Disclaimer: I don't own any of them. Not making any money from this. Love the idea of Ed and Roy. Please leave me a review if you like the story.

Author's Note:

Well, I derived great amusement from writing Intermission: Perdition in-between putting together the two halves of this chapter, and no, it didn't take too much time away from this; light-hearted conversation rarely does, and they were talking so loudly in my head that I had to clear it out in order to write this chapter. Took me about an hour - I just think Ed and Roy would get along so well with Cloud and Sephiroth from FFVII. Can't you just see them doing dinner and swapping war-stories? Anyways….

As many of you must have guessed by now, this is the last chapter of Full Circle. All good things must come to an end, as they say, and what started as a single image in my mind has run its course into a novel-length story and come full circle. It's been an amazing ride, and I owe that to all of you wonderful readers, and an even deeper debt of gratitude to all the caring, lovely people who left me reviews and words of encouragement. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Words fail me. As I write this, Full Circle is on 219 people's favourites list, has been put in 16 c2 archives, and has received 759 reviews (do I hear an even 800?). It could not have happened without all of you. I thank you, Auric thanks you, and the Guild thanks you.

And now, on with the ball! And should you find our favourite characters getting a little maudlin towards the end, be kind…it's hard when things come to an end, after all. Even though every ending holds the seeds of a new beginning. As per my notes in Intermission: Perdition, I'll still be writing, so feel free to drop me a line from time to time. Who knows, perhaps if I get enough suggestions or requests, the story of Full Circle may someday find a tangent to its arc after all! Omake, anyone?Much love –NF.

For song credits, please see the end of the story.

Chapter 36: Full Circle

Roy arched a brow at Ed's impetuous declaration of affection, struggling to keep his expression under control even as his heart seemed to leap into his throat. Was Ed…before the press…? He inclined his head inquiringly.

"Indeed? He must be a lucky man."

"He is, but then, you'd know, wouldn't you?" Ed asked amusedly, a wicked glitter in his eyes as he took in Roy's flustered bemusement. "Seeing as how you've always been a lucky bastard, Roy Mustang. A fact I seem to recall reminding you of before. Quit fishing for compliments."

Life is made up of moments, shining pearls strung together on the thread of a life. Each pearl uniquely perfect, a shimmering encapsulation of a million different things that mattered at the time the pearl was formed, a beginning and an end unto itself. And at the very core of each pearl, a single grain of truth, an impossibly tiny, prickly, sharp-edged package wrapped in the opalescent sheen of memory.

He was having one of those moments right now, Roy Mustang thought dazedly, and he was never, ever going to let it go. Inwardly, he was exultant, ecstatic, exuberant, wanting to shout his joy at the sure and certain knowledge that Ed loved him from the rooftops. Externally, however, his face was oddly still, the fires ablaze in his dark eyes the only sign that he had registered what had just been said and was aware of its ramifications. Every nerve in his body quivered, alert to all the players in their little parlor drama. In this moment, he knew, events had been set in motion that would bring one act of his life to a close and ring the curtain up on another.

Protagonist: Edward Elric, alias Auric, Lieutenant Colonel in the Amestrian military, Fullmetal Alchemist, sometime Gatekeeper, loyal older brother, passionate lover, intensely private individual and hater of the press, had just proclaimed his feelings for the Fuhrer of Amestris publicly before witnesses. Ed's cheeks were flushed becomingly from the champagne, the exertion of dressing down his lover's asshole of a father when his gaze said that he would much rather have been undressing said lover – and, just possibly, from the burning scrutiny of his lover's eyes raking their way possessively down his body as if checking for any signs of harm before slowly making their way back up to come to reclaim Ed's gaze. The Flame Alchemist came by neither his title nor his reputation lightly, and more than one female onlooker was forced to fan herself against the reflected warmth of his presence even while secretly wishing to be the object of that scorching regard, to be branded by the searing heat of his eyes. And yet the Fullmetal Alchemist smiled serenely, his eyes turning to molten gold that glowed with the light of a thousand suns as he watched the Fuhrer watching him.

Winry elbowed herself to the front of the gawking crowd of spectators. "Ed, when I said give him a signal…I meant…oh, I don't know, batting your damn eyelashes at him, not proclaiming your relationship with him to the press! Men! Have you never heard of subtlety?"

"This coming from a girl who throws wrenches at people?" Ed snorted derisively. He had been careful to check Winry's dress and purse for hidden objects on the pretext of security, so he was quite confident in his physical safety at the moment, and was proven right when Winry merely fumed and punched Al on the shoulder for lack of anything else to let her temper out on. "And anyway, subtlety was never my strong suit – that's the bastard Colonel's job. Besides, didn't you tell me that if we loved each other, there was nothing wrong with letting others share in the joy?"

Maes Hughes beamed smugly at Ed's blithe declaration, determinedly ignoring Gracia's warning nudge to his ribs. Good thing he'd prepared that press release on the Fuhrer's soon-to-be-Consort prior to this ball. He'd even thought to have copies waiting to be distributed to the press in attendance, and it looked like they were going to be needed! He did so love his job sometimes, and he sighed contentedly as he began to consider what official photographs they were going to need to release along with the statement. Perhaps one with Ed looking up adoringly at Roy, three-quarter face with Roy in profile…yes, that would work quite nicely, he thought. It would just be too much to hope for an actual kiss.

Antagonist: one Maximillian St. Just, Grand Duke of Hoffburg, member of the high nobility, last legitimate scion of the House of St Just, erstwhile unacknowledged father of the new Fuhrer of Amestris. The ravages of time had not been kind to his face, but there was a decayed, faded pride about his shoulders yet that spoke of his lineage, though his aristocratic features were currently twisted into a rictus of disdain as he eyed first the young blonde before him and then his bastard child who so resembled him, despite the odd smoothness and dark blue-black of his hair, and the exotic cant of his eyes. The bloodline of the St. Justs ran true in father and son; it was there for all to see in the shape of their hands and the fine bones that lay beneath the pale skin, in the high cheekbones and intensely dark gazes of midnight blue, and in the innate grace that never left them. Strange that his legitimate heirs had never resembled him in quite as striking a fashion.

"You confuse Love with your own base desires, boy," sneered the aristocrat, vitriol dripping from his words. "However, I suppose the fault is not wholly your own – no doubt you were led astray by older heads who should have known better. But then breeding will always tell – his mother was no better than a whore, after all."

A gasp ran through the crowd at this blatant slight to the new Fuhrer, and Ed's vision abruptly hazed over as a red fog of rage came over him. In his peripheral vision he could see that Hawkeye and Havoc had appeared out of the crowd and moved to flank Roy at a discreet distance, watching their leader's back, and that Al had gently taken Winry's hand off his arm and was moving to stand by Ed's shoulder, his towering bulk enabling him to look down on St. Just with an uncharacteristic dislike in his grey eyes. The Fullmetal Alchemist began to bring his hands together, but forcibly checked himself as Roy's white-glove came down gently on his wrist, his lover's grip firm but somehow reassuring. A bright swirl of movement near the front of the crowd drew his attention, and Ed bit his lip as he met Ling's startlingly wise gaze, the prince shaking his head almost imperceptibly until the alchemist nodded reluctantly. He knew it was necessary that a son should be seen to deal with his father himself, but he didn't have to like it.

"Better a whore with honor than a cad without." Roy's drawl was studiously neutral, and yet the words fell heavily into the tense gulf between the two men who were so alike, and yet so different. "The former takes not advantage of the vulnerable except by their own desires; the latter inflicts naught but hurt on the weak."

His father hissed. "How dare you speak to me in that manner!"

"I was but making a general comment, Grand Duke. Honor is, after all, that noblest of traits, by which the humble may be acclaimed and without which the mighty are but petty knaves. However, if one believes the shoe fits…"

Ed blinked at the arch formality of Roy's language, so unlike his usual easy courtesy, but the intent look on Ling's face explained much – this was evidently a battle of a sort being fought in the high-flown language of the aristocracy, many of whom were gathered round and listening closely. While this was not his area of expertise, it was undoubtedly something that Ling would be very familiar with, and the alchemist was heartened by Ling's apparent approval of Roy's approach. Gatekeeper or no, Ed much preferred a direct approach to problems, so though he had every confidence in his lover, it never hurt to have an expert opinion on the subject, especially since this level of verbal fencing, couched as it was in the polite archaisms of drawing room language, made his teeth hurt. Ling's eyes were resting thoughtfully on first one man, then the other, as if trying to size up the contenders at a prize-fight. Which it was, Ed supposed, in a way. He knew who he was backing though, and he rubbed his wrist absently, his skin still tingling from where Roy had wrapped his fingers around it, missing the physical contact.

"You dare to insult me in so public a forum?" The Grand Duke's face was an unpleasant shade of maroon, and his bloodshot eyes darted about wildly. In contrast, the Flame Alchemist held himself in serene stillness, although there was something of the watchful feline about his gracefully relaxed posture, his dark eyes gleaming with sparks of phosphorescence as they caught the light.

"I merely put forward the predicate. It is you who choose to accept it," and a murmur of assent swept through the crowd. The old man glared furiously as many of the nobles in the crowd pursed their lips and nodded. He knew he was losing ground, though he couldn't quite put his finger on why.

"Do not presume to educate me on rhetoric, boy! Might I remind you that it was at my pleasure that you received your first teachings in it? I housed you, fed you, clothed you, and educated you - and received naught but grief in return. You owe me everything. You owe me your life."

"I am no boy, Grand Duke," and for the first time the younger man allowed a touch of frost to enter his voice, dusting upon his words like the fine powder of a first snow. "Indeed, if a man is reckoned by the sum of his achievements, my hoary years would put your fresh-faced youth to shame. And if we are settling household accounts, let us not forget that I paid for your charity in blood and beatings taken for your heirs, and that I relieved you of the burden of my care as soon as was tenable. If there are debts outstanding in my name, they are to my country, for allowing me to serve her, and to my fellow citizens, for permitting one of my humble origins to lead them."

A sharp intake of breath ran around the room at the casual allusion to what was considered a barbarous practice, and at the confirmation that the Grand Duke St. Just had permitted it under his own roof. Women gasped and covered their whispers behind fans while men cleared their throats and shuffled their feet awkwardly. Ed glanced over at what he was coming to think of as the Ling barometer, and was reassured by the faint smile on the prince's face as he admired the adroitness with which Mustang had aired St. Just's dirty laundry while simultaneously playing on the audience's sense of pride in their own magnanimity and patriotism.

The old man's wrinkled lips thinned. "And what of Reginald? His death is upon your head and his blood on your hands! He would not have been at the front were it not for his misguided concern over your worthless life."

In the crowd, Maes Hughes stiffened. Cursing the Grand Duke for stooping so low as to use Reggie against the brother who had loved him so dearly, the big man began to shoulder his way towards his friend, wanting to be there for Roy as he had been back in Ishbal. A firm hand on his sleeve stopped him, however, and he turned in surprise to see Gracia shaking her head at him as she gestured discreetly with her chin. He followed her gaze to where it settled on the Fullmetal Alchemist. He looked back at his wife, confused for a moment, and then as Ed moved fractionally closer to Roy and was greeted with a faint smile of gratitude, understanding dawned and a wistful smile softened the granite set of his jaw. He might still be Roy's best friend, but no longer would the task of comforting Roy and holding away the nightmares fall to him. But that was all right, he thought, all right. Roy was in good hands.

Roy took a deep breath, amazed that he was still apparently in control of himself. "Reginald St. Just died a martyr for a cause he believed was just. It is in his memory, and that of all our dead, that I intend to rebuild Amestris and usher in an era of peace and solidarity with our neighbours. He was a doctor who believed in the sanctity of life and gave me reason to believe in the value of my own…a good and honourable man, my friend…and my brother, and not a day goes by when I do not mourn his loss. "

Ed's eyes burned fiercely at Roy's words, and he finally gave up on fighting the urge to slip his hand into his lover's, entwining his fingers with Roy's and squeezing, trying to convey through the warm pressure of his hand even a fraction of the love and pride he felt at that moment. St. Just's eyes followed the motion, and his lip curled in disgust.

"Do not besmirch the name of my son by speaking it while carrying on with your newest pet…."

"Enough." The single word fell like a hammer upon the ears, and such was the force and authority compressed into it that all who listened were suddenly reminded that the man who spoke was not merely a soldier or an alchemist or even the illegitimate son of one of the oldest noble houses, but the Fuhrer of Amestris. Roy Mustang's face was sere and cold, and though a chilling smirk played about his lips, it did not reach the burning coals of his eyes. "I have indulged your petty grievances long enough, Grand Duke. I have answered your accusations and I have allowed you considerable latitude in light of our…relationship. But you forget yourself and you forget to whom it is you speak. Might I remind you that speaking thus against the Fuhrer before so many witnesses might be construed as an act of sedition?"

The old man's eyes darted around the crowd, seeking support and finding none, not even among those of the aristocracy. He drew himself up, attempting to gather the tattered shreds of dignity around him. His mouth worked for a moment, but no words came out, and then finally, "I had demanded satisfaction from Colonel Elric before you interrupted. I insist…."

"You will insist nothing," the Fuhrer said with freezing calm, and the rapt audience recoiled instinctively, for his words were cold and sharp and glittering as shards of cut-glass. The candles set around the dome flickered abruptly and then blazed up for a moment, reminding all present that the new ruler of Amestris bore the title of Flame Alchemist for a reason "You will recant your challenge or I will be forced to place you in custody. Under the laws of this country, State Alchemists are considered valuable assets to be used for the betterment of the state and deliberately endangering their lives is considered a criminal offence."

Ed bit his lip to stop himself from pointing out that it was St. Just who would be in danger in any duel with the Fullmetal Alchemist. It just wasn't the right time. Later, however….

Baron Hawkeye stepped out of the crowd, putting a hand on the Grand Duke's sleeve. "Come now, Grand Duke – don't do this to yourself. Leave things be. The Fuhrer's right…."

"I do not need your pity, Baron!" seethed the other.

"You have never had it, Grand Duke," rebuked the Baron. "Any shame you feel is entirely a product of your own actions. However, as a fellow noble, it is my responsibility to prevent you from further embarrassing yourself and your house."

"Go to hell."

The Baron pressed his lips tightly together, red-brown eyes narrowing, and for a moment, Ed could see a clear resemblance between father and daughter. The man's hand twitched, as if itching to reach for a gun. "It is a new world, St. Just. One which your son will lead. And from all that I have seen and heard, he is a most impressive young man – intelligent, driven, charismatic and well-respected – everything you would expect from one descended from the line of the St. Justs. Can you not find some measure of pride and peace in that?" The thought that things might have been different had Roy Mustang been given the name of St. Just was all the louder for being left unsaid.

"He is no son of mine!"

Into the rift of silence torn by the viciousness of those words came a nervous giggle that was quickly suppressed. The Grand Duke looked about him with the confused, rheumy eyes of an old man, abruptly realizing that they were surrounded by members of the press bearing witness to his humiliation. He suddenly looked very frail, and very small, and very tired, Ed thought, and was surprised to find that he actually pitied the old man for his stubborn refusal to see that it was his own pride that had brought him to this state. In contrast, Roy's eyes were dark with old pain, his face bleak as his father repudiated him once again. There was a stillness in the air as everyone waited with bated breath for the Fuhrer's response.

"That may be so," Roy said finally. His voice was soft, and almost sad. "But you have always been my father. I am sorry. Would that things had been different…."

"Fuck you." The old man's voice cracked.

The dark mirrors of the Fuhrer's eyes glistened faintly as he turned away, but the mask of the ruler of Amestris was once again firmly in place. "You're confused, Grand Duke. That was my mother. I am hardly as easy a mark, and surely there are some things that even a man like you must consider taboo." He nodded at a couple of members of his security detail who were hovering at a discreet distance. "Escort the Grand Duke out, please – I think he's quite finished for the evening."

Surprisingly enough, Maximillian St. Just did not resist, and Roy did not watch him go, though his grip tightened painfully about Ed's hand as the click of the Grand Duke's boot heels faded into the distance. And then, as abruptly as if someone had turned up a dial on a radio, a painful hubbub arose about them as people began talking excitedly about the scandal they had just witnessed, and the press began mobbing everyone and anyone for quotes and views. In the tumult, Roy suddenly realized that Ed had disappeared, his hand tingling with residual warmth, and that it was Alphonse Elric who was steering him through the crowd, using his bulk to shoulder aside the more persistent even as Hawkeye and Havoc watched his back and his security detail drew up protectively around him. He could see Maes already holding an impromptu diversionary press conference of a sort off to the side, drawing attention away from Roy, which he was grateful for, but all he could think of was Ed and how much he wanted him here and where the hell was he?

Once again, Alphonse appeared to moonlight as a mind reader of sorts, because he turned and smiled at Roy reassuringly. "Brother will be right back sir, he's just…tying up some loose ends. Over there," and Roy turned his head in the direction Al was indicating. He saw Ed speaking quietly but heatedly to Grand Duke St. Just, and as they swept by, the Fullmetal Alchemist said with fierce intensity:

"…and if you come near him again…if you say anything against him again – hell, if I even hear about you so much as thinking about breathing on him again – I will find you, and I will hurt you. In a permanent sort of way. Are we quite clear on that, St. Just?"

The blonde alchemist nodded to the guards flanking the Grand Duke without waiting for an answer. They snapped to and hustled the object of his ire off towards the exit, and Ed watched them go, an unreadable expression on his face, before he turned and met Roy's gaze. A fleeting look of surprise rose in Ed's golden eyes, and then he was jogging across the floor to meet them, the hesitant moue on his face making him look strangely vulnerable as he came to a stop in front of Roy. The others moved aside tactfully to give the two some privacy, and Roy found himself charmed by the sudden awkwardness on Ed's face as the immediate crisis melted away, leaving him looking as lost as Roy had felt moments ago.

"Hey bastard," shrugged the younger man finally. "Are you…you know…okay?" His hand made an abortive gesture to reach for Roy's, then fell back, the smallest of motions, as if its owner were unsure of its welcome. Roy stared blankly at him for a moment. Okay? In the space of a mere half-hour he had had the Fullmetal Alchemist proclaim publicly his love for the Fuhrer, been publicly repudiated by his father – and even though the old man never had acknowledged him as son, it still stung – and been forced to assert his authority as Fuhrer publicly over the man. His private life was being hung out for all to see, and he was being asked if he was…okay? And then Ed bit his lip, and his hand moved again, and this time it sought out its unresisting counterpart and laced its fingers through Roy's. Ed's warm grip was solid and reassuring, even through the gloves they were both wearing, and yet somehow hopeful and needy, and as if of its own accord, Roy felt his thumb brushing gently over the other man's palm, a repetitive stroke that somehow soothed and calmed. Ed offered up a tremulous smile, seemingly fully aware of the magnitude of what had just happened, and in his eyes Roy saw love, and acceptance, and determination, and concern, and hope. He took a deep breath and returned the smile, basking in the brilliance of Ed's responsive glow.

"I am now."

The dancing had started up again at some point – it was, after all, a ball, first and foremost - though Roy could not have said precisely when. Winry had rejoined them at some point and was now hanging off Al's arm smiling mischievously at the Flame and Fullmetal Alchemists as she asked, "Well. Now that that's all sorted, which one of you is going to ask the other to dance?"

Ed blushed, but managed to summon up a glare. "Winry…."

"No, Fullmetal," Roy interrupted with a familiar smirk, "she has a point. This is a ball after all. Would you do me the honour of granting me this dance?"

Al grinned. "You know, brother, the press can't exactly mob you on the dance floor – it is a serious breach of etiquette…" he trailed off meaningfully.

"Go on Boss," Havoc chimed in cheerfully, having long since given up any pretense of not eavesdropping. "You know you've just been waiting for an excuse to hug Mustang all day. And Brigadier Hughes ain't gonna hold off the press for much longer, even if he pulls out a photo album of Alicia."

"Especially if he pulls out a photo album of Alicia," muttered Roy, sotto voce.

"Captain. Does the phrase, 'I'll transmute you inside-out and into next week' ring any bells?" snarled the Fullmetal Alchemist.

Havoc grinned and wrapped an arm a little more firmly around Hawkeye. "You wouldn't, not in front of Riza."

"I would never stand in the way of a superior officer," Riza Hawkeye intoned severely with the barest hint of a twinkle in her auburn eyes. "See you in a week, Jean."

Her beau yelped as Ed began to advance meaningfully on him, but was stopped dead in his tracks as Roy asked softly, "Edward. Did you mean what you said back there?"

A pause. A space between heartbeats. A lifetime in a moment. "Yeah. Damn it, bastard, why do you keep making me repeat myself?"

"Then dance with me."

All eyes were on the Fuhrer and his Consort as they promenaded gracefully out into the center of the dance floor, the crowd gathered around the edges making way for the handsome couple as a singer softly slipped into the strains of a popular romantic piece. Members of the Fuhrer's inner circle followed their leader in short order: the Earth Moving Alchemist and his vivacious wife, Brigadier General Hughes and his wife, ever the epitome of graciousness, and Major Hawkeye and her escort, Captain Havoc. The couples began to disperse on the floor, joining the other dancers, until the only ones left standing still were the Flame and Fullmetal Alchemists. They made an attractive sight as they bowed to each other, one dark and one light, one luminously fair and one glowingly tan, one elegantly restrained, the other expressively lissome. A very small smile curved Roy's lips as he held out his hand, and after the briefest of hesitations, Ed took it and stepped forward into the encircling security of Roy's arms, the duo falling naturally into the rhythm of the music as if they had been dancing together all their lives.

We were strangers
Starting out on a journey
Never dreaming
What we'd have to go through
Now here we are
And I'm suddenly standing
At the beginning with you

Quicksilver memories of a full score of years flitted through Ed's mind as he moved easily in the steps of the dance. Two children rushing in where angels feared to tread…a train journey and a dramatic meeting…arguments, fights, moments of intimacy beyond words…remembering, finally remembering…fear at the thought of being rejected…joy at the realization that what he had wanted had been waiting for him all along. He spun lightly as Roy twirled him – he was allowing Roy to lead purely for practical reasons, he assured himself, Roy was taller and all. As if reading his mind, Roy looked down through his lashes, a faint look of amusement on his face. Ed arched a brow at him interrogatively, daring him to say something, but his dark-haired lover merely chuckled softly and shook his head, holding him closer as they circled the perimeter of the floor gracefully. Ed could feel the warmth of Roy's hand on his waist, skillfully guiding him through the steps of the dance just as he had guided Ed throughout his quest for the Philosopher's Stone, and he laughed ruefully to himself at the metaphor. A good dancer could compensate for the shortcomings of his partner, and Roy was very good. He would have had to be, given the number of messes he had had to clean up on Ed's behalf. It had certainly been a journey of unforeseen trials and tribulations, including a sort of death and transfiguration, but in the end….

"Hey, Roy?"

The older man looked faintly surprised at Ed's use of his name. "Yes, Edward?" came the response, and Ed had to fight to keep from grinning foolishly at the way his first name rolled off Roy's tongue, soft as cream, languid as a summer breeze, simultaneously mocking and affectionate. Roy's scent seemed to be all about him, intoxicating in its nearness, and the urge to give in and snuggle into Roy's shirt-front was overwhelming. But he had to know, first.

"If you had to do it all over again – everything – starting with that night in Risembool...would you?" Was it all worth it? Am I worth it?

And with an immediacy of understanding that thrilled Ed's heart, that no one else but Al had ever been able to give him, Roy leaned forward and murmured, only for him to hear, so close that Ed could feel his warm breath ghosting past his ear, "In a heartbeat. As long as it would bring you back to me." Yes. And yes.

No one told me
I was going to find you
What you did to my heart
When I lost hope
You were there to remind me
This is the start

Roy smiled at the adorably stunned look on the stunning, blushing blonde in his arms. While he had held many blondes in his arms before, he could say with a certainty that almost frightened him that this was the last one he would ever hold, and the first one he was going to keep captive. It seemed only fair, after all, since the young man before him had held his heart captive for the past four years, and would, the fates willing, continue to hold it for many more.

When he had trudged along that muddy dirt road in Risembool eight years ago, he had not expected to find children at the end of it. The letter he had received had been surprisingly adult, although the childish scrawl in which it had been written should have told him something. But in his eagerness to find news of his old tutor, he had overlooked that and set out almost immediately. And as it turned out, he had never found Hohenheim Elric. But in the end he had found so much more. A brilliant child prodigy who had dared the unspeakable and paid for it and yet survived, a child whose aureate eyes blazed with life and passion and a will that matched his own. Moved by this, he had offered his help, and it had been accepted. A judicious scepticism had turned to an almost paternal pride, which had turned to admiration…and then one day Roy Mustang had realized that admiration had become something more on his part. He had hidden that secret away, knowing that it was not for the world or its object to share. But fate had had a different idea. And now here they were. He drew Ed to him and rested his cheek lightly upon that golden head as they swayed slowly to the music, and revelled in the knowledge that Ed permitted him and no other to do so.

Actually, he was pretty sure that if anyone else tried to do that to the Fullmetal Alchemist, they would receive a black eye, split lip and multiple contusions for their trouble.

"This is nice," Ed sighed softly. "Peaceful. Don't want it to end. I mean, I know it has to but…."

"It's not an end," Roy corrected gently. "It's a beginning. You'll see. We're only just getting started."

We were strangers
On a crazy adventure
Never dreaming
How our dreams would come true
Now here we stand
Unafraid of the future
At the beginning with you

Ed lifted his head and looked about them. Riza and Jean were holding each other close, lost in their own little world. Gracia had just thrown her head back and laughed merrily at something Maes had whispered to her, the big man's eyes adoring as he gazed upon his wife. And then there was Winry being spun easily by Al, the latter grown taller than his brother – grown to be a man, and Ed felt his eyes burning with unshed tears as he looked upon the fulfilment of his life's greatest goal, to restore his brother's body. He had never really dared to dream for more, and yet he had hoped that someday, somewhere, someone would look at him at the way that his brother and his best friend looked at each other. Having that person be Roy was not something he had planned in his crazy life, but he couldn't think of anyone else he would rather have it be.

Hell, he was turning into a sap. This was very disturbing. And definitely all the bastard Colonel's fault. He'd get him back for that. But it could wait until tomorrow, and Ed laid his head back against Roy's shoulder and sighed contentedly.

I knew there was somebody somewhere
Like me alone in the dark
Now I know my dream will live on
I've been waiting so long
Nothing's going to tear us apart

Roy followed his lover's gaze to the tall figure of Alphonse Elric, and saw the telltale glistening in Ed's eyes, though he tactfully said nothing, allowing Ed his privacy. Couples continued to sweep around them on the dance floor, but they were careful to leave the Fuhrer and his partner a wide berth. Ambassador Ling Yao passed by and dipped his head briefly in acknowledgement, and the respect in the gesture shocked Roy's mind into a heightened state of awareness. The new ruler of Amestris blinked as the thought suddenly sank in.


He, Roy Mustang, was now…Fuhrer. He had finally discharged the oath he had taken all those years ago amidst ash and flame on a battlefield in Ishbal as he watched the casket holding his brother's body readied for transport, the vow that no other man should have to know the pain of losing his brother at the foolish vagaries of an uncaring ruler, and he felt his knees go weak at the realization as hot tears prickled behind his lids. He blinked them away furiously, as he lifted his chin determinedly and stared off into the distance, not wanting anyone to see him in his moment of weakness. And then his eyes fell on a dark-haired man a little ways away, his face indistinct through the shimmering haze of his vision. Yet he knew that face, that smile, that shy tilt of the head, and he smiled back through his tears, his lips moving silently. For you, Reggie. And now I can finally let go of you, my brother, because I'm no longer alone. Goodbye. And the man nodded affectionately back, even as his face resolved into that of Maes Hughes, smiling understandingly at his dearest friend, knowing that Roy had finally made peace with his ghosts, accepting that while he had initially been a replacement of sorts for Reggie, he and Roy had managed to forge their own brotherhood independent of Reginald St. Just's shadow.

The Flame Alchemist looked back down at the golden head that rested so trustingly against him, breathing in the scent of sunlight and heated steel. No, he was no longer alone. The darkness was past them. And he was going to keep it that way, thank you very much.

Life is a road
And I want to keep going
Love is a river
I want to keep flowing
Life is a road
Now and forever
Wonderful journey



"Will you come home to stay now?"

"I promised, didn't I? And it really is all over now. So yes. Your house is nicer than the dorms, anyway."

"I love you, you know."

"Do you know, I believe that's the first time you've ever said that to me?"

"I wanted to wait until it would be the beginning of something and not another farewell."

"Idiot paranoid bastard Colonel. But anyway…I love you too. Now shut up and kiss me."

I'll be there when the world stops turning
I'll be there when the storm is through
In the end I want to be standing
At the beginning with you


The song, "At The Beginning" Richard Marx/Donna Lewis comes from the soundtrack to the animated motion picture, "Anastasia." It's a sweet song which encapsulates for me the concept of everything coming Full Circle, especially the refrain which goes, "In the end I wanna be standing/At the beginning with you." I've taken the liberty in the text of changing "wanna" to "want to" just because I doubt Amestrians would use the informal contraction! The song is probably a little out of place as is, but I love it and the thought of Roy and Ed dancing to this was just too much to resist. I highly recommend a listen if you can find it. And with that I must leave you. Au revoir!