Thank you for all of the kind reviews, what an amazing response! From the poll results I can see that you guys want a multi-chaptered FMA story, so I've posted the first chapter already ;) enjoy!
This chapter was the first part of this story that I wrote. Yeah, I like to make things complicated for myself…
Lightning Rain, thank you. :) I know you've been busy, so it means a lot to me that you took the time to read through this for me.
Chapter 6: Redheads and Running for your life.
Edward couldn't believe it. His life seemed to be a never ending chain of pain and unnecessarily large explosions that inevitably left him battered and covered in unhealthy amounts of rubble. This world was seriously messed up. He had no damn clue why the hell the wall and floor had exploded. Again. And right now, he didn't much care. He must have used alchemy - it must have been alchemy. He had felt something around him, inside of him, curl and spark. It couldn't have been anything else, right?
He was so dizzy.
Ugh… he felt like he'd just been hit in the ribs by Envy in his monstrous form…
He stirred; disturbing the wreckage of what was once the floor and wall of his cell. Face covered in dust and grey silt. His golden eyes at half-mast. To his left he noticed a strange dark bundle – one of those cloaked freaks? Huh, he must have knocked them unconscious when he fell through the roof.
Good. He hoped the bastard was hurt. Badly.
"Bloody - hell!" came a cry from his left, choked on a cough.
Ed coughed too, the dust from the broken rock and mortar had erupted into the air like smoke and ash from a damp fire. It lay thick on his hair and he shook it out of his eyes, as he tried to get up. It took a few tries but he managed it, blearily clambering over the mess of stones.
If Al were here he would be moping about how his brother always insisted on loud exits. He could have used alchemy to sneak out eventually; he could have been stealthy.
But you always have to be so dramatic, brother. Don't you?
Ed grunted at his inner Alphonse. Yeah, well, there hadn't exactly been any opportunity for sneaking around, and he was so desperate to get out of this godforsaken hellhole, and he dare thought that these evil cloaked bastards deserved a bit of chaos to clean up, and, and -
He hadn't expected his alchemy to be that explosive though; having those sticks pointing at him all the time must have messed with his brain a bit. It certainly messed with his balance. He slipped over the rubble, hitting the ground groggily.
"Hey!" that voice again, startled him out of his stupor, "Mate! Fancy giving me a hand? That was some explosion!"
Ed, against his better judgement, stumbled towards the sound. Something in it made him, for the first time in four weeks, feel a little scrap of comfort. It was a defiant voice, with a hint of cockiness to it. He would have shuddered if he'd remembered just who it was that that voice so reminded him of. In his mind's eye he saw a flash of stars pinned on a blue military coat, and exotic dark eyes.
"Oi, over here! If you're gonna bring down the building at least take me with you!"
Once Ed had scrambled ungracefully back to his feet, he finally saw the owner of the loud voice. It was a freckled red headed teen who was manacled to the wall and grinning inanely. The two boys coughed in time with each other at the choking rain of dust that spewed from the ceiling.
"Listen mate," said the red headed teenager, "I saw you before – with that Death eater woman – you put her inside a wall, right?"
Ed shook his head roughly, to clear it, shaking grey dust like an old dog, "Yeah," he coughed, "that's right. You must be that guy they captured, then? From the shitty invasion."
A large grin was his answer. "Yeah, it was pretty shit! I ran off on my own, which I'll be the first to admit was bloody stupid of me… never been tortured before, unless you count Professor Snape's detentions… You wanna bust out this place together?"
Hey, thought Ed with a shrug, the enemy of my enemy is my friend, right? He'd get this boy out too; no one deserved to stay in this damn evil place with that snake-faced bastard with an ego-complex.
Ed nodded hurriedly, clapping his hands together and freeing the boy from his chains with a flash of bright blue alchemic energy. The manacles sparked oddly and fizzed as they disintegrated into their component elements. More of this stupid magic, no doubt.
"Wow, wandless magic?" the other boy's eyes were brown and wide, "Cheers mate, I tried picking the lock but the damn thing was cursed and it hurt like a bugger. Fred." Said the boy, by way of introduction, standing up and revealing himself as a tall and gangly youth. The dust coated his head, but the red flaming hair was still prominent.
"Ed." Ed replied.
They eyed each other appraisingly for a second, shared a grin, and then simultaneously agreed to leg it.
Ed had already made a considerable gap in the wall of Fred's cell when he'd collapsed his own on the floor above. It was sheer dumb luck that he hadn't upended a load of brick and mortar over the redhead, and of course, it was sheer dumb luck that he'd been in the cell above in the first place. But Ed supposed, it was about freakin' time he had luck on his side; being kidnapped and tortured for Truth knows how long without anything good happening at all wasn't exactly equivalent exchange.
Ed was about to head through the gap when a hand grabbed at shoulder and tugged him none too gently in the opposite direction, "This way," his new companion said, "they only brought me in a couple of days ago, I remember coming through here. We'll leg it out the back – unless you want to jump a good few feet outta that hole."
Ed snorted; jumping out from a great height might just serve to finish him off. "We better hurry, whatever we plan on doing," Ed grouched, "we're not gonna be alone for long, I couldn't help but make a scene."
"Hey," grinned Fred, "What's an escape attempt if you don't do it in style?"
Ed found himself taking an immediate liking to his new companion. Despite the fact that he was freakishly tall, he seemed to share his passion for theatrics. They ran through corridors with gusto, flinging open doors, hearts beating wildly in their chests. It was like, for some mad moment, he had Al next to him. Fred's lanky frame and quick stride were replaced with towering armour and clanking footsteps, his sweaty freckled face melting into a sheath of metal; a helmet with red eyes that glowed with his little brother's soul.
Ed blinked the image away and clenched his jaw. They ran.
Yells and shouts followed them but always seemed to be far off, or above them. It was just good fortune they hadn't come across anyone yet, although Ed suspected that the explosion of a good proportion of the upper part of a building might be giving those cloaked idiots some difficulty.
And then, just like that, courtesy of another tug in the right direction from Fred, they were out.
Outside, out of that hell hole, for the first time in Truth knew how many days.
He was free.
It was night; the stars were visible, dusting the dark inky sky between slivers of silver cloud. Ed stopped and stared at them in rapture; those were not the constellations that he knew.
He had known that he was no longer in his world; he knew he had been flung into another, one he had no idea about, where the laws of equivalent exchange held no sway over people's actions, where he was hopelessly, impossibly, and completely lost. But the whole absurdity of his situation seemed to suddenly catch up with him in that moment and stopped him in his tracks.
It was mad.
"Hey! Snap out of it." Fred tugged. "Time for contemplative star-watching later. Bad guys behind. Legging it in progress!"
Ed shook his head and almost growled at his stupidity. Fred was right of course, this was no time to be standing around chewing over the ludicrousness of this world. And indeed, his entire life. "Hang on," he said suddenly and turned on his heel, only wobbling a little. He clapped his hands together quickly, well aware that they weren't going to be alone for long unless he did something drastic, and slammed his mismatched palms against the side of the building, deconstructing the stone in a simple, albeit large scale, transmutation.
He didn't turn to watch it fall, only fled with Fred in tow, who was hooting all the while and sprinting ahead with his long legs. But both of them didn't need to look back to feel the rock plummeting to the ground; it shook the ground like an earthquake, the ferocity vibrating all the way up his legs and reverberating through his chest.
"You're mad!" Fred said, "Amazing!"
"Congratulate me later!" Ed yelled. And they ran and ran and ran. It was the middle of nowhere; the moonlight illuminated the short stubs of grass and small rocky outcroppings. No civilisation for miles, just like when he had arrived on this godforsaken world. Ed slowed a little, gasping for breath. What was the point in running if you couldn't get anywhere? He was getting dizzy, he had put too much of himself in his alchemy, and the lack of food during his incarceration wasn't helping either. Black blobbed in his vision like ink spattering a canvas.
Where the hell were they supposed to go now?
And then Ed heard a woman's screech. It clawed through the air, like sharp nails through flesh. Ed knew that voice, knew without turning to look that that woman, Bella, had found them. His heart caught on his throat. Not again, he wouldn't let her catch him again.
"WEAPON!" an inhuman howl, guttural, "I WILL FIND YOU WEAPON! YOU CANNOT ESCAPE!"
Hope came in the form of Fred, who had stopped just ahead of Ed, an expression on his face as though something had just clicked into place. A grin. And then he was beckoning wildly in the manner of one who was accustomed to making slapdash plans and enlisting the help of others at the drop of a hat. Ed wondered for a second just what Voldemort had wanted the boy for. "Hey, Ed! D'ya think you can apparate us away from here?"
"Apparate?" called Ed, over the distant rumble of the still collapsing rocks. What the hell did 'apparate' mean? It must be another of those freaky stick things, that magic. He didn't trust it for a second. In fact most of what he had experienced those sticks producing was pain in the form of a strangely muttered 'crucio'. 'Accio' made things fly to the user, that Bella woman had used it to summon various torture devices to her, and 'Mobiliarbus' moved things, like that miniscule dinner tray he'd had flung at him by that Death Eater with the blonde hair. All derived from Latin, the Truth whispered. An ancient language in this world. He supposed it was almost poetic, in its archaic ridiculousness. But it was nothing like alchemy with its sure and steadfast calculations, carefully drawn circles, and alchemical formula. It was nothing but nonsensical words to him.
'Magic', that snake-faced bastard had called it. Edward wouldn't have believed that such a thing existed if he didn't have the tremors running through him from being exposed to so much of it.
"What the hell does 'apparate' mean?" He growled out.
The part of his mind that had seen the Truth whispered in his ear; the Truth had the knowledge of all languages, and it sometimes translated them when Ed thought about a word or phrase hard enough. A sort of temperamental gift left over from the Gate. Apparate, from the Latin apparēre. To Appear.
They hid under a crumbling rock wall for a moment to catch their breath back. It must have been an old building, abandoned at some point in the past, maybe the remains of a church. Ed didn't even notice they had come to it, but his aching, shaky legs told him they had been running for some time now. They sat there with their backs against the broken old wall, chests heaving. Ed had been outnumbered and captured almost exactly in a place like this, and it set his teeth on edge.
"Apparation - it's a spell - you know - a transportation spell," Fred gasped in another breath, red hair in disarray, freckles standing out sharply on his pale face, "gets you from one place to another real quick. I'd do it myself, but that git snapped my wand in two."
A transportation spell right about now sure would come in useful. Ed bit back the sarcasm coating his tongue.
"I can't do magic." Ed growled, almost spitting out the cursed word. He felt stupid even thinking it. Magic. Of all things. It was impossible, and even if it was achievable in this world, there was no way he could do it. "I don't know how!"
"What?" Fred blinked, voice coloured with a strange mix of amusement, exhilaration and fear. His eyes were shining. "Are you serious? Blimey, mate, I just saw you rip apart that entire bloody building! Can't do magic, as if!"
"That wasn't magic!" Ed ducked low behind the wall, his voice that had lashed out in annoyance was now whispering, as he spotted a few cloaked figures racing towards their pathetic hiding place, "That was alchemy."
His companion, despite the bruises on his face and the tremors running through his slender frame, nearly cackled. "Sure looked like magic to me!" He snorted, laughing breathily and bending over his long knees. "Trust me, you can do it," he said quickly and excitedly, as if running for his life was something to be enjoyed. Ed, who did this sort of thing too frequently for his liking, could relate. But he also tired of having to leg it away from things. Be it crazy kidnappers, things that were about to explode due to his own devilish design, or Winry when she was in one of her wrench clobbering moods.
"I can't -" he started.
"Look, mate, you didn't even have a bloody wand and you toppled a bloody building! You must have done unexplained stuff before, things happening in your favour, I mean how'd you even escape in the first place? That place is crawling with Death Eaters!"
Now that he thought about it, Ed's brain went a mile a minute as he tried to explain away what had happened when he had escaped. They had found out about his alchemy and prised his hands apart. How then did those shackles drop off his wrists as though they had been sliced through like a hot knife through butter?
It just wasn't possible. He hadn't – he hadn't used his alchemy at all… Now, Edward was a logical person, his world revolved around things making complete and utter sense in a long string of calculations and carefully collected knowledge – but he wasn't in his world right now, and try as he might, Ed could think of no other explanation to elucidate how he had escaped other than somehow harnessing the power of this strange world.
And before he could fully comprehend it, he believed Fred, if only for one desperate, irrational moment, and the taller red headed boy was explaining the basics of this transportation spell with a quick frantic ferocity that left both of them feeling breathless.
Red sparks shot over their heads, erupting into the sky like a bloody firework. A warning? No. Their time was up. It was a show of success; a howl of victory before the hounds went in for the kill.
"I'VE FOUND THEM! KILL THEM! SHOW NO MERCY!"
Fred looked terrified, eyes so luminous and large they looked as though they might pop out of his pale freckled face. "Come on mate, you can do it! I'll be thinking of the place, you just keep your mind blank and focus on the magic bit. The Three D's. Destination, Determination and Deliberation. All right? I've got the Destination bit sorted, you focus on the spell. Just… er, just be really focused mate. Don't wanna lose any legs or anything."
No, Edward didn't think he could afford to lose any more limbs, thank you very much.
Just how Fred thought that Edward could manage to get from one place to another without even knowing what that place was, and without having a wand, and without really believing that such a thing was possible in the first place, and all the while wondering if this was actually Hell he was in, or if he was in some sort of coma, or if he had gone wholly and inexplicably quite mad, Ed had no idea.
He felt sick.
"Me and George used to do it all the time. One of us thinking of the place and the other holding the wand." Fred hurriedly whispered, reassuringly, "'Course, we have a connection. We're twins. And we had a wand too. But it's the same principle."
Ed had absolutely no idea what he was doing.
But then, when did he ever think things through?
"Oh shit." Fred was saying, as he clamped his hands on Ed's shoulders and Edward felt the most damn stupid and ridiculous he had ever felt in his life. Including that time where he had been forced into a tiny blue military uniform for a parade and had looked for all the world like a child playing dress up in his father's clothes. Damn that Colonel Bastard Mustang. He had been the laughing stock of the entire command and had had to endure the teasing and mocking salutes in the office for weeks afterwards.
"Oi, mate! Focus!"
Right. Magic. He couldn't believe he was even considering this. Nevertheless, he never was one to give up when cornered, and if it meant getting away from that snake bastard, his painful curses, and cruel way of evoking memories, he would try anything. New world, new rules. And Edward was nothing if not resourceful.
Fred's hands gripped his upper arms, and his brown eyes were wide as they looked over Ed's shoulder at the approaching figures.
Focus. Ed felt his mind go blank, settling into that calmness reserved for the most intricate and complex of transmutations. He whipped his mind back to that time in the cell when he had been so desperate to escape, the first time, supposedly, when he'd used magic. That foul woman's breath on his cheek, the promise of pain and those dark memories, and Al.
He needed to get back to Al; it was a desperate, clinging, longing in his chest, and as he felt it, he slammed his hands together between himself and Fred, and instead of the blue light there was a sharp crack in the air, like a whip breaking the sound barrier. And then suddenly his feet had left the ground and he was being crushed from all the directions, squashed and squeezed, so much so that he felt as though his spine might snap and his skull crumple inwards like a decomposing apple. He couldn't breathe, couldn't think. Ack, his head!
He was spinning.
His head was against something cold, cheek pressed onto the floor. Urgh, he felt sick. If he had anything in his stomach he probably would have thrown up.
He was lying on a floor. That was promising. No grass, no rocks, no steadily approaching bad guys in freakish black capes. Who dressed like that anyway?
Wait a minute; he couldn't believe that crap had actually worked.
A second grunt escaped him. Eurgh. This world made no sense, it flicked the V at alchemical rules, it stomped on his carefully collected knowledge, it made a mockery of his lost arm and leg, of his lost brother's body.
Maybe Truth had chucked him into Hell after all.
His heart throbbed painfully, and he cracked one golden eye open with a muffled groan (his mouth was pressed into the aforementioned floor, which on closer inspection of his now open golden eye, turned out to be made from wood and varnished with a dark gloss) and tried to sit up. The room – it was dark and smelt of old books, that was all he could discern at the moment – span alarmingly, and he flopped back down almost immediately.
A hand was on his shoulder, pulling him upright. "Mate, you're amazing, bloody amazing! We did it! It's all right, we're safe here." A breathy laugh. "I can't believe it, I owe you a hell of a - mate? Hey." A small shake, "You all right?"
No, damn it, he was not all right. Gold eyes blinked slowly as he lurched into an upright position, legs managing to find purchase on the varnished wood flooring, but only staying upright thanks to Fred who was, rather embarrassingly, supporting most of his weight.
"Where," managed Ed in a huff of relief and pain, "the hell," he moved off Fred's shoulder and braced himself against the wall, "are we now?"
"Order of the Phoenix Headquarters." Fred said with a knowing, albeit exhausted, smile, as if the words he had just spouted out made perfect sense. Ed could just make out his darkened features in the bleary dank of the room as his eyes flicked around it apprehensively. "One of the upstairs rooms, if I'm not mistaken. Though I was aiming for just outside the front door, seeing as technically no one should be able to apparate inside. But wow, you're really something; I've always been one for crazy theatrics -"
Ed had stopped listening. Order of the Phoenix? Well that sounded both ridiculous, and pompous. Wasn't a phoenix a mythological bird of some kind? He remembered reading about such a creature in a dusty old alchemy book. It was all fable, of course, and only ever theorised about. A bird capable of Red stone qualities, prolonged life, healing, that sort of thing. And why the hell did they go about calling themselves an Order? All he knew was, he better not have been tossed into some freakish religious cult again, or he'd be cracking some skulls with his automail fist.
Ed, wisely for once, didn't even want to ask. For all he knew he had made it from one nest of bastards straight into another, though Fred seemed pretty decent. At least, he wasn't about to get skewered on the end of one of those stupid sticks they called 'wands'.
Or, Ed thought, golden eyes widening as several pointed sticks appeared out of the gloom and were brandished threateningly under his nose, perhaps he was not so lucky after all.
"Lumos maxima." One of the newly arrived figures muttered, and a large ball of bluish blinding light lit the end of one of those sticks, and with it the room and a bunch of angry faces.
"Fred!" cried one of them, a red headed woman, who looked not so much angry as completely and utterly relieved. She pushed aside some of the sticks in her haste to get to Fred and wrapped her arms around him, wailing, "Oh Fred!" and then she straightened out, tears bright in her eyes, and said "If you ever scare me like that again Frederick Weasley, I swear I'll - !" and the rest was muffled as she pulled him to her breast once again, bending his tall frame almost in half. "I was so worried!"
"Ack!" said Fred, attempting to escape from this woman's clutches, cheeks blushing a bright pink. "Geroff! I can't breathe!"
Ed was brusquely brought to his senses, and pried his golden eyes away from the peculiar sight of such open affection, when a 'wand' rudely tipped his chin up.
"You, boy," spoke a stick wielder gruffly, "How did you get in here."
Ed's face pulled down in a frown almost immediately as he squinted into the wand light. He may not be able to see the interrogator's face yet; his golden eyes having not adjusted to the sharp unnatural light that he had a feeling was being deliberately pointed into his face like a rabbit caught in the glare of a searchlight, but he knew the tone in the man's voice and he hated it. It was the pompous authoritative tone often heard in the military by fat soft-bottomed generals, who sat in comfortable chairs and ordered soldiers about to their deaths as easily as they ordered their expensive lunches.
"Well," Ed said, "it wasn't through the damn front door." And he squared his shoulders in familiar defiance, golden eyes blazing.
"Hey, he's a friend! A good guy." came Fred's voice, as he gently pried his - well it could only be his mother's - arms from around his middle, "He got me out of that place - apparated the both of us out and saved my life. Get those wands out of his face, you're just embarrassing yourselves."
"Good lord, is that true?" came a perplexed voice, a tired looking man with yellow eyes gazed at Ed with genuine curiosity and a little wonder. "You managed to apparate inside this very building?"
"Gotta give the kid credit for his boldness; he apparated in the middle of a bloody order meeting," another said.
"But - he's so young, and there were protection spells, Dumbledore himself cast them." Fred's mother gasped, and then said exasperatedly, "Oh really now, lower your wands you old fools! Arthur, put that down at once!"
One of them did. Must have been Arthur. Another red headed man, whose hair was also streaked with a little grey. He was rounder and gentle-faced and had Fred's eyes. His father? Just how many of these orange haired family members had joined this weird cult? As soon as he had lowered his wand, his face changed from one of duty to one of relief, and he quickly joined Fred and the woman, embracing the former tightly and slapping him on the back.
"Ack!" said Fred again, "I just get back and both of you try and squeeze me to death!" he rasped, nervously patted the man's back, who still hadn't let him go, "It's okay Dad, I'm fine, I promise. You big old worry wart."
The woman turned to Ed and he flicked his golden gaze over to her kindly face and saw only comfort there. She wasn't afraid of him. He didn't know whether to be relieved or slightly offended. He wasn't that small, damn it. "What's your name dear?" she asked sympathetically.
He tightened his jaw.
"Oh come now, you take no notice of them. I'm Fred's mother, Molly. Molly Weasley. Thank you so much for bringing my son home, I can't imagine what you two must have been through." Her eyes shined a little and she cleared her throat as though the very thought of it was too much, "Now, what should I call you dear?"
Well, he'd already told Fred his name, so he guessed it couldn't hurt. Especially seeing as no one in this world knew who the hell he was and wouldn't be able to dig up any dirt on the infamous Fullmetal Alchemist.
"Ed." Ed said.
"Short for Edward?" she inquired casually, with the expertise of an old gossip.
"Yeah." He said stiffly, wishing that Al was there with him. His little brother had always had a knack for disarming his opponents with his cheerful personality. And at the moment, Ed was about as cheerful and unprickly as a thistle. "Look, no offense," he growled uneasily, "but could you get those sticks out of my face?"
A ripple of unease at the sentence. And a few mutterings of the world 'buggle' or "mug all" or something equally stupid sounding. Ed's patience was wearing thin. His eyes had adjusted now and he saw that the ringleader of the gang of sticks was a grizzled older man. He grunted at Ed distrustfully.
"You're in no position to be making demands, Edward."
"Hey -" Fred said, "We should talk to Dumbledore about him – he'll set things straight. Ed's on our side."
The grizzled older man's wand was unwavering as it poked Ed in the neck, as steady as a seasoned soldier might hold a knife. His eye was mechanical and electric blue. Ed had never seen anything like it, was it automail? The way it swivelled in its socket left him feeling exposed, it hovered over the arm he had by his side and then flicked to his left leg. The man's other eye remained fixed on Ed's face and a broken lopsided grin stretched out along his jaw. "Where's your wand boy, no tricks. Hand it over."
Ed rolled his eyes. "Don't have one." He said calmly.
"And yet you somehow escaped out of the Dark Lord's custody, and not only apparated yourself, but the young Mr. Weasley here, into a heavily guarded and damn near impenetrable magic-protected place like this one?"
"Yeah," Ed resisted the urge to fold his arms. He was used to standing up to ignorant buffoons, Mustang included, and knew that sometimes the trick of getting out of a mess was to stand stock still and let his blazing golden eyes do the talking. Besides, his heart ached something terrible, and he had a feeling that whatever so called 'magic' he had done to get out of that prison and into this one was not agreeing with him. He rubbed at his chest with his flesh hand, trying to soothe the throbbing pain there.
"He's only a child Alastor, don't be ridiculous." Molly - Mrs Weasley, said, attempting to get between the sticks and Edward, but failing. "Edward dear, it's all right, you're safe here."
Alastor cut across her kind words with grim accuracy. "I can see your arm and leg, boy. What kind of child loses two limbs and lives to tell the tale?"
All eyes flicked to the arm at his side with curiosity. The metal glinted in the wandlight.
"A metal arm?" one of them said, with raised eyebrows.
"The leg's the same." Grunted the one with the wand under his chin. "He's no child; he's probably a filthy spy. Only limbs cursed off with dark magic can't be regrown, I've got me own to prove it. Must have done something damned awful, treacherous little snake."
"What did you call me, you bastard?" Ed clenched his fists. The one over his heart grabbed a handful of his shirt. He felt Fred come up beside him, Mrs Weasley clinging to his arm and Arthur standing steadfastly at his side.
"Hey! I said he's a friend," Fred said, wide eyed and lips curled, all traces of humour suddenly gone, "Blimey, you'd think I'd just let a Death Eater in here or something! He saved my bloody arse, the least you could do is show him some decency." His eyes darkened. "You know what Voldemort does, even to those dumb gits that follow him. You think Ed's not been through hell to get out of that place?"
Ed felt all eyes turn to his slightly shivering form, truly taking him in now as something other than a threat. He knew he must look utterly pathetic. Hair unbound and greasy, no shoes to speak of, only damp muddy socks. Where his boots had disappeared off to he had no idea, they were most likely a casualty of that stupid transportation spell.
A freaking spell, of all things.
Ed stood, slumped against the wall, haggard and bedraggled in his ripped red cloak. His eyes though, he knew they burned still, and he looked into their cripplingly sympathetic faces boldly and without fear.
A dark headed man with a chin that had never seen a shaving brush, shook his head sadly, "Well, I believe you – Edward, was it? I know what it feels like to have people get the wrong impression of you. What are we turning into, eh? You saved one of our own and get this shitty reception as thanks." The man's wand was shoved haphazardly into his pocket and a large hand protruded in its place, taking Ed's metal one in a firm handshake. "Sirius. Welcome to my house kid, it's not much of a secret base and I'd watch out for the batty portraits, but you're welcome to stay for as long as you like."
Most of the hesitant wand-lit faces relented with that and almost all of the wands were lowered, and small slapdash apologies mumbled, though their eyes remained wary.
The wand under his chin however, remained, its hard sharp end digging into his skin.
"Give it up Alastor." The dark headed man, Sirius, rumbled. "This is my house, and I said the kid's welcome here. Keep this up and I'll have to ask you to leave."
By the tone of his voice, Edward could tell that 'asking him to leave' would include a good deal of violence. He instantly took a liking to this stubbly chinned man.
Alastor shook his head, eye glinting. "I don't buy it, you're all fools. He's a filthy spy. Why keep a little kid locked up? What would the Dark Lord want with a runt like this? He's a -"
The end of that sentence would never be uttered because, unfortunately for Mad-eye Moody, Edward Elric had a very short temper when it came to the topic of his height – or lack thereof.
His metal hand came up to the wand at his throat and snapped it in two as though it were nothing but a twig. Which, to Ed, it was. The dark wood splintered and a bright silvery thread sprang free from its confines, splitting and fraying into wisps.
"Don't," He growled dangerously, "call me short."
It was succinct and to the point, and definitely not up to his usual ranting standards, but considering the throbbing in his chest and the way the world tilted whenever he moved his head, it wasn't a bad compromise in the circumstances. Besides, the breaking of the wand seemed to have got the bastard's attention all right.
His face was turning the colour of a beetroot, "You - you damn insolent brat! I'll - "
"- calm down -"
"Steady on Mad-Eye - !"
"I'll kill - "
Ed didn't really know what was happening, if he was quite honest. The painful thrum in his chest had intensified and he'd shut his eyes against it and leaned heavily against the wall.
Fred was hurriedly coming to his rescue, but the words sounded garbled to him. They weren't making sense. "He's the Weapon – he has to be – I heard one of the Death eaters call him that, that's why I asked him to apparate us away – 'cause even without a wand he's bloody powerful –"
"- That would explain -"
"No! The little shit -"
"He's not a bad guy, he's the one we were sent to save! Just ask Dumbledore -"
"The Weapon? A little kid? Don't be absurd -"
Ugh, he was going to die here, and that was that. It was just his bloody luck. Although he should have expected it really; he had been willing to give his life up to save Alphonse's, he just had rather hoped it would have been a quick, noble and painless death. Instead, true to form, it was long, torturous and infuriatingly incomprehensible.
He had been captured and tortured by something that he knew couldn't possibly exist, or the precious rules of alchemy that he lived by would be null and void, and the life he had led up until this time, all of the sacrifices he and Al had made that meant so much to them and shaped their entire lives up until this point, would cease to have meaning. And as if the whole magic thing wasn't bad enough by itself, he had suddenly found that he hadn't really escaped from that torture at all and instead had landed himself in a place where there were even more of these stick-waving, cloak-wearing, magic-blabbing idiots.
He just wanted to get home. Home to Alphonse.
He wondered if Truth had kept up his end of the bargain, if Al was home with Winry and Granny, if everyone had finally been able to see his little brother in the flesh. If they had found out that he had left them all, if they were waiting for him, or mourning him.
His heart throbbed at the solemn thought. The air around him crackled ominously, like an electrical storm. His hair whipped back from his face and there was a sudden surge inside of him.
And suddenly that weird Alastor guy was forcefully pushed out of the way by something, a blast of wild bright energy. He was still red faced and practically foaming at the mouth, but appeared to have been knocked unconscious, and his large haggard form was being supported by the other members of the order as he was unceremoniously hurled backwards into them.
Ed stumbled a little, uncomprehending. Blinking unfocused golden eyes.
Sirius was wide eyed, as he pushed one of Alastor's limp arms out of his face, "Bloody hell kid," he said breathily, leaving the others to stop the newly unconscious Alastor from falling flat on his ugly face, "You may not have a wand, but you sure can do some pretty impressive magic." A grin broke out on his hairy chin, "You might want to calm down a bit though, no need to poke someone's eye out with a loose spell – and now that Alastor's out for the count, we're all friends here."
… What? Ed blinked exhaustedly. What did he mean? Edward hadn't done anything, had he?
"A wordless, wandless Expelliarmus charm," whispered the one with the yellow eyes, and tired face, "I've never seen the like from someone so young. How on earth -"
Edward was spared further questions when there was a sharp crack! in the air. He blinked fuzzily as another Fred suddenly appeared next to the Fred already standing by his side. He must have double vision.
Just perfect, as if he could get any more confused about what was going on. The world was starting to blur and smudge.
"Gred!" exclaimed the newcomer.
"Forge!" exclaimed – well, he wasn't quite sure which one was which anymore. The bruised faced redhead was probably Fred, but to be honest, in this world he had given up trying to make any sense of anything.
The two of them, must be twins, Ed realised blearily, embraced with the force of a tornado, nearly tolling over, slapping each other on the back and eyes shining. Just like he and Al would have, if this whole mess had never been. If he was home with his Alphonse.
It was all getting too much. The buzzing in his chest, the exhaustion of running away from that snake faced bastard, that dark screeching woman, that stupid ass magic…
Ed slumped to his knees, dark splodges eating away at his vision. Shit. He'd felt like this before and his brain politely informed him that he was passing out. Passing out in front of a group of freaks… who may or may not… try to kill him…
There were hands on his shoulders pushing him back against the wall, a concerned freckled face and red hair in his immediate vision.
"Someone floo Poppy!"
Floo… what a funny word…
"And Dumbledore, we need to -"
"Hey, mate? Can you hear me?"
"Shit - what the hell happened to him?"
Or maybe it was flew… heh, flying… in this world, he wouldn't put it past them…
But Ed's eyes were already closing, head lolling. He was too tired to care anymore.
At least Al was far away from here… probably being force fed to death… by Winry….
At least Al was safe.
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