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What Music They Make!

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A crack of thunder rumbled as a bolt of lightning streaked across the dark sky. Thunderstorms in October weren’t abnormal, but this one did seem to be particularly vicious, wind whipping and moaning. Rain soaked the pavement below, splattering the windows with the force of the gale outside, sounding like a steady roll of thunder itself.

In the warmth of their third floor flat, Harry and Draco sat on either end of their lush, grey couch. Harry poked fun at Draco’s posh upbringing when he picked out the living room piece, insinuating that he couldn’t live without the luxury of Malfoy Manor. Draco scoffed and informed Harry that cushioning charms only did so much good when it came to furniture, so it was natural to want to buy something as comfortable as this particular couch.

Harry smiled as he remembered the jokes between the two in the store. The smell of particle board and the way the harsh, fluorescent lights cut dark lines over his boyfriend’s face filled him with warmth on that day and every day since. He glanced over at Draco, the blue light from his laptop screen casting shadows over his face, similar to the way it did that day in the furniture store. He shook his head slightly before returning his attention to his tablet.

He refreshed the news app in front of him. It had been a long time since he subscribed to The Daily Prophet; ever since The Quibbler found a way to blend magical and Muggle news in convenient app form, there was no reason to return to the gossip-soaked rag that some once called reputable. He tapped on an article about the recent meeting Kingsley had with the Muggle Prime Minister and watched as the circle turned in its hypnotic way.

A bolt of lightning.

A crack of thunder.

And the flat was dark, illuminated only by the blue hue of their devices.

“Dammit!” Draco exclaimed. “I was right in the middle of something!”

Harry chuckled. “And what was that? Getting ready to battle some poor ten year old that lives in the States?”

“Har har,” the blond responded sarcastically, rolling his eyes. Harry noted that his claim wasn’t refuted, though.

“Wonder what happened,” the boy-who-lived-twice wondered.

“I thought that was pretty obvious,” Draco retorted. “Where the hell is my wand?”

Accio Draco’s wand ,” Harry said, brandishing his own length of holly. It zipped from the bedroom where the brunette caught it out of the air and passed it to his boyfriend.

In the dim light, Harry could see a small smile grace Draco’s face. “Thanks,” he said softly before casting a nonverbal Lumos to light up the room. “Well… what do we do now?” Draco asked dully.

“It took months of convincing to get you to agree to installing Internet, and now you don’t know how to live without it?” Harry teased. “This isn’t the Stone Age; we have magic. Read a book. Brew a potion. Floo to your mother’s house. The list is literally endless.”

“People still had magic in the Stone Age,” muttered Draco, his tone mocking but with a hint of mirth. “Maybe you should read a book. Make it a history one.” 

Harry laughed out loud. “Absolutely not. I left reading history books at Hogwarts. A good mystery novel, now that would be more my speed.”

“Of course it would,” Draco shook his head at the auror. “Go figure.”

The blond huffed as he sank back into the luxurious couch cushions. Sure he could do any number of those things Harry listed. But that wasn’t the point . People just didn’t understand that sitting three feet apart from your significant other, each doing their own thing, was Draco’s favorite part of the day. 

Of course he loved Harry. He loved going out and doing things together - meeting friends for drinks, attending Weasley family outings (yes, he did enjoy those, shockingly), and their intimate date nights. But there was something so vulnerable about being with your love, somehow focusing on yourself but knowing they’re there.

It was a hard feeling for Draco to explain for a variety of reasons, the main one being that he didn’t want to seem like a simpering, needy fool. He knew he was lovestruck, but mushy, schmoopy ideas about romance and love would not help the image he so carefully crafted post-war.

But that’s when he got an idea. A wonderful, awful idea. I know just what to do, thought Draco as he carefully set his laptop to the side.

“So what did you decide - mmf!” Harry exclaimed as the warm heat of a body slid into his lap and placed the book he picked up to the side. The tender press of lips against his followed. Harry’s eyes fluttered shut as he sighed and relaxed into the blond’s ministrations.

Draco smiled as he pulled back, his boyfriend’s glasses glinting as another bolt of lightning split the sky. “I think I came up with an idea of what to do ,” Draco whispered wickedly into Harry’s ear. Harry felt his skin erupt in goosebumps. He gazed at the dark ceiling, Draco’s Lumos having faded with his loss of concentration.

“I think that sounds like an excellent idea,” Harry responded. He reached out and gently pulled Draco’s face to his, kissing him soundly.

Stone Age indeed, they each thought.

Thunder and wind covered the breathy sounds and moans and lightning lit the scene of the other before them. The air in their apartment quickly became as electrically charged as the inky sky outside, building and building until the final distant rumble of thunder could be heard and the lightning-streaked sky was split no more.

Chapter Text

She could hear the thumping of the bass inside the club nearly a block away. Korra swallowed; there were going to be so many people inside, she just knew it. Wall-to-wall, scantily clad young adults, skin sticky with sweat, jumping and screaming along to whatever shitty house-mixed version of a song the DJ decided to play. It was not appealing to the Avatar, whatsoever. But Asami wanted to check out the new place that that was taking Republic City by storm, so here they were.

 

The neon of the brand-new sign lit up the street below. “Dragon Dance” it read in humming white and red letters. Korra scoffed and rolled her eyes at the ridiculous name. Suddenly, she realized that Asami was leading her past the long line of people waiting to be let in and that they were headed right for the bouncer.

 

“Uhh… Asami?” she said tentatively.

 

“Trust me, Kor,” Asami said, throwing a wink over her shoulder.

 

The bouncer had to be a metal bender, Korra decided. He stood head and shoulders above the sea of people, a caricature of the man called The Boulder she had heard about through Katara and Sokka. Pulling herself out of her head, Korra looked up at the man manning the velvet ropes; he, on the other hand, was determinedly not looking in their direction at all.

 

“Good evening...Shun,” Asami said sweetly, reading the bouncer’s nametag. “I’m Asami Sato with Future Industries. We have a VIP booth reserved?”

 

Glancing down at the duo, Shun’s eyes widened and he stiffened slightly as he noticed Korra, her hand attached to Asami’s. She smiled weakly.

 

He grunted and unclipped the rope, letting them both enter the club.

 

“Did you really have a table reserved?” Korra asked Asami once the door closed behind them, music thumping even louder than before.

 

“Well, kind of,” Asami replied sheepishly. “I called and asked about reserving one, but they told me they didn’t have any more for tonight. I figured between the two of us, we could get past the bouncer pretty easily.”

“I would not have fought him to get in here!” Korra replied hotly.

 

Asami rolled her eyes as she turned to face her girlfriend. “That’s not what I meant. You’re the Avatar. I’m the name behind one of the biggest tech companies in the world. They were always going to let us in.”

 

“Huh,” Korra hummed.

 

As they reached the end of the hallway, the lights and sounds were nearly overwhelming. Korra could feel the rhythmic pounding of the bass in her chest, reverberating through her extremities. Lights flashed and whirred over the writhing mass of bodies moving on the dance floor. Korra felt extremely out of her element.

 

“Come on!” Asami shouted over the music and led Korra to the dance floor. Just as they hit the outer edge, a familiar song started playing over the sound system. Korra was shocked - she knew this song! And worse… she loved this song.

 

Almost involuntarily, her body started moving, jiving with the driving beat. She laughed as Asami eyed her body appreciatively. Singing along, Asami grabbed Korra and pulled her closer. The two pressed up against each other as they moved in time with the music.

 

It was hot. And sticky. And sweaty. Everything that Korra worried it would be.

 

Somehow, though, she was ecstatic. The music was moving through her, loosening her joints and her mind. Not to mention, Asami’s body touching hers the way it was… well. Who would turn this down?

 

Maybe this wasn’t so bad after all , Korra thought, smiling.

 

The song ended, flowing directly into the next, and Korra felt Asami’s breath at her ear.

 

“What do you say we get home?” Asami purred seductively.

 

Korra laughed, “We just got here!”

 

“I can’t help it,” Asami replied. “You just look so,” she said, gesturing to all of Korra, “delicious.”

 

“Delicious, huh?” Korra chuckled. “You know just what to say to get a girl going.” Asami laughed, while Korra continued, “I thought you wanted to come out!”

 

“I did,” she said earnestly. “But then… you dancing like that? I don’t know how long I can take all the teasing.”

 

“Well then,” Korra replied, her voice thick with lust, “we should think about heading out.”

Chapter Text

“Hold on, Elicia! You’ll get to see him soon enough,” Maes chastised gently. The six-year-old kept a strong grip on her father’s hand but pulled harder. Her little Mary Janes squeaked lightly along the sterile, linoleum floors as she struggled against the weight.

 

“But Daddy, I can’t hold on! I’ve been holding on forever !” she exclaimed brightly. “He’s finally here!” A shrill squeal punctuated her excitement.

 

Maes couldn’t help but chuckle - and wince. “Elicia, wait.” He pulled lightly on her small hand, forcing her to come to a halt.

 

“Dad, let’s go, we’re almost -”

 

“Young lady, I told you to wait.” Maes rarely needed to use his Dad Voice on his wonderful, perfect, beautiful, smart, funny, and talented six-year-old, so when he did, it was immediately effective. She stopped tugging his arm and turned to face her father.

 

He slowly made his way to the floor to kneel in front of Elicia, eye to eye. His joints creaked with the effort, but it was worth it; he needed to know if her attention waned at all during his speech.

 

“Elicia,” he started, “first off, this is a hospital. You can’t be running up and down the halls yelling or screaming. People here are trying to heal and rest so they can go home to their families. Understand?”

 

She nodded contritely, looking down at her shoes, scuffed in only the way a child’s could be. “Sorry,” she whispered.

 

Hughes enveloped her in a quick hug. “It’s okay, Sweetie. I love that you’re excited, but let’s keep an ear on the volume, mm?” He was met with a nod; he tilted her head up with his pointer finger and smiled at her.

 

“Second thing: Mom has been working really hard today. She’s going to be extremely tired, and she’s probably going to be a little weak.” Elicia looked worried instantly, and Maes was reminded just how big his little girl’s heart was in that moment. “Don’t worry, Mommy will be fine soon!” he quickly reassured her.

 

His reassurance was met with a small smile.

 

“Now,” Maes said, looking Elicia right in the eyes, “are you ready to head in there?”

 

“Yes!” she declared, grasping his hand once more but walked calmly beside him this time.

 

The months following the Promised Day were rough on the Hughes family. Maes was in the tight grasp of a coma after his encounter with Lust. When the  souls of the citizens of Amestris were returned to their proper bodies via the reverse transmutation circle, Maes also awoke with a gasp. It was a medical miracle that doctors still weren’t able to explain.

 

Maes, however, knew there were things in this world that simply couldn’t be explained. 

 

The door to Gracia’s room creaked open quietly, and the dusky evening light filled the room, giving his wife an ethereal, golden glow. Her smile was soft, as she held the bundle of blankets close to her chest.

 

“Come meet your little brother, Elicia,” Gracia cooed. Elicia looked up at her dad who leveled a remember-what-we-talked-about gaze at her; she nodded and cautiously approached the bedside.

 

“What’s his name, Mommy?” he could hear Elicia whisper.

 

“His name is Matías,” Gracia whispered back.

 

Yes , thought Hughes as he gazed upon his family. Sometimes life itself was the miracle.

Chapter Text

Maybe he wouldn’t find the answer in the bottom of a bottle. In fact, it was nearly impossible that he would. Klaus knew that drugs and alcohol dulled his powers; that’s why he’s been the furthest thing from sober since he was old enough to get his hands on Pop’s wine cellar. It only spiraled from there.

Alcohol never forgot he existed; in fact, it helped Klaus forget that he existed. Drugs never locked him in a mausoleum. The substances he loved had to love him back; they made him numb and didn’t make him face what he didn’t want to face.

It was The Séance’s best form of control over his own life.

He tapped the bottom of the bottle, urging the last few drops of clear liquor to make their way onto his waiting tongue. Satisfied that his supply was dried up, Klaus attempted to stand and found his legs were shakier than he anticipated. He fell back against the brick wall of the alley when a jingling caught his attention.

As his world swam, he looked down to see the dog tags there on the ground.

Dave.

Dave had been dead and gone for over fifty years now. Klaus didn’t look like he could be a Vietnam War vet, and he knew it. Did not looking the part stop the smell of wet jungle from invading his nostrils or the sound of gunfire filling his dreams? Did it make the pain of losing one of the best things that had ever happened to him easier?

Of course it didn’t.

Klaus knew he was alone. His siblings still hadn’t come to look for him. His “father” had finally kicked the bucket. The love of his life had died a long time ago.

As he walked down the alley back to the main street, he could hear his footsteps reverberating back to him, making it sound as though someone was walking with him. But Klaus knew.

He walked alone.

Chapter Text

“Mom, I don’t understand what your problem is! It’s just a piercing.”

 

“It’s a piercing on your face, and you are my child! I can’t believe you did that. While I’m thinking about it, how did you even do that? You’re not eighteen - you don’t even hang out with anybody that’s eighteen.” Sam paused. “Do you?”

“Calm down!” Violet yelled, the tiny diamond stud glinting in the low light of the entryway, highlighting the curve of her nostril.

 

“Violet Ida Fenton! I am your mother, and you don’t get to speak to me that way.”

 

Her daughter scoffed, throwing her hands into the air. “Whatever! I thought with the way your parents treated you, you would be a cooler mom. I thought you understood me!” Violet stormed up the stairs, and Sam winced as a door slammed.

 

She let out a heavy sigh and walked to the kitchen with the intention of pouring herself a glass of wine when she realized she wasn’t alone.

“Way to be my backup there, Invis-o-Bill.”

 

“Ouch, really? That nickname?” Danny said, making himself visible before sliding back into his human form.

 

Sam couldn’t help but chuckle slightly as she pulled the cork out of the bottle of grenache and poured a measure into a stemless wine glass. “You deserve it!” she defended. “You could have jumped in at any time!”

 

“Like I was getting in between the two of you. Your fights are legendary.” Danny smiled, “Plus it’s kind of entertaining. It’s like watching you argue with yourself.”

 

Sam knew he was teasing. She really did. But she just wasn’t in the mood to deal with it.

 

“Seriously, Dan. You can’t be happy that she went and got that piercing on her own.”

 

“No,” he admitted, “but I remember you doing something very similar when you were sixteen.” He reached out and gently fondled the hoop that was through her cartilage.

 

“That was different,” Sam argued as she leaned up against the counter and continued to sip her wine. “That was an ear piercing. It’s different than a facial piercing. She thinks she’s so edgy, but she’s making decisions that will follow her for the rest of her life.”

 

“Come on, Sam,” Danny said placatingly. He came and stood beside her, slipping his arm around her waist. “You and I both know that if she were to take that stud out - which is the smallest stud I’ve ever seen, by the way - the piercing would heal in less than a week.” He nudged her gently with his elbow. “What’s really got you this upset?”

 

Sam sighed, stepping away from her husband’s embrace to put her empty wine glass in the sink. “Why didn’t she ask me to take her? If she had just asked, I would have taken her to a reputable piercer.”

 

Dan smiled. “That’s what I thought. You love her little rebellious streak, don’t you?”

 

“I can admit I’m not really mad about the piercing. I’m more mad about the fact that she feels the need to rebel. I thought we raised her to know better.”

 

“Sam. You were rich and wanted for nothing your entire life. You became the antithesis of what your parents thought their daughter should be. Plus, we raised Violet to be strong and independent. Are you surprised?

 

“I suppose I shouldn’t be,” she responded dejectedly. Danny was right. No matter how much she thought that Vi would come to her… she knew the mind of a teenage girl. “Maybe I shouldn’t have confronted her like that.”

 

“Mmm, maybe not,” her husband agreed, “but what could you do to make up for it?”

 

“I could show her how to properly care for a piercing. And ask where she got it done. Maybe it wasn’t at some crappy mall kiosk.”

 

“Sam, she probably remembers going to a tattoo shop for her fifth birthday to get her ears pierced originally. I really think that, if she was gonna get it done, she would be smart about it.”

 

Deep breath in; deep breath out , Sam forced herself to breathe calmly. “You’re right. You’re always right. How did you get to be such a good parent?”

 

“Oh, you know Jack and Maddie Fenton. They were the shining stars of parenting,” Dan joked.

 

Sam smiled. And then Sam laughed heartily, her laughter echoing off of the tiled kitchen floor. Tears of mirth still shining in her eyes, she sobered slightly. “You’re right, though. She’ll be okay. She’s a smart kid.”

 

Danny smiled back. “She does take after you, after all.”

Chapter Text

Riza was in her guard tower, peering through the scope of her rifle. There wasn’t anything or anyone in her sights, thankfully. She truly despised lookout duty.

 

There was suddenly a movement below that came from the opposite direction that she was facing, accompanied by shouting and a small cloud of dust that was stirred up in the haste. Riza quickly found the source of the noise and focused her scope on the group below. It was a group of Amestrian soldiers, that much was apparent. And they were carrying in someone on a stretcher.

 

What Riza truly found odd, though, was there didn’t seem to be the normal sense of detached calm that surrounded bringing a wounded soldier back to base camp. It was a normal part of life in Ishval, after all. No, this sounded panicked, frantic, and urgent. 

 

“We need some help here!” a voice shouted into the camp. Riza had a choice: leave her post to help whatever emergency was going on or stay there and let it potentially fall to someone else.

 

“Please! Quickly!” another voice begged. A snap decision was made, and Riza raced down the steps to find four men all but dragging a dark-haired man between them. Well, Riza assumed his hair was naturally dark… because he had burns covering most of his skin. She flipped into damage control mode.

 

“What happened,” she demanded, walking towards the group.

 

“We don’t know,” a blond man answered. Riza thought she remembered his name was Jacobs. “He went in to make sure a building was clear, and it just went up in flame. We’re lucky the building was mostly made of stone, or we never would have gotten him out of there.”

 

“Flame?” Riza repeated. “No…”

 

Sure enough, as she came closer to get a better look, the charred human in front of them was none other than Roy Mustang.

 

“Get him to the infirmary tent,” Riza commanded, as if she outranked any of the soldiers there. When no one moved, she went to a corner of the makeshift stretcher they threw together. “Let’s go!” she ordered, snapping the men out of their reverie. “The infirmary isn’t far.”

 


 

Riza listened as the two doctors talked.

 

“Burns over 85% of his body,” the male doctor said quietly on the other side of the curtain.

 

The female doctor made a distressed sound. “That means about a 15% chance of survival. What the hell happened in there?”

 

“No one seems to know,” he said. “He was just supposed to be clearing a building, but somehow his alchemy flew out of control.”

 

A brush over the hand she had laid on the bed brought her back to the man in front of her. He was awake.

 

“Major Mustang,” she whispered. “You’re awake. Let me go get someone.” 

 

“No. Please stay,” he rasped and reached out and grabbed her hand. Riza was shocked to see that his right hand wasn't burned in the slightest. Probably the combustion gloves, she thought; the inside had to be flame-retardant, after all. She could tell he was in pain, despite the painkillers she knew the doctors gave him. She made sure she wasn't hurting him by continuing to hold his hand and sat back down.

 

“What happened?” Riza asked, her eyes begging him to give her any kind of information. Roy only turned his head away from her. “Major Mustang, we just want to know so that we can prevent it from happening to someone else. What made your alchemy go haywire like that?” She was met by silence. 

 

“Roy. Please.”

 

He turned back to face her, eyes sparkling with unshed tears. Riza feared those tears falling onto the open wounds on his face. It would sting and cause him even more pain.

 

“Nothing happened.”

 

Riza scoffed. “If nothing happened, we wouldn’t be having this conversation right now.”

 

He looked at her again. His deep brown, almond-shaped eyes met her round hazel ones; she could see the fear and sadness in his gaze. A tear slipped from his eye and drifted down his cheek as he began to speak haltingly.

 

“Nothing happened that I didn’t make happen.”

 

Despite the heat and sand that surrounded her, Riza felt like she was doused in ice water.

 

Roy did this to himself.

 

On purpose.

 

“Roy… why?” she croaked, tears beginning to fall down her own face.

 

“I just couldn’t do this anymore, Riza. Killing innocent people? Cutting them down just for existing? It’s inhumane. This war is disgusting. My options were either to be disgraced and sent back after a psychotic break or go down a ‘hero’. At least this way, my aunt’ll get my benefits, and I won’t have to make excuses about why I’m not on the front lines.” His monologue was punctuated by rasping, gasping breaths and wheezing.

 

Riza sniffled, “That still doesn’t explain why this .”

 

“I had to make it look like an accident. If it was a straight-up suicide, Aunt Chris wouldn’t have gotten anything.” Another coughing fit caused him to pause. “I would have finished the job if I could have kept the flames going. But I passed out.”

 

“Roy… how could you? How could you leave your Aunt? Your sisters?” How could you leave me?   The thought echoed in her mind over and over. 

 

Major Mustang’s breath rattled in his lungs. Riza was pushed to the side as the two doctors rushed in to the small, curtained area that separated Roy from the rest of the patients. Her hand slipped from his calloused grip. Even over the sound of them working, speaking to each other, and administering medications, Riza couldn’t mistake the final words that fell from Roy Mustang’s lips.

 

“Stay alive, Riza. Thanks for everything. I love…”

Chapter Text

Draco knew that Astoria was cheating. Well, he suspected it for a while. But he didn’t have confirmation until the Daily Prophet was delivered one cold December morning. He thought that she would have been more discreet in her actions, though. Honestly… caught by Rita Skeeter on the arm of Blaise Zabini exiting one of the most high-profile wizarding dining establishments in all of greater London? Astoria should have known better than that.

 

Arranged marriages were, unfortunately, not a thing of the past in the wizarding world. And despite Lucius Malfoy’s disgrace after the Second Wizarding War, the Greengrasses felt that marrying their daughter to the Malfoy heir would still be beneficial. After all, Draco was pardoned for his part in the war, not even placed under house arrest (like his father) or on probation (like his mother). Draco was the sole inheritor of the Malfoy fortune.

 

And tonight? He was taking a portion of that fortune and drinking. Heavily.

 

Sitting at the Leaky Cauldron, his thoughts tumbled around in his head. He didn’t inherently love Astoria, that much was true. That didn’t mean he wanted to separate from her, though. He thought they could have been a good match - an attractive match, at least - and that they could have learned to love each other in time. Produced their own Malfoy heir. That kind of thing.

 

Did his attention occasionally wander to The One who he had a crush on since fourth year? Of course it did. He still tried to be a good husband to Astoria, though. He was attentive and doting. Apparently, Draco just wasn’t what she wanted, though.

 

He sighed as The One crossed his mind yet again. To his shock, just as thoughts about her ramped up, he saw her telltale bushy hair enter the Leaky. She went right to Hannah Abbot at the bar to order a drink. As she sat down and shed her cloak, the alcohol coursing through his system made him brave. He stood, grabbing his few belongings and approached the empty high-top barstools.

 

“Is this seat taken?”

 

“Malfoy!” Hermione Granger exclaimed in surprise. “No,” she responded, seeming flustered. “It’s just me, you’re welcome to sit there if you want.” She was almost rambling, he noted.

 

“Please call me Draco,” he said smoothly as he sat. “I just figured if we were both alone, we might as well sit together.”

 

“Oh,” she responded, appearing flustered. “Uh, sure, yeah.” She nodded and took a considerable gulp of the drink that Hannah placed in front of her.

 

Draco chuckled. “Calm down, Granger. I won’t bite.”

 

“Hermione.” She looked him in the eye. “If I can call you Draco, you can call me Hermione.”

 

“Okay… Hermione.” The name felt foreign on his tongue. He never dared utter it aloud before now. “I see you’re making huge strides in the rights of magical sentient beings. Tell me more about the law you’re currently trying to pass.” 

 

He watched her relax slightly, her shoulders dropping as some of the tension left her body. “How did you know about that?” she asked with only a minute air of suspicion, Draco noted with marked pleasure.

 

“I keep up with everything,” he informed her, trying not to sound haughty. “It’s in my best interests to invest where I can. Do you have any good non-profits in mind that could help your cause?”

 

“I don’t want your money Mal- Draco,” she amended quickly. 

 

Draco shook his head as he sipped his drink. “I didn’t mean to come across that way. I honestly believe in what you’re fighting for, and I want to support it.”

 

A light blush dusted her cheeks. “Wow, thanks, Draco. That’s...really nice of you.”

 

He smirked, “I aim to please.” The statement wasn’t wrong, but the way her entire face reddened made him wish he could see how far down her chest it traveled.

 

No. Not yet , he thought. He wanted to actually get to know her. He wanted to see if this was more than physical attraction.

 

They stayed at the Leaky Cauldron until Hannah politely asked them to leave, as the bar was significantly past its closing time. Sheepishly, Draco covered both his tab and Hermione’s, as well as left a hefty tip. As they stood outside, Draco took one last chance.

 

“So… I have a reservation at Tallentellegra next Friday night. Would you possibly be interested in attending with me? A night of dinner and dancing?”

 

Hermione faltered slightly. “Wouldn’t you rather take Astoria with you?” It was the first time Draco had thought about his wife since he watched Hermione enter the Leaky.

 

“Ah. I see you haven’t read the Prophet today.” His voice was flat and unfeeling; he almost regretted it after he watched Hermione wince.

 

“No, I’m sorry,” she replied. “I haven’t put much stock in the paper since before the war. What happened?”

 

“Long story short, she and I will soon be having a long talk about how we’re splitting the assets that aren’t defined in the prenup.”

 

Hermione hissed. “Ouch. Are you okay?” The look of concern on her face was so endearing that it just about caused Draco’s heart to burst.

 

“It’s not nearly as painful as you think. There wasn’t much love there in the first place. Actually, there’s not really any love there.”

 

“I hate to profit from her loss,” Hermione started, “but I would love to go to dinner with you.” That adorable blush was back.

 

“I’ll owl you the details,” Draco said, unable to keep the quiver of excitement out of his voice. “I’ll see you then!”

 

“Bye, Draco,” Hermione murmured as she looked up at him through her eyelashes before she quickly turned and began to walk towards the apparition point at the end of the street.

 

Before she even made it to the end of the block, Draco couldn’t help himself. “Hermione, wait!” He dashed towards her, watching her beautiful hair reflecting the moonlight as she spun.

 

Draco enveloped her in a hug, holding her tightly to his chest and dropping a kiss on the crown of her head. He tried to ignore how perfectly she fit against him as he whispered a final “Goodnight, love.”

 

He shot her a wink, smiling at her dazed look before turning on the spot and apparating into the foyer of Malfoy Estate.

 

Next Friday was going to be an excellent evening. He could already tell.

Chapter Text

Elphaba sat in the window seat at Kiamo Ko. It was her favorite place to sit because it overlooked the valleys and snow capped mountains that surrounded the refuge. From her perch, she could hear Nor, Irji, and Liir as they shouted and played in the luscious, green valley below as Sarima and her sisters looked on from the shade. It was an unseasonably warm day,  and the sunlight streaming through the window onto Elphaba’s black frock coat made her almost uncomfortable.

 

Despite the amount of people in the house, Elphaba could not shake the feeling of loneliness that descended upon her like a cloud from the moment that she discovered the blood left from Fiyero’s body. While at the mauntery, she could suffocate these feelings, hide them far below the surface. 

 

Being around Sarima, Nor, and Irji made her feel that much closer to Fiyero. And despite her attempts to apologize to Sarima for her part in his death, his wife's refusal to believe her dragged all Elphaba's feelings of guilt right back up to the surface. The feelings of blame and accountability mixed with seeing her lover’s next of kin every day was heady.

 

Elphaba regretted her involvement with Fiyero for no other reason than, without her, the Gale Force would not have killed him in cold blood. He had nothing to do with the resistance. It was entirely her fault that Sarima no longer had her husband and Nor and Irji no longer had their father. And as for the other… Well, despite what she thought but could not prove, that still did not give her any other kind of claim to Fiyero.

 

She could not consider herself his because she never was. Plain and simple.

 

No one would ever want someone like her. Elphaba couldn’t even be sure that Fiyero truly wanted her. It was no mortal sin that she was born the color she was. But it was certain proof that she was destined to be alone in the world. By herself.

Chapter Text

“Equivalent exchange! I’ll give half of my life to you if you give half of yours to me!” Ed shouted, blush coloring his cheeks.

 

“Seriously? You treat everything like alchemy. I thought you would have learned by now that equivalent exchange was meaningless! How about I just give you my whole life instead?” Winry countered. Before she truly realized what she had said - what she offered - Ed bust into gales of laughter. She huffily folded her arms over her chest. “It’s not funny Edward!”

 

“I’m sorry, I really am,” he gasped, tears rolling down his face. “It’s just… only you could take something that’s been a tenet in my life as long as I can remember and make me even consider throwing it out the window. You’re amazing, do you know that?”

 

It was Winry’s turn to blush. “Are you making fun of me?”

 

“Not at all,” Ed said soberly, forcing his laughter under control. “I just don’t think I truly realized how hard this goodbye was going to be for me, and I thought by asking for a promise before leaving it would make it easier. But it’s not. I love you, Win. I love everything about you - especially the way you force me to reevaluate my whole worldview.”

 

Winry looked into Edward’s golden eyes. She knew this was going to be hard, but she didn’t realize how difficult it was going to be until he was stepping onto the train. When he turned around, she was filled with hope that he might stay there with her for just a while longer. The tears that he would still be leaving her soon stung behind her eyes, but she refused to let them fall.

 

“Hey,” Ed murmured softly, tucking a wild strand of hair behind her ear. “Don’t look so sad. I just told you I loved you; did I mistake all of this, do you not want to spend the rest of your life with me? I mean, it’s totally okay if you don’t, I just -” 

 

Winry cut him off with a kiss. Her full lips covered his with enthusiasm, and Ed responded in earnest. As they parted, lips puffy, eyes sparkling, and rosy cheeked, Winry sighed and leaned into Ed’s chest.

 

“I just hate to see you go,” Winry whispered through the pain of her throat tightening with tears. “I don’t even know when you’ll be back. I’m going to miss you because I love you, too, Edward.”

 

Winry felt Ed’s breath leave him in a whoosh. “Come with me,” he said airily, as if suggesting they go to lunch.

 

“Ed - what?”

 

“Come with me,” he enunciated again, a gleam like Winry had never seen in his eye before. “I’ve heard that the sights on the way are gorgeous - but they’ll be that much prettier if you’re by my side. Come with me.”

 

“I can’t,” Winry attempted to feebly protest. “There’s so much here, and who will look after Granny, and -”

 

“Now boarding, Resembool to Central! Resembool to Central! All aboard!” the conductor shouted.

 

“See?” she continued. “You have to get on this train or you’ll miss your connection in Central. I don’t even have a bag packed.”

 

“There are other trains to Central, Winry. There are other trains from Central to West City. My transport to Creta isn’t scheduled to be there for another week and a half because I didn’t know how long it would take me to get from West City to the border. I gave myself some extra time. We can go together.”

 

“All aboard!” The train started spitting out steam; a whistle blew.

 

“Come with me, Win.”

 

“Okay… Okay!” she said, hesitantly at first and then more assured. “Let’s go pack a bag and explain everything to Granny!”

 

The train began to pull away from the station and Edward waved gaily at the conductor who, in turn, shook his head, rolled his eyes, and waved back. “Before we go…” Ed started and reached into the deep pocket of his traveling coat. He pulled out a small box and opened it to reveal a small, silver band. He plucked it out of the box and gestured for Winry’s left hand.

 

She flashed him a winning smile and held out her hand. As he slipped the ring on, she noticed something familiar about the metal. “Ed… is this…?”

 

He smiled sheepishly. “Yeah… it is. I asked Al to transmute it from a piece of my automail that was busted on the ground during The Promised Day. It was the thing that made me realize how much you meant to me, how much you cared for me. It was the first thing that told me how much I loved you.”

 

This time, he initiated the kiss and threaded one hand through her fingers and one reached up to pull her even closer to him. The two broke apart, smiling at each other the way that only fools in love could.

 

They bounded off the platform, down the steps, and onto the packed dirt road, Ed’s right hand never letting go of Winry’s left.

Chapter Text

“InuYasha,” Kagome said sweetly. “ Osuwari!” 

 

InuYasha yelled as he was pulled to the ground. He jumped back up and spit clods of dirt from his mouth. “What the hell was that for, Kagome?”

 

“You know exactly what it was for, InuYasha! And don’t do it again!”

 

InuYasha laughed deep in his chest, “I’m sorry, ‘Gome, but you know I couldn’t help it. You just looked so beautiful.”

 

Even after all this time, InuYasha could still make Kagome blush. “That doesn’t mean you get to just play grab-ass whenever you want! I could have dropped the basket!” She turned away from him under the guise of readjusting said basket on her hip, but truly it was in hopes that he wouldn’t catch how red her face was.

 

“Ahhh, calm down, Wench,” InuYasha said endearingly. “You know I love you. I just also find you incredibly sexy,” he said, coming up behind here and wrapping his arms around her. She could feel his breath on her neck and his nose nudged that sensitive spot behind her ear. Kagome couldn’t hide breaking out in gooseflesh.

 

“Dirty dog,” she muttered under her breath.

 

InuYasha grazed her neck with his fangs. “You wouldn’t have me any other way.”

 

“You’re absolutely right,” Kagome laughed. “Now what are you going to do about it?”

 

“Keh!” scoffed InuYasha, as he picked up both her and the basket to get them home as quickly as possible.

Chapter Text

It was a cold and dreary January day; snow was falling in large flakes outside the house as the overcast, grey sky outside matched the drab exterior of Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place. If the skies were grey, thunderstorming, and hot as Hades in the middle of summer, the weather would have matched the interior of Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place, because tempers were flaring hot and high.

 

“What do you mean ‘I wasn’t there for you’? Of course I was! You didn’t want to talk about it!”

 

“No,” Ginny retorted, “you refused to ask me about it! Never once did you want to talk about how I was possessed by Tom fucking Riddle as an eleven year old. I worked through my trauma, Harry. I went to a mind healer. I actively tried to make myself better.” She gestured wildly towards him. “You? You’re just making yourself more of a martyr. ‘Oh, boo-hoo, I’m the fucking boy-who-lived twice, nobody knows what I’ve been through.’ No, Harry, nobody does know because you - won’t - talk about it!” she roared.

 

“I didn’t ask to be a hero, Ginny! Never once did I ask for what was doled out to me. I drew a really shitty hand in life, and yeah, sometimes it’s a little hard to deal with! I thought that you would be sympathetic, that you would understand that I want to put the hero worship and the boy-who-lived garbage behind me. I just want to be Harry! Just Harry!”

 

“But that is exactly the problem! You can’t just shove this stuff in a cupboard under the stairs and pretend that it doesn’t exist.” Ginny exhaled and attempted to lower her voice. “Harry. Listen to me. You did not deal with any thing that happened to you.”

 

Harry made no effort to lower his voice and continued at a volume that, if the house still weren’t under a Fidelius charm, surely would have disturbed the neighbors. “Yes, I did! I -”

 

“Then why won’t you consider getting married? Why won’t you think about children?” Ginny challenged him, fully knowing the answer despite him never revealing it. Harry had the sense to look sheepish for a moment; but then that turned to rage and embarrassment.

 

“So I don’t want to have kids because I’m afraid of not being around to take care of them? That’s a crime?” he asked hotly.

 

“No, it’s not, Harry,” Ginny rolled her eyes and pinched the bridge of her nose in pure frustration. “You know it’s not a crime. But this is exactly what I’m talking about. I’m not telling you that your fears aren’t valid, because they are. You could get hit by the Knight Bus tomorrow, and I could fall off my broom the next day. But don’t you think every parent worries about that? Or about losing a child? How do you think my mum feels, knowing that Fred’s hand on the clock will never move past Mortal Peril ever again? Yeah, it really fucking sucks, but that’s a risk that you have to take when you become a parent.”

 

Harry felt tears prick his eyes. This was not how tonight was supposed to go. He sank on to the nearest seat - a sleek, black wing-backed chair - and put his face in his hands. The passing of time was imperceptible; he could have sat like that for minutes or hours.

 

Finally, he raised his head, and in a dead, hollow voice said, “I’m so fucked up.”

 

“No, you’re not,” Ginny responded in a soothingly exasperated tone. “There are a lot of reasons why you react to things the way you do, and it’s hard to blame you for it. It’s time to take control of your life, though. Harry, you’ve been through so much in your lifetime, and I want you to be healthy. Auror training does wonders for your physical abilities, but no one ever thinks about the mental and emotional toll it takes. Add that on top of everything else you’ve dealt with, and it’s a recipe for disaster.

 

“Harry, I want you to make an appointment with a mind healer. To save you from walking through life like a zombie and to save our relationship.”

 

Harry shook his head. Ginny was ready to argue before he held out a hand to stop her. “I’m not refusing to go, Gin. I’ll owl them tomorrow and see if they can set up an appointment under a pseudonym. But…” he faltered as he looked into Ginny’s chocolate brown eyes. “I don’t think we should stay together while I’m going. I think we need to take some time apart and re-evaluate our relationship.”

 

Instantly, Ginny was on the defensive. “That wasn’t what I meant at all, and you know it, Harry! I want to be there for you, I want to support you -”

 

“And you can,” he cut her off. “As a friend. I haven’t been seeing to your emotional needs for a very long time. I hate that we had to have such a blow-out fight for me to realize it, but it’s true. I didn’t want to talk about your time with the diary because I didn’t want to think about how I was fulfilling my destiny before I even knew about it. I hated being reminded that I wasn’t the only one that Tom affected. I need to handle my own baggage first.”

“Harry,” Ginny said softly, tears falling down her porcelain skin.

 

“No, Gin. I’m sorry, but my mind is made up. You’re better off without me, at least for now.”

 

The wind picked up outside Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place, whipping the snowflakes that were still falling into a wintry gale. As the howling of the wind cried out to the moonless night, it matched the feelings in Harry’s heart. It stung right now, but eventually, spring would come again.

Chapter Text

Roy came back to his tent to find that it had been ransacked. His military-grade level of cleanliness was ruined in comparison to how he had left it that morning; the bed was untucked, his trunk was open and rifled through, and the books and papers that sat on his desk were opened and scattered throughout the small room.

 

“What the hell…” he muttered, frustratedly bending down to pick up the thing closest to the entryway. As he touched it, however, he realized what it was. Roy’s blood turned to ice. “No, no, no,” he repeated as he flipped through the pages of the leather-bound journal.

 

“Fuck.”

 

It wasn’t there.

 

In a fit of panic, he strode over to the small table beside his bed. He transmuted the small table using the only prevalent substance he could find upon his arrival in Ishval: sand. The drawer made an awful grinding noise when he opened and closed it, but it provided a small comfort of home. What most didn’t know, though, was that there was a false back in the drawer, making it appear shorter than it was.

 

The grating sound of the drawer opening met Roy’s ears, and he quickly transmuted the false back away. He let out a sigh of relief. At least the notes on Flame Alchemy were safe.

 

He spun around as he heard the tent flap rustle. Maes took off his hat as he entered. “Hey Roy, I came by to - what the hell happened in here?”

 

“Your guess is as good as mine,” Roy said bitterly. “It looks like whoever did this was looking for something. I have a guess at what they took, but I won’t know for sure until I put the place back together.”

 

“I can help if you tell me what you think is missing,” Maes offered graciously. Dinner could wait.

 

Maes was met with a pause. He knew that, with Roy, pauses weren’t good things. Pauses meant that Roy was debating whether or not to tell the full truth or a half truth. Luckily, Maes knew his best friend enough to know how to get the answer out of him.

 

“Bigger than a breadbox?” Maes teased, lips pulled into a smirk. “Just kidding; let’s get this cleaned up.” Maes leaned down and started gathering papers, purposely not looking at what he was picking up. He closed books and piled them on the corner of Roy’s bed; papers were tapped as square as Maes could make them and placed beside the books. He cleaned in silence as Roy stood and stared.

 

Maes waited. He knew Roy was seconds away from breaking.

 

“They took the picture.”

 

Genuinely confused, Maes asked, “What picture?”

 

The picture. Of us.”

 

That picture? You brought that picture here?” Maes questioned.

 

“Of course I did. It’s my favorite picture of us. One of the only pictures of us… I couldn’t just leave it under my pillow at home. It’s been the only thing that’s brought me comfort in this sand-filled hell.”

 

Maes glared. Roy would pull on his heartstrings.

 

“That doesn’t change the fact that you have endangered both of our careers by bringing that picture here. We could be dishonorably discharged for that photo!”

 

“I know, I know, I fucking know!” Roy shouted. “Why do you think I’m this upset? There’s no way in hell that picture can be explained away, and it can’t possibly still be in this tent. It was in the back pocket of my journal - well hidden. Whoever found it was really looking for something to frame me with -”

 

“Oh, and I just get caught in the crossfire?” Maes spat. Roy winced at the metaphor.

 

“Listen, Maes, I can’t -”

 

“Major Mustang.” A familiar voice sounded from outside the tent.

 

Tersely, Roy responded, “Come in, Cadet Hawkeye.”

 

Riza entered the tent and eyed the two men. The look on her face said that she could have cut the air with a spoon. “I just came to deliver this to you, Major Mustang,” Riza explained, holding out what was clearly a photograph with wrinkled and curled edges. Roy crossed the tent in three long strides and snatched the photo out of Riza’s hand.

 

“Where did you get this? Were you the one that went through all of my things?”

 

“Of course not,” Riza scoffed. “I saw Major Kimblee poking around, so I came in to see what he needed. By the time I got in here, he had already torn the place up, but I think I scared him off. I managed to get the picture after he scurried away, though.”

 

Maes hummed disapprovingly. “How did you know the picture was there?”

 

Riza blushed. “I remember where Roy used to hide things when he apprenticed under my father. It might be a different journal, but I guessed that Roy hadn’t changed much.” It was Roy’s turn to blush.

 

Maes must have accepted her explanation because he nodded and made his way to the tent flap. “Roy, if you need more help cleaning this up after dinner, let me know. But, for now, I’m starving.” As he slipped out, Roy let out a sigh of relief.

 

“Riza… Thank you. I really owe you one.”

 

“No you don’t,” Riza responded. “Just find a better hiding place for your stuff, huh?” And with that, she left for dinner as well.

 

Roy breathed another sigh and sank down on the edge of his bed. He looked down at the photo in his hands. In the grand scheme of things, the picture wasn’t that bad; it didn’t contain any phalluses or obscene acts. But the image of Roy cuddled up to Maes’ naked chest, sheets slipping low enough to reveal Roy’s Adonis belt was incriminating enough to make their lives in the military hell on earth. Neither Roy nor Maes could withstand the fallout from that, especially with Gracia waiting at home for Maes.

 

Another horrific grating sound and Roy hid the photo underneath his notes on Flame Alchemy. Some secrets were worse than others.

Chapter Text

“You will marry an extremely powerful bender,” Aunt Wu told Katara many years ago during their journey through the Earth Kingdom. Aunt Wu’s predictions for the group were stories told around campfires as they snuggled up against Appa; everyone knew of Katara, Sokka, and Aang’s predictions. What they didn’t know was the truth behind Aang’s falsified prediction about love.

 

Everyone was in love with the couple that was Aang and Katara. Everyone except Aang and Katara, that is. Katara felt stifled. Aang felt restless. There was nothing they could compromise on, no agreement they could come to - except one.

 

The power couple that was Katara and Aang was no more.

 

Katara was wandering around the capital of the Fire Nation one day, many years after the defeat of Fire Lord Ozai when she decided that a cup of perfectly-brewed tea would do her well. There was no better tea shop in the entire republic than those of the Fire Nation.

 

The waterbender walked up to the counter and ordered a cup of mango green tea and a small pastry. As the barista totaled her purchase, Katara felt a presence behind her.

 

“Please put it on my tab, Mira,” a familiar voice said. Katara spun around.

 

“Zuko!” she cried and embraced him. He caught her and returned the affection. “It’s so great to see you! It’s been so long.”

 

“It really has,” he responded, a small smile gracing his features. “Were you on your way somewhere? Or did you have time to join me?”

 

“I would love to join you,” Katara accepted. "What are you doing here?"

 

"This is my favorite tea shop," Zuko replied almost sheepishly. "Their jasmine tea is...comforting."

 

They sat at a table in the front of the shop, watching passersby and talking about anything and everything. The teapot was refreshed by Mira a few times over the course of their conversation, the two barely recognizing the intrusion in favor of the one across from them. Mira finally forced them out after the sun had dropped far below the skyline and the torches along the streets were lit.

 

As Katara and Zuko parted ways with promises of meeting again soon, Katara smiled a smile that reached her eyes for the first time in a long time. She looked up at the star-filled sky and took note of the only two clouds in the sky: one shaped like a dove and one shaped like a dragon.


In that moment, the words of Aunt Wu returned to Katara. You will marry a powerful bender

Chapter Text

“Yuri! Come on! There’s so much to see!” Victor crowed with excitement. His eyes sparkled with the lights on the Vegas strip.

 

Yuri laughed, “Okay, Victor, okay! It’s only Monday. We have plenty of time to see everything before the competition.” He caught up to Victor and grabbed his hand; even the oppressive desert heat couldn’t stop him from wanting to touch his love.

 

Victor smiled and conceded. “I know, but I want to see everything! The fountains at the Bellagio; the New York, New York roller coaster; the neon museum; and we have to try our hand at some gambling.”

 

Of course, Yuri knew that he would do anything to keep seeing how Victor beamed. He would hop a plane right now and head anywhere Victor wanted if it meant he got to see the smile that seemed to make his world turn.

 

“I’ve always wanted to see the aquarium at the Mirage,” Yuri confessed.

 

“Let’s go! Right now!” exclaimed Victor.

 

After all, they had time.

Chapter Text

“Not quite, Mustang. You’re close, though - I can sense it!” Ed said enthusiastically. Roy, on the other hand, was frustrated.

 

“It doesn’t make sense, Elric!” he yelled. “‘Feel the energy,’ what the hell is that supposed to mean?”

 

Ed rolled his eyes. “It means just that. Feel the energy flow.”

 

“That doesn’t help,” Roy ground out through his teeth. “What energy? What flow?”

 

The blond sobered slightly. “Oh. You really don’t know, do you?”

 

“Obviously not,” Roy sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose. He felt like he did that in the presence of Ed a lot.

 

“Damn. If I still had my alchemy, I could show you,” Ed muttered. Roy winced; he was sure that if he were the one to lose his alchemy, he wouldn’t toss such casual comments about. It was a hurt that had to sting. Or at least he assumed. It wasn’t like Roy was ever going to actually ask Ed about it.

 

Ed stood with his arms crossed and his face scrunched up in thought. Just when Roy was about to joke about smelling smoke, Ed smiled and nodded.

 

“Okay. Think of it like this. You know that feeling that you get when you activate a transmutation circle? Like that little zap that almost feels like static electricity?” Ed asked. Roy nodded, but before he could finish the gesture, Ed barreled on. “Okay, that’s the energy that’s I’m talking about. That’s the energy that you provide the circle from yourself to complete the transmutation. I think the gate is what gives each person their ‘static’ so to speak, but that’s pure speculation.

 

“Anyway, my point is that, instead of feeding that energy into the transmutation circle like you normally do, you’re feeding that energy back into yourself. So the whole process is essentially you picturing the transmutation circle in your head, feeding that spark of energy through the circle, which is you because you’re making the circle when you connect your hands, and then moving to the thing you want to transmute. Does that make more sense?”

 

Roy huffed. Ed definitely had to get his rambling under control if he ever wanted to be the teacher he claimed he wanted to be. “I think so,” he confirmed hesitantly.

 

“Well go for it, then!” Ed said in equal measures of excitement and impatience.

 

Deep breath in. Deep breath out.

 

Tension released.

 

Roy pictured a very simple transmutation circle. Ed had warned him to not even try combining flame alchemy with clap alchemy.

 

He pressed his palms together and kneeled to touch his hands to the ground beneath him.

 

Blue crackles of electricity filled the air and a pillar of earth around five feet in diameter rose from the ground until it towered over the two men in the field.

 

Elation filled Roy as he heard whoops of joy from Edward.

 

“You did it! Congratulations, you bastard, you did it!”

 

Roy laughed. “Holy shit. I really did,” he murmured to himself. He went to stand but the world was no longer on the axis he was accustomed to. His vision grew dark momentarily, but he felt a pair of arms catch him.

 

“Whoa there, Mustang,” Ed said sunnily, as if Roy didn’t just collapse. “I should have warned you it takes a bit out of you until you get used to how much energy you’re putting into the circle.”

 

“I’ll say,” Roy slurred. “How long does this last?”

 

“Not long,” was the reply. Ed thrust a canteen of water into Roy’s hands. “Drink that. It’ll help.” 

 

Gratefully, Roy took a long pull and instantly felt refreshed. He made eye contact with Ed, whose golden eyes were glittering with joy.

 

“I did it,” he almost whispered, words still slurring slightly. “I can’t believe I did it.”

 

“Of course you did,” Ed said. “There was no way you weren’t getting the hang of this. Now that you know the feeling, you just need to work on how much you put into the circle, and you’ll be good to go. What did it feel like?

 

“Amazing,” Roy said before thinking. He saw a flash of nostalgia tinged with pain and envy dart across Ed’s face and felt guilty almost instantly. In his exhausted state, he must not have had his Mustang Mask on fully, because Ed quickly schooled his expression.

 

“There’s nothing like it, is there?” Ed asked longingly. “You feel so powerful and so...connected. It’s almost magical.”

 

Roy hummed in agreement, reflecting on how the energy traveled up each of his arms and met in the center of his chest, followed by the feeling of power releasing from his very being. It was addicting.

 

“I can see why you refused to use transmutation circles after you learned how to do this,” Roy said, shaking his head.


Ed laughed, “I didn’t even realize I could do it until I did it. It was like an instinct, like the force needed me to just connect…” He trailed off.

 

Roy realized he had touched a nerve and quickly diverted. “Oh, of course the Fullmetal Alchemist just knew how to perform such an obscure form of alchemy. How could I have been so silly to think that someone taught you. I suppose this is one thing that you’ll always be better than me at,” he lilted in a teasing tone. It worked.

 

“We all know that I’m still the better alchemist, Roy,” Ed prodded. “I don’t even have alchemy, and I’m still teaching you how to do this. If that doesn’t prove that I’m the far superior being, I don’t know what does.”

 

“Well, Oh Great Alchemist Of Our Time, wanna go somewhere for a drink? This calls for a celebration, and I think I know just the place.” After all, his mother’s bar had finally been rebuilt.

 

Ed groaned, “I swear, if you take me to your mother’s brothel, I’m going to hurt you.”

 

“It is not a brothel!” Roy defended. “It’s a house of ill repute. There’s a difference.”

 

“Sure there is,” Ed agreed sarcastically.

 

“There is! I guess I’ll just have to take you to show you. Call the team and invite them, too - it’s almost the end of the day.”

 

“Yeah, and Hawkeye will have your head if they skive off the last two hours to go drinking. It’s a miracle she let you out for the afternoon.”

 

Roy winced again. “Maybe you’re right.” He felt refreshed and rejuvenated; he was ready to practice some more. “Can you explain to me how to limit the energy that I pour into the transmutation? I think I’ll practice a bit more. Then we can hit up the bar for drinks.”

 

“Sure, Roy.”

Chapter Text

“She’s finally asleep,” Gracia murmured to Roy as she entered the living room. “It’s like she can feel that we’re tense on this day every year.” She went and settled on the couch, pulling her knees up under herself and cuddling up to Roy.

 

“She has her father’s perceptiveness,” Roy agreed.

 

“Oh stop that ‘her father’ nonsense,” Gracia chided. “We don’t know for sure who Elicia’s father is. And she’s the spitting image of me - it looks like I just asexually reproduced her. Either of her fathers could have been the donor. You know that.”

 

Roy huffed. “She’s too sweet and kind to be mine. We might have all been there the night she was conceived, but she’s Maes’s through and through.”

 

Gracia sighed, knowing she would never win this argument. “Fine. I’ll accept that on today, but today only.”

 

Shaking his head, Roy took a pull from the small tumbler of whisky he held. “I just miss him so goddamn much. It feels like he’s been gone for years.”

 

“I miss him, too,” Gracia responded. “With a personality as large as his, the hole he left feels like it’s a chasm.” She turned her face up to Roy’s and placed a kiss on his cheek. “I never would have gotten through this without you.”

 

Roy squeezed her gently and kissed the crown of her head. “You and Elicia have given me so much to be thankful for,” Roy responded. “Maes was the catalyst that brought us together, but I couldn’t imagine my life without you now. I only wish…” He had to pause to swallow the lump in his throat. “I only wish that he was here to see it. To be with us.”

 

“He knew how much we all meant to each other. He knows how much you’ve grown into the role of father that you always took a backseat to when he was still with us. He’s proud of you. He’s happy for us.” Gracia paused, tears filling her eyes. “At least, that’s what I have to tell myself. I have to believe that there’s more to life than this, or else the fates wouldn’t have taken him away from us so soon.”

 

Tears burned in Roy’s eyes. Seeing Gracia cry always made him cry, as well.

 

“You’re right,” he agreed, tears streaming down his face.


I love you Maes, he thought, raising his glass and taking another swig in a macabre toast. Looking down at the woman in his arms, he amended, We love you.

Chapter Text

Riza took a dainty sip of her wine. Beside her, Rebecca downed the last of her red.

 

“Come on, Ri,” she whined. “Give me your phone!”

 

“Absolutely not,” the blonde replied instantly. “I can’t trust you to just take a picture without throwing in a few selfies. What makes you think I’ll let you go through my dating apps?”

 

“Because I’m bored,” Becca droned. “Besides, you never pick anyone that would actually work out well. You only pick boring, straight-laced, uptight women. You need to pick someone with more of a wild side,” she leered.

 

Riza rolled her eyes. “But I’m straight-laced and uptight.” She freely admitted it - her military background didn’t do her any favors in that regard.

 

“And that’s exactly why you shouldn’t go for someone that is,” Rebecca explained as if she was explaining why the sky is blue to a toddler.

 

Knowing that this was going to be an endless battle all night, Riza did the only thing she could. She caved.

 

“Fine. Here,” Riza said, tossing her phone at Rebecca.

 

Becca squealed with joy, hurriedly punched in Riza’s passcode, and opened MeetCute. Riza made her way into the kitchen and threw a bag of popcorn into the microwave. She raised her voice over the hum of the microwave and the popping of the popcorn. “I still don’t understand why you’re so intrigued by this. I’ve given up on dating; everyone on there is either looking for a quick lay or wants to move in tomorrow. I want a relationship, not -” 

 

“Holy shit. Riza. You have to see this.”

 

“Seriously, Becca? If I get over there and there’s boobs on the screen -”

 

“Riza! I’m serious. I think I found the perfect person for you.”

 

Scoffing, Riza abandoned the microwave and plopped onto the couch beside Rebecca. “What’s so important?” she asked; Becca’s only reply was to shove Riza’s phone under her nose.

 

“She’s perfect.”

 

Riza took the phone and checked the profile picture. She was gorgeous. Long, blonde hair that covered one eye and curled at the ends. Ice blue eyes that punctured Riza’s very soul. And lips so full they were begging to be kissed. Riza took care to close her mouth (she just realized that it had fallen open) and scrolled down to read the bio.

 

 

 

Olivier A.

26-30

Central City, Amestris

Interested in: Women

My cat is my favorite being on this planet. If you can’t handle being second to an animal, I don’t recommend contacting me. Looking for someone that likes long walks on the beach and a few hours a week at the mercy of a sword. You probably don’t like swords if you’re on my profile, but I guarantee I can make you scream without ever touching my...sword. Yes, I’m snarky. No I won’t apologize for it.

 

Rebecca smiled, “You have to message her.”

 

Riza returned the grin. She did seem pretty perfect on a screen. Besides, what would it hurt to send a message? She grabbed the phone back and tapped out a quick message.

 

 

Riza H, 19:23: Pic for pic?

https://flic.kr/p/2hwAHmp

 

 

Riza and Rebecca waited with bated breath. Just as Riza was about to give up, her phone vibrated.

 

 

Olivier A, 19:27: You have my attention

https://flic.kr/p/2hwwXet

 

 

“She answered! She answered!” Rebecca screamed loudly. Riza, while ecstatic and feeling a bit like floating, plugged her ear and shot Becca a glare.

 

“If I had wanted to blow my hearing, I would have just gone to the range without my ear protection today,” she said sarcastically. Poking her tongue out of the corner of her mouth, Riza thought for a moment and responded.

 

 

 

Riza H, 19:28: Beautiful! Name?

Olivier A: 19:29: Snowball. I didn’t name her, though. She was a rescue, and I was too lazy to figure out a new name. Suits her, though. Yours?

Riza H, 19:29: Black Hayate. Also a rescue, but I did get to name him.

Olivier A, 19:30: Dramatic. I like a flair for the dramatic.

Riza H, 19:31: Hah. I like to think that I keep a cool head most of the time, but I have been known to pull out the drama and act as it suits me.

Olivier A, 19:35: As long as you don’t use your talent for acting when I go down on you, feel free to be theatric all you want.

 

 

Rebecca squealed again. This time, Riza smacked her.

 

 

Riza H, 19:36: Bold, aren’t we?

 

Olivier A, 19:38: I just know what I want. I’m not here to just fall into bed with someone, but I’m not here to string anyone along, either. I want what I want, and if you want it, too...well, there we go

 

Olivier A, 19:38: This...boldness, as you said, is my personality. I figure if I come on strong and potential dates can’t handle it, then they aren’t dating material.

 

Olivier A, 19:44: Fuck. Couldn’t handle it, could you?

 

Riza H, 19:44: Oh, I can handle it. I just had to get my phone back from my idiot “friend” who thinks she’s helping.

Riza H, 19:44: She had various ways of how you could make me scream typed out. Some were quite vulgar, so I apologize in advance if she manages to snatch it away again and gets something sent.

 

Riza H, 19:45: But I appreciate your candor. I’m not looking to mess around anymore, either.

 

Olivier A, 19:46: Well, it looks like our ideas about dating align. What do you say to coffee soon to talk about what else we have in common?

 

Riza H, 19:46: I say when and where?

 

Riza H, 19:47: AND PLEASE TAKE ME HOME AFTERWARDS AND PUT THOSE BEAUTIFUL LIPS TO WORK

 

Riza H, 19:47: Fuck. I’m sorry.

 

Olivier A, 19:48: How does Brewtiful Day on Fifth in Central City sound? 

 

Riza H, 19:48: That sounds perfect. I work kind of close to there, so I can meet you during the week before 9 and from noon to 1… or I’m also free on Saturday?

 

Olivier A, 19:49: Saturday sounds great.

 

Olivier A, 19:49: Oh, and Riza?

 

Olivier A, 19:50: I will use my “beautiful lips” eventually. It’s a promise ;)

Chapter Text

Learning to walk again? That was no big deal. Just one foot in front of the other; my brain had already knew how to walk. It was just a matter of getting used to the extra weight of my new left leg. That’s all. And really, what fine motor skills are you using with your feet, anyway? It’s all big stuff - walking, running, kicking.

 

On the other hand - pun fully intended - relearning how to use my dominant hand?

 

That shit is fucking hard.

 

I can perform large motor skills, like waving or throwing a ball. But I have no clue the pressure I’m putting on things - like pencils. They snap like twigs under my shiny, new automail foot. 

 

It’s kind of seeming like I only have two options. One: take a literal wheelbarrow of pencils into the state alchemy exam and just grab a new one each time one snaps. Or two: learn to write with my left hand.

 

I decided to go with the second. I think the first would be frowned upon.

 

All right. Here we go. All this knowledge and practice and pure spite has led me to this.

 

Let’s go write in barely-legible chicken scratch and pass this damned exam.

Chapter Text

Riza Hawkeye stood above the rectangle of freshly disturbed earth. The shockingly cold spring draft rattled the bare branches of the trees around her, and she drew her coat tightly around herself. The bitter wind seemed to brace her with more affection than her father ever did.

 

After Elizabeth Hawkeye fell ill, Berthold became more of a recluse. Elizabeth always assured her daughter that the patriarch of their small family loved them. Riza wasn’t so sure, especially after her mother passed.

 

No more hugs. No bedtime stories. No soup if Riza wasn’t feeling well. No signs of affection at all. Berthold lost a daughter and gained a maid, a cook, and eventually a nurse as he ailed. Not once was she thanked or even acknowledged.

 

Riza knew what she was going to do from here. There was only one choice. What would her father say if he knew what she was planning? If he knew what hell she was about to descend into? Riza choked on a bitter laugh.

 

As if he ever cared.

 

She wasn’t an alchemist. She wasn’t a scholar. She wasn’t even a precious male to pass on the Hawkeye name.

 

No matter what Riza did, it would never be enough for Berthold. She wasn’t the perfect child he thought he should have been entitled to.

 

She felt no regret as she walked away from his headstone and headed in the direction of Eastern Command.

Chapter Text

Riza’s head rested gently on Roy’s shoulder as they looked out on the stars. The summer sun had set hours ago; rich purples and streaks of pink gave way to an inky black sky, dotted with sparkling pinpricks of light.

 

“There’s one!” Riza said excitedly as she sat up and pointed. Roy quickly looked in the direction of her gesture and caught the tail end of the shooting star streaking past the Earth’s stratosphere.

 

“Make a wish,” Roy encouraged softly. Riza giggled like a small child and squeezed her eyes shut. When Riza’s eyes opened once more, looking up at him shyly through her lashes, he couldn’t help but grin. 

 

“I can’t believe you’ve never watched the Perseid meteor shower before. When I was in Central, I would sit on the roof of my aunt’s bar for hours and hours hoping to see just one shooting star, but there was always too much light.”

 

“Did you see that one?” Riza asked anxiously.

 

“No, not really,” Roy admitted. “But I’m sure I’ll catch the next one.”

 

Riza shifted slightly, leaning more into Roy. “I hope you do. You deserve a wish, too.”

 

Roy smiled and draped his arm across Riza’s shoulders. “We’ll just have to keep watching.”

 

The two sat in comfortable silence, serenaded by a symphony of insects chirping and buzzing, accompanied by the wind rustling through the tree branches behind them and whispering over the tall grass in the field in front of them.

 

“Roy?” Riza asked tentatively. “How long are you planning on staying?”

 

The alchemist hesitated. “I’m not sure. I’ll be finishing up my training soon, and I’m not sure your father will want me to hang around after I’m done,” he jested.

 

She looked up at him, her eyes doe-like and glassy. “I don’t want you to leave,” Riza admitted.

 

“Riza,” he sighed before pausing. “You know what I need to do. Staying here helps no one - yourself included.”

 

She nodded, understanding if not accepting, and returned her gaze to the stars above. Riza knew that Roy was destined for bigger and better things. He was the sun, and she was the stars; he burned brighter and hotter than she ever would, but she would always be in the same sky, invisible behind the light of his rays.

 

“Your thoughts are too loud, Riza,” Roy teased. Gently, he tilted her chin up toward his with his forefinger.

 

Warmth flooded through Riza’s entire body as Roy placed a chaste kiss on her lips. To her disappointment, he pulled away all too soon, leaving her lips tingling and her heart racing. Her pulled her close, wrapping his arms tightly around her.

 

Before them, another star blazed against the dark canvas of sky behind it. This time, however, Roy was the one to close his eyes and make a wish.

 

One day, when we’re older, I promise we’ll be together, Riza. One day.

Chapter Text

“Come on, Prongslet, it’s harmless prank!”

 

“It is not harmless, Sirius! That could have really hurt someone,” Harry replied in exasperation.

 

“Oh, please, they were the ones from Filibusters! No heat they say on the box,” Sirius responded, still chuckling to himself.

 

No heat doesn’t mean no explosion. Ron and Hermione could have lost a finger, or worse, a hand. It’s not funny.”

 

“Geeze, Harry. Did Molly get to you and sap your sense of fun?” He chuckled and grabbed a magazine before plopping down on the couch. He ruffled through it before landing on a page and skimming the article.

 

“No, I just don’t think it’s very funny to bully other people,” Harry said sternly.

 

Sirius scoffed, “I wasn’t bullying anyone. Come off it, mate. Your father never -”

 

“I am not my father!” Harry shouted, his voice echoing off the tall ceilings of the Black family library. Sirius looked at him, stunned into silence and shock in his eyes.

 

“You and my father were thugs. The Marauders weren’t any better than Dudley and his gang when they would take turns being the leader of the Harry Hunt, breaking my glasses, calling me names, and shoving me in rubbish bins.” Against his will, hot tears of anger started to fill his eyes.

 

“Harry… I -” Sirius started, his tone placating.

 

“No!” he shouted, cutting his godfather off. “Nothing you can say will make me believe that you weren’t a bully, Sirius. I was hoping that you had grown up, that you had outgrown what I saw. But you just proved to me that you’re the same immature teenager you were years ago.” Harry stormed across the room and wrenched the door open before pausing.

 

“I never got to know my father. I was hoping that I would get to know him through you. But if he was anything like what I just saw, I don’t know that I want to know what he was like. If that was all he ever would be…” He left the sentence hanging in the air.

 

With that, Harry left, slamming the door behind him hard enough to rattle the sconces on the wall.

 

He was not his father’s son.

Chapter Text

Three minutes. The timer on her phone was always set to three minutes. After repeatedly peeing on that stupid stick, waiting for a solid smiley face, then she had to pee on a different stick and wait for two lines. Two little lines.

 

Izumi had the two pink lines once a few years ago. She was ecstatic. It was what she and Sig had been trying for since they were married.

 

Two months later, their hopes and dreams became their worst nightmare. There was pain. There was hurt. And there were tears.

 

Somehow, the couple supported each other through what they thought was one of the toughest things of their life. They healed together, and a few months later decided it was time to try again.

 

Month after month, never again did they see those two pink lines. 

 

After the sixth trip to the store to purchase more tests, Sig suggested ordering them online from here on out. If Izumi had to look into the eyes of the excited and smiling cashier at the drugstore one more time, she might scream. You’d think if you saw someone buying ovulation and pregnancy tests month after month, you wouldn’t congratulate them. Repeatedly.

 

Every month there was hope. And every month there was more pain.

 

As yet another box of blue and pink tests were delivered to their doorstep, Izumi stopped to ponder how many tests she had taken that year. Blue ovulation tests and pink pregnancy tests and blood tests and sonograms. It broke her.

 

And that was how Sig found her. Slumped in the doorway. Crying. And holding a box with a stupidly happy couple on it.

 

He easily picked her up and carried her to the couch, where he held her as she cried. With a suspiciously tight throat himself, he said, “No more. Not right now, Izumi. We can try again soon, but not right now.”

 

Izumi nodded, tears still leaking from her eyes. 

 

How many tests and tears measured a year?

Chapter Text

Castiel had taken The Fall. He awoke to the sounds of crashing waves. He could smell the brine in the air and taste the salt on his lips. The pain that he felt was immeasurable, but he was ecstatic that he could even feel it in the first place. He stood shakily and looked up at the lighthouse, from where he had let go. Smiling, he rushed to find his reason for Falling in the first place.

 

Dean.

 

Once he was intertwined with the Winchester brothers, the angel realized that there was more than a sense of duty keeping him around. He had managed to catch the worst case of feelings for the older Winchester.

 

It was always Dean. Dean was the reason he kept going. Dean gave him strength. Dean, Dean, Dean. No matter what Castiel did, Dean was the motivation.

 

He made his way to the door of the horrid motel they were holed up in that week, hunting a siren on the rocky coast of Maine. Using the tacky, anchor-shaped door knocker, he bounced on the balls of his toes. This was it.

 

Dean opened the door. Before he could even utter a syllable, Cas flung himself into Dean’s arms. He could truly feel him for the first time, and the sensation was overwhelming.

 

“Cas? Why didn’t you just phase in like you normally do?” Dean asked, voice muffled by Cas’s shoulder.

 

“Can I come in? We have a lot to talk about,” Castiel asked gently. He could see the questions floating in Dean’s eyes; he didn’t have to be an angel to do that. Dean’s eyes were alway so expressive.

 

“Yeah, sure,” Dean said quickly and stepped aside.

 

It was always Dean.

Chapter Text

Come on, Roy. He’s just a kid.

 

Roy startled upon hearing a voice in his head that wasn’t his own. Elric looked at him oddly; for a moment, Roy wondered if Ed heard it, too. After a moment, it was clear that he didn’t. Roy was the only one who heard the voice.

 

“Get out of here, Fullmetal. I’m sure you have better things to be doing today,” Mustang said tersely. Not one to argue with a blatant dismissal, Ed stood up slowly. Roy heard his uneven footsteps approach the door, hesitate, and then continue. The lieutenant colonel never raised his head, pretending to inspect the document in front of him, squinting at Ed’s genuinely awful handwriting. However, as he heard the door click closed, Roy immediately shook out his tense muscles and closed his eyes. 

 

Focusing on his breathing, Roy repeated, “I’m not crazy, I’m just tired,” about three times before he heard that damned voice again.

 

You’re not crazy, and you are tired, but that’s not why you can hear me, it said. I figured you needed to hear from me, and it from what I can tell, I was right.

 

“What are you?” growled Roy. “Stop impersonating him!”

 

Not an impersonation, Roy-Boy, Maes’s voice echoed. Just an old-fashioned posthumous visit. Don’t worry, I didn’t know it was a thing, either. Truth allows every departed soul one quick jaunt back to your side of the gate. I don’t have a whole lot of time, but I’m here to talk.

 

“How do I know you’re really Maes and not something impersonating him?”

 

Okay, how about the time at the academy when you convinced me to meet you in the secondary gym after-hours? You transmuted the lock open, and when I got there, you were nearly naked on one of the floor mats -

 

“Point taken!” Roy interrupted, knowing that only he and Maes knew what happened that night. It was the first time things had gone farther than heavy petting, and Roy was warm just remembering that wonderful, perfect night. “So why now? Why me? Why -”

 

I would love for you to ask questions all day long, Roy, but I want to reiterate that my time here is short. The fast answer, one I’m sure you won’t accept, is because I wanted to.

 

“You could have spoken to Gracia again! You could have waited for Elicia’s wedding day and told her how much you loved her and how proud you are of her! There are so many -”

 

Seriously. Roy. Shut up and let me talk! I’m here to apologize. To tell you that I’m sorry for dropping you the way that I did when I found Gracia. For our relationship never being the same afterwards. For forcing you to listen to me prattle on and on about my daughter. 

 

I didn’t go to Gracia or Elicia because they didn’t need to hear from me. Gracia knows that I love her. Elicia will know as she gets older that her father cared. Going to them now, or in the future, would just cause them more hurt than I already have. I can see that they’re moving on. You’re the one who needed to hear from me.

 

“I… don’t know what to say, Maes. There’s no reason for you to apologize. You and Gracia were soulmates. I was just a guy you met in the academy. I’m forever thankful for our relationship, but I’m even more grateful that we stayed friends afterwards.”

 

Roy, if we were nothing more than two ships passing in the night, why haven’t you dated anyone since?

 

“I - well -” Roy spluttered. “I’ve been very busy!” he defended. “There’s been a lot going on here. When exactly would you have liked me to date? Between homunculi fights and the paperwork that comes with being a lieutenant colonel, there’s really no time.”

 

It’s been almost a decade since we broke up, Roy. What you just mentioned to me has all been things that have happened after I died. You haven’t seriously dated anyone since me. 

 

And don’t take this the wrong way. I don’t want you to think that you have to be with someone to be happy because you don’t. What I do want you to know is that you deserve love.

 

Roy noticed that Maes’s voice was beginning to fade.

 

You don’t deserve love just from me. Please, Roy. Be happy. For me.

 

“Maes? Maes! Please don’t go yet…”

 

Sorry, Roy-Boy. My time with you is up yet again. Please, for once, listen to the voice inside your head.

 

“Maes…” Roy murmured as the voice dwindled to nothing. Tears stung at the back of his eyes, but Roy refused to let them fall. “I miss you,” he whispered gently.

 

Roy watched the sun set from his office chair, pondering everything that Hughes said to him. As the last golden rays of autumn sunlight disappeared into deep blues and inky blacks, Roy realized that Maes was right. He needed to move on. He would never not miss his best friend, his ex-love, but sitting around being miserable was no way to honor his memory.

 

No more time wasted. He had two good legs; it was time for him to stand up and keep moving forward.