They had been so very careful. Edward had never completely understood Roy's precautions, or his need to keep their relationship discrete - and more than once that had led to arguments between them, in the relative sanctity of Roy's home. Edward wasn't afraid of that mythical military tribunal that Roy was, with typical youthful naivete he saw no shame in their love.
It wasn't until late in the game that Edward began to understand Roy wasn't ashamed of their relationship, nor was he afraid of the relationship itself. He was afraid of discovery, of what the media would do to Edward's reputation, and most importantly, that he wouldn't be able to protect Edward any more.
So few people actually knew. Alphonse, of course, Edward was shit at hiding his emotions from people, and his brother read him like an open book. Besides, Roy respected Alphonse's opinion immensely, the little boy in a big suit of armor seemed far wiser than his years let on. There was also the fact that if Alphonse didn't approve of Roy, there was little to protect Roy from Alphonse's wrath.
Then there was Lieutenant Hawkeye, who didn't speak to Roy for a week after she discovered them kissing in a supply closet. She came around, slowly, and once she did Roy knew that no matter what any one else said, if Riza Hawkeye approved of the relationship then there was nothing at all wrong with it. She was not slow to let her opinion be known if she thought something was inappropriate, after all.
The rest of the garrison knew, too - Roy couldn't trust them with his life if he couldn't trust them with his secrets. The more people who knew a secret, the easier it became for a secret to become a rumor, and it was a risk Roy had to take. Some things were more important.
Edward saw these things, even if he didn't understand them. There were no physical markers of their relationship - handwritten notes were coded deep in alchemical jargon, then destroyed upon receipt. Any trinkets exchanged between the two were no different than souvenirs brought back for the other members of the garrison. Everything that defined their love was held in a glance, in a quick touch of fingers on the back of a hand, in a kiss stolen when they were alone in the men's washroom.
It was the way things had to be, if they wanted to continue. And Roy wasn't sure at what point he'd actually fallen in love with Edward Elric but he was in far too deep to back out because of the threat of discovery. That meant separate homes - Roy's house purchased on a meager officer's salary far from base and Edward's sparse apartment that Alphonse inhabited alone - and separate lives.
Roy was incredibly careful. There was little proof of their trysts. Any charges that could potentially be brought up were nothing but conjecture and rumors and would hinge on the testimony of the involved parties. Edward was sixteen still when they started, a minor in the eyes of the law but ... not in the eyes of the military. Edward had signed away his childhood at twelve when he had accepted the certification of a State Alchemist, and that was what would make things infinitely more complicated were they ever discovered.
Though they came close sometimes, they were never caught. It was something of a miracle, given the amount of enemies that Roy had in the military, that no one caught on. The rumors persisted, of course - but it was mostly because of Edward's youth and his attractiveness. Roy was known for being a player and a playboy and did not stop his occasional visits to the clubs with beautiful women on his arm and that, for the most part, put the rumors to rest.
Then the unrest began in the East. The garrison got their marching orders. It was something Roy had been trying to protect Edward from his whole life and now there was no way to keep him safe from this. But somewhere along the line when Roy wasn't looking, Edward had grown up; grown into a man. He had accomplished his goals and chose to come back into the military specifically to stand beside Roy - to support Roy. He was no longer a child and as such, the top brass stopped paying as much attention to them. Edward spent the night before they deployed with Roy, in Roy's bed. They didn't sleep at all, instead having sex as much as their tired bodies would allow them to. When they had exhausted themselves, Edward lay in Roy's arms and they watched the night sky slowly lighten into a gray dawn.
They weren't able to touch like this when deployed. There would be no moments alone, and the only thing to sustain them would be brief glances across tents, or huddling together around a fire with the other soldiers. It was tough, but the charade had to be maintained. There were other garrisons deployed with them, others there who disliked Roy Mustang and would do anything to make sure that he could be very publicly humiliated. They had to maintain composure.
Edward fell trying to rescue Havoc and Hawkeye, as only Edward could. He slid down through the sand, catching his leg - his good leg - in a sinkhole. He'd been nicked by enemy fire and cracked his head when he went down, in pure Edward fashion he went all out to hurt himself. Roy had sat by Edward's side when they set the bone, he had been delirious with pain. According to Hawkeye, Edward had walked on the broken leg and almost made it back up the hill with them - after fighting off the small pack of insurgents who had surprised Hawkeye and Havoc on patrol - before he had collapsed completely. It was always Edward who overextended himself, he was very lucky he didn't permanently damage his leg or else the military medics might have amputated.
He would have to be shipped home, though. There was no way that they would let him stay on the front lines with one leg completely useless. There was the risk of infection, and he could still potentially lose the limb. He had to get back to the hospitals of civilization.
It was funny, Roy thought to himself as he stood on the hillside with Hawkeye. After all the trouble they'd gone through, all the dancing around their relationship and everything they'd done to keep this private it meant that ultimately, Edward would have nothing left to remember him by.
"What do you plan to do, sir?" Hawkeye said. Her sniper rifle was slung over her shoulder, dried blood both on her coat and uniform. She wore fatigue like it was just another piece of clothing, and she was far too busy to be worried about how it wore on her.
What did he plan to do? The insurgents controlled the railroad tracks. Unless something drastic was done, they were trapped and it was only a matter of time before less extremist Ishbalans realized their terrorist counterparts were winning this war.
"I need you to get reinforcements," Roy murmured. "I have an idea." Hawkeye saluted him - it wasn't far back to base camp and it was the fatigue that made her usually sharp senses dull here. Roy peeled off his gloves - they were full of sand and a bit of blood from a scrape he'd gotten on his forearm - and changed them with a fresh pair. "Oh, and Lieutenant? Give these to Fullmetal."
Hawkeye gave Roy a concerned look and he knew he'd almost blown it. "Sir?"
"It'll give him something to sulk at while he sits in a hospital room waiting for everyone else to get back," Roy told her. He wasn't sure she bought it - she was still giving him a slightly odd look - but she took the gloves from him.
"Yes sir," Hawkeye said.
Roy waited until she was down the hill and almost back to the outer ring of tents. "Goodbye, Riza."
Maybe she heard him then, for he saw her hesitate. Maybe her sense finally caught up to her and she realized that he wasn't going to wait for reinforcements. Whatever it was it didn't matter, because she was too far away to stop him now.
He turned his back on the encampment then, and started his way determinedly down the hill. "I love you, Ed," he murmured quietly as he saw the insurgents point their weapons toward him. "And I'm sorry."
Roy Mustang raised his hand, pointed it toward the enemy; and as the bullets began to fly, snapped his fingers.