Title: A Thoughtful Husband
Author: Jordanna Morgan
Archive Rights: Please request the author's consent.
Characters: Hohenheim, Trisha, preschool/toddler Ed and Al.
Summary: Trisha loves it when Hohenheim brings home his second-best gifts.
Disclaimer: They belong to Hiromu Arakawa. I'm just playing with them.
Notes: Written for the prompt word "Loud" at Fan Flashworks.
When Hohenheim stepped into his favorite secondhand bookstore, he was met as always by the welcoming smile of the owner.
"Good afternoon, sir! It's been a while since you passed through." The proprietor stepped out from behind the counter, automatically moving toward the shelf his best-paying customer always browsed. "I'm afraid I haven't had any rare alchemy books in since the last time you were here, but—"
Hohenheim waved a hand. "Never mind. That isn't what I'm here for today. Since I'm on my way home to my family, I came to get a present for my wife."
"Oh, I see. What does the little lady fancy then? Romances, I suppose?" the proprietor guessed, scuttling off toward another shelf.
"Actually… I'd like to see the children's books."
The little man halted in his tracks and turned to look at Hohenheim oddly, brows knitting together above his spectacles. However, after a moment, he must have decided he misheard Hohenheim's statement that his wife was to receive the gift. He shrugged and nodded, changing course yet again.
"Certainly, sir." He proceeded to scan a shelf full of picture-books and fairytales. "Let me see… As I recall, your boys would be somewhere around three and four now, wouldn't they?"
"Well, yes." Hohenheim grinned and rubbed the back of his neck, feeling a trace of warmth rise in his face. "But Edward's reading level is already higher than the average ten-year-old—and little Alphonse isn't far behind. Ah… what would you have in the way of math and science textbooks?"
The proprietor's spectacles slipped down his nose as he stared at the alchemist.
On a Tuesday morning, Trisha Elric sat huddled at her kitchen table and nursed a cup of strong coffee, while shouts and thuds and running footsteps resounded from elsewhere in the house.
While Trisha loved her sons with all her heart, she would be immeasurably glad to get through the next year or two. Edward was an impossibly loud and bullish little handful on his own, but ever since Alphonse started walking—and consequently following his big brother into every sort of trouble Ed's cleverness could invent—there hadn't been a moment's peace in the mother's days or most of her nights. At least she had grown inured enough to the noise that she wasn't living with a low-level headache anymore. However, with the constant need to keep an eye on her mischief-makers, decent sleep was only a fond memory.
Things would have been so much easier if Hohenheim was home more often to help. Trisha was sure he wanted to be there, easing her burden and being the father his boys needed… but she knew he carried burdens of his own. She knew there was good reason why his research still took him away on extended travels. That was why, no matter how much it ached, she was determined to be strong and accept whatever he had to do.
Willfully pushing away those thoughts, Trisha replaced them with one that brought her a smile. Now was not the time for that wistfulness—because today Hohenheim was coming home once more.
Almost the moment she focused on that, she heard the sound of keys rattling at the front door. Quickly she rose and hurried into the living room… only to be beaten there by two small bodies galloping down the stairs, their screams of "Daddy!" attesting that they had seen their father already from an upstairs window.
Hohenheim opened the door, and they barreled full-tilt into his arms, clinging to his shoulders like monkeys as he picked them both up and hugged them.
Trisha hung back at the kitchen doorway, letting father and sons have their beautiful reunion. A few minutes passed before Hohenheim pried himself away and came to her, to give her a much more tender embrace.
"Welcome home," she said with a smile and a kiss.
He gazed into her tired but glistening eyes, caressing her hair that she knew was just a little bit disheveled, and sighed contentedly. "It's good to be home."
Any further words between them were cut short by a thump from the doorstep, just beyond the open door. Hohenheim's suitcase still sat there, along with a sizable package wrapped in brown paper and string—and both of these had already fallen victim to the boys. Ed's little fingers had somehow navigated the aged and balky latches of the former, spilling out clothes and toiletries, while Al was happily busy tearing the paper off the latter.
"Books!" Al piped excitedly.
At that magic word, Ed let out a squeal of glee. He instantly abandoned the mundane contents of the suitcase, and joined Al in attacking the string that still bound the stack of middle-school science workbooks.
Hohenheim laughed, giving Trisha a hapless shrug. "It looks like they've already found your present."
Trisha looked from the children to the man she loved, beaming her delighted gratitude at him. He smiled back at her knowingly as he went to move the books into the living room floor and cut the string, allowing Ed and Al to set upon them with ferocious eagerness.
After that, Trisha blissfully spent the afternoon sprawled across Hohenheim's lap on the sofa—sound asleep in the peaceful quiet that reigned only when new books came into the house.
Her sons were the best gift Hohenheim had ever given her… but his second-best gift was a few hours of respite from them.
2017 Jordanna Morgan