Author's note: I realize that technically there isn't a Christmas holiday in Amestris, but I couldn't help myself. This is midly AU. I do not own Fullmetal Alchemist or its characters. A special thank you to everyone who has reviewed. I really appreciate your comments. Happy Holidays everyone!
Blame It On the Mistletoe
Roy Mustang had a headache. He already had enough problems, and then his superiors had to add this to his plate. How he was going to convince Edward Elric to attend the annual Officers' Christmas Ball with a date, Roy had no idea. But he was now under orders to do so. That was on top of somehow being put in charge of the Central Headquarters' Christmas charity donations. And then he had his regular duties.
"Sir?" Hawkeye set down a cup of coffee on his desk.
"I'm fine, Hawkeye. Just a headache."
"The new orders?"
"I don't suppose you know how to convince Fullmetal to come to the ball?"
"Have you tried enlisting his brother's help? And I'm sure Winry might have some influence as well."
"I was assuming she'd be his date if I managed to convince him to go, and no woman likes to be the one to ask with this sort of thing."
"You could always order him to do it."
"I need him to behave as well as show up. And we both know that Fullmetal has never responded well to orders."
Hawkeye shrugged. "I'll leave you to it then, sir. I'll need those papers by two."
He sighed as he watched her go then turned back to the paperwork for the charities. He'd deal with the problems he could solve first then move on to Fullmetal. To both his and Hawkeye's surprise, Mustang had managed to finish all of the paperwork for the charity donations by the time Fullmetal had arrived to turn in his reports. That just left him with a shopping trip to deal with. He'd take Hawkeye along for that; there was no other way he'd manage to shop for the three orphanages in Central without becoming distracted.
Of course, his mood plummeted rather dramatically once the Elrics showed up. Edward did not take the news about being required to attend the ball well. He had actually thrown a stapler at Roy. The boy had gone off on a rant, and he was bewildered at how to solve this. At least until something Hawkeye had said jumpstarted his brain.
"I would have thought you want to provide Miss Rockbell with a Christmas treat. However, I'm sure there is some other young officer interested in escorting a charming young lady to the ball."
That cut off the tirade quickly enough. Edward still looked furious, but it wasn't the indignant fury of before. No, this was a fury that Roy understood quite well. It was the same one he had to clamp down when other men flirted with Hawkeye.
"I'm the only one taking Winry on any sort of date."
"Well, then I suggest you ask her before someone beats you to it. And request a formal uniform. There is a dress code at this sort of event."
Fullmetal looked like he wanted to explode again. Finally, he asked, "Am I expected to dance at this thing?"
"It is a ball."
"I don't know how to dance."
Now that was a problem he could solve. "Hawkeye can teach you. It's not that hard."
And hopefully she wouldn't hurt him too much when she found out that he'd volunteered her for the duty.
"I'll leave you to go find a formal uniform and ask Miss Rockbell. I'll let the lieutenant know about the dancing lessons and have her get back to you on when and where."
Hawkeye was out when Fullmetal left which just gave Roy more time to be concerned about her reaction to his news. He had to sigh when she returned, bearing another stack of paperwork.
"Hawkeye, I'll need your help with the shopping for the orphanages' Christmas gifts, and I need you to teach Fullmetal how to dance."
This time she sighed. "I see. I'm not going to ask. When do you want go shopping?"
"Today?" He asked tentatively.
"Have your paperwork done in an hour or so, and we'll go. I'll go inform Edward that his first lesson is this evening."
"Thank you, Hawkeye."
She smiled. "It was rather sweet of you to offer Edward dancing lessons."
At least she wasn't too annoyed about this. That was a plus since he didn't really have a way to make it up to her. It wasn't like he could invite her to the ball as his date, however much he might want to. He would have a chance to exchange gifts with her privately since they were spending the holiday with Gracia and Elysia, but that wasn't anything special. Which reminded him, he still had to buy Riza's Christmas gift.
And none of this was getting his paperwork done. If he was going to have it done by Hawkeye's deadline, he had better get to work.
Riza sighed. He was an insufferable, annoying, charming, sweet man. She resigned herself to bruised feet. Hopefully, she could teach Edward enough that he wouldn't be a hazard on the dance floor. She would also need to pull the files on the orphanages to see what sort of gifts they'd need to purchase. And she would need to pick up Roy's gift sometime soon. At least she didn't have to worry about picking out something for him. She had found a little carved statue of a phoenix. It was clearly from Xing, and she felt it an appropriate gift for him. She'd purchased it the other day, but there had been a fuss due to problems finding some of its providence, and she had agreed to come back later to pick it up.
Anyway, first of all, she needed to call Gracia to see if she could borrow the woman's dinning room for dance lessons. Then she would need to see when Edward was free.
"Fuery, could you pull the files on the three main orphanages in Central? I need counts on ages and gender for Christmas shopping."
"Yes, Lieutenant. I can have that for you in an hour or so."
"Thank you." She smiled at him; Fuery was such nice young man. She owed him quite a bit for bring Hayate in.
The phone call with Gracia went well. The other woman had a soft spot for both Elric brothers and was quite willing to do what she could to help them out even in such a small thing. That was one less problem. Now she just had to find Edward to let him know. That took Hawkeye the better part of half an hour. And when she did finally find him, what she found was Alphonse trying to keep his brother from maiming the officer in the requisitions office.
"Have you the information required to tailor Major Elric's dress uniform? Colonel Mustang needs to see him as soon as possible."
"Yes, ma'am. The uniform should be ready by Friday."
"Wonderful. Major Elric, Alphonse, if you'll follow me?"
"What does Colonel Bastard want now?"
She smiled. "I thought you would want to know when your first dancing lesson was. I also wanted to see if you had contacted Miss Rockbell yet, and if she needed any help with arranging for a dress and sundries."
Ed gaped at her a little. "Um, ah, I haven't asked Winry yet."
Riza nodded. "I suggest you get to it. Finding a dress and accessories takes time you know. Anyway, your first lesson is this afternoon at Gracia's around five-ish. Gracia wants you to stay for dinner afterwards."
Edward looked a little stunned. Riza simply continued. "If there's nothing else you need, I should see if the colonel has finished his paperwork. We have a number of errands to run this afternoon."
She had a feeling that Alphonse would have been smiling if he was able to. Hawkeye returned to the colonel's office to find, rather surprisingly, that all the day's paperwork had been completed. The man grinned at her. "Can we go now? Please?"
"Just let me get the files we need from Fuery, sir."
By the time she had returned with the files, he had his coat on and was eager to be off. She collected her own coat and led the way to the car. The colonel gave directions to Central's largest toy store and spent the trip there going over the files. She hoped he was working a plan; otherwise they were going to waste a lot of time running around trying to find various things. They arrived at the toy store in less than ten minutes.
"Do we have a plan of action, sir?"
"Stuffed animals for all children under six. Books for the seven to eighteen year olds."
She nodded. It made sense. They were simple gifts, but ones that the people at the orphanages could easily match to the right child. They spent the next few hours picking out stuffed animals. The colonel wanted a wide selection of them, and she had to admit it was kind of fun. She also ended up purchasing two items herself. One was a little stuffed rabbit for Elysia. The other was a tiny ginger colored teddy bear for herself.
Their next stop was the largest bookstore in Central, and that was the more dangerous of the two. Knowing Mustang as well as she did, they could be here a very long time if he got distracted by some volume or another. If she could keep him in the children's book section, they should be okay. It was easier said than done. They finally got out of there around four-thirty. She had just enough to run him back to the office before heading over to Gracia's.
Edward was all ready there, munching on cookies. "I asked Winry. She said yes. She should be here in a couple of days."
She smiled. "Good. If she wants, we can go shopping together for gowns as I also need to get one. Now, are you ready to begin?"
Ed made a face but got up. Gracia led them to the dining room where she had moved most of the furniture out of the way. There was also a phonograph set up on the buffet. Riza smiled at a very apprehensive Edward.
"Don't look so worried. It's really quite easy." She turned to flip though the records Gracia had left out for her. "We'll start with a waltz. It's fairly easy. Come here."
He shyly approached her. Riza took his hands, placing one on the small of her back. She held onto the other and put her free hand on his shoulder. "This is the standard position for waltzing. If your partner has a backless dress, make sure you keep your hand on the fabric, not on her back unless you two are quite well acquainted. Now, I'm going lead since you've never done this before, but normally, the man leads. What I want you to do is the opposite of what I do."
Edward nodded. "Okay."
It didn't take too long before she had him moving around the floor in the basic steps. Things got a little more difficult once she added music and had him take over leading. After about an hour, Riza called an end to the lesson. Gracia dragged her into the kitchen to help with finishing up dinner preparations.
"So Edward is taking Winry to the ball?"
Riza smiled. "Yes. She supposed to arrive in a few days."
"How did Roy pull that off?"
"I think he mention that someone else might be interested in taking her. You know how protective he is of her."
"Not unlike an officer I could mention."
Sighing, Riza grabbed the salad, heading for the table. "Gracia, you know better than that."
Gracia followed her with the pasta. "I do. I also know how hard it is for you two. You will get some time together over the holidays?"
"We'll see, Gracia. We'll both be here on Christmas Day with Elysia's presents."
"You two spoil her."
"That's what godparents are for."
Riza found dinner an amusing affair. She had not really appreciated Edward's appetite before. She took her leave afterwards, arranging for the next lesson to be at the same time tomorrow. She walked briskly as the temperature had begun to drop and the wind had picked up. At this rate they would have snow by the end of the week.
Hayate met her at the door. She'd left him at home today, and he was eager for the company. She fed him and fixed a cup of tea for herself before settling down to wrapping Christmas presents. She had done all of her shopping early this year and was just left to wrap the gifts and deliver them. Riza would admit to splurging a little this year. She had gotten gifts for everyone from Fuery to the Elrics.
There were little things for the guys in the office and probably far too many things for Elysia. She had even purchased several gifts for the Elric boys and Winry. She didn't know if they even still celebrated Christmas, but she had bought them gifts. Someone needed to look out for those children. With a smile she reached for her gifts for Roy or at least the ones she would give him at the office party. They were simple and practical, a new pair of gloves and a lighter with his array embossed on it. She had another set of presents, including the little statue, to give him on Christmas Day at the Hughes residence. Those were a little more personal.
With the presents neatly wrapped, Riza headed for bed. She would have quite a bit of work in the next few days, especially if she was going to take time off to go shopping once Winry got here. That was a whole nother headache. She had nothing to wear to the ball after an incident got out of hand last year, and Riza was guessing that Winry wouldn't have anything either. That meant a torturous day of shopping for dresses, shoes, and accessories. Not Riza's idea of a good day, but it had to be done.
Roy Mustang was in a much better mood today. With the difficult part of the charity work taken care of and Edward's attendance at the ball assured, his only worry now was what to get Riza for the office gift exchange. He already had her real present bought a wrapped. He had come across the garnet broach shortly after he had purchased a charcoal lamb's wool shawl as a Christmas gift for her and couldn't resist getting the broach to go with it. However, there was still the matter of some acceptable trinket to give her at the office party. Everyone else was taken care of. He'd even gotten gifts for the Elrics and Miss Rockbell.
Also there was the fact that Hawkeye didn't seem angry with him over the dancing lessons. He had been a little worried that after the first lesson she would have changed her mind, but it seemed everything was going well. There was the small matter of finding a date for the ball. He was expected to bring someone. However, the person who he wanted to take was not available. Well, he doubted Hawkeye had a date, but it wouldn't be appropriate to ask her. He would dance with her though. That was part of the problem with finding a date. It needed to be someone who wouldn't mind him spending the evening schmoozing with the high ranking officers and dancing with Riza. He would find someone though; he always did.
Hawkeye appeared at his door with another stack of paperwork. He sighed.
"It's not that bad, sir. This is the last batch for the day. You do have a meeting with the various orphanages this afternoon, though."
He nodded. "Have the gifts been delivered yet?"
"That was taken care of this morning. It was the first set of paperwork I had you sign."
A reproving look told him he should have remembered that. He offered her one of his most charming smiles. It didn't quite work, but she didn't seem too peeved with him either. He set to work on the paperwork. If he was lucky, he would be done in time to go out and get something to eat before his meetings. It would be a nice change from the stuff they called food in the mess. It was quick going, and before he knew it he had signed the last paper. With a sigh, he put down the pen.
"I'm going to get some lunch. Would you like me to bring back you something?"
"A sandwich please, sir."
"No problem, Hawkeye. I should be back in time to go over the files for the meetings."
Mustang headed for a local deli he often frequented when he could get away from paperwork. It was one of those little family places where they know your favorite order if you're a regular. He didn't make it there often enough to suit his tastes, but the staff knew him by name and teased him about being married to his work.
After a cup of coffee and a roast beef sandwich, Roy was feeling quite content. He ordered a grilled cheese sandwich to take back to Hawkeye and headed back to the office. He window shopped along the way; he still had no idea what to get Riza for the office gift exchanged. He didn't want to get her gun supplies. A book might be a good idea except he had always had bad luck in picking ones that she would enjoy out. Maybe he could get her a nice fountain pen or something of the sort.
He delivered the sandwich to Hawkeye before returning to his desk. She had already laid out the files on the three orphanages for him to go over before his meetings. She had also left notations on the details of the gifts bought for each orphanage broken down by type, age range, and amount. By the time he had finished with them, Hawkeye had finished her lunch and was ready to go.
The meetings were pleasant if rather boring and repetitive. Basically, it was the same meeting with a different set of people each time. The best part was getting to meet some of the children who the gifts would be going to. He was going to have to get a copy of some of the photos that had been taken, especially the one of Hawkeye and the little blond three year old that had crawled into her lap. That was just too precious to pass up even if it did make him wonder their children might be like. That was a temptation he didn't need right now.
"I'll need an afternoon off once Winry gets here," Hawkeye informed him as she drove him home. "She'll need a gown for the ball as well as accessories, and I need to pick up a few things as well."
"Not a problem, Hawkeye. Just let me know when you need the time."
As it turned out, Winry arrived the next day. Hawkeye arranged to take the afternoon after that off. Everything was going well in his world.
Riza did not enjoy shopping. However, as it was an unavoidable necessity, she, Gracia, and Winry were spending the afternoon shopping for ball gowns and accessories. At least she wasn't being forced to do this alone. The three women met a café downtown for lunch before launching into the venture.
"Um, so what exactly do I need for this? Both Ed and my grandmother told me not to worry about the cost, but I have no idea what it is that I really need."
"Gown, under things, shoes, purse, a wrap of some sort, jewelry, hair accessories, and toiletries," Gracia ticked off the items. "Riza needs most of them as well since last year her dress was basically shredded during a foot pursuit. Don't ask. I can't get her or Roy to tell me the story."
"That sounds like a lot to find in one day."
"It is which is why we should get going. We'll start with the gowns so we can get everything else to match." Gracia rose from her seat. "I have a few ideas about where we can start. Do either of you have any idea what colors you might be looking for?"
"Red or burgundy. If all else fails, black or a dark blue," Riza replied. "My last dress was a golden brown, but I'd like something different this time."
Winry frowned. "Maybe blue or lavender. I'm not really sure."
Gracia nodded. "All right. Let's get a move on then."
Gracia had obviously given this trip a lot more thought than she had. Before Riza knew it, she was sorting through racks of dresses. She had some sympathy for Winry. Gracia had taken over, and the poor girl had over a dozen dresses to try on. Unfortunately, Riza was having less luck. It seemed the fashions of the season was backless, strapless, and halter tops. She could wear none of those. Her back and shoulders had to be covered.
"Do I have this on right?" Winry peered out of a dressing room.
"Come out and let me see."
The young woman came out, trying to adjust the straps. The dress was floor length pale blue crepe. The halter top formed a knot a her throat before crisscrossing across her back. She looked uncertainly at them.
Riza smiled. "Stop fiddling with the straps. They're fine. Stand up straight. You look lovely. There's no need to be so nervous."
Gracia made a circuit around the girl. "What do you think, Winry? You'll be the one who has to wear it. Riza is right though. It looks lovely on you."
Winry studied her reflection in mirror. "I do like it, and it is more comfortable than the others I tried on, but do you really think I can pull this off? I mean I'm not exactly a young lady of quality. I've never been to a party like this before."
Riza set a hand on the girl's shoulder. "Ed is not going to care about that, and neither is anyone who you'll enjoy meeting. If I can survive these things, you can."
The young woman took a breath. "Okay. Then I think I want this dress."
"You're sure?" Gracia asked. "You didn't like any of the others?"
Winry shook her head. "I was half afraid I was going fall out of most of the others."
Gracia nodded. "All right. We just need to find Riza a dress, then we can move on to accessories."
That prompted a sigh on Riza's part. "That's easier said than done, Gracia. Everything so far has been backless."
Gracia was aware of the problem that posed, at least to some extent. She knew that Riza had scars and was unable to wear anything that exposed her neck and back. "We'll see about that."
"What's wrong with that?" Winry asked. It was clear she was puzzled.
Gracia and Riza traded looks, but it was Gracia who answered. "It's typically considered bad taste to blatantly display scars."
Before things could become too awkward, Gracia had flagged down one of the shop girls to hang Winry's dress up for her and another to pull everything that had any sort of back or collar for Riza. Gracia rejected about half of these out of hand and another fourth due to the colors. The rest Riza had the dubious pleasure of trying on. However, about halfway through the pile, she found exactly what she was looking for, well almost.
The dress was dark burgundy satin in a Xing style with a mandarin collar. The drawback to the dress was the fact that while it covered the back of her neck, the neckline plunged into a tight v that exposed more of her breasts than she liked. There was also the fact that the dress was slit to the thigh on both sides. The upside was she would have easy access to her guns.
"Gracia, I want your opinion on this one," she called from inside the changing room. "It works, but I'm not sure if the problems that will come with it are worth it."
"You know the drill, Riza. I'm not coming in there."
With a sigh, she stepped out of the room. Gracia circled her. "Do you have a date?"
"Hmm." Gracia bit her lip. "You look fabulous. If you stick with the guys all evening, I think you shouldn't have too many problems. And Roy will probably be quite happy to chase off anyone who tries anything."
Riza glared at her friend. "The colonel will have more important things to do than protect me from over amorous idiots."
Gracia just smiled. "Just for the record, Winry, this is not the type of dress you want to wear to a military function unless you either have an overprotective boyfriend, carry weapons with you, or really want to get laid."
"Gracia!" Riza aimed a kick at her friend. "Ignore her, Winry. She forgets that not everyone shares her enjoyment of sharing the details of their personal lives with anyone they meet."
Winry looked torn between amusement and embarrassment. Gracia shooed Riza back into the changing room. "Go change. We still have a number of things to get, and we're loosing daylight."
True to her word, as soon as they had purchased the dresses, Gracia rushed them off to the next store on her list. They spent a rather awkward twenty minutes picking out lingerie and explaining to Winry how a garter belt worked. By the time Gracia was satisfied with their under things, both Riza and Winry were more than ready to move on.
Their next stop was a boutique that carried any number of accessories. Thankfully, neither Riza nor Winry needed much in the way jewelry, so that left them with finding earrings, hair accessories, purses, and wraps. Riza decided to stick with the Xing theme and spent the time hunting for things to match; she already had jewelry that would go with it. Poor Winry, on the other hand, had Gracia determined to find the perfect combination of things to put her at the best advantage. They finally decided on silver and moonstone jewelry with a pair of hair clips that matched. Riza had noticed a matching set of cufflinks and quietly pointed them out to Gracia who agreed to distract Winry while Riza made her purchases. The cufflinks would be a nice Christmas gift for Ed, and it would be nice for Winry to have her date match her accessories.
Then they were off to find shoes. Both Riza and Winry agreed that they did not want heels, Winry because of Ed's height and Riza because she needed to be able to chase someone if she had to. Of course, that made the job of finding shoes that much harder. It was nearly dark by the time they had finally found the right shoes, and the look on Winry's face when Gracia announced they had one more stop was some where between despair and sheer exhaustion.
"Don't worry. I saved this one for last since it's the easiest."
Gracia was right, picking out toiletries and perfumes was much easier than their other tasks. Riza already knew exactly what she was getting. Sandalwood had always been her perfume of choice, and it would nicely complement her outfit with its foreign theme. Winry also had an easy time finding things in lavender and vanilla.
The three of them split a taxi instead of walking home since they had far too many bags to carry by themselves. Winry and Gracia chatted while Riza simply rested. The afternoon had been grueling, and she would be back at work tomorrow.
"Why don't you have a date, Miss Riza?"
Riza smiled gently. "I'm not really going as a guest, Winry. I'm there to make sure nothing happens to the colonel. It's just easier if everyone thinks I'm a guest. Besides, I'm not that fond of these things anyway."
"But why don't you go as Mister Mustang's date? Wouldn't that make things easier for you?"
Gracia shot her a sad look and answered for her. "It would be considered fraternization, Winry. And while it might be overlooked in a lot of commands, because Roy is a state alchemist, it could ruin his career and Riza's."
"But that's not fair. Rules don't dictate who we fall in love with. It would be easier if they did."
"Life isn't fair, Winry. You know that. Besides, the colonel and I don't have that sort of relationship anyway."
Winry looked skeptical but let the subject drop. Besides, they had reached Riza's apartment, and she quickly made her farewells and headed inside. All she wanted was a nice, hot bath and a cup of tea.
"Does she actually believe she's not in love with Mister Mustang?" Winry asked once Riza had left the taxi.
Gracia sighed. The problem with both Winry and the Elric brothers was they could too perceptive about the wrong things. "Riza will never do anything that jeopardizes Roy. That includes voicing any feelings she might have for him. To tell the truth, even I don't know their full history. Maes and I were fairly certain that the two of them have a romantic relationship, but even when it was just the four of us, they were fairly restrained."
Gracia was well aware that she was stretching the truth some. Yes, Roy and Riza were restrained by most definitions, but she and Maes had been well aware that Roy and Riza were in a romantic relationship. How could they not be when their home provided a safe haven for the two? But if they all were to survive, Winry couldn't know that; not right now at least.
"They just seem so perfect for each other."
Gracia patted her hand. "Maybe one day they'll be able to act on that."
Roy was extremely content. Fullmetal and Miss Rockbell were outfitted and ready for the ball. He'd gotten all the Christmas gifts wrapped and ready to distribute to their various recipients. And he had the perfect date for the ball. Amelie Reinard was his sister-in-law and was quite content with her engagement to a young lawyer from Western. However, as he was stuck in Western until the 20th, she was perfectly willing to lend Roy a hand, and as she was actually good friends with Sheska, Amelie wasn't going to mind him slipping off to dance with Riza when he could.
The office party was this Friday, and the ball was Saturday. After that, he was off from work until after Christmas. He had quite a few plans for his vacation time. One of which was spoiling his goddaughter with Christmas gifts. Another was to makes sure Riza spent some time during her vacation relaxing. Knowing her, she would most likely spend the entire time doing something productive. He had other plans for her.
So now he just had to get through the rest of the week. That shouldn't be too hard; though given his crew, he wouldn't be too surprised to have several minor crises pop up. Still he didn't expect have too many problems. Havoc was taking Sheska to ball, so there was no whining about Roy perhaps stealing his date once again. Yes, all in all, things were going quite well. His only real worry was Havoc or Breda spiking the punch at the office party. Last year that had led to some rather incriminating photos as well as the unforgettable experience of hearing Breda attempt to sing I Feel Pretty. And given that the Elrics would be attending this year, the potential for mayhem was certainly increased.
"Sir?" Hawkeye was frowning at him. "Your paperwork is not a pillow. I need those forms signed by five."
"Is everything set for the office party?"
"Yes, sir, and don't change the subject. You did make it clear that alcohol is not permitted this year?"
"Yes. My ears still hurt from last year."
"Good. You're still not doing that paperwork."
With a sigh, he reached the nearest pen. He wasn't getting a reprieve from the paperwork after all. However, Hawkeye had left a mug of her famous peppermint hot chocolate for him, so it wasn't all bad. By mid-afternoon Roy had the paperwork done and had been recruited to help with the set up everything for the party as all of the office decorations were still in storage. It was nearly five when Hawkeye pronounced herself satisfied with the decorating of the office. The others quickly deserted the office, clearly not wanting to get stuck with any other chores.
"Did you ever manage to salvage your dress from the ball last year, Hawkeye? Those blackberry hedges did a number on it."
"The grease stains were the final straw. Gracia helped me pick out a new dress. I'm not sure how well I like it, but it allows me the freedom of movement I need."
"Hopefully, people will have learned their lesson from last year, and you won't need to put it to the test. How is Fullmetal doing with the dancing lessons?"
"No one will get maimed, sir. He's fairly proficient at this point."
"Good. I'll see you tomorrow then." He paused on his way out the door. "Are you bringing any of those ginger cookies you used to make?"
She smiled. "You mean my grandmother's gingersnaps? Of course."
He left the office in her capable hands, knowing that she always liked to put the finishing touches on the decorations by herself and dispose of the mistletoe. Roy's mind wandered off to Riza's new dress as he headed home. Gracia had helped pick it out, and she was as much of a matchmaker as her husband. He was probably going to have a very hard time focusing on anything other that Riza all night. Maybe he could arrange things so they could have the rest of the evening together after the ball.
Riza would call the office party a great success. It had taken some doing, but the punch remained alcohol free the entire time. She had also managed to keep mistletoe out of the party all together. Havoc had tried to pin up several springs, but between herself and the colonel, all of them ended up disposed of. The Christmas carols had been sung early on, and she was surprised to find that Edward and Alphonse both had lovely singing voices. With a little persuasion they were convinced to perform a duet or two and one trio with Winry. It just as well no one there knew that both she and Roy could sing as well or they too would have been pressed into service. Gracia was the only one left who knew that secret, and it was going to stay that way. At least until Roy was Fuhrur. The last time they had sung in public was at Maes and Gracia's wedding reception.
The gifts had gone over well. She had received a number of useful things, and the Elrics and Winry had been surprised and delighted to be included. Riza had handed out a few of the presents she had for them, but she'd be sending some home with them when they went back to Risembool as well. Hayate had been thrilled with all the various doggy toys he had received. Fuery had offered to take him for a walk while she dealt with the clean up. Winry had offered to help with the clean, and the colonel was keeping everyone else out of their hair.
"Thank you for the gifts. It was really thoughtful of you."
"No problem. No one should be forgotten at Christmas."
Winry gave her an inquiring look but didn't follow up on the comment. By the time they everything but the food remains taken care, most everyone had headed home. Riza sent Winry off with Ed and Al; they were walking back to Gracia's, and she wanted the three of them to get home before dark. It didn't take long for Riza to gather up the leftovers and wrap them up to send home the colonel. There were even some of her ginger cookies left over.
"Hawkeye? Are you ready to go? I'll leave the keys if you need more time."
"Just a minute, sir. Could you get Hayate's leash for me?"
By the time she had everything tucked into a bag, Roy had Hayate on his leash and was holding both their coats. He helped her into hers with ease before shrugging into his own. They could be surprisingly domestic at times. Well, surprising to others, they had grown up together after all. It was something the two of them avoided for the most part. No sense in tempting fate after all. They headed out in companionable silence.
She saw him to his apartment as ever watching his back.
"I'll see you at the ball tomorrow, Hawkeye. Be sure to save me dance."
Elysia was having the time of her life. Both her Auntie Riza and Winry nee-chan were getting all dressed up, and she got to watch. She was absolutely entranced by the way her mommy turned Winry into an ice princess, all pale blue and silver. Her pale blond hair had been turned into a waterfall of curls, swept up with silver clips. Light make-up enhanced her eyes, and she looked like the spirit of winter to the young girl.
But it was Auntie Riza that was really amazing. She looked like one of the ladies from Mommy's Xing tapestry. Dark make-up enhanced her eyes and lips, and her jewelry appeared to be made from antique coins. What Elysia didn't understand was why Auntie Riza had gone all red when Mommy had said she was 'testing Roy's ability not to ravish her senseless'. Any way, her mommy had taken lots of pictures of Auntie Riza and Winry nee-chan as well as Ed nii-chan when he came.
Riza hid a smile as she watched Ed and Winry fidget uncomfortably and try not to look at each other in the back seat. Due to Ed's rank, he was entitled to a car and driver for events like these, though Riza had been the one to make all the arrangements, and both he and Winry seemed a little overwhelmed with the whole situation. Edward had clearly gotten her gift of cufflinks had been rather startled to find he matched Winry. Someone had also had the thoughtfulness to coach him enough that he had brought Winry a corsage, and thankfully, it suited her dress perfectly. Alphonse and Gracia probably had a hand in it, but someone else would have had to know as well.
Mercifully, the drive was short enough; Riza wasn't quite sure how much of the stammering and blushing she could take. Yes, they were adorable, but unfortunately, they were also a reminder of who the colonel and she could have been if Ishval had been prevented. It did no good to dwell on those thoughts, but every once in awhile they popped into her head. Riza watched amused as Ed managed to clumsily perform the proper escort duties of opening Winry's door for her and offering her his arm. She trailed after them, mostly to make sure that they actually arrived at the ball, and Edward didn't bolt.
Once the two of them were safely tucked in a corner by the refreshments, Riza went off in search of her colonel and the others. She caught sight of Havoc carrying drinks and headed over to him.
"Lieutenant, wow. That is one amazing dress."
"My face is up here, Havoc. Have you seen the colonel?"
"He's over with his date and Sheska by the balcony doors. I was just heading back there."
She followed him back to the corner where the others were congregating. On there way, Riza had to fend off several propositions, but other than that, there was no trouble. With any luck, they would have a nice quiet ball this year without any explosions or foot chases. There were several double takes when they reached the others, and Riza blushed. She really wasn't used to this much attention, not to mention showing this much cleavage, but the look in Mustang's eyes was well worth it.
"Good evening, Lieutenant."
"Sir. I came with Edward and Winry. They should be around somewhere."
"Thank you. That's one less worry. Have you met my date, Hawkeye? This is my sister-in-law, Amelie Reinard. Amelie, this is First Lieutenant Riza Hawkeye. I think you may have met her at Evie's wedding."
"Yes, of course. It's nice to see you again."
Before for the group could do more than exchange pleasantries, Edward came stomping over, Winry in tow.
"Ah, Fullmetal, good to see you," the colonel smirked.
That earned him a glare. Riza hid a smile behind her glass. There were days when she wondered if the colonel and Edward were long lost siblings. They certainly acted like it.
Winry smiled at them all. "Ignore him. This is simply lovely."
Amelie grinned. "Your first ball?"
"Yes." Winry was blushing now. "Ed was nice enough to invite me."
Riza smiled as the young women started to chat. Winry could use a few more girlfriends near her age, and Amelie was a good choice. She scanned the crowd as usual looking for any threats to her colonel. The ball typically was a pretty calm affair, but there had been a few past events that had been exceptions, last year for instance.
However, tonight the main drama appeared to be getting Edward to dance. He kept stealing glances at the dance floor and shuddering. Winry was fairly oblivious to all this which made it all the more amusing. Riza herself had danced a few times in the evening, mostly with her co-workers and her grandfather. For the most part though, she spent her time watching the colonel. He was in fine form, schmoozing with the best of them. For someone who hated these events almost as much as Edward did, he hid it well.
She was distracted from her colonel watching by Winry finally drawing Ed out onto the dance floor. They actually made a very handsome couple. Edward was barely taller than Winry, but they fit together so well it didn't matter. Riza smiled.
"You did a good job with him," The colonel's voice came from behind her. "They look very good together."
"Thank you, sir."
He held out a hand to her. "Dance with me, Hawkeye?"
He led her out onto the dance floor. "Do you remember the little place on the corner of Rose and Ivy?"
"Yes, sir." It was the cottage he owned in Central despite the fact that he lived in an apartment.
"Would you mind dropping by there afterwards? Say around eleven-ish? I have some packages that need to be picked up."
"Of course, sir."
"Wonderful. If you don't mind, I think we'll cut in on Fullmetal."
As they switched partners, Riza bit back a grin. Her colonel had made plans for the evening it seemed. They hadn't had much of a chance to get together lately, and she had missed their nights together.
"It's not fair! Who does Colonel Bastard think he is, stealing Winry like that?"
Riza just laughed. "He only does it because he knows it will annoy you, Edward. If you stop acting like it bothers you, he'll stop."
"It's still not fair," the boy grumbled.
"I'm sure Winry will be willing to dance with you again as long as you managed not to step on her feet," she teased.
At the end of the song, she retreated back to sidelines. It wouldn't be too long before things began to wind up, and people would begin to leave. She would need to pick up a few things before going to meet the colonel. With a contented smile, she watched as Ed waltz Winry around the room.
Roy lit the fire with a smile and returned to his preparations. Riza would be arriving at the door shortly, and he wanted everything to be ready. The cottage might not be used often, but he did pay for its uptake, so it was clean, and someone, probably the cleaning service, had decorated for the holidays. He had brought dessert and music. All he needed now was his lady.
He was just topping off the hot toddies when there was a knock at the door. Roy hurried to admit Riza and help her out of her coat.
"Thanks for coming."
She turned in his arms, kissing the corners of his mouth. "Like I would miss a chance along with you."
He hung her coat up, taking in her dress once again and feeling incredibly thankful that she hadn't changed. "Have I mentioned how much I like your new dress?"
"I believe that might have slipped your mind."
Roy took her into his arms. "Let me fix that. I like your new dress very much. Unfortunately, I'm afraid there are a number of men I'll need to have a talk with about where to look when speaking with a lady."
"You can blame Gracia for that. I would have kept looking, but she insisted this was the dress."
"Mmm." He reached behind himself to turn on the phonograph. "Dance with me?"
Riza laughed. "You know the answer to that, Roy."
He sang in her ear as
they moved across the floor, "You can dance every dance with the
guy who gives you the eye, let him hold you tight. You can smile
every smile for the man
who held your hand 'neath the pale moon light. But don't forget who's takin' you home, and in whose arms you're gonna be. So darlin' save the last dance for me."
She laughed and pressed her lips against his neck. Roy steered them towards the living room door where someone had hung mistletoe.
"Do you know what my favorite part of the holidays is?"
He tilted her head up to kiss her. When he pulled away, they were both flushed and breathless.
"I can do that in public. All I have to do is blame it on the mistletoe."
She pulled him down for another kiss. "I don't need the mistletoe."