Author: Jordanna Morgan (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Archive Rights: Please request the author’s consent.
Characters: Noa and Edward.
Setting: First anime. Set in my Tiesverse.
Summary: Her new world was a brighter place in a very literal sense.
Disclaimer: They belong to Hiromu Arakawa. I’m just playing with them.
Notes: As is my tradition, an Ed/Noa ficlet for Valentine’s Day (as well as marking the fifth anniversary of my first FMA fic). It fills the prompt “Sunrise/Sunset” at Genprompt Bingo. Although set in my Tiesverse, this is inspired by conversations Kristen Sharpe and I have had about Conqueror of Shamballa, and the intriguing difference in color palettes between Amestris and the alternate world.
It was Noa’s third sunrise in Amestris, and it looked to her as if it was going to be the most beautiful yet.
She still couldn’t get over the fact that the sun would not harm her. Since her release from the hospital on the first morning, she had yearned to be in its light from dawn until dusk, basking in the freedom of its warm glow—but the sunrise was still her favorite part. Instead of a warning to hide herself in the dark, it was now an invitation, a promise. It was one of the strongest reminders that she was no longer a monster, but human once more.
But the strongest reminder of all was Edward.
“What are you doing up so early?” his voice queried, softly and sleepily, from the doors that opened onto the balcony. She turned to see him standing there, a sleeveless shirt hastily pulled on over his shorts. Although the pre-dawn light was yet dim, his drowsy, bemused expression was clearly visible.
“I wanted to see the sunrise.” Noa smiled almost bashfully, feeling her cheeks grow warm at the admission. “I can’t help it. I think I’m becoming addicted to them.”
Understanding filled Ed’s face. He came forward to lean on the balcony railing beside her. When she turned to gaze out at the morning sky with him, her right shoulder was nearly touching his left one.
“I felt the same way after I came back. I think it took months before I stopped wanting to see the sun come up every morning.” A faint smile of his own crossed his lips. “And I only lost it for a week. I can’t imagine what it must be like for you, after years.”
“The funny thing is that I never thought much about the sunrise when I was younger. I loved the night sky, and firelight. Maybe that made it a little easier, when the night was the only time I had… But I guess we really do never know what we have until it’s gone.”
Ed looked at her. His golden eyes were large, and thoughtful, and full of emotions so deep they pained her to see. As his gaze fell, she noticed the way his flesh fingers came to rest lightly on the steel of his automail forearm.
“I had to get that lesson pounded into me a lot of times before it finally stuck.” He raised his eyes to hers, with an unflinching sincerity. “And the last time… was thinking I’d lost you.”
There were no words Noa could say in response to that; and so she didn’t try. She simply leaned in and kissed him, very gently.
He returned the kiss, and his left arm slipped around her silk-robe-clad waist, in a shyly halting manner. Since she woke up in the hospital, and even since their first kiss, he had often shown such a delicate hesitation about touching her in familiar ways like that. It was endearing… but unnecessary. He was the first and only man whose touch she wanted in this way.
After the kiss, they stood holding each other, as they watched the morning sky begin to lighten. The balcony overlooked the ample backyard of the Elric brothers’ house, and beyond that a thin stretch of suburban greenspace, with trees and grassy open spaces. It was a tranquil area where neighborhood residents could go to find a little of the peace of nature, even though they lived near the heart of Central. Noa could guess that it was one of the features which had drawn Ed and Al to this house, after their upbringing in wide-open, rural Resembool. The daughter of a nomadic Roma family could appreciate it for the same reason.
That patch of woodland also provided a lovely setting for the dawn. The screen of tree trunks in the distance was shot through with gaps full of brightness: a misty violet-pink at first, shading to pale gold, with deeper streaks of sky-fire painting the scattered white clouds. Distinct rays of light began to slant through the trees, creeping forward across the broad expanse of open grass between the treeline and the house, causing dewdrops to glitter like countless diamonds.
As the sun rose higher, the colors grew more intense: nameless hues that somehow mingled orange and rose, violet and amber. They peaked and slowly softened as the sun crested above the trees, an incandescent ball of red-gold flame.
When its full light first broke over the treetops, Noa turned her head slightly and snuggled her cheek against Ed’s shoulder, trying to watch the changing sky through half-lowered eyelashes. Some faint instinct to shrink back from the sun still lingered in her; but more than that, it was all just so very brilliant.
“I guess it will take a little time for my eyes to adjust to the daylight again,” she mused, rather sheepishly. “Under your sun, the colors seem so much brighter than in the world I came from… but I suppose that’s just because I haven’t seen anything in the day for so long.”
Ed tilted his head, looking down interestedly at her face. “No. It’s true. When I first ended up on the other side of the Gate, I noticed how much paler and more… bleak things looked there. I thought I was only imagining it—thinking everything looked so depressing because I just felt so lost. But eventually, I realized the colors actually were more dull. And when you sent me back, I saw the difference in how much more vivid they are on this side. Maybe it’s because the atmospheres of the two worlds have slightly different compositions. But whatever causes it, the effect is real: colors really are brighter here.”
It was a surprising and intriguing confirmation. Noa arched her eyebrows, feeling a faint stirring of the scientific curiosity she had gained from sharing his memories… as well as a trace of self-consciousness.
“Then if everything where I came from was that way, I must look less… colorful here too,” she considered ruefully.
Smiling, he shook his head. “I’m pretty sure that’s the last thing anyone is going to think of you.” He lightly stroked a lock of her hair with his steel forefinger. A blush spread over his cheeks as he added: “Your colors remind me of… brown sugar. And chocolate. Sweet things.”
Noa bit back a laugh. “No one has called me sweet since my family, before I was a dhampir.”
“It hasn’t changed just because you took up monster hunting,” Ed asserted, grinning affectionately at her.
Although he clearly had not intended it, Noa found a sobering reminder in those words. Her eyes darkened a little, and she looked away toward the sunrise, with its glowing shades of watercolor light.
“This world is so beautiful… but even here, I know there are ugly parts of it that some people have to face, so others only see the beauty.” She met Ed’s gaze fiercely. “That’s why I want to be a State Alchemist. I’ll fight to protect this world, Ed. I promise.”
Ed’s arm around her waist squeezed tighter, gently pulling her closer to him. “We both will. And at the same time, we’ll do all we can to stop this world from doing any more damage to the one you came from. We’ll find a way to fix the balance somehow… and someday, the other side won’t need Hunters any more.”
It was a lovely thought; but it was also, Noa realized, a little too far in the future for her to think about just now. She still needed some time to recover her own strength before she could fight for anyone else.
Just for a little while, it was alright not to be strong. It was alright to rest in the arms of the young man who loved her.
With a faint smile, she closed her eyes and nestled against Ed, tucking her head down to listen to his heartbeat. The right side of her face was pressed to the warmth of his body, while her left cheek felt the warmth of the ascending sun.
This world already felt more like home than her old one ever had.
© 2015 Jordanna Morgan