The soldiers stood beside a marble angel upon a pedestal with his wings spread out and his hands held high as though hoping to catch a falling star. The passing breeze made them draw their coats tighter around them, but they kept their eyes on two lone figures weaving through the tombstones and statues scattered throughout the grass, one taller than the other.
"Are you sure the Führer wants us to stay here?" asked a nervous private, shuddering.
"Of course," replied a master sergeant, who was still clutching her coat and showing no sign of being bothered by the chill. "You heard him; he and the Major want some privacy. We only break that order when we have to, like when an assassin decides that a cemetery is the ideal place to shoot the Führer and his fiancé down. This is the farthest we can go while keeping them within sight and giving them privacy at the same time. Don't be such a worrywart, Gereon."
"But you really never know, with these assassins…even though it's already been quite a while since he took power," another private added with a shrug. "Then again, when you're the Flame Alchemist and your fiancé is a real gunslinger, what have you got to fear?"
The master sergeant sighed, running a hand through her chestnut-brown hair. "Still, we can't take any chances. Führer Mustang's inauguration, if you remember, didn't exactly go as well as planned." She glanced down at her coat and began to wear it.
Several others nodded their agreement as they kept constant vigil.
The tombstone was cracked and weathered, but the engraved words upon it could still be read, which marked the name of the dead, and his dates of birth and death. Beside it was another gravestone, albeit older, and both were adorned with flowers. But right now, the couple was more focused on the first one.
"Nicholas Hawkeye…alchemist, father…"
"And teacher." The Führer rested a hand on the shoulder of the woman standing beside him. "I had to add it when they were making the inscription. He was like a second father to me."
They were silent again. The wind rushed past them, bearing its burden of dry leaves in various colors. It felt like forever and a day had passed when Roy Mustang spoke again.
"Do you think…do you think he would be proud of me?"
Major Riza Hawkeye glanced at her superior and lover. She smiled, and as though gently chiding him, said, "If he could see you now, he would definitely be proud to have raised you as his apprentice. He probably didn't expect you to take over Amestris after you got your State Alchemist license."
Roy stroked his chin and smirked. "Or maybe he did. But I'm sure he didn't expect his apprentice to propose to his daughter." He cupped her chin in one hand and gazed into her reddish-brown eyes, a gust lifting her blond bangs briefly. Before he could do anything else, she quickly stepped aside, her eyes narrowed and her mouth curved into a rather teasing smile. The president of Amestris responded with a mock pout, looking very much like a child deprived of his favorite sweet.
Riza hid a giggle behind her handkerchief, the bright red stone glinting on her engagement ring, and answered, "To be honest, I don't know what he would say if he found us together now…if he would approve."
"Maybe while I studied under him, he wouldn't," Roy guessed. "I don't know…oh, wait, now I remember dropping a hint about marrying you, and he nearly threw that huge alchemy encyclopedia at me. Or he was just in a bad mood that day."
She nodded and shivered, drawing her coat closer to her, and was only a little surprised to feel Roy's arm around her, holding her close to him and warming her more.
"If only he hadn't died so soon…"
"At least you were with him during his last moments," said Roy in a bid to lighten the rather grim mood, even though he knew that it was the mood to be expected from a place like a cemetery. "And, at least he didn't see me pass the alchemy exam. He would have probably gone crazy and that would have killed him…or worse, he could have killed me."
Riza looked at him, unsure whether to laugh at his little joke or scold him for it. She glanced down at the grass under her feet, knowing that six feet below them were the remains of her father. The major then glanced at the second tombstone, the one that declared the name, birthday and death day of Perenelle Hawkeye.
"I wish I could have met your mother. What about her…what would she say about me proposing to you?"
She frowned in thought and shrugged. "My mother probably would have approved of you right away. But…I can't really say much. I knew her for only a few years, and those years weren't exactly the best time to discuss whom I would marry when I got older."
Roy couldn't help chuckling at this, but he stopped instantly when he caught sight of Riza's pensive face. She's so beautiful when she's thinking like that…
"Still, sometimes I can't help thinking that it was all right for him to die," she suddenly said, digging her hands into her coat pockets. "He would be with Mother, after all. It was the last line in his will…to be buried beside her. My mother also had the same request; that they be beside each other forever…"
Her voice trailed off. It was such a morbid topic, even if they were in a cemetery, which was almost deserted save for their bodyguards not too far away. She felt something warm and comforting embrace her, and realized that Roy was embracing her, somehow shielding her from the bitter cold. Finally, the major couldn't resist any longer, and returned the hug. They stood there before the graves of Riza's parents, as they recalled the times when they were alive – and in Roy's case, trying to imagine what Riza's mother was like.
"Let's go," he said softly, his voice and breath in her ear. "It's been a while since my parents last saw you. We can't keep them waiting."
"All right," Riza answered, pulling away from him. Together, they walked away, the wind continuing to lift any strands that escaped her bun and toy with Roy's jet-black hair. It wafted past them and headed straight for the flowers left on the graves of Nicholas and Perenelle, picking up stray petals and whisking them up, up into the sky, as high as they could possibly reach before spinning away again with the transient breeze.
When the multicolored petals finally settled, they found their place alongside some other flowers placed before a different grave.
The name carved into this particular tombstone was Maes Hughes.
Congratulations to all the NaNoWriMo winners of 2007! Yes, this time I have a different excuse for not updating.