Harry thought that, of all the members of the Order, this man had to be the strangest.

He had been introduced to them all approximately two hours ago. In that time, he had sobbed over Harry's "tragic past," sobbed over Hermione's "brilliant mind," sobbed over Moody's "battle scars," sobbed over Sirius' "unlawful detainment"...

And, to top it off, he had ripped off his shirt half a dozen times to show them all his magnificent muscles.

Fred and George thought it was hilarious. Ron looked vaguely ill.

He came from a place Harry had never heard of called Amestris. Hermione had gone into some long-winded rant about how it was a small, independent state in eastern Europe, but he had kind of stopped listening once she started talking about its economic history. Because, really, who cares?

Dumbledore introduced him as an ambassador, sent because Amestris' current leader, some dude named Fuhrer Grumman, owed him a favor. Harry had to wonder, however, whether sending this man in particular was Grumman's best idea. (Or maybe he was just as mad as Dumbledore...)

Because, really, even if he says he's a high-ranking officer in the military, an accomplished duelist, a talented alchemist (who knew those still existed? Harry certainly didn't), and ridiculously strong, Harry just cannot take him seriously.

The hair. The mustache. The sobbing. The...the muscles.

Yes, Alex Louis Armstrong had to be the strangest man Harry had ever met...

(And he's Harry Potter.)



Of course, with all Armstrong's booming about ALCHEMY and MAGIC and HARRY POTTER and EDWARD ELRIC (whoever that was), it was only a matter of time before that thrice-damned portrait upstairs decided she wanted in on the action.

"Filth! Scum! Disgracing the house of my fathers—"

Armstrong stopped mid-rant in the entrance hall, looking around with wide eyes. "Who dares to speak such blasphemy in this glorious house?" Before anyone could answer him, however, he struck a pose (his shirt had, again, mysteriously disappeared), and Harry could have sworn he saw sparkles in the air before he sped off in search of the shrieking hag upstairs.

He didn't know what made him follow the man. Maybe it was a death wish. Maybe it was to be rebellious, because he's a teenager, and that's what teenagers do. Or maybe it was just morbid curiosity.

(Who ran toward the ear-shattering screams, after all? Mad alchemists from Amestris, apparently.)

It didn't take too much time to find Armstrong, because really, he's like seven feet tall and doesn't actually enjoy wearing shirts. He had found his way to Sirius' mother's portrait, and was staring at her with wide eyes as she screamed—"Blood traitors! Muggles! Half-breeds! Freaks and monsters and abominations—"

"I do not know who you are," Armstrong boomed suddenly, just as loud as she was, "but I demand that you take back such horrendous slander at once! These people have been generous enough to allow you to stay in their home—"

"Monsters and disgusting foreigners! How dare you befoul this old and regal house with your dirty blood—"

Armstrong, incredibly, seemed to be struck silent for a moment. His eyes were wide, though, and he somehow seemed to get bigger. "You dare slander the Armstrong family name?"

Harry involuntarily took a step back, nearly knocking over Ron, who had followed him, albeit a bit reluctantly. ("Who knows what ELSE he'll rip off?") The way Armstrong had changed, it was as if he were an entirely different person. His muscles bulged; the sparkles suddenly disappeared; his rather frighteningly blue eyes grew dark as Mrs. Black continued—"Muggle freaks from unworthy lands! Who would invite them—"

"THE ARMSTRONG FAMILY," Armstrong said suddenly, so loud that Mrs. Black actually shut up for a moment, "HAS BEEN RESPECTED IN AMESTRIS FOR CENTURIES. HOW DARE YOU—"

"The Black name has been respected for millenia, full of only those of purest blood and—"


"Disgusting muscles and uncouth hair—"


The aforementioned muscles bulged even larger, and Harry and Ron both hesitated for a moment before turning and running like Hell itself was at their heels. The screams followed behind them all the way to the kitchen, full of utter rage—


"Disgusting, unwashed, vile dirt not worthy of the mud on my boots—"


Harry didn't know how long it lasted. Time lost all meaning as the rest of the Order huddled in the kitchen, half-terrified and half-fascinated, as it just went on and on. He had no idea that anyone's family could have so much history and so many different things passed down, and wondered vaguely if Armstrong was just making them up as he went along.

(He almost thought he wanted to meet the rest of the Armstrong family, just to see what they were like... But then he realized how utterly idiotic and suicidal that would be.)

Suddenly, the screams quieted, and they only looked around at each other for a moment. Finally, Sirius and Remus stood up, glanced at each other, and made their way toward the door.

Harry hoped he'd still have his father figures after this was over and done with.

They were only gone for a few moments; eventually, both of them came back downstairs looking utterly baffled, with a red-faced Armstrong in tow. He still looked positively murderous, and everyone gave him a wide berth as Sirius and Remus sat him down.

"He—well—uh—he took care of dear old Mom, at least," Sirius said, breaking the rather awkward silence that had descended over them all. "I think she's gone for good..."

Something like admiration—perhaps joy—was creeping onto Sirius' face despite the utter terror still frozen there. And, of course, Harry had to let that morbid curiosity take the better of him again; he made his way upstairs to see the aftermath of the argument.

It looked like an epic war had been fought in the staircase; where there had been house-elf heads, peeling wallpaper, and moldy curtains, there were different-sized sculptures...and they all bore a great resemblance to Armstrong himself. Where Mrs. Black's portrait had been, there were only enormous spikes emerging from the opposite wall; the canvas—and, evidently, the woman who resided on it—were completely obliterated.

Major Armstrong, the mad alchemist from Amestris, had saved the day...and Harry decided he didn't mind if he handled everyday things in a rather over-the-top manner.

(He was sure, however, that he would always mind the stripping.)