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The Truth

Chapter Text

They don’t really talk about it much today, but sometimes he still dreams of it.

It was the year of his eleventh birthday, six after the death of his mother, five after he had finalized his resolve, two weeks before he would make the choice. It was then, in the warm July air, that he miscalculated.

He placed his energy, his life, into the wrong equation, something was wrong, something was off, his practice circle glowed a horrendous green - and then...Then, it was gone. No longer could he hear the screams of Alphonse or feel the hand on his. No longer was he being unraveled, piece by piece, limb from limb.

And he remembered the Truth, remembered sitting before it again, but heard nothing, saw nothing, simply awoke somewhere new.

Still screaming, he had rushed upwards in bed.

“Oh dear, settle down now, settle down…”

 

A hand placated him, stroking his hair, soothing his aching lungs. The violent noise ceased, and his eyes, for the first time, adjusted.

He didn’t know Molly Weasley then, but as he came to, she became something of a second mother. She fed him, and dressed him, and scolded him, always asking,

“Are you sure you’re from...Amestris?”

“I think he’s got amnesia, Molly - doesn’t seem to remember much else.”

Oh but he did remember - the face of his brother, the fallen form of his mother, Winry and Pinako’s warm presences…

They introduced him to their children (“‘m Ron. Are you a first year, too?), some he liked better than others (“Wee shorty Eddy-kins”), and promised him education, food, a home. All because he had appeared on their front step, unconscious. All because he was lost.

But here, here did not feel like home. Here, he felt like a germ, some kind of parasite that sucked the life out of everyone else, that did not belong.
When the first day of school rolled around, after he had his wand, after he received his letter (“He is a wizard! I knew it!), they met Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, Neville Longbottom. They sat on the train, Harry, Ron, and Edward, (interruptions by Hermione) and ate sweets to their heart’s content.

(“Are the teachers at this school scary? The last teacher I had….”)

 

And when the sorting hat sat on his head, he knew, invariably, what he wished to be, who he wished to be with, in camaraderie of house.

“Gryffindor!” the hat cheered. A cacophony of cheers rose from one table, polite clapping from two others.

For a year, through trial and tribulation, classes and matters of Philosopher’s Stones (“No way! You guys have those?!”), he struggled to keep his secret, and investigate matters of return. But there was no transdimensional magic. And after reading half of the library, he found himself too tired most nights to function in actual classes (but he shouldn’t care about actual classes - he should care about home).

At least, he thought to himself many a time, at least his alchemy still worked.

Not that it was useful. Harry still had to face off with Voldemort, and he still ended up at his hospital bedside, apologizing because he wasn’t there.

“What’re you sorry for? It turned out okay,” the child said with a grin.

Edward didn’t respond.

But it seemed, inevitably, that things really did turn out okay. The year ended with a bang (he even scored some house points just for being there), and almost like a passing gust of wind, Edward Elric disappeared over the summer.

The reality is that truth unraveled him before he even had a chance to say goodbye. And when he returned to his true home, to Alphonse and Winry and Pinako, not even a day had passed in sunny Resembool.

(“There you are, Brother! I was beginning to think you’d gone missing.”)

If only he knew.

But there were things to get back to, plans to realize, and hopefully, in the end, things would be okay here, too.

After all, what could go wrong?

Chapter Text

1910

The air stunk. Edward had smelt the Curtis’ meat shop before, had experienced first hand rotten flesh and maggoty hides, and this - this was no different. It was the scent of decomposing life, the scent of something that no longer belonged in this world, and was slowly being written out.

Apparently, his left leg fell into that category.

For losing it, the pain was something less than he had expected; rather than harsh, electric, or ragged, it was a dull, deep-rooted ache. It was quiet against the roaring of his mind (yes, this could work! I just need the armor) and the hoarseness of his voice (GIVE HIM BACK! HE’S ALL I HAVE LEFT!), but it was strong. Stronger than his fear of the thing in the middle of the room, definitely not his mother. Stronger than the worry of losing his own life...The pain motivated him.

So through the rivers of blood he clawed, the basement floor slick and hot as he relied on upper body strength to move him. Past the thing, with its impossible radiating heat, past the spot where Al had been just seconds ago, past the worn out lines of a transmutation circle that had, in one fell swoop, taken everything. No - Edward wouldn't let it.

Prepared to give the world, he carved his brother’s seal in blood.

 

(“What about your parents, Ed?” Seamus asked, face lit in the candlelight of the great hall. It was here that they are their first dinner as a school, after being sorted into respective houses. Gryffindor was his own, apparently, which all the Weasleys had gushed on about.

“I dunno,” he shrugged, because he honestly didn't at the moment. Hoenheim could be dead. Trisha was…for sure.

“You dunno if they're muggle born?” asked another Gryffindor, incredulously.

“Nah, I’m sure they were, I just don’t have any.”

Murmurs broke out amongst them. Harry, whom he had shared a train compartment with, met his gaze with not sympathy, but understanding. For that, he was grateful, though he made no such move to express it.

“Er, sorry,” said the kid.

“Nah, it’s fine,” grinned Ed, which the other children must have taken as a queue to ask more questions because shortly after, another inquired,

“Are you American? You’ve an accent.”

And another: “You’re an orphan?”

“How can you have no parents if you have a last name?”

Ed wasn’t sure what American was, or how to answer any of those questions safely - he’d mainly been using the excuse of amnesia with the Weasleys, and with Dumbledore, who had come to investigate his first week there - so he was glad when the headmaster himself declared the meal to be over and vanished their food. Silence befell the hall, and they were whisked away to their dormitories. It almost made him nostalgic for the good old days of elementary school.)

His breath was stagnant and warm, circulating back into his own face with every slow gasp. That was how he awoke, with a rag in his mouth, and his tongue taking up far too much space. Over his eyes was another cloth, dampened and cool; he tried to lift his arm to move it, but nothing happened.

It was then that the memories of the basement inundated his sluggish brain. Never in his life had he ever felt so much regret.

As he lay there, too tired and defeated to even move, he wondered if they had left him to die. If Granny and Winry had decided that his life was no longer worth it. If Al had disowned him as family and set off to find a cure for his own body. He hoped he had. At least then, there would be progress.

As it was now, Edward was only holding him back (this was all he could process - it’smyfaultit’smyfaultit’smyfault - as shock and anesthesia warped his perception greatly). His own pain didn’t register, only the fear, the fear and the dreaded regret.

(If magic worked in this world, it would solve all of their problems. His notes on the subject remained tucked securely away in his room, never to see the light of day when he discovered their uselessness. Cruel, how alchemy could function there, but magic...Magic was fickle (or maybe i’m just crazy...there’s no way to prove it…).)

Again, he slept, tears tracing their way down his cheeks. Dreams of the Weasleys and Harry Potter overcame him. Later, he would be jolted back to reality by his own muffled grunts and the shocking pain of his wounds being treated. Automail, he decided - he would get automail.

 

1913

(“Hey Mustang, you wouldn’t know anything about…”)

(Spit it out, Fullmetal, I don’t have all day.”)

(“...Nevermind, it’s nothing.”)

 

1915

The years had been long, long and difficult, but he’d be lying if he said he didn’t enjoy them. Yet, at the back of his mind, there was always the lingering ‘what ifs’. As soon as he got Al’s body back, he would discover what had happened so long ago, how he had been ripped from the very fabric of reality.

He decided this for certain, just days before he met Solf J. Kimblee

 

He didn’t like Solf J. Kimblee. At all.

The bastard had turned his own mercy around on him, sent him tumbling into the snowy abyss below. He was just lucky he hadn’t been injured - he felt fine, and he was decently sure that the white blanket had broken his fall, so it-

Shit.

His cursory glance back at his own form had proven to be very disheartening. Dripping from his abdomen in gloppy portions, thick with tissue and severed veins, was crimson blood. Though he’d seen more than enough violence in his lifetime, the sight still painfully triggered his gag reflex - his muscles tensed, he froze, onto the snow he hacked rivulets of blood.

Oh no, this was bad. This was very bad. But he still had a goal to accomplish.
No, he couldn’t die here, no way, no way, no way.

Some of Kimblee’s men were in the corner, but he wasn’t sure they could make it in time, and he still had the giant fucking pipe embedded in his stomach and he was beginning to panic despite it all and goddamnit - he had the worst fucking luck.

Taking shaky breaths, he opened his mouth to try to communicate to the chimera men, but nothing came out, only more and more and more blood.

So he made a split second decision. If he couldn’t speak, then he would have to fix it himself, starting by disintegrating the beam. (He just had to make sure he didn’t end up with a pile of ash in his intestines - easier said than done.)

Or maybe he should begin by trying to fix the internal damage, while the beam held his skin open and away?

Or maybe -

Oh screw it, his mind was getting foggier by the second, and attempting to seal his organs would work towards stopping that. Drawing as deep a breath as he could, Edward calmed his roaring thoughts. He put, on the back burner, the horrid memories that always pervaded, the promises he'd given to so many, the image of Winry’s toothy smile, and worst of all, he cleared the days that he, Hoenheim, Al and his mother spent together. The ones of family and wholeness and simple times.

The ones before a place called Hogwarts or the pain of mutilated bodies.

And with another long exhale, he pressed his fingers to his own chest; the light that surged from within it was near blinding.

The next thing he knew, before him was the gate of Truth.

 

The crowd watched, with bated breath, as Harry and Ginny shared a rather public kiss. The excitement was still high after the match with Ravenclaw, Ron’s fingers still wrapped tightly around the winning cup, and a sort of half-smile plastered onto his face, but things were wilting.

Funny how such a happy event could be momentarily soiled by something so mundane as Harry Potter and Ginny Weasley.

But if they thought their drama was a true problem, it was about to get a whole lot worse; Hermione, despite her enthusiasm, was the first to note the glowing ceiling.

“What’s that?” came her voice, a brutal shock to the tension.

Sure enough, lines, intricate, detailed, and low, were tracing themselves within the common room, painting the deep red a luminescent blue. They were not recognizable runes nor were they anything directly pertaining to magic, despite their appearance, so although it was indeed frightening, no one moved a muscle.

Not until the blue turned a horrifying shade of green, the kind of green that emanated sickness and a sense of...displacement, and indicated that something had to be wrong.

People began to rush out of the room, backing away, screaming, yelling for professors and Dumbledore, and that it was surely an attack from Voldemort. The students closest to the portrait hole made it safely away in time, but those who stepped out of the way to guide others through, those like Harry, Neville, Ron, Hermione....

They bore witness to the true fright as a body, limp, and saturated in crimson, crashed to the floor.

Everyone stood still. The body did not move either.

And so, bravely, taking advantage of the lack of movement from both parties, Hermione rushed to the side of the fallen girl (? the long, golden braid...surely feminine…).

“Don’t!” cried Harry, wand out and pointed at the figure. “It could be Voldemort’s.”

The flinch at the name was audible, and those who hadn’t fled, began to, much more quietly this time.

Hermione, however, didn’t listen. Instead, she turned the surprisingly heavy body on its side, trying to catch a glimpse of its face (she noted that there was a grievous wound in its abdomen, a hole of sorts that forced bile to her throat). Pieces of blonde hair stubbornly stuck to their cheeks and forehead, but she brushed them aside to find-

By the time Dumbledore arrived, it was to find a sniffling Hermione and the body of a student he had once known all too well. Grimly, the common room was evacuated and Edward Elric’s barely breathing body moved to the hospital wing.

 

The only thing he could think when he awoke was that it was as if he were eleven again and arousing to the lack of two limbs and everyone he ever loved. The pain was comparable.

But no, thankfully, it would never - could never - be that.

Instead, it was to the sight of what must have been another dream. Strange, he’d never been quite so lucid when he recalled the sights of Hogwarts, but here he was, in the Hospital Wing, expecting Dream Madame Pomfrey to pop out at any minute. He remembered how she’d shooed them away from Harry so many times. It was actually really annoying.

But he didn’t have time for dreaming. He was supposed to be doing something right…? Supposed to be…

Shit, shit, shit, shi-

Edward flung back the covers, pulled up his hospital shirt and gaped at the smaller-than-it-should-be hole in his gut. Huh.

Wait. He had his metal arm, too, and yep (he checked) the leg. So this couldn’t be a dream. So he was back...in Hogwarts…

So he’d really screwed up (again).

Then came the franticness - he searched desperately for Winry’s earrings, which should have been tucked into the pocket of his jacket, but he couldn’t find that either, or his pocket watch, or his journal, or heavy boots, or anything.

He attempted to stand and search for his things, but that ended very poorly, and with him on the ground, in an ungraceful way.

Lucky him, that was when Madame Pomfrey decided to reappear, jabbering on about the different types of treatments she had decided to use for him, and then - “And look at these! They’re incredible, never seen anything like them...Metal limbs!” - to whom he assumed was probably Dumbledore in tow.

Oh god, this had to be a dream.

But then, he’d seen actual god, and created something sentient from (just) an arm and a leg and his little brother’s body, and he’d been within the stomach of a homunculus. Repeated transdimensional travelling shouldn’t be that difficult to believe...right?

“Oh dear, what’re you doing on the floor?!” Madame Pomfrey rushed over, leaning to help him up; he brushed her off, though and stood, nursing his sore abs with his cool metal hand.

“I’m fine,” he said casually, though he’d never been more stressed in his life. The moment he turned to Dumbledore, however, things fell apart just a bit in his composure. The old man was the epitome of ‘wizard’ and it only solidified the entire situation - not to mention, the severity of the other’s own countenance was a bit unnerving, to say the least.

“Hello Edward,” the headmaster said. “It is good to see you again, though I must say, your method of travel is rather cumbersome.”

 

“Wish I could say the same,” Ed grumbled, ignoring the last half of the statement. “But I’m not supposed to be here.”

Blue eyes peered starkly at him from above their glasses; he knew his journey was a story he would be forced to tell. The subtle pokes into his mind were enough to indicate that Dumbledore was attempting to read it.

“Poppy, if you could give us some privacy, please.”

“But Headmaster-”

“Just half an hour, I would say,” Dumbledore promised.

Poppy didn’t look happy, but soon enough Edward was left with the ancient man. He supposed that after all these years, maybe he was due a rough explanation. After all, with the small amount of wizards, he was sure his disappearance must have garnered some kind of attention.

Relaxing back onto the bed, but keeping his guard up (mental and physical), Edward led with,

“I’m sure you’ve kind of guessed already, but I’m not from this world.”

There - Ed could pinpoint the exact moment Dumbledore’s eyes lost their twinkle entirely and he suddenly became poker-faced and stern. He had his attention.

“Not from this world?” the old man repeated. “I’ll admit, I had my speculations, but…”

 

“What, the metal leg and arm aren’t proof enough?” snapped the boy, agitated. But Dumbledore didn’t mean any harm. He recognized that and slumped down. “The first time I came was an accident, too. I was just testing out an alchemy theory, and then I suddenly woke up at the Burrow...I didn’t believe it either, but you guys are in a different year, you have different technology, an entirely new world map…” Golden eyes became far away as they recalled the past. “But I knew I could make it home, I would just have to find some way to replicate my mistake. Only… I got distracted. How couldn’t I? It was a new world. And then I met Harry Potter, and I learned how to perform magic, and things got even worse. Before I could even make it back to the Burrow, though…”

He furrowed his brow and Dumbledore leaned in, intently listening.

“I was taken back.”

“Taken? By what?”

 

“Who knows?” Ed lied airily. He could never tell if Dumbledore knew though - his eyes were far too evasive of true emotion.

With the basic outline of the story done, the both of them leaned back in their respective seats, Ed releasing a harsh breath, the headmaster completely silent.

“Very well,” he finally said (their eye contact felt strange and…uncomfortable, so Edward warded all the mental barriers he could). “And your wound?”

At this, the boy looked away with a wince, “I got impaled for doing something stupid.”

“By what, might I ask?”

“A support beam.”

Silently, the headmaster handed him a bag of candy as consolation, prompting an unbecoming snort from his old student.

“I don't think Flavored Beans’ll be getting me out of this one.”

“Perhaps not,” he said, “But it's important to consider the light within every dark situation.”

Even though Edward knew the old man wasn't 100% on it, and that he probably still thought he was one of Voldie’s (was that his name again?) followers, he could appreciate his momentary kindness.

“Thanks,” Ed mumbled.

“For what?”

“For not throwing me on the streets.”

Dumbledore contemplated this sadly, wondering what kind of life he'd led in his absence, and even then, before. Edward was correct that he couldn't fully trust him, not with a war waging on, but he was inclined to believe that what he said was the truth. And if he were capable of travel through walls, as his appearance had suggested, then it would be safer to keep him here, within sight. So the headmaster said, simply,

“There is always a place within Hogwarts for those who need it.” He took a piece of candy. “You are a sixth year now, are you not?”

l

Chapter Text

Around him sprawled an endless landscape of white, appearing just as instantly as air forced its way back into his lungs. In, out, in, out - he caught his breath with difficulty, the atmosphere light but penetrating all the same. It was the presence of the gate, looming with sheer certainty; beyond it lay the greatest of all knowledge. Before it lay a boy, a boy with two missing limbs and immeasurable determination. Stains of blood and stains of grief marred his chiseled, but young face. From it pulled a worn frown, and Edward clenched his chattering teeth.

“You know this isn’t what I meant to do!” he shouted explosively, at the nothingness around him.

But then, born from it, was a white figure, outlined in black haze and approximately a reflection of Edward himself; it bore a flesh leg and arm.

“You forget,” said the creature, in one million voices and in one, leering, “that you are the one who miscalculated, Mr. Alchemist.”

Though he felt rage seep through his very veins, Ed unclenched his teeth, and balled his fists, and admitted, voice ragged,

“That may be, but I know I couldn’t have done this myself.”

The creature, Truth, smiled, “Oh? Done what now?”

“Don’t play dumb with me!” His voice should have echoed in the vast landscape. Instead, it was dampened dully, the perpetuated anger he sought petering out to a quiet festering. Sensing this, he lowered his volume intentionally (even here, there had to be some things that he could control), “No alchemist has ever crossed dimensions. You had a hand in this, didn’t you?”

Truth merely laughed. It was a harsh and disgusting noise, like a chattering sea of screams and nails on chalk.

“How quickly you are to blame!” It waved its arms at the door behind him. “I’m giving you free knowledge,” it said, as though Ed should be grateful, “Isn’t that what all you alchemists crave? A chance at God? An offering of power?”

“If that’s all you think we are,” Edward seethed lowly, “then you know nothing.”

The pearly white teeth of Truth beamed. “I know all,” he stated. “For I am all, as well as One, and the Universe, and God, and you.”

The words arose poor memories from Edward, who began to stumble backwards at the realization that such a spiel most likely indicated a toll.

“Have fun in your new world, Mr. Alchemist.”

From within the horrors of the massive gate shot out hand upon hand upon hand, long and thin and black. They latched onto his arm and leg painfully, they dug into the tender flesh of his stomach. They removed his only choice in this plane, and they pulled him, kicking and screaming, into the gate from which they had been born.

 

He saw English.

English and magic and Dumbledore and a school called Hogwarts, one he had near convinced himself was part of a dream, and he saw the answers to all of it.

 

Edward awoke wide-eyed and feeling like he’d just been drowned in a vat of ice water. Chills ran sharply along his spine.

They didn’t speak Amestrian. He didn’t speak English. Alchemy wasn’t the same here (as he had quickly researched first year, before demonstrating...or rather, not demonstrating, as it had turned out). Magic was the word of fairy tales in his world.

In his shock of arriving for the second time, he had disregarded those very important facts. He would have to get home very soon, of his own accord this time, before Truth could change its mind and rip him right back out.

(He was still confused - confused as to why he was here in the first place...unlike the last time, he felt his calculations were correct when he attempted to seal his organs.)

The fear and stress and shock all caught up to him at once (and pain, oh dear god the pain of organ regrowth was unforgivable), and he retched over the side of the bed. It was bloody and acidic; he retched again just at the flavor. Unfortunately, judging by the lack of light in the room, it was nighttime, and Madame Pomfrey, contrary to popular belief, slept, so he would have to clean this up himself.

Without even thinking, it vanished. A wordless spell. Something the vile gate had brought to the surface of his mind, something he had done unintentionally, and immediately wished to take back.

He sighed and lay back on his pillow.

Morning would be here soon. He could collect his thoughts then.

 

“I think I know what I saw,” repeated Hermione for the millionth time. She was pacing a hole into the carpet, back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. With his eyes, Harry tracked her rigid, stressed movements, hoping that she was incorrect with all his heart. Yet, she kept insisting:

“It was Edward, no doubt about it!”

“Well, there’s got to be some doubt,” countered Ron. “Last I checked, Ed wasn’t a girl.”

Frustrated, Hermione threw up her arms and froze in place.

“If you’d actually bother to listen to me, you’d know I got a good look at his face, and well…” Here, her own cheeks colored a soft pink. “He’s definitely not a girl.”

Ron stood now, (this was practically reality TV for Harry - everyone else in the common room had gone to bed, so he was privy to another one of their frequent arguments) “What’s that mean?!”

Hermione let out a frustrated groan and began to stomp away. “I’m going to bed! You’ll see that I’m right in the morning.”

Only when she was safely gone, and the common room suffered only the noise of the crackling fireplace, did Ron dare to say,

“Bloody insufferable, she is.” The red-headed boy turned to him, reclining back into one of the plush sofas. “What do you think?”

Harry, who had been silent and intent in his staring contest with the carpet, opened his mouth to speak, but found nothing. Six years ago, Edward had been a dear friend to all of three of them. Noisy, and a bit arrogant, but intelligent beyond all measure, and a staple in their discovery of the sorcerer’s stone. But there were also the slightest of discrepancies: the fact that he just appeared outside the burrow, without any knowledge of where he was, how he got there, or his past; the fact that he really was just as genius as Harry said, despite not even knowing what magic really was, and not trying in class whatsoever (this had bothered Hermione to no end); and perhaps most of all, the fact that at the end of the year, when Harry had vanquished Voldemort, and exposed Quirrel, when they had discussed the results of all with Dumbledore, Edward had, for a split second, looked crushed that the sorcerer’s stone had been destroyed.

And then he had disappeared.

Ron had told them over mail (mail which Harry didn’t recieve until long after anyway, but mail regardless), about how Edward had been there at the burrow one day, and then the next, he was not.

No one knew where he went. Dumbledore, even, was at a loss for the location of Edward Elric, who thundered in and made his own place, only to fizzle out slowly over the years. It was jarring and uncomfortable, and their only option was to assume his death.

So yes, part of him, a very large part, wanted to believe that Edward was still alive, just waiting in the hospital wing.

But instead, he said, “I think she’s right, we should wait until morning.”

 

He knew Madame Pomfrey wouldn’t let him go so soon, so he did what he had to - he transmuted himself, while her back was turned, through the floor. As luck would have it, he landed painfully in an empty classroom, his battered body unable to roll and break his fall. Instead, he dropped into a forceful crouch and tipped over for the stress it put on his one real knee.

“Shit,” he muttered, clutching his pounding torso. Best not to mess with that.

He managed to stand up alright though (if alright could be constituted as only a little dizziness), and made his way out into the corridor. This, too, was empty.

That meant that A) there was either a quidditch game (which was unlikely at seven in the morning), or B) it was breakfast time. He was inclined to believe the latter, and since it was breakfast time, that meant that Dumbledore, the man he really wanted to discuss more with, was in the Great Hall, too.

Right. He sort of knew where that was.

The fact that the paintings along the walls shouted helpful hints to him was not unwelcome:

“Down and to the left! You’re an early riser, aren’t you?”

“Straight ahead, my boy!”

“What an obnoxious coat - I do hope you aren’t wearing that to breakfast?”

The last painting received a fist in its frame for that - he happened to quite like his coat, and was glad he’d recovered it before sending himself down here. Regardless of what he was wearing, he managed to make it to the Great Hall in less than twenty minutes, a fact he was proud of, for someone who had been away for six years.

Six years, huh.

He thought about Harry and Ron and Hermione and poor, poor Neville, and he wondered what they looked like now, what they would think of him. After all, he had just disappeared. As he stood outside the massive doors, prepared to take the leap, he caught the tail-end of the headmaster’s words:

“And I’m happy to announce to you that we will be welcoming back an old friend, one I’m sure many of you will know. He caused quite a stir during his time here,” Dumbledore chuckled, and Ed was inclined to agree. “As well as last night…”

Here, the hall became deathly silent. He could hear his own heart beating in his chest, thump, thump, thump…

It was important to remember, over everything else, that his objective was to get home.

“Ah,” said Dumbledore, as Ed kicked open the doors to the Great Hall. “Here he is now.”

“Edward Elric.”

Murmurs broke out like he’d never seen before. Sure, he’d been the topic of many rumours in the military, what with his age and status and temperament, but he’d never seen them like this. It seemed that he wasn’t missing out on anything, living his life away from those his own age. Especially if the words he did catch on his walk up to Dumbledore were any indication:

“Who’s that?”

“Blimey! He looks downright scary…”

“Thought he was a girl, with that hair…”

And worst of all, the giggles from a large grouping of Gryffindor girls.

“Wow, he’s really grown!”

He wasn’t sure what that meant, but he hoped it wasn’t a crack at his height. Avoiding eye contact with all of them, so as not to distract himself, he marched up to the headmaster and said, lowly,

“We need to talk.”

Dumbledore nodded, the twinkle back in his eye (Edward caught a glimpse of his hand when his sleeve fell - black and charred and shriveled…).

“Why don’t you sit for breakfast first?”

“Now,” Edward said, because he was impatient and needed several important details to be sorted out (where would he stay, what information, besides the general section of the library, would he have access to, etc…).

Dumbledore’s smile fell, and he said, near grimly, “Very well.”

And just like that, the two of them departed the hall again, leaving a plethora of rumors and uncountable curious expressions. Harry and Ron watched, agape, and Hermione, though she relished in proving herself correct, wore a troubled look.

He seemed very different, she thought, in all the wrong ways.