Author's Note: The end of all. Moments in time after the end of the story. A fitting epilogue, I think. Thank you, everyone, who has reviewed, favorited, and followed this story. Thank you for every comment, every observance, every moment you have spent with me on this exploratory narrative. I thank you. Over and over again, I thank you.
Disclaimer: I do not own FMA or any other referenced materials, plain and simple. All non-original content is owned by all respective copyright owners. This is not being produced for money but rather for my own amusement.
Chapter Relevant References: The Hobbit
Reviews: Thanks to everyone that has reviewed, followed, and favorited over the entirety of this story.
Totals up to the final chapter. This does not include the reviews, follows, and favorites that I will possibly receive on this chapter (and yes, I suspect I will receive a few more story follows for this). I have had 313 reviews, 300 follows, 317 favorites, and been added to 5 communities as of October 11, 2016. This is the last time I'll be doing this, obviously, and I appreciate all you have done. All remarks on this chapter will be responded to through PMs if there is a signed in username involved. If not, I'm sorry and I thank you for your review.
Epilogue – Snapshots:
Evelyn learned very quickly that being a mother was not easy. Alex was a fussy baby and she bounced him in her arms as she tried to out-stubborn his crying. It was, honestly, a contest of wills with a colic baby. But she knew he'd outgrow it soon enough. All her research said this. She tried everything she knew of. She walked him about. She made sure he was burped. She checked his diaper often. Her only option left was one she could not do, which was to drive around until he passed out. As it was, she walked around and patted him on the butt and prayed he'd just go to sleep.
It hurt seeing her son upset and it didn't change the fact she was strung out because, hey, being a stay-at-home mom meant she had to deal with his crying all the time. Thankfully, her dad would come to take her son from her, giving her some time to recoup. She'd never been like this as a baby and she knew it. Amy had even said that Peter hadn't been that way. But he'd outgrow it. She knew that.
She just had to keep telling herself that.
It was putting pressures on her marriage, unfortunately. With the constant crying, Peter was not coping well. There had been arguments as of late and, while makeup sex was very well and good, it hurt to have those arguments. She and Peter had argued in the past. They'd gone head-to-head over the stupidest of things including but not limited to the tongue piercing. They'd surmounted worse arguments.
But the bawling mess that was their son made it very, very hard.
"Hush little baby," she murmured in a sing-song. "Don't say a word. Mama's gonna buy you a mockingbird." He cried though he started stilling a bit at the sound of her song. Oh, this was just not right. All this time and it took her singing to find the appropriate button to shut him up? Why didn't she think of that before? "And if that mockingbird don't sing, Mama's gonna buy you a diamond ring." His little eyes had begun to shift colors, which was sad because she could see them edging darker than the blue Peter's eyes were. "And if that diamond ring turns brass, Mama's gonna buy you a looking glass."
She could feel her father coming up behind her. She glanced at him, her voice faltering. He seemed pleased and a bit bemused. Immediately, Alex began to fuss again and he smiled at her. "I think you need to keep singing," he suggested. Her eyes turned to Alex and she began again, quieting her son.
It was a beautiful day when Alexander managed to outgrow his colic. The way it happened was rather annoying, though. It seemed all she had to do was leave her son in the care of her grandmother while she had to take a quick trip to East City at the behest of Roy for a job. She didn't even know it because, guess what? She was in another city.
But she came back to a changed baby. "What did you do?" she asked of Peter who was holding his son without the usual strained look in his eyes though there was still some caution.
"I didn't do anything!" he protested. "I came to get him after work when you went off to East City and… he wasn't crying. Granny must have done something to fix him."
When she went to ask, the old woman merely laughed. "I didn't do anything, Ed. He was just fine with me." So, Evelyn went looking for answers. Nothing but the environment had changed. She hadn't been present at all when this magic switch was flipped. Her son had stopped with the colic and she was dumbfounded.
"Don't fret over it," advised Samantha sagely.
"He's not at all a problem to deal with," offered the heavily pregnant Winry. "I don't mind watching him now and again."
And she felt like she was left holding the bag and a part of some very large joke. But, like suggested, she just went with it. Alex seemed rather glad she was there again, burrowing into her arms and actually cooing a bit. It was insanely adorable and she had to admit privately to herself that she fell in love with him again.
So, late one evening two days after she'd come back, she felt a kiss on her shoulder while she was cuddling her son. She knew who kissed her. She knew what he was silently asking. Even with the fresh horror of colic, the thought of having a tumble didn't really sound all that bad. Not to mention, that kiss had warmed her down to her toes.
And she definitely missed that kiss and all the other goodies that came with that kiss. She shifted, lifting her head, and was rewarded with that idiot husband of hers that she loved for seeming no good reason kissed her on the lips. She shivered and earned a laugh from him. "Let me go put Alex down," he murmured, pecking at her again. "And you get ready."
"Sounds nice," she purred.
A few minutes later, after having delicately put their son to bed, Peter was infinitely unimpressed as he surveyed Evelyn now asleep in their bed. "C'mon!" he whined petulantly.
So many images on these pages… So many moments. She spent so much time showing pictures to Selim and then to Alex as he got big enough to sit up somewhat in her lap. The little dark haired, amber eyed boy didn't understand all that he saw but that was okay because he would one day understand.
"That's what your Uncle Al looked like when he was fifteen," she would tell her son, her husband framing her other side as he toyed with her hair. "Wasn't he awful thin?"
"You weren't much better, love."
"I know, right?" she drawled. The one-year-old in her lap burbled, blowing a bubble from between his lips as he reached curiously at the photos. She grinned at the curiosity. Selim was just burrowed into her side, glad to have the warmth. He had indeed become the protector of this little family, frightening in many rights due to his shadows though he was happy to stay right next to the ones he had come to value as his people. And, honestly, Evelyn didn't mind that. She also had realized she didn't mind being pregnant again. It was awful that she was in some ways. Peter had insisted on another child and she'd willing gave in… It hadn't helped he was such a good kisser.
"What's this one from?" Selim pointed to one of the pictures she'd taken in Aerugo and she frowned. "Who is that guy?" Despite the fact she'd wanted to rid herself of those photos, Peter hadn't allowed her to get rid of a single one because they were important. Every one of them was.
"That was someone Ed dated," Peter told him gently. "But he was stupid because he didn't like how she had scars." Selim looked at his adoptive aunt and frowned.
"Really? He really does sound stupid." Peter chuckled as did Evelyn.
"See? That's why we keep his picture. So we can look at him and call him 'stupid'," joked the father.
"Would you stop that?" she growled. "Seriously. Last thing we need is Alex learning that word." Peter just laughed.
She blinked blankly at the tall man standing on the other side of the door, taking in his face. She saw the other man just behind him. Both of them had longer hair but looked relatively unchanged otherwise… save for what she now knew to be traditional Ishvalan monk garb. "Miles," she said levelly before looking past him again. "Scar."
"Good afternoon, Evelyn," greeted the quarter Ishvalan. "How have you been?"
Achy, swollen feet, seven months pregnant, Alex had been sick two nights ago, Peter was sick now with whatever Alex had caught, and Selim was driving her mad when he decided to skip school…
"Busy," she grunted. "Would you like to come in?" There was a flicker of amazement in Tobias's face though Miles smiled.
"We'd appreciate that." Upon entering the house, the pair looked about and absorbed the details. "You have a good home," complimented Miles. "A large one."
Evelyn smiled a bit at that. "It has to be. There's a lot of people that live here. My husband and son, my parents, my husband's mother, and my nephew. Would you like something to drink?"
"If you are okay with that," tendered Tobias carefully, eyeing her figure.
"I'm fine," she waved off as Sam bustled through only to freeze at the sight of the two strangers.
"Oh… I didn't know we were having company," she murmured, looking between them. "Hello." Her eyes darted to her daughter and Evelyn gestured to her.
"Speaking of parents, this is my mother, Samantha. Mom, this is Miles and… what's your actual name again?"
"Tobias Kaya," grunted the man once known as 'Scar'.
"Tobias," affirmed Evelyn. Sam's eyes narrowed as she took in the scar that still marked the man out.
"You tried to kill my daughter," she growled.
"Mom," warned the golden blonde.
"I did," affirmed Tobias with solemnity and some caution.
"I told you to let it drop," Evelyn pressed.
"Between two lives, Ed! He tried to kill you how many times?"
"And if I was willing to give Envy the fucking benefit of the doubt, then why wouldn't I give it to him, too?!" The two men watched as the women continued to argue, obviously caught between running away and staying politely. Politeness won as Sam, who had become suddenly aware she was agitating her pregnant daughter, glared heatedly before stalking off… possibly to get Brandon to keep an eye on the guests or have some physical backup. Evelyn looked at the pair sourly. "So… tea?"
"We would appreciate that," agreed Miles hesitantly. Tobias seemed subdued though, until he finally spoke.
"I understand why she's upset."
Evelyn sighed as she began to busy herself in the kitchen, missing her parents' return. "What can I say, Scar? Mothers are supposed to be nasty things when their babies are threatened. And in a human's case, such a thing never stops."
"Speaking of… you said you had a son?" Evelyn chuckled and nodded.
"He's napping right now, thank goodness. I needed some time for myself." Catching sight of her parents, she smiled at them. "Unfortunately, Hughes is currently sick and in bed asleep himself and with Aunt Amy at work and everyone else in house fairly self-sufficient, I get to basically sit back and relax… which is only going to get harder as I get closer to time." She patted her belly.
"How far along?" asked Miles, obviously keeping up the conversation.
"Seven months… more or less. It's all downhill here on out." She set out the tray only to hear the faint cry of Alex upstairs. "Uh oh. Someone's up."
"I'll get him," Sam said immediately as Brandon settled at the table, eyeing the two men. Evelyn watched her go, knowing that Sam adored her grandchild immensely.
"So…" Brandon eyed the two men speculatively. "You're Miles and… Scar?" The scarred Ishvalan nodded along with the military man.
"It is Tobias now," admitted the reformed man.
"Ah… So, what do you do now, Tobias?" The two men looked at each other carefully, obviously weighing each other.
"I'm helping rebuild my home country and my people," admitted the Ishvalan. "It's a task that will likely take the rest of my life."
"I'm sure it will."
Their second child was just as pretty as the first in Evelyn's opinion. Peter was already head over heels in love, just like he'd been for his first child. This one was a little girl, though, and they had named her Samantha Jane, causing her mother to tear up almost instantly. Brandon was so excited, too, being able to be a grandfather and have more than one child around. It was clear that Alex was normal and not like Evelyn at all though still smart. Evelyn herself had been named godmother to Winry's firstborn, a little girl she and Kayal had named Sara Lynn.
There was suddenly an abundance of children and it was such a warm environment. Selim had become somewhat territorial with them all, as had old Den who had come to accept the homunculus being around as it was clear they were both intent on protecting the children. In fact, unlike with Greed, the old girl liked Selim a good deal. Den and Selim were becoming quite the guardians as they had no issues with the other minding the babies.
It had instigated quite a number of photographs between little hands grasping at hair or tail or ears and the gentleness of the two in keeping those hands from hurting. Selim even seemed to be resigned when the babies deigned him suitable to teethe on but his eyes were warm despite the indignity.
"It's rather astonishing, really." Distracted from her observance of the little ones, Evelyn blinked at Grumman. He'd come to do his usual checkup and had been amazed when he'd seen the homunculus toying with the children gently with his shadows, careful to keep it to only shadowy hands. "That you trust him so much," he continued soberly.
"Didn't I tell you that he just wanted to be loved?" she returned.
"Don't you consider him a danger?"
"To anything threatening those children, yes," she admitted bluntly. "I suspect whoever decides to date those girls are going to be scared witless of shadows for a very long time." Grumman gave her a startled look before chuckling.
Peter could not be trusted, Evelyn decided. Could not be trusted to keep his hands to himself, to keep him from wooing her into bed with him, or even to be remotely sorry for putting her right back pregnant again. Fortunately, she didn't quite have stair step children but it was a very near thing. She decided on top of everything else that she would find a way to prevent a fourth child. Fortunately, after having announced her third pregnancy, Peter agreed.
But without a single bit of apology.
She loved the ass but for someone who didn't want to have children, she had a passel of them. Or would have once she had this one. The only thing that made it better was that Winry was pregnant alongside her this time and the two women had chosen to make their menfolk's lives very interesting by collaborating. And all the women loved it, knowing good and well that they were going to harass the dickens out of the pair of very worried men.
She paused as she watched Alphonse and Mei played with her babies in the living room, Mei pregnant as well though in earlier stages than either Winry or Evelyn were. She briefly recalled the wedding the pair had had and remembered how Mei had worn red because it was lucky. They'd had two ceremonies, truthfully. One had been in Xing for official purposes and for her family there. The other had been here in Resembool out in the party field. It hadn't been quite the same as the other, being more for reaffirmation and a spectacle for the people here and more along traditional Amestrian weddings. Evelyn had stood as 'best man' by Alphonse's side, fortunately not pregnant at the time it had occurred. It had been somewhat nontraditional and Tobias had even made an effort to appear, wanting to show his support for the two young people. He hadn't been the only one, of course. All the chimera (reverted and not) had popped up again, Jerso and Zampano with their families whom everyone got to meet. The Curtises had been there as had Mustang and his family.
And to think, merely a few years ago she'd been in another world worrying about an equation and how to hide that she was a girl…
"Sister?" Jolted from her thoughts, Evelyn looked up at her brother who had Samantha on his hip and a smile on his face.
"What's up, Al?"
"I think someone's in need of a diaper change." She chuckled, knowing good and well why Al was so intent on handing off things like this. He'd have a little one for himself all too soon.
She had three children and an adoptive nephew on the side. Selim was maturing so nicely, though, and the trio of grandparents and the great grandmother had fallen to doting on all grandchildren, which also included Winry and Kayal's two children, Sara and Edward.
Alex looked so much like his daddy, it was ridiculous, but he had amber eyes and that temper that was so very Evelyn. Little Sam, or 'Sammy', was more dirty blonde and had managed an odd blue-brown hazel for her eyes and she was her daddy's princess. Her features favored a good blend of both parents, brow and nose being Evelyn's and chin being Peter's. She looked like she'd be fairly small and was so sweet… mostly. And her final child was another boy and he was so utterly Edward in appearance, it had actually made Pinako do a double take upon his birth. In honor of that, Peter had taken and named his third and youngest James Gavin. James for Edward's middle name and Gavin for Alphonse's middle name.
Winry and Kayal's two munchkins were both blue eyed and blonde haired and both managed to favor Winry in terms of appearance though both had the dirty blonde of Kayal's hair.
Alphonse had even had his first child with his wife, Mei, producing an amazingly adorable mix-race child with tilted dark amber eyes and pretty reddish black hair. Her name was Trisha Minori (which had everyone calling her 'Mine' and totally frustrating Mei) and despite her somewhat fine Xingese features, she was still strongly Alphonse. She was also strongly Elric in nature.
Selim had fine features as he'd grown older and they became more defined, the odd mark upon his head actually fading some as he got older. It looked like it would eventually completely fade out, which was good and was helping his self-confidence immensely. He was, of course, the oldest and was at the moment nine. He was also having difficulty keeping a straight face as he stood there watching a very put-out Sam holding a camera as parents were trying to organize children into a photograph. It was not going well, what with Mine being less than two, Ed and Jim at two, Sam at three, Sara just under five, and Alex at five.
Still, Sam took the picture and dealt with the bad shots, smiling all the while. They were wonderful memories.
"Mooom!" whined James, a full seven years old and Truth it was like looking at Edward. His hair was only a couple tones darker than hers. He tugged on her arm, doing an admirable job of destabilizing her. "Can't we go to Dublith? I wanna see Granny 'Zumi!" Had she dared call Teacher that, she would've been backhanded. Hard. No, Izumi adored the nickname and had encouraged the kids to call her that. Backing up her youngest was Sammy at eight carrying a doll and Alex at ten with those big eyes of his. She lifted her eyes to Amy who was busy laughing, the elder woman starting to have grays in her hair.
"Mooom," Amelia mocked. "Can't we go?" Narrowing her eyes, she smirked at the woman.
"Hey, kids. Whaddaya say to Mama taking you to see Granny 'Zumi?" she asked in saccharine tones only to have Amy pale. Immediately three children turned on her and looked at her hopefully. There was a motion out of the corner of her eye and she turned fast to see a slim shadow slipping away with a fresh-baked cookie she'd just plated. "Selim Bradley!" she shouted. "Put that cookie back before you ruin your dinner!"
It was then that she realized she had made a mistake going after the fourteen-year-old because when she turned, more cookies had vanished and so had her children and Amelia. Palming her face, she sighed. Here she was, thirty years old, wearing glasses for real and not just the frames for memory's sake due to too much reading and Brandon's genetics, and she had three brats running her ragged along with their juvenile grandmother and their co-conspirator homunculus cousin.
"The joys of children."
"Shut it, Mother," she grunted. "Before I sic them on you."
"Do it and I'll take you out, girl." Evelyn grinned at Samantha.
"Don't you dare lie, Mom," she said. "You love them too much to trade it for anything." The fond look that Sam gave her spoke volumes.
"Yes," she murmured. "Yes, I do." Her eyes were warm as she looked at daughter.
She watched as Roy became Fuhrer at forty-eight years old. She watched as his dream was realized, his children standing next to his wife and looking so proud for all he had managed. It was a truly amazing day. Everyone was there, watching. Selim was eighteen and was standing in rank and file as a Private in the military, having chosen to become a part of the institution he had once mouthed about becoming part of. He, too, wanted to become someone to better the country. She was insanely proud of him, too.
Roy looked good. Still looked quite young. Riza was beaming onstage, looking at him with love even if she was off to one side. She knew if she turned her head, she would see so many familiar faces looking to this one man who they had all come to love so much. Once Roy turned to the crowd, Evelyn wasn't sure who erupted into noise first but she heard the explosion of sound and she raised her voice in the cheer, Peter gripping her shoulder and shouting his support as well. She laughed brightly, her kids and her family around her and hooting their glee as well. Roy's gaze moved over them and he smiled a little more as he did so, knowing who they were.
Yes, it had been such a long journey to this point. At some point he had come to learn that she respected him. He had teased her about it before letting it slide and she didn't mind overmuch the teasing. They had become good friends for it, though. She had spent her time doing special jobs for him and for the government in general and had finally wound up returning to the post of State Alchemist even though she didn't test for it. It had been a personal request from him and Grumman had been most pleased when she had had assented. She had enjoyed it to some degree, permitted to do her work at her pace (considering she had children to look after).
But she was so proud right now.
"Three cheers for Fuhrer Annoying!" jeered Evelyn, lifting her glass to the man that had finally been given the chance to kick back after long, convoluted rounds of meets and greets. It was just family now as the kids were running about and playing, Selim was getting his first judicious taste of alcohol and was apparently not too certain about it, and Elicia seemed intent on flirting with the handsome homunculus, much to Peter's conflicted amusement and consternation.
"Evelyn!" admonished her mother, earning a wide-eyed fake-innocent look from the woman.
"What? He knows it's in good fun."
"It's still rude," admonished Roy but she just grinned.
"You'll live." He threw her a smirk. It was such an old game.
"This is a very fine house," Bryan mused, looking about. It was obvious most of the gathered people hadn't ever stepped foot inside the residence before. "Doesn't seem to fit you, though, Roy." The Flame rolled his eyes at Gracia's husband.
"No, it isn't but it's a price to pay."
"Don't complain. You like it," admonished Riza, settling in a chair. She'd let her hair grow out again, letting it fall to mid-back when undone and typically kept in a neat bun. Her two children, one a little older than Alex and the other two years younger, were currently exploring every nook and cranny of the house after having gotten bored with Selim refusing to participate in exploring. He already knew this place well enough and they wouldn't find the secret places without him.
The chatter filled the room and the adults conversed, breaking into smaller clumps and everyone being congenial as alcohol was distributed. Evelyn surveyed the scene. It was one to remember. She could hear Roy lightly needling Selim, looking for answers as to how he was finding military life so far. She saw Riza chattering with Gracia and Breda's wife, Sara, off to one side. Amy sat next to Pinako, Winry on her other side. The great-grandmother was increasingly frail and they knew she would not last much longer but she'd wanted to come. The fallacies of age. In fact, Den had already gone on.
Yes, it was something to remember. She didn't know how much longer it'd last. And she was so glad when they arranged themselves to take a commemorative picture. It took effort to get everyone together, everyone just right. But the result was fantastic.
It was with astonishment when Selim announced he was going to get married. It was with greater astonishment when it registered he'd fallen for a pretty girl that was none other than Elicia Hughes. Peter seemed torn between congratulating the Sergeant Major and attacking him. He settled for congratulating and then threatening, which Selim took in due course. Evelyn, naturally, was proud of her nephew and she had hugged Elicia tightly as well, the girl having grown to be a sweet-faced feminine version of her father. It was like seeing Gracia and Maes all over again, or so Roy had declaimed wryly.
With Selim's voyage into marriage, it seemed Evelyn started slowly losing her babies to that institution as well. She was astonished, honestly, to see them all growing up so fast. Where had they all gone? What had happened to her being pregnant with Alex and not knowing what was to come and being so scared? What had happened to all of that?
But despite this, she was proud. Alex found a good girl, too, and he loved her so much. He was an alchemist himself and James was, too, though Sammy had chosen to become a professional chef. They weren't quite old enough yet to fully follow their dreams but it wouldn't be long.
Evelyn felt suddenly so very old realizing her babies were growing up. She looked to Peter. "Is it wrong I wish they were still toddling about my feet?" Her husband of twenty years smiled, touching her face and being reassuring despite his own knowledge he was also getting older.
"No. It's not. But we know it has to happen sometime."
"I know, but I still dream."
"There's nothing wrong with that, Mom." Turning her eyes to her eldest, she found herself scooped into his arms. She had been smaller than her children, all of whom had grown taller. "We love you, you know. And we want to give you a bunch of grandkids to spoil rotten and love on… just like you did for Grandma, Mama, and Grandpa."
"And Grandma 'Zumi." She laughed.
She stared down at her first grandbaby in her arms. A sweet little girl. She remembered how it felt to hold Alex in her arms like this and this was his girl. This little being was her baby's baby. Soon, Peter had him in his arms and he was smiling, too. It was a shame her parents weren't here to see this. It was shame the older generation had passed on, leaving only they, the new generation of grandparents, to look over their children and children's children. All that was left was old Amy and she was frail now.
"You did a good job, son," smiled Peter, touching at the face. Alex grinned at him.
"No," he disagreed. "Emily did all the hard work." His wife smiled tiredly from the bed, her husband sitting near to her.
"What are you going to name her?" asked Evelyn, reaching out without much thought. She thought the little girl so sweet. She looked so much like her father.
"Alma Joan," offered Emily, making the two grandparents look up in surprise. "Alex wanted your name and… Joan is for my great grandmother."
"A good name," complimented Peter. He smiled at the girl. "We need pictures."
"Not while I'm laid up in this bed, you aren't!" grunted Emily, showing that spunk that had encouraged Alex to fall for her.
"No, first you're gonna give our son back his daughter," hissed Evelyn with good humor, poking her husband in the side and getting a squirm and a smirk. "And then he is going to go show her off to everyone."
"Mom!" groused her son in good natured tones before laughing a bit. "No, no… Can't call you 'Mom' anymore, huh? Gotta call you 'Grandma'." She gave him a sour look.
"Thank you for reaffirming my age, boy."
"Uh oh," Peter said in higher tones that people use with small children as he looked at the sleeping Alma. "Granny's all pissy. What will we do?"
"Hughes!" squawked Evelyn as the others in the room laughed. Alex came forward, taking his child.
"Time to introduce her, I guess."
Full circle indeed. She had a mess of grandchildren at fifty-four and she could not help but love every one of them. Unfortunately, they had been forced to say 'goodbye' to Amelia and all her older friends were moving on in their years. She watched, much as her mother had, as her kids and nephews and nieces tried to wrangle the little ones into a picture. It wasn't working very well.
Peter sat back, laughing at the debacle, and she turned at the sound of it and took a picture. She took pictures because she knew this wouldn't last forever. It was odd, really, to think about. So many years, so long spent. Such a roundabout way of getting here.
She wasn't Edward anymore. She wasn't even the Evelyn who had first come here. She was no longer the alien in an almost-alien world or the young woman that had been heartbroken by that fool in Aerugo. She was more than the girl that had found out she was pregnant or the new mother who was uncertain about everything 'baby'. She was more than a parent fighting a losing war against bull-headed children or the woman who had watched those children grow up. She was different from the woman that had said goodbye to parents and had retired not too long ago finally, earning a substantial pension that would have her and her family comfortable for a while more.
Oh, she was more than all of that.
Finally, she saw Sammy get the last of her children in line and watched Selim bat at a wild strand of hair on young Maes's head only to have his wife laugh and shake her head. It was a losing battle with that hair, Evelyn knew. She watched as Ed, her nephew, grinned impishly as he tweaked the side of Karen, his eldest daughter and got a squeal for his troubles… as well as a chiding from his mother.
"Everyone ready?" she called out and they shifted and agreed, straightening up so that they could look proper. "Good. On three. One… Two… Three!"
Evelyn flipped through the old photo album, smiling softly. It was a lifetime of wonderful images in her opinion. Ones that showed the grace she'd been given in this life. The trail of a finger down her cheek made her look over and she saw Peter sitting there, smiling himself.
"You're so beautiful." She didn't think so much of that anymore. She was getting old and there was more silver than gold in her hair. Peter had gray in his hair, too, and his eyes had gotten weaker with age. But he still thought her pretty and she supposed that was all that counted.
"Old man," she teased gently and felt a thrill when he leaned in to give her a kiss. She met him halfway, knowing good and well each one should be cherished. Separating, she smiled a little more broadly. "But you're my old man."
"Just as you're my old lady," he murmured. "So… now that the kids've gone home…" He tilted his head and grinned. "What do you say to… taking an adventure?"
"How about Calamine? I saw your old pictures and I'd like to see that place."
"Sounds very nice," she mused thoughtfully. "Think they'll let us?"
"They'll probably complain," huffed Peter. "But we're old, hard-of-hearing fogeys. We can ignore them, yeah? What do you say?"
She closed the book and nodded. "Well, Bilbo went on his big adventure at fifty. So why can't we do it a little older at fifty seven and fifty five?" Her husband of nearly forty years grinned broadly, blue eyes sparkling.
"That's the spirit, love. And we don't need a wizard to urge us out the door."
"I miss the kids being underfoot," she mused.
"You're gonna have great-grandkids before you know it, Ed."
"I know, but still. I miss having babies about and little feet and annoying times." She curled into Peter's side and sighed contentedly. "But I've still got my number one annoyance."
"Thanks for calling me an 'annoyance'," he grumbled, rolling his eyes.
"I annoy you. You annoy me. All part of marriage."
Author's Note: Final notes here… Just a few things I'd like to point out.
1.) Hohenhiem was able to have children so it isn't outside the realm of possibility that Selim would be able to have children. Selim is human despite being artificially created and therefore just as able to reproduce as Hohenheim had been able to. That being said, I really sort of hate what I did to Mrs. Bradley. It fits but… I'm not happy with it. However, it is life that tends to throw us curve balls and I refused to make a sappy one-dimensional story with everything easily seen and comprehended offhand (for that is boring and I don't like boring).
2.) Evelyn getting over being a mother was, as mentioned previously, the entire end point I'd started with. Edward Elric would have no doubt been the sort of person to worry about being a good parent after his father had run off. Evelyn had made a vow as to not get pregnant once she realized she was a girl for fear of inflicting her reincarnation problems on others. But sometimes life happens and… Boom. Baby. Baby. Baby. And determination and love all the way.
3.) Winry and Kayal… It had started out as a lark, honest. Just like the entire story, I kind of reviewed what I knew about FMA and went… "Um… who would fit if I had to stick with canon?" The reason I chose Kayal over others was because he had a lot of same personality traits as Edward without the genius. He's impetuous, temperamental, sweet, eager to help, and so on. He works at a coal mine, as a son of an innkeeper, and is well used to labor. Needless to say, he's honest and hardworking, tough as nails and all. The next question was 'how would he meet Winry'? That was simple. All Ed had to do was name drop, there be an accident that involves trauma, and boom… "Let's go to Resembool!" Granted, I could have married Winry off to Alphonse, but I didn't want to honestly. I'm no fan of Mei Chang but I left that as the pairing.
4.) The choice of names. Georgia Bradley, Doctor McGlynn, Tobias Kaya, Sheska Heigermeir, Paninya LeCoulte, Michael Darius, Peter Heinkel. Why, oh, why did I seek to flesh out these people more? Why did I give more to them when Arikawa didn't flesh them out as far as we know? Why? Simple. They needed it. I like these characters. They're 'normal' people supporting the background but I liked them. These people needed more and with everything after the manga, there was so much room to play with so I allowed these people to gain some more life (save for the Doc).
5.) The appearance of the Dynes and the Browns post-manga was heavily influenced by Le Confidant. Evelyn, despite what I was writing, wasn't healing. She was wounded and wouldn't let anyone fix the wounds. Originally, Roy Mustang would have won her over but when Le Confidant inspired me, Mustang got the boot back over to Hawkeye. He went without protest as all the psychological issues weren't something he could fix. So, along came her parents and the one guy she'd given everything to along with his mother. And they were able to fix most of what was wrong with Evelyn. Otherwise, there was a very good chance that Evelyn would have become a deplorable figure the way I was going. As in, perhaps, alcoholism or putting herself in dangerous situations so she didn't have to think about her problems. I didn't want her to be that person and Le Confidant came along and whispered a solution without realizing it. And as Evelyn wouldn't have done it herself (self-righteous idiocy and all that), Al stepped forward and handled the details. Because between the two, Alphonse is easily smarter. Ed might have been the catalyst but Al was the one that started at three and a half years old on the alchemy. Ed might be smart, but Al outshines him. He just didn't have the gravitas for pulling people in like Ed did.
Oh, what the hell. Once more with feeling!
In another world and time, James held his firstborn son and felt a strange sense of nostalgia. It was almost like he'd done this before but he wasn't sure how. Looking at his wife, he smiled. They'd chosen to keep the baby's gender unknown until he or she was born and now, looking at his son, he had the perfect idea for a name. "Tiff?" he asked. She smiled at him.
"I have a name for him."
"Oh?" She'd had a name chosen, too, but was curious as to what he'd want to name their son. She was surprised and a little awed by the answer.
"Yes… I'd like him to be Edward… But I don't know a good middle name and… I don't think I'd like to give him 'James'." It seemed wrong to name him that for some reason, like he was replacing someone. And he watched his beautiful wife tear up in unadulterated happiness with some small astonishment and he found himself crying as well as strange emotions welled in him.
'He has chosen to die, be sent along as a babe, and lose all his memory save for a longing for a woman he has loved for a very long time.' That voice… He'd heard something like that before but… where?
He opened his eyes, unsure of when he'd closed them, and stared at Tiffany in surprise. That name… She was looking at him with joy and disbelief, her eyes somehow even more achingly beautiful because they were familiar. She was familiar.
"Trisha?" The word escaped his lips before he could stifle it and in that moment it all came rushing back. Not in fullness but… He looked down at his son. His first son of this life but his third son between two lives. Had he named the lad that looked so much like his mother 'Edward James Meyers', it wouldn't rob his first son's identity but… He looked up to Tiffany with awe. He'd found her all over again. Had found her even though he'd lost his memories. Why had he regained them? It didn't matter, he supposed. He smiled and came closer, knowing for certain he would not leave this new family behind. He failed his first one. He wouldn't fail with this one. He wanted to make Evelyn and Alphonse proud of him. "How about we name him Edward Alan?"
"It sounds wonderful to me," agreed Trisha's reincarnation as James offered the infant to his mother and she took him. "Our little boy…" He leaned in to kiss Tiffany's hair as they heard a knock on the door. The now nineteen-year-old with the new memories of a far older man turned even as his twenty-nine-year-old wife called. "Come in!"
In came Tiffany's parents and her little brother, Chris. Jim was no fool. He knew that Tiffany's parents didn't approve of her marrying him. He'd also taken great steps to prove he wasn't an idiot kid. He had thankfully aced half the classes he needed for an Associate's Degree while in High School and now he held a job that paid well enough on top of his grant money. He would make sure that his family was supported at all costs. He wouldn't fail… Not again. Not with little Edward there curled against his mother's breast. Not with knowing that Evelyn had given him a second chance. No.
So James Meyers smiled proudly next to his tired wife and knowing that if nothing else… He would finally be able to keep his promises. And he would keep all of them.
Sorry. Got bitten with the need to add one more touch of story.
Again, thank you all and adieu.
Please review. I still very much appreciate it even if I won't be posting more to this story.