One Year


It almost always snows on Ed's birthday; the first snows of the year, the last of the season. Back in Rizenbourg, they used to love it; their mother would take them ice-skating on the frozen lake, and though they would fall more often than not, they'd be laughing the entire time.

Alphonse Elric looks out over the ice, his ponytail whipping around his face, and smiles. He picks his suitcase up; brushes some snow off his red coat, and turns his back on the scene.

Soon, he'll bring his brother back; he has no time to waste on childish memories.


The first flowers to grow after the winter are always the brightly-coloured crocus flowers, yellow and white and purple. After them come the snowdrops, and the daffodils, and finally the poppies, until the world seems full of colour.

And come mid-February, a clashing assortment of spring flowers arrives on Riza Hawkeye's desk. She smiles, carefully hunting down a small vase and placing them inside as they are. There is no note, but she doesn't need one.

After all, there is only one man who is both brave enough to give her flowers, and knows that she likes such contrasting colours.


Spring is still timid in the air when Maes finally asks Gracia out to dinner. His best friend had put him up to it, otherwise he might have kept silent about his crush, for fear of rejection; but to his surprise she accepts, a faint blush colouring her cheeks.

He takes her to the most expensive restaurant in town, buys her the best he can afford. He sees her off at her parents' house with a gentle kiss on the cheek, and they promise to see each other again.

The following day, his best friend is shipped out to Ishbal.


It always rains in East City; not so much April showers as April floods. Roy wonders sometimes if his transfer was a desperate attempt to disable him, but decides eventually that Halcrow isn't clever enough to come up with such a course of action, and Gran does not fear him enough to attempt manipulating the Fuhrer into this.

Still, when he looks out the window of his office and sees Fullmetal approaching HQ, wet and miserable with a sheaf of paper that must be another of his godforsaken unreadable reports clutched to his chest, he can't help but smirk understanding.


They both kissed the glass of a photograph frame, before they died. The man stood tall and proud; held his wife's hand so tightly his knuckles were white. The woman was pale but brave, watching him levelly with understanding eyes. In her free hand she held a bunch of May flowers; rare, in the desert. They were beautiful, a stark crimson, touched with gold.

Roy pulled the trigger, twice and twice alone, and she let go of the flowers as she fell. Her husband kept his grip on the photograph, the little girl smiling so sweetly as her parents died.


Summer hits hardest in Rush Valley, Winry thinks. She wipes some sweat from her forehead with the back of her hand and returns to her task, frowning down intently at the unfinished automail arm. She has just hit upon a new way to fold the steel, something which makes the arm stronger and lighter at the same time. She found it by accident, but has refined and utilised the technique until now, when she is ready to attach these new limbs to Paninya.

She only wishes, somewhere deep inside, that Ed were still alive to appreciate what she has done.


The island is hot during the day, sweltering with a southern summer; but at night it gets cold fast, and they sleep curled together for warmth. They are alone save for each other, cold and hungry, chased by the masked madman; and it is only now, when Alphonse can feel his brother so close that he feels protected, in a way he hasn't felt since mother died.

And in the morning they'll still be cold, and they'll still be hungry, and they still won't understand what their teacher wants from them; but for now, he feels safe enough to sleep.


She places her hand in his and lets him pull her up to her feet, releasing him to brush grass and dirt off her dress. "My brother wants to see you," the young man mutters, and she smiles at him, this awkward adolescent, and laughs at how he blushes.

It is late summer, the sky blue and the grass green, even in Ishbal; she has someone who loves her, and her future seems set.

—What was your name?—she demands, and the scarred man—no adolescent anymore—looks at her as though she is the foulest creature in existence.


Autumn in England is wet and chill, the sky dark and clouds hanging heavily over the heads of the people, threatening to burst at any moment. The leaves go from green to slush in the space of a heart beat, leaving the trees bare, ugly.

Autumn in Rizenbourg is warm and gentle, summer fading slowly in a burst of magnificent sunsets and sunrises. The plants grow right up until the winter snows, late bloomers guaranteeing colour until the world is blanketed by ice.

Ed, sitting at the window with a book, watching the approaching thunderstorms, can't help but feel homesick.


His brother is too light in his arms, Al thinks, horrified. There is so much blood—too much. Ed shouldn't have survived this long, not having lost so much. He has to hurry, he knows, and climbs frantically to his feet.

His brother's breathing is slowing, he realises with a stab of terror. "Stay with me, brother," he whispers desperately; Ed bares his teeth in a weak grin. "Please."

Ed's response is to lick his lips and nod, gingerly; his golden eyes are narrowed to slits. "Don't worry, Al," he murmurs, closing them slowly, "I'm not gonna die on you."


He should be surprised, he thinks, to know that Roy is thinking about attempting to raise the ones he killed, in those long, hot months spent in Ishbal.

But he is not; his girlfriend made apple pie, and Roy admits that he is too cowardly to put his research into practise.

"I will work underneath you, and support you," he tells Roy, who looks stunned.

What did he expect from me? Maes wonders, and shrugs. The cool breeze let in by the open window sets the papers fluttering to the floor, and Maes swallows his mouthful of pie and smiles.


There's snow piled up around the buildings; Al can't say he notices. Ed is warm underneath his hands, face split into a grin and cheeks wet with the same tears on Al's own.

It's over. Everything they wanted is right here; they are together, and they are whole. It's not perfect—Ed's fake arm is uncomfortable—but Al can't bring himself to care.

"Merry Christmas, brother," Al whispers, and Ed's arms tug him gently into a tight embrace. Surrounded by warmth, comforted and happy, Al can't help but think that this is the best present he's ever received.