Fullmetal Alchemist © Hiromu Arakawa
Harry Potter © JK Rowling
Written for Laora (Fuocoso) for her birthday. (Have a good one, love. ;])
Inclined to Be
"Set fire to the rain."
"I do not belong here," says the handsome stranger. "Please remember that."
He is polite and quiet, but for some reason Dumbledore cannot see him that way. The strength in the way he moved and the reasoning in which he spoke told the old, wizened man that this was a man that was once full of life, full of flame. What had happened, Dumbledore can only reason and guess, but he will never know. This man is older than he is in terms of mentality; no doubt he will be offended if Dumbledore even tried to search in the large depths of his mind.
Edward Flamel had come into his office one day, battered, bruised, splotches of red on his face and arms and hands, but expression kept perfectly blank. And then, calmly, he told Dumbledore that he was here to kill the one named Tom Riddle, sent by a higher being that was keeping the balance straight—the same balance that Tom Riddle tipped.
At first Dumbledore had been shocked; after all, such a tale! But then he remembered who he was, how much he had seen, how much he was possibly not called impossible, the man that changed his life so long ago. And he had given Edward a chance and believed him. Dumbledore believed, to this day, that it was the smartest decision he had ever made. (And he had made a lot of smart decisions—even though he had made more stupid ones as well.) And he knew that he would do anything for the man that made him the way he was now.
"You are always welcome," Dumbledore says quietly back. "Come. I shall introduce you as a new member to the Order."
Golden eyes, bright and always churning with the molten, golden river of knowledge, blinks and him and then he nods slowly. "Will there be an uprising at my arrival?" he asks softly, knowing exactly what will happen without him having to say it aloud. "After all, I still look physically like a teenager."
"You are much older," Dumbledore replies. "That is all that matters."
That answer seems to satisfy him. Edward's thin lips quirk up slightly.
12, Grimmauld Place has some resemblance to it's name; grimy and covered in dust, it is a old and weathered place, dilapidating in the absence of the sun. In the dim light, Edward's hair shines almost luminously; Dumbledore notices, and sees that his eyes do the same, like a healthy glow around his whole being. An unearthly being indeed.
He swerves past all the security wards that were charmed from before; effortlessly causes all defenses to stand down before setting them up again, leaving Edward and himself in their daze. It was at times like these when he truly loved magic; Edward, behind him, walks with precise and measures steps, silent as the night. He reminds Dumbledore painfully of Severus, with his actions, yet somehow Edward is more...interesting. Because he was not of this world. Because he defied laws of logic. Dumbledore was simply curious, and his curiosity was a dangerous thing. But it did not mean that he did not trust the blonde.
When Dumbledore enters the all-purpose dining room, he was met with smiles and lit up, hopeful faces. The Order members prayed and hoped that he would be here with great news, even better ones than knowing that Harry had gotten off scot-free on the little Dementor escapade in Surrey. They were already in the good mood. Dumbledore sees how their faces flicker to the darkly clothed form of Edward as he turns up beside him.
"Any more news, Albus?" Moody grunts out, looking purposefully at the teenage lad. He does not seem to like what was going on one bit; Dumbledore doubted that he would like it even more afterward. At the table is Harry and his friends, some of the Weasleys, Lupin and Tonks, Sirius. They're here and he supposes that it'll be easier for everyone in the end this way.
"Not for the Ministry and the movement of Death Eaters, no," he replies cautiously, "But I do have someone to introduce to you."
Now, all eyes are on Edward. He smiles, a dimple at the corner of his lips. "Hullo," he says, voice accented with English, French, and German all in one.
"This is Edward, my apprentice." Suspicion turns to shock. "He has also asked to be a member of the Order. Harry, Hermione, Ron—you'll be seeing him at school next month, following me around." At this, there are a few chuckles.
"It's a pleasure to meet you all." Edward tilts his head slightly in a gesture of innocence and continues, "I wish to learn as much as I can under everyone's guidance."
And kill Tom Riddle.
"You look very young for an apprenticeship," Lupin speaks up, hesitant. "Much less to join the Order." Because, even in their stunned silence, Fred and George look about ready to blow up in protest. Can't have that happened. "How old are you?"
"Sixteen," Edward replies, still smiling that unnerving smile of his.
Before outbreak starts, Dumbledore cut in with, "He is a special case." His face is grave and there is no longer a twinkle in his eye; Dumbledore's final decision with Edward being here is final. No one is to go against his decision. "Edward is much more mature than his years, and I have come to enjoy his presence and knowledge; even I am learning new things!" With a chuckle, the light-heartedness is returned to his voice. Edward shoot him an amused look. "He is to stay here for a week or two to gain some familiarity with the Order Headquarters. Is there any more room, Molly?"
The redheaded woman, who was previously staring intently at the blonde, jerks and flushes. "O-of course! Come dear, let me show you to a room...Fred! Go the closet and get a spare for Edward, won't you dear?..." Her murmurs become silent and commands run throughout the room.
Dumbledore places his old, weathered hand on Edward's shoulder, who looks up at him slightly. There is a conversation of a few words in a foreign language, and then Dumbledore nods and Apparates out of the room with a loud crack.
There is silence.
Then, "May I know your names?"
A brunette girl shakes her head, curls flying across her face. "Sorry," she says, abashed. "That was rude of us. My name is Hermione Granger. You are very young to advance into apprenticeship already." She stares at him like he's some sort of exhibit, exotic and shiny. Ron flushed a dark pink.
"Ron Weasley," he mutters, leaning back and crossing his arms.
"Harry Potter." says the dark haired boy, curious and somewhat confused, staring at the teenager that was only a year older than him yet somehow reminded him of Dumbledore as well. No wonder he's the professor's apprentice. Have to ask Hermione what those are, anyways... And then two more Weasleys introduced themselves, and then Lupin, Tonks, Moody, a few others while Edward stood there, not at all uncomfortable.
"Well, Albus forgot to introduce me properly." He bends down slightly, bowing in a formal manner. "Edward Hohenheim Flamel, at your service." And with that white lie out in the open, he smiles once more—just the way he knows that will fool almost everyone—and straightens himself out, just to be met with surprised faces once more.
"Flamel," Hermione repeats, sounding slightly strained, "As in, the great Nicholas Flamel?"
In response, his smile becomes a tad bit more wicked.
The thing they learn about Edward Flamel is that he is immaculate in every way.
From the golden cuffs of the long sleeved, turtleneck black shirt that he wears under dark, draped ropes that move along with him like shadows, to the black trousers he wears, tucked just so into buckled combat boots—symmetrical on each side. It shows in the way that he tugs his gloves just so, to stay at a certain angle on his wrist, the only other color on him other than black and gold. How he ties his hair at the nape of his neck loosely, yet not a hair is out of place, especially the ones that frame his handsome and almost regal face.
Nothing about Edward Flamel is out of place. He is polite and witty and sharp, always dressed in the same garb, always with the same gloves, the same black ribbon that keeps golden locks away from his face. Nothing escapes his eye and no one escapes his notice. He is awake earlier than anyone else in the house and he goes to sleep later than everyone else, but he is always sitting at the table with a book in his hands, written in an indiscernible language.
They know better not to ask. He is, after all, Dumbledore's apprentice. Of course he'd be slightly off, they'd all suppose. No one questioned his presence. Even without the wizard there, he was almost like Dumbledore himself, just as he was a teen. Perhaps not exactly, but like it, and the uncanny resemblance gathered respect for the blonde boy.
He is hard to approach, with his button nose constantly stuck in those thick books written in another language. No one has talked to him much except for Mrs. Weasley and occasionally Snape, whenever he came over. It seemed as though they shared the same passion; potions. Or, at least, for Edward it was all types of knowledge. Hermione is astounded at how much the blonde knows.
So, so decides that she must talk to him. For the sake of her own curious mind.
Right now is a good time, she thinks, watching him as he turns another page with a gloved finger. His posture is perfect, as to be expected, and he is so thoroughly interested in his book, Hermione finds that he can't even see his surroundings.
Hermione approaches him cautiously and sit next to him. He doesn't notice her presence. "Um...Edward?" she asks, hesitant.
To her surprise, there is a soft, "Ja?" in return.
At first she blinks in the change of language, but then remembers his accent—it wasn't fully English. So, instead, she bites her lip, taking this as a good sign, and continues, making sure she doesn't lose her strength. "I-I was wondering if you could tell me some of the theories that you have about arithmetic...I saw you talking to the professor about it yesterday and—"
"Mein temps ne heir nicht verschwendet werden gaspillé ici." he mumbles back, and she blinks, realizing that he must be speaking in his mother tongue. But it's like no other language she has heard of—like German and other more fancier language, French, maybe? Mixed together. Odd. Was he biracial?
It was possible, looking at his coloring. She has never seen someone with gold eyes before. "Um..." she says, lost for words. "Sorry, what was that?"
"Mein temps ne heir nicht—" he cuts himself up, looks up at her with annoyance in his gaze. This is the first time he has expressed any emotion other than some sort of sinister plotting or an unnerving calmness, the same presence as Dumbledore, and the scowl on his face seems almost—almost—normal—
And it immediately melts away from his face. For the second time today, Edward shows a different emotion; his cheeks color red slightly in embarrassment, and Hermione can't help but think that red is such a good color on him.
"S-sorry," he stutters slightly, sounding and looking more human that he had in the two days he had been here. "You were saying something?"
Hermione sits there, surprised, and then shakes her head. "Nothing that can't be discussed later," she says, but there is already something else on her mind. He barely gives her another time of day; instead, he stares for a moment, golden eyes searching her and so, so lost and empty that it brings shivers. And then he looks back down to his book, frowns, and says, "Alright then."
She cannot help but feel something break.
"I'm supposed to be dead," he breathes, staring at the pale skin of his two flesh hands; one scarred and roughened with years of usage, the other numbed by the new feeling of...well, feeling. Edward licks his dry lips, in total awe, not even caring about the large wound in his chest cavity or the dripping blood, leaking his life force away. No, all he could feel was the miracle that was his own body.
"You're not dead, brother," says a soft, hesitant voice. Edward's head snaps up, recognizing that lilt immediately. He sees the bony form of his little brother, Alphonse, so skinny that he could see the lines of his cheekbones and the outline of his ribs, but that didn't matter because it was Alphonse, Al, sweet Al, right in front of him—
Jerking, Edward makes a move to reach him, go out and touch him, but another voice interrupts.
"Ah ah ah," A physical force stops him; invisible, but Edward can feel it. Alphonse's face changes into one of horror. "We can't have you reuniting with your brother without a proper price, now can we, Mr. Al-che-mist?"
Edward grits his teeth and jerks back his arm, ignoring the twinge of years of no usage. "Truth," he snarled out in a sort of half-respected, half-frightened and semi-grudging manner. "What could you possibly want this time?"
The being called Truth, a vague white outline of a simple person, simply pops in. As soon as he comes closer, not walking but rather floating on a torrent of emotions—emotions that run through Edward like a flowing river with no dam—a strange buzzing begins to fill his ears. It unnerves him, the way that they seem to become louder, and louder, at first a whisper and then a scream. Edward winces, and Truth seems to grin. Wherever he was, he seemed to omit a sort of ghastly feeling; Edward couldn't explain it properly, but it was almost like something was tearing him apart from the inside.
"Equivalent Exchange. In exchange for one thing, something of equal value must be lost." Truth whispers, stopping. Alphonse's form starts to disappear; Edward could see it in the way that he seems to fade out of existence, the horror and the panic flashing in his bottle-green eyes.
"N-no!" Edward shouts, reaching out again, but he is stopped once more. The breath is stolen from his lungs in an icy cold grip, but nonetheless Alphonse stops fading for a moment. Edward glares at Truth with all the courage he can muster; it quickly faded away, however, when the sweet face of his mother stared back at him. He knew that this was a trick. God, he knew! It was all a stupid game of Truth's that he would be coerced into playing and that he should've just...just resisted—
But Edward was only sixteen. And he was desperate for at least a shred of familiarity in the past years. So instead, a small and desperate, "Mom...?" pass his lips.
Trisha Elric smiles and reaches out to touch her son's face. "Edward...how much you've grown, you and Alphonse." Her eyes flicker to the scrawny boy, who stares at her with something akin to awe in his gaze. "My sweet boys..."
Edward allows himself to be touched by his mother; her warm hands, her warm hugs, her warm smiles. But when he hand touches his skin, Edward feels like something is burning him; he screams out in the unbearable pain. Trisha recoils her hand, something akin to horror and understanding in her eyes. Alphonse shouts something endlessly, in between the moment and not being able to stop.
He falls, feeling disgusted with himself, feeling like he has lost some of his humanity somewhere deep within him.
He does not sleep. He does not need sleep, but it still reminds him every day about the thing that he is; not alive, not dead. Forever in a state to serve the great circle, to bring balance into the world until he is not needed anymore. He is empty; there is nothing inside of him. He knows that in the last hundred years he had not been to his own world, he has changed; slowly, life started to leak out of him until he was left a empty husk of his former self.
At first, it showed in the smiles he gave; instead of blowing up, exploding into words and insults like he usually did, he just smiled. Smiled, because he knew that it wasn't worth it anymore. That nothing could hurt him, so what was the use of feelings, of feeling, when there was nothing inside of him, nothing worth feeling?
He is the opposite of his father. While his father chose his own path, had millions of thoughts and voices raging like an everlasting inferno inside of him, he is still. He is calm. He has learned to be empty, a one among millions, that one that stands to be nothing among nothing, the one that has been destined to be just it. And to be just it for as long as he would keep himself to be.
Edward stands on top of a lamppost, far away from the headquarters, looking over the city known as London. It's great, advanced buildings and high structure, the people that walk by without speaking to each other, strangers in their own world. He remembers Risembool and their warm smiles, their hospitality, their habit of welcoming anyone and everyone in their warm embrace of rolling green fields. A smile of his own flits across his face, lost in the memories of past.
Wind blows viciously, causing blond hair to whip back and forth and robes to be pressed against his body. Yet he still stands on top of the tip of the lamppost, like a ghost in midair.
"It's cold today," says Albus Dumbledore, standing beneath him. "You should be back at headquarters, Nicholas."
Edward gives a small chuckle. "My name is Edward, Albus. You'd do better to remember; after all, I am your apprentice."
"And I was your student first," Albus reminds gently. They are both invisible to the world, covered in a cloak of magic that shimmers around them. "And so, you will always be Nicholas to me. You haven't told me how you still remain the age of sixteen after a hundred or so years."
The blond whistles. "A magician never reveals his secrets," he teases, grinning. It melts into a small smile, gold eyes matching with the red sunset in the background as he looks at Albus. "But I am not a magician. I am an alchemist." Edward closes his eyes. "An alchemist." Not even human, something whispers in his mind.
"The real Nicholas Flamel was born almost five hundred years ago," Albus said quietly, blue eyes that never lost it's youth staring up at his old mentor. "Died, never knowing how to create the Philosopher's Stone."
"I was still a kid. And then one day, you show up helping me with Ariana. And all you said was that you loved children; loved to shape their future, loved to see their smiles. And that was why you helped me."
"It's true," Edward murmurs. "It still is."
Albus continues on, his voice once senile now like a lost child. "Years later, I find you again. Just out of my thirties, I help you create the Philosopher's Stone once we met at a festival, bonding over knowledge and the mysteries it possesses. You were so determined; you were my role model, Nicholas. I wanted to be like you, do the same amazing things you did, make the decisions you did."
Edward did not correct him this time, instead choosing to look off far into the distance. "You should not be like me, Albus," he says softly. "I am not as polished and perfect as you think."
"Because we are only human, and humans make mistakes," Albus recites quietly. "That's what you told me. But you are not human, are you, Nicholas? You destroyed the Philosopher's Stone after I told you that it was not being used for it's most righteous purposes, even though you gave it to me to safe keep. All the while, you still do not look any different. When I am already old and have made decisions that I am paying for, you show up again, asking me to fill in the favour."
The blond actually looks at Albus now, an unreadable emotion in his eyes. "I cannot tell you, Albus." he says, an echo in his voice, a bitterness that Albus can't really place. "I am grateful that you helped me. I'm grateful that you still believe in me." Edward closes his eyes and smiles. Something about him is distinctly empty, Albus thinks. "But...I am not to be trusted. I am a being that cannot...cannot be part of...part of..." he trails off, shaking his head.
Edward jumps off the lamppost, falling down with ease. Even though Dumbledore is taller, the one who looks wiser, the one who is much more sought after and looked at, he stares at Edward like a lost child.
"Who are you?" he says, voice hoarse. "Who are you, Nicholas?"
Instead of answering like he wanted to, Edward simply looks away. "I am nothing. I do not belong in this world."
to be continued.