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PART I — Diligence
Chapter I: The Invitation
It finally happened on a Thursday morning in the winter of 1919. The postman was making his way down to the offices of the Colonels and Generals at Central Headquarters to deliver that day's daily mail when he noticed that there were six copies of the same letter on top of his cart. He frowned and pulled the stack out, hoping there wasn't a mistake and that he'd have to return to the sorter in the basement. In an elegant green script, the entire stack was addressed to the office of Brigadier General Roy Mustang, each with its own recipient. Turning the stack over, his eyes widened as he recognized the sender. Edward Elric. Dropping the letters back onto his cart, he hurriedly made his way to the General's office, muttering about those damned alchemists.
Saluting smartly, the mailman stepped into the office, taking note of how many people were present. A sandy-haired man sat at one of the center desks chewing thoughtfully on a cigarette while scribbling away at a form. Beside him, a slightly rotund man was on the phone, talking furiously to the person on the other end in a different language (it might have been Xingese) while a blonde woman stood next to him frowning. The last occupant in the room was a tall grey-haired man digging through a large filing cabinet in the corner. The blonde woman—a Captain, the postman noticed—turned towards him and nodded, "Place the mail on the General's desk please. He isn't here at the moment, but if there are no urgent forms to be delivered then you may leave."
The mailman nodded back, did as he was told, then replied, "Not today ma'am, but the Fuhrer himself insisted that the General get his note. I placed it on top of the stack on the desk."
Captain Riza Hawkeye glanced at the portly man to her right, and then stepped over to her superior's desk, taking note of the pink paper and flowers outlining the Fuhrer's personal letterhead. She sighed, allowed herself a tiny smile, and then nodded again. "Thank you Cadet. Dismissed."
After the postman left, Riza turned back to the man on the phone. Just at that moment, First Lieutenant Heymans Breda slammed down the receiver and swore.
"Problems in paradise Breda?" the man with the cigarette smirked.
"The Xingese ambassador refuses to even discuss vehicle trading with Amestris! With all the other trading we're doing with Xing, it would be wise to use the vehicles we're using to transport the goods in Xing. Especially in the nobility…"
Captain Jean Havoc waved him off. "Yeah yeah yeah, we'll deal with that once the Fuhrer actually talks to the Emperor in a conference. Ling hardly lets anything slip by him without his consent anyway, so relax, Breda. The ambassador will just get his ass handed to him later." Havoc took a long drag on his cigarette. "Now, can someone help me take these files down to Investigations? You know, my legs and stairs." He jerked his thumb towards the stack on his desk.
At that moment, Captain Vato Falman came over to the cluster of desks in the center and nodded. "Just about to make my way down there myself." He said a little stiffly, but then smiled. "Say, when's Fuery getting back from vacation again?"
"Sometime next week I believe." Riza answered. "He called the General yesterday to let him know how his parents were doing in the West. He's staying at Headquarters there."
Havoc shrugged. "Hope the kid's okay. Anyway, did mail just get here? I think Breda was expecting some love letters from Cynthia." he sniggered. Breda elbowed him in the shoulder but took his seat next to his friend.
"The mail did get here," Riza crossed over to the General's desk and sifted through the somewhat small stack. "Oh, look." She grinned. "I'm pretty sure these are invitations." She passed them all out, leaving Fuery's and the General's on the large desk. "So Edward and Winry are finally getting married." she mused, unsurprised.
"Ha! The kid's finally asked! So when's the date?" Breda tore his open. "In the Spring, looks like. That's a little over four months away. Hope the General doesn't have to go out into the field during that time. You know what that's like." He grumbled, almost to himself.
"Hope that what?" A deep but pleasant voice sounded throughout the office. All four officers immediately snapped towards the door, saluting as one. "At ease soldiers. Looks like the mail got here on time for once."
"Yes sir. We've all received invitations to Edward's wedding to Winry in the Spring. Breda was just commenting," Riza shot her fellow officer a glare, "that you might be called into the field during that time. Perhaps we should talk to the Fuhrer about taking some leave to attend." She held up her own invitation. "Yours is on your desk, sir."
Brigadier General Roy Mustang swept off his imposing black overcoat and hung it up, making his way to his desk. "So Fullmetal's popped the question, eh?" He sat down and picked up his own letter. On the front of the envelope was handwritten in red ink:
Brigadier General Roy Mustang, Flame Alchemist
Tearing open the envelope, two cards fell out. Riza noticed this and frowned, moving her hands behind her back to reach the pistol nestled there. Hopefully, the second card did not contain any threats or explosives—should the letter be sent falsely. Roy, however, picked up both cards and opened the thinner one containing the wedding invitation.
We are pleased to announce that
You are hereby invited to the wedding of Edward Elric and Winry Rockbell
On Saturday the 1st of April, 1920
In Resembool of the East
Please Arrive Two Days Prior for the Wedding Rehearsal and Dinner
R.S.V.P. by January 30, 1920 via Mail
The corners of his mouth twitched up as he thought of the boy—finally turned man—and sighed as he realized how much time had passed. Edward would be twenty-one next year, and he would be thirty-five. He sighed again, heavily this time, and checked his calendar. He would have been working, but Ed would come and beat his ass if he didn't show up to the wedding. Of course he would go. "Captain. R.S.V.P. for Fullmetal's wedding for all of us. It seems we're going to a wedding." He leaned back in his chair.
Riza nodded and smiled. She turned to return to her desk but remembered the second card that had fallen out of the General's envelope. None of the other envelopes had had another card in them, but her suspicion cleared as she saw that Roy had already opened it and was reading contentedly. Perfectly safe. Satisfied, she sat down to reply to Edward and Winry.
The second letter Roy had received had nothing to do with the upcoming wedding. Almost. Running his hand through his hair, Roy reread the last few sentences of the letter. Ed usually sent him a letter like this to give him news of Alphonse and himself as well as the day-to-day dealings they had in Resembool—life had been pretty quiet for the two brothers until the wedding announcement (of course, Roy had known that Ed had been planning to propose to Winry for quite some time now and wasn't surprised). But this letter was different. Besides the mundane things Ed usually wrote about, the last paragraph was a bit unnerving.
We expect you and the team to show up of course. If you didn't, well, let's just say neither of us wants to find out what will happen if you decided to flake out on me at my own wedding. But here's the deal Mustang. I don't want you there just because you were once my superior or whatever, or that you make a good punching bag under stress, or to piss off. I, (me, Mustang, and no one else) really want you to come over and kid around some, because, even though I had a father, he wasn't really much of one. Hohenheim wasn't there for me as much as you were and I really appreciate it. Of course you're still an egotistical prat, but you were—here the word 'were' had been crossed out and replaced with 'are'—the closest thing I had to a father during those rough years and I want you to know that. You're a good guy Mustang, and even though a lot of people don't see it that way, you are to Al and me. But don't go spreading that around Central! I still want you to know you're a right bastard.
Anyway, say hi to Hawkeye and the rest of the team from me, Al, and Winry. We all miss you guys! (from Winry) Speaking of Hawkeye, when are you two going to tie the knot? Haven't you guys been skirting around each other for, like, a million years? Tell Grumman to hurry up and get rid of that fraternization law. You guys aren't getting any younger! You don't have to become Fuhrer to get married and have a life outside the military. Just don't wait too long and do something you regret. Believe me, I know.
But we'll see you guys in Resembool, five months from now! And Mustang, ditch the uniform for at least the wedding and reception. You can wear it to the rehearsal dinner if you want since you're so attached to the damn thing.
Roy sighed again. Damn kid. Had he always been this perceptive? He and Hawkeye had been skirting around each other since Ishval—'avoiding the topic' was probably more accurate—but had there really been any time for that kind of relationship anyway? Besides the fact that it was practically forbidden, they had been so focused on getting to the top that their social and personal lives had been intentionally sacrificed. Was there even time now? The answer was a glaring and obvious no. He still hadn't reached the top and after that, there was the move towards a democratic Amestris. The amount of time that would take, Roy didn't even want to think about. The needs of many certainly outweighed the needs of one, himself included, and Riza had agreed and jumped in head first with him. There would be no personal frivolity for him just yet.
"Sir?" Riza's voice cut in, almost startling him. "Sir, is something wrong?" She was standing a few feet away from the front of his desk, brown eyes searching his face for any signs of worry.
"Ah, no Captain, excuse my, ah, lack of diligence. Fullmetal has written me a most interesting, ah, report. He did mention that he says hello to you and the rest of the team." Roy stuttered a little before regaining his composure. "Perhaps you'd like to read his letter? He says that Alphonse is reportedly planning to propose to May sometime next year." He held out the letter to Riza.
"Yes sir. I will." She stared at him to make sure nothing was out of sorts, before reading the letter. She frowned when she came to the last paragraph. Blushing slightly, she returned the paper back to Roy. "I've written the R.S.V.P., sir. Shall I send it with today's outgoing?"
Roy nodded. "I will join the Fuhrer in his office in about," he glanced at the clock, "fifteen minutes. I received his note." He gestured to the absurdly pink paper on his desk. "Would you like to join me?"
Riza shook her head. "No, thank you sir, but we have an ambassador situation to attend to at the moment." Turning to Breda, she continued, "You know, the Xingese situation."
Smiling, Roy turned back to the stack of mail on his desk. "I know, Captain. Carry on then. Just remember to send that R.S.V.P. or else Fullmetal will have my hide."
The rest of the day went by without any other disruptions. After the General returned from his meeting with the Fuhrer—in a slightly more irritated mood than when he left—he sat down at his desk and reread Ed's letter. President Grumman had been considerably more jovial than he was and the "marry my granddaughter" jokes had been a little more pressing this time.
"Seriously Mustang, isn't it about time you asked her? For god's sake man, do something before it's too late! I'm sure she wouldn't turn you down." Grumman had said, winking at him.
"With all due respect Fuhrer sir, drop it." He had replied, a little more tersely than he would have liked, but still seemed to get the point across.
"Ah, oh well. You can't blame a grandfather for trying! I just want my granddaughter happy with someone before I go." Grumman smiled sadly. "So you've been invited to the Fullmetal Alchemist's wedding have you! Of course you and your team may have that entire week off for the festivities. But you must tell me how it goes! If any…unusual happenings take place."
They had conversed about the status of Ishval and the Fuhrer had seemed pleased with Roy's progress. There had also been no chess game today, for which Roy was thankful. He hadn't been sure if he could have played a game with his thoughts running wild with Ed's letter. Father. Like a father. Get married. Married. MARRIED. Like hell he was going to get married. Pushing those thoughts out of his head for the day, he turned towards the stack of forms that required his signature and started working.
Author's Note: Once again, thank you for reading and don't forget to review if you have a suggestion or anything! Feedback is a wonderful thing!