A/N: Wow, after 941 days, or 2 years 6 months and 26 days, it's completed ^^ I cannot thank all you enough for sticking with me all this while, and it makes me so happy that all you guys liked it so much enough to put up with me for almost three years ^_^
It's been a ton of fun and I wish I can write something in the future that is even half as much of a blast to write ^^ This fic might have just started out as a chance to practice writing Pride's character, but I'm glad it evolved into something more, where I could dig deeper into his intricacies and try to explain them. I can't say how flattered I am when I hear that some people take some aspects of my headcanon and believe them as their own too ^_^
At the end of the chapter I'll have an appendix to talk about a few of my themes (and I've probably forgotten a few but never mind), but I'll just leave you to enjoy the last chapter now :)
Thanks to Muddywolf for reading through this chapter for me beforehand.
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Chapter Sixty: Daydream's End
November 5th 1914
The ancient homunculus sat up in his chair, waking with the greatest of dignity from his slumber. He ran a hand through his faded, once golden hair, fake, but it felt real enough. What an unusual dream, it wasn't often that he dreamed. Could it be considered a dream if it was nothing but a memory? Reliving his creation, when he had deceived the nation of Xerxes and had bestowed Slave 23 with nigh-immortality, just as he had given him a name, a purpose outside of slave work, everything. Hohenheim was ever so ungrateful, but at least now he had provided him with two ample Human Sacrifices in the form of his sons, and himself now that he was in Amestris. Would he try to oppose him on the Promised Day? That would be a sight to see, a measly half a million souls stuffed into a human-shaped Philosopher's stone attempting to defy him once he became a God. Surely Hohenheim was not so foolish, though, if he was not foolish then he would not have come to Amestris at all.
Father raised his head, watching the figure step closer from the far corridor, coat swaying a tad as he went.
"Good afternoon, Greed. Has anyone visited?"
"Well, Envy's here right now. Keeps saying something about how he found lots of broken glass and a few corks in Lust's drawers but that's nothing important, he just keeps kicking up a fuss about her." Greed spoke it casually, detached; for all this Greed was concerned he had never known Lust so didn't understand why Envy would be interested in her now that she was dead. Her death had brought the Flame Alchemist to full light as far as his potential as a Sacrifice went, so it was not a complete waste of her life. "Pride came too, but he didn't wanna wake you up so he left. I think he'll be back later on though."
"Hm, Pride? I see. Please return to ensuring no intruders approach here, Greed." This Greed knew better than to repeat the treachery of the previous, even if he wasn't aware of them. Greed nodded, wandering back to the corridor he emerged from. He would need to tell Pride to meet with the Crimson Lotus Alchemist in the North as soon as possible to instruct him to create the final Crest of blood. Father leant back in his chair - not a slouch of course. Ah, Pride. His first creation. Since his birth he had changed, more so than the rest of his siblings. What was that, he had called himself, all those years ago once he learned how to read and write? 'The first homunculus', 'the original'? Not the homunculus that was such a success that it increased his enthusiasm to create the others. Pride might have believed such a thing. No, Pride was the opposite, a failure of a Truth that could never be anything but that. Weak and useless, taking over a quarter of a century before it learned how to speak even the simplest of words. He was forced to create his siblings through alternate means because he wasn't going to take such a risk ever again. At least his jealousy at Lust's intellect, superiority, her human shape and her freedom had driven him to finally acquire something for himself.
Even once he had slaughtered that human boy and forced himself into his corpse Pride had been no better, soft and gentle without a speck of pride inside himself, rather than embracing his vaguely learned concept of being better than humans. It made sense- that Truth would try to spite him by providing him with such a pathetic creation. Of course, it was not luck, or fate either, that had allowed Father to alter him, to fashion him into something more than the naïve wretch he once was, something useful. It had only taken a push, to find that spark of darkness within and nurture it, until it had grown and destroyed every part of Pride that had been so weak. Without him Pride wouldn't have developed any further than that constant, optimistic child who doted on his flask and couldn't do anything for himself. He wouldn't have survived that way.
He would never become the Truth he was intended to be, but he could be useful enough, he supposed, was loyal and devoted as any child should be for their parent.
Yes, Pride would serve him well until the Promised Day. And beyond that?
Probably not, without him he would still be a nothing, why should he be treated any different from his other siblings?
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Pride stretched out under his covers, murmuring something under his breath, slowly easing into a light sleep. His dreams drew closer to the present with every second, until the eventuality when it would come to that. His brow crinkled as the inevitable came, a barely noticeable trembling running along his container, voice dropping into its deep metallic whispers every so often, the memories flashing through his mind just as fiercely as ever, anything to make him remember, as if it wasn't only a few weeks before but yesterday, bright and vivid. But he was more mature now in his memories, he wouldn't debase himself, it was not the guilt of disappointing Father, of killing her, of Father justly punishing him, it was only losing Lust. Only a single, clear little tear crawled out from beneath his eyelid, the minute water droplet being absorbed into his pillow. Even that was too much. Pride only rolled over and whined quietly in his throat, enduring. It was all he could do.
Wrath, on the other hand, had returned to his office before the generals became too concerned over not being certain of his whereabouts for longer than a minute. Hawkeye had returned promptly from her afternoon break and at the moment was tipping the teapot an exact thirty five degree angle. She poured the brownish-black liquid through the strainer, and added the drop of milk almost as an afterthought, but a stoic, disciplined afterthought nonetheless. Signing a few documents his thought slowly began to drift to Lenore, and by extension to that Pride. He was probably awake now, the fever nothing but an irrelevancy, saying how much better he was feeling, but not too much, upstairs now, sitting on Lenore's lap and relishing in how he had worried her. How strange, that he would feign illness twice in less than six weeks, the first time, the day after Lust died, and now this. At least with Lust he had a good reason, a reason he might never admit but a reason all the same. Wrath had seen his siblings' response to the death of their sister, some with sorrow, or anger, and with Pride the misery and shame and the desperate attempts to hide that beneath his illness. Wrath might have not understood why they felt that way, having only love for Lenore, but the fact that Pride would go to such lengths to hide that fact piqued his interest.
This time there was no suitable reason for how peculiar he was behaving. Would he be embarrassed at his shameful, ever so human behaviour while he had slept? Would he remember it at all? He had spoken Father's name, but almost in fear, and had cried. Father might have controlled him through awe and reverence but that wouldn't explain what had prompted it now. Regardless, it still would have no effect his devotion to the Plan, when the time came. Pride would think nothing of Lenore then. Wrath had seen that look, that twitching of a true, childish smile that Pride would sometimes form around her, before he realised what he was doing and his usual exaggerated façade would take its place. Lenore had threatened to break Pride's three centuries of preconceptions about humans, perhaps even enough to…if given enough time… but there wasn't enough time, was there? Perhaps, if he could still love Lust in complete secrecy, then maybe he might come to love Lenore that way as well, no; he already did, no matter how much he tried to deny that.
He sipped at his tea, thinking it over. His eldest brother was old, could two years, even with someone with such a pure love as her, be able to change him, even the tiniest bit? Could he love her, in the knowledge that he would bring about her death in less than six months' time? There must have been something…and there was definitely something.
It might never develop into anything more than an unspeakable remorse for what was to occur on the Promised Day, but for someone like Pride to feel even that, to feel anything even remotely negative towards Father's Plan. That was enough.
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Pride wasn't sure how long he'd been 'awake', it had probably had only been a few seconds, but time didn't work so well in this place, so it felt like much longer. It wasn't sensible to stay here for too long, he had much more important things to attend to, like actually waking up for one. The red hue of his soul glowed faintly beneath his imagined skin. Everything was rather imagined here, that was the only thing that could explain why he was his container here, when it was nothing but a container that was nothing like a true representation of himself. His shadows might have been real, if they could exist in his Stone, if only to keep him away from them. A thin layer of shadow supported him while he imagined he was lying bored on his stomach, growing over him as a cover as well because he hadn't the power to imagine himself some clothes, if thinking his soul existed in the shape of his container wasn't shameful enough.
Their shrieks and moans floated up through the void below, muffled through his shadow but still far too loud, they would become harder to ignore if he was asleep and here, whether this was real or not they sounded real enough, and that was all what was important now. He tried not to think about them, glancing up at swirling scarlet patterns high above him through the crack in his shadow. Ignoring them was the best thing he could hope to do while he was here.
Lower, much further down from the suspended ball of shadow someone else was staring up at it, the fluffy red cloud that Pride had spoken to occasionally, though its voice had grown fainter each time. The possibility of them ever speaking again was barely worth thinking about.
Miles too, knew how to pretend, and how to make believe what he knew could only be that. That might have not excused why his soul chose to exist in the shape of his wretched self from two centuries ago, right down to his tattered dregs of clothes (but it was still Luna's dress and he couldn't say anything bad her clothes…), but maybe the truest part of him had formed at that time before his death. If he tried he might have been able to change it, but he couldn't see himself that well, so there would be no point in wasting the energy trying to change how he perceived his home in his intentionally delirious mind.
"You're awake now? It won't be long before you're awake properly then." The final shudders of Pride's previous misery that he had forced upon him subsided now that he was awake. It made sense, it had only been a month or so, it was still hard to accept that she was really gone and never coming back (and oh how even he hoped that Pride's Father could bring her back once he became a God), it had only a week since what would have been her birthday, and no doubt he had known all about it. If she came back, would Pride be able to become close to her again? It was all well and good that he regretted how he had treated her, but outside of his occasionally honest feelings how could he ever hope to be that way with anyone, especially someone like Lust? Maybe if all of his siblings died and Father somehow neglected to bring them back too, then he might be candid with her. Pride would only ever be happy if things went back to the way they were before. Miles found himself smiling at the thought, Pride's happiness was important as long as he was trapped here, and if Father's Plan succeeding is what brought the happiness then it was more important than anything else. They were only humans, after all.
Humans…he actually… called them humans now?
People, they were people, and no, no it wasn't worth it, how could it be? He wasn't supposed to think like that, they were humans just like he was! Why should they all have to die just to placate Pride, when Pride already had a simple enough happiness with his Mother? Human, he was a human…
There was no excuse for why he had even thought such a horrible thing. It wasn't the first time either; he knew it had become more than a bad habit. He wasn't like Pride, nothing like him, humans weren't simply a source of energy for his Father, and they could exist separate from that world, not like him. Maybe he didn't know how to live like a human anymore, or what it meant to really be human. He hadn't truly lived in three lifetimes (or twenty three, in his own decade of a life), but that wasn't a good reason, he hadn't transcended into anything better than a human by living here, if anything he was less than them. With a miserable whine he leant against 'sleeping' patch of her, feeling the way she reformed into something more real at the slightest touch.
"What's the matter, Miles? Did Pride do something terrible again?" Her wrinkles deepened with her frown, her gloved hand coming to rest on his head. She probably wasn't really like that, this was only the appearance he'd assigned to her less than lucid moments, the form she'd died in, that Pride hated most of all because it was the her that had abandoned him and then had the audacity to come back. If they had talked about what had kept her in Aerugo Miles didn't remember it, and after so long he had thought it better not to ask if she wasn't willing to tell him of her own accord.
"N-No, Sylvie. I'm fine, really." There was no need for her to be worrying about him in her state. In her most insane phases she would explain that calling her Sylvie was fine because he was 'the nice Pride'. Those days were the hardest.
"I can't hear those two fighting. Where are they?" Oh, she remembered those two, so she wasn't that far off from the present. They way he imagined the glassy haze in her eyes lessened a little, and for a moment he hoped that he was wrong… "I hope they haven't gone so soon, especially that new one, I wanted them to at least know that we're worried about them first…" His hope had never amounted to much.
"It's 1914, Sylvie, and Number 105 is gone now. Pride used him up this morning." She didn't even remember what he'd told her less than an hour ago.
"Oh…oh dear." A streak of vibrancy appeared in her hair, crown washing out and simplifying into a tiara. "Well, he is better off now, it is far better that he left this place. Number 22 must be lonely, the poor thing." Miles couldn't say he was sad Number 105 was gone. Now some of Pride's memories might not be so horrible, with the Doctor coming for his physical soon. The wretched creature, not even a human, what he'd done… some things might have been what had happened to Number 22 and 105 instead, but still…
Would he dare to call Pride '316' again? Or even worse '12' like the first time? Those were things he longed to forget, he wished he could forget things as easily as Sylvie could. What was he doing now, up in the North? He didn't want to know.
"You should talk to him, Miles."
"Who?" She gave him that glassy-eyed look like it was all too obvious who she was talking about.
"Number 22. I'm sure he's sorry for what he did." Oh, that, Number 22 certainly wasn't sorry. In his mistrusting mind Number 22 might have thought it was still completely justified, attacking him like that, accusing him of being Pride when he wasn't at all. They had kept out of each other's way for the most part since then, especially when Number 105 had joined them and they had taken to sparring together.
"Ok then, Sylvie. I'll try to talk to him later; Pride is going to wake up soon." A lighter ripple of a hue scattered across the void, and they huddled together in silence, both mustering something of a grim smile as they stared up at the shadow above, complete again rather than fractured with the signs of Pride's misery.
"Do you hate him, Miles? Pride, I mean. It makes sense that you would, he killed you, and stole your body for himself, and has been using it for all these years without even acknowledging you. You had your whole life left to live but he took that away." They had exhausted their topics for conversation a long time ago, in that respect perhaps it was better for her to not be in her right mind, so she could keep learning things and always have something to talk about. By now every answer to every question was rehearsed and precise and optimistic. She must never worry for him. He shook his head.
"He didn't mean to, he was trying to help me." If Miles had not been aware of Pride's memories he never would have believed such a thing. There'd been so much blood staining the cobbled floor as Pride's sharp little hands forced their way into every vein and artery inside him but he hadn't noticed a thing, that floating grin in the dark looming over him. "I might have not died if he hadn't found me, but I wouldn't have been able to live for so long either." He looked up, completely earnest. "I can't hate him if it was only an accident." What good would resenting Pride do anyway? There was nothing he could do either way so trying to defy him was pointless. She must have been trying to make him hate Pride, hate him for keeping them here. Then, he would comfort her. "You could leave, you know. Pride might have killed you so that you could never leave him again, but he isn't keeping you here like me. One day, maybe you too would…"
"And leave you here all alone? No, Miles, I wouldn't be able to live with myself if I left here before you. I'll stay here with you until the end, Miles."
"Pr-Promise?" It was so incredibly childish of him, when he was older than her, but the word slipped out before he could stop it. She only laughed, like she was actually her old self again.
"I promise." Maybe he could never become completely corrupted as long as he was with her, even if it was only for her sake. Living here wasn't so bad when she wasn't completely lost. Miles might have only wanted Pride's happiness, but he wouldn't condone Father's plan. There must have been a better way, a life he could have with his Mother instead. Pride might have loved Father, but his Mother loved him far more than Father ever had, or ever could.
Hopefully Pride would realise that before it was too late.
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As Pride continued his sound, occasionally unpleasant dream tinged sleep, elsewhere, in that deeper place encased in his container's skull that he preferred to ignore the very existence of, a skin coloured dot of a thing began to stir. With a bleat inaudible to anyone but itself it awoke with wide, toothless yawn. Its nose twitched curiously, breathing through it, something that was exclusive to this part of itself, its container could never do such a thing, for whatever strange reason.
Dark, it was nearly always dark here, but it was a warm sort of darkness (and even the air smelt rather warm, though it was never good with smells), and after so long it was quite used to it. Often the small speck of a creature would wake every morning in those moments before the stronger, more useful part of it could wake, despite the shadows' wish that it sleep. It was only ever for a few moments, to glance drowsily around and fall back to sleep once it was reassured that everything was fine. Not for a while, though, thirty-seven days even, not since the night Lust died. It was better to sleep and forget than dwell on her. What had woken it up? The Shadows always liked it when it slept, so why…? Those wide magenta drops bobbed out from the murky blackness, pupils wide and rounded, their six eyes shining warmly.
Hello, Little One. Did you have a nice sleep?
The words formed in its head, loud and forceful but softer whispers echoed along with it at the same time, drowning out the constant cries of theminside it. No matter how scary sometimes, when the shadows were angry with it, it was a wonderful voice all the same. The little one wished that it could have that kind of voice one day, but it knew really, that it already did, because they were—But it was better not to think that with the shadows here…
You're thirsty, aren't you?
They would only try to distract it, thinking it so simple-minded that it could lose focus at the very mention of being fed or given a drink filtered in from its container's stomach, but it would rather not sour how pleasant they were being with it, for now. Such was the game they played; they knew everything and helped it since it couldn't take care of itself, while it was selfish and stupid and a nothing, not even a 'he'. The tip of its tendril thinned out, and slithered its way closer, pushing into its mouth. The infant smiled and allowed itself a quiet giggle (it couldspeak, but there was no point in trying when the shadow knew everything it would ever wish to say) as a lukewarm splash of tea, nothing more than a teaspoon's worth but plenty for it, trickled out through the shadow and down its throat. Its violet, but perfectly human eyes gazed down at the shadows, so smooth and soft, that supported it even now, moulded around him so that it wouldn't fall. It remembered the tea, from when it had been 'dreaming' earlier. The eye thing wasn't the best idea, it had woke it up and nearly hurt it, and hurting it always made it have a fever later on, like all those other times. It barely took a fraction of a second before the little one decided upon never doing something so foolish again, even if it was so that it could convince itself for a moment that it couldn't cry…
While it continued to greedily guzzle down the drops of Mother's tea that would surely last it several days with a smile, however improper of it, the Stone shone out from beneath the thin flesh of its stomach, illuminating the extent of its home in a pale pink glow. The shadows receded a little in the light, fully in view. They pulled away, four eyes fading away, and it looked down upon it with a concerned shiver running along it. It was probably right; even it could feel the Stone, perfect though it was, large and bloated with souls and compressing the rest of its insides, almost too painful to move. Having only just woken it was in no state to produce more shadows to alleviate the stress, and it already had plenty within its container. As if sensing its distress (and how could they not?) the shadows merely embraced the minute creature, and it embraced them wholeheartedly in return, cooing nonsense and holding tight to it, digging in with pudgy fingers.
Somewhere deep inside itself it knew that it wasn't real, that it was only itself, a fragmented part of itself that curled into its cheek and huddled close, so starved of true affection that it preferred to pretend it was real rather than accept the truth. The shadows wanted it to be better, but to be better would mean admitting that they weren't good enough, the hewasn't good enough, and that was something neither one of them was willing to accept. At the thought the shadow only nuzzled closer, trying to force the thoughts away, teeth gleaming though it was shaking nervously, or maybe that too was only imagined. Its liquid pool rippled with an echo of a laugh, and its nonexistent jaw snapped open and shut, playfully patronising, better than it in every way once again.
You're so silly, Little One. Don't think like that. You're tired, go back to sleep.
It was probably right, its shadow was ever so smart, it knew what Father wanted, and what was best for it all the time. They might not agree on some things, and sometimes it would hurt it because it did something wrong, but it must've cared for it or it wouldn't have been here at all. They could be so nice to it, if it behaved, when it thought only of Father but never of Mother, when it spoke of her they would always give it a true reason to cry. It might have still loved Father with every fibre of its existence but why couldn't it love both, if they loved it in return?
You should wake up; she will be worried if you don't wake up soon, so go to sleep.
Oh, what was this? Were they being honest for once, not even trying to deny it with a snap of their teeth or the hiss of a threat? Maybe they hadn't heard its thoughts at all, that time. Their spare tendrils inched their way closer, compressing into those small sharp hands exactly the same size as its own but rigid and flat, without any joints, a remnant of their first form all those years ago, back when its personality was a stable whole for the most part and it was of no use to anyone. The past that didn't bear being thought about and yet never being able to be completely forgotten. It was the only thing it had left to remember Lust, after all, and to forget her would be…
Go to sleep.
More forceful this time, less of a soothing suggestion, it had been awake for too long as it was. Despite their pointed tips they managed to stroke down its nose with the greatest of care, while the others enveloped it completely, protecting it in the only way they knew how. There wasn't much use in trying to resist, and the tiny helpless little thing decided to humour its shadows for a while, purely because it was choosing to sleep rather than listening to it, of course. It yawned and pushed happily into its tender enough caresses, then curled up in its shadowed cocoon and allowed itself to drift into sleep once more.
Waking up was nice, as long as it wasn't this kind of waking up.
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"There, then it'll be all nice and ready for when he wakes up." She set the plate down on Selim's end table, in the place of the water she had put down for his fever earlier. His temperature had calmed down a great deal; he had even pulled his covers back on. Thank goodness. Still, she couldn't become complacent, he was still sick. Her 'special something', now on the table, would help his throat in case it was still sore when he woke up, she wasn't taking any chances.
Lenore fluffed up his hair with a smile, he looked so peaceful, nothing like had been earlier, so ill and upset. She never wanted to see him like that again. "Get well soon, dear." He needed his rest now, and with a final loving pet as she smoothed his hair back down and planted a kiss on his forehead and she stepped away.
Whatever tragedy had brought him into their lives, she was grateful they had been able to take him in. He had become such a large part of their lives, a part of the family from the moment he had settled in. It had been hard, given the circumstances, but he deserved to be doted on after what he'd been through. Sometimes she almost forgot that he wasn't hers, however selfish that was.
"Sleep well, Selim."
Rosalie's gift raccoon lay over his toy chest, the small green book that he'd yet to return to the library leaning against it. Light streamed in through the window and shone over his bed, warming it slightly even in the autumn. She would need to take him to the library again to take it back. Maybe they could start reading 'The Coral Island' soon as well. She just knew he would enjoy it. But that was beside the point for now, all what mattered was that she help him get better, even if that was leaving him be.
Mrs. Bradley closed the door as she left, leaving him to continue resting. As long as it took until he was well again. He was her son, after all.
Within Pride, his true form nestled in the shadows and fell into sleep, the dreams of its reality bleeding into it. The two wistful, marginally corrupted souls in his Stone huddled together and faded away. Not long now. Slowly, ever so slowly he eased awake, eyes fluttering open.
"Huh, Mother?" He spoke it muffled around his thumb- thumb? What was that doing there? No answer, if he had spoken it loud enough to hear in the first place. "Oh, no one's here…"Pride pulled his hand away, rubbing at his eye. "What was I dreaming about?" Pride tried to focus through his drowsy daze, but for the life of him he couldn't remember a thing, every memory that had plagued him for the last few hours gone. "Did I…even have any dreams?" He remembered…something, from when he was awake earlier, Father had been sleeping, and maybe he dreamed as Father did. Father—Father. He had to see Father, he would be awake by now and he had important things to discuss with him.
Pride pushed himself up; he needed to get dressed properly if he was going to see Father again. Father wouldn't accept anything less. But before he could throw his legs over the side of the bed his gaze latched onto the strange shape on his nightstand that hadn't been there when he'd fallen asleep. Pride almost gasped when his eyes focused, this was-why would she?- and he froze, trying to assess the new information, but he settled for sinking back into his mattress, forgetting everything else. Pride regarded it almost in awe, it hadn't been too long since the last one, but each one was as important as all the others. There was a glass of water beside it too, probably to help ease his sore throat (though it had never been sore, and his fever was gone now), but it was hardly important compared to that- to Mother's gift.
Its smooth, flawless green surface glittered in the light almost. Three neatly cut slices sat beside the uncut half, their segments equal and just the right size. Mother was so considerate, wasn't she? She had worried about him while he was sleeping, and had prepared a melon, just for him. Pride reached out, wearily picking at a chunk and pushing it between his lips. It was perfectly cold and exactly the same as all the melons that had come before. Sweet, delicious. Perfect.
A cheerful, childish, innocent smile pulled at the corners of his mouth, and Pride didn't try resisting it for a second.
Acting might have been easy, and effortless; it came to him almost naturally after two centuries of it. It was too simple, fawning over Edward Elric and spouting his optimistic ambitions whenever he could, being the son of the Fuhrer and nothing more than that. But it was those times where he needn't act, the times where he could believe his own lie for a few scant minutes and forget about everything else. Such times where so few and far between, when he could experience everything purely through his container's appearance and live the childhood he'd never had, treated like the child he'd never been.
Those were the best times.
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A/N: Aaaand we're done~! A rather fluffy, but bittersweet parallel to end on, but a necessary one, I feel. Anyway, on with my giant theme talk:
Pride's clothes theme: Lots of people seemed to think that I spent too much focus on Pride's clothes, but after the theme started in chapter 16 I couldn't very well stop :( Well, anyway, the accessory on his clothes Pride wears reflect the sin colour of the homunculus that was made before the one in which the clothes are worn (e.g, he wears the golden cravat during Envy's lifetime, and gold is the colour of the sin of Greed). The method in which he acquires clothes also has repeating theme, in that they are made, bought, stolen, made, bought, and stolen. Also, though he gets his first red accessory clothes just after he leaves the facility, it can be seen that, as he skipped Gluttony there and only wore orange when he was trying to get Wrath a wife in his paper boy outfit, that it is his pale red tie as Selim that is the true 'red' accessory, and that it later develops into the deeper red of his homunculus clothes. Hence thereafter, on the Promised day, he wears no accessory around his neck with his waistcoat as there are no more homunculi.
Pride's flask: Pride's flask was a representation of Pride's innocence, with the three times it became broken, once accidentally, once begrudgingly and once intentionally, and each time whenever it tried to be repaired it came back worse (though when Lust asked Father to fix it, it was fixed perfectly, but Pride couldn't see that it was fixed and only saw it worse than ever), and so deliberately smashed it. Later on, after being destroyed it also somewhat comes to represent Lust, in that Pride reflects upon it in a similar way- Lust might have protected him and kept him safe, but also held him back and wouldn't let him mature.
Pride and Lust's sins: From observing Lust's arrogant attitude and Pride's bloodlust within the series I assumed that from them being the first two born they might have influenced each other on their sins. This presented itself in the fic in a more physical manner, as Pride's sadistic nature first begins to develop when Lust gave him her blood to drink, which obviously contained parts of her stone and so 'infected' him, if you will, with part of her sin. This also occurred when Lust was assigned to repair Pride's container when it could still bleed, and that one time where she killed Pride.
Pride's fragmented personality: From me studying psychology (though I don't really support or believe in Freud's theories the basic concept works well enough here) I decided to split up the three parts of Pride in my fic (the shadows, baby Pride, and Pride's soul/container) in the vein of Freud's three parts of personality- . Baby Pride was assigned the id, as it is the only part that people are born with, and is only concerned with its own needs such as being fed or wanting affection. The shadows take the part of the superego, as they contain Father's morals and values, and is the last to develop. Pride's superego is especially harsh, causing Pride's insecurities and secret fear of not being good enough, and often clashes with baby Pride because baby Pride's dismissal of Father's wishes, and being so harsh often manages to suppress it. The ego is Pride's soul, as that is the one that takes reality into account before acting, and that acts to mediate both the id and the superego. Often the ego becomes anxious at the dilemma of trying to please the other two parts of the personality, making it rely on using defense mechanisms to alleviate the anxiety. Pride himself often uses defense mechanisms such as rationalization to justify his actions. Now, all three of them exist as the same person, and they work in tandem as Pride's personality, the shadows are not a different creature even though they did not listen to Pride at the beginning, they were merely reacting to his unconscious mind rather than his conscious.
The deal with messing with Pride's eyes before/after the interludes: Now, ever since chapter 2 people have been confuzzled about why Pride damaged his eyes because he said he couldn't cry, and yet throughout the fic he cries quite a lot. This, and his later developing of a fever that made him go take a nap and caused the mega dream flashback to occur, are related to the events that occur in-dream before or after the interludes. Now, Pride's fevers come from either damaging his eyes (interludes one and three), or because of something upsetting him a great deal that leads to him either developing insomnia (interlude 2) or hypersomnia (interlude 4) afterwards. Now, the eye damage is not the cause of the fevers, rather that the eye damage or the upsetting event greatly distresses Baby Pride, to the extent that he causes the fever, or in the case of hearing the news of Lust's death, he had an aneurism and died, which resulted in Pride's container passing out, and then the fever developed because of his grieving. Pride's actions in chapter 2 cause his fever in the way of interlude 1 and 3, even though he was perfectly capable of crying but just refused to because of what he said to himself the day after Lust died (obviously everything he said from chapter 1 and 2 was a recently concocted lie).
The Homunculi's birthdays: I wanted the birthdays of the homunculi season wise to go in a repeating pattern (spring autumn summer winter spring autumn summer), as well as for the homunculi who share a season to either have a connection (Lust and Gluttony, Pride and Sloth), or a rivalry on themes within the series (Greed and Wrath both being human based at one point). Poor Envy as the middle child is all on his lonesome ^^; Coincidentally, as I didn't check this until after all the homunculi had been born, all the homunculi were created on a Tuesday or a Thursday, weird ^^;
And of course there's the whole Armstrong family being able to have sparkles and the family came from the Royal Family, that's why Pride can make Armstrong sparkles because of assimilating Sylvia lol. I kid, but him and Wrath having them is kinda strange ^^
Hm, one thing I never went into was Pride's ability to imitate the voices of others like when he possessed Alphonse. However, I thought that was just a side effect of the possession and that it was not something he had learned to do in the past. Hence why I didn't include it or make a reference to it ^_^
Again, thank you all so much for reading right until the end. I probably will rewrite some of my early chapters in the future sometime; if anyone wants me to tell them when I've rewritten a chapter just let me know :)
I won't ramble any more or else I'll never stop, but it's been fun ^^ I won't be disappearing forever though; I still have my collaboration with Moofy-fan to work on next year :3 I just know that's going to be a lot of fun to write. I hope to see you all in the future.