Author's Note: As promised, here is chapter. There is a bit that happens toward the middle in which one of Ed's students makes something of a fool of herself in regards to conservation of matter. This scene was pulled basically word for word from the first day of my high school chemistry class. So I had to explain how conservation applies to biology to a class of high schoolers. As a high schooler. My poor chemistry teacher was so flustered.
Disclaimer: WolfishMoon does not own Hiromu Arikawa's Fullmetal Alchemist nor J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter. She never claims the contrary and makes no money off of the online publication of this free-to-read fanwork.
The Scientist's Lament
Chapter Two: Chemistry, Day One
Hermione Granger was sorting through muggle schools supplies while attempting to ignore a gnawing guilt in her stomach. Her mother fluttered over her shoulder as she went through her list and counted notebooks and folders and pencils - Merlin it was an adjustment, relearning how to use a pencil every summer.
"I feel like we never see you," Jean said. "Boarding witch school in the winter, regular school in the summer!"
"You know I like to stay current, mum," she said. "The closest I can get to a good maths class is Arithmancy!"
"That's the weird number hocus pocus, right?" her father, John, asked from his corner of the room. He was attempting to appear nonchalant, clear brown eyes looking over yesterday's newspaper. In reality, he'd been out of the chair three times in the last five minuets. "No loss. I always hated maths."
"Well," Jean said in the sort of tone in which one might admit they shared their child's drug habit, "Calculus was my favorite subject in high school, so I can understand your frustration."
"And its not just maths." Hermione frowned, "Science, too. There, the closest thing is potions and herbology. The first is taught by a sullen madman and the second is only once a week!" Frustration was welling up in her throat again, so Hermione forced herself to look back at her course list. Pre-Calculus, Chemistry, English Literature, French. Was that all she was taking? Yes, it was, she decided, going over her schedule. In that case, she did have enough notebooks.
"You'll be leaving for that friend of yours - Ginny, was it? - house in two weeks, too!" John said.
Hermione looked at them, suddenly wanting to tell them everything. My life is in danger, Mum, and the longer I stay here the more your lives are in danger. "It's hard," she finally said. "I've grown accustomed to magic, and trying to stay away from it just hurts."
At this, her parents faces took on a solemnity. "Was it a mistake, sending you to Hogwarts?" John said. It might well have been a mistake but Hermione loved being a witch and was not about to say so.
"It's taken over our lives!" said Jean.
Hermione winced, said, "I know. But Hogwarts was the right choice. Soon, I'll be seventeen, and this won't be quite so difficult. I'll be allowed to use magic outside of school, then."
Her parents gave her the sort of look that she knew meant We know you're hiding something young lady. Give it up.
But she wasn't going to give Death Eaters a reason to kill them, or the Ministry a reason to Obliviate them.
Hermione shook her head. "We'll be fine, Dad, Mum." And for the time being, that was the end of the conversation.
By the time Monday rolled around, Ed was ready to swallow his co-workers in cement. All of them doubted his capabilities and made short jokes. They were nice enough beyond that, but those both were huge slights in Ed's book. He would prove his competence, though. He always had to and he always did, so he stood before the dull eyes of twenty delinquents, gripping a mug of coffee and wishing he could wear short sleeves in this damnable heat. But his right arm was still fairly atrophied and there would be questions. A still thin Alphonse sat in the front row, to the right side of center, grinning at him, and that had to be enough.
He wrote on the chalk board "The Conservation of Energy and Mass." Chemists might not know Alchemy, but Alchemy was what he knew, and he would structure the class accordingly.
"Is anyone villing to pass out zee periodic tables? Nein? Vell fukk you zen. You zere in zee back row, pass them out."
"Brother!" said Al in Amestrian. "Language!"
Ed responded in the same language. "Do you want to pass out the periodic tables, then?"
"I could," Al said. "I don't mind."
At that a bushy haired girl ran into the classroom, backpack slung over one shoulder. "I'm sorry I'm late Professor!" she said, fighting for breath. He looked at her and motioned the other student, who was half standing, waiting for Ed to finish his exchange with Al, back into their seat.
"Professor? I vish. Mr. Elric iz fine. Don't be late again, and now pass out zee periodic tables. Equivalence, no?"
"Of course Mr. Elric!" she took the tables from his desk and brought them around. Ed said nothing and instead began to write out, as far from the conservation note as possible, the states of matter.
When she finished, she took a seat in the center seat of the front row, next to Al. It was otherwise vacant. Ed raised an eyebrow, then turned to the class.
"My name is Mr. Elric. I don't really care vhy it is any of you flunked zis class last year, but I assure you, any tomfoolery and I vill fail you. You vill have to take this class over yet again, but zat iz not my problem. On zee right hand side of zee front row, vee have my baby brozer. He iz probably better teacher zan I am, to be honest, so treat him viz zee same respect you vould treat me." He turned to the blackboard. "On zee board I have written headings for two separate notes pages. I vould ask if any of you knew vhat zee first meant, but..."
Ed took a sweeping glance around the class, not expecting any raised hands. To his surprise there was one. The girl who was late, and sat front and center. He nodded at her, bangs falling into his eyes.
"The Law of Conservation states that energy and matter can neither be created nor destroyed," she said.
A girl in the second row took this as her cue to speak up. "Well, except when someone has a baby."
Edward looked at her in shock. Was she kidding? "Nein. I heard you'd somehow passed biology," he said. "Evidently, you should not have. During gestation, ze food ze mozer ingests gets converted into ze matter zat makes up ze resulting child."
"What? Babies aren't made of food," the girl said. Al turned pink.
"Yes they are," front-and-center-girl said, turning in her desk to face girl-who-needs-to-retake-biology. "We all are. The food we eat is converted both to energy and into the matter that makes up our bodies. It's how we grow and function." She then went into the mechanics of it all, and Ed was sure at least half the class was red-faced. Samantha slid lower in her chair.
Ed's other eyebrow went up, and he continued the lesson. Front-and-center-girl, or Hermione Granger, he learned after taking roll, raised her hand at every question, though he only called on her about half the time.
Each class was about two hours long, for the sake of the shortened summer semester. In those two hours, he managed to get them passed the introductory phases and into the adjoining laboratory. They were just evaporating water from a salt water mixture, but even the hardest of the delinquents seemed excited by the work. Ed smirked. Kids do love labs.
"See, brother?" Al said. "They're not so bad!"
"Go help them, then," Ed said. "You take half, I'll take half."
Alphonse nodded, and weaved through the lab benches, calling out in broken English. Ed smiled, and did the same, striding to the closest bench on the right side of the room. It housed the bushy haired front row girl and girl-who-needs-to-retake-biology.
"Vat are your names again? My memory for zat sort of sing resulted in me calling way too many people by unflaterink nicknames."
With one eye still on her lab packet, Bushy said, "My name is Hermione Granger."
The other girl, who was bent over the first's notes, straitened, flipped a sheaf of wavy black hair over her shoulder. "Samantha," she said.
She then launched into a half question - half complaint tirade about how hard chemistry was and how her previous teacher had just been awful.
Granger, Elric noticed, snorted into her sleeve before saying, "I think I have decent enough grasp on the concept of compounds to help you through this, Samantha. Let the Professor help a group that needs it more."
"How do you get it already?" Samantha said.
Granger gestured to the textbook she had open to the second chapter. "I read through my textbook before classes started, and have it here for reference, too."
"Vas? Vreally?" Ed said in vague disbelief. He wondered why this girl had not simply done so the first time she'd taken Chemistry. "I've only read srough zee first fife chapters!"
Granger blinked at him. "Really?"
"I couldn't do that," she said. "But, I'm sure you know your Chemistry?"
Her voice had a questioning note that Ed did not appreciate. "Vell," he said, tersely, "Do you need any help? Or can I move on to a group zat needs it?"
Granger patted her lab packet. "I've got it covered Professor."
"It's Mr. Elric," he reminded her. She nodded, suddenly cross. Ed inclined his head toward the two, and walked away. Alphonse was off on the opposite side of the room, laughing wildly with students at a table of four. Really. If Al's health was any better, Ed would have had him be the teacher. Al was clearly better at it.
But the day went on, and Ed felt that he was getting somewhat better at answering their questions. He tried not to curse at occasional inanity. He'd told Jenkins he was nineteen, but really, these kids were a full year older than him. Logically, he knew that he and Al had considerably more life experience, so he really had to stop judging them so harshly.
As class ended, Ed examined each of his students closely. None of them were bad kids, he decided, even if they had flunked high school Chemistry.
With that in mind, he had a much easier time, trying to teach second period.
Word Count: 1686
Thank you for reading! Proceed to tear it into those shreds that help my writing improve.
By that I mean review. Please.
And now that the chapter is over I will confirm. I had to explain how babies are made to an entire class of high school sophomores who had indeed somehow passed biology. It actually killed my soul.
In other news, my birthday is tomorrow. Nineteen years old and still writing fanfiction, even despite writing my own original fiction too. Here's to hoping my fanfiction career lasts a while yet.