Side-Story: Girl in the Garden

Notes: Ed was not the only one who lost something.

The new house is a small, tasteful, red-brick and cream affair, and it looks nothing like their old house. It'll be a while before she can build up a regular customer base again, but for now, she treasures the free time. She sucks on the pipe, then puffs a neat grey ring out, and checks the window.

Winry wears a straw hat and a sundress, her arm raised to throw a ball for Den.

Winry spends a lot of time in the garden now.

When they first took off the bandages, Pinako had to hold her breath; Winry's hands were pink and puffy, more like raw meat than the slender artisan hands Winry was growing into. Winry stared at them like she'd never seen them before, like they weren't the hands she'd grown up with. The doctor told her she was lucky; trying to force open a hot automail forge with her bare hands like that; she might well end up needing automail hands herself. With therapy and time though, she'll be able to use her real ones again.

"I would have burnt them right off it it would have saved Al," Winry says after the doctor is gone. Pinako can only close her eyes and try very hard not to weep. She loved Al too, like he was one of her grandchildren, but Winry is all she has, and she cannot bear the thought of her Winry being so broken.

Winry wears gloves all the time now; more to hide the scars than to protect her healing hands. She never looks at her own hands if she can help it, she never touches a spanner or a bolt, save to carry the heavy things Pinako needs. Pinako deliberately does not wonder if she'll be able to do the kind of delicate work automail wiring requires ever again.

Winry's sunny nature surfaces as she spends more time in the garden, throwing balls and sticks for Den to fetch. She can name all the flowers, even their strange Latin names, can tell when they seed and when they flower, keeps her own notebooks on them.

When she asks if she can start a tomato garden, Pinako says yes.

Den's tune-ups are now done by Pinako.

Winry comes in one day nearly in tears. Her tomato plants have died.

Pinako wants to tell her, "Look, I'm thinking of building an automail arm and leg for the chibi. Would you like to help?"

Instead, she tells Winry that the next time they go to market, they'll buy her more tomato seeds.

Pinako keeps the door to the automail workshop closed, because Winry's face is always haunted every time she sees the automail forge. She tries to do her work only when Winry's in the garden, or when she's out in school, because it hurts her to see Winry's face.

So when Winry comes in, in a pair of worn overalls, her hair tied back, Pinako can't help the way her old heart leaps, the sudden pricking in her eyes.

"I thought," Winry says shyly, "since I keep killing tomatoes, I better work on something a lot more hardy."

"Of course you may," Pinako says gruffly. "Den needs to get his leg tuned up again. You can start on him."

Afterwards, she tries not to cry when Winry washes her hands and leaves the gloves off.