Lilium Inter Spinas
I don't know if any of you have seen this particular story before, since it was once published several months ago. I decided to do some basic edits and/or rewrites to some of my stories. As I'm sure you can tell, here is the finished product. Anyway, this takes place after the events of Conqueror of Shamballa.
Lilium Inter Spinas: Latin for 'lily among thorns'.
When he comes down from there…I'm going to kill him. Stubborn man!
Thoughts similar to her most recent mental declaration circled around Riza Hawkeye's mind like a flock of birds. It had been three years since General Mustang decided to resign his commission and leave Central Command, and the second he gets back he decides to play hero!
She had screamed and cursed as Mustang ascended in the balloon he and Major Armstrong had created, but it was no use. All Hawkeye could do then was just wait for that asinine fool to work his way back to the ground.
She was still plenty mad at her former superior, but there was another feeling that she had to fight back; something Hawkeye hadn't experienced since he had been shot by Frank Archer those years ago. She felt genuine fear and concern for the man. Unfortunately for her, those feelings still had to be kept locked away from the rest of the world. So, she settled for instead keeping her eyes away from Roy Mustang as he slowly returned to the ground.
While other higher-ranking officers were barking out orders, Hawkeye settled for collecting all of the abandoned weapons that littered the ground. There was definitely a hefty cleaning project ahead in the future. The foreign airships that had come into Amestris from the Gate caused many local buildings to fall to pieces, becoming nothing more than piles of rubble. There were countless buildings to repair, as well as an even larger number of funerals to carry out, for soldiers as well as civilians.
That was the hardest part for her; she had to protect her own life and could not stop the armored soldiers from destroying a nearby apartment complex. The screams of the occupants inside would echo in her mind for weeks afterwards. However, this was not new to her; it took her a year after leaving Ishval to stop reliving each murder she had committed.
Taking a few moments respite, Riza finally had a chance to take in her surroundings that didn't involve destroyed architecture. Kain Feury and Vato Falman were helping a few other soldiers in bandaging the injured that had crowded around them. There was a brief scuffle in which a young child with a head wound was pushed back farther into the line by some rowdy men with no visible injuries of their own. Though she couldn't catch what was said, Feury snapped angrily at them, and the group retreated with their heads hung low. Hawkeye threw the tiny soldier a satisfied smirk. You tell him, Feury.
Her thoughts were suddenly interrupted by a familiar voice.
"Major Armstrong, I need you to head over to the assembly hall. Make sure the injured and deceased are taken care of."
"Yes, sir." The large man jumped to his feet and once and took off running. He was a gentle giant, Hawkeye knew, and the soldiers at the assembly hall would be in good hands.
"Lieutenants Havoc and Breda, take a squad and go with him."
Once the soldiers he had named began heading towards their respective destinations, Mustang turned toward Hawkeye. She caught his eye briefly before returning to her own work. Riza began emptying each rifle she found of their magazines and laying them aside, each one placed on the ground harder than the last.
That one word was all it took. Dropping the last rifle on the ground, Riza stood up slowly and began to follow General Mustang into Central Command. She took her former place behind him on his right shoulder; exactly three paces behind.
There was always a part of her that knew Roy Mustang would never be able to stay away from the military for good.
Ascending the stairwell, Hawkeye kept her eyes averted from her fellow soldiers. As the couple passed each one, they saluted Mustang with warm greetings and smug looks for the lieutenant. No doubt their thoughts were bordering on how predicable that would appear to the soldiers of Central. As soon as Mustang returned, First Lieutenant Riza Hawkeye would be protecting his back.
That's the way it always was.
Indeed, most of the soldiers at Central had gotten there after Riza was named Mustang's bodyguard and adjutant. When he had disappeared and she was transferred to someone else's command, they were left wondering what in God's name happened between them.
It had taken everyone a long time to get used to the separation.
He would never tell anyone, but Major Armstrong had once compared it to a transmutation array, one that had yet to be completed.
A circle half-drawn.
Hawkeye did not speak again until they had reached Mustang's old office. Entering the room, it was evident than the previous occupants had left in a hurry.
Papers and folders were strewn all over the floor. Two chairs were over turned and the drapes had been pulled wide open, most likely to survey the damage below. Riza stared at the back of Roy's head while he pulled the dark red curtains closed. Watching the strap of his eye patch jostle with each movement, Riza remembered the circumstances in which he received it.
She also remembered watching through the plate glass at the hospital, staring in pure agony and despair at the form of a man she was told probably wouldn't survive through the night. Out of the-then Colonel's subordinates, she was the only one who had stayed by his bedside every day for the entire two weeks he was confined there. Then she had visited him every day after work while he was on bed rest.
With no warning, he left for an outpost up north. Two years later, out of nowhere, he suddenly had the gall to show up like this!
The jerk had some nerve.
Roy turned around slowly and stared her full in the face for the first time. Staring for several long moments, Hawkeye then whirled around and stomped over to her old desk, pulling the mess of papers together with extra force, crushing up some and completely tearing others.
"Lieutenant." The voice echoed quietly, but Riza ignored it.
"Please, Lieutenant." Mustang's voice grew closer.
Riza continued to give him the cold shoulder, showing no acknowledgement that she had heard him except for her movements; each word Mustang had spoken caused her to tidy up the area with more ferocity than before.
"Hawkeye, stop!" She finally felt his hands wrap around her upper arms, and forcefully turn her around. At the same moment, her hand flew up and slapped him full in the face. Roy stared back at her, but there was no surprise in his expression.
"I deserved that, didn't I?" He murmured.
"You…you…you bastard," Riza said slowly. She whispered the last word, and wanted him to fully comprehend what she was finally trying to tell him. "I watched your back, just like you had asked me to. Then out of nowhere you just leave without telling me?" He voice broke at the end, but she pressed on. "What did I do wrong?"
Roy's mouth opened and closed for several seconds. "You did nothing wrong," he told her finally. "I just thought it would be best."
Hawkeye thought she was seeing red. "Then why did you tell me to stay here?" She nearly screeched. Once again releasing her pent up emotions, she raised her fist and repeatedly pounded it into Roy's chest. She would have beaten the life out of him if his other hand wasn't still grasping her upper arm.
Roy knew that he deserved each punch from her a thousand times over. He also knew that it would be quite a while before he would be fully forgiven. He decided to let her continue her assault for a few moments longer before he used his free hand to take hold of her wrist, yet she then attempted to yank her hand out of his grasp.
"Lilium inter spinas," He said simply.
The sudden confusion finally made Hawkeye stop her assault. "What?"
"It's a phrase I learned during my alchemy training," Roy began. "It means 'lily among thorns'."
"And what does that have to do with me?" Hawkeye snapped. If Mustang was trying to come up with an excuse for himself, he was doing a poor job of it.
Mustang stared at the floor. When he looked up again his expression was slightly nervous. Letting go of Hawkeye, he took several steps backwards and sat on the edge of his old desk. "Central command had been in pieces since the death of Fuhrer Bradley," he explained as he folded his arms across his chest. "Even before then, it was difficult to find trustworthy people within the throes of Amestrian soldiers. They were all like thorns. Sure, you may hold onto them, but if you weren't careful…then they could still hurt you."
Hawkeye just stared at him. She didn't know what would be the appropriate response in this situation. Mainly because she didn't fully comprehend what he was even trying to say. She finally settled for snapping at him. "So that's it then? I'm just a 'thorn' to you?"
The corners of Roy's mouth turned up into a tiny, albeit brief, smile. "Of course not. I left you here for two reasons, the first being that I did not want to drag you down because of my mistakes. I would not make you suffer. The second being…"
"The lily among thorns," Mustang replied, using the same simple and dignified tone he had when the conversation had first begun. "Out of all of my subordinates, as well as the countless pawns of the military, you were the most trustworthy, the one I could tell everything to. That is why I made the decision to leave you here. I knew that if Command fell to pieces again, for whatever reason, there would be at least one honorable soul still left."
Riza's mouth fell open. She mentally compared the feeling to that of a fish, and she shut it again, feeling embarrassed. The two soldiers stared at each other for an immeasurable period of time; Hawkeye's two eyes connecting with Mustang's onyx one. Pulling her thoughts together, Riza turned back toward the desk she was clearing off. This time she gathered the papers together much more neatly than before. "I apologize for hitting you, sir." Her voice was cool and stoic.
She had completely reverted back to her old persona. The no-nonsense, follow-you-to-hell, do-anything-to-Roy-Mustang-and-I-will-destroy-you Riza Hawkeye. Before he could no longer tell her what he had been bottling up, Mustang finally admitted, "That, and the lily is one of the most beautiful flowers I have ever seen. It would be a waste to simply throw it away, wouldn't you think?"
Out of the corner of her eyes, Hawkeye could just barely make out his expression. Mustang's voice was quiet and his expression even more apprehensive than before, like a man who had placed his entire fortune on the table, waiting for his cards to be read.
For the first time in who knows how long, Riza permitted a very tiny smile to dance across her face. The nervousness written on Mustang's was still noticeable, but she could make out a wild light in the look he was giving her, full of mischief and a small bit of hope.
Turning back to the desk, Hawkeye made to sound nonchalant about his declaration. "I suppose sir. But there are other flowers out there that are better suited for a man of your stature."
When Mustang didn't respond, Hawkeye continued with her ministrations in her former workplace. There were multiple times where she was about to open her mouth and give orders to subordinates that were no longer there. Hearing footsteps, Riza suddenly froze when she felt Roy step right up behind her and, very lightly, place one hand on her shoulder and the other on her waist.
"What if I don't want another flower?" He whispered in her ear.
Riza smirked. "Well then I guess your friend Elizabeth won't be too happy with you."
"She can get over it," He continued to whisper. His voice was so low that Riza could barely make out the words. "Now then," Mustang stepped away from Hawkeye slowly, and stood tall behind her. When he next spoke, his voice was cool and business-like once more. "Will you still be there to protect my back? To follow me?"
Riza caught his eye, and they shared an unspoken message. She pulled her arm up into a salute.
"You don't even have to ask, sir."
This will most likely be the only FMA story I write that involves the first series and movie. I didn't like how either one ended, and very much prefer the mangaverse. I just happened to write this after a rather violent assault from a plot bunny. No lie, I could have been killed.
Anyway, I'm also debating to add a few more chapters to it, if the readers so wish. Let me know!