Chapter Forty-Two


In a brief statement Friday night, Minister of Magic

Cornelius Fudge confirmed that He-Who-Must-Not-

Be-Named has returned to this country and is active

once more.

"It is with great regret that I must confirm that the

wizard styling himself – well, you know who I mean –

is alive and among us again," said Fudge, looking tired

and flustered as he addressed reporters. "It is with almost

equal regret that we report the mass revolt of the dementors

of Azkaban, who have shown themselves averse to

continuing in the Ministry's employ. We believe that the

dementors are currently taking direction from Lord – Thingy.

"We urge the magical population to remain vigilant.

The Ministry is currently publishing guides to elementary home

and personal defense that will be delivered free to all

Wizarding homes within the coming month."

Details of the events that led to the Ministry turn around

are still hazy, though it is believed that He-Who-Must-Not-

Be-Named and a select band of followers (known as

Death Eaters) gained entry to the Ministry of Magic itself

on Thursday evening.

Albus Dumbledore, newly reinstated headmaster of

Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, reinstated

member of the International Confederation of Wizards, and

reinstated Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot, was unavailable

for comment last night. He has insisted for a year that You-

Know-Who was not dead, as was widely hoped and believed,

but recruiting followers once more for a fresh attempt to seize

power. Meanwhile, the Boy Who Lived –

"There you are, Harry," said Hermione, looking over the top of the paper at Harry. "I knew they'd drag you into it somehow."

Hermione was reading that morning's edition of the Sunday Prophet to Ed, Winry, Al, Harry, Ron, Ginny, Luna, and Neville. Ed, Al, and Winry were all sitting on Ed's bed since Ed had to stay in the hospital wing for the weekend so Pomfrey could make sure that he was healthy. After Al had woken up, Ed lit into him and gave him a good yelling. Ginny was curled up at the foot of Hermione's bed; Neville, whose nose had been repaired, was in a chair between Ron and Hermione's beds; and Luna was sitting in a chair between Ed and Hermione's beds.

"Of course, Hermione, everyone loves talking about Harry Potter," Ed remarked, rolling his eyes.

"They mention you as well, Edward," Hermione said.

"Do they mention anything about Al bringing me back to life?" Ed asked. "And about me getting my arm and leg back?"

"No," Hermione replied.

"Of course not," Ed remarked. "Don't want anybody repeating anything that had happened to me."

"Stop that, Edward," Winry scowled.

Ed looked at Winry. When Winry woke up and found that Ed was alive, she hit him with a wrench and then hugged him while sobbing all the while threatening to kill him if he ever got himself killed again. She, too, had lit into Al for trying Human Transmutation.

"Sorry," Ed apologized softly.

"Harry's 'the Boy Who Lived' again now, though, isn't he?" Ron remarked, darkly, diverting attention back to the Sunday Prophet. "Not such a show-off maniac anymore, eh?"

He helped himself to a handful of Chocolate Frogs from the immense pile on his bedside cabinet, threw a few to Ed, Al, Winry, Harry, Ginny, and Neville, and ripped off the wrapper of his own with his teeth. There were still deep welts on his forearms where the brain's tentacles had wrapped around him. According to Madam Pomfrey, thoughts could leave deeper scarring than almost anything else, though since she had started applying copious amounts of Dr. Ubbly's Oblivious Unction, there seemed to be some improvement.

"Yes, they're very complimentary about you now, Harry, and of Edward too," Hermione commented, now scanning down the article. "'Two lone voices of truth…perceived as unbalanced, yet never wavered in their stories…forced to bear ridicule and slander…' Hmmm, I notice they don't mention the fact that it was them doing all the ridiculing and slandering though…"

She winced slightly and put a hand to her ribs. The curse Dolohov had used on her, though less effective than it would have been had he been able to say the incantation aloud, had nevertheless caused, in Madam Pomfrey's words, "quite enough damade to be going on with." Hermione was having to take ten different types of potion every day, and although she was improving greatly, was already bored with the hospital wing.

"'You-Know-Who's Last Attempt to Take Over, pages two to four,'" Hermione read, "'What the Ministry Should Have Told Us, page five, Why Nobody Listened to Albus Dumbledore, pages six to eight, Exclusive Interview with Harry Potter and Edward Elric, page nine…' Well, it's certainly given them lots to write about. And that interview with Edward and Harry isn't exclusive, it's the one that was in The Quibbler months ago."

"Daddy sold it to them," Luna said vaguely, turning a page of The Quibbler. "He got a very good price for it too, so we're going to go on an expedition to Sweden this summer and see if we can catch a Crumple-Horned Snorkack."

"That sounds fun-filled beyond belief," Ed remarked.

"So, anyway," Hermione continued, sitting up a little straighter and wincing again, "what's going on in school?"

"Well, Flitwick's got rid of Fred and George's swamp," Ginny answered. "He did it in about three seconds. But he left a tiny patch under the window and he's roped it off --"

"Why?" Hermione asked, startled.

"He said it was a good bit of magic," Al answered.

"I think he left it as a monument to Fred and George," Ron inputted, through a mouthful of chocolate. "They sent me all of these, you know," he added, pointing at the small mountain of Frogs beside him. "Must be doing all right out of the joke shop, eh?"

Hermione looked rather disapproving and asked, "So, has all the trouble stopped now Dumbledore's back?"

"Yes, everything's settled right back down again," Neville answered.

"It's a good thing too," Winry added.

"I s'pose Filch is happy, is he?" Ron assumed, propping a Chocolate Frog card featuring Dumbledore against his water jug.

"No, he's not," Al replied. "He's really upset…He keeps saying that Umbridge was the best thing that ever happened to Hogwarts…"

"Figures he would say that," Ed muttered. "They're two peas in a pod."

All nine of them looked around. Umbridge was lying in a bed opposite them, gazing up at the ceiling. Dumbledore had strode alone into the forest to rescue her from the centaurs. How he had done it -- how he had emerged from the trees supporting Umbridge without so much as a scratch on him -- nobody know, and Umbridge was certainly not telling. Since she had returned to the castle she had not, as far as any of them knew, uttered a single word. Nobody really knew what was wrong with her either. Her usually neat mousy hair was very untidy and there were bits of twig and leaf in it, but otherwise she seemed to be quite unscathed.

"Madam Pomfrey says she's just in shock," Hermione whispered.

"Sulking, more like," Ginny remarked.

"Yeah, she shows signs of life if you do this," Ed smirked, and then with his tongue he made soft clip-clopping noises.

Umbridge sat bolt upright, looking wildly around.

"Anything wrong, Professor?" Pomfrey called, poking her head around her office door.

"No…no…," Umbridge denied, sinking back into her pillows, "no, I must have been dreaming…"

Ed snickered as Hermione and Ginny muffled their laughter in the bedclothes.

"Speaking of centaurs, who'll be teaching Divination?" asked Hermione. "Is Firenze staying?"

"No, the centaurs won't take him back," said Harry.

"They'll probably share classes," said Ginny.

"I bet Dumbledore wishes he could've got rid of Trelawney for good," said Ron, now munching on his fourteenth Chocolate Frog. "Mind you, the whole subject's useless if you ask me. Firenze isn't a lot better."

"How can you say that?" asked Hermione. "After we've just found out that there are real prophecies?"

"Because he eats too much of those Chocolate Frogs," Ed remarked.

Ron's ears went red when everyone laughed.

"What about Alchemy?" Ginny asked. "Who will teach that? Will Professor Mustang and Curtis share classes?"

"No, Colonel Shithead is taking it over," Ed replied. "Teacher wants to stay in Dublith. She doesn't like the cold either."

"Is your dad coming?" Ginny asked. "Professor Lupin told Professor Mustang that Professor Dumbledore wrote to your dad."

"Who knows," Ed replied. "If Dad didn't care about stickin' around last year, he probably doesn't care now."

"But he saved your life last year," Hermione said.

"Just drop it, all right?" Ed snapped. "I don't want to talk about it."

Hermione didn't say anything, then…

"It's a pity the prophecy broke," Hermione sighed, shaking her head.

"Yeah, it is," Ron agreed. "Still, at least You-Know-Who never found out what was in it either -- where are you going?"

Harry had stood up.

"Er -- Hagrid's," Harry answered. "You know, he just got back and I promised I'd go down and see him and tell him how you all are…"

"Oh, all right then," Ron grumpily said, looking out of the dormitory window at the patch of bright blue sky beyond. "Wish we could come…"

"No kidding," Ed muttered.

"Say hello to him for us!" Hermione called, as Harry proceeded down the ward. "And ask him what's happening about… about his little friend!"

Harry gave a wave of his hand to show he had heard and understood as he left the dormitory. Before anyone knew it, the day before the end of term was upon them. While Harry decided to skip the Farewell Feast, Ed, Al, Winry, Hermione, and Ron decided to go to the feast. They all sat together.

"Tomorrow is when we go home sweet home," Ed remarked. "Whoopee."

"Why don't you stay at the Burrow?" Ron offered. "Mum wouldn't mind."

"I'm sure she wouldn't, but we have to clear it with our superiors first," Ed said.

"Well, since the Fuhrer and possibly the other higher-ups are with Voldemort, it will be safer for you at the Burrow since there will most likely be protective spells there," Hermione pointed out.

"There are protective spells here, but the homunculi have still infiltrated here," countered Ed.

Just as Ron was about to say something, Snape came to them.

"Elrics, Rockbell, you both are to stay with the Weasleys for this summer," Snape told Ed, Al, and Winry. "Do not ask why, it is for your own good. The Weasleys have been notified. And Miss Rockbell, your grandmother has already been notified. And Mrs. Izumi Curtis has been notified as well."

Then Snape left.

"I still don't like him," Ron muttered.

"Neither do I," Ed muttered.

"I don't think I should come back next year," Winry whispered, pushing her food around her plate.

Ed, Al, Ron, and Hermione looked at her.

"Why not?" Hermione asked.

"Edward doesn't need me here anymore," Winry answered. "Not since he has his arm and leg back."

Ed scowled and stood. He took Winry's hand and pulled her up from her seat. Then Ed dragged her out of the Great Hall and into the entrance hall. Al, Ron, and Hermione looked at each other and at the doors to see that Ed and Winry were on the staircase. A few other Gryffindor students were looking as well. They could see that Ed was embracing Winry.

"Winry," Ed whispered into Winry's ear, "even though I don't have auto-mail anymore, it doesn't mean I don't need you here with me."

"Why though?" Winry asked. "The only reason why I agreed to come here in the first place was so I could help you with your auto-mail. I wanted to make better auto-mail with the help of magic, but --"

"Winry," Ed interrupted, pulling away and putting his hands on Winry's upper arms, "you can still improve auto-mail with magic. A lot of people need auto-mail, and with your talent, you can help them. Even here."

"But I thought you didn't want to stay here?" Winry asked. "And I thought that you wanted me to be Resembool to help --"

"When since have you listened to me, Winry?" Ed interrupted again. "Besides, I want you here with me so I can protect you better. I don't want you in Amestris where those bastards can get to you. I don't want to lose you, Win."

He put a hand on Winry's cheek, wiping away a stray tear with his thumb. Ed then kissed Winry.

"Winry, when this shit is all over, will you marry me?" Ed asked, embracing Winry again in his arms.

"Do you mean it?" Winry asked in Ed's ear.

"Yes," Ed whispered in reply. "So, are you goin' to or not?"

"Of course, I will," Winry answered. "Granny wouldn't have it any other way."

The wolf whistles and cheers of the Gryffindors, Ravenclaws, and Hufflepuffs caught Ed and Winry's attention as did the cackling of Peeves the Poltergeist. Ed and Winry looked up to see Peeves with an instrument that would enhance their voices. Ed blushed in embarrassment and anger as he started to yell obscenities at Peeves.

On the train back to London, classmates kept on popping into the cabin that Ed, Al, Winry, Harry, Ron, Hermione, Neville, and Ginny sat in and teased Ed and Winry about their engagement.

"I swear," Ed grumbled as he played Wizard's Chess with Al, who had Pegasus on his lap, "that if anyone else comes in here and asks or says anything about me and Winry getting married, I am going to kick some fuckin' ass."

"Well, you shouldn't have asked Winry to marry you while in the entrance hall," Ginny pointed out. "You should have known that Peeves would have --"

"SHUT UP!" Ed snapped at Ginny, who was suppressing giggles. "IT WAS A PRIVATE --! DAMN IT, WINRY!"

Winry had just hit Ed on the head with a wrench.


"YOU DIDN'T HAVE TO HIT ME THOUGH!" Ed snapped back.

As Ed and Winry argued, Al sighed and everyone else either grinned at each other or shook their heads, all wondering if Ed and Winry would argue on their first day of being married.

Author's Note: I hope it lived up to your expectations! Look out for the sequel!