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Roy Mustang shook his head, stomping his military boots free of the clinging slush while he was still outside. The windows were already lit with warmth from the inside, and despite the drapes being drawn Roy could bask in the glow from here.

He had been kept late at work. Roy could blame Riza, of course - holding him hostage with paperwork that just had to be done before the Saturday deadline but the truth of matter was that emergencies just cropped up in his line of work. It had been a long day, devastatingly slow up until the early afternoon. That was when one of the many trains affected by the onslaught of winter weather finally gave up the ghost and just stopped working.

It was fortunate that the engine just died. The train had chugged to a very docile stop kilometers outside the city - it did not jump the tracks, there were no injuries. Just a whole slew of bitter, inconvenienced passengers who had to be rescued by military vehicles capable of sloughing through the heavy snows.

Being a commissioned officer Roy did not have to go out into the mess. He had fully expected to be deployed, using his fire alchemy to clear paths for the vehicles but he had a feeling that somebody (Lieutenant Hawkeye) had made clear exactly how useless he would be once he got a little soggy. So instead, Roy stayed behind, helping coordinate soldiers and transport trucks from one of the many radio rooms on base. Every technology-savvy officer was grabbed to man the radios until the train was cleared and all of the civilians were on their way back to civilization. That had added up to a hectic few hours and before he knew it, the skies outside the windows of Central Command had darkened and a fine snow had started misting from above.

It was not a long walk from the base to the neighborhood that Roy made his home in. Another perk of being a commissioned officer was the benefit of military housing. Officer’s houses were nice, bigger than the off-base flats and worlds away from living the military dormitories.

He was usually driven home, but tonight Roy slipped out on his own. The drivers were just starting to straggle back from the lot that the military transport trucks were stored in, after having unloaded several groups of unhappy civilians off at the train station. Roy did not want to inconvenience them further for his own comfort. He knew that Lieutenant Havoc would not hesitate to turn around and drive him home through the slushy streets and after the maniac day Havoc needed time to unwind.

There were enough officers who would not think to give their men that courtesy. Roy would not impose - and besides, he needed some time to himself. The walk was just the balm he needed.

All of these factors meant that it was quite late by the time he trudged to the end of the street that he lived on. The street lamps were lit warm amber; garlands strung around their poles and between them. The snow still fell softly; but it had graduated to thick, fat flakes that were sticking to everything. Roy stomped his boots off on the thick woven door mat and could only hope that his guest had thought to do the same.

There was a pair of red-soled boots laying right inside the foyer, overturned and sitting in a puddle of water. Roy sighed to himself, but he could not help but smile, unwinding the scarf that he wore over the heavy black greatcoat. The scarf had been a gift last Yule from Alphonse. He had taken up knitting while he was restricted to a bed throughout the heavy cold winter previous. It was a simple pattern, shades of gray so it would not stand out too much when paired with his military-issue black greatcoat and Roy treasured it.

The scent of apples and spice was heavy in the air. There was an acrid edge to it, the hint of something burned off but it was faint and overlaid by the much headier smell of cider. At least the entire place did not reek of burnt popped corn like it did earlier; it had taken nearly a week to air out that smell. Edward was currently forbidden from popping corn without supervision - and Roy was beginning to suspect it might be a better idea to just bar him from cooking, period.

“Edward?” Roy called. He had not heard any greeting, and he was slightly perplexed by this. It was clear that Edward had beaten him home - Roy was supposed to meet him at the train station but work precluded that. He could hear the pop and crackle of the fire in the fireplace as he turned the corner to the den.

Roy nearly walked into the sofa. It had been pushed almost to the hallway, blocking the entrance into the den. In fact, most of the furniture in the room had been shoved about the room; all to make room for a large fir tree that was somehow standing still upright. Roy covered the bottom half of his face with one hand, in part to mask the amused smile that sprang unbidden. He wanted to be exasperated but he just could not, Edward was so enthusiastic that it was almost completely infectious. Roy was not even bothered that Edward had transmuted his hardwood floor to be a tree stand instead of finding the actual tree-stand buried in the back of Roy’s closet.

Speaking of, Edward was seated with his back to the fireplace, the warm golden light reflecting in his hair. He clearly had not heard Roy come in, a book was open on his lap and a half-finished garland lay in bits on the floor around him. Roy put one hand on the door’s frame and shook his head in amusement. There was no way that he was going to climb over the sofa to get into the den, so he took the long way around - through the kitchen.

There was a pot of hot spiced cider steaming cheerfully on the burner. The source of the burned smell was apparently a blackened tray that was overturned in the waste bin. Roy frowned at it, unable to make out whatever Edward had attempted to bake.

Edward started at the soft touch on his back, his head shooting up to see Roy standing over him. “Mustang!”

“You got a tree,” Roy said, slightly impressed. The fir was a good sized tree, taller than Roy himself. It had solid branches, still slightly damp from the snow. Roy doubted that he would be able to move it on his own, he had no idea how Edward had dragged it inside without obvious damage to his home or the tree. “How did you get it in here?”

“Magic,” Edward retorted cheekily. He closed the book he had open on his lap and gave Roy a considering look. The firelight made him look so much older and Roy was startled to realize that he was - this was no scrawny, belligerent teenager who had settled in on the floor beside his hearth. “The station was all sorts of nuts when I got in, what happened?”

“A train stalled on the tracks,” Roy said, the exhaustion creeping into his voice. He seated himself in his easy chair - pulled close to the fire, Edward was probably sitting in it before he decided to get creative with the garland paper. “All of the civilians and engineers had to be rescued and brought back to civilization.”

Edward made a face. He set the book aside and stretched his arms over his head, the end of his ponytail trailing down his back. Roy found its movement fascinating in the drowsy warmth of the room. It had been a long day, longer than most and the fatigue had set in. Edward got to his feet. “Sounds like a hell of a day,” he said. “Does that mean you have to go in to the office tomorrow?”

“It would be a good idea,” Roy sighed, thinking of how his holiday was shortened already. “Just to make sure that everything has been take care of. I am quite certain that most of the top brass will not bother with making an appearance until well after the New Year.”

“Fuckers,” Edward grunted, never loathe to hold back on his opinion of Roy’s superior officers.

“How is your brother?” Roy asked, trying to steer the conversation in a different direction. Edward took the bait gladly, brightening considerably at the thought.

“He’s doing loads better,” Edward said happily. “He still has to use the cane most of the time but he’s got almost all of his mobility back. He doesn’t shake like before, either. And here those idiot doctors thought he wouldn’t walk again, shows what the fuck they know.”

“I sincerely doubt that they truly understood his condition,” Roy murmured, trying to sooth Edward’s indignation. Alphonse had been in a very poor state of health by the time Edward managed to drag them both into a hospital late last year. He had given no indication that they were going to try the transmutation to get Alphonse his body back and they did manage to succeed, but the sheer scope of the transmutation had completely drained Edward. He could barely walk or talk or even stand upright for almost a month afterward - and forget about alchemy. Just using the automail was exhausting for him.

Alphonse’s body had been in a severe state of atrophy. It was nearly four months before he was even able to be out of bed for any length of time. He had to relearn how to walk and how to move - but he improved quickly, and daily. Even now, balanced on a cane, Alphonse Elric moved with agility and Roy was willing to bet that by this time next year he would be back to shoving Edward around.

“I’m glad you had a good time,” Roy said. “I missed you.”

Edward’s golden eyes flicked up at that. This thing that they had was still … uncertain. It could hardly be described as “new,” but this was the first year that they were trying out living with each other and Roy had quickly realized that there was no going back from this. Edward belonged in his life here, and he would not have it any other way. It had been an exercise in agony every morning this week, waking up to a cold bed, alone.

Edward stopped beside Roy’s armchair and leaned in, putting his hands tentatively on Roy’s face. He wore gloves inside - not because he was ashamed of his automail any longer, but because it was cold and he did not want to touch Roy with the metal prosthetic in this weather. Roy definitely appreciated the thought, but he also hated not feeling the heat of Edward’s left hand on his face. “I missed you, too,” Edward said softly. “I’m glad Al an’ Winry are happy there with Granny Pinako, but . . . .” There was a rosy tint to his cheeks. Edward did not blush as easily as he used to, so it was doubly charming when he did now. “I belong here.”

“You know I wouldn’t have held it against you if you stayed the holiday with them,” Roy said, tilting his head just ever so slightly to invite Edward into a kiss. He took that invitation with only the barest hesitation, eyes focused downward on Roy’s lips.

“I did that last year,” Edward said when they parted. It had to be uncomfortable for him, leaning over Roy with one hand on the back of Roy’s easy chair, so Roy attempted to tug Edward onto his lap. Edward resisted - he had gotten larger; Roy always forgot that. He was always so careful, Edward’s size belied his actual weight, given the automail. It seemed like Edward had always been the same size, just small enough to scoop into Roy’s arms easily (and then stagger when he realized how much Edward actually weighed). However, with Alphonse’s freedom from that cage of steel, it seemed that the hold on Edward’s actual growth was released. At nineteen now, he had almost reached Roy’s height.

But Roy was still taller.

Roy would always be taller.

Edward batted away Roy’s hands with a smile. “None of that,” he teased. “At least, not until the tree is decorated.”

Roy whined a little at that thought - Edward had gotten an exceptionally large tree and it would take some time to pull out all of the holiday decorations and he was tired - but then thought of standing side by side with Edward, passing around a garland as they decorated their tree made Roy smile.

Wordlessly, he held out both of his hands and Edward rolled his eyes and laughed, before taking them and pulling him up and out of his chair and into Edward’s embrace. “Such an old man,” Edward complained as Roy kissed him.

“Welcome home,” Roy murmured in response, their foreheads tilted together. Edward sighed contentedly, arms draped over Roy’s shoulders.

“I’m back,” Edward said in return. “I’m home.”

Promises to Keep: Prompt 01 - "Decoration"