Because it's my birthday and I wanted an interlude from Hot Chocolate. Enjoy!
(Or 5 Times Roy Mustang Didn't Tell Her He Loved Her and 1 That He Did)
When they were younger, it wouldn't have mattered.
Words were thrown about carelessly – ulterior meanings lost in the innocence they were spoken with and tossed aside because children were just about as clueless as they were young. It would never have meant the same thing had he told her in later life. At the time, she was more of a younger sister to him, anyway – and he did love her, just not like that.
Or so he told himself because when it came down to actually saying it to her face, Roy Mustang couldn't bring himself to do it. The hesitation that held them back gnawed at his mind – not because he was worried that it wasn't true, but because he was worried that it was much more than just the love for a sibling.
What would she say? What would her father say?
No matter how innocent-sounding it would have been, coming from him and directed at her, it would have been...
Roy didn't know.
"Is there any particular reason you're staring so much, Mr. Mustang?"
He could have told her right there and then, as she sat beneath her favourite beech tree with an eyebrow raised curiously at him, novel in hand and flecks of sun in her short, cornflour hair – but he stopped himself. Perhaps he could save it – for when and/or if he was sure that it meant much, much more.
Years later, as he watched her place the wilting flowers on her father's grave, he felt a painful tug at his heart.
She had no one else now. Just him.
There was her grandfather, of course, but she seemed reluctant to accept his help after only ever seeing him once a year since the death of her mother years and years ago. She hardly knew him. And if anything, Roy was more her family than he was.
He wished he could help her more. Taking care of her father's funeral was one thing but it seemed so little in comparison to what she faced now. She'd been alone enough when her father was alive – but the enormity of the task of striking it out on her own seemed daunting, even for someone he knew could take care of herself.
He could tell her now, couldn't he? It felt much stronger than just a love for a sibling – he could tell her now and remind her that she wasn't completely alone.
But again, he held his tongue. This time, he didn't know why.
Roy was nothing less than horrified when he found her in Ishbal.
Not her too, he'd thought, feeling furious that he couldn't have prevented this. She'd been through enough. She had enough weight on her back without the guilt of killing thousands of innocent people. She shouldn't have to suffer through this war too.
Of all the things he could have – should have told her, he asked hoarsely instead: "What are you doing here?"
Her eyes darkened. "I was stationed here, sir," she mumbled, "for my final year of training."
He knew better. She enlisted to find him. To protect the secret she had given him and to ensure that it was used for what he promised it would be used for.
But he wanted to scream at her - Why? Why here? You should have been sent anywhere but here! – and he wanted to rage and beat the idiot who sent her here to a pulp for forcing her to carry an even heavier burden than the one she already had. He wanted to yell at her – to tell her that he didn't want her here – to tell her that shouldn't have followed him into this because he wouldn't be able to stand it if she was hurt in this goddamned extermination – because he lo–
He stopped. How disgraceful, he thought. He couldn't even bring himself to say it in his head.
By now, there was no way he could excuse himself anymore.
He had loved her all these years in varying degrees, but there was no denying that he loved her more than anything now.
Maes Hughes' body was now six feet below them. In all of his grief for his best friend, he felt guilty that one of the more dominant thoughts in his mind right now was just that he was glad it wasn't her. The number of times she had swept his feet from under him to save his life – the number of times she had risked her neck for him – the number of times she had run the risk of being the one in the coffin instead of Hughes –
Roy balled his fists together and dug his nails into his palms. She had the right to know. He had to tell her.
But as the words formed themselves on his tongue, he stopped himself again. He couldn't. She was in enough danger as it was, and if they knew – if anyone knew and tried to use her against him...
At least, he told himself, that he had a reason this time.
Perhaps he hadn't been careful enough, because somehow, they knew. And they did use her against him.
And she was dying now because of him.
He screamed for her. It had been so long since he had used her name and even now, as the life bled out of her before his eyes, he couldn't say it. Her name was like the secret he hadn't had the courage to confess to her years and years ago.
And when the tables had turned, and Roy had rushed to her side to cradle her limp body in his arms, pressing a hand to her neck in a feeble attempt to staunch the flow of blood that would be the death of her, he still couldn't bring himself to tell her.
She would die and never know how much he loved her because he was too much of a goddamned coward to do anything about it.
It was more than he what he knew how to say when Mei arrived to save her just in time. He just didn't have it in him to tell her then.
"I love you."
There. It only took him fifteen years, a near death experience on her part and the thought of never being able to see her beautiful face again until Marcoh arrived with a solution, but as she lay in the hospital bed exhausted and with the stark white bandage on her throat to remind him of just how close he came to losing her, he'd said it. Finally.
She stared at him, not quite daring to believe what had just come out of his mouth. "S-sir?" she croaked, blushing as he had not seen her blush since they were kids.
He smiled at her. "Riza Hawkeye, I love you," he said again, savouring the taste of her name on his lips.
And, with the blush growing ever deeper, she laughed softly and looked away before she turned her eyes back to him, still sniggering and gave him the most brilliant smile he had ever seen. He knew there was a reason he had come to her first after regaining his sight.
Then, when the sniggering stopped, she leant over to him and placed a light kiss on his lips.
"About damn time," she whispered.
All things considered, Roy beamed at her. About damn time indeed.