Well this will be the last chapter for the moment as it leads right up to the point we last see Winry, and since I don't know what she's doing I can't speculate until she appears again. Not much happens here but it needed to bo done. Spoilers and all that up to chapter 82. I don't own FMA, Arakawa does....lucky!
Once she had dried off and dressed herself, Winry sat down to listen to Rose tell the story of exactly what had happened to their city. She explained about the rise of the church and how it became her whole world.
'I completely fell for the church of Lets lies,' she explained, 'because they told me they could revive my dead boyfriend. The one day Ed and Al just waltzed in an revealed the truth.'
She paused to take a drink and then carried on.
'Those who'd devoted their lives to Let, like me, were left depressed and disillusioned.'
'What did they do to help you get through it?' Winry asked, fascinated by Rose's story.
'Well Ed got really mad and said "stand on your legs and start walking forward".
Winry groaned and rubbed her forehead, 'Sheesh why does he always have to rub salt into peoples wounds?'
Rose laughed, 'I'm glad he got angry at us though. He opened everyone's eyes, including me. Maybe the true cause of the revolt was people placing all their faith in miracles and not thinking for themselves. That's why we are going to bring Reole back to prosperity without waiting for a miracle to do it for us. We're going to recover through our own efforts.'
Rose sighed heavily as she started wistfully out of the window, 'we're all so grateful to Ed and Al. If the deceit had continued much longer we might have thought ourselves invincible and become one of those crazy armies "who don't even fear death" or whatever they call them.'
Winry made a sound of recognition but could only appreciate a fraction of what Rose had said to her. Faith had a lot to answer for but it seemed hope was able to offer some answers. All it had taken was two young brothers with no belief in a God to uncover a deception that had convinced an entire city of its divinity.
'I suppose you must find me stupid, falling for such lies in the belief I would be rewarded with my dead boyfriend back,' Rose said, smiling at Winry weakly.
Winry put up both hands, 'Of course I don't! I think they were cruel to use such a thing to get to you. There is nothing stupid about wanting a loved one back. If it wasn't for Ed and Al I suppose I would believe in anything if it would give me my parents back.'
Rose sat down in front of Winry, 'It must have been difficult to see them in that state. Were they always so ready to get their bodies back?'
Winry traced back through her memory, 'Al stood before me, a soul attached to a suit of armour, but the moment he spoke I knew nothing had changed. Ed took it much harder and disappeared in to a dark place we couldn't get him back from. Then one day a man and woman from the military appeared. I don't know what was said to him but Ed seemed to come back round. He wasn't exactly the boy I had grown up with, I couldn't expect him to be, but there was a fire burning within him. From that day I swore I would help them any way I could so…so…'
Winry trailed off before she could finish voicing that thought. She had already gone over this in her head time and time again. What could such independent young men find appealing in Rizembol? Of course it wasn't for the benefit of the village she'd want them to return but there was no way she'd be selfish enough to ask them to return just for her.
'Just an old friend you say?' Rose said, smiling into her cup.
Winry flushed bright red, 'Of course that's all he is! Why would you even ask?'
'Oh I don't know,' Rose sighed, shrugging her shoulders, 'a strong body, a good soul and intense golden eyes that shine like a fire is burning within…'
'I GET IT,' Winry snapped, before burying her face in her hands to hide her increasing embarrassment.
'Just…don't let anyone use whatever feelings you do have…as a weapon.'
Winry uncovered her face to look Rose square in the eye. An invisible understanding passed between them and Winry nodded lightly to show she understood.
'Let's go see if we can find Al, shall we Winry?'
With her knees drawn up to her chest and only some fresh air coming in, Winry wondered just how she had ended up in an empty water carrier. She felt stuffy and rather claustrophobic as the train bumped along. She could hear the conversations of the soldiers around her and so many voices speaking of war and devastation. She wanted to cover her ears and drown them out but she desperately sought any news of Ed's whereabouts. None came.
Her last moments with Al had packed her head with more information than she was sure she could handle. What had stuck in her mind clearly was the "Promised Day" that she had been warned was coming soon. From what she could understand they would all be affected; they were all in danger from this strange man hidden underground. Part of her longed for an alternative life, where such worries were never a part of her existence. She had requested nobody hide anything from her anymore so she only had herself to blame, but the child in her wanted to cover her eyes and pretend it wasn't happening.
She felt the train come to a halt and the familiar smells of her surroundings filtered through. A voice whispered harshly to her.
'Miss, we need to seal the lid for a moment. It won't be long.'
With all light shut out she was bumped about in her little tomb as they unloaded her from the train. Sure enough though they soon released the catch so some sun and air was allowed to find it's way to her. Rolling along on wheels was a little easier but she couldn't wait to get out.
'Miss, we're here,' the soldier from before said, lifting the lid.
With a gasp of breath she thanked the men and stretched her aching legs. Her other guard told her the door was locked as she eased herself on to solid ground.
'Today's the Spring Sheep Festival,' she explained, 'Grandma and Den must still be there. This way, we can get in through the back door.'
Stepping back into her own house she felt a new sense of relief. Though she still wasn't alone she knew a soft bed welcomed her at the tops of the stairs. She would have to wash and change too after being stuck in that barrel. Pushing open the door to her room she was greeted by darkness. Regretfully flicking on the light her heavy eyes relaxed and the familiarity of her own room meant she didn't bump into something. Pulling open her closet and seeking out some clean clothes she could feel that there was a thin layer of dust on each surface. She muttered to herself about cleaning up and she peeling off her oversized shirt.
Grabbing the bottom of her top and pulling it up to just below her bust her eyes finally darted across the room. The last thing she had expected was to be greeted with a pair of shining, burning, golden eyes. The sudden shock and embarrassment of what she nearly done revealed itself in a vocal outburst.
The next few moments were a blur. First her bodyguards burst in, then the men who had arrived with Ed who had also cried out in surprise. Next the familiar sound of her faithful dog Den, first barking and then yelping in surprise as a familiar face picked her up by her scruff.
'Ling?' she called out.
'Oh, you know him?' he replied.
Unable to inquire about his odd response due to the arguments and noise around her Winry was unable to control her temper. A loud cry of frustration and the brandishing of a spare wrench and the men were cast from her room at top speed. She whipped round to Ed, ready to give him the earful he deserved, when all the worry she had bottled up for him stopped her in her tracks.
Holding back the tears she mumbled, 'I was so scared…'
He stumbled a couple of times before replying, 'Y...yeah…I'm really sorry…I'm glad you're safe too.'
She took a deep breath to force back the tears that tried to form, before giving him a beating for the previous embarrassment. Angry and somewhat ashamed she grabbed the shirt she was wearing and threw it back over her shoulders.
'What's all this now? There are more of you filthy bums dirtying up my house now? Winry?'
'Grandma!' Winry cried, setting eyes upon her guardian finally.
'Thank goodness you're alright,' her grandmother sighed.
'Yeah, sorry I worried you,' Winry replied, a little taken aback by the tenderness in her grandmothers voice. Though there was no doubt she loved her, her grandmother was not one for sentiment and affection.
'Now who are they?' Pinako demanded, back to her old self.
As the men explained themselves, Winry took a closer look at Ling. His foolish grin had been replaced with a more sinister look and his clothes were now all black.
'Ling, something seems different about you,' she stated.
'Oops, I guess I never told you,' Ed mumbled.
'I'm Greed, nice to meet you,' Ling…Greed replied.
With a confused look she turned back to Ed, who sighed and instructed, 'Let's go down to the basement, I'll explain there.'
It wasn't the most detailed explanation she had ever been given but she knew enough to get a better idea of the situation. Ling had offered his body to the homunculus Greed and he had broken away from the other creatures and had joined forced with Ed on the understanding Ed was actually working for him. Such a motley crew couldn't wander round free so they were hiding.
'Why did you come back here though? Hiding in Central would have been a lot easier,' she stated.
'Because I said so,' Greed said in a matter of fact tone, 'There's no way to tell where they have eyes in Central. Plus I gotta make sure his automail is all tuned up.'
'You better get to work Winry,' Grandma Pinako suggested behind her, 'you made all his latest stuff, I can't do the retuning.'
'That's right,' Winry muttered. Standing up quickly she commanded Ed upstairs.
'We better do this in my room. Everyone else should stay down here!'
Greed gave a sinister looking side grin, 'Only his automail, I don't expect you to give his whole body a work over…'
'If I had said something like that you'd have beaten me to death,' Ed grumbled as Winry focussed on her work.
'You aren't a half-human, half-demon prince from a far off country.'
'I do apologise for not being so interesting…'
'I didn't say it was interesting! I just don't know who he is anymore, or what he's capable of!'
'Now you're saying he's stronger than me!'
They had been sniping like this from the moment he had sat down and she had set to work. His temper was unreadable and she was finding it hard to keep her own. There wasn't too much to be done but the time dragged painfully by. There was so much she wanted to say but in the mood he was in she dare not.
'I met Rose,' she said carefully.
'Oh? You went to Reole?'
'Yes,' she sighed, grateful she seemed to have found some calm ground, 'they are rebuilding the city with their own hands. Rose said she is grateful to you and Al for revealing to them the lie that was being fed to them. I think she would have liked to have seen you again.'
She turned away when she said this to hide her face. There was a moment of silence as she began to tidy her tools. Finally it was Edward who spoke again.
'So Reole's starting to prosper again. That's good, I always wondered how they made out. And Al?'
'He's working with Mr Miles,' Winry explained, surprised he hadn't asked about his brother sooner, 'they can plan much better with an Alchemist who knows about everything on the team. Your Father went to Central ahead of him. He's in some slum called "Kanama", you should go see him and explain the situation.'
Finally able to turn and face him again she asked, 'So do you know anything about this "Promised Day" stuff?'
He frowned slightly and looked toward the floor, 'Yeah, Greed told me. That day will be a chance for us to get our bodied back…the day Amestris might be obliterated.'
She turned away again, unable to say anything. She concentrated on cleaning her tools thoroughly when he called her attention on him.
'Hey,' he sighed with a heavy voice, 'take Grandma and Den and go hide in a different country.'
She clenched her fist, which happened to fall on one of her wrenches. Landing a powerful blow on his head she snapped.
'Are you serious? What's the point of telling only your friends and family to run? Are you saying you can't stop all that from happening.'
'We can stop it!' he cried, recovering himself, 'and we will! But there is a small chance…'
'There's no small chance, there's no nothing!' she shouted back, 'You have to stop those guys and protect our country! And you and Al have to get your original bodies back! And I have to do whatever I can to help!'
He was surprised by her outburst at first, but then he grew annoyed with it. He wasn't angry at her as such, just at the situation. Looking down into her tight frown he sighed and broke their gaze.
'Geez, talk about simplifying things…' he grumbled as he picked up his shirt and made for the door.
'Now what? You never give in that easily!' she called from behind him. He had had enough of arguing with her and ignored her last cry for his attention as he slammed the door behind himself.
She glared at the door behind him before giving in to her upset and letting her eyes fall to the floor. Something just wasn't the same anymore and he wouldn't even argue with her. Her heart began to flutter with panic as her oldest fear was making itself apparent. He was breaking away from her so much he would no longer have a conversation with her. She shouldn't have hit him again.
Flopping down in to the seat he had just been sat in she looked at her hands. She had a scar or two from the mistakes she had made while Granny taught her how to work on automail. The odd mark where a callus might have once sat. She had even broken a nail on her thumb. They were the hands of a mechanic, and to him it was all they would ever be.
'Winry! They are leaving!' Grandma called from downstairs. She didn't want to wave him goodbye this time, there was something too final about it this time. She slowly descended the stairs to find everyone on the dark porch outside.
'Thanks Winry, Grandma!' Ed called over his shoulder.
'You gonna be okay?' Pinako asked, 'The trains don't run at this hour.'
'We're all outsiders,' Greed replied, 'It's easier for us to just slip back into the shadows.'
'And that Promised Day is almost here,' Ed added, 'we can't waste any time.'
As he turned back away from her, Winry finally managed to utter, 'Make sure you listen to what your dad has to say Ed.'
'Yeah yeah,' he said waving, 'and you make sure you stay hidden.'
She resolved that this was all the goodbye she would get until Ed turned back to her with a smile on his face.
'I'll be back when all this "promised" crap is over,' he informed her, 'So bake me an apple pie and keep it warm.'
She froze up. Inside her emotions danced about each other like children at a party and were just as awkward and out of control. She had built herself up for the last goodbye she would ever say to Edward Elric, but something in his voice made her believe every word of what he had said. He was almost out of sight before her chest finally permitted her one final cry.