Markierung
A FullMetal Alchemist Fanfiction

Spoilers: Chapters 58-61, or book 15, depending on how you've been reading.

Legal: I do not own FMA in any way nor do I know the great great Hiromu Arakawa-san. This was only for fun.

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A salamander.

Riza remembered seeing the shape of the lizard on a design she fancied in her father's study when she was no more than seven. It was surrounded by words she didn't understand and circles that she could never seem to draw. Eventually, she began to sense a desperate exasperation in her father's behaviour towards her and half-hoped that these long and seemingly futile alchemy sessions would be over soon. She preferred loosing herself in the fields that surrounded her family's home to being stuck indoors, drawing basic alchemy circles over and over.

One afternoon, Riza entered her father's study to find him and a blond haired boy of fifteen sitting at her table, pouring over her father's alchemy books. Wide eyed, she didn't speak a word as her father gently pulled her into the hallway.

"There's no sense in going on with your alchemy studies any longer, Elizabeth. You simply don't have the talent. Go and run along now." Berthold turned without another word and left her in the empty hall.

She stood there for several moments, unsure of what or how she should feel. Her one last connection to her father was severed. The only use he had hoped to gain from her, he had replaced.

Her young heart hammered inside her chest as anger and frustration seeped into her blood. She found herself moving to the coat closet, pulling out a small rifle and rushing outside. Taking aim at an old fence post, she fired until she ran out of ammunition, all of her shots missing.

Running a hand across her face, she was surprised to find she had been crying. Wiping away any trace of her tears, she reloaded the gun and took aim again at the fence post, this time hitting her target.

"Hi, I'm Roy Mustang. You're Master Hawkeye's daughter, Elizabeth?"

This sixteen year old upstart was her father's newest apprentice, only a year older than herself, and far too cocky to be here long. He'd only arrived that morning on the train while she had been at school.

Riza had seen hundreds of would-be flame alchemists try and fail to learn the secrets from her father and all had either stormed out of the house or been kicked out. It would be no different with this boy.

She met him on the steps of the house, her rifle in hand and a beige pouch thrown over her shoulder, her straw coloured hair pulled back into a pony tail. He looked a bit nervous but visibly relaxed when he saw that she was not threatening him with the firearm.

"Riza. Nice to meet you, Mr. Mustang." She said, her voice clipped but her tone soft. Stepping lightly down the stairs, she started off towards one of the nearby fields, yellowed by the autumn weather, slinging the rifle over her shoulder. About halfway across the field she stopped, turning sharply, the young Roy Mustang almost running her over. "What are you doing?"

He grinned sheepishly and shrugged. "Following you. If you want, I'll turn back."

She frowned at him. None of the other boys ever gave her a second glance and she, likewise, never went out of her way to get to know any of them. She studied this "Roy" for a moment, his unkempt black hair, shiny and smooth, his eyes dark as charcoal. He was tall for his age and lanky in frame. And, she supposed, he wasn't all that bad to look at, knowing full well the other girls at school would be hell to deal with tomorrow, until he finally left. Which she hoped was soon.

"You can come if you like. But I'm not slowing down for you." Turning on her heel, she made her way through the tall field, Roy following her path. Arriving at her destination, a long wooden fence that marked the edge of the Hawkeye property, she pulled half a dozen tin cans from the pouch and set each one on one of the posts. Roy watched as she made her way back, pulling the rifle from her shoulder, loading it with bullets she retrieved from the pouch.

"Target practice, huh? I've been known to a bit of a good shot myself," he said, shoving his hands in his pockets, his face smug with pride.

Glancing at him sideways, she finished loading the gun and thrust it at him. "Go on then,"

Momentarily surprised at her boldness, he took the gun and smirked at her. "Alright then," Lining up his target, he shot at one of the cans, squeezing off several rounds before finally hitting the can, tipping it off its perch. He snorted in obvious self-disgust and handed it back to her. "Okay, maybe it's been a while. What can you do?"

Wordlessly replacing the spent shells, she took quick aim and in less time that it had taken Roy to hit his one target, she eliminated the other five cans in a flourish. Looking over her shoulder, she found Roy's mouth gapping open like a fish out of water.

"Wow! That was amazing!" He grinned at her, his dark eyes bright. "You should be a body guard with that kind of talent."

"Talent?" She questioned aloud. She'd never thought of it in such terms. It was just something she had done for as long as she could remember, something that calmed her, the one thing she could understand in this world.

"Of course," Mustang exclaimed. "I've never seen such gunmanship in my life."

She looked down, feeling her cheeks heat up at such foreign attention and praise. "Thank you, Mr. Mustang."

Roy Mustang wound up stayed longer than she gave him credit for, something she only admitted to him years after. Naturally, he'd been a heart breaker at school and she did her best to ignore the glares of the girls that trailed after him like love-sick puppies.

It was almost a year after he had arrived when they were found themselves in the same field as before, Riza practicing while Roy watched. Squinting against the setting sun, Riza sighted in on her target, an old clay pot.

"Why don't you ever go by 'Elizabeth'?" he asked, standing a safe distance behind her.

"It's what my father calls me. I wanted something for myself." She stated simply, squeezing the shot off, watching as the pot shattered as the bullet hit dead center.

She ejected the casing and lined up her next target, a tin can when she felt him move near her, watching as his large hand slide over the safety. Eyes wide, she turned to reprimand him when the warm press of his lips covered hers, muffling her surprise. He clumsily moved his lips over hers, and soon she let the weapon slip from her fingers as she kissed him back, her fingers slipping into his hair. Eventually, he pulled back and rested his forehead against hers, panting slightly. She closed her eyes as she slowed her own breathing.

"Something for yourself, huh?" he whispered, his voice gruff. "I know what you mean."

It was later that week that she'd come home from the market to find Roy throwing the front door open and stomping angrily down the front steps. "What happened?" She asked when he neared her on the path, dread already filling her heart.

"I told Master Hawkeye that I wanted to make a difference, join the military and become a state alchemist, a flame alchemist. But as soon as I said "military", he refused to listen to reason," He ranted, fidgeting.

"What now?" she asked, already knowing the answer.

Sighing, he ran a hand through his hair. "I'm going to Central. I really think I can make a difference there, Riza."

Tell-tale pin pricks of cold tears clouded her eyes but she kept them at bay. Not here, not now. "I hope so, Mr. Mustang," her voice devoid of emotion.

Disappointment crossed his face as he looked as if he were going to say something else. Instead he merely nodded and swept past her without a word. She stood there for several minutes before calmly walking into the house and shutting the door behind her.

It hadn't been six months since Roy's departure when her father's already deteriorating health had worsened and he found himself forced to rely on his estranged daughter whether he liked it or not.

One evening, Berthold called for his daughter to come to the study. She entered, eyes downcast, daring herself to look up at the man who was becoming more of a stranger as days went by.

He spoke of his failing health and how his Elizabeth was to serve alchemy once again.

"But Father, I haven't the talent for it. Another apprentice will come and then-"

She flinched as he stood up suddenly and slammed a book down on the desk with a strength that shocked her. "No more!" He yelled, panting with exertion. She bit her lip, keeping her eyes downcast as her father sank back into his chair, a frail and dying man once more. "I'm your father and you are to obey."

Nodding meekly, an unknown dread and fear rose up in her. She had seen the wild and crazed look out of the man's eyes and instinctively knew to not question him. Before the week's end, she had missed all of her classes and her school was informed that she was out with a strange illness for an indeterminate period of time.

For the next two weeks, Riza lay on her bed, her hair shorn, unmoving as her father penned his flame alchemy into her back permanently, given the occasional break for food, water, and to wipe the tears from her eyes.

Seven months after her "illness", Riza sat studying for her classes when a knock came from the door. Pulling herself up and attempting to ignore the phantom pain at her back, she opened the front door, coming face to face with Roy Mustang.

"Ah, hello, Miss Hawkeye," he said rather formally. Dressed in military blues, he seemed taller than when she had last seen him. He was now more of a grown man than the lanky alchemist apprentice who had left her a year ago.

"Mr. Mustang, please come in," she said, hiding her surprise. She opened the door wider to allow him entrance, shutting it behind them. She didn't turn to face him.

"You cut your hair," he stated quietly in the hallway.

"Yes," she lied, her hand still on the knob. "It's easier to keep this way."

"I see," she could hear a strange sadness in his voice.

"What did you come for?" she asked, turning to face him now, looking him in the eyes.

"Master Hawkeye. I was hoping to speak with him…" he trailed off.

Moving past him, she walked him to the study and knocked, only opening when she heard a faint "Yes?", motioning Roy to enter with her eyes only.

Pulling the door shut, she pressed her ear to the wood, hearing her father's muffled voice on the other side. "So, you became a soldier after all… Roy…"

"Yes, Master. My goal is to pass the State Alchemist's Test and devote myself to serving my country," Roy's baritone voice stated.

Riza pushed herself away from the door and stepped out the front entrance to catch some fresh air. She knew she shouldn't get her hopes up; it would only end same as it did before. He only wanted her father's research. The phantom pain came again from her back and she rubbed at it absently as she entered the house again only to hear a scuffle and Roy's voice as he cried out, "Master! Master Hawkeye!"

For a moment she stood still before moving quickly to the study door. As she grabbed the handle, Roy was yelling… something about a doctor?

Pushing the door in, she saw Roy holding her father, already dead, his blood everywhere. A sense of sudden fear and strange relief washed over her as she stood there. Relief that the man whom she had come to fear and hate was now dead and gone from her, the fear of what would become of her now.

The fear didn't last long, she wouldn't allow it. Roy stayed with her, made all the arrangements while she sat and contemplated on what to do. What to do with her father's research…

After the funeral, she had shown him. She gave him what he wanted most: how to become a Flame Alchemist. He had spoken of his dreams for Amestris at her father's gravesite and just like that, he had won her all over again. She'd made a pact with him, trusting her back, her father's research, their country's future, to him.

That had been years ago and so much had happened since then. Selling her home, joining the academy, the war…

The war… sometimes she wondered if she would survive.

And she had. It was over; Amestris had won and Ishval… well, there wasn't much of Ishval left to be called anything anymore. And she had done her part and done it well, as both a sharpshooter for the military and by being solely responsible for creating the heroic Flame Alchemist to Amestrians, the dreaded Flame Alchemist to Ishvalans.

Though she wasn't a religious woman, there were moments when Riza Hawkeye prayed for death, to be absolved from the guilt and the nightmares that she knew would never leave her.

She considered taking her own life once, in these fields of dust and grit, but in the end she just couldn't. It was the coward's way out and she would live with her crimes.

She heard footsteps behind her and didn't turn when they stopped.

"Aren't you leaving? You'll get left behind." She closed her eyes briefly at the sound of his voice. "Is that for a fallen comrade?"

"No, sir," She let her fingers trail along the top of the small grave she'd made, her military blues smudged with dirt and blood, infiltrated with dust that the wind had ground into the fabric. Her hand came to rest in her lap before turning to finally look at him over her shoulder. "It's for an Ishvalan child. His body was abandoned on the side of the road."

She got a good look at him then, his face drawn and tired, aged far more than it should be. She was sure that she looked the same. "… Let's go home. The war is over." He said, sounding strangely defeated for a war hero.

Turning her back to him, she had made her mind up. She had thought long and hard about this, and this child, dead and broken beneath her hands as she buried him, the precise through-and-through bullet wound in his heart that she couldn't help but notice, strengthened her resolve.

"Inside me, the war isn't over yet. No… it will never end as long as I live," she spoke so that only they could hear; Roy, her and the child, a holy and crippled trinity.

"It was my decision to trust you and pass my father's research on to you. I also made the decision to join the academy in hopes of improving the lives of this country's people," taking a shaky breath, she continued, "As much as I regret what's happened, I can't escape the fact that it was my choices that brought me to this position. I'm a killer and no amount of denial or repentance can absolve me of that."

Her voice cracked at the end, the force of hearing her own thoughts and convictions aloud for another person to hear… Not that Roy was just any person…

His silence said it all, confirmed it. He understood, she knew, what it felt like to have the eyes and soul of a killer. She felt a lone tear roll down her dirt smudged cheek. "I have a favour to ask of you, Mr. Mustang."

'Something for yourself, huh?'

And she asked. And he, of course, had initially denied her. She had nearly pleaded with him and to this day didn't know what made him change his mind; her, her father, or himself being so tired of the whole fucking war, but in the end he conceded to her on the agreement of burning only portions of the tattoo instead of her whole back.

And when it was all over and done with, she found it appropriate to have the mark her father left on her covered by Roy's.

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Fin.

Author's Notes: This was a story I just couldn't get out of my head for some reason. I hope you enjoyed it.