The agonizing silence of the courtroom plays rhythms on my heart, irregular patterns drumming themselves in the hollow of my chest. I don't understand why the adrenaline courses through my veins, potent and strong. It's like I haven't been awaiting this moment with open arms for the past decade.
Hawkeye has subdued herself for the occasion. Formal as ever, she sits beside me and I pretend I don't see the echo of pain in those chocolate eyes of hers; pretend this is simply a dream and will my body to calm itself. After all, President Mustang has standards to upkeep.
Even if his own delegates are debating his death sentence before him.
"What..?" The teacup clatters noisily on the platter and she stares, eyes wide with shock, into my own and I feel the slightest shiver of fear crawl down my back.
"I said I'm trying myself in court for war crimes."
"But…Roy…they'll find you guilty. You didn't do anything wrong really, it was the military, and what about me and Ed and Al and Elysia, she can't lose another father figure so soon and how could you-" She babbles on, incoherency rising up in her throat and I silence her with my eyes and a touch on the shoulder.
"I know they'll find me guilty. That's what I'm counting on."
A single tear slips down Riza's face and speaks the words she can't bear to say.
I stare straight ahead, my onyx eyes tracing lazy patterns on the wall directly before me. Something akin to fear crawls itself up my throat and lodges itself there when I hear the judge's intake of breath-
And suddenly, the mahogany door to the courthouse bangs itself open with an intensity matched only by that of Edward Elric.
I hear Fuery's gasp somewhere in the room and Havoc stands, along with others clad in blue with whispers of-Didn't they lock the doors? What the hell-this trial is already insane-
"Stop. Amestris has nothing to hide from the public." I slip my now-perfected blank mask on again and take slow, purposeful strides to the doorway, nearly falling to my knees in shock.
Decorating the bland grey staircase of military-style buildings stands no less than a hundred thousand Ishvalans.
Women, men, and children alike stand in the crowd, proudly gazing at me with those disconcerting red eyes of theirs. Amongst the thrall of red and tan stands a being perhaps even more startling than the rest-
The golden eyes of Edward Elric smile at me.
The new High Priest of Ishval stands before me, bowing graciously and then meeting my anxious gaze with his.
"Are you going to leave Amestris with no leader so soon?"
I don't speak; only watch the bobbing of heads in silent agreement. It's a ripple effect that spreads as far as the eye can see, and I am on the verge of hysteria, for the last time I truly encountered a throng of these people I was burning their children and their temples.
I see a teenaged girl in the crowd with the tell-tale scars of fire dotting her face. I turn my head down in shame, fighting the urge to vomit violently on my shoes- if I needed more reason to go face that trial now, this is it.
A calloused finger finds its way under my chin and coaxes my head up until we are once again eye for eye.
"There are better ways to atone, Roy Mustang, than killing yourself. That is for the weak."
Somehow, Fullmetal's twinkling eyes find mine again and he offers me a cheeky two fingered salute with his right hand, all flesh and bone.
That's all it takes.
I scan the crowd one last time- see numerous burn victims, yet here they smile at me, apology fresh in their faces, and shaky tune of hope dares to reverberate inside my skull for the first time since I left their god-forsaken desert.
I reach a pale hands out- it shakes, much to my chagrin- and the other man smiles, beaming his bright teeth at me and grasping my hand in a vigorous handshake.
"Long live Ishvala?" I don't intend to punctuate it as a question, yet I do, and it hangs in the stilled silence of a moment that makes or breaks fate. I see the pondering in the High Priest's eyes, and finally, the serene smile that spreads across every single Ishvalan in attendance plastered upon his.
A booming laugh echoes across Central and he shakes my hand with renewed force, sending that pulsing hopesong into higher frequencies and I allow myself the first unguarded grin since I buried Maes Hughes.
"And long live Amestris, my friend, and long live Amestris."
The crowd behind him bursts into cheers, Edward's the loudest amongst them, and now I know what it means to be President Mustang instead of Fuhrer Mustang.
Perhaps there is forgiveness for misguided souls, I think, as I turn my face towards my subordinates with a confidence lining my face.
That day has long since passed, etched into history books and minds alike forever. The country remains friends with now-rebuilt Ishval, and Olivier's granddaughter has taken over my place as President- an old man like me has no place governing a prospering country like Amestris.
I know she'll keep it pure for the rest of her years.
Edward's asleep in the other room (damn him and his still-fresh youth), and I can't help but chuckle as I think about his growing resemblance to Hohenheim as the years pass us by.
He's like exactly his father; although with the swirling of color that both broke and saved a nation.
You know, there never really will be another person quite like Edward Elric.
I loll my head back and gaze fondly at the window at the golden rays of sunlight that stream through it; I've developed a fondness for golden hues, for some odd reason.
I think of how I'm glad that humanity proved itself to me; restored the childish idealism in my mind that there is a light in the world, something good among the evil that has reigned so prominently during my lifetime.
I think I'm glad that this wandering soul has found the peace I denied it for so many years.
Edward shuffles up behind me, mismatched footsteps announcing his presence and I turn to look him in the eyes.
There's a faint dusting of grey among his treasured tresses, and wrinkles line his once-flawless face now. His eyes stare into mine, laced with a soft happiness and all the colors of the world behind them. I snort when I notice he's wearing that crimson jacket of old (he insisted on keeping it as a keepsake. Now he just sleeps in it.)
We don't talk but he settles into my lap, staring out the window with a faint smile and I trace his right hand with an absent finger, marveling still even after nearly 50 years at the fleshiness of it, the way it moves without that slight creak the metal one groaned with.
I scan his face with my obsidian eyes and the face of a long-ago friend pops up in the back of my mind:
I hadn't thought of him in a long time, I mused, sifting long fingers through my lover's long locks, gaining myself a purr of content.
He used to have color in his eyes, like my Edward. I wonder if he's watching me somewhere, seeing how I ran his country, how I helped raise his Elysia and support his Gracia.
I'd like to think he'd be proud of me.
I'd like to think he'd laugh that deep, resonating laugh he had when he realized I had a wife…sort of. Don't tell Ed I said that; he'd stick his automail leg up a place where no man really wants a metal object thrust up.
I'd like to think he'd be happy with the way my life turned out. I know I am.
Edward leans back into my ribs, curling up in that feline way of his, a happy smile gracing his beautiful features and I smirk and playfully tug on his hair.
"Getting' old there, Fullmetal?"
He harrumphs and cracks one eyes open, glaring at me. "Shaddup, bastard."
I keep smirking and look out the window again.
Yeah. There is forgiveness for misguided souls.
His name is Edward Elric.