"I'm glad you could come," Roy said, putting thin bread sticks, rich with rosemary and black pepper, on the table. He had rolled the bread sticks himself, long, and delicate. Finally, he was getting to eat food with taste. Cinzia, his teacher, loved cooking and if he neglected their guests, there would be hell to pay. Cinzia wasn't anywhere near as scary as his father but she could be frightening in other ways, a lot like Pinako had been. Hohenheim hadn't lied about that but it was a good scary. He wasn't really afraid of Cinzia. It was more of a respect thing so he had no qualms about helping his teacher where she needed him to.
"How could we not?" Jenna guided her father through the unfamiliar dining room so he could sit down. "You look good, Roy."
"I am good, thanks to all of you." His smile grew to encompass not only the Ravensdales but the Elrics as well. Hohenheim helped Trisha into her chair, her belly getting big now. Roy figured the next time he saw her, he'd be the one making the trip with Cinzia to see the new born baby. Hohenheim was sure it was a girl. Trisha said it kicked like a boy. Roy had been unprepared for seeing a woman's clothing wiggling all over the place when the baby woke up inside her and started moving around. Boy or girl, either way, it would be a luckier child than he had been. "Have some bread sticks. Cinzia thinks they're good for keeping my hands busy...she seems to think I don't work hard enough."
"I wonder where she got that impression." Jenna rolled her eyes at Cinzia who watched her new student handling the guests and judging his decorum. Roy always knew when he was under the gaze of the older woman, her sharp hazel eyes catching every detail.
"He's like a little tom cat, rousing himself whenever he feels like doing something or there's food to be had, but if it's something he doesn't want to do, there's a lot of yowling to be heard." Cinzia smiled at her charge.
"I do it though," Roy protested, pouting as he went to get the soup tureen.
"Yes, when you're not eyeing up my daughters, who are too old for you," Cinzia said, swatting him lightly as he passed by her into the kitchen. Roy hurried past just a bit. He knew she wouldn't hurt him but as he knew from sparring with the tall woman, she was strong and could hurt him if she wanted to. Still, he wasn't afraid, having learned to trust the heart within.
"You do have beautiful daughters," Hohenheim said in Roy's defense. Cinzia just cocked an eyebrow at him.
"How's he doing otherwise, Cinzia?" Ravensdale asked.
"He's a good student," she said as Roy came back with the heavy tureen. He started spooning out the rich wine, chicken stock and heavy cream soup that had been loaded with well over a half dozen bulbs of garlic, a few potatoes and spiced with rosemary and a hint of onion. It had taken him half the morning to crush all the cloves.
"Thanks. Soup first, then I'll get the rest of lunch," Roy said, putting a bowl in front of Ravensdale.
"This alone isn't lunch?" Jenna laughed, waving a hand at the rich soup. "Cinzia, you'll make him fat."
"I don't think she's in any danger of that," Trisha said, shaking her head. "Poor Roy still can't be seen from sideways on...which is more than I can say for me." She gave her big belly a rueful pat.
"I think you look beautiful." Hohenheim leaned in for a kiss.
Once they waded through the soup, which Cinzia had brought out some thick, crusty garlic bread for sopping up broth, Roy went back for the main course; lightly battered chicken in a lemon wine sauce that revisited all the onions, garlic and rosemary from the soup. Finally, chicken that wasn't gray and tasteless. As everyone made with the small talk, Roy helped himself to seconds.
As Roy was cleaning up the dishes, Hohenheim came in, leaning against the ice chest. A smirk played around the corners of his mouth.
"What?" Roy asked.
"Was I wrong about Cinzia not being all that scary?" Hohenheim took off his glasses and polished them.
Roy remembered the day Hohenheim had brought him to meet his new teacher. Roy had been scared to death of her. She was so tall and intimidating looking. "She's great. I'm really learning a lot here."
"And not just about alchemy, I'd wager," Hohenheim said gently.
Roy turned back to the dishes, thinking on that. "No, I'm learning not everyone is like my father."
"And one day you'll learn to use the strength you built enduring a man like that." Hohenheim's eyes turned serious. "Making you strong might have been the only thing of worth you'll ever take from that man at far too high a price."
Roy just bobbed his head, his eyes misting for a moment as he tried not to think about it. "At least I got away and not everyone is like him. I mean, I know you won't be like him."
Hohenheim's face took on an indescribable cast. "I certainly hope not. I guess we'll find out what kind of father I am soon enough, my young friend." He ruffled Roy's hair. "And we do expect you to show up sometime after the baby comes."
"With gifts, I promise." Roy smiled. "The noisier the better."
"That's Pinako's plan as well, I'm sure. I aim to find baby Winry all the loudest things I can." Hohenheim laughed.
"Your wife and Mrs Rockbell will likely shoot us all," Roy replied, with a grin.
"No doubt. I'd better go check on Trisha. She hates when I fuss but I can't help it." Hohenheim flashed a goofy grin and headed into the other room.
Roy finished the dishes, watching Cinzia, Jenna and Trisha, with Hohenheim right beside her just in case, out in the freshly planted spring garden. He heard a tapping behind him. He turned to see Ravensdale and his cane. "Is there anything I can get for you, sir?"
"How about another cup of that delicious coffee? Jenna never lets me drink it, says it makes me too jumpy." He smiled, the scar lines across his eyes crinkling. "And then come sit with me in the living room and tell me everything you've been up to Roy. Including chasing Cinzia's daughters."
Roy blushed furiously. He hadn't been chasing the eighteen year old twins, as if they had time for a boy like him, but he couldn't help, but to notice them when they bounced by all tight buttocks, big boobs and mounds of curly dark hair. He'd chase them if he thought he could catch them. "I'm not!"
"Of course not." The alchemist laughed. "Extra sugar in that coffee if you please, Roy."
The young man fixed up two coffees and they retired back to the living room. Roy glanced over at the man he wished he could have been so lucky as to have as a father. "Sir, I know you said Father never bothered you after that night. Is that really true?" Roy refused to believe it.
Ravensdale eased himself into a chair. "He came by once but when I told him the Alderman wanted to speak to him about what he had done to you, he took off, not just from my house but from Satie in general. I don't know where he is now."
Roy sucked on his bottom lip for a moment. "That makes me nervous but I'm not afraid of him, not any more."
"I'm glad to hear that, son."
"Sir, I never got the chance to really thank you for helping me...for doing all of this for me." Roy shyly looked at his feet, not trusting his emotions.
"Of course you have. You've written letters," Ravensdale replied.
"But I never get down exactly what I mean, how much it means..." Roy stumbled over the words.
Ravensdale put his hand on the boy's shoulder. "I already know that, Roy. You don't have to say it. And you do thank me, by doing well here, by fulfilling your potential. Knowing I've helped, is more than enough for me." Ravensdale pulled Roy against him one handedly for a quick, fatherly embrace then patted his back. "Now, tell me everything you've been up to. Don't leave out any details."
Roy was happy to comply.