The unfortunate brothers take a break from their adventures to take a warp in the past...
Next to him, sat his younger – yet larger – brother, Alphonse Elric, who was peacefully testing out different alchemical transmutations on an exceptionally large weed. Alphonse surely would have smiled at his brother – if he could. Sadly, facial expression has been just about impossible for the last 5 years of his life.
As children, their father, a great alchemist, mysteriously left them on an unknown mission – this began to stir the resentment in Edward, the more energetic and violent of the inseparable duo. Years later, their mother, Trisha Elric passed away of a broken heart. Alphonse would never forget that day, mother, on her bed with a moist, cold towel on her forehead, her skin pale as the moon, contrasting with her long, beautiful dark brown hair, which grew stiff. Her livid eyes upon her two young boys, who sat by her side in melancholy. Her hand in theirs... her fingers growing cold and limp... her eyes dulling away...
After years of back-breaking training in the work of alchemy (the science of basically transmuting one substance into another), and assisted with their given alchemical talent from their father, they decided to try the impossible task of reviving their lost mother – even more impossible for 10-year old Alphonse and 11-year old Edward. But determination had taken them over and caused them to battle against the odds.
However, the experiment failed, resulting in Edward at a loss of his limbs, and Alphonse, bound to a suit of armor by a blood seal, for his whole body was lost.
“Huh? Oh sorry. Y-yeah. Hey, brother – why don't you go swimming in the stream with the others? You don't have to stay here with me,” murmured Alphonse, digging another transmutation circle in the ground, deciding what else the weed could become. Some of the dry country grass made its way into his empty hand through cracks in the joints – but Al couldn't feel a thing.
Edward gazed at his gentle younger brother with his golden-amber eyes and smiled. “Come on, Al. You know I wouldn't leave you – not even for a minute. No one deserves to be alone.”
Alphonse remained quiet, unconvinced and focusing on his transmutation circle, with which he intended to transform the plant in front of him into a stubby mushroom with bright red spots on the cap.
Edward's smile faded slightly, held up by only a few small muscles of regret. Winry had decided to go swimming in the river with her grandmother, her dog, Izumi Curtis (The Elric brothers' former alchemy teacher) and her family. Alphonse, unable to swim, had to be left back. Edward just didn't want to leave him alone.
“Hey Al, remember you used to love swimming?” asked the elder brother. “And I used to be a big chicken of the water.” He lay back, his blond hair camouflaged in the piles of dry grass.
“Yeah,” sighed Alphonse, carving a six-pointed star, bordered by a circle, and a smaller circle within, cutting at the edges of the star. A bluish glow overcame the spotted mushroom and molded itself into a large white dandelion. “I remember when we first found the river here, and tried to swim in it.”
“What should we get Mama for her birthday?” asked a younger Alphonse, who would be unrecognizable from his armor-bodied, adolescent self other than his soft timid voice.
Edward, who looks similar to his older self but the fact that his golden hair was cut short, looked over his shoulder. Trisha Elric was peacefully hanging laundry to dry in the back – she wasn't hearing a thing. Excitedly, he pulled out from under his shirt, a large brown book with alchemic symbols on the spine and cover. In old, ridden letters, it read, 'Intertwining Alchemy with Art'. Edward opened the book at a page that was marked by a slip of paper. “Look Al,” he whispered. “See this flower? It's called a rose. Pretty, huh?”
Smiling, Alphonse nodded. “I've never seen a flower like that.”
“Look, it says here in this little paragraph that girls get roses all the time for tons of occasions. Anniversaries, weddings and birthdays. Mom'll love it! The thing is, I haven't exactly figured out how to make a rose by using alchemy. It's pretty hard – this thing has a lot of petals, you know!”
“But I don't think it's around here. Where can we get it?” Al muttered. Then he noticed his mother approaching and pulled the book to Edward's side.
The two young boys' mother strolled to the back door holding an empty basket and eyed her sons curiously on the way. She giggled. “What are you sweet boys up to?”
“N-nothing, mama,” said Al. Trisha playfully shrugged an continued on her way into the large, white country house. The boys sighed melodramatically.
“Come on,” urged Edward as he stepped off the back porch, the large book in his little arms. “While Mom's busy, we can go look for a rose. It's got to be here – we have so many flowers in Risenbool!”
Hesitatingly, Alphonse followed his ecstatic older brother.
“Brother! Be careful, please!” cried Al, tears beginning to form in his large eyes. 'Why did I let brother do this?' He asked himself as he watched Edward scour the roof of the small barn of an old, deserted farm. Several times, little Ed had nearly fallen of the edge of the roof.
Still grinning fearlessly, he stood straight and scanned the creaky, old rooftop a last time, “Well, I guess there aren't any flowers around at all, let alone roses.” Ed jumped off the barn and landed in a large haystack at the side. When he stood up, he had hay all over his hair, t-shirt and shorts.
“Brother, we've searched everywhere. There aren't any roses in Risenbool.” Alphonse looked over his shoulder to the Elric house with a worried look.”And I think Mama's found out we were gone. You know we weren't supposed to go exploring until we were at least seven years old!” cried Al accusingly.
But Edward just smirked. “It's okay, I'm almost seven – hey, we haven't checked over that giant hill over there. I bet there's tons of roses over there!” Full of energy, the little boy ran up the large, grassy hill, his hair burning golden in the evening setting sun.
“Oh, brother,” Alphonse murmured softly, shaking his head before chasing after Ed.
By the time he got up the hill, Edward was already at the bottom of the hill on the other side, laughing.
“Hey, Al! Roll down the hill – it's so fun!”
The younger brother didn't even look at Edward. He looked past him at the river just ahead. A little stream ran by the side of the hill and was leading into the clearing forest down West, heading close to the nearby village. Excited, he dropped the book and pointed, “Brother, look! A river!” Hastily he picked up the copy of 'Intertwining Alchemy with Art' and lay down on the grass, squinting his eyes. With a slight kick of the leg, he began to roll furiously down the hill – and it was fun.
Edward waited at the base of the hill and pounced on his brother to stop him from rolling right into the stream. The two brothers laughing, they hurried to the river to examine it.
Peering over the edge into the water, they smiled curiously. “Look, Al. It's shallow. We can try swimming in here.”
Al laughed and pointed. “Look at our reflections, brother. I'm almost as tall as you. You should start drinking milk soon or you'll be short!” The elder brother merely blew a raspberry in response and began stripping off his outer clothes.
In his underwear, Edward stepped into the stream and shivered. “It's a little cold, but it's still refreshing. I'm sweaty from all that exploring.” The next thing Ed knew, his younger brother was already in the stream, ducking his head in the cool water and was kicking his legs.
“Hey!” Ed cried when his brother resurfaced. “When did you learn how to swim?” Alphonse smiled, wiping beads of ticklish water from his face, shrugged and began swimming again, trying to catch at the little minnows. Edward slipped a chuckle just before a rock underneath his foot slipped and he tumbled into the water. “Al!” he gasped.
Panicking, Edward thrashed furiously in the current, groping for something to hold onto. He kicked violently, trying to steer himself but ended up knocking his head off a large boulder cutting up from the river floor. Searing with pain, Ed ran out of breath and felt twice as cold as the water around. He began feeling faint...until he heard a gurgled shriek from the surface.
Barely in time, Alphonse grabbed Ed's arm and tried pulling him up, trying to manage to keep his unconscious brother's head above water.
“Ed! Al!” cried a hysterical voice in the distance. The younger of the two looked up. The boys' mother ran down the hill and was now kneeling by the edge and reached for Ed. The two pulled the unconscious boy out of the now freezing water. Alphonse began to cry.
With his mother sobbing on his chest, Edward fluttered his eyes half-open and peered around. “Mom... Al...?”
“Edward!” cried Trisha, holding her son tightly. “Don't you ever scare me like that again – both of you!” She began crying harder.
Alphonse, feeling regretful, itched closer to his family and, with sadness clear in his eyes, he hugged his mother and brother tightly, hoping to never let go.
“Mom was so worried,” sighed Ed. “I'll never forget that day. We couldn't even give Mom her birthday present. We wanted to get her a rose so badly, too.”
Al remained quiet, and cleared the dirt to transmute the dandelion one more time.
“And you were such a good swimmer, too,” Edward went on, sitting up now, staring at the clouds. He gazed at his brother. “I'm sorry you lost your body – and that you can't swim anymore. Remember that someday, I'll restore you. You and only you.”
Alphonse looked at his older brother, and whispered, “Thank you.” His focus returned to the new circle he drew. He pressed his large, metal palms on the ground. The dandelion glowed purple, an eerie light that was cast on the grass all around the flower. The dandelion seemed to melt away and, sprouting in its place, was a tall, red rose.