Nowhere is Safe: Edward Elric and the Order of the Phoenix
A/N: THE. LAST. CHAPTER. O.O
Thank you so much for putting up with me during my slow-updating streaks. Now that I've finished this fic, I'll add To Call Your Name back into my update rotation (and probably the others, too… it'll depend on where inspiration strikes).
What Lies Ahead
Having returned to the school in the early hours of the morning, Ed had been looking forward to crashing in his four-poster and possibly sleeping for a whole two days. Alas, snoozing would have to wait until further notice, for no sooner had the young alchemist reached the corridor leading to Ravenclaw Tower than Professor McGonagall hurried up to him and told him that the headmaster wanted to see Ed in his office immediately.
"So Dumbledore's back?" he asked.
"Yes, yes, now go on."
"Am I in trouble?"
"You'll have to ask him that, Elric. All he told me was that you were to go straight to his office."
Sighing exasperatedly, Ed groaned, "Can I at least get a shirt first?" He had been walking around the school half-naked. Thank goodness all the students were asleep at this hour, or Ed might never have lived it down.
Professor McGonagall didn't show the faintest hint of a flush, but she pursed her lips and nodded briskly. "Just be quick about it."
One run up to his dorm room later, Ed returned, still pulling the shirt over his head. It was kind of weird to feel the fabric against both arms now… not that he was in any way complaining. The cloth was much looser in the right sleeve because of how atrophied his muscles had become; good thing Ed was left-handed. He made his way to the headmaster's office, giving the password to the stone gargoyle as soon as he reached the entrance. In less than a minute, he stood in front of Dumbledore's door. Even before he knocked, Ed heard the aged voice call, "Enter."
"Uh, hello, sir," said Ed a little awkwardly upon obeying. Only once he'd stepped inside did he realize that a third person was in the room. "Harry." The dark-haired boy looked like hell: bleary-eyed and pale-faced. Though Ed had been left out of a good deal of what was going on with Harry, he could still sympathize, empathize even. Both boys had been through possibly the roughest night of their young lives.
"Do sit down, Edward."
"Yes, sir." Ed plopped into a chair, aching from the bruises of the battle and the sizzling energy that was still inside of him.
"Congratulations on reaching your goals, my boy."
"Oh…" The young alchemist flexed the fingers of his right hand. "Thank you, sir. An unexpected bonus, I guess." Cocking an eyebrow, Ed ventured, "But, I'm guessing that's not why you called me up here."
"Indeed, it is not. I wish to know what you now plan to do."
"Yes. I would assume you see little reason to remain in England, now that the threat of the Homunculi has ended."
"Oh, that. Well… yes, sir, I intend to go home."
"Then, what do you think should be done about the… more or less discovery of your country by the Wizarding World?"
Ed blinked. "Wait, have they… has the Ministry actually found it?"
"Not yet, but the Fidelius Charm's power over the Ministry has been drastically weakened, I'm afraid."
"Damn…" Ed thumbed his chin in thought. He'd begun to formulate an idea on the way here as he'd pondered the methods by which he could safely and wisely use up the rest of this magical energy, but finding the words to explain took more effort than he'd initially thought. "Sir, you know how the Father of the Homunculi was able to cast a Memory Charm on everyone? The whole Wizarding World?"
"Yes, I do."
"Well, I've been thinking, and, with the energy I absorbed from that monster, maybe I could... I dunno, make you all forget that Amestris exists. After my family, friends, and I leave, it would be like we were never here."
"Why would you do that?" inserted Harry, who had been surprisingly quiet up to this point. "Ed, why would you want all of us to forget about you? You're our friend!"
"Calm down," Ed insisted, raising his hands defensively. "It's not like that!"
"I believe I understand, Edward." At the sound of the headmaster's voice, both boys focused their attention on him. "Though the Homunculi are gone, Voldemort remains, and he would no doubt use the knowledge of your country to his own advantage."
"Yes, sir. It just isn't safe for the Wizarding World at large to know about alchemy yet."
"But," Harry protested, "does that mean… this is goodbye… forever?" The poor guy had a mist of desperation in his green eyes, a look that said, "I don't want to lose anyone else."
"Merlin's beard, Harry! Don't sound so morose," laughed Ed, clapping his wizard friend on the back. "I've got it all planned out in my head. Hopefully it won't sound crazy when I actually say it aloud."
"Go on," encouraged Dumbledore.
"So, say I cast a Memory Charm on the Wizarding World that blocks out all memory of Amestris, its inhabitants, and true alchemy, giving one individual an extra set of instructions."
"Which are?" Harry interrupted impatiently.
"Let me finish," sighed Ed. "The instructions would be this: once Voldemort has been defeated for good, send me an owl so that I'll know to lift the Charm. Then… well, I guess the alchemists of my country could share their knowledge with the Wizarding World. Using the two in tandem accomplished some… pretty incredible things tonight.
"Indeed they did."
"What should the letter say?" Harry asked. "The one the owl will bring you?"
"I guess… something along the lines of 'It's safe now,' or 'All clear.' Nothing too complicated."
"It's a well-thought-of plan, Edward," said the headmaster.
"Guess there is a reason I'm in Ravenclaw after all," half-snorted the blond.
Dumbledore's eyes twinkled merrily, and a conspiratorial mirth entered his tone. "Edward, when the time comes that you feel free to visit England again, I should tell you that there might very well be a position on the staff reserved for you."
Ed blinked. Had his ears clogged up? "W…. what? Me, a professor?"
"Hogwarts would need someone to instruct the students in alchemy, would it not?"
A faint flush came to the young alchemist's cheeks. "I… I guess so, but – gosh – shouldn't you ask someone a little older? Mustang's a pretty damn talented alchemist."
"But you are also a wizard, dear boy."
"Then Hohenheim could-" And then he caught the look on Dumbledore's face and the ever-so-slight shake of his head. Dumbledore's eyes said, "Treasure the time you have left with him, Edward. Your father has had to live in this world for far too long, and I have the feeling that – in a few years' time…"
Ed looked away; he didn't want to think about death right now. All the same, he tucked away Dumbledore's unspoken advice. Keeping his face calm, he boarded his train of thought at a previous juncture. "So, about who I give the extra instructions to– "
"I think we both know who that should be, Edward."
Getting the quick confirmation from Dumbledore, Ed turned to Harry. It took a full minute of silence for the wizard, his mind preoccupied with all that had happened at the Department of Mysteries, to realize what they meant.
Ed shrugged his shoulders. "Why not? When Voldemort is beaten, you'll have won. It seems… I dunno, kinda poetic for you to be the one to sound the all-clear."
Once he digested this, a smile, faint but visible, appeared on Harry's face. "I… I'm honored, Ed."
"Pfft, just don't go getting a big head over it, 'kay?"
As Harry nodded, there was a knock at the door.
"Come in," said Dumbledore.
From behind the wood came Hohenheim. He inclined his head courteously to Dumbledore and smiled at the two boys. Coming over to Ed, he placed an arm around the smaller blond. "Son, Madame Pomfrey's nearly finished tending to Colonel Mustang's head injury, and it'll be time for us to be on our way after that."
"Oh, okay. I'll get to saying my goodbyes right after this." After all, practically everyone he wanted to see before they left was already awake at this early hour. Convenient, that.
A glance and an exchange of Legilimency was enough for Dumbledore to convey Ed's plan to Hohenheim. Upon understanding this, the father gave the son a light squeeze. "I'm proud of you, Ed," the gesture seemed to say.
"Then this is goodbye, for now," said Dumbledore, rising from his chair and coming to shake Hohenheim's hand.
"Until our next meeting," replied the other sage.
"If it is to be," smiled the headmaster. When Dumbledore shook Ed's hand, his blue eyes twinkled merrily. "I wish you success on all your future endeavors, my boy."
As Ed tried to absorb that benediction, he realized what the undertone of the headmaster's words was: a final farewell. Somehow, Dumbledore knew that this would indeed be the last time they spoke. Again, Ed averted his thoughts from death, and, as he slipped out from his father's arm to clasp Harry's hand, he whispered, "Keep a sharp eye out, 'kay, Harry? I won't be here to watch your back."
"Right," nodded the scar-marked wizard. "I will."
With that, the two alchemists excused themselves from the study. Downstairs in the Entrance Hall, the participants in the battle congregated to wish the Elrics and their friends farewell. Winry found Ed almost immediately and slipped her left hand into his right. He squeezed it reassuringly to say, "I'll be right back," before making his rounds to speak to his friends individually.
In hindsight, what he said and did blurred together into a whirlwind of handshakes and brief sentences, but some things stood out to him: surprise hugs from Hermione and Kevin, an innocent kiss on the cheek from Luna, a moment of silence between him and Snape. That last encounter, especially. Just as Dumbledore had, Snape seemed strangely certain that this could very well be the last time teacher and pupil laid eyes on one another. "You did well," his beetle-black eyes told Ed.
Thank you, sir, replied the blond without words. And that was it. That was all that needed to be said between the two.
At long last, Ed finished and found his way to Al's side. The younger Elric was gratefully inhaling well-sized bites of shepherd's pie from a plate that Dobby had brought the emaciated boy. "How's that treating ya, Al?"
The little brother's mouth was too full at the moment to answer coherently, but he nodded vigorously and smiled at the other, his cheeks puffed out like a chipmunk's.
"Good," snickered Ed. "Just don't choke, okay?"
Winry joined them a few minutes later, and she looped her arms round both their necks and hugged them tightly. "You two idiots. You had me worried sick, you know." Ed felt a few drops dampen his shirt, but he didn't stop her from crying this time. He had kept his promise, and these were tears of joy. Instead, he patted her back with one hand and squeezed Al's free hand with the other. They were together again, the three of them. And now, they would all be able to go home.
In time, Madame Pomfrey brought Mustang from the hospital wing. She looked slightly miffed that she wouldn't be able to ensure that the wounded soldier made an absolutely full recovery, but the Colonel looked eager to get away from the territorial matron. When Mustang reached earshot, Ed teased, "Have fun explaining that bandage to the Lieutenant."
"Shut up, Fullmetal," the Colonel retorted on cue. A moment's grin passed between the two, one that whispered, "I'm glad you're okay, too, dumbass."
Once the travelers assembled – Ed, Al, Hohenheim, Winry, Mustang, and Greedling – they exited through the great oaken doors out onto the grounds toward the Whomping Willow. Memories of Ed's previous visits to the secret passage washed over him: when he'd hijacked the Floo Network, when he'd led his friends into battle, when… when he'd broken his younger brother's heart with his betrayal. And now, he was finally getting to go home.
When all six stood in the main room of the Shrieking Shack, huddled around the Portkey, Hohenheim nodded to Ed and said quietly, "It's time, son."
The young alchemist slipped out his wand. Okay, Horntail. You ready for this?
"We've been over this, boy. I'm always ready. The question is whether you are prepared."
"Then, let's quit chatting and get to work."
That should be my line. Lifting the ash wand, Ed closed his eyes and whispered an incantation, channeling his will into the stick of wood clutched in his hand. The buzzing that had lingered in him due to the magical energy swelled to a crescendo, following the flow of the Memory Charm. Like a great wave, it swept outward from him, soaking into everything it touched. And then, it dissipated, and Ed exhaled, deep and slow. "Okay. It's done."
"Then let us be on our way," said Hohenheim.
"Make sure you get enough sleep."
"And remember to eat plenty."
"And it's important to bathe regularl—"
"For crying out loud, Winry!" groaned the blond, raising his arms above his head in a much-needed stretch. "I'm a grown man; I know how to tend to my essential needs."
The mechanic flushed and scrunched her shoulders defensively. "I just want you to be okay. You're going to the other side of the world, after all; who knows what crazy things could be over there. Maybe even crazier than magic!"
Looking at her flustered face, Ed couldn't stay mad at her. She only wanted him to come home to her safely. "Win, it'll be okay. I've got alchemy and this." He patted his pocket where the ash wand was stored. "I'll be fine."
Winry twisted a silver band set with a single small diamond round and round the ring finger of her left hand; that had become a nervous habit of hers not long after Ed had given the ring to her. His proposal had been, as one can imagine, rather awkward in a humorous way, but – hey – it had gotten the job done.
"I'll be fine," he repeated.
"You better be."
He eyed her anxious expression and, seized by a sudden audacity, leaned toward her and turned her face to meet his. The kiss seemed to be just what she had needed, because now she smiled adoringly at him. Her hands cupped around his face, ready to pull him in for another one.
They were interrupted, however, by the clearing of a throat. "I can see the train now, son."
"Oh, really?" After squeezing Winry's hands, he stood and joined Hohenheim at the edge of the platform. A shrill whistle accompanied the plume of smoke rising from the growing shape of the engine. "Yup, there it is."
Winry came alongside him and slipped her hand into his, wrapping herself around his arm. As he looked at her, though, she focused on something in the early summer sky. "Ed, is that… an owl?"
Immediately, all eyes were on the bird. It swooped in gracefully and perched atop Ed's suitcase. In its beak was, as might be expected, an envelope. As soon as Ed had accepted the letter from it, the owl took off again and was soon lost among the puffy clouds parading along. Unconsciously, his heart rate had increased, and it only quickened its rhythm as he slipped a finger under the lip of the envelope and ripped it open.
There was only a simple card inside, bearing a simple sentence.
"Dad… after this world-trip, we have somewhere to be."
Hohenheim smiled warmly and nodded, though a distant look glazed his eyes, as if he was already contemplating at what cost Voldemort and his followers had been defeated. Ed, however, had other things to think about at the moment. Pulling out his wand, he intended to address the dragon's spirit, but Horntail was one step ahead of him.
"I understand," it said, taking charge.
Ed felt a sharp tug in his gut, and a sort of weight lifted from his shoulders. He hadn't even realized he'd been carrying it for a little over two years, but now that it was gone, he stood a little straighter.
"As soon as possible, I'll send an owl requesting more information on the situation over there," Hohenheim proposed. "We'll discern how to proceed from there."
"Sounds like a plan," agreed Ed. By that time, the train was about to pull into the station. As soon as the mammoth transport had grinded to a halt beside the platform and a handful of passengers had begun to disembark, Hohenheim hefted both suitcases so that Ed and Winry could have one more moment. She draped her arms over his shoulders and clasped her hands behind his head, while his arms encircled her waist. Both smiling, they exchanged a few tender kisses before squeezing each other in a tight hug.
"Come home as soon as you can."
Then they parted, and Ed joined his father on the train. In another minute, the whistle sounded again, and steam hissed from the pistons as the train began its departure. Ed watched out the open window as Winry and the Resembool station grew smaller from his moving viewpoint. Even with all the uncertainty of what awaited them in the West, and then all they might find in the Wizarding World upon their return, the young man was beyond excited. Perhaps it was his cocky attitude that longed for a new thrill or his scientific drive to seek out answers, but something had definitely set him alight with energy.
"Careful," chided Horntail. "There are some mysteries that cannot be solved; that will never be changed, so don't get your hopes up too high."
Mystery? Ed snorted inwardly. Don't you know me at all, dragon? The blond hybrid of alchemist and wizard crossed his arms and legs, smirking in his usual fashion, ready for whatever challenges would dare confront him.
I eat mystery for breakfast.
A/N: It's over. It's… really over. I finished this monster in under a year.
I was honestly tempted to call this chapter either "There and Back Again" or "Journey's End" XD soooooo original…
If you liked this HP/FMA crossover, you'll probably enjoy my other one, The Boy with the Lightning Scar. It's only three chapters in length right now, but I'll start to work on it again soon.