Title: October Fourth
Author: Jordanna Morgan
Archive Rights: Please request the author's consent.
Characters: Edward and Alphonse.
Setting: The morning after the Elrics left Resembool.
Summary: Everything had changed… but so had the Elric brothers.
Disclaimer: They belong to Hiromu Arakawa. I'm just playing with them.
Notes: For some time, I've meant to do a 3 October story again. With the help of the Genprompt Bingo prompt Everything Changes, this ficlet volunteered itself.
The morning Edward awakened at dawn with the taste of smoke still in his throat, it took him a moment to remember where he was.
Blinking muzzily, he shifted on the lumpy bed, to stare at peeling wallpaper and an unfamiliar window view… and he remembered. It was an inn at the next town over from Resembool, where he and Alphonse had stopped for the night to await the morning train.
Little wonder the inn had left no real impression on him. Until sleep took him, there was nothing in his mind but the vision of flames roaring and charred walls collapsing. Of photographs, like memories, curling and bubbling before they dissolved into ashes.
With a hollow, melancholy feeling, Ed reflected that other than their time with Teacher in Dublith, this was the first night he'd ever slept someplace outside of Resembool. He had never otherwise traveled more than a day's journey from the village where he was born… but this time he didn't know when, or perhaps if, he would ever return at all.
It was a frightening thought. Even after Mother died, the Elric brothers still had Pinako and Winry, and the familiar surroundings of Resembool. Now they had given up those last ties that grounded them, allowed them to feel safe. From this day forward, everything would change, as they threw themselves into a wide world that was beyond their meager experience.
In spite of their giftedness and their own terrible mistakes, their life had been so much more sheltered than Ed ever considered before.
For a brief moment, the fear of it all rose up and choked him. What was he thinking? He was not yet twelve years old, and here he was, striking out into the complete unknown on a quest to become a soldier. Worse, he was dragging his little brother along with him. Al's gentle heart was sure to be even more prone to lonely homesickness… especially given the way strangers would look at his ominous form.
With sudden, needy anxiousness, Ed turned his head, and saw Al. The younger Elric sat on the floor, his imposing armor body propped against the other bed, reading a book he had borrowed from the inn's common room.
The very sight of him reminded Ed of why they were here.
Ed still couldn't look at Al's present form without remembering that it was his fault. That the burden of fixing it rested entirely on him. Maybe those thoughts were becoming a little easier over time—but he didn't want them to become easier. He didn't want the way he felt to get better, until he made it all better for real.
That was why…
That was why they had to do this. Why they had to sacrifice their past for the hope of a future, even if it meant chasing that hope into a world which was nothing like the only one they had known.
Along the way, the boys themselves would change. Ever since their physical transformations, they had already changed much on the inside, as well; but there was still a long way to go. The new world they were about to enter would shape them as they learned to survive in it.
They would grow stronger. They would become wiser. They would learn to be things they never thought they could be.
Just because they had no other choice.
The ashes still smoldering on a hilltop back in Resembool would help to make sure of that.
And somehow, some way, it would be alright… because of all that was different now, the Elric brothers would be the most different of all.
© 2015 Jordanna Morgan