Disclaimer: I do not own Fullmetal Alchemist.
A/N: Hello, everyone! So, here's the next chapter in my One Year collection. Just a heads-up, this chapter is especially Winry-centric (Ed only makes his grand entrance in the end) and there are even touches of RoyxRiza, which I've never seriously tried to write before.
Anyway, I hope you enjoy!
"I'm so sorry, Miss Riza!" Winry panicked, tears collecting in the corners of her eyes as she scraped at the charred mounds of dough that were supposed to be twelve fluffy vanilla cupcakes. "I don't know what's happening to me! I've been so distracted."
"It's alright, Winry. We still have time before the boys get back," the other woman replied calmly. Her words, however, only encouraged the tears that were struggling to break free of Winry's blue eyes to stream down her cheeks in an uncontrollable flood. Dropping the knife she had been using to pry the ruined cupcakes out of their pan, Winry leaned heavily against the countertop, her body locked in jolting tremors as she cried silently. Startled by her friend's emotional crisis, Riza Mustang moved quickly. With reflexes honed from her years as an active soldier, the former lieutenant gently deposited her infant son in the basinet that was nearby before coming up to Winry and pulling the young woman into a comforting embrace.
"I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm sorry," Winry muttered, burrowing her head against Riza's shoulder as she clutched at the woman's blouse and cried. Riza frowned, her brows crinkling as she muddled over what could have her young friend so upset. Patting her back, Riza waited with patient silence as Winry's tears ran their course. Soon, the mechanic's shoulders stilled and her grip loosened.
"Feeling better?" Riza wondered. Sniffling, Winry nodded her head, rubbing at the tear tracks on her face. "There now," Riza sighed as she offered a handkerchief, "go and sit by Maes and I'll take care of the cupcakes."
"Don't worry about it," Riza insisted, pushing Winry towards the bassinet. Her usual fire absent, Winry sluggishly obeyed Riza's order, plunking down in the chair beside the infant's cradle. Frowning, she looked down at the Mustangs' youngest son and offered her finger to his waving hands. Gripping the digit, the baby gargled in delight and began to squeeze, his toothless smile earning just the slightest grin from the young woman.
"Well, little man, do you know that today is your big brothers' birthday? Bert and Christopher are three years old now…they're growing up very fast."
The mechanic sighed, her unspoken troubles contained in that single forlorn sound. As if in response, little Maes squealed shrilly, his garnet eyes, as dark and rich as aged sherry, swiveling with rapt interest as he took in the face of the woman above him. Unable to resist, Winry scooped the three month old into her arms and cradled him gently.
Mixing a fresh batch of dry and wet ingredients into a large bowl, Riza watched the young woman out of the corner of her eye. She observed as Winry made silly nonsense noises, sacrificing all manner of dignity for the reward of Maes' little laugh. When the blond leaned in close to rub her nose against the baby's cheeks and brow, a deep inner light, one that only a woman could understand, glittered in the dark sapphire mines of her eyes. Riza's stomach clenched with knowing intuition when she spotted the sharp reflection. It was a look she was all too familiar with and as she busied herself with stirring the cupcake batter, a gentle smile graced her features.
"Winry?" Riza asked calmly as she carefully poured the mixed batter into the muffin pan. "Are you pregnant?"
A startled cry tore itself from the automail mechanic's throat and a fresh onslaught of tears raced down from her eyes to her chin. Carefully cuddling Maes against her shoulder, Winry rubbed her cheek along the baby's jumper, patting his bottom as she tried to regain control of herself. Maes, detecting the drastic change in the atmosphere, began to fuss in Winry's grip, his giggles quickly changing to distressed murmurs. Horrified that her mood was affecting the baby, Winry swallowed her sobs and began to pace the kitchen, gently rocking Maes as she worked a bit too diligently to comfort him.
Placing the new batch of cupcakes into the oven, Riza watched the frazzled young woman with a sympathetic expression.
"How long?" she asked gently.
"I can't be pregnant!" Winry cried, her screech startling Maes and setting the three month old off into a blotchy faced screaming fit. "Oh no!" Winry wailed, jostling Maes in her arms as she tried to calm the infant.
"Here," Riza offered, taking her son from Winry and giving him a few solid pats on the back as she cooed in his ear. The gestures immediately calmed the boy and he rested placidly in his mother's arms, offering no protest when she placed him back in the basinet.
"I can't be pregnant," Winry repeated. "Look at how pathetic I am. I made Maes cry."
"Maes has had a cold all week and hasn't been sleeping well, so everything sets him off lately. It wasn't you, Winry, honestly."
"Don't try to comfort me, Miss Riza."
"But Winry –"
"How could Ed and I have been so stupid?!"
Falling in defeat onto a stool, Winry held her bowed head in her hands as she tried to process the conundrum of thoughts that were sweeping through her mind. Coming to stand beside her, Riza began to stroke Winry's hair, a simple act that always seemed to settle frazzled nerves. Soon, Winry was leaning into Riza's side, an exhausted sigh shifting her whole body.
"I've had some slight morning sickness the past two weeks, and last weekend my head hurt so bad that I closed the clinic and slept the whole two days. The next night at dinner, the smell of the quiche made my stomach turn," Winry explained. "I'm so mad at myself! Ed, too! We've always been careful, Miss Riza. Ed uses condoms and I've been on an herbal medication for years."
"Then maybe you're just ill. There is a stomach flu going around," Riza suggested helpfully.
"I've thought of that, but my menses are late, almost a month now, and I remembered…well, Ed and I were, um, overzealous this past New Years and I know I forgot to take my herbal drink that morning and, maybe, one of the times we…I think Ed might have forgot to…"
"But you're not sure?" Riza checked.
"I'm sure," Winry nodded, one hand lifting to rest on her abdomen. "There isn't a doubt in my mind, really."
Seeing how small and lost her young friend was on that lonely kitchen stool, Riza pulled Winry against her. She embraced her gently, and waited for Winry to speak, not daring to offer her own advice until asked for it. Winry didn't need a lecture when she was already being hard enough on herself.
"What should I do?" the mechanic finally asked.
"First you need to go to a doctor for a confirmation. And then you need to tell Edward," Riza instructed, patting Winry's cheeks.
"You're right. I actually made an appointment with a doctor in Dublith for next week."
Winry bit her bottom lip and looked up at her friend with an imploring expression.
"You know you have to tell him."
"But how do I tell him?"
"Delicately," Riza answered, her solution blunt and honest, the only way to handle Edward Elric.
"Miss Riza, how did you tell Roy you were expecting the twins?"
"I told him in the shower…"
Riza studied her reflection in the foggy glass of the medicine cabinet. She didn't think she could detect a glow like all the books and manuals claimed, but there was a new mysterious sparkle dancing in her garnet colored eyes. Aside from the knowing glimmer, there was no hint at her pregnancy other than her breasts were starting to swell, a small fact that her husband – one newly appointed Amestrian Regent, Roy Mustang – had happily noticed, but did not seem to question. Smiling softly around her toothbrush, Riza thought back on the previous six weeks, barely believing how fast the days had gone and all the changes that had passed.
Before making it through the Promised Day, Riza never would have believed that Roy Mustang had actually wanted to make an honest woman out of her. Their long-term – and extremely secret – love affair had lasted years, since shortly before Roy had joined the State Alchemists. It had culminated during the Ishbaalan War and continued even after Riza was assigned as her lover's subordinate. Their trysts were always cloaked in the shadows of shadows, their love-making rough and fast more often than languishing and tender. They never spent the night at one another's flats, and any sign of intimate affection at headquarters was unquestionably forbidden. The rules had been simple, easy to manage, and not needing the traditional security of vows and a ring, Riza could honestly say she had been happy. So she had been completely caught off guard when, shortly before launching the coup on Central the day of the solar eclipse, Roy had pulled her into the privacy of a sheltered alcove. He took her sharply and splendidly against a cracking plaster wall then promised her as they clumsily straightened their clothes that he would marry her when everything was over.
She hadn't protested –there had been no time – and as they had made their way into the underbelly of Central, Riza had believed that neither she nor her commanding officer would make it through the day. She had meant what she said to him in the sewers. If he died, she would follow him, and with no regrets. And yet somehow they had lived, surprisingly unscathed save for a few scars that would heal with time. That night, the first night of a new era, unchristened and magically new, Roy had snuck into Riza's chamber in the infirmary, crawled into her cot, and made sure that he was discovered by several scandalized nurses in the bright yellow dawn. Their affair exposed, the only option they had was to marry if Roy was to continue raising up in the ranks of the military. Somehow, Riza knew that had been his plan all along.
They were married by a Justice of the Peace in the Elrics' hospital room, the brothers, Miss Rockbell, and their few trusted comrades present as witnesses.
Married life wasn't that much more chaotic than a solitary lifestyle. The reconstruction took up a great deal of both Roy and Riza's time and the only issue they seemed to clash over was which apartment they would take up permanent residence in as the Mustangs. However, ten days after the Promised Day, Roy was elected to the position of Regent to oversee the reconstruction and reorganization of the military. As compensation, he had been given a lovely two story house for the duration of his term. The home was spacious, almost too big for a newlywed couple, but giving her belly a quick glance, Riza noted that in less than eight months, she and her husband would no longer be alone.
"…try and sneak out of my meeting with Armstrong early. I swear, Riza, that woman has a set of brass balls on her bigger than Alex's biceps."
Hearing her husband's voice from behind the shower curtain, Riza finished brushing her teeth and smiled fondly at his masculine silhouette. In the assault on the homunculus and their father, they had fought for the chance to have everything they were entitled to as human beings, love and marriage and children, too.
"We should go over that trading agreement with Creta after the afternoon debriefing, and I want to look over those figures for the supply trucks we're sending to the refugee camps at Ishbal. If that damn Simmerman tries to challenge me at council again I'll –"
What horrible fiery tortures Roy had planned for the irksome Simmerman would remain a mystery lost to the bathroom tiles. As her husband had started to rant, Riza pulled back the shower curtain and kissed his thin frowning lips. Though his surprise resulted in a stream of shampoo falling into his eyes, Roy ignored the sting and kissed his wife back greedily, his wet arms coming up to loop around her back and soak her dressing gown.
"Good morning," she sighed, smiling warmly at his chiseled face.
"Good morning," he growled back, nipping at her neck, his mind no longer on the duties of a Regent. "Want to join me?"
Taking a moment to enjoy his ministrations, Riza soon pulled back and regarded her husband with a long, adoring stare before refusing his tempting offer.
"Too bad," he smirked, "I could have really used the distraction."
Pulling the curtain back into place, Roy began to hum to himself as he continued to wash. Moving to leave the bathroom, Riza turned back to regard her husband and decided that if he wanted a distraction, it was her duty as his wife to provide him with one.
"I'm pregnant," she announced, sure that her voice carried over the sound of the falling water. As she left the room, Riza noted that Roy's humming had come to a sudden halt…
"I don't think he came out of the bathroom for over an hour. He was late to all his meetings that day and was delayed at headquarters," Riza recalled with a fond smile.
"But was he…was he glad?" Winry wondered, her voice laden with anxious concern.
"I was already in bed by the time he came home. He laid down beside me, and held me gently, and he put both his hands here," Riza rested her palms lightly on her lower belly. "He was already picking out names by the next morning, and when we found out we were having twins, well…he was almost impossible. He was happy, Winry. Truly happy."
"Do you think Ed –"
"Just remember that finding out you're pregnant is a major shock. It's new and exciting and scary. You're feeling all of that and he will, too. So, if his first reaction isn't what you expect or even like, don't think he isn't happy."
"I'm not ready for this, Miss Riza."
"I'm not sure any of us ever are. But you're getting ahead of yourself. Find out if you're pregnant first. And if you need anything –"
"Momma!" a chorus of two cheered, followed by the clamor of an excited bark as Black Hayate followed the children into the house.
"You'll call me," Riza ordered gently. "Roy and I will help you both."
Agreeing to her friend's command, Winry checked on the cupcakes while Riza went to the foyer to greet her twin sons.
"Did you have fun playing broom ball at the park?" Riza asked, helping her boys out of their winter coats and boots. "Christopher don't just dump those brooms on the floor! Put them in the closet."
"We hit the ball, Momma," Bert stated proudly.
"We beat Shrimp Man!" Christopher announced loudly as he rushed into the kitchen. "Hi, Miss Win!"
"Hello, Christopher. And where is Shrimp Man?"
"Him an' Daddy are comin'," the boy answered as he hoisted himself up onto a stool, his nose greedily sniffing at the cupcake laden air. Bert and Riza entered the kitchen hand-in-hand and the younger twin stopped to gently pat the head of his baby brother.
The boys were the unmistakable spitting image of their father. They had his hair and eyes, even his cocky smile when they believed they were being clever, although, traces of Riza were beginning to make themselves evident, especially in the boys' personalities. A mingled urge and excitement to see her own child raised alongside the Mustang boys struck Winry powerfully and she had to swallow the fresh wave of tears that threatened to spill.
It wouldn't do her any good to think about such things, not until she was certain she was expecting.
"That was a cheap shot, Mustang!" Ed bellowed as he and Roy came into the house. The sound of her boyfriend's irritated insults and the Regent's amused chuckles made the mechanic roll her eyes. Even at a birthday party, Ed could never seem to keep his temper in check.
"It's the boys' birthday, Ed. The least you could do is let them win a silly game of broom ball."
"And how the hell are they supposed to learn about sportsmanship if you just let them win?" Ed demanded.
"So what? They gotta learn some time."
"Fine. When you're a father and we play broom ball with your spawn, I'll let you push me," Roy agreed with false sincerity.
"You body checked me into the damn snow bank!"
Listening as Ed continued to rant, and her stomach fluttering at Roy's innocent remark, Winry found herself struggling to save face. Still, as the twins began to banter over who would get to feed Black Hayate a dog treat and Roy and Ed continued their own silly disagreement in the foyer, Winry placed a hand over her belly and wondered.
"Will I be good enough?"
"If you're asking yourself that, then you'll be wonderful," Riza answered confidently. Appreciative of the assurance her friend offered, Winry found the strength to smile and took the cupcakes out of the oven.
And so goes another month. Only ten more to go!
Anyway, I just wanted to leave a little explanation on the Mustang twins. I chose the names Christopher and Bert for the following reasons: Christopher is a tribute to Madame Christmas, Roy's aunt, and Bert is short for Berthold, which I understand was the name of Riza's father. Then, of course, we have baby Maes, named for our near and dearly departed brigadier general. As for Ed, Winry and their baby…well, you'll just have to wait and see.
So, thanks so much for taking interest in this story. If you would like to review, I would very much appreciate it. No flames, please and thank you!