Categories > Anime/Manga > Full Metal Alchemist

An Orchard of Pomegranates

by sheepy 0 reviews

As Scar grows up, he and his brother grow apart.

Category: Full Metal Alchemist - Rating: PG - Genres: Angst, Drama - Characters: Scar, Scar's brother - Warnings: [!!] - Published: 2005-05-28 - Updated: 2005-05-28 - 1294 words - Complete

An Orchard of Pomegranates
by Melissa the Sheep

Summary: Drabble series. As Scar grows up, he and his brother grow apart.
Spoilers: Through episodes 21 and 25 (or 40 if you really insist on having things spelled out)
Date: March 12-April 20, May 24-28, 2005
Disclaimer: Fullmetal Alchemist belongs to Arakawa-sensei, Square Enix, Studio Bones, Funimation, etc. No profit is made and no infringement is intended.

Many thanks to swordage for beta reading, and to pinstripesuit for suggesting that a drabble series would be a good format.

1. Dust

They waited as long as they could to bury the body, praying for Ishballa to speed the letter along, but the stench has become too much. So Shinar stands by himself as they lower Father into the sand. After the words are all spoken and the prayers all said, everybody else goes back to their homes, and he's left alone.

He drops to his knees, sobbing, tears rolling off his chin and disappearing into the parched earth. Alone. Completely alone.

He's still crying when, long after dark, the tailor's daughter Hadassah comes to his side and offers her family's hospitality.

2. Home

The oxcart reaches Uruk just before sunset, and Zethar guides the driver to his family's house. After they unload all the trunks and the driver departs, he goes out to ask after Shinar.

Zethar's ears need only a moment to understand the language he had half forgotten, but his tongue hesitates to form the old words. He has to ask four people before anybody answers him--he is under suspicion, like a foreigner. Nobody looks past his different clothing and his halting speech to recognize his face.

He almost regrets returning to Ishbal. This place no longer feels like home.

3. Brother

"Zethar?" Hadassah asks when she answers the door.

The visitor nods.

Shinar watches from the kitchen doorway. Even though he knows Zethar's face and voice from years before, those glasses and strange clothing are frightening.

"I came as soon as I could. The trains . . . " Zethar notices Shinar, and moves toward the child's hiding place. He kneels, taking off his glasses to reveal normal, red eyes. "Do you remember me, brother?"

Shinar nods and slides into his brother's embrace, wrapping his short arms around Zethar's neck.

"I'm here now," Zethar murmurs, holding him tight, crying with him. "My poor little lamb."

4. Books

"What's Amestris like?" Shinar asks, watching Zethar unpack a trunk full of books.

Zethar laughs. "Wet and cold, with strange food, a strange language, and no god."

"No god? Isn't Ishballa there?"

"She is always with her children, my lamb. But the Amestrians have no god of their own."

He doesn't really understand, but he's satisfied that Ishballa has watched over Zethar. "Teach me their language, brother."

"That takes a long time. A child like you doesn't have the patience."

"Please," he begs. "All your books--they're beautiful. I want to read them too."

"All right," Zethar concedes, laughing again.

5. Rumors

"Brother." Shinar pokes at his bowl of stew with his spoon. "You spend so much time alone, studying. You talk to nobody but me and Hadassah."

Zethar's glasses catch the sunlight from the window, hiding his eyes. "Nobody wishes to speak to one like me."

Shinar stands, reaches across the table to touch his brother's shoulder. "I've heard the women saying that I'm alone. It's like they think you're dead. Like they've forgotten you."

Zethar's laugh sounds hollow. "They're shunning me, child. There must be rumors about what I study--and I'm sure they think about me all too often."

6. Smile

After he hears the knocking several times, Zethar rises from his desk to answer.

Hadassah is standing on the other side of the door, bathed in early morning light. "Did I wake you?"

He rakes a hand through his hair, and realizes now that his eyes ache. "No--I, ah, was still awake."

She offers her hand, smiling. "Come to market with me, Zethar."

He looks away. "Haven't you heard the rumors?"

"We've been friends since we were children. Why should I desert you now, over a rumor?"

She is still holding out her hand. He takes it, smiling back.

7. Diagram

Shinar finds her working alone in the tailor shop, and tells her everything in a frightened whisper. The notes he found hidden in Zethar's desk, with diagrams he understood only enough to know they were abominations. The way he's scared now of the letters his brother gets from Amestris.

Hadassah's eyes look pained as she looks away.

"The Amestrians are curious about Ishbal. Zethar said he's writing a book. You must have found his notes." Her hands shake faintly.

His lips move, but he can't make any sound.

"Just notes about Ishbal," she repeats.

He nods, wishing it were true.

8. Silence

Hadassah wears layers of loose clothing, tucks her handkerchiefs away before anyone can see, and smiles as warmly as ever. Zethar knows anyway. He can hear her coughing when she thinks nobody is listening. He can feel her bones when he touches her. He can see how pale her face is.

"Beloved," he whispers one night, hand sliding up her thin leg, "are you ill?"

She is silent. But he knows the answer, and how it will end.

When the end does come, it's exactly what he has prepared for. But he didn't expect his heart to shatter like this.

9. Ashes

Zethar does not attend the funeral. He buries himself in books and notes, thinking of nothing but Hadassah. He barely sleeps. Shinar brings food, but he leaves it untouched. He keeps silent when Shinar asks about what he's doing.

He is vaguely aware that the boy must be worried. Zethar starts to respond to the questions, muttering vague untruths. The lies are like ashes on his tongue.

Shinar keeps asking.

When Zethar finally admits the truth, he tries to ignore Shinar's repulsion. He only hopes he'll have enough time to finish, before Shinar grows bold enough to ask for help.

10. Stone

This time, Shinar is older, and aware of his brother's heresies. He should have been suspicious when Zethar locked himself into that room again. He shouldn't have let it come to this. He shouldn't have let Zethar wander away naked and confused.

He finds Zethar huddled by a crumbling wall, eyes staring at nothing, knees pulled to his chest. Still marked, still dazed, still helpless. He hesitates for a moment--but who else would care for Zethar now?

Shinar reaches to coax his brother to his feet. "My poor lamb," he whispers.

Zethar leans against him and stumbles slowly along.

11. Wilderness

Zethar can't remember how long they've wandered in the wilderness.

Shinar is the only one in the group who acknowledges him--leading him along, seeing that he eats. Shinar talks to him often, reminiscing about their parents and friends. He never mentions alchemy or Hadassah.

Sometimes Zethar says a few words in response, so that Shinar worries less. But all that talk is nothing against the burden of what Zethar knows, or the guilt of what he's done.

Usually he keeps silent, and listens to the wind over the sand dunes. It sounds like whispers from the lives inside him.

12. Heaven

The others scattered when the alchemist attacked. Zethar knows they won't return--he matters little to them, and Shinar is already beyond help.

One of them will die here. Zethar prays that it might be him--he is the guilty one, the one whose soul is already withered and decayed. Shinar is still young, pure, full of life. Silently, he lays both hands on the stump of Shinar's arm, ready to give everything for his brother's sake.

He closes his eyes, and sees Hadassah standing at Mother Ishballa's side. Hadassah smiles at him, whispers his name, and offers her hand.

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