Stairs of Death
Pre-Warnings: Spoilers for the end of the series, and RoyEd. x3;
WARNING: This is going to be extremely graphic, as most of the story takes place in Mauthausen, one of the most terrible concentration camps of World War II. All of the things that happened there are true, and had been done to many others. An equivalent of 15,000 or more people were exterminated at Mauthausen, and even after the United States found this camp and freed the prisoners, 3,000 more died from malnutrition and starvation.
This is also Alternate Universe, as Edward was transported into our world before Worlds War II began, but I found it to be more interesting if I tweaked the timeline a tad bit. I have extreme respect for all Jewish followers or people that had family members that were murdered during this period.
Please keep in mind that all that you may be appalled by reading, is fact, and that yes, humankind did do this. There may also be some homosexuality, but I’m not certain if I should put it in there or not. Just Mauthausen seems like enough, but I might add a touch of RoyEd, as it is my favorite pairing.
Disclaimer: I don’t own any of the characters, but I own this story.
A/N: Some of you guys, from my last story, wanted something more happy. I'm sorry to say that this is going to probably be worse that before, so don't read it. xD This is going to get pretty nasty, as you can probably find out if you type in the keyword "Mauthausen" on google and visit some of the websites about this camp. I urge most of you to do so, because then you can experience the same shock I did after finding it.
Rating: Teen, but it will probably go up in later chapters..
Munich Germany, February 10th, 1943.
Edward glanced quickly across the road before limping his way across the street. A shriek rang out nearby and Edward turned slightly, still making his way to his house.
A woman with long brown hair down around her waist was struggling violently, a man holding her wrists as she writhed away from him. Edward knew what was happening, he had never really seen it before though. Turning his gaze away he knew it would be best just to continue onward into the safety of his house, his father would be home waiting anyways, if Edward was late Hohenheim would worry. Especially during these times.
The woman screamed and kicked out, before collapsing to her knees and sobbing pathetically. Sighing softly under his breath he pushed the door open and stepped into the dimly-lit room. Shrugging his coat off Edward quickly moved to close the drapes around the windows so the man wouldn’t bother him.
Placing the books on the table Edward stopped to notice how his hand was shaking slightly. Any confrontal like the one just now was enough to make Edward nervous, the holocaust was waging and anything you did to act against it would mean death for you as well.
Taking a couple breathes Edward made sure the door was locked before turning and going into the living area.
It was a year since Edward had come back to this world, in the middle of World War II. Germany was expanding rapidly using brute force. Hitler, a cruel and obsessive individual leaded these people, the Nazi’s. In his view, anyone that didn’t meet his own standards were unworthy to live, and so he was purging Germany and the rest of the world of these ‘impurities’.
Edward shivered slightly, flipping on a light in the living room and glancing around. His father was asleep on the couch, Edward didn’t bother him. In the eerie quiet you could hear the woman’s screams, they echoed through the house. Guilt plagued Edward.
He was classified as a cripple, without an arm or a leg. There wasn’t much he could do to save her, not like old times. He was without movable limbs, and without alchemy. It was impossible, he would only get caught as well.
Making his way into the tiny kitchen Edward heated up some water on the stove, using his left hand to grab the mug and pour the hot water into the cup. There was a shuffle from behind Edward as the young man used his teeth to rip open a tea package and place the packet into the steaming water.
“We are going to be next.”
Edward winced slightly, turning to face his father and give him a deathly glare. Sad thing was, Hohenheim was accurate. The police had been working their way down their street today and yesterday. If that woman had gotten caught just now, chances were they were going to search their house next. Although it was late, perhaps they would come tomorrow. Edward merely turned his glance to the window, but the lack of response was one in itself. His father took that as an understanding.
“We should be fine, we know what they search for. If we just keep our mouths shut and obey they shouldn’t bother us.” Hohenheim was saying, as Edward watched a dark shape be dragged away by the man, her hair in his hand.
“Yes. We’ll be fine.” Edward clipped. They had talked about this often, and Edward wasn’t in the mood for talking.
His father was silent for a moment before retreating to the couch again. Edward snorted as soon as he was gone and swirled his tea around a bit before sipping it lightly. Sitting down on a chair Edward sighed and stared at a spot on the wall for long moments, simply thinking as he sipped the tea down until the last drags were left.
Putting away his cup he made his way into the living room. He paused and glanced at his father, who was trying to get back to sleep.
“Alphonse is coming over tomorrow.” Edward stated. Simply informing, not asking. He didn’t hold enough respect for his father to ask, but he still had to treat him with a little respect. It was his father’s house he was staying in after all. Edward figured letting the old man know what was going on would be enough.
Hohenheim just mumbled in confirmation as Edward left the room, leaving for his own.
For a while nothing happened, Edward was merely researching again. A loud boom made Edward jump in his seat, having been absorbed in trying to find a way back to his brother. The sound repeated and in a flash his father was at Edward’s door.
“Hurry. They have come.” He hissed, his hair disheveled, something like.. fear in his eyes. Edward stood up quickly, pushing any papers that may be self-incriminating into his closet and following his father through the hall to the front door.
Hohenheim flung the heavy wood door open and glanced inside, eyes widening as a lady with long brown hair flung herself inside, and clung to Edward, who teetered a bit and had to lean against the wall to keep from falling over.
“Please, help me!” She cried out, terrified. Tears streamed down her face as she pushed her face close to Edward’s. Edward shrank back a bit in her dazed gaze, and Hohenheim attempted to pry her off his son, but her fingernail dug deep into Edward’s arm, making him whimper slightly, eyes watering.
“Please, hide me.” She cried out.
Edward frowned and looked over at Hohenheim, but a voice rang out loudly through the night like a knife. A shout followed by the clatter of feet. Three policemen tried to barge their way into their house. They were doomed now, it looked like they were going to hide this Jew.
Grimacing he dragged the girl behind him, kicking the door closed and locking it tight, before making his way through the hall and into the closet. Shoving her roughly in there he turned around, trying to think of what to do next. His father was hissing something at him, probably scolding him for letting the girl come inside. Either way, the policemen were looking for any possible reason to take someone in, they thought it was good fun. If they got caught now, they would be taken to Mauthausen. Edward shivered slightly. The stories he had heard about that place were less than pleasant.
Someone was banging on the door now, the resulting shockwave making the china tinkle together in the far corner of the room. Edward grunted and dragged a chair over to reinforce the door. Truth was, they were probably going to get taken anyways. His father had a reputation for helping the Jews, and could be considered a social outcast. This was known all around the city, so Edward was more surprised that it had taken this long for them to try and catch them, rather then trying to catch him.
Really wishing he could use alchemy at this moment, Edward limped to the back of the house and glanced through the window, seeing nothing but dark he popped open the panel and carefully climbed out into the bush below. Really, he could care less about what his father was doing, Edward was more concerned about the racket making its way around the side of the house.
Holding his breath Edward waited until they filed around the house, watching from the safe branches of the bush as they broke a window near him and climbed in. The shouts from inside told Edward they had gotten through the door as well, and they had probably found his father by now. A small amount of guilt stabbed at Edward, but he quickly shooed it away. Right now as about personal survival. He had to remain here, in Munich, if he ever had a chance of seeing his brother again...and Roy. Edward felt something stir up inside him at the thought of the Colonel. Maybe even Fuhrer now..
There was a small scuffle inside the house, and his father’s voice rang out above the deeper tones of the police.
After a while there was a thud, and then Edward couldn’t hear his father anymore. They had probably knocked him out. He felt his heart pounding in his ears as a nearby officer looked almost directly at him, before lumbering a few feet away.
“Search for the boy as well, he couldn’t have gone far. He didn’t have a leg.” One stated, “And also search the house for that Jew.”
This was it. He was going to die. Edward knew that there was no way he could run fast enough to make it to the street before he was tackled, and he couldn’t stay there as well. The men were already combing the bushes on the other side of the house and working up. He heard the men retreat from the house and start searching the tiny backyard, making goose bumps rise all over Edward’s neck and arm. Taking a deep breath he waited until the one man had turned his back before making a sudden dash across the backyard to the gate into the ally.
Edward had the element of surprise, but his artificial limb slowed him down enough to make him curse. The gate seemed to be getting further and further away rather than closer, and Edward was already getting tired from the sudden sprint. His stump throbbed where the attachment was connected as the wood was rubbing against sensitive skin. Biting his lip he grabbed the latch and lashed out with his hand to flip the lock off and push the gate open.
A sudden force hit him in the back, causing him to spill forward onto the earth with a small cry. His real arm was pinned behind his back and he could hear laughter faintly from above, stars swimming around his vision.
Edward hated being this pathetic. He snarled and bucked his head and back, trying to overthrow the man, but this only caused him to start laughing even more. Chuckling the man forced Edward to his feet, and pushed him against the wooden wall to prevent Edward from trying to kick with his other leg.
“Feisty, huh?” Edward heard from somewhere near his ear, making him spit with rage, a red hue descended over his eyes as he began to thrash and scream with venom, connecting his head into the other man’s chest cavity with such a velocity that his captor gasped and let go for a second, allowing Edward to swing quickly, building enough force with his limp right arm to whack the man in the side of the head.
Smirking with a small victory he was startled out of his rebellion by quick uppercut to the chest. Dropping to his knee, he was forced to the ground, the smell of grass filling his nostrils.
More laughter. Edward really hated this.
“That is sad, you were taken down by a cripple!” The man was saying to his comrade, who was getting up off the ground and rubbing his head.
“Yeah, yeah.” The voice answered, kicking Edward’s back sharply, making him whimper slightly. “Did you get the girl?”
“No. We can get her later, we have this Hohenheim person everyone’s been talking about. I guess this is his son. Shame, we really didn’t need to bring him in until he started acting up..”
Edward laid quietly, silently cursing his weakened body and vowing revenge as the two men talked as if he wasn’t even there. He was then forced up yet again. Blowing a couple strands of blonde out of his face he glared at the men, spitting in their direction, only receiving a punch in the stomach. The man behind him supported him as his knees gave out, winded.
“Okay, I guess we can put them down by the others. The train should be coming soon to take them to Mauthausen. The other camps are too full.” The man stated, and Edward froze with sudden apprehension.
“Hey you, keep moving.” One policeman stated, nudging his leg and pushing him forward. Glancing back, Edward saw his father getting the same cruel treatment. Biting his lip he turned back and obeyed. Some battles you just couldn’t win.
A pinkish hue began over the horizon as the sun rose, Edward watched numbly as he was escorted down the street. The early comers watched him pass, careful not to look anywhere higher than his chest. Pity shone in most eyes, but some just grinned at the policemen and complimented their work. Edward frowned and shot those a deadly glare. How could they think this was righteous?
His father was now beside him, most knew Hohenheim in the city. The people were not meeting his eyes either. Edward had to give his dad credit, he was pretty composed for walking down the street arm in arm with a policemen, his reputation being ripped to shreds.
Alphonse would figure out what happened. Hope stirred somewhere inside Edward. Alphonse Heidrich was supposed to come over to their house today, he would see the window and the overturned chair. He was smart enough to figure out what had happened.
But he wouldn’t be able to help them now. Edward ducked his head as they walked for what seemed like ages. Stopping in front of a building Edward and his father were pushed inside, and Edward heard the click of the lock being turned from inside.
Sighing Edward turned around, to see about two hundred other people staring back at him. They all shifted their gaze as soon as they saw him and turned to look at their laps. A little girl got up and stood on the only chair in the huge warehouse to look out the barred window for a moment before the chatter and talking started again. Edward had the distinct impression that as soon as they heard the lock click from the outside they hushed up until they were sure the men outside weren’t coming in, only shoving Edward and his father inside.
A few sent friendly smiles to Edward, but Ed could tell they were faked. They all felt the impending doom nesting right above their heads. Edward leaned against the wall, gently tapping it with his wooden arm. It was solid. No hope of escape. He didn’t really expect any less.
Sliding down the wall, he sat next to his father, who was talking to the girl. When Edward turned his gaze to watch them speak his breath caught in his throat.
The girl had a happy jubilant smile, even though she said she was hungry and stinky. Her spirit radiated with such innocents that Edward felt scared to come even close to her in fear of shattering that appearance. Her hair was long, down to her legs, in two braids.
Her name was Nina.
Edward shifted his gaze away and up at the cement ceiling. Everyone had a double in this world. How ironic that he would meet Nina’s in a place like this.
Nina looked over at Edward and her smile widened. Hohenheim had obviously sensed that Edward knew something about the girl that he didn’t. His father was very good at reading him, even if Edward didn’t want to admit it. He watched his son curiously as Edward pulled Nina into his lap and smiled as she tried to play patty-cake with him.
She only gave him a bemused look when she noticed he didn’t have another arm to play with.
The day passed very slowly, everyone inside having no where to go to the bathroom, so the corner of the room was secluded for people that needed to do their business. That quickly made the room stuffy and unbearable to be in. Edward used his coat to cover his nose and mouth and spent most of the time talking and playing with Nina, who, apparently had gotten separated from her mother.
They would get up and walk around a bit every few hours, just so their legs wouldn’t go to sleep, but everyone packed in such a tight space made it so only a few people could move at once.
Edward leaned back against the familiar bit of wall he had been sitting next to for the past seven hours, playing a rhyming game with Nina. He had to hand it to the girl, for a four-year-old she was pretty skilled at being able to stay still for long periods of time.
“Sun.” Nina squealed happily, clapping her hands together in joy.
Edward smiled wistfully, only pausing a moment before replying.
Nina thought for a long moment, and Edward waited for about half a minute before starting a countdown. That made Nina shriek and start to giggle.
“No! No! Edo! That’s not fair!”
“Stop it! Stop!”
“No! Edwaaaard.. Not fair!”
“Run!” Nina shrieked, falling back into Edward’s chest with the relief of thinking of a word that rhymed with fun before Edward’s countdown reached zero.
“Hm.” Edward stated, thinking for a bit. He chuckled softly when Nina poking him in the chest, beginning her own countdown with a small teasing voice.
“Son.” Hohenheim stated tiredly from Edward’s left, glancing down at Nina, giving her a small smile. Edward glanced up and gave his father a weird look before turning his attention back to Nina.
“No fair! You can’t help him! He has to think of one on his own.. you didn’t help me.” Nina protested, giggling again and tugging a braid over her shoulder as a endearing habit.
The shadows coming through the window began to get longer, the sun disappearing behind the clouds. Edward ran his fingers through Nina’s bangs gently, pulling her body back flush to his chest, her sitting in his lap.
“Let’s sleep instead.” Edward advised, his own eyelids drifting shut. Nina sighed from under him, nodding a bit and nestling into his coat, her nose buried deep sniffing Edward’s scent for security. Smiling softly Edward leaned his head back, giving his father one last glance before falling asleep before Hohenheim could question Edward about how he knew Nina before. Edward really didn’t want to talk about that.
Perhaps tomorrow. Not today.
Nina’s sudden appearance made Edward feel this overwhelming urge to protect her, mainly because of what he failed to do back in Amestris. She had died back then because he hadn’t been smart enough to see what Tucker was planning, this Nina wasn’t going to be killed if Edward could help it.
Still absently stroking Nina’s head, Edward drifted off to sleep, his own cheek resting on the top of Nina’s head. Their chests rising and falling at the same time.
The rest of the prisoners had settled down to their own respective corners, making sure no gap was left unused. In some spots people couldn’t even stretch out one leg. They had to sleep almost on each other in other spots. Hohenheim watched the scene with disgust and amazement.
How could the human race be this vain?