Ed lowered his gaze. "And we also lost Major Armstrong."
Winry eyes widened slightly. "Oh. That's..."
Ed chuckled softly. "In a strange way, though, it was good to see Al crying. He hasn't been able to for years now."
Winry nodded. "He also hasn't slept in years. Poor thing."
She glanced over at Al, who was sound asleep, a peaceful look on his face.
"What did the doctors say?"
Ed looked over at Al. "They're not completely sure. They say that his condition is most similar to someone who's been in a coma for a long time. His muscles have atrophied, and it'll take time for him to build his strength back up. But he should recover."
Winry smiled, but still looked slightly worried. "That's good."
It was the day after the Promise Day. The previous night Ed and Al had only told her that they'd won, and that Ed had given up his alchemy to bring Al back. After a solid night of rest, Winry had returned, and Ed had explained what had happened during the day, though he left out some of the more violent details.
Winry frowned. "What happened to Lan Fan and Ling?"
Ed leaned back, wincing slightly as he felt the aches and pains from the previous day. "As soon as we defeated the homunculus, they left for Xing almost immediately."
Winry tilted her head. "But I thought you said that Lan Fan's automail arm was destroyed. Wouldn't she want it to be repaired first?"
Ed shrugged. "I guess they're just eager to get home. Besides, she's still a pretty skilled fighter even with only one arm."
Winry nodded. "True. And now that the homunculi are all gone, we don't have to worry about facing such monsters again."
Ed smiled. "Well, they're not all gone."
Winry paused, then looked sheepish. "Oh, that's right, there's Lujon. What happened to him?"
Ed's smile faded, and looked down at his newly restored arm. "Well, obviously Lujon's right arm is now gone. I wasn't able to get much out of him about what had happened. All he said was that he had defeated Dante by giving up his philosopher's stone, and that he had seen Teacher die."
Winry was silent for a moment, then stood up.
"We should go see him."
Ed smiled nervously. "I'm not sure the nurses will let us go."
Winry poked her head out into the hallway. "Then we'll just have to be quick about it."
She looked at Al uncertainly. "Do you think we should...?"
Ed shook his head, and slowly sat up. "No, let him rest. It's been so long since he's had the chance to sleep."
With Winry supporting Ed, the two of them made their way down the hall and looked into the room where Lujon and Rose were staying.
As soon as they heard them enter, Lujon and Rose looked up, and their faces brightened up when they saw who it was.
Ed grinned. "Hey. How are you doing this morning?"
Lujon smiled weakly. "Better than yesterday. Still don't feel quite right though."
Ed looked guiltily at Lujon's right side. "Yeah, I'm sorry about that again."
Lujon shrugged slightly. "Well, it was your arm to begin with."
Lujon glanced down, then back at Ed, a serious expression on his face. "Listen, if you wanted your leg-"
Ed shook his head. "No. That wouldn't be fair to you. I've got my arm back, and this automail leg is a good reminder. Besides, Winry would get depressed if she didn't have something she had to fix."
Winry rolled her eyes. "Ha ha, very funny. At least you don't break your automail leg as much as you did your arm."
Lujon turned toward her. "Winry, listen. I'd like automail. As soon as possible."
Winry looked at him in surprise. "Oh, of course. But, you have to wait until you've healed."
Lujon clutched at his stump. "You forget that I'm a homunculus. I may be mortal now, but I'm still stronger than a human. The doctors looked at my wound this morning, and said that based on the rate of healing, it looked as though I had lost my arm a week ago, rather than yesterday. So it shouldn't be too long before I can handle the surgery."
Ed looked at the wound curiously. "Well, okay. Fair warning, though, it's really painful."
Lujon lowered his eyes. "I've had worse."
Ed bowed his head, knowing what Lujon was thinking about. "Yeah. We all have."
Lujon forced a smile. "Still, we shouldn't despair too much. They wouldn't have wanted that. She definitely wouldn't want that, and if we got too mopey, she would come back from the grave to kick our asses.
Ed chuckled. "She would at that."
Winry looked at Rose sympathetically. "I'm really sorry about your voice Rose. Is there any way of recovering it?"
Rose shook her head, but silently indicated that she appreciated the sentiment.
Lujon looked at Rose. "The only way to get it back would be a philosopher's stone, or some other equivalent exchange."
Lujon glanced back at Ed. "But, I think we've all dabbled in human alchemy long enough to know that's a bad idea. Besides, there are ways we can adapt."
Lujon gestured at a book that was next to Rose's night stand.
Winry peered at it. "What's that?"
The homunculus explained. "It's sign language. Me and Rose have started to learn it, so that way she can communicate and I can translate for her."
Ed looked impressed. "Well, that's handy."
Winry tilted her head, and looked back at Lujon. "I'll have to make a few adjustments, but I think the model I used for Ed should work for you as well."
Lujon smiled gratefully. "Thanks Winry."
Winry glanced out in the hall, and froze. A moment later, she began to tug on Ed.
"Um, Ed, I think we'd better go."
Ed nodded. "Right. Well, it was nice talking to you. Hope you get better."
Lujon smirked. "Says the guy covered in scars and bruises."
Maria was keeping watch in front of the room where Mustang and Hawkeye were staying. While it was unlikely, there was still the chance that someone would try to come after them when they were weakened, so she kept her eyes peeled.
As the day progressed she didn't see any potential assassins, but early in the afternoon she did see two middle-aged men approaching the room.
She held up a hand in greeting. "Oh, hello Dr. Knox. Are you here to see the Colonel?"
Knox nodded. "Yeah. I heard some details over the radio, but I'd like to see him in person."
Maria gestured for him to follow her. "Very well."
She looked at the other person uncertainly. "Who is this?"
Knox shrugged. "That's a bit of a long story."
He looked at the entrance to the room. "How's he doing?"
Inside the room, Mustang spoke after a brief pause. "The farming method used in the Ishvalan region. They mainly double crop."
Jean shook his head. "No. Close, but it's called dual cropping. Are you sure you know this stuff?"
Mustang folded his arms. "Of course I am."
Jean smirked. "Then prove it. What crops are the Ishvalans known for cultivating?"
"Wheat and Cotton."
"Correct. Not bad for a guess."
"Hey, give me some credit, I've been studying this stuff long before today."
Knox looked at the room in bemusement. There were two beds. Mustang was sitting on top of the one closest to the window, while Hawkeye was lying on the one closest to the door. Hawkeye had a bandage around her neck, while Mustang looked fine, with the exception of a slight opaqueness to his eyes.
In front of Mustang's bed was a pile of books. Jean Havoc, who had evidently come to visit Mustang, was quizzing Mustang, while Fuery was busy organizing some of the books on the floor.
Maria smiled at Knox's puzzled expression. "Now that we've made it past the Promise Day, he's refocusing his efforts on rebuilding Ishval."
Knox stepped into the room. "Is that so. And what makes him so sure he'll be able to do it?"
Mustang paused. "That voice. How long have you been in here Knox?"
Knox walked closer to the bed. "Not long. Well, you don't look so bad. How are you adjusting?"
Mustang shrugged. "Well, I can't get any rest, thanks to these pests."
Knox frowned. "No, I meant those eyes of yours, how are they?"
Mustang smiled softly, and held his hand up to his eyes. "Right. I envisioned a better future, and this is the price I had to pay for it."
Knox looked at him carefully. "And you're okay with that?"
Mustang shook his head. "Oh, I wouldn't say okay. But I won't let it stop me from moving forward either."
Knox glanced at the pile of books. "So you're going to aid in the rebuilding of Ishval?"
Mustang frowned. "The Ishvalan War of Extermination."
Hawkeye bowed her head.
Mustang continued. "That's where everything went wrong."
Knox lowered his gaze. "You're right there. Both for our country and for us."
Mustang looked up with a determined smile. "The time has come to fix it. I'm calling off the military occupation, and then I'll return their holy land to the surviving Ishvalans. There's still a lot to be done."
Fuery nodded. "We owe them plenty. We might not have won if it wasn't for Scar and the Ishvalans. It's the very least we can do to repay them."
Falman entered the room carrying another pile of books. "Colonel, I brought the materials you asked for."
Hawkeye leaned forward. "We know that this won't erase our sins, but it's not too late to fix things."
Knox sighed. "This room just reeks of optimism."
He raised his voice. "Hey Dr. Marcoh, looks like they're already one step ahead of you in here."
Mustang looked shocked. "Dr. Marcoh's here?"
Dr. Marcoh, who had been the other middle-aged man, entered the room.
Jean looked up in surprise. "Oh, hello."
Marcoh nodded at him, then looked at Mustang seriously. "Are you serious about restoring Ishval?"
Mustang nodded. "I am. I intend to dedicate my life to restoring Ishval, and putting our own country on a better, more peaceful path."
Marcoh reached into his pocket. "In that case, there's something I'd like you to have, something that will make your task easier. During my travels across Amestris I was able to gather enough materials to create another red stone."
He held up the crimson stone, and everyone's eyes widened, including Mustang's.
Marcoh glanced at the stone. "It's not a philosopher's stone, merely an imitation, but I think it might be enough to partially restore your sight. I'll heal you, as long as I have your word that you'll follow through on your promise to rebuild Ishval."
Mustang frowned thoughtfully. "You said it might be enough, so it may not work."
Marcoh nodded. "Indeed. The only way I could guarantee success is if I were to use a real philosopher's stone. But all of them were destroyed after yesterday's turmoil, and creating another one is out of the question."
Mustang frowned grimly. "As it should be."
The Colonel straightened up. "Well, regardless of whether it works or not, I accept your offer. But first things first. There's someone who needs that stone even more than I do. You can heal him before you heal me."
Mustang pointed at Jean.
Jean's eyes widened in surprise, but then he chuckled. "Well, Colonel, I guess you do have a softer side."
Marcoh walked over to Jean, and glanced back at Mustang. "Are you sure?"
Mustang nodded. "Yes."
Marcoh held his hand out, and touched Jean's side. A moment later, a red glow came from the stone and from Jean's body.
Jean gasped like he was in pain, but he looked more confused than hurt. After the light faded, Jean rubbed his legs, and leaned forward. The next second, his body began to move up, and he took a step away from the wheelchair.
Everyone looked astonished, including Jean.
Jean took another tentative step, his eyes wide. "I...I can walk."
Falman exclaimed. "Amazing."
Fuery smiled sadly. "I wish Breda could have been here to see this..."
Jean took another step, but this time almost stumbled, and had to grab the bed post to steady himself.
Fuery looked at him in concern. "Careful!"
Marcoh smiled. "The stone probably wasn't enough to heal you completely, so I'd suggest letting the doctors have a look at you."
Jean scoffed. "Great, more time in the hospital, just what I need."
But his face looked like he couldn't be happier.
Maria walked forward. "Here, let me help you."
Maria supported Jean, and led him out of the room and down the hall to where the doctor's station was.
Marcoh approached Mustang, the stone in hand. "I must stress that this may not work, so don't get your hopes up too high."
Mustang nodded. "I understand."
He turned his head to the side so that he was facing toward Hawkeye. She watched nervously as Marcoh slowly reached his hand forward and placed it on Mustang's forehead.
The stone glowed again, as did Mustang's body. He let out a gasp of pain.
Hawkeye looked at him in concern. "Colonel!"
The light faded, and Mustang looked at Hawkeye in amazement.
"I...I can see again! I can see you...Riza..."
He frowned, puzzled. "But I can only see out of my right eye."
Hawkeye gasped in horror.
Mustang looked nervous. "What's wrong?"
Fuery looked at Mustang in shock. "Your left eye! It's...it's gone!"
Mustang turned toward Fuery sharply. "What?"
He lifted his hand up, and sure enough he could feel an empty socket where his left eye should have been. A small amount of blood was trailing down his cheek.
Marcoh stepped back, looking slightly apologetic. "It seems that the stone took one of eyes as part of the toll for returning your sight."
Mustang held his hand up so that it was covering his left eye socket. "Is that so. Well, this will be awkward. I'll have to wear an eyepatch, and I'll end up looking similar to Bradley."
He looked back at Hawkeye, and his expression softened. "Still, I think that's a price I can accept."
Marcoh headed for the door. "I'd better go before the doctors get mad at me for giving them another problem to deal with."
Mustang smiled. "Thank you Dr. Marcoh."
Marcoh and Knox left shortly after that. Falman went down the hall to check on Jean, while Fuery continued to quiz Mustang. Hawkeye watched them with a sad smile on her face.
Over at Central Command, the soldiers continued the hard work of restoring things after the previous days chaos. Near the presidential estate, Sig and some soldiers had gone to Mrs. Bradley. Sig showed her the true forms of Pride and Sloth, and one of the soldiers explained to her what had happened to Selim.
Mrs. Bradley was stunned, but after processing the information, she agreed to take the two homunculi in.
Inside the Command Center, General Hakuro was meeting with General Grumman, Major Miles, and a few other officials.
Hakuro spoke. "Things seem to have stabilized. After everyone's souls were ripped from their bodies and then returned, no one has questioned our story, or the senior staff's culpability, so the public is on our side. The only issue left is the matter of succession."
The tension in the room rose slightly.
Hakuro bowed his head. "I assumed command out of necessity, but I don't have any real ambition. And after all the years I spent sitting idly by, I don't believe I deserve the position of Fuhrer."
Grumman smiled warmly. "Don't be too hard on yourself. You may have acted late, but you did something, and that's more than the rest of the senior staff can claim."
Grumman stood up. "Still, if your conscience prevents you from assuming the role of the Fuhrer, I'd be more than happy to take up that responsibility."
Hakuro smiled wryly. "I'm sure you would."
Grumman looked at the others seriously. "There's still a lot of work to be done, and with most of the senior staff dead or imprisoned, we'll need all the help we can get. Major Miles, tell Mustang and Armstrong that I'll want their assistance as soon as they've recovered."
Miles nodded. "Yes sir."
Weeks passed, and every day brought new changes. Ed's wounds healed, and Al's body slowly regained its strength. Winry rarely left their side, and many of their friends came by to see how they were doing.
Grumman was now the Fuhrer, and he had appointed General Hakuro as his second-in-command. Together they weeded out the remaining officers who had been loyal to the senior staff, and began work on rebuilding Amestris. Mustang and General Armstrong had recovered, and had offered their assistance.
Eventually, the day came for the brothers to leave the hospital, and that day happened to be an important one.
The two brother were walking down the hall of the hospital. Al's body was still recovering, and so he needed a cane to support him.
Ed looked at him in concern. "You okay Al?"
Al smiled softly. "Yeah. How are your wounds doing?"
Ed glanced down. "Oh, they're fine. They're just about healed, though I'll probably have a few scars."
In addition to his battle wounds, Ed also had to have surgery to remove the last few pieces of automail that were still in his arm. Despite trying to put on a brave face, Ed had needed to stay in the hospital almost as much as Al had.
They continued to walk down the hall.
Al closed his eyes. "Thank you brother."
Ed glanced at him. "For what?"
Al chuckled. "Oh nothing."
Ed shook his head. "Whatever."
As they neared the end of the hall, they could hear Winry's voice, which was soon followed by Lujon's voice.
"...and remember, if you ever need anything, be sure to stop by for repairs, okay?"
The brothers rounded the corner, and saw Winry, Lujon, and Rose standing nearby.
Ed smiled at Lujon. "So, how's that automail working for you?"
Lujon held up his arm and flexed his fingers. "It's really good. It's a little heavy though."
Winry smiled apologetically. "Sorry about that, I can make it lighter once I have the right materials."
Rose smiled, and moved her hands to say something.
Lujon glanced at her. "Oh, Rose is right. We'd better head down, we don't want to be late."
Ed nodded. "Right."
Al smiled nervously. "You can go ahead if you want. I'll just go at my own pace."
Ed shook his head. "No, we can go together."
The other didn't protest, and the five of them headed to the hospital entrance together.
In the lobby they were greeted by Jean and Rebecca.
Ed blinked in surprise. "Oh, hey Havoc."
Jean nodded at him, then smiled when he saw Al. "Well, Al, you're looking a lot better."
Al returned the smile. "So are you. How are you doing?"
Jean grinned. "Ah, lots better. The doctors say I won't be running any marathons any time soon, but I should be able to walk around just fine."
His smile faded. "I hear you quit the military."
Ed bowed his head. "Yeah. Now that Al and I have our bodies back, we don't really have a reason to stay. Besides, I can't really be a State alchemist without my alchemy."
Lujon looked at him uncertainly. "Do you ever miss it?"
Ed shrugged. "I'd be lying if I said that I didn't, but every time I begin to doubt myself, I just look at Al, and my doubts vanish."
Al smiled, and Winry and Rose both looked happy for the two brothers.
Rebecca gestured at them to follow. "Well, come on, we've got a ride waiting for us."
They all got into a car that drove them to the main graveyard in Central. A massive new memorial had been erected near the front of the graveyard, and it listed the names of all those who had died on the Promise Day. Near the memorial there was a fairly large crowd, and Ed could tell that the service would begin soon.
As they walked up, everyone spotted Ed and Al and began to murmur amongst themselves about the Elric brothers.
After a moment, Elicia trotted up to them. "Hello!"
Ed smiled down at her. "Oh, hello!"
Gracia walked up and smiled at them warmly. "Hello Edward. Hello Alphonse. It's so good to see you back to normal. Are you feeling all right?"
Al chuckled. "I'm getting there."
Gracia eyes softened. "I'm glad. And I'm sure Maes would be glad too."
They saw a few more familiar faces, including one that had a large eye patch over his left eye.
Ed smirked. "Hey Colonel."
Mustang glanced at him. "Oh, hello Fullmetal. Or should I just say Ed now?"
Ed shrugged. "How's the eye?"
Mustang absently rubbed at his face. "Well, it's been a little disorienting, but given the alternative I am content with it."
Hawkeye walked up. "Hello Edward. Hello Alphonse. I'm guessing you didn't hear the news. The Colonel's been promoted to General."
Ed looked surprised. "Really? Well congratulations."
Mustang nodded. "Yeah. I'm going to be in charge of the Eastern sector, and my primary responsibility will be to help restore Ishval."
Ed smiled. "So is your team back together again?"
Mustang looked down. "Yes. Well, for the most part. Falman has decided to remain with Briggs, while Breda..."
Ed frowned. "Yeah."
Mustang cleared his throat. "On the positive side, I've added a few new members to my team, including Lieutenant Ross."
Al glanced around. "Is Falman here?"
Mustang shook his head. "No, he, General Armstrong, and Major Miles went back up north. Apparently the Drachmans tried another invasion, though much smaller, thinking Amestris was vulnerable after whatever had occurred during the Promise Day. Needless to say, they quickly withdrew. But General Armstrong is keeping an eye on things just in case."
Ed and Al saw a few more familiar faces, including Sheska (Who was keeping busy at work to distract herself from grief, as her mother had been among those who had died during the Promise Day), the Tringham brothers (Who told Ed that they intended to follow his path and become State alchemists), and Psiren (Who seemed uncharacteristically somber, likely because of the reason for the gathering).
After a while, the people settled down and took a seat among the long rows of chairs that had been set up. Once everyone was seated, the now Fuhrer Grumman gestured at General Hakuro, who walked over to the podium that was right in front of the memorial.
Hakuro surveyed the crowd gravely. "The past few months have been among the most eventful in the history of our nation. The Promise Day was seen by the homunculus who called himself Father and those who conspired with him to be the dawn of a new era. And it was. But happily it was not the dawn they envisioned. It was not the wholesale destruction of our beautiful nation for the benefit of a few power hungry monsters. Rather, it was a turning point, one that saw the old regime, which was built on bloodshed and deceit, purged from existence. We have been given the chance to build a better future, one where everyone can flourish and prosper. And today, we honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice on that day, and to whom we all owe a great debt."
Hakuro bowed his head. After a brief pause, he summarized the events that had happened during the Promise day, filling in members of the public on details that had not yet been disclosed.
Ed found himself tuning it out, as he had already lived through it.
Then came the time when Hakuro spoke the names of each and every person who had died on that day. Most of the names Ed did not recognize, but a few he did.
"Major Alex Louis Armstrong..."
Ed frowned. The major had seemed so dependable, so strong. Him suddenly not being there anymore didn't seem right. But he had been consumed with guilt over his actions, and inactions, during the Ishvalan war. Perhaps dying to protect his country brought him a certain amount of peace.
"Fuhrer King Bradley..."
Ed clenched his fist. While Hakuro had disclosed most of the story, there were still a few details that were being withheld, or slightly misrepresented. Most of the military knew Bradley had been complicit with the homunculi's plans, and was far from innocent, but they weren't sure if the public would be ready to accept this. So they had instead spread the story that Bradley had been forced to cooperate with the homunculi, and that his family, namely Mrs. Bradley and Selim, had been used to keep him in check.
It wasn't a total lie. After all, he had been raised from birth for the sole purpose of becoming the Fuhrer, and after he was turned into a homunculus, he had little control over his destiny. But it still made Ed feel slightly sick that Bradley, at least for the immediate future, would get to be remembered as a hero, when he was responsible for the deaths of so many innocent people, either by his hand or his order.
"Second Lieutenant Heymans Breda..."
Ed glanced at Mustang sympathetically. He hadn't known Breda very well, but he had seemed like a good person, and watching him die must have been hard on Mustang.
"Sergeant Denny Brosh..."
Ed bowed his head. He hadn't known Brosh very well either, and he felt slightly guilty, because now he never would.
A few seats over, Ed could see Maria Ross's eyes had become rather red.
Ed smiled sadly. He and Captain Buccaneer hadn't gotten along very well, but the man had been brave, and from Ed had heard, he had died with a smile on his face. Ed hoped that he had died in relative peace.
Ed swallowed, and he could see a few tears begin to fall from Al and Winry's cheeks, and while Lujon and Rose didn't cry, they also looked deeply saddened.
Of all the deaths that had happened that day, Izumi's had hit him the hardest. She had been Lujon's first loving parent, and while Ed didn't quite see her in the same way, losing her was almost as heartbreaking as losing his own mother had been.
Ed blinked back a few tears. It seemed so wrong that she was no longer there.
And yet, life moved on. And Ed knew he couldn't let his grief overcome him. Izumi wouldn't have wanted that.
"The Xingese warrior Fu..."
Ed glanced around. The people who had been closest to Fu were of course not there, as they had business to attend to back in Xing. But Ed felt glad that the old man was being remembered along with all the fallen Amestrians.
"The homunculus Greed..."
Ed frowned. He hadn't known Greed very well, but as much as the homunculus had tried to act like he was only looking out for number one, it was clear that he did care about his friends, to the point of being willing to sacrifice himself for their sake. Ed couldn't say he felt sorrow about his passing, but he did hope that Greed had managed to find peace at last.
Ed and Al briefly made eye contact before looking away again. Their father was the one subject that they had always disagreed on. Even now, they still didn't see quite eye to eye.
But while Ed couldn't forgive him for leaving without explanation, he had slowly recognized the necessity of his actions. It was thanks to Hohenheim that Father's plan had backfired, and Hohenheim had sacrificed himself to ensure Father's defeat. Ed doubted his anger would ever go away completely, but he had gained a grudging respect for the man that he was now willing to call his father.
"The Ishvalan known as Scar..."
Ed frowned. He didn't feel sadness for Scar's passing. There was too much blood on the warrior's hands for him to feel sorrow. But like with Hohenheim, he had come to respect the Ishvalan, and could sympathize with the fact that his past was even more tragic than his own.
Eventually all of the names were listed, and the somber service came to an end.
The following day, all of them parted ways.
Mustang, Hawkeye, Fuery, and Maria headed back to the East to begin the difficult task of rebuilding Ishval.
Jean was recovering, and he and Rebecca had started dating again. Rebecca would soon quit the military, and planned to move to Central to help Jean out with his store.
Lujon and Rose headed to Lior, while the Elric brothers and Winry headed back for Resembol.
As they walked up the familiar country road, the three children of Resembol looked forward to seeing Pinako again. They hadn't told Pinako about their bodies, and had decided to surprise her when they arrived.
Eventually, the house came into view. Den started barking, and after a moment Pinako came out through the front door.
She surveyed the three of them silently, her expression unreadable. After a moment, she let out a smile.
"Well this is a surprise. Edward, it seems you've finally gotten taller."
TWO YEARS LATER
Al waited near the edge of the train platform, trying to spot someone through the massive crowd. The train had just pulled into the East City station, and Al felt a mixture of nervousness and excitement.
Al looked over, and a wide smile came onto his face. "Mei! It's so good to see you!"
Mei waved at him, and started to walk over. Al could see that she had grown taller, and her body was more mature. It was clear that she was no longer a little girl, but a young woman.
Al blushed slightly when his thoughts started to drift a certain direction, but hastily tried to cover it up as Mei approached him.
Mei hugged him, and then pulled back. "How've you been? I've kept all of your letters, but it's not quite the same as seeing someone in person."
Al nodded. "Yeah. How's Ling doing?"
Mei smiled. "Oh, he's doing well. Naturally, being Emperor is keeping him very busy, and while he has a lot of support from some of the clans, others aren't so thrilled with him."
Al tilted his head. "Yeah, I remember you mentioning some of them were a little shocked when he abolished the concubine system."
Mei shrugged. "Some saw it as challenging the decency of the previous emperor. But I think they'll adapt. And if any of them try anything underhanded, Lan Fan and Marta are there to protect him."
The two of them began to walk away from the platform.
Al glanced at her. "How is Lan Fan doing?"
Mei smiled. "Oh, she's doing well. She recently married her fiancé, once things calmed down after Ling took the throne."
Al looked mildly surprised. "No kidding. Jean and Rebecca got married a few months ago, and Maria and Fuery got married about a year ago."
Mei grinned slyly. "What about Ed and Winry?"
Al chuckled. "I think they have a thing going, but neither of them is quite willing to admit it for whatever reason. Of course, with Ed traveling so much they don't see each other as often."
As they walked into the heart of the city, Al told her how the others were doing, and mentioned how the restoration was going in Ishval. He also told her of how Pinako sadly passed away, but that Winry now has a successful shop of her own in Rush Valley.
After a while, Mei smiled mischievously. "So, I have a little secret I have to confess."
Al blinked. "Oh?"
Mei rummaged through her bag and pulled out an official looking letter. "While I did come to Amestris to see you, that isn't the only reason. One of the things Ling wants to do is to build stronger ties with Amestris. As a result, I've been appointed as the Xingese ambassador."
Al looked pleasantly surprised. "Oh, that's wonderful! Are you going to meet with Mustang to arrange the details?"
Mei put the letter back. "Yes, but I think that can wait until tomorrow. Today I have other plans."
Al smiled. "What plans would those be?"
Mei reached out and entwined her fingers with his. "Do you know of any good restaurants in this city?"
Winry sighed. "Honestly Ed, you need to pay more attention to your automail."
Ed shook his head. "I do."
Winry tightened one of the screws on Ed's leg. "Then why are the joints so stiff? You know it requires maintenance in order for it to keep working."
Ed smirked. "I know, I know. That's why I come and see you."
Winry blushed slightly, but tried to stay serious. "Still, you need to be more careful."
Paninya poked her head through the window. "Aw, are the lovebirds having a little fight?"
Ed and Winry glared at her. "Shut up Paninya!"
Paninya chuckled. She was wearing an official-looking uniform, as about a year ago she had become a police officer.
Paninya gestured toward the front door. "By the way, I think you have a customer waiting."
Winry frowned, and walked over to see who it was. When she opened the door, her face lit up.
"Oh, hello! Come on in!"
Ed looked up in surprise. "Lujon. Rose. Haven't seen you guys in a while. Where've you been?"
Lujon and Rose had been holding hands, but Rose let go to sign something.
Lujon explained. "We were in Lior for a while, but lately we've been doing a lot of traveling. Mother said that there's always something new to see, and you should appreciate the world we live in while you can."
Winry looked at Lujon's arm. "So, I assume you're here to get your automail checked?"
Lujon nodded. "Yeah. I've been trying to avoid doing anything too reckless, but I still sometimes dent it a little every once in a while."
Winry sighed. "Honestly, you're almost as bad as Ed was. Almost."
Rose looked around, and signed something else.
Lujon translated for her. "How's the shop doing?"
Winry walked over to her tool bench. "Very well. Honestly I'm having trouble keeping up sometimes, but I find the work invigorating."
Ed scoffed. "Crazy gearhead."
Winry scowled. "Alchemy bookworm."
Lujon looked puzzled. "Bookworm?"
Ed nodded. "I can't use alchemy anymore, but I can still do research on it."
Lujon flexed his automail fingers. "If you need any help, I still have my alchemy."
Ed smiled. "I think I'm okay for now, but thanks for the offer."
Rose signed something else.
Lujon blushed. "I'm not going to ask them that."
Winry frowned. "Ask us what?"
Lujon said hastily. "Uh, nothing!"
Rose smiled cheerfully, and Lujon looked at her with a mixture of exasperation and affection.
Winry looked over Lujon's automail, while Ed found himself sitting back and enjoying the peaceful moment.
Mei stirred, and rolled over in bed, the blankets covering everything below her neck. She glanced over at Al, who was fast asleep right next to her.
She leaned on her side, and looked appreciatively at his naked back. Located between his shoulder blades was an intricately detailed tattoo that looked identical to the blood seal that had been on his armor. She hadn't asked him what it was, because it was obvious, and she found the gesture deeply moving.
She reached forward and gently laid her hand on the tattoo, reminiscing about the night when she had slept inside his armor.
Al stirred, and feeling her hand on his back, he rolled over to face her.
He blinked sleepily. "Something wrong?"
Mei smiled softly. "Oh, just admiring your tattoo."
Al blushed when he saw her bare breasts beneath the blanket. "I didn't expect you to be so forward."
Al wrapped his arms around her, and she kissed his neck.
She whispered in his ear. "I know what I want, and you know what you want, so why wait? Besides, I want to have lots of kids with you."
Al frowned. "Actually..."
Mei pulled back and looked at him uncertainly. "What? What's wrong?"
Al glanced away. "I'm...I'm actually sterile. The doctors think it's one of the side effects of my body being trapped in the gateway for so long."
Mei's face wilted in disappointment. "Oh."
Al looked at her sadly. "I'm sorry Mei."
Mei was silent for a moment, but then wrapped her arms around him again, and nuzzled her cheek against his.
"Well...we still have each other, and that's what really matters."
Mei laid her hand on Al's back, her fingers touching his tattoo.
She smiled. "I remember the night I slept inside your armor."
Her gaze became mischievous. "I guess you could say I was the first girl inside of you."
Al chuckled, and put his hand on her waist. "Well, I'm also the first boy who was inside of you."
Mei giggled, and the two of them began to kiss, their breathing becoming increasingly heated.
Mrs. Bradley looked at her guest with a smile. "So tell me, how's work been lately?"
Grumman chuckled. "Exhausting. There's a new problem every day and it's sending me to an early grave. Thankfully I've got help. Mustang's hard at work in the East, and General Armstrong is holding down the Northern front with her iron fists."
Grumman glanced to the side of the yard, where he could see a young, golden-haired boy playing with a small, fuzzy creature about the size of a bunny.
He looked back at Mrs. Bradley seriously. "So tell me, how are they doing?"
Mrs. Bradley looked at them affectionately. "Oh, they've been wonderful. I was...shocked, to say the least, when I learned of what Selim really was, and how my husband had been forced to go along with the homunculi's plans."
Grumman frowned, as they hadn't told Mrs. Bradley the whole truth.
"But you know, even back then, I don't think Selim, or Pride I should say, had been faking it. Not completely at least."
She smiled warmly as she watched the young boy petting the animal's belly. "And Joseph has been such a wonderful child, and Sleepy has been a good companion for him. I had my doubts, but now I'm certain that taking them in and raising them was the right thing to do."
Grumman stood up. "We're going to keep an eye on them a little while longer, just in case. I hope you can understand why."
Mrs. Bradley nodded. "Yes, I understand. I'll see to it that you don't have anything to worry about."
Grumman walked to the front entrance, and looked back at the two playmates once more. Humans and homunculi. Is it really possible for us to live in harmony? From what I've seen of these two, and that young man named Lujon, it seems so. I suppose it would be foolish to assume that all of them were like Father.
He walked away with a smile on his face. No matter how old you get, there are always new possibilities, and that's quite exciting.
Lujon, Rose, Ed, and Winry were at the Rush Valley train station. Ed was getting on a later train, but the train that Lujon and Rose were getting on had arrived, and they were saying their goodbyes.
Ed smiled at Lujon. "You take care of that arm, okay?"
Lujon nodded. "And you take care of that leg."
Lujon and Rose stepped onto the train. Rose signed something, and Lujon let out a small laugh, and before long they disappeared from view. A few minutes later, the train pulled away from the station and headed out.
A few hours later, Ed's train arrived, and he and Winry were saying their goodbyes.
Winry smiled. "Well, whenever you do need it repaired, just call me to make an appointment."
Ed nodded absently as he walked toward the train. "Sure."
Ed paused just before he stepped onto the train.
He slowly turned back around.
Winry looked at him uncertainly. "What's wrong?"
Ed's face had become serious. "Listen Winry."
But he hesitated.
Winry frowned impatiently. "Well what? Just come out and say it."
Ed squirmed, a blush came onto his face, and all at once he burst out. "Equivalent exchange! I'll give half my life to you if you give half of yours to me!"
Winry's eyes widened slightly, but after a moment she shook her head.
"Come on. Do you have to treat everything like alchemy? The whole equivalent exchange thing is just nonsense!"
Ed gasped. "What'd you say!?"
Winry sighed. "It's nonsense! How about I just give you my whole life!"
Ed froze, and so did Winry. After a moment, Winry seemed to have realized what she had said, and a massive blush appeared on her face as well.
She held up her hands. "Uh, maybe not all of it! 90, maybe 80 percent? 70? That's not enough. But 85, yeah, 85 is a good number!"
Ed burst out laughing.
Winry glared at him. "Shut up!"
Ed gripped his sides. "I'm sorry, really."
Winry scowled. "Edward."
Ed grinned. "You are so incredible. You knocked equivalent exchange flat on its butt in just a few words."
Winry frowned. "And what's that mean? Are you making fun of me?"
Ed shook his head. "Not at all."
He walked up and hugged her. "Thanks for cheering me up. I'll miss you. Goodbye, for now."
Winry returned the embrace, and her eyes had softened. After a moment, they pulled back, and stared at each other. They seemed to realize how close their faces were to each other. Slowly, but eagerly, they leaned forward, and they kissed, their arms wrapped around each other in a tight embrace.
They lingered for a moment, but reluctantly stepped back.
Winry smiled warmly at him. "Come home soon."
Ed nodded, and slowly turned around and got on the train.
A moment later, the train left. Winry watched the train fade into the distance, a happy smile lighting up her face.
Ed stared out the window as the countryside went by.
There's no such thing as a painless lesson. They just don't exist. Sacrifices are necessary. You can't gain anything without losing something first. But if you can endure that pain, and walk away from it, you'll find that you now have a heart strong enough to overcome any obstacle. Yeah. A heart made Fullmetal.
Author's Note: And this concludes my story. There were a few other ideas I had for this chapter, but I decided to leave it open to the imagination. After all, it's no fun having all the answers given away, is it?
Part of me is sad that there's nothing more to write, but part of me is thinking THANK GOD it's over, because this was a lot of work. Still, I don't regret any of it for a second, and I'm deeply touched that so many people have enjoyed my story as well.
Special Thanks to:
Hiromu Arakawa, for creating the wonderful world of FMA.
Shō Aikawa, Hiroshi Ōnogi, and all the other talented people at Bones for adapting FMA into the two beloved TV shows this story is based on.
The phenomenal people at Funimation for producing two of the best English dubs ever made, and really bringing both shows to life. (On a side note, the Japanese dub for the first show was good, but Brotherhood's was...meh...just my opinion though, please don't kill me)
My Beta, BellatristWordSalad, for helping me put this together, and for putting up with my sporadic and random posting schedule.
Everyone who left a review, for giving me the morale to keep going, particularly lilaclily00, who was there from the very beginning.
And finally, to you, for taking the time to read my version of FMA. I really appreciate the time you invested in my writing, and I hope you enjoyed it.
I may do some other chapters for this story based on some of the OVAs or other side stories, but the main story is complete now, and I will probably be taking a hiatus from fanfiction for a while. It's been fun, but also a little exhausting. Take care everyone.
Edit: Made some changes to the story, and I think as a whole it's pretty strong. So while I may work on some future side stories, as far as the main story goes, I'm drawing a line under it and declaring it finished.
If you're looking for other great FMA stories, I'd recommend Wrath by Minerva Aemilius, as it's really good. If you're a fan of FMA and AoT, I'd also recommend Dedicated Hearts made Fullmetal, as it's also really good.
If you want to indirectly support my writing, consider checking out my P.A.T.R.E.O.N. page, TheGamingArchaeologist. It's only a dollar a month, and it would help me to work on more stories.
I originally had a lot more written down in this edit, but the website decided to be a dick again and deleted all of it, so fuck it, I'm not typing it all up again, I just typed up the cliff notes version.
Anyways, thank you for reading my story and take care.