Author: Jordanna Morgan
Archive Rights: Please request the author's consent.
Setting: Between Ed and Al's human transmutation attempt and the time they leave Resembool.
Summary: Pinako visits the grave of Trisha Elric.
Disclaimer: They belong to the genius of Hiromu Arakawa. I'm just playing with them.
Notes: Written for Skybright Daye, who claimed the letter R in my alphabet fic meme. Her prompt was regrets, for Pinako - and I was actually thinking some things along those lines recently, so it's just more proof that Skybright is tapped into my brain. *g* Of course, the prompt is obviously meant for angst, so this is a somber little fic.
The mid-morning sun was bright, burning the dew from the windswept grass. Spring warmth had unleashed a vivid spectrum of green upon the hillside, shading from peridot to emerald as budding leaves matured. The nearest tree was growing tall; by summer, its afternoon shade would reach the granite slab at the top of the hill.
Pinako Rockbell sighed, shifting her garden basket from her arm into her hands.
"Sorry for being overdue. Your boys have been keeping me busy... We had a little scare about infection with Ed last week, but it turned out to be nothing serious."
Slowly and with a slight wince, Pinako knelt beside the headstone that bore the name Trisha Elric. From her basket she produced a pair of rust-spotted garden shears, and began clipping the weeds that had grown up around the edges of the slab.
"You'd be proud of them, Trisha... Well, as proud as any mother could be, after her sons have done something as boneheaded as they did. But they're doing alright. Ed is itching to get his automail attached, and at the rate he's going, it won't be long now. He's further ahead of schedule than anyone else I've ever seen. And as for Al..." She chuckled ruefully. "Last night he helped Winry put away the dishes again, and this time he didn't break a single one. Sometimes he still forgets to duck going through doorways, though."
Three dandelions had sprouted around the grave. Pinako carefully cut away a few of the leaves, and tucked them into her basket to use as part of that night's dinner; but she left the bright yellow flowers. Trisha always liked them. She had never outgrown the childish fancy of making a wish and gently blowing away the tufted seeds.
The breeze on the hill would do it for her now.
"You know, that nice young fellow Sol has gotten his discharge and come back from Central." Pinako put away her shears, took out a cloth and a flask of water, and began scrubbing the headstone to remove the flecks of dried mud that had spattered it during heavy rains. "I remember the crush you had on him when you were a girl... but I discouraged you, because of his plans to join the military."
A pair of birds chirped to each other on their nest in the tree. A dragonfly skimmed over the grass and landed on the corner of the headstone, tilting its head quizzically at Pinako.
"I wonder, sometimes. I wonder how things would be different if you'd gotten together with that boy, and already been a married woman when he came to Resembool... But then I have to wonder if Ed and Al would be here now." Pinako chuckled humorlessly. "Maybe you would've had girls instead. Maybe Winry would've liked that." She paused, considering her granddaughter, and a wan smile tugged at her lips. "Then again, maybe she would have hated it."
With a fatalistic shrug, Pinako put away her polishing cloth. From her basket she lifted a bundle of sunflowers, freshly cut from her own garden, and laid them on the grave. It was a variation on the same theme as the dandelions: they were as sunny as Trisha had always been.
"But I know you loved him, and you loved the boys. And Winry loves them - and I love them. I wouldn't trade them for anything in the world, Trisha... There's only one thing I have any right to regret."
Pinako gently laid her hand on the hard granite slab. "I failed you."
During her final illness, Trisha Elric had time enough to make her wishes known. She had entrusted Pinako with her precious sons, assured that the woman she had known and loved like family all her life would take care of them.
Instead, Pinako had let them keep dabbling in the same alchemic arts that led their father away. Oh, she had protested, had set strict rules about transmutations in the house, had tried to distract them with other interests; but she hadn't forbidden it outright. They were their father's sons. That was the way she justified letting them indulge their perilous fascination. It was her excuse for leaving well enough alone.
She even let them go away with that madwoman Izumi Curtis, whose parenting skills and talent for alchemy without transmutation circles were highly suspect. She had let a stranger take on the responsibility Trisha had expected her to fulfill.
And on the night the boys came back to Resembool, to their empty house, to enact an unspeakable plan that could only lead to horror... Pinako hadn't even known they were home.
"I'm sorry, Trisha."
They were the words she repeated every time she came up to the cemetery, because it wasn't enough merely to nurse the horrendous damage the boys had inflicted on themselves out of love. It wasn't enough to design the best automail of her life for Ed.
Had she only cared for them better in the first place, Ed and Al would still have been whole and normal and learning to find happiness. Had she only proven herself worthy of the trust Trisha gave her, the tragedy of the transmutation would never have happened - and nothing could ever be enough to apologize for that.
It was really all her fault.
The breeze billowed up in a firm gust, setting the dandelions to swaying. Pinako let her hand drop from the headstone with a sigh, and pushed herself up from the ground, her legs stiff from kneeling for so long.
She frowned thoughtfully. That twinge in her joints gave her an idea about Ed's automail; a small adjustment to the knee that might improve its responsiveness. It was something worth looking into. Winry would be interested, too.
Pinako picked up her basket, and smiled down sadly at the grave.
"Next time, I'll tell you all about it."
2010 Jordanna Morgan