow, unlike him or the old man. Ed ground his teeth together.
"What're you going to take from me this time?" He asked, feeling extremely calm although he knew what it could do.
"What? Oho! As much as I would like to take something from you, Mr. Alchemist, I can't. But it appears you don't understand why. Oh well, I guess I don't mind telling you since we have some time." The thing said, completely ignoring Dumbledore's confusion.
"What do you mean we have time?" Ed questioned.
"One question at a time, Mr. Alchemist. I've already taken all that I'm allowed to. All those spells you've casted sure must have cost a lot of energy and your wand also accounts for a lot, so I simply can't take anymore. It's an equivalent trade after all, no? As for your other question, magic is simply more difficult to consume than physical things, so I really don't like this, just remember that. Congratulations though, you've finally found a way to return to where you belong without sacrificing anything of significant value to you. It does make me somewhat mad though. Then again, it's just a one way thing, so if you do want to go back there, you'll have to find another way."
It said and then grinned at Ed with its pearly white teeth.
"W-What are you!" Dumbledore shouted at it.
'Considering his age, this must be the first time in a long time that he's faced something unfamiliar.' Ed thought.
The white figure's grin just grew wider. "What I am? Hehehe... haven't done this in a while, let's see... I am God, the world, the universe and all, but most importantly... I'm you." His face spread out into a wicked grin once more and the gate behind them opened.
Ed and Dumbledore were once more grabbed by the hands and pulled into the black abyss. Ed felt the nonsensical random information getting cramped into his mind again; it was the same every time. He supposed he could get used to it, but then quickly berated himself for thinking that anyone would pass willingly through the gate so many times that they could get used to the information flood. He wondered where he would be deposited.
"Al, thanks for helping out with the colonel."
"No, no, it's alright, Lieutenant Hawkeye. Me and brother, we owe him a lot, don't we? I just did what I could. You really don't have to treat me for lunch-" Suddenly Al stopped. Something felt extremely strange all of a sudden.
"Al, what's wrong?" Riza asked, worry written across her face. Suddenly Al felt it, a powerful surge of energy came from within him and a huge eye appeared right in the middle of the space in front of Central's military headquarters. Some black tentacles emerged and spat out a young blond teenager and an old man with a long beard and weird clothes. Hawkeye immediately pulled out her gun and pointed it from one to the other. Al's eyes grew wide.
"Brother!" He yelled and ran towards the teen.
"Al!" He said and hugged him tightly.
Although the difference in height was painfully obvious, Ed ignored it.
"Ed?" A familiar voice asked. Roy Mustang had just come from the front gates of the headquarters. A smirk formed on his face.
"So you were alive after all."
"So are you." Ed said, refraining from saying anything rude.
"Who's that?" Roy asked when he saw Riza's gun still pointed at an old man on the floor.
"That's what I was just about to ask too." She said.
"Fools!" Dumbledore shouted, taking his wand in his hand once more and standing up.
"He's just an old lunatic, but it would probably be better if the military put him in a mental institution."
Roy raised his eyebrow.
The old headmaster was angered by this display of arrogance. "I shall teach you your place! Stupify! Ha!" He shouted, but nothing happened.
"Ah, you must be Mr. Dumbledore. I think magic doesn't work on this side of the gate, though." Al said innocently.
Ed thought he might have pitied the elderly man.
"Magic?" Both Roy and Riza asked, a bit confused.
"I'll tell you about it later. What do you think we should do with him Lieutenant?"
"Hmm... We can't let him go, since a crazy old man might scare the children of Central. I think your proposal might work best." Out of nowhere she flipped out some handcuffs and put them around Dumbledore's hands.
"Nooo!" He shouted, while being pulled by Riza.
"Al? Could you come help in the kitchen? And Ed! Get up already!" Winry called.
"You do realize that you're not getting one bit to eat if you don't get up right now, don't you?"
"Okay, Winry." Al called.
"Yeah, yeah, m'coming Winry..." Ed muttered.
"Geez, you do realize that I'm not your mother, right?" And then she shook her head and sighed. "I'll never get used to both of you practically being twins."
Ed yawned and scratched his back.
He had decided to join the military again, simply because he didn't know anything else he could do to earn a living. Of course he passed the state alchemist exam with flying colors. As for his alchemist name, they decided to leave it as it was; the new Führer wasn't as creative as the last. Once again, he had been assigned under colonel Roy Mustang. Although Roy had helped find out about the conspiracy that involved the last Führer, he was not promoted. They said that his leaving the military like that had been very irresponsible, but he still had the opportunity to rise in rank through further good deeds. As usual, Roy had started calling Ed anything that could be associated to the word short, but he did admit that Ed was taller than he had been the previous time he'd been that age. He still liked giving Ed missions where both of them knew that something would explode or get destroyed even before the mission had started. But at the moment he was on vacation, so he decided to come back to Resembool, which he did pretty often anyway. Actually, it was the anniversary of the day Al finally got a cat. Winry had decided it was okay to have one cat, since Den was lonely. Ed didn't mind, but he didn't have any say on the subject anyway since it was not his house. Like all state alchemists, he was supposed to be researching something he could report at the annual assessment, but he wasn't really sure what to research at the moment.
Ed blinked away the sleep in his eyes and noticed that there was a letter lying on his nose. Wondering who it might be from, he flipped it over. He blinked a few more times confusedly before his jaw finally dropped. He quickly tore it open and pulled out a few sheets of parchment.
'Hey Ed! How're you doing? Sirius, here. Don't know if you'll get this letter, but I'm going to write anyway. I still remember that day really well. After you vanished some 'Unspeakables' came to get us out of there. They're the people who work down there for your information. Anyway, they were highly interested in what happened, so we described it to them and somehow or another, they had managed to reproduce the effect so we decided to drop a letter and see if you got it. Life's much better without that old coot. I got to adopt Harry, now that I'm free and we're living together in a house I bought. Oh, but we're only there when Harry's not in school. During the year I go to Gregorovitch, I've become his apprentice. I'm kind of amazed that it takes so much skill to make wands. Can't tell you how happy I am with my life. Oh yeah, a lot of people wanted to write in this letter, don't know who leaked the information. So you better be ready to read for some time.'
Ed eagerly read on:
'How're you, Ed? It's me Harry. I feel bad we didn't get to talk much and that everything was so hectic in the end. I'm sorry for not really believing you, you know down in the Chamber of Secrets, I just couldn't really believe all that stuff you said. But I do now. Everything's been proven. I heard that in a personal diary he even wrote his plans for his own suicide once he had been able to kill every other wizard on the face of the planet, he must have been obsessed with muggles or something. I finally got away from the Dursleys! I never have to see Dudley's fat again. I hope you're doing well on your end too. Oh by the way, Hermione and Ron are sorry for suspecting you, but Ron was too embarrassed to write in such a letter and Hermione didn't know what to write, so I'll just apologize for them. I hope you could find some way to write back, that'd be cool.'
'It is, I, Draco Malfoy! Just kidding. Hey you left me and went off and had fun fighting Dumbledore together with Sirius and Harry and professor Lupin! That's not fair. Man I wanted to get to say bye to you, but you just up and disappeared together with Dumbledore. I hope he didn't murder you, did he? Anway, you owe me one for letting you sneak into Hogwarts as my pet! And you better find some way to be able to visit us, because you will return the favor. Half of the members of the Wizengamot were changed as they had been found to be too useless. Fudge didn't get sacked, in fact he seems more confident from the speeches I heard, so all's going well really. Oh, and I nearly forgot to tell you, Pansy was admitted into St. Mungo's magical hospital for being a nutter and trying to kill animals, magical familiars no less. They think it's a magical sickness. She ain't going to disturb me now.'
Trisha, Alphonse, Elmar, Remus, Fudge, some random people he assumed were from the Wizengamot, McGonagall, Snape, more random people he assumed were students, just that he had never noticed them. The list of people who wrote went on and on. At that moment, Ed decided he would spend his time looking for a way to write back to these people that had filled up a significant amount of time in his life. In the moment, the letter was the only thing he had that held all his memories from his time in the other world. He already had the beginnings of a theory worked out in his mind.
'All I have to do is find a way to reverse the flow of magic that brought me here!'
More A/N: So, the story ends... I can't say I like the way I ended it very much, but I couldn't think of any other way to do it. The plot really changed quite a bit from the original plan I had in mind. There were a lot of small things that I wanted to write about more, but somehow I just couldn't fit them in. Many new ideas that were added came from you, the readers, who have told me what they think. So, I thank all of you who gave your ideas and opinions. I hope I can improve through this, but I probably won't be writing for a while because I need to catch up with some of my other hobbies (including sleep). Well, then... 'Till next time!