The fire wasn't hard to see; the flames climbed upwards through the night air. Even if they hadn't seen the flames, the smoke was a dead giveaway.
By the time the fire had even alarmed that many people, most of the house was destroyed. People were shouting for the boys.
Pinako Rockbell stood silent, her pipe left behind in the house. She observed the chaos, watched the efforts. A villager ran to Pinako.
"The Elrics...," he panted, "their house...Ed and Al.."
"Are not here," Pinako completed. The man blinked, and Pinako turned to see Winry stumble out of the house, staring in horror as the Elric house burned to ashes.
"They left..they're still alive, don't you worry Winry. They just left. Sooner or later, they'll be back.
When dawn broke over the hill, the charred remains of the Elric house stood in stark contrast to the green hills about the land. There were talks, once in a while, of cleaning up the mess, but Pinako always made sure it never came to fruition.
So there they stood, only moved by the elements.
It was some years later, when Ed and Al returned, along with Armstrong, to their hometown. Ed walked the path to his mother's grave, passing the remains of his childhood home as he returned from it. He sighed heavily and took a few steps toward the remains. Din whined.
"Oh, come off it, Din..I'll only be a few seconds"
Ed kicked the false foot at the remains, then stooped down and picked up a piece of charred material. He smiled forlornly and traced lightly onto the ground, the date that the house burned down; no, that they burned it down.
He looked towards the Rockbell household, and sighed. He gave a little smile and patted Din on the head, standing up.
"I think I knew, somehow, that it would end up like this. We tried to have nothing to return to. But that's impossible," here, Ed looked towards the sky, "to be rid of everything...would be to hurt the ones you love most."
And no part of the Fullmetal wanted to do that. No part of the Fullmetal could do that.
No matter what happened.
It was like starting over, he reasoned; they'd stayed away from home just long enough to realize that it was the one thing that they had to fall back on. Even if it was just the feeling of home that came from them, as brothers, just being together.
The feeling of family. It was something Ed sorely missed. And when Winry, even though she'd looked at the pocket watch, he didn't want to, couldn't hate her for it.
She was one of the few things he had left.