AU Headcanon where the kids in Risembool normally don't go to secondary school (either because of apprenticeships with teachers or taking up family businesses or what have you) so the nearest high school is in a much larger town nearby. Becuase Ed and Al are gone all the time, they obviously aren't going to school, so Winry has to go all alone. The girls in her class are pretty cliquey/"big city" girls so Winry doesn't tell them much about her life in Risembool to avoid teasing.
Note: I am really bad with the whole "these events in the FMA series happened in this exact order" so if I get someone's age wrong or I say something happened before something else when in the series it didn't, just bear with me unless it's really an inexcusable mistake.
"Good morning, class."
"Good morning, Mrs. Beech." The students stood up respectfully as she entered, reciting the chant before taking their seats once more.
"Today we will be starting with social sciences. Does everyone have the report they wrote about their current events?" Papers rustled as reports were pulled out of desks, pockets, and bookbags. They were required to write one every week- not a challenge for the city kids, but the South City Gazette only came to the Rockbells on Sundays, so she had to glean everything she could from the newsprint. "Is there anyone who would like to share?"
Ms. Beech called on Rory, who stood up and recited that they had devised a new type of quick-response brakes that were to be implemented in cars starting next week. The boy was obsessed with automobiles to the point where it was almost sad, but then again, Winry couldn't really talk.
"Thank you, Rory. Anyone else? What about..." she glanced down at her roster. "Winry? What current event did you report on?" Of course. Just her luck. It was these freaking Mondays. She always had bad days on Mondays.
"Maybe farm girl can tell us about her sheep," a girl in the next row up whispered loudly to her friend, both of them giggling behind their hands.
"I, um, did a story on the Fullmetal Alchemist," she began nervously, knowing where this was headed. Normally, Winry tried extra hard to avoid reporting Ed and Al's adventures, but it was either that or the Central Library burning down, so she didn't really have much of a choice. Instantly, every pair of eyes in the class was trained on her. Even though this city was much bigger than her own, it was still relatively small enough where word travelled fast. And the young alchemist was pretty much a local idol.
In fact, Winry herself had refused to give an opinion on Fullmetal on multiple occasions, brushing off questions with a somewhat agitated mumble to herself. If even the small-town girl was interested in the famous Edward Elric all of a sudden, it must be something pretty good.
"A few days ago, the Elric bro- erm, the Fullmetal Alchemist saved a mining town called Youswell. He basically rescued the entire town." Even she could hear the note of pride in her voice. The class was quiet, each of them probably fantasizing about a certain Edward Elric, before the same girl who'd made fun of her stage-whispered to her little companion once again.
"They covered that story in last Sunday's paper. It's old news by now. Poor little sheep girl probably only gets the paper once a month when she can afford it." They snickered once again- the whole class had heard the comment, no doubt. Winry sat down quickly, her face turning red.
By some miracle of the devil, Mrs. Beech's selective hearing seemed to have not caught the girl's remarks.
"Anyone else? I think we have time for one more before I assign a new project to you all." A well-manicured hand raised delicately into the air.
"May I go, please? I have a true up-to-date story about the Fullmetal Alchemist!" Of course. Goddamn these Mondays. Macie raised herself up, already poised, her green eyes cruelly bright. "Just yesterday, precious Edward was attacked by a mass murderer in Central. They say it's some Ishvalan freak that's been going around hunting alchemists. He survived by the skin of his teeth!" She exclaimed passionately.
Murmurs swept the class: "Wow, he must be so brave." "I know, right? And strong, too."
Winry's ears buzzed. Attacked? The boys? Her mind was whirring.
"-ey, Rockbell. Oi! Winry! You alright?" One of the boys, Tanner, was nudging her with his elbow.
"Oh, um, yes, I'm okay. Just a little tired 's'all."
"Well, you dropped your pencil," he said, handing it to her. She took it with limp fingers, muttering a quiet thank you before trying to turn her head back to the teacher, who had finally succeeded in calming the class back down.
"Well, since everyone in this class seems so fascinated with the escapades of the Fullmetal Alchemist, I figured it's high time we completed our 'person of impact' project for the year." The class tittered excitedly. This was supposed to be the big project for the entire school year, and it was always on someone interesting who was currently making a big impact on society. "I've assigned partners already, and there will be no negotiations on who's with who. It'll be due three weeks from now, and I'll hand out the rubric tomorrow. As most of you have guessed, you will each be presenting a five-minute presentation about the Fullmetal Alchemist, Edward Elric, and the impact he has recently made on Amestrian society."
She allowed the class a few moments of excitement before clearing her throat once again. "Partners are as follows: Claire and Caroline, Julia and Kate, Percy and Lindsey... Winry and Macie, Rory and Margaret. See me after class if you have any questions!" Mrs. Beech glanced at the clock on the far wall. "We're almost out of time, so meet with your partners until you're dismissed for the new block."
Macie flounced over, giving Winry a disdainful once-over. "Well we're going to have to meet up outside of class to work on this. Can you come to my house after school on Tuesdays for the next three weeks?" Winry shook her head, knowing in advance what this excuse was going to get her (even though it was the truth).
"I work every day at my grandma's shop after school. Could you come home with me, um, next Friday? We have a half day..." Wrinkles appeared on Macie's face and her glossed lips puckered as if she were sucking on a lemon.
"Fine. But you're paying for my train ticket." She turned on her heel, gathering her books as the bell rang. Winry wanted to slam her head on the desk.
Of course. Freaking Mondays.
Just to set up the story a bit. Next chapter should be up soon...