pairing: implied Royxofc, Hughes+Roy if you squint, but can be read as gen
spoilers: none (PRE-anime and manga)
length: 5 pages
summary: A young Roy Mustang’s reputation is established and his best friend looks on with disapproval.
So this is her.
“Hi, Maes, it’s great to meet you! I’ve heard so much about you!” the girl exclaims and flashes a brilliant smile.
“Like wise, Marguerite,” you answer honestly and shake her extended hand.
Roy looks on with an almost giddy smile. Your roommate has every reason to be floating on cloud nine right now. He is sixteen, in love with the girl nextdoor, and here she is on a surprise visit with him at Academy. She is all Roy talks about when it comes to girls. To hear Roy tell it, she is a year older and growing up they were friends, but she’s always been too cool, out of his reach. So when she wanted to visit him, Roy had been out of his mind happy. She is every bit as stunning as he’s always claimed, too. Silky copper hair tumbled down her back in long waves, light skin with a delicate pink blush, glittering green eyes.
“Did you bring the stuff?” she asks excitedly. She didn’t have enough money for a nice hotel, and was nervous about staying in a cheaper one by herself, so she convinced Roy to sneak her into the dorms and let her stay in his room. Roy gave her the grand tour of town today and arranged for you to meet them with an extra uniform right before curfew. Being the good friend that you are, you’ve even changed your sheets and made your bed for Roy’s guest. You don’t mind doing any of this, you’re happy for Roy
“You’re all set,” you smile, handing her the bag you brought. In it is one of Roy’s uniforms. Smaller than yours, though it will still be big on her.
She ducks into the park’s public restroom and comes out a moment later in the uniform. “What do you think?” she laughs, spinning around, arms in the air. It’s bulky, yes, but anyone looking closely would still identify her feminine shape. You hope no one will be looking that closely in the dorms. You and Roy will have to get her right to the room.
“Looks better on you,” Roy says in approval as he takes her bag of clothes. He then hands it to you before moving to fix a lock of her hair that has escaped the blue hat. He touches her carefully, adoringly. Everything he feels for her is so clearly evident and almost embarrassingly candid. You look down at the bag in your arms and tighten the strap, reminding them that they should probably get going.
There is no problem getting her into the building. It’s not past curfew yet, so you are not questioned when you pass the desk. There will be a bed check later tonight, at lights out. She will be pretending to be you, already asleep in bed, and you will be hiding in the neighbor’s closet.
The three of you are approaching the game room on your floor, where the guys play and hang around until lights out. As usual, the sounds of talking, laughter, and billiard balls can be heard through the open door.
“We should probably avoid them,” you suggest.
“Yeah, I think we’d better just – “ Roy begins to say.
“Are those your friends, Roy? Let’s go say hi! I mean, they’re not going to tell on you or anything, right? Come on!” Marguerite says and pulls Roy towards the doorway.
“Oh, well, ok,” Roy is saying.
Games come to a screeching halt and the din starts immediately. Exclamations of surprise, shouting introductions, and slaps on Roy’s back as the boys gather around. You sigh and go down the two steps into the room. Roy isn’t picked on, exactly, that would be the wrong word. No one picks on an alchemist whose training is with fire, but the other guys don’t think all that much of him. He is short, looks young for his age, takes all the hard classes and does entirely too well in them. Being an alchemist is different enough, but it actually seems like he enjoys learning. He is definitely not one of them. You have been protective of him from day one.
“You told me you were staying in our room because Roy had a bad cough!” your neighbor grins, hitting you on the shoulder. The throng of boys moves the pool table to teach Marguerite how to play; you hang around at the periphery. Finally, right before lights out, they all go to their own rooms. You try not to listen to the snickers and whispered comments as all the boys on the floor watch Roy and his guest close the door behind them.
You hide in the neighbor’s closet until after bed check and then settle onto a blanket on the floor. You try to ignore your neighbors and pretend to be asleep as they excitedly speculate about what might be going on next door and how Mustang had managed to get such a hot girl. Later, when it becomes clear what is going on next door, you put a pillow over your head and all but smothered yourself trying not to hear it.
The hall is buzzing again the next morning before muster. Normally, they would all head down to the mess hall and check in for breakfast, but the boys were milling about the hallway, waiting. Roy and his guest haven’t come out yet. You push past some of the guys to your door and check your pocketwatch. Roy is going to miss muster pretty soon and that would be a problem. They will come looking for him if he doesn’t check in. You don’t want to disturb them, but you take out your keys and let yourself in after knocking briskly. You shut the door quickly before any of the guys can peep in.
It’s far from the scene you expected. Roy is sitting on his bed, wrapped in a sheet. Marguerite is no where to be seen. Roy sees you and begins to rub furiously at his eyes.
“What happened?” you ask, hurrying to the side of the bed. You put your hands on what you think ought to be Roy’s shoulders under that sheet. Roy looks up at you, eyes wide with confusion and pain. His cheeks are pale and tear stained. He holds a piece of paper out to you, and you take it.
It’s a note written with blue ink in definitively female handwriting.
My Darling Roy,
I decided to leave while you were sleeping so I could sneak out easier and so that I wouldn’t have to tell you this in person. I think it’s better that we pretend this never happened. Please don’t take it the wrong way, it’s nothing you did – or didn’t do. Last night was wonderful. You are beautiful, Roy, the sweetest boy I’ve ever known.
But that’s the problem. I’m a woman, Roy. I want a man, not a boy. It may hurt to hear this now, but you’ll understand someday. At this point, I’m not looking to stay with anyone, anyway. I realized too late that you may have misunderstood my intentions and so I had to leave. It’s better this way, Roy, believe me.
I’ve been traveling and now I’m headed South. Thank you for the warm welcome and a place to stay in Central. I’m not sure when I’ll be nearby again, but I am sure our paths will cross again. I pray they will.
You sink onto your still perfectly made bed. That bitch. That lying, underhanded, conniving bitch. Misunderstood her intentions? Bullshit. She’d done it on purpose; all she’d wanted was a place to stay the night on her way south and a good time. She’d led Roy to bed knowing she’d break his heart. It is all you can do not to rip the paper to shreds right there.
“What does it mean?” Roy asks, voice shaking. “W-why? Why, Maes? I loved her. I told her that.” He is rubbing at his eyes again.
“It means you should forget about her,” you growl as you stand up. “Come on, get dressed. You’re going to miss breakfast.” You go to the closet and began pulling out clothes for Roy. Roy is sniffling and not moving.
“Come on, get dressed,” you repeat, now pulling at the sheet wrapped around your friend. “Breakfast, buddy, remember?” you continue in a softer tone.
“I don’t feel like eating anything.”
Damn Roy’s sensitive stomach. He doesn’t eat for days if he’s upset. “You gotta go check in,” you remind him. If you can just get him to the mess hall, you can maybe make him eat something.
He nods, swallowing hard, and stands up. He dresses quickly, the end result looking more rumpled than usual. You lead the way to the door, desperately hoping the other guys have already gone. They don’t need to see this. It’s not their fucking business.
But they haven’t gone; they’re still loitering around outside the door, waiting for the confirmation of all their theories. Roy follows you into the hall, nearly bumping into you. The other boys immediately ask where she is, wanting the full story, wanting another glimpse at her. Roy looks to you, panic giving his eyes a wild look. This is the last thing he needs right now.
You’re about to make something up, some kind of emergency, some good reason she had to leave, but the others invent a story before you do.
“Shit, don’t tell me you kicked her out!” one of the guys laughs.
“You kicked that girl out? Damn, Mustang!”
And then they all join in, jokingly telling Roy what a dog he is, ordering him to stay away from their sisters.
Roy runs a hand through his hair. “Ah, well, those beds are so small, I really couldn’t get any sleep with her hanging around,” he concurs, starting to smile. The guys uproar again, hitting and elbowing him. It’s all congratulatory. They’re impressed.
“Yeah, you don’t want to let a girl hang around for too long, they start thinking things,” another guy says and they all agree. You know boasting when you hear it and it’s getting on your nerves.
“Besides,” Roy adds, “I prefer blondes.”
You don’t like the smirk that’s growing on his face. The other guys laugh.
“Let’s go to breakfast, I’m starving!” Roy announces and leads the way. The others herd after their new hero, clapping his shoulder and grinning like hooligans. Roy looks behind, directly at you. “Come on, Maes,” he urges with that unfamiliar smile and you go along with them.
Later that afternoon, you end up back at the dorm for a book you forgot. You’re not supposed to be there at that time. Roy looks up in surprise when you come blustering in. He’s by the trashcan, stuffing something in his pocket.
“What’s that?” you ask, coming over.
“Oh, just something I’m trying,” he mumbles and pulls what ever it is out of his pocket again. He let’s you see. It’s a white glove with a red symbol on the back. You’ve seen it before, one of his alchemy things. Something to do with fire no doubt.
“We agreed no alchemy in the room!” you squawk, looking at him.
There is a hardness in his eyes, something you’ve never seen before, but it’s not directed at you. He grins at you. “I just made these, they light a spark when I snap the fingers together,” he tells you proudly.
“N-no alchemy in the room!” you try to say more insistently.
“I know, I know. I wasn’t, I was just checking the array. Don’t worry about it,” he says, giving you an amused look. He gathers his school papers. “I gotta go,” he says, bidding you goodbye and leaving. You can hear someone greeting him loudly in the hallway.
You remember what you came back for and stoop down to get the book you left on the floor. You glance at the trashcan as you stand up, and the pile of ash inside surprises you. You look closer, recognizing only a tiny corner of paper with female handwriting in blue ink. You think of the smirk on his face, the hard glint in his dark eyes. And you think of the fear and worry you’ve seen in those same eyes over the years, the pain written across that same face, the vulnerability you’ve always known in him. You stare at the powdery, grey pile of dust. All that’s left, reduced to ash.
- - - - - - - - - - - -
I’ve tricked you into reading a songifc. Song is “Take It Easy, Love Nothing” by Bright Eyes. Click here to download.