Disclaimer: You know the craic by now...

A gift-fic for the 2 naughty ladies who wrote me one: Megami Ze and Disastergirl. Very bold, the two of you!

Thanks for reading folks x


The winter was a long time coming, but it didn't hurry in leaving either. Early spring and still the river crunched and groaned behind the country house; ice chunks as big as boulders bumping their way downstream and clattering against the simple wooden bridge by the flood-meadow. There, stood the same old scarecrow Riza had built as a child – the one she built together with him, with Roy. Though it was of little use there - a superfluous undertaking. How vulnerable could a cropless flood-meadow be to a crowding murder of crows? If she crouched at the far bottom corner of her bedroom window and pressed her nose against the glass, she could see it angled far off to the right. Only in the summer though, when the cornflowers blossomed a brilliant blue. In the winter, or during cold snaps like this, her breath misted the glass too quickly and she could see nothing at all.

Today, they buried her father. Just as when they built the scarecrow, they finished the necessary and stood back, regarding their work. Riza Hawkeye and Roy Mustang, together again under the hungry branches of the graveyard trees. She had taken him there once before, shown him her mother's grave and said, "I don't remember much of her. She used to keep hard boiled sweets in her pinafore." He'd smiled at that, and taken her hand saying, "That's a nice memory."

The following summer, she didn't have the heart to tell him she remembered it wasn't her mother at all who kept the sweets, but Mrs Cameron from three fields over.

He looked smaller now than he had done when he left. Something of the uniform made him boyish. Perhaps he had yet to grow into it. Even earlier, when she had stood half-naked before him, he remained like a timorous beastie skirting a hot light. She assured him with a quiet smile and a whisper: I want you to. (Though a part of her pretended she had really said: I want you too.)

With the evening dulled to darkness and the lamps lit about the house – her father's house – she'd slipped out of her blouse and invited his study. As his still-shaking fingers followed the scarlet lines of her back, she realised with a muted, confused horror, that this was the first person to ever lay their hands on her in kindness.

There would be more study, in the days to come. Despite his efforts, he couldn't hide his fascination and excitement at what those thin red lines meant for him. And she told herself he wasn't just like her father. Or rather, she believed – in spite of the evidence – that he was not.

Now, in the full embrace of a chill night, he was kneeling by her bed, and she – having been taken by a powerful and shocking bout of tears – lay her forehead on the paleness of his hands. A mutual supplication it seemed. Two youths cast off and desperate for comfort.

He pressed his lips to the crown of her head, then shifting, lay his cheek against her hair. Her tears ran through his fingers and soaked the sheets beneath them.

She felt his Adam's apple bob in his throat as he readied himself for a quiet word in the dark.

"I think... I would make you my wife, Riza Hawkeye. But you have no father for me to ask, or to walk you down the aisle. And I have no mother to fuss over you and force you into her own wedding dress. Besides - " he smiled bitterly. She could tell. "My life is no longer my own - you could say, now I am married to Amestris. I have made her my bride."

She couldn't help the sob that broke against his knuckles. He kissed her hair again, and held his lips there a while. Then, slowly, as though she were a timid, wild creature, he edged himself up and into the bed – his eyes holding hers all the while. She backed off, burrowed under the covers until she was nearly at the other edge of the bed. He suddenly didn't look so boyish anymore.

"Come here," he said, so gently and with that accent she had always so much adored.

So she went to him, and he held her, and beneath the wonderful heaviness of the old worn eiderdown they slept together. A sublime pain that throbbed in her belly and back. There was no father now to catch them at their dalliances, but the guilt was there still – standing at the foot of the bed like a banshee, watching.

In his arms, she dreamt of bright indigo cornflowers and how men had taken to wearing them in their buttonholes to show that they were in love. When the blue faded, so too did their affections. But the cornflowers grew in the field with the scarecrow every year.

All noted, burnt into his memory, he left a fortnight later, just as she was waking. He kissed her again and told her good-bye. Left her another note, the same note: the address for the military authorities. But not the same...

This time, signed with an X.

OoO

Scant years later, under the pressing heat of Ishbal, he looked down at her in disappointment. The first glimpse of each other since that morning. She thought – for that moment – how terribly she had misunderstood.


Cheers x