Today, Edward Elric officially graduated.
The Fullmetal Alchemist climbed up on stage, lifting his toga as he did so. He cursed and muttered to himself about how the toga was too long ("Who are you calling so tiny he should wear an elementary kid's uniform?" He had yelled when the tailor assigned to him said that there was no smaller size) before facing the crowd and slowly bowing. People clapped graciously; some of the parents whispered to their children and pointed at him ("See that, honey? It's the Fullmetal Alchemist!").
Normally, Ed would've smirked and beamed at them, but instead, the golden-haired boy looked sullen and moody. His eyes scanned the audience and soon found his (now human) brother, seated in the fifth row. Alphonse caught his eye and waved at him, grinning cheerfully and the older brother couldn't help but smile back (albeit weakly), but his gloomy expression returned as he noticed the two empty chairs beside Al.
They had been reserved for his parents. Parents that aren't here, Ed thought, frowning. But then again, I should've expected this. Who did I think was going to come, anyway? An image of Hohenheim flashed briefly in his mind, and Edward felt like punching something. As if. That bastard doesn't care about us at all.
He then thought of Izumi, and shuddered, feeling thankful that she wasn't around. Knowing her, she would've stood up the moment he got on stage and scolded him (while beating him up) for still being part of the military. And her husband Sig would be by her side, giving him a sympathetic look, a look he usually reserved for pieces of meat he was about to ground.
Winry and Pinako Rockbell crossed his mind, but Ed reminded himself that it would've been selfish to ask them to come all the way to Central just to stop him from feeling... Well... 'Like an orphan.'. He also had no desire to get beaned in the head with a wrench while getting his diploma.
Edward's thoughts were interrupted when a voice spoke: "Presenting Edward Elric, salutatorian of this year's batch!". The alchemist quickly headed to the center of the stage where a group of people stood, consisting of the principal (a tall, gray-haired man who looked at him with kind, green eyes; he was holding a silver medal in his hands), the valedictorian (who smirked at him, his narrow eyes practically saying 'Haha, I'm better than you!') his parents, and a man behind them whose face Edward could not see.
The crowd clapped once more and people whispered, although this time Edward had no clue what they were talking about. He faintly heard Al cheering: "Go brother!" as the principal approached.
Usually, the parents are supposed to put the medal on you, A voice in the back of his mind taunted, but Ed did his best to ignore it. He faced the principal and bowed his head, waiting for the feel of ribbon and the weight of the silver medal around his neck.
"Over here, Edward."
Ed quickly looked up once again, and almost had a heart attack when he saw his commanding officer smiling down at him. 'Colonel...' He was at a loss for words.
Dressed in military garb (complete with the pins and hat, which Edward was surprised to see; the colonel usually only wore those for formal occasions) was Roy Mustang, holding up the medal for everyone to look at. At first, Ed thought the colonel had arrived just to make a fool out of him. But all of a sudden, everything clicked.
Edward bowed his head once more, facing Roy this time, and the colonel slipped the medal around his neck. A pair of hands rested on his shoulders, and Ed looked up. "Congratulations, Edward. I'm proud of you," the colonel said softly before enveloping him in a hug.
A few seconds later, the Fullmetal Alchemist found himself hugging the older man back, and all of his unhappy thoughts vanished. For the first time in his life, Edward Elric felt like he had a father who cared.
Author's Notes: Once again, sorry if the characters were OOC. And forgive me if the plot was kind of 'out there'. Initially, I was going to have this long explanation as to why Edward's in school, but I guess I'll just leave it to your imagination.
As for him being salutatorian instead of valedictorian... Well, he's still part of the military and thus has to do missions. Balancing that and schoolwork is tough, you know.