Just a little pre-NaNo warmup ;)
Sorry to all those who subscribe to my other stories! I say I've left FFN yet I keep posting these oneshots and have my NaNo on the way.../guiltyascharged x/ / /x
In the case of confusion, just remember the entire thing is from McGonagall's POV – there are no deviations. Set after Conqueror of Shamballa and roughly after Half-Blood Prince.
"If you want to break a person, all you have to do is rip away everything they care for. It's quite easy, really." – Anon
When Hohenheim had first warned her to be cautious of an alchemist's temper, she'd simply assumed it was about Edward Elric's tendency to lash out whenever he was pissed. Minerva had still hired the young prodigy more out of necessity rather than on whim, since the issue about Hogwarts' insufficient teaching staff only became worse as the war progressed and upon the death of the Wizarding World's beacon of light, Albus Dumbledore.
However, she never could have expected how dangerous alchemy really could have been.
Oh, how foolish the Dark Lord truly was, trying to finish everything off once and for all and giving himself eternal life in the process. For the entirety of the school year, the dotted sightings of Death Eaters and the slew of Imperioused victims should have given them a clue. Unfortunately, hindsight was always perfect. Even so, Edward had known most likely on the day he jumped up at the staff table with a copy of the Prophet in his hands before storming out of the Hall.
In return, the Ministry hadn't done anything but scoff as he sent letter after letter, always replying that a Philosopher's Stone was made purely through magical means and that the very concept of Equivalent Exchange was the sole reason why alchemy had become a dead art; an art useless because of the wizards' inability to perform it.
And that lay the root of the Dark Lord's greatest mistake. By trying to gather an alchemist for the very activation of the nationwide array, he had sown the seeds for oblivion.
He had taken Alphonse Elric.
It was unwritten law that nobody got between an Elric and his brother. It didn't need to be spoken – just by meeting either one of them for the briefest amount of time was enough to know. She had been there when Edward received the news of his brother's residence being trashed and the telltale signs of the Death Eaters left behind, and she saw the sudden change in expression and demeanour— almost as if one had angered a god, or invoked the wrath of the great Merlin himself. It was a look in which she knew he would cross both hell and high water to achieve his goal. Nothing would stand in his way.
Edward had stormed out of the Hall once more but with a long-buried rage, only briefly stopping to cancel all of his classes for the day.
She was unsure about the specifics regarding the events following that day, but she knew that Edward had returned unsuccessfully and that Alphonse had not been able to match the Dark Lord's expectations. The kind, welcoming, doe-eyed child couldn't stand to the pressure of performing such an advanced transmutation even with the threat of his brother's life over his head, lacking the key components of knowledge the elder Elric had.
At some point, Voldemort had killed him, and then set toward the school.
Minerva knew that Hogwarts hadn't been expecting an attack to be launched so soon, an all-out frontal assault with every part of the Dark Lord's arsenal present. The rumours had been true about him attempting to forge an alliance with the giants, and that the majority of both vampires and werewolves had sided with him as well. She and the other professors had tried to hold them off and evacuate the castle's occupants before they got to close, but with every step and every second they had done nothing but lose precious ground and precious time.
Initially, she hadn't noticed the young Elric fighting beside her until he raised a wall to defend them from a string of curses. He hadn't stayed, knocking his battered left leg back into position before running out into the fray, covering for the foolish students from the so-called Dumbledore's Army as Order members fired curse after counter-curse; it hadn't been lost on her that both groups were fighting for peace in the Wizarding World on the behalf of their late beacon – the very same person.
When the front had been forced behind the steps of the castle's doors, the Dark Lord had chosen to make his appearance. Rather than call for Harry Potter as many expected, he demanded Edward's presence instead. There hadn't been much of a struggle in response – Edward literally strode out despite the limp in his hastily-bandaged right leg, his torn, blood-red coat flapping behind him like a retarded reminder about the massacre around them.
Minerva couldn't see, but she could have sworn she felt the air crackle over her once Edward stopped and scowled, taking in the dark, sweeping markings woven on his adversary's skin; the markings for the Philosopher's Stone.
It was incredibly difficult to see what happened next, but the Dark Lord seemed pleased at the recognition and pointed his wand, telling him to activate the array. Edward hissed that life only ran in one direction and that those of humans were not to be trifled with; immortality was not what he truly wanted, as it only brought pain and suffering to those around him.
That's what the old man said too, Voldemort had mocked. Shame he wanted to die so much – there's almost no fun in killing someone so easily.
She looked at Edward, noticing the barest stiffening around his back and shoulders and the twitch of his fingers. The Dark Lord ran out of patience, swishing his wand, silently causing vines to tie around Edward's shin and throw him to his knees.
Perform the transmutation, or I'll assure you that you'll suffer a fate worse than your brother's.
A sudden change washed over Edward, the blonde becoming still and silent. The change made the cat part of her cautious as it replaced his image with that of a panther – a ruthless predator, graceful, supple and completely quiet leaving the target unaware of the danger until it chose to strike.
He barely twitched when he spoke. Did you kill my brother?
Voldemort laughed. Thinking about your future, are you? I already told you – your fate will be worse than what your dearest brother endured. Bella did say that he was the most fun she'd played with, even if she had to share.
I'll say it again, Edward warned, and soon Minerva had difficulty separating the two images, the boy becoming more feral and animalistic than any human should have been. Did you kill my brother?
Whatever Voldemort's reply was, Minerva couldn't hear it when Edward slammed his hands together in a loud, ringing clap and forced them to the ground. Rows upon rows of earthen spikes shot out from the floor and he undid his bindings with another flash of blue light, slowly standing back up.
That action seemed to shock the Death Eaters back to their senses and they cautiously circled around the young alchemist. Their wands were outstretched in an obvious threat and waiting for the order to kill.
Sweeping his arm out, the Dark Lord gave the order and dozens of green lights crackled through the thick air.
Minerva couldn't help herself – seeing the boy there and with reinforcements too far away to be of any use, she closed her eyes; she had seen more death than a person needed in their lives, and to see hopes and dreams forcefully taken away from someone so young...
She looked up at the slapping of palm against metal, and her eyes widened. Where Edward had been, there was nothing but a huge, pulsating vortex of wind, sharp enough to clean the area of grass, fierce enough to rip large amount of earth out of the ground and strong enough to threaten pulling the trees of the Forest out of the ground.
The storm was made of nothing but raw power, absorbing all the spells cast toward it and redirecting their paths, literally shredding apart everything in its way.
Transfixed to her spot, she could do nothing but stare. In all her years she had never seen anything like it. Even the most foolish of wizards knew that tampering with nature always had a consequence, and could drain a person so quickly they were dead before they even realized what they'd created.
And yet, beyond the barrier, Edward Elric stood with his hands outstretched and the golden hair in front of his face glowing in an ethereal halo – a twisted outcome, considering his atheist beliefs.
She understood. Now she truly understood how deadly alchemists could have been if they wished it, and why they were considered human weapons. Edward Elric was a prodigy, that much was undisputed, but what really hit it home was seeing him bend nature to his will.
And yet, he was still only nineteen years old.
Alchemy required the necessary materials, a power source for the transmutation and an array that acted as a catalyst to start the process, he had told her when she asked, face buried in hundreds of piles of almost-strangely phrased travel logs. His technique of using alchemy was similar to how wizards harnessed their store of magical energy through their wand. Wizards were unable to perform alchemy because once a wand chose them they were no longer able to use a different catalyst, and alchemists couldn't because they were unable to access the magical power source that wizards could.
His expression had become painfully reminiscent when she found him foregoing the array and asked him why. Only people who have seen it and made the same mistake as I can perform alchemy without the need for a transmutation circle. By bringing my hands together, I focus the array and use myself as the circle instead.
She had nodded, not completely comprehending his comment at the time. In smaller scales, alchemy was barely noticeable and felt more like a trick. Clap, glow and voila. But when she saw him now she saw his whole body radiating streams of crackling energy, the power coursing through his veins and finding their output through his hands, though a few stray sparks licked his pores.
It was nothing short of astounding that he was still able to stay in control of the savage beast, as any lesser man would have bucked and deteriorated into insanity.
No, she corrected herself, looking closer. What stood there was no longer Edward Elric. Standing there was only a hollow shell, the face of a man resigned to his fate with nothing left to lose, indifferent to everything around him. It was the face of a man who didn't care about life or about living anymore, only about finishing what he started and that alone.
And against the winds, Voldemort stood no chance. She watched him and his efforts to regroup, reassemble his forces and take down the alchemist that ripped their forces apart. It was obvious to anyone who watched that they were losing against the unstoppable one-man assault and the sky-high storm he controlled, ripping trees to shreds and slicing through flesh like a blade. It was no longer Voldemort, the Dark Lord, He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named who stood there, but the weak, determined stance of the half-blood, Tom Marvolo Riddle.
A Tom Riddle whose pride would not permit retreat.
Minerva almost froze when she felt the wards collapsing around the school, fading rather than being forcefully shattered into bits. As if responding, Edward's tornado almost broke away as if it were weakening alongside them, but it started up fiercer and faster an instant later.
No; it hadn't been weakening. Alchemy needed a power source and wizards used their magical energy as the basis for their spells – it was only another testimony to Edward's analytical mind that he could do what others had not yet done before, change the fuel his reactions were created from. The reason why he had enough energy to invoke the wind was because he had tapped into the residual magic within and surrounding Hogwarts, unable to access a magical supply himself.
And when he had run out of the residual magic, he had started drawing energy from the castle itself; the magic from over four hundred years of spellcastory long-absorbed into the stone.
The energy couldn't last him forever, but more importantly it was amazing his body had been able to endure channelling and reshaping such an enormous volume of power in the first place. Thankfully for their side, Riddle's was dwindling and falling at incredible rates. Those in Edward's path were torn to bits and those who tried to creep up behind him were either jinxed by the members of the Order or taken out as he instantaneously adjusted the array without having to stop.
Riddle wasn't faring any better. Despite his shield charms, his robe and skin still bore cuts caused by the wind and by the rocky debris carried within it. He carried two wands – his original in his left, broken and held together by nothing but a fiery red cord and another undoubtedly belonging to a fallen Death Eater, the one he was currently using to keep himself alive.
Minerva didn't completely see what happened next – she must have blinked, or it must have occurred when she browsed the perimeter for any stray students or anything out of the ordinary, but the next thing she heard was an ear-splitting scream as Riddle became devoured by the razor-bladed winds and left to fall. A second later, the air became eerily still as Edward collapsed, the last remains of the storm receding far beyond their reach.
She couldn't help it – she ran toward him and finally saw the full extent of the damage his stunt had caused. He had several scorch marks on his vest and slacks, his gloves burnt out completely and leaving tattered loops of fabric around his wrists. His false arm and leg seemed to have dislodged entirely from their sockets, and his sweat-matted hair clung to his face and neck, hair tie snapped during the battle.
What stopped her in her tracks was when he started to disappear, his toes fading away first, his ankle and then the lower part of his leg. She vaguely recognised the voice demanding him to explain as her own as she pulled out her wand and started incantation after incantation to reverse the destruction.
Don't try, it won't work, he had whispered, strangely loud even though the hustle and bustle from the restoration attempts near the castle were deafening. His eyes were still eerily dead and blank, carrying a strange hint of humour and irony. Rebounds always occur whenever someone tries to attempt the impossible. Equivalent Exchange is a bitch, isn't it?
And someone was shouting and his hands were disintegrating and it was nothing but chaos and the teachers were discussing and a soft smile appeared during Edward's whispering right before his hair faded away.
Wait for me, Al.
A/N: Oh my, such an unexpected ending... +.+
It's just a little plot bunny that's been jumping around, and I didn't want to start another chaptered story or anything so it got condensed and squished into almost two and a half thousand words. Sorry for any confusion – drop a review, and I can explain it better :)
(And for those wondering, the odd shifts in tenses were purposeful – haven't you ever had an experience where something happens but you don't actually realize what until a few moments later? Yeah, that.)
Anyone else doing NaNoWriMo '10? (Add me ;D – seiryuukaijinxx) I'm writing a KHR/FMA crossover, hope to see you there~ C=