My fanfiction attempt for this year's Royai Day, which just conveniently happens to be on the 11th of June, start of the FIFA World Cup, so this took an age to write. I hope all of you are familiar with at least some dances, and are not bored by long-winding descriptions of how these dances are performed. I don't know how the tango is done, so I didn't include it (I hate myself, too). I also excuse the overuse of italics in this story. And maybe slight out-of-character-ism. And the fact that this is a very long one-shot.
Disclaimer: Fullmetal Alchemist does not belong to me. If it did, Roy would have been the main protagonist and this would have been the ending of the whole manga. Just goes to show that it might have ended up a shojo manga, even though I'm a boy. Hey, everyone needs a hopeless romantic somewhere along the line, right?
So You Think You Can Dance?
It all started with a conversation in the large dining hall of Central City Military Unit Headquarters. The four men sat on one side, all squashed together, but none of them dared to enter the woman's private space by joining her person on the other side of the way-too-small-for-four-people-on-one-side table.
Breda, sitting half-on-half-off on the left hand side of the table, was contentedly munching on his bacon and cheese sandwich, whilst Falman seemed to ponder what he could still remember from his childhood days, which was practically everything, considering his photographic memory. Havoc was questioning Hawkeye, and Fuery, squished in-between the two second Lieutenants, decided to act like he didn't exist, so as not to test the woman's patience.
First Lieutenant Riza Hawkeye was bored, tired and worried all at the same time, but continued to keep her disinterested and stoic mask in perfect place. Lieutenant Havoc's drawling voice talking about some scandalous incident involving five officers, three of them male, the rest female, around New Optain and her opinion about it was boring her and she was tired of having to lug huge piles of statements, folders and files around. Most of all, she was worried about the soon-to-be Führer, still Colonel, Roy Mustang. Something had changed about him, but she had decided not to bring it up. Yet.
Somehow, Fuery had gathered enough courage and confidence to announce in the quietest of whispers, 'The Colonel never comes down for lunch anymore. And everyone can see that he's lost weight. Anyone know why?' At once, a huge debate began about what the Colonel could be doing during the military lunch hour. Lieutenant Hawkeye nodded inconspicuously at Fuery, showing her thanks for the change of topic, and the young man showed a quivering smile. Somewhere during the discussion, it took a down way ride towards what she always liked to refer to as the "lowest common denominator", which translated as sexual intercourse. Hawkeye took out her sidearm and a worn cloth and began polishing it with slow, sure strokes that usually meant that someone was about die be hurt if something didn't happen. The conversation took a turn upwards from there on. Suddenly Havoc announced, 'What's the use of making theories when we can just go look at what he's doing?' Nods of agreement from three other people around the table came. 'Well, let's go!' He stormed up the stairs, knowing the others would follow with vigour.
At the top of the staircase, Jean Havoc rammed chest-first into Second Lieutenant Rebecca Catalina, another military official whom he liked quite a lot but was too scared to approach because she was also the gun-wielding First Lieutenant Hawkeye's best friend who worked under he grandfather, Lieutenant General Grumman. The feelings for Havoc from Rebecca's side were mutual.
'Sorry! Uh… Second Lieutenant Catalina? What a pleasant surprise! We're going to spy on the Colonel. Want to join us?'
Rebecca beamed at him. 'Why not? I'm being sexually harassed in my own work spot by a man of at least 70 years, who just happens to be my best friend's grandfather and my superior officer. Otherwise, everything's fine. And by "we", whom do you mean?'
Just then, Breda, Falman and Fuery came sprinting up the staircase, hyperventilating like the unfit military officers they were, following a totally calm Hawkeye, who was inspecting a bullet from her gun very closely. It was hilarity mixed with chaos. Havoc pointed to them all. 'Those weirdoes. Let's go, guys!'
'Riza!' Rebecca grinned. 'Joining us, are you? Even if it is to spy on your personal hottie?'
'I'll remind you, Rebecca, that the Colonel, although seem by most women as a hot male icon of Central City Military Unit Headquarters, is not mine, as you so suggest. Now come, the others are already looking for us.' She turned and led the small group towards Roy Mustang's office without a backwards glance. Rebecca just smiled.
Strangely enough, the Colonel's office door was partially open, but only a two-centimeter wide gap gave leeway to a view of the wall. Soft music poured forth from the radio everyone knew was stationed in the office, but either the Colonel was not there or he was hiding just behind the patch of white-washed wall they could all see. Havoc decided that staring at a wall he saw everyday anyway was stupid and opened the door more with his foot until a shape flickered by and they all shrank back behind the wall.
When nothing else happened, the officers all silently clamoured for the best viewing until Hawkeye finally got it and the others all squashed each other and goggled at what they saw: the Colonel, Roy Mustang, was dancing alone in his own office. He had changed from his military uniform into black smart trousers men usually danced in at balls, and a now sweat-soaked blue button-up shirt. His boots had been abandoned and exchanged for shiny but worn black dancing shoes. Strands of his dark hair hung limply in his sweaty face and he seemed to be concentrating extremely hard on keeping his footing right. Hands in the correct position: left one just under his shoulder level as if he was holding a cup around its belly, the right one on a level with his upper-thigh, as if on a girl's hip, the Colonel continued to dance.
All of the minds outside of the door started whirring about who could fill in the missing position and why Roy Mustang would want to dance with them. Simultaneously, they all clicked. The Colonel was of a bit taller than average height for a man, and the girl he would be holding was just a head shorter than he was. Most women were just a bit taller than that. Unlike one of the most beautiful women at Central, or maybe even the most beautiful in most men's opinions. That girl just so happened to be Colonel Mustang's aide. His First Lieutenant. Riza Hawkeye.
Master Sergeant Kain Fuery could feel and see his glasses starting to steam up because of his rapidly increasing blush he was – with no avail – trying to hide. Breda kept looking from Hawkeye to the Colonel, as if he still didn't comprehend what was so obviously unfolding in front of him. Falman just looked as if he'd already known about this whole affair a long time, but he had a stupid grin on his visage. Rebecca had a strange look on her face, and one could see that she was still deep in thought. Havoc's jaw dropped and his cigarette would have given them all away if Lieutenant Hawkeye hadn't caught it, the ace marksman she was. A light dusting of red covered the bridge of her nose and her cheekbones. If the others hadn't known any better, they would have sworn that she was blushing.
Colonel Mustang was still dancing, a foxtrot in four, and the steps were easy, but extremely complicated at the same time. He couldn't really dance when he didn't have a dancing partner who shared his enthusiasm for the art of dancing, or a partner at all!
He found himself thinking of his First Lieutenant, whom he still hadn't had the courage to ask to the newly invoked Central City Military Unit Headquarters Ball, which was actually named Annual Führer Ball. It was the last ball the Führer-to-be would ever attend as his current position before he was rightfully invoked into the rank of Führer President.
Lieutenant Hawkeye was the only woman who dominated his mind to the point where she infiltrated his dreams. But then again, somehow she always had. Mentally, Roy thwacked his hand over his face, forcing himself out of his daydream, where he wouldn't have minded spending a few more hours, admittedly, years of his time. The dance came to an end and the Colonel sighed. If only it were this easy…
The officers at the door were still gaping in unison, except for Lieutenant Hawkeye, who was still looking at her commanding officer with shining eyes. He can dance perfectly. But suddenly, she was no longer standing in the doorway, but being flung headfirst at the Colonel, who saw her coming. She smashed into his chest hard enough to produce a sharp hiss from him, but he steadies them both by pulling the force of the hurtle into himself. The second his Lieutenant had collided with him, Roy had clasped his arms around her body while she had pressed her hands against his chest for support. They didn't fall, but gazed into the other's eyes and saw the thanks that didn't need to be said out loud there.
'I'm very sorry, Colonel. I didn't mean to crash into you like that,' Lieutenant Hawkeye spoke softly to her commanding officer. She didn't want to tattle on the others still lurking behind the door, and the Colonel didn't seem to have noticed them.
'It's all right, Lieutenant. No worries.' Roy flashed her a wobbly grin. His senses were filled with her, so close to him. He could hear her every heartbeat thudding in his ears, he could see all of her light-coloured eyelashes. She smelled like nothing else on earth, only light and beauty with hints of gunpowder and a scent he faintly recognised as herbal tea. Both of their bodies were aware of every single place they met. The Colonel's hands clasping his Lieutenant's body to him, her hands on his chest, their faces only a few centimeters away. Then they let go of each other and stood their ground.
Meanwhile, Rebecca, who had pushed Hawkeye, was smiling softly at the pair of them, hoping desperately that the improvised plan she had come up with only thirty seconds ago would work. Havoc, still absentmindedly gaping, picked up his unlit cigarette the First Lieutenant had caught and stuck it back into his mouth. He turned to the remaining woman in the group and asked in a whisper, 'What happens now?'
The Colonel knew that he had one of the most amazing chances before him at this very moment and would either grab it and hold on with all of his might or leave it, which would probably lead to him feeling crushed for the rest of his life. He took a small, shallow breath and blinked. The music was about to start again, the warbling noise of the newscast reader on the radio stated in accordion with his mind. Breathe, he told himself.
Looking Riza straight in the eye, bowing his upper body slightly and stretching out a hand towards her, Roy asked, 'Lieutenant Hawkeye, may I please have this dance?'
Breda thought, Phase One complete.
Lieutenant Hawkeye looked at he commanding officer with a look that could have meant anything. Then, relaxing, a soft smile graced her radiant features. 'Of course, Colonel.'
Not too far away, Kain Fuery whispered, 'Phase Two acknowledged.'
Colonel Mustang was stunned for a moment, thinking that she would obviously decline his offer, but he got to his senses before he lost all of his mentality in his Lieutenant's presence. Wiping the sweat off of his hands by rubbing them against his trousers for a moment, he felt a sudden warmth inside of him. His whole world seemed to have started to glow with the embers of the hearth he knew radiated from the girl he'd known since he was a young boy. He lifted his left hand into the position he'd practiced, hoping desperately that it was correct: as if holding a cup around its body, just under shoulder-blade height. Lieutenant Hawkeye came closer, moving slowly towards him, and placed her right hand in his cupped left one. The Colonel carefully put his right hand on the space between her waist and her hip whilst she snaked her left arm across his upper arm and onto his shoulder where her hand rested on the right-hand side of his neck. Almost exactly one head shorter, Roy thought as the music began to play.
Second Lieutenant Vato Falman continued the countdown in reverse order. 'Phase three done,' he breathed.
It was a waltz, naturally in three, by an amestrian composer, Strauss. Riza would have known that symphony of sounds out of any music anywhere. Colonel Mustang inhaled quickly, then started to dance. He moved his left foot forward, and simultaneously, she moved her right foot back. One, two three, the Colonel thought. If only it were this easy. Complex moves designed by master dancers would have to be integrated into the dance to make it the beautiful one that it was. He wondered, hoped that his Lieutenant knew them. He looked down and his deep black eyes met her chocolate-brown ones. Unspoken knowledge passed between them and with a shock, the Colonel found himself knowing that Hawkeye could and did indeed dance all of the moves with passion. One, two, three. One, two, three.
Lieutenant Hawkeye was ordering her thoughts as she danced with the Colonel, her Colonel, as Rebecca had put it. The steps came to her as easily as firing a shot from a rifle would be to her, would she have one here at this very moment. Back, side, close. Back right, twist, turn 360º, back in position. So simple. So very, very complex. Her mind filled with nothing but the way Roy danced together with her, how professional it felt. Her heart was beating in time with Strauss' waltz. One, two, three. Twist, side, close.
Outside of the door, the other officers watched in awe and admiration as their commanding officers danced with perfect moves, in perfect time with the music. They had all forgotten to breathe. Inhale, Rebecca told herself. The music was starting to ritardando. Slow down. Come to an end. She sighed. It had been so beautiful, watching Roy and Riza dance together. One, two, three was what she thought as a silent tear of happiness slowly slid down her cheek. A warm thumb attached to a hand brushed it away. She looked up, startled by the gesture of comfort. Second Lieutenant Havoc's grey-blue eyes met hers and Rebecca gave him a small smile of thanks. His eyes crinkled at the corners as he mouthed, 'You're welcome.'
The Colonel felt the last musical strings of the waltz more than he heard them and knew that the music was inside of him… and his Lieutenant. He twirled her one last time before the music ended and he had her in his arms. Closing his eyes, he breathed in, then opened them again. Everything seemed so much brighter. Black met deep, shining brown. She was smiling. It took him a few moments to register that he was, too. Putting his head next to hers, he let his voice reverberate through her ear. 'Thank you, Lieutenant.'
He felt something soft press against his cheek for less than a second. She'd kissed him. 'You're welcome, Colonel.' With that the gong for the end of the lunch break resounded throughout Central City's halls and she sat down at her desk, starting up her work again.
At the door, a muffled voice asked, 'Does this mean that Phase Four is complete?' But nobody was listening to Falman, who had asked the question. Fuery and Breda were still watching the scene in front of them unfold, but nothing more happened.
Havoc shrugged, as if trying to gain more confidence, then asked the girl of his dreams, 'Rebecca, will you go to the Military Ball with me?' Rebecca was stunned. Was Jean actually asking her to go to the dance with him?
'I…' she faltered. Havoc caught himself for the mental blow. She's going to say no. I knew it. The blow struck. But not in the way he had been dreading it would. Rebecca had flung her arms around his torso. 'Jean,' she mumbled into his military uniform, 'I… yes.' Havoc beamed and hugged her back as the other military officers smiled at the pair of them.
Back in the office, the Colonel was stunned at Lieutenant Hawkeye's action. Did she really kiss me?
'Colonel,' she called to him from a seemingly different dimension. 'Maybe you would like to get changed, sir. It's time for work again.'
In a daze he walked towards the men's lavatories where he met his four male subordinates fooling around. Just as he had finished changing, Colonel Mustang told them, 'The next time any of you spies on the Lieutenant and me, you'll all be incinerated,' and closed the door behind him.
Four days later, a miracle seemed to happen. Young, inexperienced, little Master Sergeant Kain Fuery had decided to ask Lieutenant Hawkeye a question before the day of the ball. He was praying as hard as he could that she would say yes, hoping desperately that she wouldn't reject his request. Deep in prayer, he stood at the door to the Colonel's office where he remembered standing only a few days ago, staring in awe at how beautifully his two commanding officers could dance together. One, two, three, he remembered happily.
Taking a deep breath to calm himself down, Fuery opened the door and stepped inside to find all of the other officers already working on paperwork and other uninteresting tasks involving talking to higher-ups which scared most people to the point where they all started wetting their blue military uniform pants. Everyone is here. If you ask, you're either going to be laughed at by the other men except for the Colonel, shot at by the Lieutenant or incinerated by the Colonel for asking the girl he so obviously loves. You're insane, Kain. He gave a small chuckle at his rhyme. Well, here goes nothing.
'Lieutenant Hawkeye?' he asked cautiously, daring to interrupt her work on more paperwork. 'May I ask you something, please?'
Colonel Mustang raised an eyebrow in suspicion but said nothing. The other men held their breath, Havoc already making bets in his head for the outcome. Guess it's a fifty-fifty chance. I mean, she can only say yes or no… can't she?
The Lieutenant put her pen down and looked at the quavering Master Sergeant. 'Of course.'
Fuery gulped. 'May… may I have one dance with you at the ball tomorrow, Lieutenant?'
She smiled. 'All right. But then I'll have to dance with all of you,' she said, indicating the rest of the present company. 'You don't mind, do you?'
Still chewing down his sandwich with vigour, Breda answered, 'Who wouldn't want to dance with a pretty lady? Obviously we all want to. We're just all too chicken to ask, except for Fuery who just did and the Colonel who's already danced with you.'
The youngest officer smiled waveringly at his success. She said yes. She said yes… wait a minute, she's going to dance with all of us, you idiot! No mutual I-have-a-small-crush-on-you feelings, Kain.
Colonel Mustang was glaring daggers at Second Lieutenant Heymans Breda, who seemed oblivious to the fire burning at him through his superior's eyes. Lieutenant Hawkeye took one look at the Colonel and saw what the problem was. She could feel a small smile beginning to grace her lips. What an idiot.
'Second Lieutenant Breda, just for your information, Lieutenant Hawkeye does not happen to be only pretty, as you so say, but is in fact stunningly beautiful, and even those words do her no justice. Kindly refrain from making understatements of the century about your female superior officer.' Colonel Mustang returned to his work, his eyes still blazing with indignant fire.
Havoc felt his willpower crumble and let a small chuckle escape from his cigarette-filled mouth. Fuery just stared at the Colonel in awe. Wow, he stands up for his opinions… especially those about Lieutenant. Second Lieutenant Falman never faltered in his work, but smiled all the same and Breda goggled like he had eaten a sock. 'Yes, sir.'
Then a soft voice said, 'Thank you, Colonel.' All heads turned to the only woman in the room. But she didn't speak again. The only way that the other men knew that it was she that had spoken was the fact that Colonel Mustang and Lieutenant Hawkeye were both blushing slightly and smiling under their hands.
First Lieutenant Riza Hawkeye took one last look at herself in the mirror before walking out of her apartment onto the street, where she found the silhouette of a man standing in front of a black sedan, seemingly waiting for someone.
'Lieutenant Hawkeye?' he asked cautiously, stepping into the light.
She breathed a sigh of relief when she saw who it was and took her hand away from the gun she had hidden in a holster at her thigh. Always be prepared for the worst… although I really hope it doesn't happen tonight. A dead Colonel is just the thing we need right now.
'Second Lieutenant Falman, what are you doing here?'
Vato Falman was dressed in a navy suit with a dark-blue tie and a white shirt. He seemed nervous: his whole body was shaking slightly and he was continually wringing his hands as well as opening and closing his mouth repeatedly. Maybe he just needs to do a job concerning… me? At the night of the Führer's Ball?
'Um, the Colonel, Colonel Mustang sent me here,' he said with even less confidence than his facial expression showed. 'This is his automobile.' Obviously. 'He also said something about not even thinking about letting you walk to the ball yourself, or he would burn me to ashes.' Please get into the car so I don't die! Opening the back door of the sedan, Falman gestured for his superior to step inside. Gingerly, she did, and the Second Lieutenant breathed a sigh of relief as he shut the door behind her.
Once on her way, Lieutenant Hawkeye noticed something lying on the seat next to hers. A piece of paper which looked suspiciously like office documentary and a glass jar with something seemingly delicate in it. She picked up the scrap of paper first. It read:
Dear Lieutenant Hawkeye,
I hope you don't mind the fact that I sent Falman to pick you up. I just didn't want you or any of my subordinates to not appear at the ball tonight, especially as you promised us all a dance!
I also allowed myself the privilege of getting you a corsage, seeing as you don't have one (at least, that's what I thought). Until at the Ball!
The usually stoic Lieutenant smiled as she folded he letter into her clutch. Typical the Colonel. She picked up the glass jar containing her supposed corsage. Inside was a delicate but beautifully pure white flower. She recognised it at once. Edelweiß.
Colonel Roy Mustang was standing at the top of the stairs to the ballroom, outside, where he hid behind a column. His objective was to wait for the one and only Lieutenant Riza Hawkeye there, but up to now she hadn't arrived. Just then, a dark car pulled up in front of the Central City Military Unit Headquarters Ball House and the Colonel's adrenalin level increased to its absoloute maximum. Is this her? A short, dumpy man raced from the drivers seat to the back door and the Colonel's brow furrowed in confusion. I did send Falman to pick her up, didn't I? The man from the car helped a slim, elegantly dressed woman out of the car, and she seemed exactly the right height… but the Colonel's hopes were shattered when the couple stepped into the light. It was a girl he'd known for most of his life with one of his subordinates, but they were both the wrong ones. Still, Colonel Mustang smiled. It seemed that Second Lieutenant Breda had finally had the courage to ask Vanessa to the Military Ball.
Looking at the smiling couple, the Colonel watched them enter the Ball House, holding each other's hands. Vanessa, wearing a red dress that matched her flamboyant personality and her long, curly brown hair in an up-do only women like her could ever hope to achieve, held tightly onto Breda's hand, who was donning a grey suit with a matching tie and a white shirt. As well as wearing black shoes, one of the holes in the lapel of his suit was decorated with a white rose, a rosette. Quickly feeling his lapel for his own rosette, Colonel Mustang realised that he didn't have one. Oh, great.
The Colonel looked himself up and down and felt ridiculous. Maybe I should have gone with the black ensemble instead. He was clothed in black shoes, black dancing slacks and a crisp, white, short-sleeved, button-up shirt, but that was where the similarities ended. Deciding to go for something different than the other men, the Colonel had opted for a white dinner as well as dancing jacket, which gave him a double advantage, and a white bowtie. The most interesting part were his cufflinks, pure gold, in the form of the Amestris Military Crest, with the insignia: Führer Roy Mustang. They had been specially crafted for him by the Elric brothers, and he hoped that they would hold a few centuries. He went back to worrying about his missing rosette when he was forced out of his thoughts by the appearance of a black sedan pulling up in front of the Ball House.
A very thin but extremely tall man slammed the driver's door closed as he ran to the back door of the black sedan, only to open it. The Colonel held his breath without even knowing he was. Out of the car stepped the single most beautiful woman he had ever seen. He knew at once that this was exactly the same girl he saw almost every single day of his life, but right now, all of the beauty on earth seemed to be focused on her, and her alone. As Lieutenant Hawkeye stepped out of the sedan, Colonel Mustang felt his jaw drop. If Aphrodite exists, she wouldn't be this much of a goddess, like Hawkeye. The Colonel continued to goggle from afar.
First Lieutenant Riza Hawkeye was wearing a petrol blue, one-strap-one-each-shoulder, ankle-length dress with a slit up the right-hand side that flowed with her every movement, as if fire was dancing as she moved. It fell into waves three times at the neckline and then merged with the dress again, although it wasn't actually attached anew. Fastened to one of the folds was his corsage. Edelweiß. She wore silver heels, here and there gilded with shining gems of transparent colour. Slightly dangling earrings made of small diamonds adorned her ears, and unlike most women, she wore no gloves. With her hair down, she really did look like a goddess, and the Colonel wanted to genuflect to her presence. Instead, he just gaped from his hiding-place behind the marble column.
Lieutenant Riza Hawkeye advanced up the stairs after thanking the Second Lieutenant for chauffeuring her to the Military Ball House. Falman had given her a knowing wink and driven around the corner to who-knew-where. As she reached the entrance, she noticed the flash of a silhouette, a shadow not on the wall, but in air itself, vanishing behind one of the white marble pillars of the Ball House. Her hand inched towards the gun she had concealed underneath her dress, but she decided against it. Illusion, was all she told herself, and without another look back, she entered the Ball House.
The sight that greeted the First Lieutenant was breath taking. The creamy white walls were decorated with gold and red hangings. The dancing floor itself war parquet, zigzagging light and dark brown strips of wood all fitted together to create the Amestris Military Crest. To the left on the entrance was a tavern where people could sit and talk whilst drinking mostly alcoholic beverages. Second Lieutenant Vato Falman was already seated there, deep in conversation with a blonde-haired female officer the Lieutenant dimly recognised. There was Second Lieutenant Heymans Breda, laughing at a joke Havoc had made, with Vanessa on his arm. Little Kain Fuery had obviously asked Sheska to the Ball, because there she was, hovering beside him but seemingly happy all the same. Edward and Alphonse had asked Winry and Mei Chan to come with them, and the four of them stood awkwardly with the others, politely listening in on their conversation and making the occasional comment. The last couple Lieutenant Hawkeye had expected to see was her best friend, Rebecca, in a pale grey dress on the arm of Jean Havoc, dressed in a black suit with a black bowtie. She smiled at the couple before something from the back rammed into her.
A gun pointed directly between his eyes, Colonel Mustang tried extremely hard to focus on that, and not on the fact that Lieutenant Riza Hawkeye was the one holding the gun, or the fact that she was looking so much like a goddess. How can she even conceal a gun up that dress without it being seen? He kept his thoughts trained on the cold metal against his forehead. Please don't let it click, please don't… say something!
'Good evening, Lieutenant Hawkeye,' he murmured softly. The gun's touch left his skin as quickly as it had arrived.
'Good evening, Colonel. Is there a good reason for you to sneak up on me like that?' she asked carefully.
'Actually, yes. Firstly, may I say that you look extremely… how to put it in words – ravishing tonight. No man will be able to keep your eyes off of you. You're simply too exquisite right now, not that you aren't at any other time.'
'Does that include you?' A secret smile had crept onto her lips.
'Thank you, Colonel. You look very handsome in your… valiant attire. White suits you very well. It goes with your eyes.'
'I appreciate your opinion greatly,' he said with a smile.
'Your second reason was?'
The Colonel cleared his throat in embarrassment. 'You don't happen to have a rosette on you, Lieutenant?' he whispered. 'I've forgotten mine at home.'
Lieutenant Hawkeye stifled her amusement as she laughed into her fist. 'Actually, I do. It just seemed fair that I should get you a rosette as you got me a corsage. Thank you, again.' She pulled out a miniature red lotus flower. 'It adds extravagance.'
The Colonel watched as she pinned the miniature lotus to the left-hand side of his lapel, then said, 'Thank you. You might just have saved me again. From embarrassment to all of those other high-and-mighty generals.' He held out his arm to her. 'Shall we?'
The whispering began as they stepped into the ballroom of the enormous Military Ball House. No music played yet – only when the Führer-to-be arrived was the orchestra on the far right supposed to play. They started with a march, a new piece of music written specially for this event alone. The Colonel and the Lieutenant walked perfectly in time to the music, but with elegance and finesse. The whispers of the other military officials continued to hum around them.
'I thought the Führer-to-be was unmarried,' a woman said with indignity.
Havoc chuckled at this remark and answered, 'He isn't. The woman on his arm is his aide, his best friend. But we all still think that they should just hurry up and get married.'
'What a magnificent couple,' a man murmured at the far end of the dancing floor.
'They fit together perfectly,' Lieutenant General Grumman agreed. Just get married, you two!
The crowd was captivated as Colonel Mustang and Lieutenant Hawkeye made their way towards the small, raised platform. As the Colonel stepped onto it, the Lieutenant pulled away, but he dragged her on with him. He started his improvised speech. 'Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. Before I open this ball, I'd like to say a few words of thanks. All of those I acknowledge I wish to come up to the stage with their partners in case they have any with them tonight and join me here.' Nods of approval from the crowd. 'Firstly, to the Masters Edward and Alphonse Elric, whose alchemical skill is second to none, which kept the evil at bay. Then, to Lieutenant General Grumman and Major General Armstrong, as well as the Majors Miles and Armstrong, whose quick planning could finally out beat the long-term planning of the Homunculi. To Master Sergeant Kain Fuery, who could wire all of us in the time of need. To the Second Lieutenants Vato Falman and Heymans Breda, whose use of calm intellect came in use just when we needed it. Then, to Second Lieutenant Jean Havoc, a man with a dedication to his countrymen. And finally, the person I probably owe most of my life to, a woman whose sharp aim and devotion will never ever rule her completely, a girl who'll never leave anyone behind, First Lieutenant Riza Hawkeye!'
Cheering broke from the crowd as the Colonel embraced his Lieutenant. A roar of approval swept through them and a gigantic wave of applause resounded throughout the ballroom. 'And now,' the Führer-to-be shouted, 'let the Ball begin!'
The orchestra on the far end of the ballroom had started to play, magnificently, the opening waltz of the Military Ball. Before the Colonel could ask Lieutenant Hawkeye to dance this one with him, she was asked by her grandfather, Lieutenant General Grumman, to dance, and she'd accepted. She was his granddaughter after all. A whole row of young women, all most likely the daughters of high animals in the Amestris Military. He ignored them and sat down at the tavern, without ordering anything, and watched how gracefully his Lieutenant waltzed with her grandfather. All he could think about was that one day they had waltzed in his own office to Strauss' music and how normal and yet how extraordinary it had seemed. One, two, three; one, two, three, he counted in his head, sadly watching Lieutenant Hawkeye waltz.
It was eight o'clock when Lieutenant Hawkeye finally sat down, feeling stretched, but definitely not tired. She had danced with seven generals, including her grandfather, three lieutenant colonels, six majors, two captains and just about fifteen second lieutenants. As promised, she had fox-trotted with Fuery, cha-cha'd with Breda, waltzed with Falman and jived with Havoc. Only the Colonel hadn't asked her to dance. She watched the other couples on the dance floor: Edward and Winry waltzing quite well, grinning nervously at one-another; Fuery and Sheska, still gazing into the other's eyes in wonder; Falman and the blonde woman smiling in content; Havoc and Rebecca having the time of their lives. Suddenly, and announcement was made by one of the organisers. A dancing competition. And the Führer-to-be having to choose his dancing partner in front of everyone.
'As a new event to honour a new ball,' the man started, 'the organisers have decided to make a dancing competition the attraction of the Annual Führer Ball. The rules are very simple. Any man may ask any woman to dance with him. There will be rounds, and a different dance shall be played in every single round. In each round, twenty couples will be eliminated from the dancing floor, until we have reached the final five. From then on, only two couples will be eliminated. The last couple not to be eliminated has won, and is presented with a special prize. But… the Führer-to-be, as part of this new ceremony, must choose his dancing partner in front of the rest of the crowd. And he does it before any of the other gentlemen ask the ladies of their choice.'
All of the heads swivelled towards the Colonel, who looked stunned. Slowly, he stood up, aware of the crowd watching his every single move. Finally, he stopped. He bowed to the woman in front of him, meeting her eyes and holding out his hand. 'Lieutenant Hawkeye, will you dance with me tonight?'
Everyone present took part in the dancing competition. Nobody wanted to miss out on the chance of the special prize that the organiser had mentioned. Out of all of the couples, Colonel Mustang recognised only a few faces. Havoc was going to dance with Rebecca Catalina, Edward with Winry and Alphonse with Mei. Then there was Fuery, nervously standing with Sheska, Falman with the blonde-haired female officer, Breda with Vanessa and General Grumman asking the late Führer's wife to be his partner. She blushed and accepted his gallant offer. And then, of course, there was him, Colonel Roy Mustang, with First Lieutenant Riza Hawkeye, who had affirmed to his own stand, both of them standing in the middle of the dance floor. The organiser asked the crowd if they were ready. Most of them answered. Some didn't. Colonel Mustang put himself into position, the Lieutenant joining him. And the orchestra started to play.
The first dance was a foxtrot, obviously in four-four tempo. The Colonel waited for only one bar to catch the beat, while the other couples took longer. He moved his left foot forward, then his right foot and stepped smartly to his left with once again first left foot, then right foot. Lieutenant Hawkeye mirrored his moves perfectly, letting herself be led by the master dancer the Colonel was, although she knew that she could dance just as well. Back, back, side, close. But instead of dancing in a straight line, Colonel Mustang, did the whole thing moving around in more circular motions, even the zigzag foxtrot, which was much more complicated, but still had the same footing. Forward, forward, side, close. Many of the other couples' heads turned to catch a glimpse of the magnificent dancing that the Führer-to-be and his aide were performing without evening knowing it. They never looked at their feet, only into the other's eyes. A small circle in the perfect middle of all of the other couples, most of which were dancing in one line, was where the two officers danced. The Colonel initiated the first part of the promenade, a special attachment to the basic foxtrot. Turning the Lieutenant to face him partially at a 45º angle, he led them forward, still in more of a circular motion than that of a straight line. For both of them it was the same motion. Forward, forward, face, side, close. And again. The Colonel let his gaze graze that of Lieutenant Hawkeye's and she understood what came now. First, they had to engage in the hesitation, a forward or a back rock, depending on the partner. Then the Lieutenant slung her right leg around the right one of the Colonel and he turned both of them in a 270º three-quarter circle. All of the couples stared in awe at the move. Very few people could pull off a perfect promenade, but it seemed that this strange couple could. The Colonel did the basic until the song for the foxtrot ended. His eyes had never left those of his Lieutenant. Only a few centimeters separated their bodies. Then they let go of each other and clapped as the orchestra and everyone in the crowd looked on at them in amazement.
Colonel Mustang listened carefully to the couples' names who had been eliminated, and was happy to hear that none of the couples he knew had been. But it took him by surprise that General Hakuro along with his wife had been ejected from the dancing competition, a he had always thought of the man as a good dancer. Guess I was wrong. Nineteen other couples were eliminated and the organiser announced that the next dance would be a waltz. Nobody seemed to be taken aback by this. Everyone who had stayed in the game filed back onto the dancing floor, the one the Colonel and Lieutenant Hawkeye had never left. The other couples surrounded them in their circle again. The still stunned orchestra began to play a slow waltz, what fewer Amestrians called La Valse, one of the slower waltzes. The Colonel took the Lieutenant back into his dancing clutches and began to waltz.
The waltz was simple, but, when one integrated the more complicated moves, it became more confusing, but much more appreciable. Colonel Mustang started, once again, on the basic. He tread forward with his left foot, then stepped to the right with the other foot, closing with his left. Forward, side, close. The Lieutenant echoed his moves perfectly, no slip-up of any sort. Back, side close. The Colonel turned her, and back again. One, two, three. One, two, three. Perfect integration. Everything was in rounded motion, nothing in a line. The box step - forward, side, close, back, side, close - was performed in impeccable synchronization, another one of the couple's dancing wonders done without batting an eyelid. La Valse ended just as the Colonel caught Lieutenant Hawkeye after his final twist of her. Thunderous clapping for the orchestra members. The next twenty eliminations were read from the list. Their names weren't on it.
It seemed that Lieutenant General Grumman and the late Führer's wife had both been great foxtrotters, but only Riza's grandfather had any talent for the waltz. They were one of the twenty couples eliminated. As were Fuery and Sheska, Falman and the blonde female officer, as well as Olivier Armstrong with Major Miles and her brother Alex with his youngest sister, Catherine. A puzzled look crossed the organiser's face as he looked at the remaining couples: only five. 'I thought that there were more people than just ninety,' he declared. 'Well, I guess that we're going to have to make do with all of you as our final five.' Applause from the crowd. The five couples left were Jean Havoc with Rebecca Catalina, Heymans Breda accompanying Vanessa Mustang, Edward Elric, dancing partner of Winry Rockbell, Alphonse Elric along with Princess Mei Chan of Xing and Roy Mustang, suitor to Riza Hawkeye. 'Do all of you know how to cha-cha?' the organiser asked. Nods from the ten remaining dancers. 'Then, let's see if you think you can dance.'
Once again, the orchestra began to play, and the couples took up their positions, Roy and Riza in their circle again. The cha-cha was a staying dance, which meant that one only moved on a specific part of the dancing floor, not over the whole of it as Amestrian dances usually did. The Colonel rocked forward on his left foot, back on his right foot and shuffled three steps to his left, using the prescribed technique of left-right-left. Lieutenant Hawkeye copied his footing in reverse. Back, rock, forward, sideways. That was the simple part, the basic. Now, Roy altered his grip to do the opening. They opened, shuffled, opened, shuffled and finally pressed their palms together and turned 360º only to meet each other in the basic position again. Another easy part. All of the eliminated couples watched in veneration as they finished the opening. Many of them clapped, some just continued to stare. Colonel Mustang let the Lieutenant twist around the axis of his hand and captured her again in the basic. A glance was all it took to show that he wanted to attempt the chase, the hardest part of the cha-cha. Repositioning his hands into another different position, he did the same rhythm as before, just moving backwards instead of from side to side. Then the Colonel did it forwards. Front, rock, left, right in front, left in front. They rocked to get back into basic, and just after that, the cha-cha ended. Applause boomed from their audience, and the organiser announced the eliminated couples for this round: Alphonse and Mei as well as Breda and Vanessa. They smiled at each other, then mumbled, 'At least we made it into the top five,' and joined the other eliminates. The organiser turned to the other dancers. 'I hope all of you know how to rumba.'
An exotic tune had been chosen for the rumba, a supposedly very erotic dance, slow and sensual, allowing one to feel one's partner's presence completely through the magic art of dance. It was more of a box dance than anything else, in Roy's view, but he still enjoyed it. Clasping Riza to him he started, left foot sideways, sweeping the right foot after it. Then forwards, again with the left, and swinging the right foot in an arc on the floor to the other side of the imaginary box, drawing the left foot towards it and then back with the right foot, continuing in the same motion as the basic. Not much could be added onto the rumba because of its complex movements in the basic, but there was a twist that very few people knew. The Colonel squeezed Lieutenant Hawkeye's hand in his own, showing her that he wanted to venture towards said twist. She let him turn her, and she moved in an oval with three steps, faltering before falling back into the original rhythm of the rumba's basic. Perfection to the finest degree. The dance ended and shattering applause broke out from the crowd, whistles and shouts. They were ecstatic. Nearly nowhere could such dancing be appreciated by the military public. The organiser stepped back onto the platform and announced the eliminates of the supposedly final round of the dancing contest: Jean Havoc with Rebecca Catalina and Edward Elric with Winry Rockbell. Both of the teams were awarded with huge baskets of fruit, chocolate and expensive champagne. The crowd went wild at the obvious conclusion that the favourite dancers, the best ones, had won. Naturally, they should also receive their prize.
'You may dance any kind of dance, only the two of you, with the same or different partners, on the ballroom floor. You may choose the dance and who will your partners be?'
The two officers looked at each other, smiled, and the Führer-to-be said, 'We'll dance this last dance together. A boogie, if you please.' More roaring of applause.
The lights in the great wood ballroom of the Central City Military Unit Headquarters Ball House dimmed and Colonel Mustang led his one and only female Lieutenant to the dancing floor for the last time that night. Once on their special spot in the middle, he held out his hands, palms up, and she placed her hands on top of them, grasping them firmly, but softly. The orchestra began the lively, fun music of the boogie. For a moment, nothing happened as the Colonel figured out the beat in which to dance, then he moved backwards with his left leg, rocked, and marched, in a way, on the place he was occupying. Riza was the untarnished mirror image of himself in footwork. He twisted her one, twice, but the most amazing moment was about to come. Roy waited for the ending to near, then started the most complicated part of the boogie. In the air, he crisscrossed his arms, along with Lieutenant Hawkeye's, so she faced in the same direction as him, her back pressed against his chest. Then he did it the other way, unspiralling her into the other side of his body. Once again, Roy let her unwind from the crossed grip, but only held her with one hand, letting Riza twist around the axis of his arm. One, two, three… four times he let her spin, then, just as the music was ending, flung her right arm around his neck and dipped her low. The boogie ended. And the decibels of the other eighty-eight military officials and members of the general public went into the uncountable as they thundered their utmost respect for the Colonel and his Lieutenant - as well as their dancing abilities - through smattering applause.
'You were amazing,' Jean Havoc complimented Rebecca as hey made their way towards the balcony. 'Where the heck did you learn how to dance like that?' He was extremely impressed, very happy that they had reached the Final Three together.
Rebecca was blushing a deep red as she mumbled, 'I went to dancing classes at school.' She looked at the balcony and knew immediately that they shouldn't go there. Two other people she recognised only too well were there. 'Hide, but keep looking,' she ordered Jean as she pulled him behind a huge marble pillar. The Colonel was on one knee, facing his one and only, Lieutenant Hawkeye, holding out a small, black box, which he opened to reveal a beautiful gold and platinum plated ring with diamonds set in it. A silent tear of happiness ran down Rebecca's cheek as Roy asked Riza to marry him, she saying yes by flinging her arms around his neck.
Ah, this was so much fun to write! Even though it took seventeen pages of Word document! Hope you all liked it! Royai lives forever, even if its manga doesn't continue any more.