Edward's thoughts as he writes them down on his journal.
Beregond has gathered all the books needed for his exams, and has started studying. He's settled on the floor, book in one hand and a pen in the other to scribble anything of importance on a notebook next to him. He's only moved from there once, to have dinner with Al and me.
This kind of enthusiasm worries me. Considering that now Beregond's time is torn between his studying and his learning Alchemy, I can't help thinking that it's perhaps too much for him; that he might have to give up on either of them, so he doesn't burn out.
Truth be told, I'm not sure in which of the two cases I'll be more relieved: whether Beregond gives up on Alchemy, or his wish for a military career. I still don't know why he wants to learn Alchemy and I don't want him to attempt anything dangerous (now I think I understand my teacher a little bit better); on the other hand, I don't know what the army was like where Beregond came from, but I don't want him to discover that he's trapped and with no free will of his own.
I guess Al said it best in a conversation we had in private: I don't want to see Beregond make the mistakes we've made.
He's right. That man seems too... nice (for luck of any better word) to go down that path.
It seems that I underestimated Beregond's stubbornness. Not only he didn't give up on either of his main preoccupations but, as the days go by, his studying of both of them has become even more gruesome. What's most intriguing is that he's, in fact, doing exceptionally well in both Alchemy and Military Studies.
That's also what makes me apprehensive as to what's to come. I can understand him not facing difficulties in the Military Studies, since he's a former soldier and everything. But, when it comes to Alchemy, I'm getting more convinced that Beregond knows more about it than he let me believe at first.
It was Al who first noticed it. He had been drawing a transmutation circle to show it to Beregond, when the postman knocked on the door to give a letter from Winry. Al left the array incomplete so as to take the letter and, upon his return, he was surprised to see that Beregond had completed it correctly; even though this was the first time he had seen that array and he didn't know what its purpose was.
The only answer Beregond gave when we asked him about it was: "It just felt right that way."
When I reported this to Mustang, he was as surprised at this as I was. After some thought, he gave me one of his books on Alchemy and told me to make Beregond read it without any assistance from Al or me. I hesitated at first, as that book was too complicated for the level Beregond was currently at in Alchemy; nevertheless, I gave it to him, because I understood what was in the Colonel's mind and, frankly, I was just as curious to see the result as Mustang was.
I was astounded to see that Beregond not only managed to read the book in spite of his studying, but he was also able to tell me, in his own words, the theories in it; which one he thought was best; and why.
It's now a certainty beyond any doubt. Beregond knows Alchemy but apparently he's not aware of it, at least not yet.
Mustang believes now that we're finally making a breakthrough on Beregond's secrets. I still have my doubts as the nagging feeling that, for every answer we get, there are at least a dozen more questions that pop up, still lingers on.
Last night I saw a side of Beregond I hadn't expected to see. I woke up and I intended to go into the kitchen to have some water when, as I opened the door, I saw him standing by the window. The moonlight shone brilliantly on him, and he was tilting his head as though he wanted to listen to something, his lips flowing out gentle murmurs in a chant:
...Calad ammen i reniar
Mi 'aladhremmin ennorath!
A Elbereth Gilthoniel
I chin a thul lin miriel...
I had never heard anything more heart-stirring than that soft whisper. It was like a gentle ripple of the wind that carried haunting voices from times long forgotten, calling me and asking me to listen to them, so I could be part of them.
No, Beregond didn't feel like he was a simple man anymore. There was something ancient, primitive in him; yet with such grace and reverence that I couldn't help but be awed by it.
It was with difficulty and regret that I broke that spell on me. Shaking my head and with my thirst forgotten, I turned to go back into my room.
Only sleep stopped that strange beating in my heart.
Beregond caught me looking inside my pocket watch today.
That in itself isn't so bad. After all, what's wrong with looking at pocket watches, right?
The problem was... he caught me looking inside my pocket watch and crying.
It wasn't meant to happen. I had hoped that he had followed Alphonse to the market, giving me a little time to myself so as to remember what I should never forget. To let myself go and not have to be the strong elder brother just for a little while. I was wrong in my assumptions.
Admittedly, even under these circumstances, Beregond probably wouldn't have realised anything - I had stayed in my room. But, apparently, a sob or two were louder than they should be because, next thing I knew, he was opening the door and staring at me in surprise.
At that moment, I really got angry with him. For crying out loud, didn't they teach him to knock before walking into someone else's room? I'm not a damn tourist attraction to be gazed at whenever the waterworks break! I turned my back to him and I shouted at him to get out.
He didn't say anything then, I just heard his retreat. But afterwards, when I finally pulled myself together and came out of my room to go to the bathroom and wash my face, he was already waiting for me and offering me a handkerchief to wipe a couple of tears that clung stubbornly on my cheeks.
I stared at him incredulously until, what it seemed like hours later, I reached for the kerchief. The guilt I felt at that moment was as bad as my previous anger. Beregond did nothing wrong except getting concerned, and yet I just snapped at him.
I opened my mouth to apologise for my behaviour, but he just placed a hand on my lips, silencing me.
"I know," was all he said, smiling wanly.
Something in that look in his eyes told me that he really did.
The first signs of fatigue have finally started showing on Beregond. These past few days he's become listless, ready to fall asleep the moment he sits down somewhere, be it couch, chair, or even the floor.
Still, he never takes a break, even though Al tries to talk him into doing so. He's nervous of the exams, it is clear, and it shows on his Alchemy lessons, too. He doesn't concentrate as much as he used to and he has even started making mistakes.
Today, I've decided that this won't do anymore, so I told him that we would stop the Alchemy lessons until he took his exams. He objected at first, claiming he was fine (like I expected him to), but then I told him that he was in such a mess that he has started worrying Alphonse.
Worked like a charm. He relented at once.
Like I would, had they used that trick on me.
It's strange to see such care on Beregond's part when it comes to Al. I realise that it must be because Al is the one that Beregond feels closest to for the present. They've spent so much time together at the hospital and then at the house, Al teaching and Beregond learning, that they've now come to share a bond of trust.
And now, after what happened a few days ago, I've seen that Beregond is trying to create such a bond between us, too. He looks at me with the same care he looks at Al.
It's unsettling, since I can't return those sentiments.
I can't befriend an object of observation.
Beregond just came back from the last part of his exam: the interview. He only said that Mustang told him things looked good; then lay on the couch, face down. He barely had time to mumble something that could be translated roughly as 'goodnight' before he started snoring.
I think Al and I will go for a walk to let him rest. He deserves it.
Havoc came by today, carrying an envelope for Beregond. Beregond is officially in the army now, after succeeding in getting the highest marks the supervisors had seen in a long time. Furthermore, because of his exemplary conduct on the crisis with Guyton and his previous experience as a soldier, he's to begin his career as sergeant - in our unit.
Somehow I get the feeling that Mustang pulled several strings for that, but I won't tell Beregond. I know that would disappoint him.
It seems that Mustang pulled a lot more strings than I thought. All three of us went to Headquarters to see what would be Beregond's duties, and it turned out he was assigned as my personal assistant and escort. I have to hand it to him, Mustang is one sly fox. In this way he made sure Beregond happily worked away among people he knew and in controlled environment, and I kept my eye on him as I was supposed to.
Al doesn't seem to mind that arrangement. After all, to him it means that the three of us can still be together even when we're working. And, oddly enough, I'm not as annoyed to having an escort as I thought I would be - for once.
I guess I've got too accustomed in having Beregond around to mind anymore.
And, admittedly, he isn't half bad a company.
If anything, things might become a bit more interesting at Headquarters.