I seem to like just writing one-shots about this fandom. Happy 3. Oct.
He is four. The study frightens him. When he peeks through a gap in the door, he sees how the books and darkness and quiet have swallowed his father and carried him away from them.
It scares him that the tall, blond man spends so much time in that chair behind the desk covered in papers and books and anything else the man is working with, instead of spending it in the kitchen where his mother, sweet Trisha, works diligently on a delicious meal, or out on the lawn with him and his younger brother Alphonse. When Mr. Rockbell isn't in town making house calls or tending to the towns folks' needs, he sees the man play with his daughter, pretty Winry Rockbell, and sometimes the man sees the two blond-haired boys peeking curiously from behind a bush and calls them over to join. Van Hohenheim never does that.
He sits in his chair, surrounded on all sides by towering bookshelves, tiredly working with the aid of the minimal lamplight he uses, that casts shadows that spread right to the very door his eldest son stands behind, trying to discern the outline of his father in the dark, hunched over his work. It's not going well. "That bastard," his father says through clenched teeth. He doesn't know what that means. He doesn't understand his father, his work, or his study. And he gladly leaves the place as Alphonse tugs on his shirt, gazing at him in a request for attention. He gives it to him, instead of to Hohenheim's back and his dark room.
He is six. The study is a refuge for him. Everyday, he and Alphonse explore the countless shelves that contain so much to learn. He climbs into the sturdy chair, then helps Alphonse up to sit beside him.
Together they delve into science and alchemy, happily absorbing the information that will make their mother smile again, and tell them how proud she is. It's what they live for, and the study supplies them willingly, with open pages and numerous books. Winry comes when she's not watching Granny Pinako work, and makes them spend time out in the fields with her, all three playing together. And sometimes they help their mother around the house or with the laundry outside, so she doesn't have to do it alone.
The rest of the time, however, is spent in the study, streaming with light from the open windows, curtains thrown back to catch as much of the natural sunshine as possible. Alphonse asks him what a word means and he gladly obliges; reading and rereading the sentence to understand. He begins to explain and gestures widely as he talks to make his point, anything to do with alchemy he is passionate about. Alphonse tells him he is better than the teacher at school, and they both want to stay in this room and simply learn together.
He is eight. The study is his instrument, with which he will do what the adults say is impossible. Combined with the knowledge imparted to them by their Teacher, their mother will smile her sweet smile once again. Trisha will be with them once again.
They hardly see the Rockbells, except those dreadfully long, wasted hours at school, and the dinners they hurriedly eat at the automail shop. Winry stamps her feet in frustration sometimes, but she too is busy with her Granny, learning her own way of creation. Every moment, every thought, is on their goal. Nothing else matters in the long run to them, so that they hardly notice their growing reputation that spreads word of mouth from town to town all the way to Eastern City.
They light the room with lamps, the curtains shut, because Alphonse still worries that they might be found out, that someone will see and tell. He wonders who would understand the complex formulas written out in his childish, but steady hand, yet complies with his younger brother's wishes. He assigns the tasks of collecting the ingredients and double checking his work to his brother, while he sits in the chair and contemplates, struggling with the understanding required for such an undertaking. He is confident he will succeed, and when the word's "It's done" whisper past his lips, they are ready for anything.
He is twelve. The study is burning.
How was it? I actually had some of this complete already, but just finished it up, since I thought it was appropriate for the date. Also, I strongly hold the belief that Hohenheim was the one who first exposed Edward to explicit language. He calls Father a bastard in the manga, it's in there, I promise.