The general-in-chief could not delay any longer. Treize turned to the business at hand, and spread maps on a desk his aide had set up in the kitchen. They began to discuss post-battle strategies and to make assessments of the day.
Lucrezia said that the Rebels called the fight the Battle of Alna--for the tributary nearby. Zechs, with his icy eyes and graceful nose, added that he heard the Alliance considered Oslo a victory for themselves. That statement caused grumbling from the others. It was more certainly a victory for the Rebels.
"What do you consider this day?" Treize looked to Relena, who watched the war conference with interest.
"Yes, you were in the middle of the fight. Which side do you think was favored?"
"I-I don't know, sir. Your troops held at the sunken road and at the White Church."
"And at the woods, General." Lucrezia concurred.
"So, could the victory be ours?" Treize asked, and the words hung in the air like the smoke of battle outside.
"I would venture to say so." Heero arrived from the field, removing his tan riding gloves. When he saw Relena, he bowed and took off his hat with a grand gesture. She breathed a sigh of unexpected relief; he was safe! But then she closed her eyes; he was the enemy. She was a pacifist woman.
He frowned when he saw his adjutant. "How are you, Trowa?"
"I've been better. Miss Relena's taking care of me."
The general smiled a gentle smile. "Then I've no doubt you'll be well soon."
"There is my Old War-horse." General Treize was happy to see Heero and shook his hand with more than a little conviction. "Let us hear what he has to say."
Heero and Treize exited to another room, while the other two generals continued to survey the maps in front of them. Hospital orderlies finally made their way into the farmhouse, and Trowa protested, but allowed them to assist him outside. "Relena, I must see to Heero's horse."
"We'll find someone to take care of the horses." She stared after him as he became just another wounded soldier in the distant, ravaged fields of the Schbeiker farm. Troops from both sides were collecting dead and wounded, burying who they could, under a flag of truce. Perhaps, now would be the time for escape. Heero was busy, the landscape was still confused.
But she did not have the energy to undertake such a journey that day. She did not have the energy to try to explain to the Alliance troops how she appeared from the enemy side. No, Relena was safe and should be thankful for that. If her husband had had his way, she would be swinging from a tree limb by now.
Again, she surveyed the scene in front of her. It was surreal, like a painting from a book. She could not seem to pinpoint any specific sight she had witnessed, but her stomach churned with the memory of stepping from the door of the house for the first time.
Relena looked around her. Where was Duo? He had been so kind to her, so concerned for her well-being. A wooden fence separated the orchard from the fields and he stood by it, as the moon rose, illuminating the dark blue sky; illuminating the mangled bodies that littered the ground in front of him. The spilled intestines and missing limbs were blurred by the darkness; the wounded were falsely at peace.
"Why are you standing here, watching them?" Relena leaned on the fence beside him.
Duo smiled when he saw her. Even covered in blood and dirt, she was striking. "All that's left now is for the Good Lord to take them to a better place." His face matched hers in dirt, grime, and soot.
Suddenly, a song from her youth came to mind; it was an old hymn that had been sung at church on Sunday. She remembered holding her father's hand, listening to her mother's sweet soprano voice. Relena began humming as memories came flooding back.
"That sure is fine." Duo watched her.
The song seemed right, the perfect eulogy for all the men who had been killed on the fields and in the orchard. And for the thousands she could not see in the woods, at the church, and at the sunken road, appropriately renamed Bloody Lane.
How Sweet the Sound,
That Saved a Wretch Like Me...'
Heero stopped at the door to the farmhouse, her voice beckoning him like water to a thirsty man. It was odd. The leaders were discussing where Heero had been. He had helped a displaced family in Oslo, had given orders for the following day, and then realized he should report in. As he was telling this to Treize, her voice floated through the shell-shocked trees and into the cracked and shattered windows of the house. First Treize had looked to the sound, then the god-fearing Zechs, then finally the others. They all felt a lump in their throats, a clench in their hearts, and an ache in their chests.
'I Once Was Lost,
But Now am Found,
Was Blind But Now I See.'
The sweet, sad melody echoed into the night and not another sound was heard. Both Alliance and Rebel officers stopped shouting orders. Both Alliance and Rebel soldiers let the song take them back to the comforting arms of their mothers. Wagons rumbling, canteens clinking, shovels digging into the soft ground soon fell silent.
'Twas Faith That Taught,
My Heart to Feel...
And Grace My Fears Relieved
How Precious Did that Grace Appear
The Hour I first Believed.'
Humiliating tears came to Heero's eyes. What was happening? How could this woman, who appeared out of nowhere, have such a profound affect on him? He was married, an officer whose first duty was to the Rebel Cause.
He saw Duo move closer to her, letting the tension drain away with each note. Heero knew he should mind his own business, even encourage a relationship. Duo deserved someone. His friend was a hard worker, a good man, one who would make any woman proud.
But he could not do it. "Duo?"
Surprised, Duo stood straight, saluted. "Yes, General?"
"Help the others with the ordnance. Arrange for a meeting of the officers in my tent in, say, two hours."
With the aide gone, Heero resumed his walk from the kitchen door to Relena's side. "Thank you for your help--with Trowa, I mean."
"You're welcome." There was silence. "You do that a lot."
"Send Duo away when you see him talking to me."
"Captain Maxwell has responsibilities--twenty four hours a day."
He stroked his chin. "Like me."
"I must admit I was worried about you, Heero."
"Well," The word hung in the air, "there was no need."
"It was such an awful day."
"You get used to war." Heero paused. "I'm sorry you had to be here."
"I've gained quite an appreciation for life, believe me." There was a sad hint of sarcasm in her voice.
"Maybe I should let you go. Perhaps it is too dangerous."
Panicked tightened her chest. Please, don't send me away. "Are you expecting another fight?"
The general shook his head. "No, the Alliance is pulling out. We'll move back into Stockholm--for supplies, I suppose. You can stay, if you wish. Until you contact your husband, at least."
They fell silent again. Relena desperately needed to sink into safe arms and standing next to the stolid general made her head spin.
"That song--Amazing Grace? What made you sing it?"
"I remember going to church with my mother, hearing her sing. It seemed fitting somehow."
"Hmmm." Was all he said. "It's pretty."
"It is." She looked into his tired, kind eyes. "You must be exhausted."
He straightened up, took off his hat. Her staring unnerved him. "I'm never exhausted. Relena, do you love your husband?"
He asked that so quickly, so unexpectedly, she was not even sure he had. How she wanted to tell him that she had no one, and was so very lonely. "We argue all the time. How could I love someone that would give so little thought to my well-being?"
"Pray I never meet up with him..."
Relena was taken aback. "Why?"
"Because of the danger he put you in, leaving you with the enemy, practically handing you to us."
"You aren't really the enemy, are you?"
"You thought I was when you first got here." A pause. "And vice versa."
"That seems like ages ago."
He stepped away, offering her the path in front of him. They began the walk to her tent. "Ah, but it wasn't. It was but two days ago. And you had better get some sleep."
Heero held his arm to her, and she gratefully took it. Everything was getting so confused, so complicated. She almost did not want to go home. Relena was forgetting everything: her family, her duty to her husband. That life was being replaced by a new one. And in that new one, she had found companionship with Duo and Heero--people who wanted to take care of her. It was a nice feeling. One she was not anxious to give up.
A/N: Thanks for reading! I hope y'all enjoyed the story! All your reviews were greatly appreciated, and my next GW story is in the making! Thanks again!...see ya next time!
--March 1, 2009-- Okay, so there's been a lot of worried reviews regarding the end of Amazing Grace and I have decided to start writing a sequal to it. Originally that was how it was meant to end but due to all your reviews and support I've decided to continue! As well my good friend Jonathan (a fellow GW fanatic) has decided to help me write the sequal which should be posted soon. Thank you fellow Gundam Wing fans, thank you!--