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Arms Enough to Hold Us


There was little to say, to breathe, to feel when all the world was crushing a soul that had barely begun to breathe. Dramatic and yet not, the youngest Elric sat at the window, his fingertips running at the pane, trailing the glass, slipping up, down, tracing circles and lines aimlessly while he stared out along the planes lit by the mother moon and sister stars.

He didn't hear Edward moving behind him, shifting up to his knees, reaching out to him, childish and tiny.

"Come to bed, Al."

"I'm waiting for him."

There was a pained sigh, something torn from the bottom of broken, hopeless hearts, before Edward climbed to small feet and padded over to his sibling. Arms wrapped around his brother's shoulders, tugging him back into the comfort of his chest, his breath warm in the shaggy fall of hair that desperately needed to be cut. "He's not coming back. He abandoned us. Forgot about us."

"...s'not true."

"He hasn't sent a letter in months, Al. He doesn't even remember us." Heavy silence descended, enough to strangle, before a low whisper drowned in the air. "You've heard mother crying. She's doing that because he doesn't love us anymore."

Faith was daunting, unwavering, devouring the youngest Elric whole, for what was life without hope? What was breathing without belief that things could change, could change for the better, for smiles to find lips once more? "He's coming back, brother."

Edward didn't move, didn't speak; conviction could be so easily confused with foolishness when one was young and wounded. "Fine. I warned you."

Al hung his head, his arms wrapping around his body, holding onto himself to keep the pieces from dropping away. He ignored the sound of Edward slipping into bed, of the rustle of the sheets, of the head thumping against the pillow in frustration and despair. He ignored how chilled his back felt when his brother wasn't there to warm it, how silent it was when his brother wasn't there to fill it.

His arms weren't big enough to encompass all of himself, and Edward always got the pieces that he couldn't reach.

When Edward awoke the next morning, the sleepiness caught in the golden fringe of lashes that framed honeyed eyes, he could see Al sleeping against the window, his cheek red from the chill of the glass, his body sitting up, uncomfortable, crooked and craned. He was going to have an aching neck, or worse, doing stupid stuff like that! As he drew near to wake him up, slug him in the arm and ask him, Are you stupid; did you want to catch cold?, he could see the pocked marks against the class, the prints of tears long since fled and dead.

Edward wrapped his arms around his brother, his eyes tightly closed as he buried his face into the slope of one tiny shoulder. He could feel Al's body shift, turn, could hear the breathing quicken grow faster as he awoke, his body starting to stretch, to reach out, to yawn, before he stilled himself in Edward's arms.

"Brother?" he whispered.

"He might've left us," Edward murmured into he fabric of that t-shirt, cotton absorbing the words but never the sentiment. "He might have left you, Al, but I never will. I swear to you, I never will."

Alphonse didn't have to speak, didn't have to make a sound; Edward's arms were around him, touching all emotional areas that he couldn’t quite reach. Peace wasn't there yet, but it would be.

Someday. Someday soon.