Title-Bullets and Gold

Author- D M Evans

Disclaimer - Arakawa owns all. I'm just having fun.

Summary - She's trading one type of metal for another.

Author's Note - written for the picfor100's 2013 challenge.

Her life didn't turn out exactly as planned, though Riza suspected most people's didn't. When she had been younger, Riza'd known exactly what she'd wanted. All of her friends wanted Prince Charming, but even as a young girl, she was too practical to think there was such a thing as a Prince Charming. She was going to go to school, marry an engineer or maybe an architect, and they'd have a wonderful house and a nice little family. What she wasn't going to do was fall for an alchemist. She had seen how that went for her mother, knew all too well what her father and his friends, the few he actually had, were like.

When she met her father's first and only apprentice, there was no change in her opinion about alchemists. Young Mr. Mustang had been arrogant and overconfident about both his looks and his intelligence. The more she ignored him, the more it drove him crazy. It was a game she enjoyed, and it took a couple years before she realized that he liked it, too. He seemed to enjoy her bossing him around. That had given her an unexpected taste of power.

Any sense of power fled when her father died. That was the truly pivotal moment of her life. The choices she made then shaped her more than anything that came before it. Sharing her secret with Roy, following him into the military, getting swept up into an unjust war, all of it could be traced back to those moments of vulnerability standing next to her father's fresh-dug grave.

From that point, her life became blue wool and brass casings with their silvery tips. Once, Rebecca had given her a set of bullets, silver casings and coppery tips. They weren't particularly usable, but they had been oddly pretty. They were a remembrance of some achievement she had earned, another ribbon for her uniform. She and Rebecca had been mildly amused that the two best shots in their class were women. Riza had never imagined she would take to the gun like she had. She had never even imagined holding a gun. She had considered many careers, librarian, surgeon, teacher depending on the time of year someone asked. She never would have thought 'I'm going to be a sniper.'

But she had been frighteningly good at it. It wasn't a skill that brought much peace of mind, quite the opposite. The only time she was even remotely glad to have such skill with a weapon was when she was protecting her people. Still, her life had been defined by brass, lead and gunpowder. The decorative bullets Rebecca had given her were hidden in a drawer, a reminder of things good and bad that bullets embodied for Riza.

Today she would exchange those base metals for something a little grander. She still couldn't believe how big this day had become. It was because Roy was being groomed to be the next Fuhrer. It really wasn't how she wanted it, but understood the need for the big and showy aspects. What came afterwards was exactly to her plan and that was enough to make her happy.

Riza took a deep breath, staring down the aisle to where General Armstrong stood, waiting to begin. Next to her, pale-faced and nearly as terrified looking as if he was about to face a firing squad, Roy had in his pocket the precious metal that would define the second half of Riza's life.

Her gaze swept over the gathering, picking out targets as she had been trained to do. The Elrics were in attendance, Alphonse looking dapper and Edward uncomfortable but not as uncomfortable as his very pregnant wife. Winry beamed in spite of it. Chris Mustang was happy her boy was about to get married, less thrill about him being Fuhrer, dragging her too much into the picture. Havoc, Rebecca, Falman, Breda and Fuery were all there, of course, and even a representative from Xing.

For a brief moment, Riza missed her mother and father more keenly than she had in years. They would have wanted to be here. She wore her mother's opal earrings, one of the few things she had kept from her childhood, as much for their beauty as for sentiment. At least her grandfather was still here, ready to present her to her new husband. Presentation was, in its way, the silliest part of all of this. If there was any man in this world she knew deep to his bones, it was Roy. She would have been happy with writing their name in the registry and simple, private ceremony with just their closest friends.

In the end, what mattered was they no longer had to hide what they meant to each other. She would protect him right from his side now. Of course, there would be talk about them in the future, but Riza didn't care. Roy didn't know their time alone would be cut short, but she would tell him about the baby after the honeymoon. She knew he would take the news with nothing short of utter joy.

She hadn't wanted to do the wedding processional in a gown. Roy got to wear dress blues, but she had resigned, so a gown it was. Now Riza was glad of it. The sweeping dress hid her trembling legs. Why she was nervous when she couldn't be happier, she couldn't say. This was what they waited years for, sacrificed so much time and blood for. They were going to shape their world, their country, and they were going to do it together. Staring down the aisle, at Roy's nervous face, Riza locked arms with her grandfather. She was ready. Roy's expression reminded her of the day they'd first met, when he was so afraid, yet proud to be her father's apprentice.

The gold band he'd slip on her finger meant nothing. It was the love she knew he had for her that mattered and always would.