"Wizards." Alphonse echoed. Disbelief was swimming in his eyes.
Hughes nodded, just as disconcerted as Al was. There was an irritated look on his face (eyes sparkling more than normal, smile viciously sharp) that if Ed was here, he would be swearing up a storm. Al nearly snorted at the thought; he could imagine it now. Brother with his eye twitching and staring at a bunch of people in pointy hats and picking apart their magic system. Not that Al would be any better. "-Al?"
Al jerked and stared owlishly at Hughes for a moment. The soldier was grinning at him knowingly. 'Whoops, guess I spaced out. Again.'
Al willed down the blush that crawled its way up into his face and briefly wanted to melt into the couch. Unlike Ed who had to be severely embarrassed for blush to show on his tan skin, Al was slightly paler due to the lack of exposure to sunlight for five years. Though constantly being either under Resembool's sun or spending hours in the Hughes’s garden had definitely brought his skin to the right amount of melanin.
The sound of giggling and a dog barking drew their attention to the window where Alicia and Nina were running around the garden with shrieks of joy mingling with Alexander's barks. The two girls had matching flower crowns perched on their heads as they danced and weaved through the flora Mrs. Gracia spent so many hours nursing to full bloom. The sight never failed to make Alphonse's eyes watery with joy and relief. So much that it was nearly overwhelming. Joy that Nina and Alexander were healthy and alive and that that utter monster was dead. Alphonse usually never felt so much hatred towards anyone more than Shou Tucker did, well... maybe except Envy and Kimblee because they both came so close to taking his brother away. But he digressed.
Al dragged his eyes from the window to stare at Hughes again. "So... Wizards."
Hughes huffed. "Yep, cheery ol' Grumman is acquaintances with the head of a Vigilante group over in England and said acquaintance wants some help with his little terrorist problem."
Al raised an eyebrow. "I'm sensing a 'but' here."
Hughes twitched in his seat with a manic expression at that. "Their info is horrendous! How am I supposed to do my job when these- these wizards can't even put together a comprehensive briefing?!"
Al chuckled nervously as Hughes's fingers twitched alarmingly close to his daggers on the table between them.
"I mean no offense and all, but why am I being asked to come? I'm not exactly military."
The question thankfully got rid of the manic light in Hughes's eyes, though his grin remained. "Because you dear Alphonse, are one of the soul binding experts that we trust and as you know Edward is currently stationed out in the desert and busy getting sand in his gears, plus you've studied Alkahestry right?"
Al nodded, though there was a sense of foreboding creeping up his throat at the mention of soul binding.
"Well apparently there's a kid over there, the 'Chosen One' if you will."
Al nearly groaned at that. While his Brother may be crasser in his worldviews compared to Al, they both held similar beliefs. They were people of science and logic, so things like prophecy's and Chosen One's they took with more than a grain of salt.
"According to them he has a fragment of their magical villain's, 'He Who Must Not Be Named', soul stuck in his head."
"A fragment of a soul. Stuck in a kid's head."
Al pinched the bridge of his nose and sighed. "Brother’s coming as well, right?"
If Al was honest with himself, he did not think he would be able to cope with this by himself.
Hughes tilted his head thoughtfully. “Pretty sure he is; Roy didn’t say anything in particular. Most likely he’ll arrive a few days after us if he does decide to excavate himself from the desert and help out.”
Al nearly sighed in relief and excitement. He hasn’t seen his brother in months and he was ready to cause some chaos.
"When do we leave?"
"Tomorrow afternoon. Pack a thick coat; it's very cold over there from what I've heard."
Ed is going to flip his shit.
"Ah, Alphonse good to see you again!"
Al smiled as General Mustang greeted him with a warm smile that was seemingly reserved for his team, and wasn't that a nice thought? "You to sir! Hi Captain!"
Hawkeye sent him a small smile from her perch (heh, perch) on the steps, two packs sitting innocently beside her. (Al knew better, the second pack held the dismantled pieces to her favourite sniper rifle and an entire armoury of bullets.) Fuery waved cheerily from beside her.
Havoc wrapped an arm around his shoulders and grinned. "Hey Al! How you been holding up?"
"Pretty good all things considered! Pretty weirded out about the whole 'wizard' thing."
Havoc let out a relieved sigh. "Oh thank God! I thought I was the only one. Mustang and Hawkeye are taking it pretty well."
"Those two are just a different breed of human, barely anything fazes them." Hughes tilted his head. "Unless you're an Elric, then they're constantly on their toes." He amended.
Al almost felt offended at that, but honestly? He wasn't wrong.
(Last time Ed and Al saw each other they ended up with a theory that could possibly allow a crude version of teleportation by deconstructing the mass of whatever was in one transmutation circle then reconstructing it in another. It was complex and Mustang had stared at them when they showed him their theory before promptly shooing them out. His screaming lasted for a solid five minutes while Ed cackled into the carpet. That was a fun time.)
Maria and Denny were also waiting by a tree, though by the looks of it they had engaged in a battle of Go Fish with Breda cheering out commentary and Falman shaking his head fondly.
Al frowned and tilted his head. "So how are we getting to England?"
As if summoned by his words the qi around them fluctuated wildly, becoming more concentrated into the one spot. Just as Al pinpointed the spot where the qi had resided in the air the strongest, the space in front of them contorted and a woman with bubble-gum pink hair literally popped into existence. Al blinked blankly, brain trying to process what in Truth's limb snatching name?!
The woman locked eyes with them and skipped over with a grin. Her eyes landed on Mustang and she held out a hand. “General Mustang I’m going to presume?”
Mustang grasped her hand firmly with a serene smile. “Indeed. And you are...?”
“Ah, I’m Tonks. Is this everyone?”
“For now, another member of my team will be arriving at a later date.” Mustang pursed his lips for a second. “Make that three actually.”
For a moment, she looked confused before shrugging.
“Alrightie, we’re gonna be using a port key because of how large the group is,” She pulled out a…. tin can. However, the qi surrounding it was definitely off. At their disbelieving looks, she grinned. “Believe it or not, it’s enchanted to allow large groups to travel at once.”
Mustang and Hawkeye shared a look as Falman and the rest of the Go Fish championship members made their way over. Mustang nodded thoughtfully. “Very well, how does it work?”
Tonks waited until they had all surround her before letting out a chuckle. “You might want to hold on tightly.”
The moment Al latched onto the can the world turned into a vortex of holy shit I’m going to throw up. Based on Maria’s “Holy fucking god!” He wasn’t the only one. A few dizzying moments later his fingers slipped from the can and his feet unsteadily met the ground, his pack flinging and twisting over his shoulder in a pitiful attempt of contortion. The sound of someone retching onto the bushes made him wince in sympathy as his own stomach churned in complaint.
The rest of their group was scattered around what seemed to be a fenced off park in a suburban area. The wind was bitterly cold, the setting sun painting the sky with brilliant golds and pinks bleeding into soft lavender.
“You lot alright?”
Tonks appeared unruffled while they all regained their senses.
Mustang was a tad pale but was remarkably unperturbed. “We should be soon enough. That was quite a…. unique method of transportation I must say.”
Tonks grinned. “Trust me there’s a lot more to come.”
Tap, tap, tap, tap.
Al tilted his head to the side at the sound of something wooden hitting stone, though obviously he didn’t hide it well enough going off of the look Hawkeye shot him.
“These the reinforcements Albus said he asked for?”
Al barely managed to contain his flinch as a severely scarred man emerged seemingly out of nowhere. Tonks nodded with a grin. “General Mustang said that there should be another member of his team that would be arriving at a later date.”
The scarred man nodded with a scowl. “Good work Nymphadora.”
Tonks’s friendly demeanour fell quickly at that, her hair shifting from pink to red what in the actual fuck.
Her hair shifted back as she shook herself off, eyes drifting over to their shocked troupe of soldiers.
The scarred man peered at them for several long moments before nodding to himself. “Name’s Alastor Moody,”
“Most of us call him ‘Made-eye Moody’ though.”
Moody shot Tonks a glare before refocusing on them. “We can finish this conversation inside.” He shoved his hand in his pocket and fished out a scrap of paper. “Read this, memorise it then destroy it.” He shoved it into Havoc’s hands.
Havoc’s eyebrows shot up but he obediently read the scrap before passing it to Mustang with a cheery “Here ya go Boss!”
Mustang’s eyes roamed the paper before passing it to Hawkeye, then Breda, Falman, Fuery, Maria and Denny then finally Alphonse.
The Headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix may be found at number twelve, Grimmauld Place, London.
Al silently passed the paper back to Havoc who had lit a smoke while waiting, and watched as he placed the cigarette against the paper until it caught fire and tumbled into ash. Moody nodded before ambling out of the park with Tonks in tow.
“I guess we gotta follow them?”
Maria shot Denny a dry look and hefted her pack onto her shoulder without preamble. “What do you think?” She smirked at Denny’s sheepish expression.
The rest of Team Mustang plus Maria and Denny quickly followed their guides with little difficulty. The street they emerged onto was conveniently empty and devoid of anyone else, and it made Alphonse a little nervous.
Moody halted and pointed at the large brick building with the number 12 engraved beside the door. “This is where you’ll be staying while you’re here.”
The building was old and it made Al want to question the structural integrity, and with a quick glance, he knew he was not the only one.
Havoc sighed. “Think they’ll let me smoke in there?”
“This is complete and utter bullshit. I mean c’mon! Magic!”
Darius and Heinkel exchanged dry looks as Ed continued to rant and pace around the campsite kicking up sand and generally making a bit of a mess.
Edward made a nearly inhumane sound as his loose hair was fisted in his right hand, the automail creaking as the alchemist paced. “I mean seriously! How would their ‘oh so powerful magic’ work? Does the Gate power it? Their life force!? Where’s the equivalent exchange!?”
It was easy to tell that Ed was getting more and more agitated with every theory and question that his mind came up with popped into existence. Maybe it could have been a bit funny watching the alchemist pace, but Darius only frowned. ‘If he doesn’t settle down now he’s going to regret it in a few moments.’
Sharing a glance with Heinkel confirmed that he was thinking the same thing. A few seconds later and Ed cut himself off with a painful sounding retch. Heinkel was out of his seat and at Edward’s side in mere seconds, one hand on his back as the painfully familiar scent of blood filled the air. Darius grimaced as he approached, one hand slipping into his pocket for the tin of strawberry mints he and Heinkel carried mostly out of habit.
He watched in concern as the kid continued to heave blood onto the stone for what seemed to be forever, the retches slowly ebbing into dry heaving and wheezy coughing. He was hunched over on all fours as his breathing struggled to return to normal, but thankfully didn’t fight Heinkel’s gentle guidance into an upright position against a stone pillar. Heinkel shoved a canteen he summoned out of fuck knows where into his hands with a stern expression.
The kid merely nodded and slowly sipped the water, swirling it occasionally to get rid of the left over blood in his mouth.
After a few moments of companionable silence, Ed grunted while staring into the fire.
Jean grunted as he dumped his pack onto the nearest bed with an audible thump, wrinkling his nose at the opaque cloud of dust that burst from the sheets.
“Hey Al! Think you could transmute the entirety of this gunk away?”
The blonde poked his head up from where his head was buried in his bag. He eyed the bed dubiously for a moment. “Sure thing Havoc, might want to take your stuff off real quick though.”
Al ambled over and rested his hands against the sheets before shaking his head and placing them on the floorboards for a long second. He raised his hands once again to clap and slammed them to the ground; the sound ringing in the room. The familiar scent of alchemy and ozone accompanied by lighting arched throughout the room.
Al stepped back with a proud grin, every surface in the room thankfully no longer coated in thick dust and mold. Jean laughed and clapped the younger Elric on the back. “Another amazing show from an Elric brother!”
Al giggled when the others let out small cheers, a welcome warmth filling his chest.
Their cheering and chants cut off when the door creaked open, Tonks poking her head in curiously, her eyebrows jumped up her forehead in surprise when she took in the clean room. Tonks whistled appreciatively. “Wow, you guys managed to get this place clean quickly. Not going to lie, what spell did you lot use to get it this clean?”
Hawkeye frowned and rose an eyebrow. “We don’t use magic in Amestris, we do have Alchemy though.”
Fuery nodded with a small smile. “Yeah! Alphonse over there is an Alchemist!”
Tonks’s eyes widened until they were nearly bugging out. “No magic?”
Jean shook his head. “Nope, Alchemy is the closest thing we have to your magic.”
Alphonse shuddered. “Please don’t refer to alchemy as ‘magic’, because they are two very different things.”
Tonks looked increasingly confused. “Well anyways, I just came to let you know that dinner will be starting in a few moments.”
They all shared a look. Finally, Mustang stood from his bed. “Very well. Could you possibly tell us where the dining room is?”
Tonks grinned. “I was on my way so just follow me!”
With that, she slipped out the door and onto the landing. Breda sighed and stood up. “Well I don’t know about you but I’m starving.”
Hughes laughed. “Don’t we know that!”
One by one, they filed out of the room and after Tonks with the promise of food hanging in the air. Down two flights of stairs and they were piling into the slightly cramped dining room like a tin of sardines. Al barely restrained his giggles at the image of Amestrisan soldier packed together in a tin.
Multiple people were already sitting at the table when they entered, all bunched up at the head of the table like a bouquet of flowers. When Mustang cleared his throat, their heads shot up like he had snapped his fingers with his gloves equipped in a room of flammable objects. A woman with flaming red hair immediately bustled around to greet them.
“Pardon the mess. It’s lovely to meet you,” She held out a hand. “Molly Weasley.” Mustang shook her hand firmly. “A pleasure Mrs Weasley.”
A faint blush dotted her cheek and Al nearly sighed. A small voice in his head that sounded suspiciously like his brothers said ‘Mustang the womanizer strikes again people.’
Mrs. Weasley flicked her wand (?) and ten chairs on either side of the table moved for them to take a seat.
A man with thin scars dragging across his face stood and smiled at them once they had sat themselves. “Remus Lupin.” He looked at everyone carefully, though the moment his eyes landed on Al his amber eyes widened in shock. The others followed his gaze to Al, each gasping or blatantly staring. Mrs. Weasley looked sick.
“Oh you poor thing. So young as well.” She whispered.
Mustang rose a curious brow. “Is… there a problem?”
The man with rugged hair beside Mr. Lupin had a mix of sympathy and pity spread across his face. “You brought Wolfsbane potions, correct?”
Hawkeye placed a hand on Alphonse’s shoulder and leaned forward to stare at the wizard’s. “What is Wolfsbane?” She asked politely.
A man with the same flaming hair as Mrs. Weasley stared at them curiously. “That boy with you. He’s a werewolf correct?”
Both of Al’s eyebrows jumped up at that.
Seeing their expressions, he immediately backtracked. “Not that we have an issue with that or anything.”
Mr. Lupin nodded with a small grimace. “I’m a werewolf myself.”
Mustang shook his head. "We understand that you have magical creatures, but in Amestris magic doesn’t exist.”
The wizards all gasped at that.
“Isn’t alchemy magic though?”
Annoyance flickered through Al like a wildfire. Alchemy was not magic. Alchemy had a clear set of rules to follow at that was that.
Mustang miraculously still had a pleasant expression on his face; though it was evident he wasn’t pleased by the wizard’s ignorance. Mustang sent Al an imploring glance from across the table.
With the tiniest of sighs, Al squared his shoulders. “Alchemy is not magic.” He began. “Anyone can learn Alchemy if they’re determined and smart enough to do so, unlike magic, where I assume it’s genetic or you’re born with it?”
The man with long fiery hair nodded.
“So you’re not a werewolf?”
Al sighed. “No, I’m not a werewolf.” He frowned. “What made you think that anyways?” However, he had a good idea of what it was.
As expected, Mr. Lupin waved a hand near his eyes. “Amber eyes are a trademark for werewolves, though yours are pure gold. Which I don’t believe is quite natural, no offence.”
Al shook his head. “None taken. However, I can assure you that my eyes are quite natural. They run on my dad’s side of the family.”
Some of them still looked sceptical but didn’t voice their doubts.
“Anyways, you’ve already met Tonks and Alastor. This isn’t everyone, but we have Sirius Black,” The man beside Mr. Lupin raised a hand before dropping it again. “Kingsley Shacklebolt,” A man in blue robes nodded at them. “My husband Arthur.” The balding man waved eagerly at them. “And my son Bill.” The man with a fashion sense eerily similar to Brothers smiled. Mrs. Weasley settled her gaze that was hauntingly reminiscent of his mothers and gave him a strained grin.
“Don’t worry dear, you’ll be able to make friends with some kids your age over dinner.”
‘How old does she think I am?’
Before Al could say anything else, the pounding of several pairs of feet made their way from the hall to the dining room and the door slammed open. A gaggle of teenagers poured into the room like a tidal wave, each tripping over their feet like lambs learning to walk for the first time.
As the kids righted themselves, Al took a moment to observe.
They all looked related, well except for the two kids with dark hair off to the side. One with bushy hair and another with round glasses and a lightning bolt scar on his forehead.
‘He must be the ‘Chosen One’.’
Mr. Weasley grinned. “Ah kids just in time.”
Almost coordinated the kids stared at the Amestrisan’s with wide eyes.
Mrs. Weasley rose an eyebrow at them as plates filled with food zoomed into the kitchen.
“Well what are you lot waiting for? You can introduce yourselves over dinner.”
Hermione wasn’t sure how she felt about the Amestrisan’s.
How did Dumbledore even get them into England let alone convince them? They were all soldiers except for the golden-eyed boy with the red coat. Alphonse, he called himself. He said he was an Alchemist.
(Hermione was certain that Alchemy was a dead branch of magic. Besides, all it did was turn lead into gold, so that was tad bit useless. Unless of course, this boy miraculously held the knowledge to make a philosopher’s stone.)
Then there was General Mustang, quite a charming man. Lieutenant Colonel Hughes, he almost reminded Hermione of her own dad. Captain Hawkeye was rather intimidating simply because she left her guns out on clear display for everyone to see.
Falman was also a Captain, though Hermione at least could respect his encyclopaedic amount of knowledge.
Havoc, Ross and Breda were all First Lieutenants, though Ross said that she served under a different officer with Master Sergeant Brosh, one that sparkled more than General Mustang did. The other soldiers had laughed at that, as if it was some kind of inside joke.
The most approachable one was Warrant Officer Fuery, though he nearly burst into tears when Hermione had informed him when technology didn’t work in magical locations. It had taken both Alphonse and Havoc to console him.
They had finished dinner and Mrs. Weasley had begun to herd them out of the room again so they could have another meeting without them listening in, which was quite insulting. Mrs. Weasley hovered a hand around Alphonse’s shoulder with a cheery, “Come on now dear, you need to go with the others and wait upstairs.”
Surprisingly enough, Captain Hawkeye placed a hand on the blonde’s shoulder and simply said, “Alphonse can stay in the meeting.”
That had caused an uproar.
“But he’s our age!”
“Why does he get to stay but we can’t?”
“He didn’t fight Voldemort! So if he can stay why can’t I!?”
“He’s a child! There’s no reason to let him in on the meetings either!”
Lt. Colonel Hughes stood and let out a piercing whistle, effectively silencing the entire room. Hermione stared at the soldier with wide eyes as he readjusted his glasses primly as if he didn’t just try to rupture everyone’s eardrums.
“This is not up for debate. Alphonse is eighteen, which is of age in Amestris. He’s also our expert on soul binding, so he needs to be in on the meetings.”
Mrs. Weasley huffed but didn’t say anything, leaning into Mr. Weasley’s gentle hand on her shoulder. Professor Lupin stepped forward, a disconcerted expression on his scarred face. “I thought an Alchemical expert would be… older.”
Alphonse shrugged. “My older brother is more of an expert than me, but he won’t be arriving for a few days, and I was the next best thing.”
Barely anyone looked satisfied at that, especially Harry. He looked seconds away from blowing up again. Mrs. Weasley began to herd them out again, and Hermione had no choice but to leave silently.