I know… an update. Sorry guys for the delay. Graduation…college… life just got in the way. Please excuse the mistakes. I have no beta.
Also I know my writing has slowed down. My other account is virtually dead. But on a positive note, FMA is the only fandom I still have inspiration to write for. So you WILL be seeing me in the future!
But here is the final installment for Healing Beauty. It has been written, rewritten, and revised for your ultimate enjoyment. Reviews would be lovely.
Disclaimer: I do not own FMA.
A few weeks later…
The ever nagging and unsettling feeling of being watched never left Winry as she worked on through the following weeks. Yet each time she would casually wipe the back of her hand against her brow and give a quick glance around. No one she could see was paying her any mind. The day crawled by in a steady blur; slow but with no opportunity to remain idle. The hospital had arrived to a state of physical and mental exhaustion, moving forward was nearly impossible yet they knew that they must.
Bernice's personality had simmered down since the heavy flow of patients and work but it had definitely not died. Walking towards the east side of the room with a bundle of wildflowers in hand, she was graced the smirking blood red lips of the elder nurse.
"Taking notes from the witch woman, Winny, dear?"
Winry walked on, familiar with the old taunt. Her personality never allowed for confrontation easily. Whenever she did lash out in anger, whether she'd been in the right or not, she always ended up feeling worse about herself and weak. Not responding was her way of retaliation. It was the Lord that said if you were kind to your enemies it was the same as pouring hot coals over their heads. This thought brought the dimple back to her cheek. Maybe she should make a little more effort to be nice…
But on a somber note, it was not wise for these wounded to witness their nurses quarreling amongst themselves.
"You have far more patience than I ever could." It was the first time Lt. Edward had spoken in greeting. She was both surprised and pleased; the former that he had even been listening to the conversation.
"A nurse must have that kind of patience, Lt. Elric, for dealing with stubborn patients like you."
He took her jab with only quick glare. "Edward. Please. I'm sick of any sort of status and I don't need to be reminded of it."
"Okay then, Edward."
They fell into the familiar patient/nurse silence and Winry took the opportunity to unravel one of the small bundles of wildflowers and place them in an old canning jar on his bedside table. By chance she caught the look in his eyes and the nearly horizontal position in his eyebrows and nearly laughed.
"Don't worry, Edward, I'm not wooing you. I bring them to all of our men who are in here for more than a few weeks."
It was his first word that hadn't been tainted with bitterness.
"Beauty heals, Mr. Elric. Like these flowers, its presence is slight and feeble; often overlooked but its touch is indefinite. It comforts. I swore that I would do all that I can for men like yourself."
The wounded man sitting before her had grown silent and the crevasses in his brow had become more pronounced and deeper than ever. It was not fair, she thought, that men like him should suffer.
It was how a cry in the midst of Armageddon would sound in Winry's mind.
Having stepped outside for a breather, she heard the wretched hair rising cry long before she saw the familiar green carrier. A second later the warning bell was wrung and the bustle within the hospital station increased tenfold. It was only after the vehicle drew closer that she realized that it contained only five wounded. Three of the soldiers in accompaniment were devoted to holding down a single, thrashing man. His was the voice she had heard.
"Let me go, you filthy bastards! Damn you all and burn in hell, fucking foreigners!"
Winry flinched, still unaccustomed to the brash use of language. The man's case was quickly related to those who came to assist. His name was Daniel, a marine grunt and declared delusional. And with the gaping hole in his chest it was not hard to defer with one's own judgment that he was also close to an end. Her heart ached. Daniel was a man who in his dying moments would be forever caught in the hallucination of a war he had fought so long and so hard for.
How long must these men fight? How long were they to be stripped of peace?
Assigned by Riza to the thrashing man along with three other nurses, she followed the soldiers to an empty pallet where the wounded man was quickly restrained. He fought them every step of the way. He reminded her of Edward when he first came in. The women shied away from his flailing arms and the men focused on subduing him. Daniel's bulging, red eyes dashed from person to person until they found hers. They widened.
He settled and the grunts relaxed their hold at Riza's command but still hovered in an anticipatory standby.
"You're here?" His voice had grown hoarse.
Feeling uneasy but compelled to do anything to help calm him, she answered, "You're at the hospital, Daniel. You're in safe hands now."
So many emotions passed through his countenance in that instant that they found it hard to judge what he might do.
A knot formed in her stomach.
Daniel cried out the name of his beloved once more and grasped her hand so tight she feared it might bruise. Winry leaned forward, brushing the matted hair from his eyes and focused on soothing him with whispered words. The crowd around them quietly dispersed.
"I always thought of you, Soph. It's what gave me hope." He pressed a small silver locket into her palm. It felt heated against her skin. "Do you still love me?"
"I always loved you."
His cloudy eyes calmed. "I was always faithful to you."
She felt his hand on hers loosen and lag. In his dying moments he had become a different man. Another testament that war was stripping more from these men than their livelihoods and families. It was shattering their very soul. But in that moment a veil of peace—of pure contentment fell upon him like a death sheet. The solder's clammy skin had begun to whiten and his eyes grew distant. Winry placed a gentle kiss to his beaten brow and watched the soldier slowly fade.
"Safe journey home, my brave, brave soldier."
From across the room Edward watched the unfolded scene with a stricken expression. A single tear had escaped his eye; the only evidence to the tremendous weight upon his heart.
Riza had allowed her to take leave for the following two hours and emotionally spent, Winry sat in a bathroom stall and wept. No one came for her, and for that she was deeply grateful. Occurrences such as the one with Daniel happened but only rarely, and when they did people tended to stay as far from you as possible. None knew how to offer comfort.
Some time passed before Noah walked in. Her quiet footsteps made Winry muffle her sobs as best she could. Noah's shoes stopped in front of her stall; she knocked softly.
"Can I come in?"
In a single jerky movement she managed to slap away the lock from its holder. The door swung open.
There was no awkwardness in her soft features, no condemnation, only a compassion that brought tears back into her already red eyes. Wordless, Noah knelt to her knees before Winry's seat on the commode and pulled her into an embrace. When her head conceded and lay against Noah's shoulder, they began to rock gently. Winry wept again.
"What you did was right."
"And in his dying moments you brought him peace. Winry, this tragedy has taken the lives of so many. But their ending, along with yours and mine, everyone who has been hurt will be so beautiful…"
She was worn and haggard. Exhausted from lack of sleep and emotionally beaten down, the rest of the day didn't hold much hope. But none of this was about her and she knew she must cease thinking so selfishly. She was a nurse: duty bound to serve those who are sick and wounded. And it was her life… She hardened her heart to the memory of Daniel.
Hope was returned to her heart at the sight of Edward no longer prostrate. A sheen of sweat could be seen on his face and his was complexion pale, but he was sitting up.
"You're sitting up!" The joy could not be denied in her voice. She had not expected it for a while longer.
Edward's face remained firm but he inclined his head to her praise. "I'm not the type of man who stays in bed."
"I image so…" she smiled wryly. "Your leg is healing up very nicely. You're still far from being out of the woods but at least you're closer to getting out of here. Do you have any family in the sates, Mr. Elric?"
His pause became a pregnant one as Winry continued to check him over. He spoke, "A younger brother. But I haven't seen him in years." There was a new tone in his voice, it had grown weary. "We were deployed to separate continents for the war. I don't even know if he's still alive."
"Then I guess you still have a job to do, big brother." She said it so nonchalantly that he glanced up with such sharpness that she feared he had flinched from the cool rag she had brought to wipe the sweat from his face.
Unbeknownst to her, she had just struck the innermost core to his fear. The thought of being an invalid, of being useless was a raging terror that Ed would never admit to. With the laceration of his leg that fate seemed inevitable. But he was known to be a stubborn man.
"I guess I do."
He saw her secret smile and his chest constricted. "Can I ask a favor of you?" He asked.
"Could you put on some lipstick while I'll watch?"
The young nurse looked to his expression. He was serious… yet she saw in him a man longing for a hope he had been deprived of. She also saw the shadow of a man that once was and she loved him for it. Wordlessly, she pulled out the single tube of lipstick that had ridden in her pocket every day without ever seeing use. She used it sparingly since she had no mirror to help guide her. Though she had no practice, following her lips with the soft pink substance seemed easy, perhaps because Edward watched her so intently she thought only of him.
When she finished he gave a small, sad smile. The first she had ever seen from him.
"You were right. Beauty heals. Thank you, Ms. Winry."
Winry Rockbell would never again meet anyone else like Lt. Edward Elric. Though time would keep moving on, it was this story that would forever live within the hospital walls. It was a story of hope told for any who were waiting desperately for the brighter days to return, any who were willing to listen.
It was a tale of true beauty…
The last scene was probably the hardest to write. In simulated it in my mind over and over and I didn't know how to make the transition smooth and believable. This was what came of it. I hope you all enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed writing it.
As far as a sequel... Depending on the feedback, I plan on making a few drabbles for later years to maybe tie up a few loose ends. So look for that in the hopefully near future.
Thanks for reading and your thoughts or CC is always welcomed!
Hearts of the Innocent