Warning: MAJOR SPOILERS for episode 49-51.
Summary: Ed and Hohenheim bond in their own unique way.
In the beginning, there was silence. They had nothing much to say. Hohenheim never asked how, or why. Without a word, he took Edward in like one would a lost puppy- simply because he had nowhere else to go.
Hohenheim was gone for most of the day, doing business- Edward never asked what, or where. It was simply a way of life. All he ever wanted was books- books on history, geography, literature, language. He would curl up on the sofa, every hour of every day, pouring over these thick volumes.
It was no great task in finding them. Most of these were the same books that Hohenheim had read when he first entered this world. Edward could simply go to the shelf and pick out anything he wanted.
He listened to the radio, too. It was as if he were trying to drown himself in knowledge. Hohenheim would often come home to find his son fast asleep on the sofa, a book facedown on his chest and the radio blaring out the daily news. Hohenheim would sigh, switch off the radio, and drape a blanket over Edward’s sleeping form. Then he would perhaps warm a can of soup, or slice a loaf of bread, and set it on the coffee table for his son to find when he woke up a few hours later. He probably wouldn’t have eaten otherwise.
Every day the same routine, until finally Hohenheim decided it was time for Edward to get some fresh air. He urged him out for a walk. His son blinked drowsily in reply, sipped his tea, and turned the page of his book. “What’s the use, there’s nothing to see. It’s all just rubble.”
“This isn’t healthy. You’re going.”
The city had managed to clean up somewhat after the war, but there were still plenty of spots in need of rebuilding. Hohenheim steered them away from the eyesores and toward a more cultured part of the area, where business was still booming despite the lack of paying customers.
They stopped by a toy shop, where Edward spent the better part of an hour examining the model airplanes, while the shopkeeper gave them strange looks from behind the counter. They might have stayed longer if not for the fact that, once finding the model zeppelins, Edward gave an involuntary shudder and backed out the door.
After that, there was silence. A comfortable silence that suited both their needs. Hohenheim would get on doing whatever it was he was doing, then come home to study. Edward would continue to tear through the manuscripts, fitting in missing pieces from the glimpse of this world he had seen in the Gate.
Soon Edward began his own studying- taking notes and jotting down calculations. Hohenheim glanced through these one night while Edward was sleeping:
2 = 1 radio
3 = 1 spear
40 = gold, 5 grams
And so on. Edward had scrawled this on a scrap of paper which he’d then used as a bookmark in the book he was reading- a chronicle on the Hundred Years’ War. Hohenheim understood at once. He was estimating the number of lives it took to make a transmutation.
There was another time that Hohenheim managed to persuade Edward into going outside. It was a formal occasion- due to certain connections, Hohenheim had been invited as a guest. Shopping for proper attire was agonizing, with Edward’s automail, sense of style, and general stubbornness posing as obstacles.
They arrived early in the evening, but there wasn’t much to do. Everyone basically stood around chatting, drinking champagne, discussing things in lowered voices, and eating.
At least the food was good. Edward rarely strayed from the buffet table, after months of living off what amounted to left over war rations. For the most part Hohenheim was glad he kept out of the way, though he did make an attempt to integrate him into society.
“Edward, this is Pierre. Pierre, c’est mon petit fils Edward.”
Pierre offered his right hand, and when Edward only raised his left, quickly exchanged it for his left as well (coming across cripples wasn’t too unusual in that day and age). They shook.
“Pleased to meet you,” said Pierre, accent heavy.
Hohenheim and Pierre spent some time talking, switching to French whenever straying into confidential topics. Edward meanwhile scrutinized a bowl of sherbet, wrinkling his nose at the server. “Is there milk in that?”
Pierre was soon called over by another group of party goers, and they exchanged goodbyes. “Au revoir,” Pierre called.
Edward turned and waved casually. “A bientot!”
Hohenheim did a double take. “When did you learn French?”
Edward didn’t answer, but instead glared, though with a hint of a grin tugging at his lips. “By the way, I am NOT small.”
They left late at night, tired and Edward groaning from an over-stuffed stomach. They paused at a bridge for Edward to vomit (apparently he had ‘sampled’ some of the champagne as well). Hohenheim slapped his son on the back with a laugh, promising to buy something tomorrow to compensate for the meal lost.
When Hohenheim decided to move to Munich, Edward didn’t complain or ask questions. He simply dove deeper into his German studies, with the added comment to make sure he left none of the books behind.
On the journey there- first by train, then ship, then train again- Edward would stare blankly out the window, taking in the landscape with eyes that didn’t see beyond the boundaries of his own mind. At times he would start from a deep sleep, and when asked what was the matter, would reply that he’d dreamed of trench warfare- something he’d seen, though never experienced.
Shortly after they’d arrived and settled in, Edward began demanding books on science and technology. It was as if the past year of reading was merely preliminary research for his real subject of interest, so that he could fully comprehend it to the best of his ability. Soon their individual studies became an ever-shortening race to catch up.
One night, when Hohenheim reached to his side for a book, he discovered that Edward was already in the process of claiming it for his own. His son clutched it to his chest possessively with a grin of self-satisfaction, then left for his corner of the room without a word. There had been a look of challenge in his eyes.
Two years to the day that Edward first arrived, his hair had grown to twice its previous length. No longer bothered to trim or put it in a braid, Edward merely let it hang, or tied it in a loose ponytail whenever he went out. Which was frequently.
Hohenheim was surprised to find out that now Edward went out on walks by himself during the afternoon, and though the view wasn’t pretty, he said it gave him time to think. Of what, he would not tell.
By then Edward’s side of the room consisted not only of the sofa but his very own desk. Their evenings together were filled with the turning of pages and scratching of pen against paper. What little conversation they had never seemed to feel as reassuring as those gentle noises.
And then came a day when Edward interrupted this daily routine by leaning back in his chair and sighing. “Hey Dad?”
Hohenheim put down his pen. “Yes?”
“How long is a year?”
“…What do you mean?”
“I mean…” Edward stood up and strode to the bookshelf. He reached forward to get a book- no longer having to stand on his toes to touch the top shelf- and began leafing through it absentmindedly. “How long do you plan to spend here?”
“Until I die, I suppose.”
“And when’s that?”
“I don’t know.”
Edward paused. “I’m not staying.”
Dust layered on the covers of the book stained his fingertips. He let them trail against the side of the page, painting a gray circle. Then he shut the book, and returned it to its place.
“I don’t belong here. I don’t belong anywhere- by all means I should have died a long time ago.”
Hohenheim nodded. “Same goes for me.”
“But I…if I’m going to live, then I don’t want to spend my life here, doing what I’m doing. I need a goal. Even if it’s foolish, even if it’s impossible…”
“I see. Then what’s stopping you?”
Edward turned to look at him. “Nothing.”
Hohenheim went back to his notes. “Well, good luck then.”
And Edward smiled, finally getting the joke.
Btw, did anyone notice that the series began and ended with the same BGM? ^^