AN/ This follows the story of the manga and Brotherhood. Takes place during Eldest.

Spoilers for the end of the manga and Brotherhood.

Eragon did not know what to think of Alphonse Elric.

He supposed the other human had as much right to be in Ellesmera as he did, but he had not expected there to be another of his species in the forest of elves.

The man seemed to be several years older than Eragon, although he was still young. He came to Elesmera during the second month of Eragon's training and he was surprised when the elves allowed him to stay. In fact, he was given permission to observe the comings and goings of Du Weldenvarden and in addition was given a place to stay.

He was found walking on the edge of the forest, the far eastern side. He spoke with Queen Islanzadí, and whatever he had said must have pleased her immensely, for since then he had been welcome among the city.

Eragon did not see Alphonse often. The other human seemed to be deeply immersed in learning as much as he could of the culture and customs of the land. He was not proficient in magic, but Eragon had heard rumors of a different sort of 'magic' that he could use. The elves were quite interested in his techniques, just as he was in magic. He didn't seem that interested in learning the ancient language, he just wanted to understand how the process worked. Eragon saw him writing in a notebook occasionally under the shaded canopy of the forest.

Alphonse didn't receive the same type of gall that Eragon found himself in often. The elves seldom showed any resentment or anger towards the man. Eragon discussed this with Saphira.

Perhaps it is because he is not as grating to the ears as you are, little one, said Saphira, finding humor at Eragon's expense.

"What are you trying to say?" asked Eragon, reverting to regular speech in frustration.

Nothing, Eragon. Don't be so touchy, said Saphira, reining in her amusement. But you would understand if you spoke to him. You are young and, I'm sorry, but you are easily angered. The gold-haired-gold-eyed one; he is young as well, but there is something calming about his presence.

You've spoken with him? When?

I have not. But I have observed the way he deals with others. He is always gracious; I have never seen him angered. Several days ago, Vanir attempted to infuriate the golden human. No matter what Vanir did to bait the golden human, it was to no avail. The golden human- Alphonse, was it? Alphonse ignored subtle insults and just outright rudeness from the elf. He must either have a gentle temperament or a great strength of will.

Maybe both? wondered Eragon. I think I'll try to speak with him.

(O)

Days went by, but Eragon never did get a chance to speak to the other man. He was far too busy with his studies. Eragon forgot about Alphonse until he sat through one of Eragon's studies in magic. He had asked for permission from Oromis earlier that week, and sat watching at the edge of the glade that Eragon and Oromis met in. He had already been at the Crags of Tel'naeir when Eragon arrived there. He politely declined the food that Oromis offered, and settled down to watch Eragon's training.

Eragon listened to Oromis' lecture on the flow of power between all of Du Weldenvarden's life, trying to ignore Alphonse, who sat about ten feet from him taking notes.

Eragon's gaze did drift over to the man occasionally. Alphonse Elric was, as Saphira put it, a golden human. Eragon had never seen such deep eyes. He realized he was staring, and looked away quickly.

Alphonse said nothing as the lecture went on. Eragon struggled to concentrate as his imagination ran wild. Where had the young man come from? From a country beyond Alagaesia? Angela had said that he was destined to leave Alagaesia forever. Maybe Alphonse knew what lay past the borders of the country Eragon had lived in all his life. His heart sped up.

"Eragon, it's time for Rigmar." Oromis' voice suddenly broke through his reverie.

"Oh- of course, master," Eragon mumbled. The Rigmar was growing steadily more and more difficult for Eragon to perform. "Master?"

"What is it, Eragon?" questioned Oromis.

With a gesture towards Alphonse, Eragon stuttered, "Is he going to watch?"

Alphonse gave a start, as if he as well had been deep in thought. He looked about awkwardly for a moment, then said hesitantly, "I can leave if-"

"No, it's alright," said Oromis, speaking in the common language because of Alphonse's company. "You are welcome here, Alphonse Elric. Please excuse my pupil's rudeness; he is simply very self conscious. Come here, Eragon."

Eragon walked over to the hard patch of earth that was on the far side of the clearing. Saphira's mind spoke into his. Just relax, little one. Yesterday you did not have a seizure, I'm sure you'll be fine.

Fine? Saphira, it's getting worse! I can't break down, not in front of this man!

Little one, Saphira admonished gently. Do not let your pride get the better of you. It doesn't matter. The golden one is not the type of man who would judge you. Even if he was, it would not matter. All that matters is the way you view yourself. If you do have an attack, I will do my best to spare you from the pain.

Thank you, Saphira. Eragon stood in the hard dirt, taking deep breaths and trying to relax. Oromis instructed him through the exercise while Alphonse sat at a distance watching.

The exercise started out easy. Arms up, touch the ground; it was the same pattern as usual. Then it grew harder. The bends and turns and twists were beginning to make Eragon sick.

Just as he thought he was going to make it through the Rigmar without any complications, he bent in just the wrong way.

It hit him like a wave. The pain coursed through his body. He didn't know if he was screaming; he didn't know anything. He could vaguely feel Saphira's presence at the back of his mind, attempting to comfort him. But there was no comfort from the agony.

Eragon welcomed the bliss of unconsciousness.

(O)

When he came around, he felt someone's hand on his shoulder. This made him wonder, because usually he awoke to see Oromis sitting calmly next to him, awaiting his return to the world of the waking. It must have been particularly bad this time…

He opened his eyes only to be startled by the gold ones that met his. He blinked and then remembered that Alphonse had sat through his lesson today. He groaned and closed his eyes in humiliation.

"No, he's not alright! I need to see the damage that's been done to him. He can't live the rest of his life like this! How can you just sit there like nothing's wrong?" said the uncharacteristically animated voice of Alphonse.

Alphonse rolled Eragon on his side and started to remove his tunic. "No!" yelled Eragon. "I'm fine! Don't touch me." At this, Alphonse eyes went soft.

Eragon, said Saphira. Eragon realized that she was hunched over near Gladre towards the edge of the grove. She spoke for all to hear, Let him take a look at you. We do not know the existent of abilities or how he may help you.

Alphonse looked about, confused by the sudden voice. Saphira spoke directly to him. It is I, Saphira Brightscales, who is speaking to you. I go so far as to command you to examine my rider, and then you will inform me what you can do for him. Do you understand?

"Y-yes. I've got it." Alphonse apologized to Eragon before turning him over and studying the scar that spread over the entirety of his back. To those there's surprise, he did not flinch at the sight, just sighed heavily. "I've seen many bad injuries, but this is… probably the worst. Even worse than Brother's…"

He wrote something in his notebook and stood up. Eragon, humiliated and dirty, sat up unsteadily.

Alphonse addressed Saphira, "I'm sorry but… I don't think there's anything I can do. I am proficient in alchemy, but it is not commonly used for medical purposes. Alkahestry is used for healing… but I only just began my studies in it. If only May were here… I'm so sorry."

"But that means someone in your country CAN fix it? I-" Eragon started.

Eragon, Gladre's heavy presence spoke into their minds. You are not thinking clearly. Perhaps someday, you can travel to this man's home, seeking a cure. But you cannot abandon your homeland for personal reasons.

"I… Yes, master," said Eragon, downcast. But a hope had grown in him. It was a flickering hope, but it refused to die.

Eragon, Saphira said, drawing his attention. I promise that no matter what, I will see you whole again. Do not ever doubt that, little one.

Eragon smiled a little and nodded.

He saw Alphonse standing a ways off with a very complicated look on his face. It spoke of long years of pain and a powerful joy. When Eragon asked, Alphonse simply said, "What your dragon said just reminded me of something someone once said to me. That's all."

(O)

Eragon still did not know what to make of Alphonse Elric.

Sometimes, when he had nothing better to do, he made up stories of the other man's life. He was an enigma, and Eragon enjoyed piecing together ideas about his history. He had mentioned a brother, and a person named May… But in the end Eragon still knew nothing about the man.

Eragon only spoke to him on occasion, but every time he did, he liked the man more. Saphira had been right; he did have a calming presence. If Eragon spoke with him if he was troubled, he instantly felt better. Alphonse didn't even have to say anything; Eragon just felt better.

Alphonse had left Du Weldenvarden the day before. Eragon would miss his tranquil personality. He delighted in small, mundane things that most left forgotten. He often commented on the smell of a flower or the feel of dirt between ones toes.

Several of the elves he had befriended were sad to see him go. Not to mention the animals. Eragon suspected that much of the respect the elves had for the man was his natural way with animals.

Eragon had said a short farewell to him. Saphira had blessed him and touched his forehead with the tip of her snout. Her parting word were, Golden One, do not worry about what others have given up for you; you have given much in return. That is the way of the world, as you well know.

Alphonse had thanked her for the advice. He hardly even looked surprised; he had learned enough about dragons to know what they were capable of. Then he left.

Eragon sometimes thought that leaving Alagaesia might not be so bad if there were people like Alphonse there.

AN/ So I liked it, but that's because I'm a arrogant jerk. Please, let me know what you thought. (Hint, hint, wink, wink. You want to review.)