III

Sirius has been through Hell. He's stared down Death in all its glory, faced the darkest wizard to ever exist...

But that doesn't mean he's not scared shitless of angry women.

Lily, so many years ago (no don't think about it), was one of the only ones who could actually get him to sit down and listen when she needed to. Professor McGonagall. Molly Weasley. Even Hermione, for Merlin's sake, was pretty terrifying in her own right.

(They're gone, now—or, rather, he's gone, because surely they must think him dead after he disappeared through the Veil—God, Harry and Remus—)

He forces his thoughts away from those darker corners of his mind, focuses on pushing Ed's wheelchair back toward their room. He didn't understand a word of what the terrifying woman on the phone was saying ("Teacher," the Elrics had called her), but her tone made it clear that the boys are in trouble.

And as Ed mutters up to him that she's coming to visit, will be here by tomorrow, Sirius has to swallow down his terror and simply hope that they'll all survive the encounter.

All of them spend the rest of the afternoon idly chatting; Sirius learns new words in Amestrian as they go, and he's slowly picking up on more and more of the conversation—though almost all of it still goes right over his head. Either the military men have been given leave, or they just don't care about skipping work; all of them have crowded into the ward on folding chairs filched from other rooms, clearly glad just to be near their long-lost friends as the hours pass them by.

Eventually, even Mustang's rank cannot keep the Healers from shooing them out as the sky darkens outside; both boys, though not seriously injured, still need their rest if they are planning on leaving so quickly. The lead Healer—a nice enough man, from what Sirius can tell, but the no-nonsense sort—exchanges words with Mustang and the others before pointing emphatically at the door, saying something else.

Sirius narrows his eyes, turning the man's words over in his head, but he doesn't understand any part of it.

"He said you guys can come back tomorrow," Ed says helpfully, tugging a bit on his sleeve to get his attention, "but the bastard's kicking you out now. Says we need to recover."

Sirius nearly laughs at the rather disgusted tone, but then stops short as he realizes—he has nowhere to go. Being homeless is not a new concept to him; as miserable as it would be, he's sure he would be able to find a nice street corner to sleep on, maybe even sneak into a hotel room—

(He'd spend the night as a dog, but he can't, not anymore, and he chases the thought away almost the moment it enters his head. He doesn't have time to lose himself in what he no longer has.)

But Mustang seems to have realized his problem, too; he's suddenly in front of him, considering him carefully before finally turning to Ed and saying something in Amestrian. "He says you can spend the night at his flat," Ed says quickly, turning to Sirius and nodding. "For as long as we're still here."

Sirius hesitates—he's leery of accepting charity from anyone, even if he has no money and no knowledge of this world—but really, it'd be stupid to turn down such a generous offer. So he smiles at Mustang tentatively, nodding his thanks, and after they've said their good-byes to the Elrics, the rest of them leave the hospital.

After a quick drive back to the military headquarters to pick up their individual cars, Sirius is sitting shotgun in Mustang's vehicle, staring awkwardly out the window as the other man drives in silence. Cars are strange things, he thinks; he's ridden in them once or twice, when he was young, and Remus' mother allowed them to borrow hers for joyrides...but it's been so many years, now, and he finds himself jumping at every application of the brakes, every turn and acceleration and—

(This world—the Muggle, Amestrian world—will take some getting used to.)

Eventually, Mustang parks his car outside an old apartment building, opening the door and gesturing for Sirius to follow him. A few flights of stairs later, they're entering Mustang's flat, and Sirius finds himself looking around curiously as the other man pulls off his coat, hanging it in a closet and heading further inside.

He's not sure what he expected of a non-magical home (he's never been in one, not even the Evans' small house that James visited so often), but it's not all that different from a magical one. True, there aren't any dishes washing themselves, or knitting needles hovering in midair, or house elves or cursed cabinets or—

It still looks like a home—like any normal home—and he feels himself relaxing at the familiarity of it all before following Mustang into the kitchen.

It's a tiny flat—not unlike the one Sirius lived in after he left Hogwarts—but Mustang moves around it easily, squinting at Sirius for a moment before nodding to himself and turning toward an overhead cupboard, pulling out a large pot. Soon enough, there's water boiling on the stove (Sirius doesn't know what's powering the heat if not magic, but has no way of asking, so he only files it away for later), and Mustang is pulling boxed pasta from the pantry, holding it up toward Sirius in question.

Honestly, Sirius is so hungry by this point that he doubts he'd turn anything down. (After all, the last meal he ate was breakfast, early this morning, before they went to the Department of Mysteries...and this has been one of the longest days of his life.) So he shrugs and nods, and Mustang turns back toward the stove, dumping the noodles into the water. Sirius seats himself at the small table, staring around the kitchen curiously.

They eat dinner in a not-quite-awkward silence; Sirius digs into the pasta heartily, looking at Mustang in question for only a moment before taking seconds and then thirds. The younger man, apparently full after only one helping, looks rather bemused as Sirius finishes off the rest of the pot. He eventually sets his fork down and grins sheepishly over at Mustang, but he waves him off with a laugh.

Soon enough, the two of them are washing dishes, crowded around the cramped sink and small drying rack. Sirius hasn't done this the Muggle way in years—come to think of it, he's not entirely sure he's ever done it like this. After all, when he was younger, they had Kreacher for all the household duties, and by the time he moved out, he was close enough to legal that he didn't bother with restrictions, especially living in the Potters' house...

The dishes are done quickly, though, and Mustang gives him another considering look before gesturing for Sirius to follow him down a short, narrow hallway. They pass what looks like a broom cupboard and a bathroom before they enter a small bedroom; Mustang motions to the bed, and Sirius immediately realizes what he's trying to say—

You stay here tonight. Which means Mustang will have to take the couch, as there could not possibly be another bedroom in this tiny flat.

Sirius will have none of it.

He scowls at Mustang, shaking his head, pointing emphatically at the other man and then at the bed. Mustang—strangely enough—rolls his eyes and smirks before simply turning around, shutting the door behind him as he leaves the room.

Stubborn bastard... But honestly, he's too exhausted to argue (and it's not like they could have a proper argument, anyway), so he only pulls off his boots and outer layers, sending a cursory glance around the room before plopping down on the bed. His wand juts out from his back pocket (Mad-Eye would have his head—but he shoves that away quickly, not wanting to lose himself in memories in the darkness of a stranger's home), and he pulls it out, simply holding it in his hands as he stares blankly.

For thirty-six years, magic—his own, inherent, magical ability—has been an essential part of his life. He's never imagined one without it: a life without charms and jinxes, without Apparition, without Floo Powder and Hogwarts—a life without his Animagus form...

(But he never imagined a life without James and Remus and Peter either, and yet, here he is.)

He shakes his head like it will do anything to clear it, setting his wand down gingerly on the bedside table before lying down. Even if it's nothing more than a stick now—to him and to everyone else in this world—he doesn't think he's willing to part with it.

His sleep that night is restless and troubled.

.

.

Roy honestly doesn't mind sleeping on the couch that night; after all, if this man, Sirius, is truly the reason the Elrics are back home...he deserves anything and everything they have to offer. Giving up his bedroom is the least he can do.

He wakes early even without an alarm, but is reluctant to rise when his head is still so comfortable on the couch. He remembers everything that happened yesterday in startling clarity, and knows he should probably get up soon in order to visit the hospital. (The Elrics' teacher, after all, took an overnight train, and he should be there to run damage control before she arrives.) He has a guest in the house who somehow speaks a language he cannot understand, and who—if his bony hands and ravenous appetite the night before are any indication—needs to be stuffed full of food as soon as possible...

Maybe he'll call Gracia, see if she'd be willing to have everyone over for dinner. At the very least, she'd want to know that the Elrics have returned.

God, there are so many people that need to be notified—Fuhrer Grumman, of course, will need to know—and Ed's inevitable resignation will have to go through him, too, before the boys can ship themselves back to Resembool. Armstrong—both of them—the Hugheses, those Xingese children who have long since returned to their own country—

Hell, they might as well put it in the papers, because there aren't many who didn't mourn the Elrics' disappearance.

He hears some quiet rattling in the kitchen, realizes Sirius must be up and attempting to make breakfast. And though he's sure the older man knows how to cook well enough, his stove can be finicky...so he decides to intervene before he accidentally burns the last of his bacon.

It's several moments before he's able to convince himself to roll to his feet, though, and he's still bleary-eyed and yawning as he makes his way into the kitchen. Sirius is indeed standing in the middle of the room, frying pan in hand, with several eggs cracked into it...but that's all he's doing. He apparently hasn't even attempted to turn the stove on, and is staring at Roy with a bit of a sheepish grin, offering him the pan with a shrug.

Maybe his country doesn't have stoves, somehow? Or maybe his has just flat-out died and they're going to have to resort to cereal. Roy is honestly too tired to care. Stifling another yawn into his left hand, he accepts the eggs without question, shuffling toward the stove and turning the dial experimentally.

It works. Excellent. Hot food for breakfast always wakes him up.

He moves toward the coffee machine, too, almost pulling down two mugs before remembering Sirius' rather spectacular reaction to the drink the day before. So instead he only grabs one, gestures toward the refrigerator for Sirius to pick whatever drink he wants, and waits for the machine to pour him his caffeine.

The morning isn't awkward—not that the night before was, exactly, but it was a little strange to share dinner with someone you've barely met, whom you can't communicate with, and who has apparently saved two of your friends' lives. Maybe it's because Roy is still half-asleep now as he shuffles around the kitchen, but it seems almost natural to have Sirius there too, buried in the fridge, digging around for something to drink.

Eventually he emerges with the gallon of orange juice, accepting a cup from Roy just as the coffee machine starts in earnest. Soon enough, the eggs are done, and the two of them sit down for a quick breakfast. Sirius' shaggy hair is wet from a shower, but he's wearing the clothes he had on yesterday—Roy realizes suddenly that the man had nothing with him when they arrived, and if he needs to stay in the country, he'll need clothes, money, identification...

Maybe he can convince Riza to take care of all of that. Even after all this time, he hates paperwork with an overwhelming passion.

Soon enough, they're done with the eggs, and Roy ducks down the hall to wash up and change before he and Sirius get in the car. Roy called Headquarters last night, after he shooed Sirius into his room, and explained that he (and, likely, his whole team) would be taking the next day or two off. Grumman's secretary had sounded irritated, but had only said that the Fuhrer would be notified before hanging up.

Roy snorts at the memory. Even Grumman—ever the scheming bastard—will be pleased to hear the news.

Sirius shoots him a odd look, for he can't possibly know what he's thinking about...but Roy only shakes his head before pulling onto the main street.

(He hopes the Elrics teach this man to speak Amestrian soon...because he seems like someone Roy would get along with very well.)

They don't speak during the car ride, but Roy watches Sirius out of the corner of his eye as the older man tenses at every turn, every time he accelerates and every time he brakes. His fingers are wrapped tightly around the edge of the seat, and Roy doesn't doubt he'll be glad to get out of the car once they arrive.

Why? Is his country so backwards that they don't even have cars? He resolves to ask the Elrics later.

When they get there, the hospital is still standing, so Roy assumes Hawkeye hasn't yet arrived with the Curtises. Mrs. Curtis is not a force to be trifled with, and he knows she treats the Elrics like she would her sons. And her idea of parenthood—well—it definitely makes Roy glad she's not his mother.

Sirius' face splits into a wide grin as they walk back into the Elrics' room, and he makes a beeline for the boys' beds, leaving Roy to trail behind him. Soon enough, the three of them are speaking briefly in Sirius' language, only sparing a moment for Roy and the others—Falman, Fuery, Havoc, and Breda are already here. Soon enough, all of them are engrossed in a lively conversation about all that the boys have missed, but Roy knows it's only the calm before the storm. He can see the way Al's hands are clenching the bedsheets tightly, the way Ed's eyes keep flickering toward the door, and knows exactly what is coming for them. It's only a matter of time.

Sure enough, maybe half an hour after Roy and Sirius arrive, there is suddenly a huge amount of yelling from downstairs—and the Elrics freeze immediately, cutting off mid-sentence to stare at the closed ward door, the color quickly fading from their faces. Sirius looks equally terrified—though he's never met the woman, he's apparently heard enough about her to understand exactly what he's gotten himself into.

God help us all.

All too soon, the door slams open—a familiar woman in a white dress and house slippers storms in, fury practically rolling off her in waves, and Fuery and Havoc instinctively shrink back from her rampage. Sirius—Roy is impressed—stands his ground, next to Al's bed, though his eyes are wide and his face is bloodless.

Ed and Al, on the other hand, look as though they've just signed their own death warrants. Roy resigns himself to paying for the funeral.

But instead of destroying them all, she only stands in the middle of the room, her husband a few steps behind; nobody dares to break the tense silence...not until she crosses to their beds in several long strides, and something Roy would call a sob echoes through the room as she pulls Alphonse into a hug.

Al seems just as surprised as the rest of them, but just as soon as they've all realized what is happening, Izumi pulls back, delivering a solid punch to his less-injured shoulder with a growl before turning to the elder brother. Ed shrinks back into his pillow, his face pale as the sheets, but he receives the same treatment: a bear hug that he tentatively returns, and a solid punch to the left shoulder that sounds incredibly painful.

Well. Roy can guess with some certainty that Izumi's relief at seeing them alive has kept at bay any homicidal tendencies...at least for now. But he doesn't feel safe relaxing just yet, not when she steps back from the bed, regards the military officers with barely-concealed contempt (and Sirius with unspoken curiosity), and says, "You two have thirty seconds to explain to me why you had us worried sick before I'm forced to extend your hospital stay."

Breda flinches out of the corner of Roy's eye, and if possible, the Elrics' faces lose even more color. "And who the hell he is," she adds as an afterthought, jerking her head toward Sirius with barely a glance in his direction. "Unless he's another of your idiot Colonel's new recruits."

Technically he's a brigadier general now, but Roy doesn't dare to correct her, not when she's on such a rampage. Ed and Al stare at her for a moment before turning toward each other, sharing a silent conversation before they start talking at the same time—

"See, Al got pulled back to the Gate when the Homunculus—"

"I'm not sure what exactly happened, but we woke up in a—"

"They were weird, didn't speak any languages we can understand—"

"But then Pride was there—"

"Stop! Stop," Mrs. Curtis says finally, shutting them up immediately; Roy can even hear their jaws click shut. She rubs her forehead for a moment before saying, "One of you, from the beginning, slowly."

Five minutes—and a fantastical story that Roy wouldn't believe had he not seen their deathly serious faces—later, they've all been, apparently, caught up in where the Elrics have been for the past seven months...

And, well, damn.

That explains Sirius' strange appearance and incomprehensible language, at the very least...but of all the explanations Roy's mind has come up with, this was definitely not one of them. Parallel universes? Really? His mind immediately runs through the physical implications of such things, whether it would even be possible—and his head is pounding only moments later. Did the Elrics actually figure out the logistics of such things, or just leave it be? Though they wouldn't have had a lot of time for such theories, if Pride's presence was as terrifying as they've made it out to be...

"How does that even work, though?" Havoc asks into the silence that's pervaded the room. "Aren't there—you know—alchemy things that make that impossible?"

Izumi huffs, rolling her eyes, but Al shrugs and says quickly, before she can interrupt, "We started looking into it, but then once...everything started, we really didn't have much time to think about it."

"Right," Jean says agreeably, leaning back into the wall and pointedly avoiding Izumi's glare. "Well, just thought I'd ask. You guys're the geniuses, after all."

Ed huffs as well, though he preens like a peacock like he does every time someone gives them a compliment. (Roy's forgotten he's missed this; but he's glad that even after so much has happened...some of it has stayed the same.) "The important thing is that we're back, right?" the boy says with a shrug. "Winry'll have a cow when we go back home. And—" his face contorts slightly as he cuts himself off, and it's a moment before he continues, "and what about our old man, anyway? He still in Resembool? I'll have to kick his ass, too—"

Roy feels himself go very still, even as the others in the room stiffen around him. They haven't told the boys: Hohenheim, truly the only one able to stand up to the Homunculus, had brought that monster down with the military's help, but it had been too much...his Stone had finally been used up.

There had been nothing any of them could do to save him, even as Ling Yao and Doctor Marcoh had both offered their own Stones. Hohenheim had refused them both—"I've lived far too long...use those for a good purpose...one that will make a difference."

He had died with grief clear in his voice, mourning the loss of his sons who—he thought—were far beyond any of their grasps.

"...Your father," Izumi says, and her voice is so subdued that both Elrics immediately stiffen, their eyes snapping to her, "defeated the Homunculus, but...it cost him his life. He is buried beside your mother; Mrs. Rockbell said that is what he would have wanted."

Neither of them say anything for a moment, and Roy wonders with an uncomfortable jolt whether they are going to cry. He wouldn't fault them for it—even if they were never the closest with their father, he's still blood, and hearing of his death must be a cruel shock...but he's never seen Edward cry (and, truly, is still getting used to seeing Alphonse's face), and he's not sure he'd know what to do with them, should such news bring them to tears.

But he should have known better; though Al's face has gone suspiciously blank and his eyes are brighter than normal, Ed's features only twist down into a frown, glaring daggers at the opposite wall as he says, "Useless excuse for a father...serves him right."

Everyone pretends not to hear the way his voice cracks, pretends not to see the tears forming in his eyes.

(And that's the end of that, even if it's really not.)

.

.

Sirius still can't really communicate in Amestrian at all, but that first day, the Elrics' teacher comes up to him as they're leaving the hospital—and he has to force himself not to cringe away, because her right hook had been impressive, back in the hospital room. But she does not look at all angry; Sirius knows that the Elrics explained to the rest of them what happened, caught a few words he understood—his own name among them—so he shouldn't be surprised when she only smiles at him, relief in her eyes, and says, "Thank you."

The Amestrian words for you're welcome, or it was no trouble (even though it was, and there is still a physical ache in his chest that he is sure will never go away), or those boys are worth it (because they are, and that's the whole reason he's here in the first place) are far beyond his grasp, but he smiles back at her all the same, offering his hand.

Her hand is calloused as she shakes it, her grip unexpectedly strong, but the respect is clear in her face and in her stance, and Sirius nods to her and her husband (he could be Hagrid's brother) as they walk away with Breda, toward one of the military cars.

If this is the woman who taught the Elrics nearly everything they know...then he's not surprised that they've turned out the way they have.

.

He's been in this universe for almost a week, now—staying at Mustang's flat, slowly starting to learn this strange language, and adjusting himself to the fact that he is stranded here—when the Elrics are finally released from the hospital.

Sirius suspects that Ed had a say in it being so early (a rather loud and threatening say), because Al is still half-wrapped in bandages, and Ed has been forced to use a crutch under his left arm until he can get back to his mechanic. Ed's grumbled to him about the doctors going on about the danger of nicked arteries and nerve damage, about how their worries are unfounded because honestly, if the automail was going to kill me it would have a long time ago...but Sirius has to admit that they probably have a point, and it's better to be cautious.

(And Ed's evidently decided this as well...because if he hadn't, he wouldn't be using the crutch at all.)

The boys are discussing something with Havoc excitedly as Mustang drives, and Sirius thinks he'd be able to catch more of the conversation if only they would slow down. He doesn't really mind, though; he's slowly grown comfortable with the others, even if communication is limited. Wherever they're headed—because Mustang had shoved him, the Elrics, the Curtises, and the rest of the team into several cars and simply started driving—he supposes it must be someplace safe.

(His wand is still in the inside pocket of his robes, and it brings him some sort of irrational comfort, even though he knows he cannot ever use it again.)

Eventually, they all arrive outside a nice-looking apartment building, and everyone piles out of the cars and makes their way upstairs. Ed grumbles, awkwardly keeping weight off his left leg as he ascends the staircase, while Al explains to Sirius quickly that they're going to meet some of their friends.

So when they finally make it to the door, and Mustang rings the bell, Sirius is expecting to see someone perhaps the boys' age, or a little older...not a cannonball of pastel dress and brown pigtails that barely reaches his knees, careening past him to attach herself onto Ed's legs, nearly knocking him over.

"Uncle Ed!" she shrieks, and the joy so obvious on her face makes Sirius grin as well despite his surprise. The woman who follows the girl to the door is a bit more sedate in her greetings, but the happiness and relief are clear on her face as she takes in Ed, who has carefully knelt down, giving the girl a tight hug. The woman invites the lot of them inside, though not without sending Sirius a curious, guarded glance, and staring at Al in surprise.

From what he can gather from Ed's hurried explanation, the woman—Mrs. Hughes—was the wife of Mustang's best friend, and that she makes the best damn quiche in any universe. Sirius isn't so sure about that—both Mrs. Potter's and Molly Weasley's quiches were delicious enough to kill for, after all—but he'll give Gracia a fighting chance, especially as, after listening for several minutes to indecipherable chatter, he finds himself greeted with a brilliant smile (someone has, evidently, explained who he is), and a plate laden with food is shoved into his hands.

The little girl—Elysia—has stayed attached to Ed's side for much of the initial greetings, though she stares curiously at Al in a way that has Sirius thoroughly confused. Surely, if she knows Ed, she must know Al? The brothers are inseparable, after all, and he's sure that it was not just confined to their time in England.

"Why's she looking at you like that?" he asks Al in an undertone...though it's not as if anyone but Ed would understand them, anyway. "Does she not recognize you?"

Al's face crumples for a moment, and he's silent before he finally opens his mouth—"It's...complicated. Before we wound up in England, I didn't exactly look the way I do now."

"Right," he says quickly, for he clearly remembers the emaciated, long-haired boy that first appeared in his kitchen. "But—"

Just then, he feels a tugging at his pant leg, and he looks around to see Elysia staring up at him with a small pout on her face, her little brows crinkled in concentration as she stares up at both him and Al. When she finally says something, the only thing Sirius can catch is "Ed"—but luckily, Al laughs and answers her, leaning over to Sirius quickly—

"She wants to know who you are and why you're so skinny, and why I look so much like Ed."

Sirius laughs as well (though that same line from so many others—a worried Remus, a horrified Molly, a Poppy Pomfrey beside herself with confusion and concern—echoes through his mind, and despite all their best efforts, he's never fully regained the weight he lost in Azkaban) and smiles kindly down at Elysia. Honestly, he's a bit out of his depth here—he spent a lot of time babysitting Harry, true, but he was much younger than this girl. He saw Tonks, of course, when she was small—but Andromeda had eventually forced herself to cut ties as the war raged on, for the safety of her family.

He doesn't blame her, of course. Nymphadora (he can almost feel the slap upside his head from his cousin's rebuttal) had been very young at the height of the war. But such limited exposure means he really has no idea what to do with small children, especially those who don't speak the same language as him—

Elysia seems to have decided for him, though, because she clambers up onto the couch before plopping unceremoniously onto his lap. She stares up at him for a moment before offering him her plate of quiche, her face daring him to disagree. Sirius glances up at the Elrics—and a passing Havoc—and sees the wide grins on their faces, before shrugging and nodding, taking the plate from the girl and digging in.

It is good, he will admit —though he thinks James' mother's was better—and he eats it heartily under Elysia's watchful eye. When he's scraped the last bits of food off the plate, Elysia nods her approval and hops down to the ground, hurrying back to the kitchen—probably to get him some more.

He turns to Al rather despairingly, but the boy only laughs at his expression. "She's stubborn when she wants to be—don't expect to get yourself out of this one unless Mrs. Hughes tells her to stop."

Sirius snorts, resigning himself (without any true regret) to such a fate, and watches as Elysia returns to the sitting room, another full plate of food held carefully in her small hands.

He casts his gaze around the room as the Elrics are drawn into other conversations, taking in the homey space and its lively occupants. Displayed prominently above the mantle—upon which a folded green flag rests in a place of honor—is a large portrait of Elysia, Mrs. Hughes, and a dark-haired man with glasses. All three of them have wide smiles on their faces, and the adoration is clear in the man's eyes as he stands with his family.

"That's Papa," Elysia says quietly from her place in his lap, following his gaze, and her voice is so suddenly somber that Sirius turns, alarmed. She continues speaking, staring at the picture of the man who can only be her father, but Sirius cannot pick out more than a few words; he does his best to listen, to understand, but his Amestrian is rudimentary at best, and he has no idea—

But there are tears on the girl's face, now, and his eyes widen as he tries to figure out what to do. Clearly, something happened to the girl's father—recently, as she's not much older now than she is in the portrait. And he has no idea what she's continuing to talk about (as her voice is choked with tears), but he puts his plate aside, carefully wipes her cheeks with his sleeve, and hugs her tight to his chest, humming a song Lily used to sing to Harry.

Maybe this isn't what he's supposed to do with toddlers, but it's all he knows...and from the way Elysia's holding tight to the front of his robes, he thinks it's the right thing to do.

(And he does his best to hold back his own tears as well, because the last time he saw a man look at his wife and child with such an expression of love, it had been his best friend...and the striking similarities between this man's and James' appearances hurt him more than he wants to admit aloud.)

.

.

When Al returns to the couch a little later (figuring he should save Sirius from Elysia's iron will before the girl drags him into something too insane), he finds a slumbering Elysia with a loose grip on Sirius' robes—and a lightly dozing Sirius, a few tear tracks marring his face and his arms wrapped around the girl protectively.

Al only stares for a moment before shaking his head and smiling sadly, deciding to leave them be for now...because no matter how disquieted Sirius' expression has been this whole time he's been in Amestris, this is possibly the most calm he's ever seen him.

Maybe, at least for a little while, the man can pretend that everything will be all right.