Not as long a wait this time, right? This chapter has some foreshadowing and a very subtle taste of things to come. I shall say no more! But trust me when I say that this is the last sort of 'angst' chapter for a while... it shall be a little more light-hearted for a few chapters.
Thanks! Review and enjoy!
Disclaimer: I don't own FMA.
Chapter 30 – Under the Rain
The flower stalks she cupped in her hands were stiff and cold. The small lily petals were beginning to open in their buds, but were hesitant as small splashes of water bounced off them. Winry walked slowly down the gravel path, staring at her feet as she walked. She silently cursed herself for missing a spot as she saw that there was still oil on her hands from the work on automail she had done earlier that morning.
Now had been the best time to leave the house for some fresh air, because it had been raining all day so far, however it was halting just a little; enough so that without an umbrella, you wouldn't look like a drowned rat after staying in it for too long. It was that misty rain that drizzled light water spots on you and clung to your hair like beads of sweat.
Her light steps crunching into the gravel and the patter of the light rain on the lily flowers were the only sounds that could be heard. Resembool certainly was a sleepy village, even more so on the weekend. As she walked, she mused over the recent happenings in the house: for the most part she had been by herself, with Edward being called back to the South.
She had waved him off from Resembool train station three weeks ago, knowing full well that he wanted to and didn't want to leave: he needed to get away from the mourning and somewhat depressing mood of Resembool now that the village's most liveliest and stubborn old woman had passed on. But he also didn't want to leave Winry.
"Come back with me," he had said desperately on the platform as the train rolled in, grinding to a halt. Winry paused and watched a few passengers get on and off the train. She shook her head.
"I can't. I need to sort out all of Granny's clients, finances and the house. I'll be back in Dublith before you know it," she said.
He had nodded and pulled her into a tight hug. "Just be back soon," he mumbled into her hair, and then boarded the train. He sat by the window and she watched him as he became a dot on the smoky horizon.
Edward had called her a few days later, to see if she was alright, and Winry couldn't help but smile – how the roles had reversed! There had been many times in the past when she would have loved to have said to him to stay with her. Not only that, but him phoning to see if she was doing fine...? That was something she may have done in the past if that was a luxury she could have been given. Winry kicked a small stone as she walked, the smile fading from her face. The house was empty save her: Den was of course still in Dublith with Tom the cat and Alphonse and May had made their departure not too long after Edward's proposal.
Over dinner one night, Al had announced that he and May were to be heading off – not back to Xing, but to the western parts of Amestris, near the border, to see what they could find out. May had chirped in, when they were questioned as to why they weren't going back to Xing, that it's so they could easily travel to the wedding, whenever that would be. Despite Edward proposing, his face had still flushed and as did Winry's: this whole engagement scenario was going to take some getting used to.
It was sad to see the pair leave, but the whole situation was made very light-hearted by Edward's constant taunting of his little brother all the way to the train station and as they waited on the platform. Al had still insisted (much to the mirror of a past Edward) that they were just friends, using each other's knowledge to broaden their horizons. Winry silently begged to differ, as she had seen them flirting numerous times and that night when she had seen them together 'saying goodnight'.
A smile touched her lips as she continued to walk, nearly at her destination. She had put a small bet on with Edward as to when they would receive a letter or a phone call that would state that they had confirmed their feelings to each other. Edward had little belief in his younger brother, and Winry knew that secretly he wanted Al to take just as long as Edward did to 'confess'.
Her face faltered when she saw the entrance of the cemetery, its rusty gates swinging open in the small and wet wind. She remembered why she had come today – it had been exactly a month since her grandmother had passed. Keeping her head down to shield her eyes from the rain, she walked the familiar path to her parents' resting places, where Pinako had been buried next to Winry's father, Urey. She knelt down at Pinako's grave and laid the flowers, cleaning away the old and wilted bunch that had been left there at the funeral. She sat back on her heels and stared at the gravestone with her grandmother's name and dates chiselled in.
"I found a buyer for the house today, Granny," Winry said quietly, the now pouring rain covering her. She should have brought an umbrella. "I didn't want to sell the yellow house, but I think it's time to move on. Did you know Edward asked me to marry him? I wish you had been there to see his smug face after he had proposed. But then again, I guess I have you to thank for prodding him along the way. I am so curious to know what you said to him the night before you... died. But then maybe I guess, it's better that I don't know: the amount of insults you probably said to each other..."
Winry took a deep breath and flicked away her wet fringe that was clinging to her face, the rain water dripping into her eyes. It had been the right decision to sell the house because she knew it would sell fast. Winry certainly wasn't going to be able to maintain the large old house whilst working and living in Dublith. She didn't want it to not be used – the amount of wonderful memories and not so wonderful ones that had taken place... it was time to close that chapter. It was a shock when she had received a phone call that morning saying that one family were offering a lot of money for the house with the intention of making it a new family home. Winry had thought about keeping the house (it was out rightly hers anyway), because she wondered whether she could start a family there.
Her thoughts suddenly stopped as she looked up, to see another figure in the graveyard, a few rows in front of her. It was a hunched figure by two gravestones and Winry felt suddenly alarmed, for she knew whose graves those headstones belonged to. Taking one last look at her family's graves, she walked up behind the hunched figure that was also being soaked to the bone and the rain fell harder and a clap of thunder rolled in the valley. It was somewhat surprising to see a golden blonde ponytail sitting tangled and wet on his hunched shoulders. He must have heard her approach as he suddenly looked up.
"Ed," Winry said, unsure what to say. He stared at her, with somewhat empty eyes and then turned back to the gravestones. It was unusual, Winry realised, that he was sat in front of his father's grave.
"You know, I've only visited him once since he was buried here," he mumbled. Winry knelt down beside him so she could hear him better. The rain that poured on his trench coat was obscurely loud. Winry thought it was best that she remained silent: well not only that, but also because she wasn't too sure how to respond.
"Winry..." he said quietly, not looking at her. She placed an hand on his arm and inched closer, to offer some comfort.
"I... I don't want to become like him," he admitted, taking a deep breath and flicking his gaze to the dark sky.
Winry stared at him. He didn't want to be like Hohenheim...?
"What do you mean?" she ventured. Sure, his father had abandoned him and his sick wife and newborn child, but he had done it for the greater good, to help save the citizens of Amestris, which he did.
"I don't want to be bound down by the military – I don't want them to take me away from you, like they have done so much already," he said.
She squeezed his arm. "You're not being taken away. You work for them, and thus have a responsibility – remember why you are doing your job Ed ... to help other little girls to get the chance Nina didn't have," Winry said, knowing full well the horrific story of Nina, Alexander and Shou Tucker.
He nodded, but then began to shake his head. "But they are forcing me away from you, when I want to live my life with you: I'm scared it's going to become more frequent-"
"And if it does then we will get on with it," Winry replied briskly. The amount of times he had walked away to go on his journeys all of those years ago. They had both carried on with their lives and if it hadn't been for that, Winry probably wouldn't be the respected automail engineer she was now becoming.
"But what if... what I miss important things?" he said.
"Like what?" she asked, tilting her head to one side, really wishing she had brought an umbrella.
"Well... like what happened to my mother..."
"I'm not dying, Ed," Winry said flatly.
"I know! But she caught a sudden illness remember? What if that happened to you...?
Winry exhaled and pinched the bridge of her nose. She was wondering what had brought all of this on: it couldn't have just been a visit to his father's grave. Why had he come back in the first place? Putting her budding questions aside she focused on the task in hand – to reassure him and get him back to the house.
"C'mon; let's head back. We're both soaked."
He sighed and stood up, brushing himself down. He looked down at her and smiled.
"I don't know how you do it?" he said.
"Do what?" she asked curiously.
"Get me to speak everything that's on my mind: I was so good at hiding stuff from you," he shrugged.
Winry frowned. "That's not something to be proud of. You had me worried sick."
He wrapped and arm around her shoulder and they began to walk back.
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Next chapter - 'Flowers'.