Disclaimer: I do NOT own Fullmetal Alchemist or any of the characters for that matter. I am just merely...er, borrowing them as my muses at the moment. Do not sue me for anything but my imagination, which will not get you far in the courtroom. If there are any similarities between my story and another, I apologize but all I have to say is, I guess great minds think alike after all. Ja na! Enjoy!
Series: Fullmetal Alchemist
Title: Musical Tears
Music. She had once compared it to music and had believed it to be so. Her parents had indulged her and allowed her to believe it to be truth. Yet like everything else, it was not meant to be. Her beliefs, she had quickly realized, were childish fantasies that were easily swept away on a breeze called life. She had quickly outgrown her ideals and love of romances and princesses. With the death of her parents she had been forced to realize that her beliefs as a child were mere indulgences and that her truths were no more than lies constructed and reinforced by her so-called loved ones. Her grandmother was the only person who had never indulged her childish whims and desires.
Pinako Rockbell was as strict and straightforward as a person could be. She never allowed her granddaughter to get away with tantrums and meaningless tear-filled fits, despite the common belief that grandchildren were meant to be spoiled. No, Pinako Rockbell taught her granddaughter to survive. She taught Winry how to survive, how to live on with the memories of loved ones and how to let loved ones go when it was time to move on. She taught Winry how to fuel her emotions into a constructive means. It had not been hard to spark the young girl's interest in automail mechanics, especially since a certain young boy had been reason enough to learn about the finer details of the trade.
No, Pinako Rockbell was not one to reinforce meaningless ideas and childish beliefs. Her no-nonesense attitude effectively rubbed off on her granddaughter and the older woman's temper had been passed down in the gene pool as well. Winry knew this and strived to maintain her fiery spirit, but it seemed that when it came to those she loved, she was hard-pressed to remain calm. Yet, for all of Pinako Rockbell's straightforwardness and realistic attitude, she still believed Nature to be something of another realm. It seemed to sense a person's mood and reflect the feelings from within that person. It was a Mother to all, knowing her children inside and out, and while strict at times and so furious with anger at others, she was still a gentle and caring Mother all the same. She provided for her children if they had earned her praise and at nights when her child's heart was uneasy, she sang to them.
Mother Nature sang to her children at night. She sang them to sleep, easing their fears and worries with the gentle melodies of her tears. Her tears. Her music. Her song. Winry had had difficulty hearing Mother's song for quite some time. As she had been pressed to follow in her grandmother's footsteps, Winry Rockbell had forced herself to forget the bedtime stories and folktales her parents had once murmured to her as she drifted to sleep. She had accepted the fact that all she had believed to be truth as a child was wrong and that her grandmother knew the truth about life. Her grandmother had never lied to her about life or death, nor had the older woman pampered her when she felt depressed or complacent when she was in a temper. The older woman was a savior for Winry. She knew all there was about automail and about life it seemed. At least it had always appeared that way to Winry and the young granddaughter had always felt shadowed by her grandmother, eager to please the other woman and live up to her reputation.
Her eagerness had been her downfall. She had forgotten her childhood and nearly all that it entailed, save for the two boys whom she loved as if they were family. Those two brothers would never leave her memory and she would give up her favorite wrench than forget them. She had said so as a toddler, child, teenager and now as a young woman. She gave up everything concerning her childhood, save for them. And her grandmother had been displeased when she had learned of it.
Winry would never forget the look of surprise that had first crossed her grandmother's features and then look of utter disappointment and disgust that had followed. It was the disgust that had caused the scene to be etched permanently in her mind, forever replaying when her insecurities got the better of her.
Her grandmother's soothing voice had circled around the room, almost as if it were drifting along the tendrils of tobacco smoke from her ever-present pipe. The melody had been simple and carefree, expressing her grandmother's good mood. Den had been dozing at Winry's feet as she sat by one of the kitchen windows, gazing across the green hills that seemed to roll across the countryside. She had questioned Pinako about the melody in a genuinely curious tone and had been rewarded with immediate silence. She gazed at her grandmother in a perplexed manner as the older woman had stared at her in surprise.
"Your mother sang it to you when you were a baby," she had said. "Do you not remember? She sang it to you nearly every day until--" Pinako had been unable to finish the statement, the pain still too fresh and Winry had found it difficult to meet the older woman's gaze.
She had not remembered it, least not right away. It was an old memory, like that of a photograph, torn around the edges and discolored with age. She had even explained it as so to her grandmother but the other woman had simply shook her head in disappointment and disgust. That reaction had shaken Winry to the core like nothing else had. She had begun to build her life around pleasing others. She wanted clients to be happy with the maintenance she did on their automail and she wanted her neighbors to be pleased with her manners and lifestyle. Above all, she wanted her grandmother to be proud of her and for the Elric brothers, who had maintained that space in her heart, to believe in her and trust her. Those three people had become her world and for any of them to be displeased with her was if the support columns to the foundation of her life were crumbling and deteriorating.
"You need to rethink your sacrifices child. Granted, moving on is important but you must always retain your memories. Memories are what make you you. Never forget who you are and what made you what you are today."
She had cried herself to sleep that night, unsure as to whether she had destroyed the bond between them or not and if it was even repairable. When she had greeted her grandmother the next morning, the older woman had frowned but held her tongue, not commenting on the dark circles under the girl's eyes. The haunted look in Winry's eyes had grown even darker at her grandmother's lack of concern and had caused the young girl to rush out of the house to the lake a good few miles away. Once she had dropped to her knees by the shore, she had gazed at the wraith looking back at her on the glassy surface of the water. She had cried then, realizing that no one would want an incompetent girl. Her grandmother did not. Edward and Alphonse had not, since they had yet to return from their training and not sent a single word to her or Pinako since they had left. The boys in the town made fun of her and poked fun at Den whenever they saw the dog with his automail leg. The town's women whispered behind the backs of their hands when they saw her walk by, though as to what it was they whispered about she had no idea. The point was that she was not wanted.
She had sat beside the lake all day, ignoring the rumblings of her stomach when it had craved sustenance and watched the sun paint the sky with reds and oranges as it set below the horizon. It had been well after dark when she had finally returned "home" and was extremely confused when her grandmother had rushed to embrace her upon her return. Her confusion had been duly noted by Pinako and it was then that the older woman had explained to Winry about compromise.
"You can never forget your roots, child. Alchemy may be considered by others to be a work of evil and by others a gift of God. But we all started from the same place. Alchemy was given to us by some higher being. Nature is always something that has been other-worldly. Even Alchemists are hard-pressed to control it. They cannot control the weather just as they cannot control which direction the sun rises. There are some things are to not be manipulated. Nature is a mother to us all and through her we have learned to live. We live by the grace of Nature. Our crops depend upon her, our livestock depends upon her and therefore we depend upon her."
"But what does that have to do with the song, Granny?"
"The song was created to be sung during harvests. It was written to show our thanks for being alive and thanks for being blessed. It was and still is sung when one was happy to just be alive. By forgetting that, you forgot what it meant to be alive."
"But I don't understand...I thought that all those things were lies..."
"No, not lies. Perhaps half-truths... But never lies, Winry. They were created from facts and truths but then crafted with whimsical linings to make it more appealing, but they were still originally truths."
"So...not everything I believed was a lie?"
"Correct, dear. Not everything was a lie. Besides, you have free will...and you're free to choose what you wish to believe in. Do not let this old woman sway you into something you would not have originally chosen. Understand?"
"I think so..."
"Thank you...for everything..."
"You're very welcome, child. I only do it because I love you."
"I know...and that's what I'm thankful for..."
She had then spent the next few months rediscovering her past. She wanted to remember everything and once she did, she would then choose what to believe and what to disregard as childish delusions. Den had stayed by her side, just as he always had and she appreciated it. She had spent many a morning snuggled against him, flipping through the photo albums and scrapbooks her mother had made. She had laid in bed staring at pictures of her parents when they were younger and then at pictures of herself as a baby. It had warmed her to see the smiles on her parents' faces and the happiness that seemed to radiate from the pictures. Photos of birthday parties, summer solstices and winter solstices filled many of the pages of the album. And then there had been the spur of the moment photos. Her soaked through from having jumped in the lake with Edward and Alphonse on a hot summer day, feathered from pillow fights on Spring mornings, and those of her caked in mud from mud fights in the rains of the Spring and Summer seasons. Ah, the rainy mud fights. Those were the days, she had mused.
"Those were the days...weren't they Mother?" she murmured to herself as she stared at the raindrops that trickled downwards on the windowpane. The rain had started a few hours ago, a few gentle plips and plops on the roof tiles and glass windows announcing that the earth was about to cleanse herself again. The sky had been cloudy for the most part of the day, giving even further warning to the water that would be released later on, but now, as the clouds opened to allow the raindrops to fall, the sun was setting. The light gradually dimmed and Winry found herself staring outside, watching the sun's light fade as the raindrops grew larger and more in numbers. The drops hitting the roof tiles were like chimes, creating a melody so unique that it would never be replicated by man, no matter how hard he tried.
"She sings to her children, easing their fears and worries with the gentle melodies of her tears."
"Her tears?" Why does she cry Granny?"
"Because it is all she can do for her children. Fear is something one must overcome on their own and worrying is the same as well. She cries because her children must overcome it on their own without her immediate help. She cries because she can do nothing else."
The rain was her music, melodies that were to put her at ease when thoughts of the Elric brothers and their safety crowded her mind. Such thoughts were normally what caused sleep to evade her, and when there was no rain, Winry worked until she was so exhausted that such thoughts were pushed to the back of her mind. It was rare for rain in the Fall and Winter months and so she treasured the Spring and Summer months, knowing that gentle rains such as tonight's were a rare occurrence. It was thunderstorms that occurred in the Summer and Fall months, and snow storms in the Winter. Spring was really the only time that she could lie awake at night and listen to Mother Nature singing to her. Oh how she loved those songs, serenading her to sleep in the moderately cool nights, her window cracked open to allow a pleasant breeze in.
There was a suddenly large crack of thunder that caused Winry to jump slightly and Den whined at the intrusion to their quiet evening in the living room. She glanced down at him and gave him a wry smile. He had been so faithful to her, staying with her no matter what mood she was in. And she knew that it would be a hard blow when he would finally pass away... But he was here now and she cherished each day with him.
As if sensing her thoughts, Den stretched his limbs before making his way over to her to then plop down at her feet. He rolled over onto his back, exposing his stomach to show that he wanted a belly-rub. She chuckled and leaned over scratched his stomach, smiling when one of his hind legs began to kick in pleasure. "Like that huh?" she teased him, a pleasant smile on her face.
Lightening flashed and thunder clapped a moment later. With a sigh, Winry leaned back into the couch and pulled one leg to her chest, resting her chin atop her knee. It was nearing summer solstice and for a fleeting moment, Winry wondered if the Elric brothers would be participating in the festivities that the town normally held every year. She snorted in derision at that thought and silently chastised herself for even thinking it. Since when did the boys actually bother to participate in something fun? It was as if they had forgotten what 'fun' was.
"They'll leave right before the festivities and make something that's supposed to be happy seem sad because they left," she once again murmured to herself, shaking her head and pushing back tears. She was not going to cry about something as mundane as a missed festival. It was just one more to add to their 'missed festivities' list.
She sat in silence for a bit longer, listening to the rain beating on the windowpanes and roof tiles and the wind howling through out the trees near the house. It was a comforting yet daunting combination of sounds. It was a sound that eased the soul yet subtly reminded the soul of the power of Mother Nature.
Thunder clapped again and Winry jumped but not because of the thunder but because of the pressure against her side. She looked over and gave Pinako Rockbell a sheepish grin. "Hi Granny," she whispered, taking comfort in the smell of the smoke coming from her grandmother's tobacco pipe. "What's up?"
"Nothing. I just came in to see how you were doing," her grandmother said, looking out the window and watching as the storm grew stronger with each passing hour.
Winry gave her an odd look; "I'm doing fine. Why?"
"The boys have decided to leave once the storm clears."
Again, Winry gave her grandmother an odd look, "They do remember that these storms can last for days sometimes, right?"
"Yes, they do."
Winry nodded and turned her attention back to the storm, hearing its call to her for the first time that evening. "I'll be on the porch," she said, knowing that Pinako would not stop her. Although, the older woman did seem startled by this decision.
"Be careful," was all she said to the young woman before Winry moved to head outside.
"Of course. Aren't I always?" she laughed as she opened the front door and stepped out in the downpour. She tipped her head upwards, smiling at the raindrops that fell onto her face, massaging the youthful skin there before sliding down the column of her throat. It did not take long for her clothes to become soaked through but Winry continued to stand out in the rain, arms spread out and savoring the chilly feeling that crept through her. She knew that she was just asking for trouble, being the right target for lightening and all, but the rain pounding on her face felt so refreshing.
"Winry?! What the Hell are you doing out here?! You wanna get killed?!" an angry voice shouted at her from behind. She felt a hand grab her roughly by the shoulder and twist her around to look at the owner of said hand. Her blue eyes met a pair of blazing molten gold ones and she involuntarily shivered at the emotion raging through them. She blinked a few times, unsure as to how to answer since she knew that his questions were rhetorical ones.
She was saved from answering however, when a streak of lightening flashed relatively close to them and thunder crashed so loudly that the foundation of the Rockbell home shook. She felt her breath hitch in her throat at the static the lightening caused, her skin tingling from the charge it left in the air. She forgot to breathe when she found herself pulled roughly against a well toned chest and shielded from the rain as best as a human could shield another.
"You idiot! That coulda hit you!" the angry voice hissed in her ear as she was pulled inside. She watched the front door close as if she was being cut off from an important part of her life, and in a way she was. The rain had always comforted her... "How long were you plannin' on stayin' out there anyway?! All night?!"
She turned to give Edward Elric a dark look but found her vision enshrouded in darkness. She stiffened momentarily before she realized that he had thrown a towel over her head. To her surprise, the usually stand-offish boy was now working at drying off her soaking blonde locks. She kept her peace, not wanting to ruin this rare moment of trust he was bestowing upon her because that was what it was. He was placing his trust in her, allowing himself to drop his arrogant and somewhat militaristic attitude so that he could be himself. He rarely let his true emotions show, preferring to use his anger and annoyance as his safety line.
"That would have been nice," she whispered truthfully, knowing that he would not understand her desire to stand out in the rain. And he did not, for he yanked the towel off her head to give her the most perplexed and shocked look she had ever seen.
"Are you serious?!"
She slowly nodded her head. When he was silent after that, she moved to take the towel from him but found that he was already throwing it back onto her head. He was back to drying her hair off, only this time he was silent, contemplating her answer. Once he was satisfied that he had gotten most of the water out of her hair, he gently pulled the towel off of her head and wrapped it around her shoulders. He rubbed her arms when he noticed her shiver before pushing her back into the living room and to the couch.
She sat obediently, which was rare in and of itself since she was not one to be obedient, and waited for him to say something.
She blinked at his question, unsure how to answer it. "I don't understand..."
"Why would you want to stand out there?"
Winry was silent as she thought of how to answer. It would be hard for Edward to understand her desire to be with the rain, to feel its healing power as it pounded against her. "I want to be a part of it."
"A part of it?" his tone said that he was confused, but not annoyed. He genuinely wanted to understand and that was somewhat rare. However, he only saw her as an automail fanatic, so perhaps it wasn't so unusual for him to want to understand this aspect of her.
"My mom once told me that we are all children of Mother Nature." He rolled his eyes at that but she pushed onward with her explanation. "I believed her, as all children do when they're little, but I then forgot all the stories she had told me. I thought they were all lies and not worth remembering... But Granny said...well.......the point is that whether or not one believes in stuff like that, the rain is music. Each melody is unique and no one can recreate it... It's beautiful and other-worldly. And I wanted to listen to its music and to be a part of that music..."
She felt her cheeks heat in embarrassment and lowered her head, looking at her soaked feet. Edward was silent as he moved across the room, apparently not caring that she had revealed an aspect of her soul that only her grandmother knew about. And it hurt her, seeing that he really hadn't cared enough about her and her feelings to try and understand. He cared about her as a sister at least, right? If so, then he should have tried to understand...but no, he just blocked it out...
She started slightly when a blanket was wrapped around her and she looked up at Edward in surprise. There was the faintest tinge of pink across the bridge of his nose as he sat next to her and pulled her to rest against him, his arms and legs curling around her to act as a shelter and cocoon. She was too stunned by this show of affection to say anything and barely caught his words as he spoke softly to her.
"Just...listen from inside the house, okay?"
She nodded dumbly, surprised by the tone of voice he had used. He was being extremely affectionate tonight and for the life of her Winry could not figure out why. Nothing had really happened that would cause him to be this way, least not to her knowledge. Although the lightening outside could count, she highly doubted that that was the reason.
"Ed?" she began, her voice soft and questioning. His arms tightened around her in response to her inquisitive voice.
"You can be a part of it just by listening, right? You're a part of it because you're like the audience, right?"
She was surprised by his effort to understand her and by the fact that he had seen a possibility that she had not. She had never really thought of it in that manner. That to be a part of something one actually needed to participate in the actions of the presentation or project. 'But he's right,' she reminded herself silently. 'I can participate just by listening…' She nodded, watching in silent fascination and awe as his cheeks grew redder by the minute.
"Well...listen from inside...where it's safe, okay?"
She again nodded and relaxed against him when he showed no signs of moving. The two of them sat in the dark living room, listening and watching the storm outside while reveling in each other's company. She had not even realized that she had begun to drift off to sleep until Edward spoke, his voice low and rumbling in her ear.
She yawned and snuggled further into the blanket he had wrapped around her. "For what?" she asked him softly.
"For telling me..."
She shrugged and shifted in his arms, getting more comfortable. "I'll probably fall asleep right here, you know," she teased, giving him the opportunity to escape should he desire to do so. It was his turn to shrug and moved to bring her head down to rest against chest.
"So?" he said, his voice once again a rumble in her ear.
She frowned at the amount of affection he was showing her. "Are you sure you don't mind?" she questioned, giving him one more chance to escape. It was not really like Edward to be showing this much of himself to anyone, save Alphonse but even the younger brother had once confided in Winry that Edward tried to make light of heavy subjects. She expected the eldest Elric brother to start clamming up any moment now, taking on his gruff language and attitude with his challenging golden glare. But it didn't come.
"Nah...I'm probably gonna drift off soon myself, so what difference does it make?" he yawned, wriggling around to a comfortable position and Winry pouted when she had to sit up and then get comfy again.
"Mmmk...if you're sure," she murmured sleepily, her head resting against his chest and his heartbeat in her ear.
"Yeah..." he whispered tiredly.
Silence fell between them and Winry was about to drift off when he spoke again. "Besides, this way you won't go outside and scare off the rain with all your terrible singing."
She frowned and had half a mind to pop him one on the head, with or without her wrench she could still cause him some damage, when she remembered what Pinako had said. He and Alphonse would be leaving once the rain stopped. So, in a round about way, Edward Elric had just said that he didn't want to leave any sooner than he had to. He wanted to stay for as long as time permitted. He wanted to be here with her and Granny.
And that was enough reason for her to snuggle deeper in his arms and drift off into a peaceful sleep without hitting him in the slightest.