Nowhere is Safe: Edward Elric and the Order of the Phoenix
A/N: Greetings, all. After reading a few other FMA/HP crossovers, I was inspired to write my own! I will be adhering as much as possible to Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood (which is pretty much synonymous with using the manga).
Thank you to my little brother who is my Jr. Editor and Chief Guinea Pig. Please forgive any typos we have missed, as I am re-upoloading these chapters en masse.
The Man with the Electric-Blue Eye
"They said to give them three days, so give them three days."
Edward sighed in frustration. "I know, but when I think about Dr. Marcoh's research notes just sitting somewhere in Central, I can't stand it. I just get so fidgety." As if to demonstrate his anxiety, Ed flailed his limbs. He couldn't help but be upset at this setback. Getting his automail arm destroyed by that Scar character had forced him to come crawling back to Risembool – the one place he'd been avoiding for three years. Plus, now that he and Al had finally found a solid lead on the Philosopher's Stone, the last thing he wanted was to lie around doing nothing.
The large suit of armor rattled as Al laughed. "Well, you should try to enjoy yourself. It's not often you get to take a break like this."
"I guess," Ed muttered, not really convinced. Still, he closed his eyes, draping his good arm across his forehead. Maybe a long nap in this warm sunlight would do him some good…
"Hey, Ed? Who's that man?"
"Huh?" Ed sat up and followed Al's gaze. Sure enough, a man was walking – no, limping – toward the Rockbells' house. He had grizzled gray hair that nearly reached his shoulders and a heavily scarred face, but his eyes were what immediately drew Edward's attention. One was small and dark, whereas the other was large and bright blue –as blue as the glow of an alchemic transmutation. As the man drew nearer to the two boys, the bulging eye fixed its gaze on them, even though its mate kept looking ahead. He said nothing as he walked past, using a shoulder-high staff to balance his uneven steps. At last, he reached the front door and knocked.
"It's open," Granny Pinako's muffled voice called through the wood. The man immediately swung the door open and stepped over the threshold. As soon as the door had closed behind him, Ed got unsteadily to his feet, not trusting his temporary-replacement leg with his full weight.
"What do you think?" Al asked. "Are you going to find out who he is?"
"Honestly," Ed admitted, "I couldn't care less, but I want to know when dinner is – I'm starving!"
Al chuckled a little. "Sometimes, it seems like food is all you think about."
"Hey," Ed said defensively. "That's a complete exaggeration. I only think about food when I'm hungry."
"But, you're always hungry, Brother."
"Ha! Okay, you have a point." Ed stretched his one arm above his head, then turned to face his little brother. "I'll ask the Major to bring your crate inside, all right?"
"Sure," Al replied, an apologetic tone seeping into the metallic voice. Ed smiled down at him (a rare occurrence, since Al was usually the taller one, much to Ed's chagrin). It wasn't Al's fault that an Ishvalan serial killer had blown half of his armor to bits; he had no reason to feel guilty about it. If anything, Ed was the one who should be feeling that way. Only a few days ago, he had nearly lost his life – practically given it – to Scar. He had almost left Alphonse alone, and, for that, he might never forgive himself.
Ed could hear voices as he climbed the porch steps. When he entered the front room, he saw Pinako deep in conversation with the weather-beaten stranger. Major Armstrong was kneeling by the fireplace, restocking the woodpile, and Den lay under the dinner table, his tail thumping contentedly against Pinako's leg. Winry, however, was nowhere in sight. She must still be working on my arm, Ed reasoned.
The Major soon finished his task and turned to greet the young alchemist. "Ah, there you are, Edward Elric. I was wondering where you'd wandered off to."
"I didn't 'wander off' anywhere. Anyway, can you get Al? He's still outside."
"Of course," Major Armstrong replied, heading toward the door. With nothing else to do, Ed turned his attention to Pinako and the stranger.
"I must admit, it's been far too long since I've seen you around here, Alastor."
"Quite. I've had my hands full, and barely any time to do proper maintenance on this old thing. The small repair work I can do myself won't cut it. A Death Eater managed to catch and impersonate me nearly all last year, and he took even worse care of it than I had. So, I figured I might as well pay you a visit, what with the fighting startin' to pick up again. 'Best to be as prepared as possible', I always say, 'and then some.'"
"Well, things always seem to be interesting in your country, Alastor. If I recall correctly, you were getting ready for a big fight the last time I saw you… it must have been fourteen years, at least."
"Yeah, something like that. Now, how soon can you have it repaired?"
"Oh, shouldn't take too long – it's mainly the outer plating that needs to be replaced. I can have it done in the morning. There's an extra cot in the back; feel free to use it tonight."
"I appreciate it."
Pinako looked over at Edward, only just now noting his presence. "Oh, Ed. If you're wondering about dinner, it'll be ready in an hour or so. I need to assess the condition of this leg more fully."
As she spoke, she held up the automail limb in question. Sure enough, it was in bad shape, covered in rust and scratches. Ed grimaced at the very thought of wearing a leg that worn-down, but maybe the stranger didn't mind it so much, being so weather-beaten himself.
"You get used to it," the man named Alastor grunted haphazardly, as if he had seen Ed's expression through the back of his own head. He turned to look at the boy with both eyes, sizing him up.
"So," he said at last, "you're Hohenheim's son."
Ed was taken aback by this sudden change in subject, but he did his best to maintain his composure.
"Yeah, what of it? If you're looking for him, he's not here. Hasn't been for years."
"So I hear." The blue eye swerved so that it was staring at the front door. "That suit of armor is quite an interesting piece of work."
Something snapped inside Ed at his words. He met Alastor's one-eyed gaze with a glare that would make a lesser man tremble. "Look, I don't know who you are, and I really don't care, but no one, no one talks about my little brother like an object and gets away with it."
"Your brother, eh? How'd he end up like that? The lad's got no proper body."
This stranger's bluntness was infuriating. "That's none of your business," Ed retorted.
"Is it now?" The corner of Alastor's mouth twitched upward into a crooked smile.
Before Ed could come up with a biting comeback, Pinako's voice echoed in from the kitchen, "Ed, would you go tell Winry to take a break and help me with dinner?"
"Sure," Ed responded automatically, turning toward the staircase. Just as he placed his good leg on the bottom step, the stranger's gruff voice caught him.
"The name's Alastor Moody, boy. If you know what's good for you, you'll remember it."
"Whatever," Ed grumbled, starting his climb up the stairs.
Dinner that night was awkward to say the least. While Major Armstrong engaged in a lighthearted conversation with Winry and Pinako, Ed tried to concentrate on his delicious food, but his eyes kept darting over to Moody's spot at the table. What was worse, every time he did so, that bulbous blue eye was staring right at him, as if determined to watch him for the entire meal. Al's crate had been laid next to Ed's chair, and the younger Elric seemed to sense Ed's anxiety.
"Brother?" he asked tentatively. "Why is he watching you so closely?"
"Dunno," Ed responded curtly, tearing off another chunk of meat with his teeth. "Don't care."
"So, Ed," Winry cut in, drawing his attention. "I've just about finished with your arm – and ahead of schedule, too. We can even dock it tonight, if you want."
"Sure. The sooner the better."
"Granny got your leg all ready as well, so we might as well attach them both."
After the dishes were cleared away and cleaned (thanks to the Armstrong family's dishwashing technique that had been passed down the Armstrong line for generations), Winry ran upstairs to fetch Ed's automail. Within minutes, Pinako and Winry were fussing all over him, telling him to sit a certain way or relax his muscles just so. Major Armstrong, Alphonse, and Moody sat by calmly as the two mechanics set everything in place. At last, the moment arrived.
"Ready?" Winry asked.
"Uh, yeah," Ed managed, gritting his teeth.
"One," Pinako began.
"Two," Winry agreed.
With a resounding SNAP, the automail limbs reattached to their ports. Instantly, pain shot up Ed's left leg and right shoulder, pain so intense he bit his lip to keep from crying out. Moody raised an eyebrow.
"That boy's got grit," he muttered, sounding almost impressed. He then turned to look at Alphonse. "You, lad, what happened to the pair of you to leave you in this condition?"
If his suit of armor had been capable of conveying emotions, Al would have blushed crimson. "Uh, well, you see-"
"I told you before, Moody, that's none of your business." Ed followed this reminder with another glare, but was quickly distracted by the recurring pain from his automail. Winry eventually forced him to lie down on the couch so he could better recover.
"Now lie there for while, you hear me?" she ordered, pointing at him threateningly.
"Fine," Ed mumbled in reply.
"Oh, Edward Elric," Major Armstrong blubbered, his voice trembling with emotion and his eyes welling up with glistening tears, "to think a child your age could withstand such agony with such bravery. It's truly admirable."
"If you say so." Ed just didn't understand how the Major could be such a ferocious fighter and be such an incurable crybaby; it was downright disturbing.
Once again, Ed glanced at Moody, who was eyeing him with a keen interest now. That large, blue eye was seriously unnatural. Ed had half a mind to ask how his face had gotten so messed up, but he was too tired to bother; plus, he had no right to pester the stranger about his injuries when he had no intention of talking about his own. Instead, he closed his eyes and let his thoughts wander, until at last, he fell asleep.
Laughter. He could hear a woman's melodic laughter, carried to him on a warm breeze. She was standing in front of a house at the top of a small hill. Her smile, like the sun itself, radiated waves of happiness, welcoming him, beckoning him. He ran to the outstretched arms, resting his head against the familiar bosom. He wanted to stay in this moment of bliss forever, to forget everything except this loving embrace.
"Edward," his mother whispered, gently running her fingers through his hair. "My little man."
"Mom," he breathed. Doing his best not to choke on the words, he pleaded, "Please, stay with me. Don't leave me alone anymore."
"Yes, my darling boy. We can stay here… forever."
Suddenly, everything became dark and cold. Unable to see anything, he clung to her, afraid that she would vanish as well.
"Mom?" he asked, fear shaking his voice. "Mom? Don't go, please!"
"I'll never leave you, Edward." A hand caressed his cheek, but it was cold and clammy. Terrified, he looked up into his mother's face… and screamed.
Ed was still screaming when he woke. Feeling layers of cold sweat all over, he tried to wipe off his forehead with his left hand, but it did little good. Still breathing heavily, he looked around the dimly lit room. Dawn was on its way. The only people awake yet were himself and Alphonse, who sat in his crate next to the couch.
"Brother?" Al ventured cautiously. "Are… are you okay?"
"I will be," Ed managed, using his shirt to absorb most of the sweat. Trying to take his mind off of the nightmare, he stood, testing out his repaired leg.
"How's it feel?" Al asked.
"Much better." He rotated his right shoulder experimentally, flexing the metal joints. "The arm feels great, too."
"Right," Ed added, smiling at his little brother. "Now, I've got to fix you up."
"That would be appreciated," Al admitted a little sheepishly.
As quickly and quietly as possible (so as not to wake anyone else), Ed laid out the various pieces of Al's shattered armor. Once he had checked that everything was accounted for, he clapped his hands together and pressed them against Al's chestplate.
Within seconds, Al stood over him, fully restored – at least, as far as the suit of armor was concerned. A pang of guilt stung Ed for an instant as he wished it were that easy for him to return Al to his original body.
"I see now," a gruff voice said behind him. "You boys have seen the Truth."
Ed whirled around, searching wildly for who had spoken. Finally, he could discern a figure seated far back in the shadows. When the man leaned forward, the morning light identified him as none other than Alastor Moody. Ed's stomach leapt into his throat.
"H… how could you know that?" he stammered, trying to get a handle on the situation.
"Your father told me all about his encounter with It. It's why you don't need a circle to perform your alchemy, and why your bodies are in such a sorry state, isn't that right?"
"Are you saying that Hohenheim has seen It too?" This was certainly news to Edward.
"Wait," Al piped up, confused. "What's 'the Truth'? Ed, do you know what he's talking about?"
"You don't remember It, Al, and I can't really explain It, but… I saw It when we…" Ed glanced at Moody before continuing, "when we tried to bring Mom back."
"Ah, so that's how it happened," Moody sighed. Ed could swear that a hint of sympathy had leaked into the older man's voice. A vein stood out on his forehead; Ed hated it when people looked at him and Al with pity. The fact that Colonel Mustang never gave Ed special treatment for his condition was one of the very few things Ed liked about his commanding officer. Now this Moody character, practically a stranger, was going to slap a "helpless" label on them and-
"Well, I hope you learned your lesson. Some things really are impossible, no matter how hard you try."
Ed blinked in surprise, completely taken aback by this harsh, brunt statement, but he quickly regained his composure. "Yeah, we know better now."
"Oh, do you?" Moody retorted. "All you really know is that you tried and failed; you don't know why. Saying you know better sounds more like arrogance, or maybe even denial."
"Why should you care? You don't know us."
"I know Hohenheim."
"That doesn't make a bit of difference to me!" Ed took a step toward Moody, his blood boiling. "He didn't know us either! He never took the time to!"
"Brother," Al said haltingly, placing a hand on Edward's shoulder. "Try to calm down."
"You should listen to your brother, Elric," Moody warned, quirking an eyebrow. "You don't want to make me angry."
"Oh, really?" Ed taunted. "I'll fight you here and now, once Granny gets you're leg fixed. I'm not so low as to take advantage of my opponent's disadvantage."
For the first time, Moody laughed – a great, booming laugh that Ed was sure would wake the Rockbells and the Major. "Are you serious, boy? All right, if that's what you really want. I just hope you're ready to take a sore beating."
"I was just about to say the same thing to you, old man," Ed sniggered, cracking his knuckles.
Alphonse looked helplessly back and forth between the two. "Oh, dear."
"-and I've made it a lot lighter, so you'll be faster, but that also makes it more likely to break, so don't do anything crazy, okay?"
Winry's rants about automail could only be taken seriously for so long, and Ed was way past his limit. He simply let her follow him around the house, nodding or saying "yeah" every now and again.
"YOU DID WHAT?" Pinako gasped from the front room. Quickly bringing his attention back to reality, Ed listened in.
"He's the one who challenged me to a duel. I merely agreed."
"Alastor, you can't be serious. He's just a child, and he has absolutely no experience fighting a wi-"
"It's a matter of pride now, Pinako. Not just mine, but his as well. He needs to be taught a lesson, and I intend to knock some sense into him."
"If you say so. Just, try to be… subtle about it."
"Just who do you think you're talking to?" Moody's voice dripped with sarcasm. "Subtlety is my specialty."
"Are you sure you won't rethink this, Brother?" Al pleaded.
"I'm sure. This Moody guy is dead-set on mocking us, and I won't let him get away with it."
Al sighed regretfully. "Just… be careful."
"Sure thing," Ed promised. Besides, he thought, this'll be a cakewalk.
The brothers walked down the front steps and into a nearby field of knee-high grass (well, it came up to Ed's knees). Moody was waiting patiently for them, a smug look set on his scarred face. Just seeing that expression fueled Ed's rage.
"Let's do this, Moody," he growled.
"Right," he agreed, "but, before we begin, we need to make a few things clear."
"Oh, like what?"
"As far as I'm concerned, you can use any non-lethal attacks you wish."
"Will you be doing the same?"
"Naturally. One more thing I should mention: I fight for a living."
"What a coincidence," Ed chuckled, taking a fighting stance. "So do I."
"Come at me, then!" Moody roared, beckoning the boy with two fingers. At once, Ed dashed forward, keeping low to the ground until he was right next to the old man. Figuring it was only fair to go easy on the first strike, Ed swung his left fist upward to catch Moody off-balance. Unfortunately, something completely different happened. For an instant, Ed felt as if he were moving very slowly – or possibly frozen in place altogether – while his opponent stepped calmly out of the way of the oncoming attack. Taken aback by this, Ed nearly lost his footing as he landed on the soft, windswept grass.
Okay, he reasoned, this might be harder than I thought. He's obviously got some kind of specialized alchemy that increases his body's speed, making it look like I'm moving slowly. I'd be an idiot to rush in like that again.
"What's the matter?" Moody taunted. "Am I that much trouble for you, little boy?"
Big mistake. "WHO ARE YOU CALLING A PUNY LITTLE FLEA?" Ed demanded. He clapped his hands together, sending a current of energy below Moody's feet, which then exploded in the form of transmuted fists. The old man seemed unperturbed, but his right arm was wriggling in an odd way with his hand in his overcoat pocket, like he was hiding something he was holding. A transmutation circle, perhaps? That had to be it. For some strange reason, Ed's barrage of earthen arms completely missed its target. Whenever one got close, it suddenly swerved off-course as if deflected by some kind of shield or barrier.
Ed cursed under his breath. This was really starting to get harder than he thought it would be.
"Are you beginning to see it now?" Moody inquired, continuing to dodge or divert all of Ed's alchemical attacks. "There are things you see and don't understand, and yet you continue to struggle against them – even when it's impossible for you to ever comprehend them."
"What, are you lecturing me now?" Ed retorted, sending another onslaught toward his enemy.
"You need to get this through your head, boy. Otherwise, you'll end up getting yourself killed."
"I never asked for your advice! I don't need your help, or Hohenheim's, or anyone's!"
"And that's exactly your problem. I can read you like an open book, Elric. You're too stubborn to admit that you don't have all the answers, so you delude yourself into thinking you have amassed a lot of knowledge and power."
"That's not true!" Ed insisted. "I know there are things I can't do, that I can't fix!"
"And yet you continue to search for answers where there are none. You have to understand that you can't come up with a scientific solution for everything. Even Hohenheim, with all that he can do, couldn't-"
"I don't care what that man can or can't do! He's as much of a stranger to me as you are!"
"You're not listening to me, you foolish boy! Roar like a lion all you like, but in the end, you'll have to realize how powerless you truly are. In reality, you're little more than a helpless… little… kitten!"
"I TOLD YOU," Ed thundered, "DON'T CALL ME LI-" but he got to finish his outraged rant. Something had just hit him in the gut. Moody had finally attacked.
Alphonse had always known that his older brother was slightly hopeless, but this had gone too far. None of Ed's attacks had done any good, and his yelling had only riled him up, making him lose focus. As he began to snap back at Moody's last insult, the weather-beaten old man pulled what looked like a short stick out of his pocket and flicked it in Ed's direction. Instantly, a bright light flew from the stick at incredible speed, slamming Ed squarely in the diaphragm. He barely had time to register what had happened before whatever the attack did began to take effect.
For one thing, a harsh gust of wind blasted outward from the point of impact; for another, a blinding flash of light obscured Ed completely. Al raised his arms to shield himself from both, taking his eyes off of his brother only for a moment. When both phenomena ceased, Al turned back to see… nothing. Ed was gone. Al glanced around, wondering if Ed had jumped or rolled to avoid the ramifications of Moody's strange attack, but Al couldn't see him anywhere. Starting to panic now, he rounded on the old man.
"What did you do? Where's my brother?"
"Oh, he hasn't gone anywhere, lad," Moody chuckled, walking casually to the spot where Ed had stood. He reached down into the long grass. "Come here," he barked at something hidden from Al's view. After what looked like several attempts to grab something, Moody stood, holding a small cat by the scruff of its neck. Where it had come from, Al had no idea, but a sinking suspicion began to creep over him. The kitten had golden fur, except for two gray "stockings," one on its left hind leg, the other on its right front leg.
If Alphonse had been capable of passing out, he might have done so on the spot. As it was, he approached shakily, his armor rattling even more than usual.
"Is... is that…" he couldn't even make himself finish the question.
"Hush, now, lad; I'm a little busy here," Moody chided before turning back to the cat. "Have you learned your lesson now, boy?"
In response, the tiny creature hissed at Moody, swiping a clawed paw at his face, but the old man wisely held it far enough away to render its pitiful attacks useless.
"Well, let me make this clear to you: the next time you challenge me to a duel, I will call you a flea – and I'll make sure the name is quite literal. Got it?"
The kitten trembled at the glare it was receiving. All of its fur fluffed up in fright, and its tail curled protectively around its hind legs.
As terrifying as this situation was, Alphonse had to admit that his older brother made an adorable cat. How this old man had accomplished this feat, Al was clueless, but he was determined to find out immediately.
"Um, Mr. Moody? H… how did you…"
"It's simple, really," the stranger explained, twirling the short stick he had used to attack in his other hand. "I'm a wizard – an ex-Auror, to be specific, not that you'd know about that kind of thing."
"Wait... what? You, a wizard? That… that's impossible."
Moody held up the cat for Al to see. "Here's solid evidence to the contrary."
"But… but…" The younger Elric just didn't want to wrap his head around the idea of wizards and magic; he'd always been told that magic didn't exist. Besides, now that he was looking at the cute little cat that used to be his brother up close, he was becoming increasingly tempted to snatch it away from Moody and smother it with love.
"I can see that you're still skeptical. Understandable, I suppose. All right, then – watch closely, lad."
Making sure that Al was indeed paying attention, the old man tapped his short stick (which Al now deduced was some kind of magic wand) on the kitten's head. After another flash of light, Ed was back to normal, and Moody had ahold of his braid.
"Brother!" Al cried in delight, swooping down on him with a tight embrace.
"Aaaow!" Ed complained, trying to extricate himself from both Al's hug and Moody's grip on his hair. The self-proclaimed wizard gave a final tug on the boy's braid before releasing it and moving back to give the brothers some space. He looked even smugger than he had before the fight, as if everything had happened according to his plan.
"Are you okay?" Al demanded while giving Ed a thorough lookover to make sure he was indeed human again.
"Mmm," Ed muttered, blushing a little. Trying to hide how badly shaken up he truly was, he put on a brave face as the younger Elric continued to fuss over him. At last, he managed to rediscover his voice (for an instant, he was afraid that if he tried to form coherent words, all that would come out would be "Mreaaow.")
"I… I'm okay," he said haltingly. "But that guy… that guy's something else, Al."
"I noticed. He claims to be a wizard."
"Yeah, I heard."
"Do you think he's telling the truth?"
Ed contemplated before answering. Part of him wanted to yell, "No duh! I just got turned into a cat and back!" but the other half felt more like saying, "I'm not falling for it; it had to have been some kind of trick."
"Would you care for me to demonstrate further?" Moody offered, raising his wand in their general direction."
"No!" Ed squeaked, ducking behind Al so as to put the armor between Moody and himself.
"Ha! Your reaction should be proof enough that you believe, however unwillingly, that I am indeed a wizard."
Reluctant is an understatement, Ed grumbled mentally.
"You should feel honored, boys. Under normal circumstances, I'm not supposed to display magic in front of non-wizarding folk, what we refer to as `Muggles.'"
"Then, what makes this situation different?" Al asked, sincerely curious now.
"For one thing, your father could be classified as a wizard, so you're not technically Muggles. Instead, you're what we call `half-bloods.' What's more, our Ministry of Magic has no knowledge of this country, thanks to Hohenheim's protective spells, making it impossible for them to catch me performing magic in the open."
"Dad put protection around Amestris?"
"It extends around the adjacent countries as well. It's possibly the most complex Fidelius Charm I've ever seen."
"`Fidelius?'" Ed repeated, finally finding the courage to reemerge. "What's 'faith' got to do with magic?"
"It completely hides a place from detection in any and all senses. Only the `secret-keeper' – in this case, Hohenheim himself – and those he chooses to tell know of its existence."
"Oh, I see," Al nodded, "so the charm is called `Fidelius' because you have to trust that the secret-keeper will actually keep the secret."
"So that man told you about Amestris?"
"Well, naturally," Moody grinned. "When I lost my leg, he told me that Rockbells' Prosthetic Outfitters was the best place to go to get a replacement."
"Wow," Al sighed, obviously trying to take in all of this new information. "That's amazing! So magic was out there all this time, and we just didn't know it!"
"I guess," Ed muttered grudgingly. He honestly didn't want to admit that he believed Moody, but the old wizard's explanation was the only way he could possibly make sense of what had happened in the past several minutes.
"So then," he added curiously, "did your talk with Pinako have to do with magic, too?
Moody's grin instantly slid off of his face. Quick as lighting, he reached over and grabbed Ed by the ear.
"So you're one of the eavesdropping kind. I should have figured."
"Ow! Hey, lemme go!"
"What'd you hear, boy?"
"Something about a `Death Eater,' and that a fight was going to start again soon."
Moody sighed, releasing Ed. "I won't tell you that listening in on other people's conversations isn't a useful skill, but if you don't watch yourself, you'll get caught by worse than me."
"Worse than you?" Ed echoed, massaging his ear. "I doubt that's possible."
"Rare, but very possible. See, the Death Eaters are the devoted followers and servants of the most dangerous dark wizard in our world: Voldemort. He had gone into hiding for these past fourteen years, but now he's back, and with a vengeance, no less. That's why it was important for me to come here before the fighting starts."
"Is there anything we can do to he-" Al was cut off as Ed elbowed him sharply in the side.
"I doubt it, lad, though I appreciate the offer. This is a wizard's war; no sense in a couple of alchemists like yourselves getting caught in the crossfire."
"Well, good luck dealing with that Voldemort guy," Ed said conclusively, turning back to the house and motioning for Al to follow. "You just said there's no reason for us to get involved, and besides, we've got our own problems to manage."
The next morning, Ed woke early and packed his few belongings in his trunk. He and Al had spent enough time resting; now they needed to get to Central – and Dr. Marcoh's research notes.
"Do you really have to leave so soon?" Winry asked pleadingly as the brothers descended the front steps.
"Yep," Ed insisted, pausing to take in a deep breath. He would miss the crispness of the country air once they headed back to the smog of the city.
"Where's the Major?" Al wondered aloud. "He should be up and ready by now, don't you think?"
"If you're looking for Armstrong, he's not here." Moody had also come out front bearing a large trunk. "I assured him I was completely capable of bringing you boys safely to Central, so he went on ahead."
"He… you… WHAT?" Ed didn't know whether to be furious, terrified, or just plain confused. Moody walked up to the brothers and smiled mischievously at them.
"Your father asked me to stop in Central on my way back, so I figured I might as well travel with you. I've taken a keen interest in you boys, and I've a feeling this trip will prove most… enlightening for all of us."
Ed grit his teeth in annoyance. Travel with HIM? You've got to be kidding me. I think I'd rather be turned back into a cat.
"Well, boys," Moody beckoned, taking the lead. "Let's be off, then, shall we?"
A/N: Yes, I know in the books, Moody has a wooden leg, but the metal leg in the movies made me think "automail!" so I went with it. Besides, the difference between a wooden leg and a metal leg isn't a big accuracy problem in Moody's case.