Garden of Eden
By Salina M L
Originally, I had planned for this to be an extremely long one-shot, but then I decided to split it into three parts so it's easier on the eyes and on the mind. The other parts are all ready to go, but I'll post them on the following days.
I've been a secret AlWin lover since the start, but to be honest, I never thought that I would actually play on that feeling and write anything for them.
This is an AUish piece because the conclusion to the series has been altered right before the movie, and it will contain spoilers up to that point. Lastly, the movie ages are used here.
Disclaimer: I don't own Fullmetal Alchemist. All of the characters belong to Hiromu Arakawa. The only thing in this story that I own is the garden and the plot itself.
Garden of Eden
"What's a soul anyway? Without the myth, it's just a spark of light."
- Edward Elric
The Heavens describe the Garden as a peaceful paradise.
The Hells describe the Garden as a baneful prison.
In this place…
Which is it?
Part 1: The Garden
"Al, are you awake?"
Almond eyes peeled open to gaze serenely at the girl in the entryway. "… Winry…"
He had been dreaming. It was a dream he hadn't seen for awhile now; plunging him back into the memories of the events that had served to originally bring him to this forsaken place. Yet when he would wake up, the memories would vanish once more for reasons he didn't understand.
"Oh…" She quickly made her way over to him, the quiet clicking of her heels echoing in the large space. "You were still sleeping? Sorry, I shouldn't have woken you…"
He looked at her for a moment, surprise clearly evident in his eyes, before he blinked slowly and pulled himself up from his haphazard position on the floor so he could sit fully on his bold red overcoat, make that formally his brother's overcoat. "No. Not really, anyway. Sleep is the only thing I can do by myself down here…"
It was the decision of the new government that took over after the fall of Fuhrer Bradley; the group that took control of the state and away from the military which had been deemed corrupt. In order to do so, they needed to go through and audit every single file the military kept on record, down to the bare nook and cranny. It was all to pick up where the military left off. Which of course meant sorting through every last sheet of paper in the military's top secret folders…
Anyone could imagine the priceless expressions on their faces when all of the ludicrous junk of what had been going on behind the military's back was brought to light. It was an almost comical sequence of events really; the very person who was charged with maintaining order throughout the state was more shifty than a person with a link to the mafia.
However, that also meant what the military tried to cover-up was revealed. Any illegal act had been properly coded and categorized which also included, anyone could guess, the countless attempts of human transmutation. Of course, people such as Mustang and the late Brigadier General, Basque Gran, had conveniently kept that tidbit of information top secret. The same went for Fuhrer Bradley and his secretary, Juliet Douglas, whose true identities were still to remain anonymous.
Now, keeping with the old tradition of the military, the penalty for attempted human transmutation was execution. However, given the circumstances with the new government, that was deemed barbaric, so a different form of punishment was instilled. Though for what reason did they go to such great lengths, only they could be certain. After all, anyone who had attempted the forbidden art or had been affiliated with it was either dead or had disappeared into thin air… not that anyone would believe that.
That is, all but one. From that day forward, Alphonse Elric's home was the almost long-forgotten dungeons far below the sewers that ran underneath the Central Military Headquarters, due to the close proximity they were to the Underground City. One could only imagine the looks on the executive's faces when they stumbled upon that place.
Naturally, when the decision of imprisonment came about, many of his friends from home and, according to Winry, the ones he had met on his journey, had told him to run away from the state. The opportunity was there, and they even offered to lend him a helping hand in the escape, but Al politely declined. For him, no matter how bad things could get, Amestris was still his home and he loved it. So leaving was simply not an option.
"Have you… gotten used to living down here?" Winry asked as she slowly sat down on the cold dungeon grounds in front of him. She placed the dimly lit lantern by her side, and stared at him with sad eyes.
He shrugged slowly. "Hmm… how long has it been?" He asked.
"Almost a month now."
The dungeon was a rather large place, the least Mustang could do for being apart of the dilemma in the first place. He told the State Council that Al was still thirteen years old, still a young teenager, and that it would be heartless to keep him in a small cell isolated from the rest of the world entirely. He always did have the uncanny ability to persuade others, and it worked just the same with the representatives… or perhaps it was because of his alchemic glove being conveniently present at the time. Nevertheless, they had granted this request, and one last wish; Al could choose only one person, and one person only to visit him periodically in the dungeons. Although, they still put up some fancy excuse saying that it was 'dangerous' to have him in contact with too many people.
For him, given the current circumstances, the choice was obvious. He chose Winry.
He didn't know exactly how the dungeons worked. There was a dumbwaiter in the far corner of the room that brought him his daily nourishments, and one small window high up in the ceiling that, for some strange reason, only admitted moonlight and nothing else. Other than that, there was not much in the way of illumination, other than a small fixture at the entrance to the space. Then of course when Winry came down to visit him, she always brought a lantern down into the dungeons with her to navigate through the sealed corridors. Whenever he saw the light, it was a sign that she was coming to visit him, and immediately brightened his day.
The sad thing was, it literally did so as well.
"I guess I just got used to it." He replied to her earlier question. "It's kind of fulfilling, too. Now I can read books and indulge myself in hobbies all day long without anybody interrupting." Even in the gloomiest of situations, he still managed a light-hearted chuckle.
Winry recognized the hint of sarcasm and laughed uneasily. "Haha, is that so…?" She then turned to the side and stared at the strange plants that were sprouting in the dungeon. "It amazes me how they can grow here… with no light or water."
He gave her a cheeky, little grin. "All they need are my natural ability for nurturing, Winry!"
She rolled her eyes. "Right, right. Here, I brought some rice for you." She was beginning to wonder if Elrics in general had some sort of fetish with rice.
The small assortment of books Winry had managed to bring down with her were a few her Grandmother had let her take and the charred remains of a few alchemy books she had managed to salvage from the ruins of the Elric home. The ones she had found were a bit crispy, but still legible, and Al was ecstatic. Even if they were only on the basics of alchemy, he still couldn't get sick of them. Then after reading for awhile, he would off-handily mention something about his brother, so she brought everything she had managed to save in the hopes that it would help restore his lost memory.
One day however, he was so bored, he picked up one of the gardening books Winry had brought down with her, which happened to have belonged to Pinako, and a somewhat amusing idea formed in Al's head. Thus was born his rather peculiar request for Winry to bring him a few bags of soil, seeds and plant bulbs. Using his alchemy and the supplies, while tweaking it so that it photosynthesized with the moonlight, he filled the, otherwise desolate dungeon, with unique plant life.
When Winry had questioned him about why he had taken up gardening, he simply replied that it reminded him of her. Of course, he had received a good punch in the shoulder for that unorthodox comment. He chuckled and told her that it reminded him of the time when they were little, when they would plant bulbs in the beginning of the Spring together. It was true, even when she was simply picking flowers, Al would be the first in line to help her gather them, even before Nelly. It got to the point when their gardens actually took up the entire Rockbell backyard and Pinako didn't have to worry about them being properly cared for.
She had giggled at the memory. Ed would always chuff while scuffing his foot, saying that it was boring and that Al should quit acting like a girl. Which promptly resulted in Ed getting a mouthful of soil. Yet she felt elated at the mere thought that Al held onto that distant memory, but the feeling had quickly clouded over when she remembered that it would be easy for him to recall those memories. So many years had passed since then, but to him the memories would still be fresh…
Nonetheless, she came here everyday, and he really appreciated her company.
After eating in silence for awhile, Al spoke in a uncharacteristically quiet voice. "Winry, aren't you still living in Rush Valley with Dominic and Paninya? So you can get an apprenticeship?"
Winry laughed. "I finished that a long time ago. Passed with flying colours might I add. " She pointed to herself proudly. "Now I'm back in Resembool with Grandma and Den." Well, that wasn't exactly true. Since Al's imprisonment, she had begun living with Gracia and Elysia at the Hughes residence so she could be closer to where he was being held. At first, she had planned to stay in a hotel, but Gracia wouldn't hear of it, and Elysia was equally as enthusiastic.
Her smile then died, and her face turned serious. "Is there something wrong, Al? Why the sudden change of heart?"
He didn't turn to look at her, which was odd unto itself, but she saw his eyes darken. "Winry, it's just…"
She tilted her head to the side, looking at him curiously. "What is it?"
"Well… you know… with the new government… you don't want to get on their bad side. They could… they definitely don't approve of you coming to see me…"
There, he said it. He knew he was asking too much from Winry when he asked her to become his only visitor during his life imprisonment. It came with a horrible cost, too. Although she didn't say anything, Al knew that the members of the State Government were talking behind Winry's back for coming to see him everyday. A sympathizer of one who not only broke the law, but was a sinner, was not kindly looked upon.
She blinked a few times before breaking into a cute smile that always made his insides warm. "If you're that worried, maybe I should live here then?"
"… Winry, that's not funny."
She rubbed the back of her head a bit sheepishly. "I know, sorry. Okay, okay, I'll go. I'll admit, though…" She smirked a bit. "Dominic wasn't exactly easy on me, and Granny was no different. It's actually kinda nice to get away from it for a little while."
They both shared a good laugh.
She suddenly reached forward and, ever so gently, placed her cool palm on his cheek. His eyes widened and he felt his cheek begin to warm. Misinterpreting his meaning, she quickly recoiled. "Sorry… it's just that… you left so quickly the last time I saw you that I never got the chance. It's been so long…"
He just sat there, blinking stupidly for a moment until her words finally registered and he quickly flailed his arms. "N-no, that's okay! Really!" He squeaked, nervously tugging on his black shirt. After another moment of a surprisingly comfortable silence, he spoke up again, once again in a hushed tone. "Hey, Winry?"
"Could you do me a favour…?" He asked timidly, turning around to rummage through something she couldn't quite see from her angle.
"Sure, Al. What is it?" She asked, her curiosity once again peaked.
When he turned around, he had a small bundle of flowers in his arms. "Could you go to Dublith and… put these on my Sensei's grave in my stead?"
She almost looked offended. "Al! Don't say it like it's a chore. Of course I will!" She chimed as she carefully took the bunch of daffodils, lavenders and other assorted flowers.
"Thanks, Winry… for everything." He added with a hint of pride.
She adjusted her grip on the bouquet so it rested against her chest before smiling at him. "No problem. Goodnight, Al." She stood, and picked up the lantern.
"Goodnight, Winry." He said, unmoving from his sitting position. The two always ended the meeting like so, and Al never let his eyes move away from the light that was slowly drifting away from him.
Inside, he was slowly tearing himself apart. He knew what he had just said to Winry was for her own good… boy, did that sound familiar. Even though she held a prestigious position as a friend to the Hughes family, who were friends with many of the military personnel he had met, and he was certain that they would protect her if anything did arise. However, no one can ever be too careful, and she could be in danger if she continued her visits regularly.
However, in truth, he didn't want to see her go. He wished that days like this would never end.
Al sighed, and went back to sleep.
From the sealed corridors, a small light and a loud voice rang out that he could've sworn shook the surrounding walls. "You're so loud sometimes, Winry!" He replied in an equally loud voice, which almost startled himself. He immediately regretted it though and gritted his teeth, for he knew what was coming.
Clutching his head, he peered up. Sure enough, there she was, in all of her menacing glory with her wrench in hand. "Idiot! Alphonse! I'm soooo pissed!"
He grinned sheepishly up at her.
Honestly, some things would never change.
He struggled to get back up from the ground, still feeling a little dizzy due to the smack from her wrench that had knocked him back a good few yards. "Please, Winry. Not too loud. It might affect the plants…"
She didn't seem to be listening. "Arrrgggh, damn it! Those prim, jackasses need to die a long, slow death!"
Ever since he was imprisoned, the days started to get more desolate than ever. He could never tell if it was night or day unless the moon shone through the window, and unless he asked Winry he couldn't even tell what time it was and how many days had passed since 'that day', or be aware of events happening in the outside world.
Al sighed. "What is it this time?" He finally asked.
Immediately she started flailing her arms about. "NOW they're questioning how Mustang runs his sector, and even if Riza-sama is doing her job right! I actually accepted a part-time job in helping around the office, like sorting files and whatnot so I could help out Gracia-san financially. THEN they accuse ME of being lazy! Those bastards! I'd love to see them try do what I do! Most of them are already so old anyway. They should just go home and live the rest of their short remaining lives out during nap time!"
Al's eyes were bulging by this point. She was really pissed off, but he brushed it off knowing it, believe it or not, was just like any other day.
The tasks in the day and a life of Alphonse Elric were simple, really. Wake up, maybe read a bit, eat a little, and tend to his garden. However, unfortunately for him, he found himself handling another task; listening to Winry's rants. He counted that it had been about a year since the new government first took office and began 'keeping up to date with the military's actions,' which was more like 'destroying everything within a ten mile radius.'
Of course, being close to Mustang and the others in the office, Winry had to deal with something very troublesome called politics, whether she liked it or not- which she certainly didn't… obviously.
From what she had been telling him, although the remaining officials, such as General Hakuro, were actually handling the job well, the relationships between the military and the government were just not meant to be. With Winry in the room during the times when they carelessly went through the folders she had just neatly filed away, she was really beginning to hate those old men who had nothing to contribute, other than barking orders. She once came down to the dungeons slightly drunk, but he had gotten sad at the sight of her being reduced to that because of those men. He actually cursed them under his breath, and she had been so shocked that she never even looked at another bottle of alcohol. So instead, she came down and either went on a long rant, and (often) smacked him with her wrench. However, over time he grew to learn that she never hit him as hard as she probably could, and he was thankful for the thick skull he was given to withstand it.
It must run in his family, he presumed.
"Don't worry about it, Winry!" He gave her a bright smile, attempting to cheer her up. Then a slightly impish thought sprung to mind. "Maybe one day the Colonel will get fed up and he'll set them ablaze. That will send them running!"
"… uuugggh… bastards…" She muttered, dropping down on her knees in front of him.
And thus the rants continued.
Still, speaking with Winry was the only way Al could get information on the outside world. Sometimes, he would teach her a few tips and give advice on her life. The latter of which was often turned down, but it really made him happy when she thanked him for it. It was his way of still feeling useful.
"But, sheesh…" She ceased her warring attitude and casually glanced around at the plants that surrounded her. "There's so many now…" She reached forward and gently let her finger run across the soft, velvety surface of a daisy. The face on the flower almost seemed to be smiling.
He instantly beamed. "I planted many seeds of fruits and vegetables too. They should be blooming into flowers soon as well!"
She furrowed her brows in confusion. "Already? Isn't it a bit too early?"
He looked surprised. "Huh, really? It's Spring so… they should be fine. It's been only half a year, right?"
Al could've sworn Winry's figure had suddenly frozen over. "Win… ry?" He began cautiously. "Is everything okay?"
She blinked and shook her head vigorously. "Yeah, of course, Al. I was just thinking about something I need to do tomorrow…"
He continued to stare at her for a moment longer until, what was usually a comfortable silence, grew to be awkward. He cleared his throat, deciding to indulge on another subject. "Oh yeah, so how is everyone doing?"
"Hmm?" She raised her brow at him.
"You know, like Auntie Pinako, Colonel Mustang, and Hawkeye-san. How about Rose and her son? How is his speech coming along? He was just starting to form sentences the last I heard."
"…" She didn't reply.
Al had a sinking feeling coming inside of him. "… don't tell me they-"
She chuckled and turned, flashing him a reassuring smile. "What's with the long face, Al? Don't worry, everyone's fine. Actually…" A fond little smile crossed her features. "Rose met someone awhile back, someone who didn't mind the fact that she already had a child. When she told me, I could hardly contain myself."
Al's face had already lit up. "She did? That's great! Hey, give her my best, would you?"
She nodded. "Of course, and…" She looked around before she leaned in towards him, and Al couldn't help but chuckle at the way she pretended that everything was normal. It made him feel elated. "This is something I suspect, but I should tell you first that Mustang gave up his position as a Colonel."
Al's eyes widened. "Really?"
"Yup, then he took up a simple title as an officer and went up North. I don't know all the details, really. However, he returned recently, and I think that he and Riza-sama have finally gotten together. In secret of course…"
At the moment, he was just enjoying the way her sparkling blue eyes would light up as she went on about the lives their friends currently led. "Well, I'm glad everyone is okay. You had me worried there for a second, Winry!"
She shook her head. "You're such a worrywart…" She suddenly turned serious as she seemed to remember something. "I went to visit your teacher's grave…" She started out. "And I gave her your flowers and prayed in your stead…"
He gave her a small, but grateful smile. "Thanks, Winry. That means a lot…"
They were silent for a moment.
"And… I saw Wrath there…"
Immediately his head shot up in her direction. "Wrath?" He questioned again to be sure.
She nodded. "Yup. He was in pretty rough shape, so I brought him back to Resembool with me on one of my trips home and repaired his automail for him, but he left again soon after."
"You-" A hostile frown had now fully set across his features. "You brought him home with you?" He couldn't even believe what he was hearing. "Winry! He's dangerous! What if he'd decided to hurt you or Auntie Pinako?!"
"Al…" She rubbed her temples in exasperation. "The possibility DID cross my mind, but then I thought about it… he really would have no reason to. He's alone now. Anyone who had once influenced him is gone… right?" All he could do was shrug weakly and she felt a tug in her chest. "Sorry…" She bowed her head, livid with herself for putting him on the spot like that.
He didn't even waste a second. "Hey, hey! It's okay, Winry, really!" He pulled himself up and crouched down in front of her. "It's not your fault. Maybe one day I'll be able to remember…" He reached forward and rested his gloved hand on her shoulder.
"Yeah…" Her voice quivered slightly as she lifted her head back up.
Her eyes shifted to something behind him and he looked as well. She was looking at the flowers again, seemingly mesmerized by their appearance. Turning back around he went to snap her out of it, but paused. Her bright sapphire eyes were curious while her eyebrows were tilted ever so slightly, giving off a noble, carefree air about her. The plants which grew in the morbid dungeon seemed to emit a light of their own and reflected off of her irises, casting an ethereal glow, and made her already pale skin look as if it was carved out of ivory.
Without even realizing it, as if to satisfy the reason for his face being suspiciously warm, he had slowly pulled off the glove of his right hand and had gently cupped it over her cheek. As if she had been stung by his touch, she immediately snapped her attention back to him, looking quite befuddled, to say the least.
He blushed scarlet and quickly drew back. "S-sorry…" He stuttered.
She waved it off. "Don't worry about it." She raised an eyebrow at his quirky behaviour. "What's with you?" She added in amusement.
"Your skin…" He stated simply, his eyes never leaving his right hand. "It's just as soft as it was when you were a little girl…"
She blushed a little in return. "Um… thanks?" She suddenly glanced behind her. "Ah, I should be going now."
He felt his spirits dampen immediately. "So soon?" She nodded regretfully, she seemed a bit anxious. "… okay."
"Goodnight, Al." She approached him and gave him a small comforting hug. On her way out, she turned back to him, waving her free hand in farewell before disappearing across the sealed corridors.
The conversation they shared today was just like all the other conversations they had since she started visiting him. So why did she freeze up like that? Did he say something wrong? Maybe… asking about everyone dug up some touchy memories he couldn't recall about his brother? He didn't question Winry about it though, not that he really wanted to. They both knew that topic was taboo.
If one day he ever was released, he would find a way to bring his brother home so they could all be together again. Just like the good old days.
That was the first rift.
Hmm, parting is always such sweet sorrow…
I hope you guys are enjoying this so far.