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Title: Graves and Grievances

Post Episode 51, some spoilers within. This is a bit AU.

Rating: PG

...

Disclaimer: I own not anything involving Full Metal Alchemist. It belongs to Arakawa Hiromu.

...

She sat on the wet earth, rain soaking through her dress.

"I'm sorry."

The large bag at her side sat forgotten.

"I just couldn't take it any longer."

The late winter shower was quickly turning into a downpour.

"I know more than that. I've been trained to do more than that."

She started sniffling, Den resting his head on her lap and whining.

"There were people I could have helped, but they wouldn't let me help."

The large stone sat on the earth, unmoving.

"I thought everything was supposed to be okay once people stopped fighting."

She stared beyond, to the freshly dug earth only beginning to settle and the bright stone almost untouched by weather.

"Why isn't everything okay?"

And then she is curled up on the grass, sobbing.

"Why?"

...

Major Alex Armstrong wandered into Risembool as the last train of the evening pulled off towards Central.

Hawkeye had asked him to check and make absolutely sure that Winry made it home safely. She had left almost without warning except to the Elrics, who had then accidentally slipped it over dinner several nights ago.

Neither Hawkeye nor Mustang had been amused in the least. The word about the homunculi still hadn't fully spread through Amestris and the wrong word at the wrong time, or someone who sympathized with the soulless things...

Armstrong had been more than willing to check on little Miss Rockbell and her grandmother. Theirs was a good family and a good home. One could feel the history within the walls, could smell the herbs in the floorboards. Even the kitchen smelled of poultices. It was more than simply a house owned by automail mechanics.

He walked up the hill towards the house, raincoat pulled close around him, and stopped.

What was that movement over in the cemetery? It was certainly too large to be an animal.

Was that Miss Rockbell's travel bag?

And then the only dog he had ever know to wear automail was on his feet, barking.

Armstrong was over the low stone wall in a moment, running towards the nearly still form.

He threw the bag over his shoulder and lifted the young mechanic in his arms, running towards the village inn with Den racing at his heels.

And the tombstone sits in the falling rain. "Urey Rockbell."

And the one beyond begins to stain. "Pinako Rockbell."

...

She knows nearly nothing but warm arms and then dry clothing and a towel being shoved into her arms as she is gently pushed into a small washroom and finally stumbling over to a small bed and having to be helped under the covers.

She wakes the next morning to blurry sunlight coming through a rain-slickened window and a small fire in a tiny fireplace.

"Miss Rockbell, are you..."

And the sound of his voice brings back everything, the day at the river, the wonderful three days when Ed and Al were home, finally home, and she and Grandmother were piecing together new automail and Grandmother told her she was almost ready to build on her own...

Then, she is sobbing again, held close in thick warm arms and wondering why the world always has to fall apart just when it seems to get brighter.

...

The phone rang.

Riza was in a shooting crouch in a moment, blushing as she realized she had no gun and it was the phone, after all.

Even after a few months in the big house, she was still not used to having a phone in the building she was living in.

"Hawkeye speaking."

"This is Major Armstrong. We're coming back to Central on the next train out."

"'We'? Major, what happened?"

"Some of her fellow healers have no sense of family or honor." Riza could hear the distaste dripping from his voice.

"What?"

There was a fumbling on the other side of the line.

"Riza?" The girl's voice was cry-hitching.

"Winry? What happened?"

"It doesn't matter right now. Can you ask Gracia if I can stay with her and Elysia until I can find someplace else? And can Den stay with you and Black Hayate?"

"I can ask her. And I am sure Hayate could use the example in good canine behavior."

"Thank you." Winry was sniffling, and there was the distinctive sound of a sneeze right as Armstrong took the phone back.

"Armstrong, what is going on?"

"Winry Rockbell no longer has any place to call home," he whispered. Riza could hear the young mechanic starting to cry in the background.

"WHAT? What do you mean, she doesn't have a home? Armstrong, what is going on?"

And then the only sound on the line was the unmistakable noise of Major Alex Louis Armstrong crying.

...

"What do you mean, she doesn't have a home?"

Roy could barely hear the conversation occurring downstairs, but those words carried clear.

Winry...

He finished pulling on his gloves, wincing. Pyrotech and still-healing deep skin damage did not mix well, and the concentration of nerves in the common human hand were not helping.

He deserved it.

He needed the gloves to do what he had to do.

He deserved all of it.

How many times had he planned this day in his mind? The way he would walk in, announce his resignation, rip off his medals and make absolutely certain no one could ever make him wear them again.

How long had he worked to avenge the dead?

He brushed the medals with a trembling hand. I'm sorry they called you traitors. I'm sorry they sent me to kill you. I'm sorry they gave me a medal for it. And I'm sorry I have to wear it when I step down today, but I have to. This has to be formal dress and I have to keep their minds on why I've made changes to the country rather than on changes I wish I could make to my military jewelry.

And I'm sorry for whatever has happened to Winry. It probably wouldn't have happened if you were there, so I guess it's my fault too.


He stared out the window with a tired eye at the pale winter sky.

Sara... Jonais... I'm sorry...

...

They settled in on the train, Den curled at their feet and Winry leaning sleepily against Armstrong.

"Miss Rockbell... If you don't mind my asking... I had always heard your father's name was Jonais, but that stone said Urey."

"He was named after an illustrious healer from the days after the Bright Day and also after one of our more interesting distant relations. Urey Jonais Rockbell. He hated his first name, but when he... the cousins got to the stonecutters and used his birth certificate to 'correct' what Grandmother had told them. Never mind that no one but them had called him by it since... forever. We just never had the money to change it." She sighed. "Which reminds me... when am I paying you back for this train ticket?"

"There is no need, Miss Rockbell."

Before she could argue, a voice came on over the announcement system. "The Fuhrer has just withdrawn from the military and ceded control to a civilian government."

They sat in silence for a moment as hesitant but growing cheers rang out in the other compartments.

"You knew he was going to do this."

"Or something like it. It is not unexpected, particularly given his injuries."

Another announcement. "The Fuhrer also wished the populace to know the recent reforms and his retirement are in honor of those hurt or killed in the conflicts begun or aggravated by the late Fuhrer King Bradley. In particular, Ishbal. That is all; we are still on schedule to arrive on time at Central tomorrow morning."

Armstrong was quiet.

Winry got up and looked out at the passing trees.

"Miss Rockbell?"

"That's how they should be remembered. Not by that hospital my cousins are running in mem without any clue who they really were. By making sure it never happens again and no one ever forgets."

The sun rose over the mountains and her face was washed in orange light, hair turning to gold.

And then she sat back down, crying quietly into her hands.
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