Chapter 13

"You killed my parents!"

Of course, as more than half of the assembly was made of military men and women, the three would-be assassins were instantly surrounded. The crier's two accomplices were quickly subdued and reduced to struggling in the arms of several soldiers. Two colonels lunged for the one carrying the rifle, but they were too slow, and the man rushed into the aisle, ready to be snatched up by more military personnel and volunteers who leapt out of their seats, led by Riza, whose hands were full of gun.

"The Fuhrer is our first priority!" she shouted, doing her best to keep her voice from wavering. Great…even before he's officially Fuhrer, he's already in a heap of danger. "Come on!"

"Don't take any lives!" ordered Roy, adjusting his right glove. "I want no bloodshed!" His voice rose abruptly on that last syllable, laced with worry. He wasn't too worried about himself – he could take care of himself. He was more concerned about Riza, not to mention the very people he was supposed to be leading.

Meanwhile, Al, Armstrong and some other men herded the unarmed and the Parliament members beside the stage. And on the stage itself, a pack of soldiers leapt up and enclosed Roy and the generals in a semi-circle before Roy could do anything else.

"You – you killed my parents during the Ishbal massacre, and my aunt and uncle, too!" howled the assassin who was still loose. As he loomed closer, narrowly dodging soldiers but still not firing his rifle, everyone could see that he bore the characteristic red eyes and brown skin of an Ishbalan, unlike his companions.

"How did they get in?" asked General Grumman of one of the corporals in Roy's human shield.

"I think they were photographers of one of the New Liorite tabloids, general!" replied the corporal. "I saw them come in with some reporters, toting camera equipment, sir!"

"What damn nerve you have, calling yourself Fuhrer!" the assassin continued, brandishing his rifle but not actually firing it as Havoc and Riza grabbed him by the shoulders. "Our god will judge you and send you to eternal damnation!"

Before Ed could clap his hands and transmute the Ishbalan assassin's rifle into something absolutely useless, Roy raised his right hand over the heads of his guards. With one quick snap, he sent a blaze of fire spiraling towards his would-be killer. Ed gasped and jumped aside. Havoc braced himself, trying to recall some good burn remedies, while Riza kept her grip steady, a gun at the assassin's throat, and her eyes on the Flame Alchemist.

But instead of igniting the Ishbalan, Roy's alchemy merely heated up the rifle, making it too hot to hold on to, but not hot enough to ignite the gunpowder or the bullets. The rogue Ishbalan cried out in pain and dropped the weapon, while Ed and Havoc breathed sighs of relief.

"What about the other two?" asked Havoc as Fuery ran past them.

"Got 'em," said the warrant officer, stopping in his tracks and giving a thumbs-up with the hand that wasn't holding a pistol. "We even found the tabloid reporters who hired them in the first place. According to Falman, the reporters had absolutely no idea that their coworkers were actually planning to assassinate the Fuhrer and were going over and over that they were pretty good photographers. It's a good thing the audience is more than three-quarters military, and there were only three of them."

"We'll take them in for questioning anyway," added a private behind Fuery, saluting her superiors. "The two are being carted away along with the reporters."

"Where's Mustang?" asked Ed, kicking the rifle underneath a chair. "Where the – what the hell is he doing now?!"

Time seemed to stop as everyone watched two lieutenants step aside reluctantly from the stage to allow Roy to pass – from the looks on their faces, it was clear that they had been given a direct order. The Flame Alchemist walked delicately down the stairs, his hands in his pockets again, moving through the aisle and towards the spot where Havoc, Riza, the private, Fuery and Ed held the assassin. Everything was silent except for Roy's footsteps.

"I cannot deny that I have taken parents from their children, and children from their parents, during the massacre," said Roy quietly, stopping before them. "I cannot deny that I took many lives…devastated the lives I didn't take…scarred the lives I didn't devastate. I was even under orders to get rid of anyone who got in the military's way, being a State Alchemist, and therefore practically a weapon of the State, a power that they can wield whenever they need to, or just want to.

"But now, I choose to become Fuhrer so I can save lives that I didn't take, and stop taking lives all together. When I become Fuhrer, I cannot bring back those I've killed, directly or indirectly, but the most I can do is fix the lives I have destroyed, fix this warped, imperfect world to the best of my capabilities, and fix the perception everyone has on State Alchemists, that we are nothing more than human artillery. We, and the military in general, can do much, much more than that, without hurting anyone."

"And this is the part where you burn me till I'm nothing but ashes on the ground, is that it?" grumbled the Ishbalan, struggling as Ed placed his transmuted automail blade in front of his throat, adding to Riza's pistol.

"No," said Roy simply, turning his back. "I'm not that kind of person…at least, not anymore. But I'll leave you and your accomplices in the capable hands of the military police and the law."

And with that, he walked back towards the stage, not looking back, save for a glimpse of Riza.

---

After the suspects were carted into custody and everything was set straight once again, there was no choice but to go on with the ceremony – after all, everything was already there, including the stage and the vast sea of chairs. Thankfully nobody was killed or hurt in the assassination attempt, except for several minor scrapes and bruises; apparently the assassins were either too cowardly to use their own weapons or too scared of injuring anyone besides their intended target.

But before the morning dipped into afternoon, the induction had to be wrapped up.

"I, Major General Roy Mustang, do hereby promise to govern and serve the country of Amestris and its people, to keep them safe from all harm and discord, and to use my abilities for the better of the country. I also promise to command the Amestris military for the greater good, and to stay a living emblem of hope, justice and peace for our people. I will uphold the law and be a role model for all, and always put the country and its citizens first before myself. Today, I come before you and humbly ask to be accepted as Fuhrer of Amestris and commander-in-chief of the military."

Roy took a deep breath and put down his right hand slowly. The two generals beside him saluted, and the rest of the military did so as well – although Ed had to be elbowed twice by Ross.

An old, withered lieutenant general tapped the microphone nervously before saying in his equally dried out voice, "On behalf of the Amestris military, we accept you, Fuhrer Roy Mustang, as our leader."

"On behalf of the Amestris Parliament," continued Karen, who was beside the general, "we accept you, Fuhrer Roy Mustang, as our leader."

One of the generals held out a naked, newly-made court sword by its hilt, and offered it to Roy, who took and held it in both hands in front of him, letting the point touch the stage floor. As he examined it before putting it into the scabbard and strap, which were offered as well, he noticed that the cross-guards were made to look somewhat like gilded dancing flames, and the pommel held a small, fiery-red gem that looked as if a tiny plume of fire was locked inside. Then he wore the sheathed sword, the strap going from his right shoulder to the left side of his waist.

The other general clutched a small box, which he offered to Grumman and Riza, who were standing near the podium. They opened it, and each of them took out three tiny gold stars.

The band started to play an even louder, more energetic victory-type song as the general took his place on Roy's left, and Riza on his right. Together, granddaughter and grandfather affixed the stars on the new Fuhrer's shoulders. At first there was only one star on each of his badges, signifying his Major General rank. Now there were four, undermining Roy's new position.

"Congratulations, you are now officially the new Fuhrer of Amestris." said Karen and the general together. "We trust that you will serve the country well."

Just a millisecond after her last word, the audience erupted into cheers and applause, punctuated with cries of, "Long live Fuhrer Roy Mustang! Long live the Flame!"

The new Fuhrer stood there, looking out at the audience. He could spot several familiar faces – Winry giving him a sincere smile of congratulations as she clapped politely, Ed laughing and elbowing Havoc repeatedly before clapping as well, Armstrong sobbing so much that Al kept on patting his back, and Elysia Hughes jumping up and down beside her jubilant mother. Hats were tossed, and majority of the audience were on their feet, cheering and applauding till their hands hurt and their voices were hoarse.

And as for Riza, she squeezed Roy's right hand tightly. "Congratulations, sir," she whispered.

"The date's still on, right?" he asked, smiling.

"Is that a direct order?" said Riza, raising an eyebrow. "But yes, it is, direct order or no. You can pick me up at seven this evening. And, you still have a speech to make."

Roy grinned apologetically, watching the audience sink back into their seats, awaiting their new Fuhrer's speech. "Right…okay." He walked towards the podium, which was already empty. The last of the euphoria died down as everyone waited for him to speak.

---

Several months passed since the installation of a new Fuhrer. Amestris, like any other country, wasn't perfect, but compared to its performance in the past few years, it was pretty much thriving under the ever-vigilant, confident eye of Fuhrer Roy Mustang and his loyal team, Parliament and military alike – which was very good, as it turned out that Roy was not only Fuhrer, but also the youngest Fuhrer Amestris ever had, and one of a handful who were also State Alchemists.

The culprits behind his attempted assassination were sentenced accordingly after a fair trial, and after that, there weren't any more tries on the Fuhrer's life. It turned out that they had found work at a Liorite tabloid paper just so they could dig up dirt on Roy and find a way to get rid of him for vengeance purposes (as the Ishbalan whose parents Roy supposedly murdered seemed to have just roped the other two into his plan), but nobody had figured out their scheme until the ceremony.

Now, one warm night, Major Riza Hawkeye was being escorted through the deserted park in Central, underneath a starless, moonless blanket of black. She was blindfolded, and the only reasons why she didn't end up getting lost or bumping into anything along the way were First Lieutenant Jean Havoc and Lieutenant Colonel Edward Elric.

"Where are we going?" she asked, stretching out her arms and feeling the bark of a cherry blossom tree.

"Hey, this is where Douglas and Breda had their first date!" exclaimed Ed.

"You'll see," said Havoc. He tugged gently on one of Riza's wrists. "Turn left. C'mon, you can't miss this!"

"Miss what?"

Ed chuckled. "Well, for one thing, it has something to do with a certain – "

"Don't spoil it!" Havoc interrupted.

"Aw," grumbled his superior. "It would be priceless if – "

"Ed, you're leading Hawkeye down the wrong path. It's this way, remember? You wouldn't want to get bur – erm, skinned alive, do you?"

"Geez, I'm sorry. Okay, okay…you mean the cobbled path with the buttercups?"

"Yes, yes…now hurry!"

"I thought you wanted to prolong the suspense, Lieutenant. And it wasn't my fault I got roped into a stupid scheme like Must – "

"I apologize in advance for my brazen words, Lieutenant Colonel. Shush, darn it!"

"Sorry."

As for Riza, she kept quiet as Havoc and Ed bantered and steered her through the park. She heard the calls of nightingales and the rustle of wind as it toyed with the trees, not to mention the constant arguments of her colleagues, but not much else. Where were they taking her?

After a couple more turns and another few complaints from Ed, they stopped. Riza felt a little dizzy as though she had been spun around in circles instead of led blindly through the park – judging from the crunch of grass and stray dry leaves under her feet, the warm breeze that enveloped her in its embrace, and the trees and benches she felt, she could tell that she was in the park, without anyone telling her.

But there was a new sound that caught her attention – the faint booms and crackles of multiple explosions. She plunged her hands instinctively into the holsters of her guns, but changed her mind quickly when the blindfold was taken off and her eyes adjusted.

Riza could see that they were indeed in the park – albeit in a secluded area of the park, which was marked by two statues of cherubs pointing their bows and arrows skyward, flowering trees and bushes deluged in roses and other flowers, and a cobbled path surrounded by buttercups.

Then she looked up into the sky – and saw jets of fire shoot up and fountain into splashes of sparkles. More kept on coming, and they seemed to be coming from the same source. Not noticing that the First Lieutenant and the Fullmetal Alchemist were gone from her side, she followed the source and saw a tall figure not too far away, its hands raised to the heavens, creating fireballs and sparks and other random quirks that added to the light show.

She felt her heart beat in her throat and quickened her pace. Her quarry loomed closer; the explosions were louder; the pyrotechnics and the identity of the curious stranger more apparent…

A blazing tongue of fire spiraled skyward and lit up the darkness with a dazzling flash before suddenly splitting into two new fiery jets curving up and rolling down. It looked as if a heart was set on fire and thrust into the night like a flaming, irregular moon. More fireworks followed; fountains of sparkles and flashes that seemed to take over the stars' turf as the man lowered his hands and stretched them towards Riza.

"I've been waiting," he said softly. She was now close enough to be clasped to his chest. The major was aware of the warm hands on her waist – so warm that she could feel the remnants of the heat that made all the pyrotechnics possible. One of them moved to caress her face, tracing the outline of her face and giving her little frissons from the sensation and friction. She found herself placing her hands on his shoulders, counting the stars on the badges…one, two, three, four…and felt her spirits soar as he kissed her softly.

"Riza Hawkeye…" He whispered her name and slowly separated himself from her, snapping his fingers and creating what looked like a phoenix – or possibly a hawk – made entirely of fire, which flew into the sky and through the flaming heart still etched into the black of night. "You set my heart, my soul, all of me on fire…without alchemy."

"Fu – Roy? What's going on?" she asked curiously before the more sensible part of her – which was a lot of her – could comment on his choice of lines again.

"Riza…" Roy repeated her name, but this time, he had a hand in his pocket. When he pulled it out, it had a tiny velvet box that clicked open with a simple flick of a finger. Riza had it half-figured out when he knelt on one knee before her, in the grass, the heart he had created still ablaze in the background, the fiery bird encircling it and leaving trails of twinkling light. He held out the open box, which bore a gold ring with the brightest, reddest ruby she had ever seen – possibly even redder than a red stone. The band was serrated so it looked like a dragon, or more appropriately, a ring of fire.

Her semi-suspicions were right.

"Major Riza Hawkeye…will you marry me?" he finally blurted out. He flashed a smile that was more imploring than smug, a far cry from his signature smirk.

At first, she didn't know what to say. Riza didn't know what to do – she felt rooted on the spot, as if time suddenly decided to stop, as if her world was suddenly flipped upside down…it was a curious sensation, something that she had only experienced very few times in the past…ever since truly committing herself to this man…

She beamed, reveling in that feeling yet keeping herself from turning into a giddy, lovesick teenager. Riza thought of marriage…binding herself forever to this man…becoming Mrs. Riza Mustang…it was a huge leap. But something inside her told her to take the leap. Besides, someone was always waiting to catch her if she fell…

"Yes," the major said softly. "Yes, I will marry you," she added, more loudly and more confident. Taking the ring from its minuscule velvet cushion, she slipped it onto her finger and gazed at it by the light of the slowly fading heart of fire.

Without thinking, Riza dropped to her knees beside Roy. Even before she opened her arms for him, he swept her close to him again, and they stood up together, still hanging on to each other, even as the last of Roy's fire show faded away and conceded to the night. She rested her head on his star-studded shoulder, and sensed his hand running through her hair before embracing her more tightly than before.

And not too far away, two military officers were seated on a bench behind a large, blossoming tree.

"Are they coming out yet?" whined Ed, leaning back and staring at the pure black sky. "People better not think we're dating here! They better think that we're doing a good job making sure the Fuhrer and his lady don't get shot while Mustang plops the question. And I want to go home."

"We hardly look like we're dating, anyway. I think we look very much like two guards. Love takes time," said Havoc airily. "You understand, do you? I mean, what about you and Winry Rockbell?"

The State Alchemist pouted, his cheeks feeling as though Roy performed his alchemy too close to them. "Whatever."

THE END

Author's notes: I'm really bad at action/fight scenes and endings, forgive me. XD This is the first time I've actually written a fanfic this long.