Disclaimer: Dear lord…I don't own Hagaren or anything to do with it, okay?
Warning: Spoilers for episode 25 and chapter 15 of the manga.
A/N: There's some Mustang/Hawkeye in here but I don't really expand on it. I have a different character focus for this fic. I don't know how to spell her name because there doesn't seem to be an official spelling so I'm just sticking with this. I'm kind of sure that most people would give her a more innocent and watered-down impression of him, you know. That's why I wanted this fic of mine to say differently. Read on to find out what I mean.
Elysia was always afraid that she would forget her father's voice, his face, and his love for her and her mother.
She found a good way to preserve that memory, through an unlikely source. And it all started with a small request. She didn't think that the person would listen, though.
Elysia Hughes had just turned ten years old. Every year for the past six years she'd always make the same wish and blow out her candles. Every year she was always hoping. And every year she was always sure her wish would come true, even though it was always late. She didn't really mind waiting. It wasn't that long a wait, anyway.
A long time ago, she loved the parties and all the presents everyone showered upon her. She always received large stuffed animals and dolls from her mother's friends and books from the bookworm lady with thick, large glasses. The best gift of all, however, did not come in material form anymore. It was always given to her after all the festivities were over and everyone left. It was the only time the bearer of her gift could come, as the bearer was a busy person and had a job and position to maintain, a job he disliked because of all the paperwork.
She would always be propped up on his knee while he leaned back on the couch. No matter what happened, she counted on him to come and fill her mind with memories of her father. Her mother never stayed with her when he came. She would always bow out politely and run upstairs. Elysia never asked why her mother acted the way she did, although her facial expression always gave her away. She couldn't control facial features as skillfully as her uncle Roy yet, and he always answered her silent question in a quiet voice.
"There are some things that are too raw and painful to heal, Elysia."
"So mama's sad…permanenently?"
Roy smiled at her effort at trying to pronounce the word, only to add an extra syllable. "Kind of, yeah."
"Will it go away like my bump did?"
"Not really. It's not like a bruise or scratch. It's more…deep. Your mom feels like a chunk of her heart is missing. And that hurts a lot."
"Will it come back?"
"…No. I'm afraid not. You see, that chunk belonged to your papa. Your papa is…gone. So that chunk is gone too. Get what I mean?"
"Uh-huh. So, mama doesn't like to be reminded of papa because she still misses him a whole lot?"
"Good girl. You got it. Now let's just keep this between you and me."
He wasn't really her uncle, she just started calling him that out of the blue, one day. The title seemed to fit really well as he and her father were almost brothers. According to her mother, they were 'almost joined at the hip. Inseparable. Especially when they were younger. Maes didn't like letting Roy out of his sight.'
Elysia often wondered why her uncle was always hurt on her birthday. On her fifth birthday, he showed up on her doorstep that night with a heavily bandaged left hand and peering from behind an oversized stuffed teddy. On her sixth, he had his right arm in a sling. On her seventh, he was relying on a crutch to walk as his left leg was bound in a very large cast. On her eighth, he had a black eye. On her ninth, she didn't see anything wrong on him but his limp showed otherwise.
This time, bandages were wrapped around the top of his head, his forehead and some of his hair obscured by white. His bangs still poked out and fell over the bandaged area.
It was only this year had she mustered up enough courage to ask about the man's strange habit of getting hurt.
"Uncle Roy, why are you always hurt on my birthday?"
She awaited his answer with bated breath, sure he would answer back with another question to avoid answering. It was what he did to avoid things he didn't like to talk about or draw attention to.
To her surprise, however, he only smiled. She could tell the difference between a real smile and that other weird smile he made almost all the time, the one that always made Ed angry. She didn't quite know what to call it yet.
"Because your birthday is also Ed's birthday."
She frowned, her round face screwed up in small wrinkles.
"Birthdays hurt you?"
To this, he only grinned and laughed.
"No, no," he managed to wheeze out between laughs. "It's because Ed's…test is usually on the week of your birthdays. The test needs him to fight. He fights me and we both end up hurt."
"That's a stupid test."
He smiled again. "I agree."
Elysia always had the watered-down version of her father from her mother, Ed and Al, Winry, and from everyone else when she asked about him. She was irked a bit by the fact that they deemed her too young to know too much about her father.
"He was very caring. He loved you very much."
"Well, he was a busybody. Liked to butt in people's business. But he always meant well and he always visited us when he could."
"He was nice. He gave me some very good advice once."
"I didn't know him very well myself, but he really did love you and your mother. The photos are all over the place to prove it."
She was small, but not totally ignorant. She knew that what they said were truths, but they were tweaked. They didn't want her to have a bad impression of her father, but they were dearly underestimating her abilities to understand and process information.
The first time she had asked her uncle Roy, he had been hesitant to tell her about the real Maes Hughes. Or maybe it was the fact that she was asking while standing on his desk in HQ, where no child was supposed to roam. But her request to hear the real thing and not the innocent version came from her heart, and she was too stubborn to back down. At first, what was supposed to be a simple dropping-off-of-a-gift on her birthday at her house became a yearly promise.
She loved hearing the version of her father from his best friend, because he was the person that knew him best, besides her mother. There was also the fact that he obliged her request and told the straight truth, no lies or tweaked bits. His words painted vivid details of times long gone.
She learned that she and her mother were loved by her father very much after all; her uncle proved that as he mimicked the man by shoving pictures of them under her nose. "Look, it's Elysia's first tricycle! Doesn't she look cute following her mama like that?" Her uncle even imitated her father's trademark kiss on the pictures with humorous accuracy. Something she always giggled at when she thought about it.
She used to think that whenever her uncle spoke, it was always something serious that would come tumbling out in low tones. To her enjoyment, she learned that uncle Roy was a man of great versatility, and could be both serious and goofy when imitating her father. He often regaled her in tales of the office when her father shoved pictures of his family into everyone's faces, often inducing his best friend to fry him or Ed to transmute him into something unpleasant.
"But how could you tell when he would start taking out pictures?"
"When the light reflected off his glasses, he looked pure evil. And then he would start pulling out his latest batch of pictures. Either that, or he would endlessly tease me about getting a wife. I bet he's laughing at me right now too, wanting to say 'I told you so!' since his prediction came true."
"I'm still the flower girl, right?"
"Yep, and no one could do it better than you. It's your job to make sure Riza's bouquet looks especially pretty that day."
Her uncle didn't censor anything about her father. Including tales of the office where chaos seemed to reign supreme around them, he would recall the things they did in bars, and how her father never lost at darts even when inebriated. They were tied when it came to drinking contests, though. Breda, Havoc, and the rest of the gang always lost at poker because her father was a master bluffer, even when he had the worst cards possible.
Most stories Elysia heard about birth were very sappy ones. The one about her, however, seemed to be the sappiest. According to her uncle, her father cried like a maniac. The tears flowed like a river. "I was amazed he hadn't dehydrated like a prune."
Uncle Roy described the scene of her father cuddling her in such a detailed manner that she could almost feel the shadows of large hands and strong arms cradling her gently and thin stubble tickling her small face.
Her favorite of all the things he told her was often the last. Uncle Roy always told about and demonstrated the way her father often spun her around and tossed her up into the air, making her feel like she was the luckiest little girl in the world even for just a few moments. The demonstration was always held in the backyard and even when the neighbors stared disapprovingly through the window at this gesture at such a late hour, she would close her eyes and squeal in delight at the rush of the air, trusting him to hold on to and catch her.
Elysia never got tired of hearing these stories and these gestures repeated every year. She figured that she never would. There were always new ones to add as she became older, some with more of her father's antics, and some more serious like the aftermath of the Eastern uprising. She took the serious stories as a sign of growing up, because if she hadn't matured, her uncle wouldn't be telling her these unpleasant and private things.
She was always sad when it came time for her to go to bed and for her uncle to go to his home and, she giggled every time he said this, 'sleep like your papa when he was drunk. You've no idea how loud he could snore. He'd have blast your ears off.'
Uncle Roy often told her she was like a female duplicate of her father. She was just as observant as he was and she had a knack for guessing people's current moods. She was most definitely not a stupid child.
She knew, of course, that when she grew too big, her uncle wouldn't be able to swing her around anymore. She knew that he couldn't stay forever, just like her aunt couldn't, and Ed and Al and Winry and her own mother. They would all leave someday and she'd be the only one left behind. When she grew old, she figured that she would most likely forget all the things and people that mattered to her most.
She also knew that she didn't care about then yet. It was much too early to think of such unpleasant things. Now was much more important. She would enjoy the recounting of stories and demonstrations of her father in pure goofiness for as long as time allowed.
Elysia would not forget her father. At least, not for now. That was enough.
In case you don't get the aunt part…If Elysia considered Roy her uncle, what do you think she'd consider Riza to be?
Please review. I would like some feedback and whatever advice you can give me.