The alchemist looked over the array, checking the sleek efficiency of the design one more time. The lines ran smooth into one another and then ricocheted, forming perfect forty-five degree angles as if they, too, obeyed Newton's mechanical laws of force and acceleration and opposite yet equal reactions; they spun out in a magnificent pinwheel, whirling in a design that echoed the gyrations of the stars in the heavens, the ordering of seeds in the head of a sunflower, the fluted curve of seashells.
There was power in those dark lines—power in the calculation that had rendered this particular array, in the irrational and divine numbers that wove this pattern—and there was power in the alchemist that had designed it—power in the poetry of his wild desperation and poignant grief.
He had already given the universe his tears, floods of them that burned his eyes and clotted his throat, that ravaged his face—hot, helpless, hopeless hours spent sobbing broken-heartedly until he collapsed from exhaustion.
He had given the sweat of his brow, slaving over the old tomes, working and reworking the calculations, digging for hints buried in the moldering pages and deceptive codes of ancient alchemists long into the night, pushing away anything that didn't close the distance between himself and his goal and working hurriedly in a race against time.
He had given his own blood, more than what fate had already stolen away from him; he had smeared his very essence into the design, the red waters of his own life mingling with the black ink and making the room throb with latent energy.
He had given the body of his first-borne son, laying the corpse down in the center of the array so that it was like the sun from which the lines on the floor radiated out from like beams of light. Despite the passage of days since the funeral, the blonde hair was just as thick, just as lush, fanning out around the boy's head like a heavenly corona.
He gave, and he gave, and he gave, and he could only hope that it was enough... Enough to regain what had been taken away. Enough to regain the joy and light of his life, that which meant more to him than anything else: his son's smiles, his laughter, his determination, the fire of his soul that had blazed so high and bright that it had quickly burned out before its time.
Enough to start his shattered heart beating once more.
Hohenheim took a deep breath and knelt before the alchemical array, barely daring to hope as he touched his fingers down on the outside edge of the design.