Hey, ficpost, like I said! ... not actually the fic I THOUGHT I'd post, but what the hey. XD; What the hell, me.

So, like, apparently [livejournal.com profile] anax is doing an FMA fic contest! And one of the random prompts he threw out was "Ed/Scar," only since my brain shut down and I couldn't think of a way to do it, it just became Scarfic in general. What. XD;


The Song of the Lion
Fullmetal Alchemist
Scar spoilers; gratuitous use of fan-selected names
Looking back, sometimes, he remembers when it changed.

When Asad was young his mother would rock him in her arms, and sing him hymns as lullabies. He only has snapshot memories of it all: the heat of day blending into the cool of night, and the wind carrying the sound of his mother's voice. Praise be to the God who created this world, who gave us shape and is our strength.

"Perhaps you will grow up to become a great man," he remembers her saying once. "Perhaps you will grow up to be a just man."

She always spoke like that, always "perhaps" and "maybe," but never more. Even her love was conditional, because she was a daughter of religion, and the only absolute was Ishbara. Maybe she loved them, maybe she didn't. If you become a holy man, you will understand.

When Asad was old enough to be left alone with his brother, his mother would go down and kneel on the marble steps, praying until long after the skies turned black. There were many times his father would go to fetch her, and she would enter the house with a lost, distant look, always looking over her shoulder back to the mosque. When their father dies, Asad is twelve years old, and watches his mother drape black veils over her head and walk away, to spend the rest of her life in meditation. He doesn't know her well enough to mourn.

Eventually, though, Asad follows his mother's example. He goes to the temple and kneels on the marble and listens to the words of the holy men and the priests; he spends late nights pouring over the texts as his brother, next door, studies science and machines and unnatural things. Halim is brilliant and not really suited for the dry dusty desert; he talks about irrigation techniques, of going against nature and causing the sand to blossom without waiting for the seasonal rains.

Asad loves his brother, and doesn't understand him at all.

Halim leaves eventually, going out into the world. He leaves with Amestris' glittering godless capitol, Central City, as his goal, and is gone for over a year. Asad almost gives up on him when Halim returns.

Halim brings strange ideas, talking of alchemy and its benefit to the people, and completely ignores how it goes against everything that Ishbara has ever taught. Halim no longer wears the traditional loose-flowing robes woven by the village women; instead, he wears crisp strange things that he calls a "suit."

And Halim brings back Adara, who walks with her arm in his and with her head up high. She is from a village that is near the Amestrian border, the daughter of a scholar; she has long dark hair and skin the color of milk tea; she is the most beautiful woman Asad has ever seen.

"If you are Halim's brother," she murmurs, when they first meet, "then from this day on, I am your new sister."

In the eyes of the village elders, they are never officially married. This causes tongues to wag, as the old women draw their daughters away and watch suspiciously as Adara walks to the well and draws water for the day. At night, she sits with Halim in his study and does the mending, listening to him ramble about his strange ideas of science, and speaking more freely than most women in the country would dare. Asad has never seen more than an embrace pass between the two of them, or a brush of hands over breakfast.

"Why don't you marry her?" he asks Halim one day, as she is out at the market. "It would make things easier for her."

Halim sticks a pencil behind one ear and smiles. He wears glasses now, bought off an Amestrian merchant who wandered through nearly two months before. It makes him look old. "We are already married," he says. "It would be very strange, to be married twice."

"The marriage customs of the Amestrians are not our own, Brother. You cannot be considered truly married if one of them officiated."

"My heart says we are married," Halim says. "And Ishbara teaches that we must always be true to our hearts, and what we believe." He smiles, and before Asad can argue again, Adara is home. The smell of jasmine follows her like the shapings of a dream.

"Love," she says, and reaches out to put her slim hands on his shoulders. Halim leans back and smiles at her, and Asad slips away before his presence can be further remarked upon.

Adara comes to him later, slim and cool and everything he has not allowed himself to want. She stands in the doorway, watching him, and when he is finally ready to snap, to say something hard and angry, she says, "I am not your enemy."

He does not even try to argue. "My brother has changed because of you," he says. "He was always interested in the sciences, in a different road than the way of Ishbara, but you have changed him beyond that. If the elders knew he practiced alchemy with you, we would all be cast out as sinners against God."

"I don't think God is as strict as you say," she says, hovering in the doorway. "He would not have given us the capacity to grow and adapt, if we were only supposed to be one way."

"That's part of the test," Asad tells her. "Ishbara tests us to make sure we are worthy."

He thinks Adara will argue again. Instead, she only looks at him sadly, and turns away. That night, he dreams about the smell of jasmine and her mouth shaping his name over and over.

When Asad turns fifteen, war breaks out. They are too far from the border to be in the immediate thrust of battle, but the distant sky is black from smoke, and at night, the sounds of gunfire carry. It will only be a matter of time. Asad can scarcely sleep for the sound of it, clutching an antique rifle in both hands and waiting for the exact moment that the soldiers come bursting in through the door. There are nights where he paces, restless, and sees Adara standing in the doorway, wrapped in her shawl and staring at the signs of battle, far distant.

Her family lies in that direction, and it surprises no one when she says she must go; if anything, there are people who feel she has waited too long to return to her own. Asad watches as she packs, as Halim packs, and the night they leave, he prays in the mosque until he can no longer feel his knees, and they ache for days afterwards.

A week later, they return; Asad comes back from afternoon prayer to find the door standing ajar, and follows the disheveled trail to the bedroom, where Halim sits by Adara's side, clutching her hand and murmuring low words to her; the sound of Adara's breathing is rough and loud, and it seems strange that such a delicate woman could sound so harsh. Asad finds he can only stare dumbly as Halim presses a cold damp cloth over Adara's brow, as fever-chills wrack Adara's body.

She dies by slow degrees, though Halim calls her name over and over, never letting go of her hand. Asad watches the entire time, and cannot even unlock his legs long enough to go searching for a priest. It is just after sunrise when Adara sighs one last time, whispering something he cannot catch to Halim, and closes her eyes for good. Halim's grief is immediate and loud, which is undignified, but Asad cannot find the words to censure him.

Looking back, he does not think this is actually where everything began to change. Not even when Adara's funeral pyre was reduced to pale ashes, sticking to the tear-tracks on Halim's face, did things change.

It was when war finally reached their village, in an explosion of fire and anger and fear. He was on his way to prayer, and saw the men in blue appear, like the rivers of myth, grim-faced and unstoppable. Asad, to his shame, fled and took refuge in the mosque. Even the Amestrians, who looked upon alchemy as their god, did not yet have the nerve to destroy a holy place.

Things changed, he knows, when the soldiers came, and among them, the State Alchemists.

Halim drifted in and out of the crowds, dazed and lost; Adara was his guide, and she has left him without an anchor. At night, he curls in a single corner of the bed they shared and gibbers to himself; Asad, listening, almost hates her for it. During the day, he disappears from home for long stretches at a time -- sometimes he comes home by himself; other times, he's led home by the handful of remaining people in their village, who still live among the ruins of their homes, and try to avoid the soldiers when they can.

From these soldiers, and their pet alchemists, is where Halim learns about the ultimate sin. Not even the great prophets of the scriptures were granted the ability to return the dead to life, but these godless alchemists claim to know a way, and Halim drinks in these stories with the voracious hunger of a newborn. When he locks himself into his study and stays there, Asad is foolish enough to be relieved, thinking his brother is perhaps, finally, settling into grief.

Ten times a fool is still a fool, though; even to his dying day, Asad remembers the door to Halim's study opening, and the carnage that lay inside, the blood that soaks the front of Halim's pants and shirt. The western clothing that he was so fond of had been ruined by his mistake, and the pulsing, burbling thing that has Adara's eyes offers no comfort.

"Brother," Asad whispers. "Oh, Brother, what have you done?"

And the thing that is and is not his sister, the most beautiful woman he has ever known, groans and wheezes and makes thick, wet noises, reaching for Halim with a rotten, shaking hand. Halim turns his face away, pale and losing blood fast, and Asad's hands shake as he raises his musket and fires, shooting the thing right between Adara's wide, empty eyes.

It's the first time he's ever killed anything. Later, after Halim is bandaged and tucked away, to stare at the ceiling and barely breathe, Asad leans out back and is violently, horribly sick. When he swallows against the rest, it burns in his throat, like it could eat him from the inside out.

The rest of the war passes as a blur; there are only occasional bright moments that stick in his mind, strong enough to be memories. Halim dies more slowly than Adara; Asad watches as his brother's brilliant sharp mind breaks, fragments dissolving further with each passing day. There is nothing he can do, but try to keep his brother eating and drinking, though sleep now seems forever out of the question.

War has a way of making everything pass with breakneck speed, and still maintain a snail's pace. Asad learns to sleep with a rifle in his hands and his back to a wall; learns to sleep so that the smallest noise -- whether it's a change in Halim's breathing or footsteps down the street -- will wake him. Eventually, he becomes used to it.

Then comes the day that he goes to his brother's study, and Halim steps out, naked and covered in strange black marks; they are dark and vivid as tattoos, but they cover everywhere -- and Asad thinks, there is no way his brother could have kept his hands steady enough for that. These are not the marks of the faithful, the priests who have the scriptures embedded into their own skin as a mark of their holiness; he recognizes these from the notes that Adara kept, from the books stacked in Halim's library. This is alchemy, and his brother is no longer his brother.

He has no time to mourn. When the State Alchemists are set loose upon the children of Ishbara, Asad watches the destruction and feels hatred burning like cold fire in his gut. There are women and children lying broken and desecrated in the streets, drowned in pools of their own blood; there are a thousand houses and villages that have been swallowed up by the unnatural manipulations of alchemy.

It is almost a relief when the State Alchemist comes for their small band of refugees; it is almost a relief, because Asad is so tired, so very tired of keeping strong, of failure, of it all. Praise be to Ishbara who holds us close and shelters us from the storms of the desert.

For Halim to die instead was something he never expected. Asad watches as a single bright moment of clarity returns to his brother's eyes, and the tired smile that spreads across Halim's face. He can almost see the boy he used to know, the one who took his hand and held on as their mother walked away, the one who left and came back with a beautiful woman -- he sees the entire span of his life in Halim's dark eyes.

And when he is finally alone, Asad puts his head back and wails. It's a style of mourning reserved for the women, but there is no one else in this wide empty desert; even Ishbara has, for the moment, deserted him.

There is bile on his lips and blood on his hands and arms, from where his own was blown off, and the one that Halim gifted to him. There is sad on his face and in his eyes; for a moment, he thinks it could suffocate him. He could lie down next to his brother, and let the desert devour him whole. And then, maybe, Adara would gather him into her flower-scented arms, and he could pretend the entirety of his life was just some strange nightmare.

He wants it so badly he can taste it. Asad reaches for his brother's face, blinking hard against sands --

-- and wakes.

The man called Scar opens his eyes to gray skies and more rain. It washes away some, but not all, of the blood that coats his fingers. He has killed eight men today, and only one of them was a State Alchemist. The tally is not as bad as it could be; he's had better days, but he's had worse.

Slowly, he gets to his feet and walks down the long dark alley, towards where he can see light. Now, while it is still night, he thinks, he will go to the Central Library's First Branch. Maybe there, his path will intersect with that of the Fullmetal Alchemist, and that will be one more name to his list, one more of the thousand sinners for his brother's life. Halim was gentle and quiet, but surely somewhere, even his soul must be wandering restlessly, denied vengeance -- so the pain in his arm tells him, and so he chooses to believe.

Never looking back, he walks on, and ignores the steady ache in his arm. Either way, he knows, it'll be over soon.


P.S. As for the names:

Asad = lion
Halim = mild, gentle, patient
Adara = virgin [DUCKS ROTTEN FRUIT]

From: [identity profile] ex-sockren.livejournal.com

Have my babies. I will go yell at him to read this and worship you.
harukami: (Scar Sez: ASS!)

From: [personal profile] harukami


I, uh. This is beautiful. I literally couldn't look away to do anything else. This is so absolutely, GORGEOUSLY shaped, beginning to end. The ....I can believe it. I can feel this all and *believe* this is what happened. I love how you work in personal details and the canon and just, ow. Ow.

"I am not your enemy"... oh, god. Wow.

I got teary at the end. I honestly did. Love this fic, love the FEEL of it. Just... wow.

From: [identity profile] mikkeneko.livejournal.com

Wouldn't dare to assign names to nameless characters. :) I know anything I came up with would just sound stupid.

Er, uh... I'm doing this because anax suggested you wouldn't mind... I know that you used to be archived on Scimitar Smile, but left after a time. Well, the archive has recently changed management hands (to me,) and I was wondering if you had any interest in coming back. I'd love to see your work there again.

Consider this a standing re-invitation, anyway.

From: [identity profile] mikkeneko.livejournal.com

Sure, I understand. If you have any questions, or just let me know at my email. (mailto:cryzycyt@yahoo.com)

From: [identity profile] coramegan.livejournal.com

*adds to memories under "things that make me go 'guh'"* That was amazing! Just amazing! What a beautiful and tragic take on Scar's story. And the names are beautiful. Where did you find them? *dies of love*

From: [identity profile] coramegan.livejournal.com

A double-meaning pun? *is dense science major and lacks insight*

It's almost alarming how often Google solves all questions and answers all problems.

From: [identity profile] sakurazuka-jae.livejournal.com


Whoah. Seriously cool. If Scar's early life didn't all happen that way then it damn well should have.

You win!

From: [identity profile] zinjadu.livejournal.com

OooooOOooOoooooo. Very nice, Terra. I do like the names you picked for them.

And oh my, poor, poor Scar. He's so crazy, but so damn tragic and you get that perfectly. Good job!

From: [identity profile] ontogenesis.livejournal.com

That was a very well-conceived backstory; you handled Scar's transition from not-so-religious to a religious zealot convincingly. And I especially liked the theological dispute between Asada and Scar (now that you're done with finals, you might have reading time, ne? I would recommend Orson Scott Card if you enjoy characters who have intelligent conversations regarding beliefs and/or religion.)

From: [identity profile] crazy-toffee.livejournal.com

Okay, first off, sentences that I loved to death because they were so evocative of both feelings and physical sensations:

Adara comes to him later, slim and cool and everything he has not allowed himself to want.

That night, he dreams about the smell of jasmine and her mouth shaping his name over and over.

the sound of Adara's breathing is rough and loud, and it seems strange that such a delicate woman could sound so harsh

See? This is what I like so much about your style; you manage to be very poetic by using simple words, and convey a wealth of meaning by saying only the barest minimum. These sentences struck me as unusually powerful, because they speak so strongly of Asad's nature and perception. You characterized him - seemingly effortlessly? -, slipping the canon in with your own ideas until they merged perfectly.

There was something too sad about Scar and his brother in your story, about Scar's realisation that he can love, but not understand the people he loves. The choice of names for the characters seemed perfect to me, particularly 'Halim'. It was very easy to see him as the canonical backworld man who embraces science against his people's faith. Adara was lovely too, managing to be femininely sad and gentle, yet still ringing of the future Lust. Aaaah~! I am SO in love with this fic!
ext_12901: (FMA - Scar's brother)

From: [identity profile] tookhernowhere.livejournal.com

Here via [livejournal.com profile] harukami's rec. This was such a beautiful fic--it had a wonderful dreamy flow, and lovely use of language. The relationship between Scar and his brother struck me as very very real, too--I've had familial relationships like that, where you don't understand someone, and you disagree with them on a lot of important things, and you don't even like them any more, but you still love them deeply.

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