Um...so, I suppose I should give all the warnings and stuff up here. Massive spoiler warning for those who haven't seen to the end of the series. Alternate Ending, EdxRose, some WinryxEd, some RoyxRiza. Rated T for language, violence, and sappy romance scenes. Criticism, both positive and negative, greatly appreciated.
Prologue: Full Circle
She walked away once more, her footsteps echoing in the dead city. She could hear her sleeping baby softly breathing in her arms, as she clutched him so close to her body. As she walked, she could almost hear his voice again, as they said their last farewell. They had said it so many times before. She had grown tired of it, tired of goodbyes, tired of walking away. But what else could she do?
She didn't know what he would do, but she knew this would be the last. There had been a finality in it their goodbye that was absolute. She knew, without any idea what he would do, that she would never see him again. And as she walked, she could feel the tears begin to drip down her face. Why was this happening to her? Why did this keep happening to her? Was she cursed, to lose everyone she loved?
"In order to obtain, something of equal value must be lost. This is alchemy's first law of equivalent exchange." The brother had told her this once, the brave, empty knight whose life had been given to bring back her one. As her tears stained the cold, dead ground beneath her, she could feel those words resonating inside her. Her footsteps began to slow, as she struggled over this. She was losing him now. What was there to gain?
"Well, it's sort of like, what you get is equal to what you put into it. In order to get something that you want, you have to put in an equal amount of effort." The brother had clarified that for her once. She had asked how it applied to the real world, and he had explained that. But even though these words were with her, even though she remembered them, she couldn't understand. She knew what she wanted. But what effort could she put into it? All she wanted was to not say goodbye anymore.
Her eyes fell to that sleeping baby in her arms. She loved him so much...her precious baby boy. She wouldn't let him go for anything in the world. Why couldn't she do that with...with him? With the man she left behind? Why couldn't she...wait, why couldn't she?
Her legs stopped moving entirely. He had told her, long ago, to move forward. To keep moving forward. She had taken his words to heart, but now? She had moved forward enough. As her eyes fell back towards that horrible place, towards where they had said goodbye, she couldn't help but wonder. In order to obtain, she had to put in an equal amount of effort. She would never get anything if she wouldn't work for it. There are times when you have to move forward. Times when there are no other choices. But as she stared back, as she felt the effort stirring inside her, she knew. This was not one of those times. It was time to move backwards.
Her voice whispered in the cold, dead city. All she could think about was what she would do. Maybe, if she hurried, she could get there in time. Before their goodbye could be final. She whispered one word, one name. The name of the boy that had brought back her voice. The name of the man who had inspired her to speak again, even after all she had been through. The man she owed so much to, who she refused to let go of. The man she loved.
The golden hall shone brilliantly around the man. It was here that everything had happened. Where their dreams had crashed into nothing, where they had given everything and lost everything. It was here, in this hall, that he had perished. His life taken by the creature Envy during their fight. And it was here that his brother had died, sacrificing his own life to revive him.
The golden-haired man took a look around, making sure everything was in place. The massive transmutation circle had been inscribed on the ground, waiting to be used. He wouldn't let this be the end. He wouldn't let his brother be dead. He was going to do whatever it took. Give whatever it took. He took a moment, casting his gaze towards his right arm, and the small transmutation circle written on it. He had drawn circles on his arms, his legs, and his chest, in preparation to use his own body, his own life, to bring back his brother. His mind lingered for a moment on his right arm, now flesh and bone. His brother's sacrifice had reconstructed his body complete, rebuilt him whole. Now...it was time to do the same for him.
The man, Edward Elric, took a deep breath. Only 17 years old now, he stood in the center of the circle, the most versatile alchemist in the known world. All he needed to do was to bring his hands together, to form the energy bond that most require a circle to create, then press his hands to what he needed to transmute. In this case, that would be himself. "Al..." he whispered softly in the dark, quiet room. His brother's name, for whom he was doing this.
As he readied himself to begin, however, he heard a voice break the silence. "Edward!" it screamed through the hall, that soft, feminine voice he had come to know. The beautiful voice he had inadvertently awakened from its traumatized slumber. The voice stayed his hand a moment, as he turned to face its source. Barechested, it wasn't hard for her to see what he had drawn on himself.
There, in the doorway leading into this grand hall, was a beautiful girl, with soft, dark skin like melting chocolate, and soft, brown hair with pink bangs. She stood, shrouded in white, clutching her sleeping baby to her chest. Ed saw her, meeting her scared eyes with his for only a moment, before he turned away. "Rose...I told you to get out of here."
"Edward..." her voice carried her worry, her concern. She stepped slowly towards him, into the hall. She had seen the kinds of circles that he had written on himself, and it frightened her. She didn't understand alchemy, she barely had a grasp of it, but she knew that something bad was happening. "What's going on, Ed? What are you doing?" Her voice trembled as she spoke, and her arms clutched that precious baby as close to her as she could. There was no denying that she was frightened.
"Rose..." Ed was lost for what to say to her. How could he explain what he was trying to do here? How could he make her realize what had to happen? "I told you to get out of here. I don't want you to see–"
"See what, Ed?" Rose's voice carried terror now. He was confirming her deepest fears. "What are you trying to do here!"
Ed sighed. He knew she wasn't going to leave, that there was no getting around this. "I'm going to bring him back. Al...he shouldn't be gone. He shouldn't have died. I'm going to bring him back, no matter what the cost."
Rose's eyes filled with horror. "You can't...you can't mean that..."
"I know," Ed continued. "I know how to do it. He can still be saved, there's not much time, but...but I can–"
"Can what!" Rose practically screamed at him. Her fear was slowly fading into anger. "Can throw away everything he died for!"
"Al gave his life for you." Rose's tone softened, pleading. "He died so that you could live."
"And now it's my turn to do the same," Ed's voice hardened. He was becoming defensive, Rose could see that. But she knew she had to push harder. She had to make him see. This was the effort, something inside her realized. She had to give everything she had, if she was going to get what she wanted back for it.
"Do you really believe that would make him happy?" Rose asked her question without hesitation. She hadn't known these brothers long, and the times they'd had were short. But she did know one thing: all each cared for was the other. Ed had lived to try and save Al. Al had lived to try and save Ed. That's all either of them had cared about, that much was made plainly obvious to her on that fateful day back in her home town of Liore. "Al died so that you could live. That's what he wanted, more than anything else. He wanted you to live. He wanted you to have your arm and leg back, and now you do. He wanted to help you. If you throw away everything he died for, do you really think he'll be happy? Or will he do everything in his power, to do the same thing for you?"
"Rose..." Ed was struck speechless. He was trying to argue, but he couldn't help feeling the tears welling up inside him. "He...I have to...Rose, I have to do this..."
"For him, Ed? Or for you?" Rose hit the nail on the head with her words. Ed took a step back, his mind struggling with what she was saying. "Don't make his death meaningless, Ed. He wouldn't want that. I don't think he could ever be happy, if you so callously threw away what he died to give you."
Ed could feel the tears begin to come out. He closed his eyes, trying to get away, but he couldn't fight it. "He was my brother, Rose...I need him. I can't do this without him, I can't."
Rose stepped slowly forward, her eyes fixed on Ed. Her mind kept replaying the strength he had once given her, the words he had said to her. "You have to, Ed. It's what he would want."
"WHAT DO YOU EXPECT ME TO DO!" Ed shouted suddenly, and his voice caught Rose by surprise. He was crying now, there was no hiding that. "My brother's gone, Rose. Gone! Everything we've worked for these past seven years is GONE! What am I supposed to do!"
"Walk on your own." He found himself blindsided by these words, as she spoke them. His eyes opened wide, recognizing not just the tone, but the words themselves. These were the words he had once told her, on that fateful day in Liore. "Move forward. You've got your own legs, now, Edward. So get up and use them." Her words resonated within Ed. His eyes closed tightly as he fell to his knees, crying softly. And it was only a moment before she was there, holding her baby with her left arm, while she wrapped her right around his neck, holding him close to her as he cried.
"Al..." he sobbed softly into her shoulder. "...I'm sorry, Al..."
"It'll be okay," Rose whispered, trying to comfort him. Her fear faded, but was quickly replaced by sorrow. "It'll be okay." She had saved the man she cared so much for, saved him from making a horrible mistake. Now, as she felt her own tears beginning to come, she could join him. Together, they could mourn.