Disclaimer: This story is based on situations and characters created and owned by Hiromu Arakawa and J.K. Rowling, and various publishers including but not limited to Scholastic and Bones.
Harry Potter clutched the black-clad arm of Albus Dumbledore tightly as they finished their second Apparition of the evening. The uncomfortable pressure pressing on his body from all sides relented and he sucked in a large mouthful of humid July air. Emerald green eyes opened themselves and he quickly unlatched his arm from the old man's.
They made an odd pair: a tall, old-looking silver-haired man wearing a pointed hat and a black traveling cloak, and an almost sixteen-year old teenager with an untidy mess of black hair and thick glasses, wearing a pair of extremely baggy jeans and an even baggier shirt.
The two stood in front of what seemed like an ordinary apartment building, probably at the outskirts of London. Harry was a bit putout; after visiting Slughorn's - what had Dumbledore called it? Oh yes – "charming village of Budleigh Babberton," he was expecting something more…extravagant. Surprising. Anything more than this muggle apartment. "Er, Professor, what exactly are we doing here?"
Dumbledore caught his blank look and chuckled. "Harry, I have my reasons for coming to this place tonight. We have someone to, ah, pick up." The old man swept up the front steps, pressing on a buzzer for Apartment #5. They waited for several seconds before they heard a speaker come to life.
"Dumbledore? Is that you?" a weary voice said somewhat consciously. The man's voice carried a foreign accent, one that Harry could not place.
"Hoenheim, my good friend, nice to talk to you again," Dumbledore said heartily. A sigh was heard on the other end. Dumbledore turned around to look at Harry and gave him a small smile before returning his attention to the speaker.
"Alright, come on up." A beep was heard and the two could hear the wooden door unlock briefly.
"Quick Harry, up you go." Dumbledore ushered the teenager inside.
"Professor," Harry said as he was herded up several flights of stairs, "what are we doing here?" His question was politely ignored for a second time. "Where is here, exactly? Are you looking for a new teacher or something? Did someone else at Hogwarts leave? Who -?"
"All of your questions will be answered in due time, Harry. Ah, here we are." Dumbledore hooked a finger around the collar of the teen's blue t-shirt before he could continue going up another flight of stairs. The pair stood in front of a maroon door with a black plate underneath a knocker, on which a large number "5" and the word "Elric," probably a last name, was inscribed with gold leaf. Dumbledore reached a hand (Harry noticed that he used his left hand instead of his right one, which was black and withered from an unexplained event) and grasped the knocker, clanging it twice.
A different voice than before, younger but still a bit deep, yelled "Got it!" in the same unfamiliar accent as the Hoen-something person. Unmatched footsteps shuffled to the door before it was slowly opened.
Standing beside the door was a small…boy? Teenager? Harry did not know which. He stood about five feet tall, dressed in dark muggle clothes, with long golden-blonde hair tied back in a ponytail and wide amber eyes. Harry gave him a confused look; judging by the person's voice, he sounded about the same age as Harry, but his (lacking) height told him otherwise. The person in front of him caught his nonplussed look and a twitch formed in his temple. He opened his mouth to say something but was interrupted by a large hand on his shoulder.
"Edward, don't do anything rash." A tall man with glasses wearing business attire stepped into the doorway and gave a tired grin to Dumbledore and Harry. He had a darker shade of blonde hair, with a neatly-trimmed beard and moustache adorning his pleasant face. "Please come in." He stepped back inside and gestured for the two on his doorstep to enter. Harry thought he heard the boy cursing under his breath as he strode unevenly to a swinging door leading to the kitchen, obviously still trying to keep his anger caused by something only heaven knew in check.
The room in which they entered was a sitting or living room of some kind. There was a boxy, unpolished wooden couch with forest green cushions on them and two maroon single-seaters of the same kind faced the couch. A wooden coffee table was set in between them with a few magazines spread out neatly on the surface. A good-sized TV set standing in front of the coffee table was set to the evening news. Their host motioned for them to sit down on the green couch.
"Are you thirsty, Dumbledore? Potter - is it? - want a drink?" the man before them asked.
"No thank you, Hoenheim. We must be on our way as soon as business is done here," Dumbledore politely declined before Harry even had a chance to say anything. "We are expected elsewhere as well, you know."
Hoenheim sighed then shrugged. He pulled a wand out of a pocket and twitched his hand, summoning a glass from the kitchen filled with water. "Now then, to business. When you sent me the owl, Albus…I must tell you the truth, I have no idea where we're going with this. What is it that you want?"
Dumbledore, Harry noticed, was still smiling slightly. "I would like your son Edward to join us at Hogwarts this year, Hoenheim." Harry and Hoenheim both stared at the old man. "I have a feeling that your son has a talent for magic. He will be joining the sixth year, of course." Harry's jaw dropped. If he was joining his year…that meant…
"Bloody hell." Harry muttered. "He's sixteen?"
Hoenheim coughed slightly, glancing first toward Dumbledore, who was playing with his sleeve, then to the kitchen door. "Um, yes." He lowered his voice to a whisper so quiet that Harry, who was sitting in front of him, had to lean forward and strain his ears. "He is kind of small for his age. I mean—" Before he could get another word in, the kitchen door slammed open and both Harry and Hoenheim jumped in surprise. Dumbledore continued to examine his sleeve's hem, uninterested in any other conversations going on in the room. The two slowly turned their heads to the door, and quickly sat up straight again, trying to look innocent.
Edward stood in the doorway, glowering at everyone in the living room, even Dumbledore. Harry was pretty sure that if looks could kill, he would have been Aveda Kedavra'd at least ten times over. Suddenly, the blonde-haired boy looked much taller than before. Hoeneheim laughed nervously.
"Um, h-hello Edward. I…I had no idea that you were, um, there." Harry would have laughed at the entirely lame excuse if he didn't feel the deadly aura emanating from the teenager.
Hoenheim spoke again, trying to make up for his excuse, which sounded so incredibly…stupid he was surprised it came out of his mouth. "Uh, what I mean is —"
"I know exactly what you mean and I know exactly what you said, so stop trying to make a fool of yourself!" Edward snapped, still red in the face. Hoenheim looked up at him, confused.
"Is that all?" he asked cautiously. Harry could only imagine how damaging Edward could be when he was angry, if this was a minimum.
Edward sighed and sat down in the chair beside him. "For now, yes." Hoenheim shrank back in his seat as far away from his son as possible as an evil smile turned on him. "But don't think I won't do anything later."
Harry shivered and suddenly felt sorry for the man, who had gone pale and was shaking in his seat, probably trying to avoid thinking of the horrors that would come.
Edward's face became pleasant as he turned towards Dumbledore. He hesitated before extending his left hand towards the old wizard in a handshake, which Dumbledore happily returned. He then turned toward Harry offering the same hand, which Harry took with a bit of hesitation while introducing themselves.
"As you probably heard earlier," Dumbledore began with a small wink, turning attention onto himself, "I would like for you to enroll at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry this year. I believe it would be very beneficial for both your education and safety."
Edward sighed tiredly, rubbing his forehead before answering. "Professor Dumbledore, I am very grateful for the invitation, but I'm not sure I would do very well in your school." At Dumbledore's questioning glance, he continued. "I mean, I thank you for your offer, but I'm a scientist. I have a task to accomplish and many things to do beforehand. School would just get in the way of that. Plus, I've never really had a proper education before, especially not in magic. I would be far behind everybody else in my year —," golden eyes looked pointedly at Harry, "— and I —" He was cutoff by Dumbledore.
"Don't worry Edward. Believe me when I say that you will be all caught up. After all, I do not miss these kinds of things. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe that your education in alchemy has been exchanged for the ability to do magic when —"
"When I passed through the Gate, right?" Edward said quietly. Harry who had been watching in silence, was now utterly confused. Gate? What gate?
"Correct," Dumbledore answered. "There is also a concern for your safety. According to a reliable source, Voldemort is looking for a way to gain access to your world. Your father, I'm sure, has already told you about Voldemort. He plans on taking over Amestris to forcing the alchemists there to serve him." Edward turned pale. "He knows who you are and where you're from. As I'm sure you already know, he will stop at nothing to get to you. Hogwarts will give you the protection that you need."
If it had been any other person talking about 'Amestris' or whatever it was, Harry would have thought him insane and advise him to seek professional help. Seeing as this was Dumbledore, however, made everything entirely different. Before his head exploded, he interrupted Dumbledore hastily before he could continue.
"Excuse me, sir? Sorry to interrupt, but —?" Harry stopped talking when Dumbledore looked at him. Blue eyes behind half-moon spectacles turned to look at Edward inquisitively, who shrugged. Taking this as a go ahead, Dumbledore turned back to Harry.
"Amestris is a nation-state on a world parallel to ours where Edward and Hoenheim are from. The form of magic there is something called alchemy. It is the science of transmuting matter into different matter through the use of transmutation circles, keeping in mind the rule of Equivalent Exchange, the foundation of alchemy. 'Humankind cannot gain anything without first giving something in return. To obtain, something of equal value must be lost.'
"The Gate is the source for all alchemic power. It can be found inside every human being on the opposite side of the Gate and is called forward when there is a weak link between body, mind, and soul. Edward and Hoenheim were transported to this side of the Gate by their own reasons, and according to Equivalent Exchange, by losing their ability to do alchemy here, they have gained the ability to cast magic. They have been searching for a way to return to their home. That, however, does not seem likely to happen soon —" he looked pointedly at Edward, who turned his head and gave a 'hmph!' "—so we would like him to join us at the school."
Hoenheim turned pleadingly toward his son. "Please, Edward. This is for your own good. You'll be able to be around people your own age for once, instead of being cooped up here with me!"
"Lord knows how much I hate that," Edward muttered sarcastically.
"Fine." A sigh. Then "I'll go get packed then."
Dumbledore rose to his feet with another small smile on his face. "Why don't you have Harry go with you, Edward? You two should get to know each other. After all, you'll be going to the Weasley family with him for the remainder of the summer."
Both Edward and Harry started, but they followed the old man's orders.
As the two teenagers trudged to Edward's room, Harry once again heard the uneven steps of the person in front of him. Why is one footstep louder than the other? He wondered. Harry wanted to ask where the unevenness was from, but could not decide whether it would be considered too rude.
"You're wondering where this is from, I take it?" Edward patted his left leg, emphasizing his awkward walking. He stuck his hands in his pockets and turned his head to look back at Harry.
"Er, yes, actually, I am. Not to be rude or anything," Harry added quickly. The other teenager's head turned back to look where he was going.
"Hn. Should be used to it by now. After all…" Edward stopped in front of a door in the dim hallway. "Don't be too surprised by what you see in here, got it?" Harry nodded and the he turned the doorknob to his bedroom before kicking the door open roughly and stepping inside. "Damn door. Always getting stuck. Hell to it all," Edward muttered darkly. Harry laughed before entering himself. He stopped.
"What the bloody hell?" he exclaimed. The dark-painted walls of the room were decorated all over with strange circles of some kind, drawn in bright white chalk. A small antique-looking desk looked dangerously close to collapsing with all the thick books on it. Hermione would have a field day, he thought, staring at the books as if it were the plague. "That cannot be healthy. You ought to do something about that." Edward snorted. Harry continued to look around the room, taking in the unfixed bed ("Sorry 'bout that."), the bursting closet doors ("Stupid bastard trying to spoil me. I swear that father is going to kill me one day.") and a tall metal stand in the corner holding what appeared to be…
"Oh my god! What are those, arms?" Harry was suddenly glad that Dumbledore refused the drinks offered by Hoenheim. Edward grinned sheepishly, pulling a hand out of his pocket to rub the back of his head.
"Um, yeah. Those are arms. There should be some legs there too." Edward nearly laughed at the green expression on Harry's face. "Chill. They're spares." He walked casually and plucked an arm from the stand and handed it to Harry, who felt the rubbery flesh-colored material covering something hard and heavy.
"What is this?" Harry asked. At the end of the arm was a metal knob and several screws.
"This is a pathetic parallel universe version of automail," Edward stated haughtily. "And the best that my father can make here at the moment, just in case something happens to my original automail." Catching Harry's confused look he added "It's like this world's version of prosthetic limbs, just more technologically advanced, and more pronounced side effects and a longer rehab time. I was completely surprised when it came through the Gate with me; I was expecting it to be taken away when I passed through."
"Why's that?" Harry inquired.
"After all, it was supposed to be payment for bring —" Edward cut himself off before he could continue, and his eyes grew dark. I'm not ready to tell anyone yet about what we did, Alphonse, he thought to himself. "Never mind," he said loudly, closing the subject. "It doesn't matter." Harry shrugged, curious, but he let it go and began to help Edward pack his things.
Edward Elric stumbled but was caught by Harry before he face-faulted to the ground. He grunted his thanks before straightening his shirt and turning to Dumbledore.
"What the hell was that?" he sputtered.
"That was a side-along Apparition you just did. Actually, I believe you and Harry will be learning how to Apparate later on this year."
"Well, I believe that I would love never to do that Apparate thing again. Ever." Edward said queasily.
Harry, who was getting quite used to the feeling, laughed at Edward, who looked about ready to hurl whatever he ate for dinner.
Both boys caught their breaths and took in their surroundings. They were standing on a country lane that led to a crooked building that seemed to defy the laws of gravity. There were several stories that looked as if each story was stacked one on top of the other as time went on. Edward heard Harry exclaim excitedly and saw his face light up extremely fast.
"If you don't mind, Harry," Dumbledore called to the boys who had just stepped through the wooden gate, "I'd like a few words with you before we part. In private." He gave an apologetic smile to Edward. "Perhaps in here?"
Edward watched as Dumbledore led a puzzled Harry into a stone shed before leaning against a fence post to wait for the other two.
By wand-light, Dumbledore and Harry were well into their conversation.
"There are only two people in the whole world who know the full contents of the prophecy made about you and Lord Voldemort, and they are both standing in this smelly, spidery broom shed," Dumbledore said, wrinkling his long nose to prove his point. "It is true, however, that many have guessed, correctly, that Voldemort sent his Death Eaters to steal a prophecy, and that the prophecy concerned you.
"Now, I think I am correct in saying that you have not told anybody that you know what the prophecy said?"
"No," Harry admitted.
"A wise decision, on the whole," agreed Dumbledore. "Although I think you ought to relax it in favor of your friends, Mr. Ronald Weasley and Miss Hermione Granger, and one other who I hope will be a friend soon, Mr. Edward Elric." Harry opened his mouth but Dumbledore interrupted. "I know you do not know him very well yet, but trust me when I say that his friendship will be a valuable asset to you and any…future activities."
"Sir, if you believe that it well help, I will tell Edward about the prophecy and everything in whole," said Harry. "But I'm not sure whether he trusts me with his story. He's hiding something, I know it."
"Ah, but Harry, keep in mind that Mr. Elric will need time to adjust to this place," Dumbledore explained. "He is alone in this world save for his father, and as you can see, they are not quite on good terms with each other. Albeit his story is an interesting and heartbreaking one, there is an understandable reason for him not to disclose this information." He paused before he continued. "You need your friends, Harry. As you so rightly said, Sirius would not have wanted you to shut yourself away."
Harry winced at the mention of his late godfather and stayed silent. Dumbledore began to speak again. "On a different, though related, subject, it is my wish that you take private lessons with me this year." Harry was startled and began to ask something before he was cut off. "I will be teaching you things that I do not wish to discuss here, even in the confines of this broom shed. You never know, Harry, you never know."
Dumbledore made to open the door when he looked back at Harry and said, "One final thing before we join Mr. Elric outside, Harry. I wish you to keep your Invisibility Cloak with you at all times from this moment onward. Even within Hogwarts itself. Just in case, you understand me?"
On this final note, Dumbledore opened the door of the cramped space they occupied and stepped out, strolling over to Edward who was leaning restlessly on a fencepost. Harry followed.
"While you two stay here, the Burrow has been given the highest security the Ministry of Magic can provide. These measures have caused a certain amount of inconvenience to Arthur and Molly – Mr. and Mrs. Weasley, Edward – all their post, for instance, is being searched at the Ministry before being sent on. They do not mind in the slightest, for their only concern is for your safety, Harry and Edward. However, it would be poor repayment if you risked your neck while staying with them." He glanced casually at Harry, who took the hint.
"I understand, Professor," he said quickly. Edward nodded his agreement.
"Very well, then," Dumbledore said. "I see a light in the kitchen. Let us not deprive Molly any longer of the chance to deplore how thin the two of you are."
A/n: There will be many quotes from this story from both Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (owned by J.K. Rowling) and Fullmetal Alchemist (owned by Hiromu Arakawa). I just want to say now that these quotes belong rightfully to their owners, I'm disclaiming them. Thank you!