Oh Christmas Tree

A Fullmetal Alchemist Fanfic

By Jaelle



Characters: Edward, Alphonse
Rating: G
Setting: The last Christmas before Trisha dies. Ed is 10, Al is 9.
Disclaimer: So not mine

Notes: Written as a 2005 Christmas/Yule request for Sefilin.



It was a Christmas tradition that the Elric brothers were in charge of decorating the Christmas tree. Every year without fail Edward and Alphonse would make sure the tree was secure, and then cover it in brightly coloured paper garlands they had made themselves. Next, they would hang the various decorations - the stylised snowflakes carved from scented wood, the brightly coloured balls, some glimmering with glitter, others with cheerful designs. Once these had been sorted out to the brothers' satisfaction, they would carefully begin to hang their mothers' treasure - twelve beautiful glass angels, each one unique and perfectly detailed - which had been given to her by their father.

Then finally, it was time to put the star on top.

"It's no good, brother," Al said. "The tree's too tall for us."

Ed fumed, but for once refrained from bursting into a loud, murderous tantrum. Christmas was a time for miracles, indeed. But he couldn't deny the truth - neither he nor Alphonse were tall enough to get the star affixed to the top of the Christmas tree.

"I thought it seemed like there was more space on it this year," he growled, squinting up at the tree accusingly. "I bet that guy at the woodcutters thought it would be funny."

Al wisely said nothing. He also said nothing about getting the stepladder - which had been confiscated several days earlier after an incident involving a certain nosy golden-eyed sibling, and the Christmas presents their mother had hidden on top of the wardrobe in her room. "Maybe if we stood on a chair."

"We'd probably break it," Ed pointed out. The two boys were still young, but they were both very energetic and the chairs around the house were not really intended to be stood on by both of them at once.

"We could always fix it afterwards with alchemy," Al suggested. "Or... or... just one of us could put the star on. You could do it this year, and I could do it next time. I don't mind, it would be..." He trailed off slowly at the expression on Ed's face. "It was just a suggestion."

"This is a thing that we do together," Ed said quietly. "Both of us, together, always."

There was no arguing with that tone of voice, Al knew. And he didn't really want to, anyway. "So what should we do then?"

Ed snorted and rubbed his hands together, serious mood disappearing instantly. "That should be obvious, Al."

**

Trisha Elric's steps toward the living room door quickened at the sound of a loud thump. Pausing outside, she listened intently.

"Ow, I don't think this is going to work, brother."

"Don't be ridiculous, it'll work fine. After all, are we or are we not the invincible Elric brothers?"

"Well, I don't know about invincible, but..."

"Allllllllllllllllllll..."

"Yes, brother. The invincible Elric brothers, that's us."

"Good. Now, let's try it again and this time, HOLD STILL!"

Quietly, Trisha opened the door a crack and peeked through it. She was traditionally forbidden from seeing the Christmas tree until it was completely finished, but concern for her sons allowed her to break that particular taboo. Her eyes widened as she watched Alphonse clamber onto his brother's shoulders, the Christmas star clutched firmly in one hand.

"Are you ready, brother?" Al asked nervously. It was at this stage of the previous attempt that Ed had collapsed beneath his weight and the two of them had fallen painfully to the ground.

Ed just grunted, spreading his legs further apart for balance, and Al sighed and began the next stage of their plan. Slowly and carefully, the younger boy got on to his knees, and slowly pushed up until he was crouching on his brother. "How's that?"

"Fine," Ed huffed out. "Hurry up!"

Al convinced his fingers to untangle themselves from his brother's hair and slowly straightened to his full height. Ed was right, he suddenly realised. Like this, they could easily reach the top of the tree. There was just one small flaw.

"Brother, we're too far from the tree," he wobbled slightly. "I'll jump down and then we can..."

"You... STAY!!!" Ed's voice was guttural. "Keep..."

Al felt a tremor, and then Ed took a step forward.

"BROTHER!" Al crouched down again and grabbed Ed's head. "Stop, you'll..."

"Shut. Up." Ed gritted. One more step. One more lousy step, that's all he needed.

"NggggrRAAAAAHHHH!!!"

Al swayed as they moved again, "Don't drop me!"

Ed's fingers were clamped as tight as a vice around Al's legs. "Don't... worry," he gasped out. "I won't... let go..."

"I'd never, ever... let you go... Alphonse."

Ed's panting was getting louder, and sweat was pouring down what Al could see of his face. He could feel the shudders of exertion trembling through his brother. If his brother could do this, then surely he could do his part too.

Trisha watched, lips trembling, as Al straightened up again, leant carefully forward, and swiftly wrapped the star's wire around the top of the tree.

"It's done!"

Ed almost collapsed as his brother quickly slid down his body to stand beside him. Al put his arms around his brother, supporting him in the wake of their efforts. "We did it! We did it, brother!" He was practically bouncing with glee.

"Yeah, we did," Ed grinned, closing his eyes and leaning against Al. "We did it."

"Alphonse and Edward, the invincible Elric brothers!"

"Yeah, Alphonse and... HEY!!! Why is YOUR name first?? I'm oldest!"

"But brother, alphabetically I'm first."

"Alphabetical NOTHING!!! It's Edward and Alphonse, got it? Edward and Alphonse..."

"But... brooooootheeeeeeeeer..."

Trisha used the noise created by the two boys bickering to cover the sound of the door closing and slumped to the floor, tears pouring down her face. It was alright, they were both going to be alright. No matter how this illness of hers developed, she knew now that she didn't have to worry about her boys anymore.

"Oh honey," she whispered a prayer to a long-absent husband. "If you could only see them now."

"The invincible Elric brothers. They're going to be unstoppable."

End

Bonus omake!

Some years later:

"What the hell's going on? I could hear you guys all the way from the city gates!" Edward Elric, the Fullmetal Alchemist, stomped into the mess hall of the East City military HQ and looked around. "What the...?"

"Yo, Ed!" Havoc waved at them from beneath a pile of bodies. "Al too! Long time."

"Nice Christmas tree," Ed squinted at the glittering, badly decorated monstrosity taking up a large section of the back wall. "Where'd you steal it from?"

"Up near Lake... ah, that is..." Breda coughed as Hawkeye gave him a look and tried to look innocent. "We requisitioned it through stores."

"Why are you all on the floor?" Alphonse asked, helpfully trying to distract attention.

"Somebody had the idea that a human pyramid could get a man up high enough to put the star on the top," Hawkeye said wryly, standing up and shooting a significant look at the man sitting nearby watching the entire mess with a superior air.

"It was merely a suggestion," Mustang said mildly.

Ed rolled his eyes. "Funny, you'd think that any half-decent alchemist would be able to, oh I don't know, MAKE A LADDER for his comrades to use under the circumstances."

Mustang smirked at him. "Well in that case I suppose I'd have to bow to your no-doubt superior expertise at creating such an item."

"WHO THE HELL IS SO SHORT HE HAS TO MAKE LADDERS JUST SO PEOPLE DON'T STEP ON HIM??!!!"

"Brother," Alphonse put a hand on Ed's shoulder and shook it. "Brother, we could do it."

"WHO ARE YOU CALLING... what?" Ed looked at Al irritatedly. "What are you talking about?"

"We could do it," Al repeated insistently. "We don't need a ladder. Remember?"

Ed stared at him blankly for a few moments and then looked alarmed. "Uh, I don't think I could lift you, I mean..."

Al sighed. "Don't be silly. We'd swap. Like we talked about - we'll take turns supporting each other. It doesn't matter, as long as we do it together. Right?"

"I don't know..." Ed fidgeted. "Geez, Al. It's not OUR tree."

"But brother... it's the star."

There was a long pause, and then Ed relented. "Oh alright then. Give me the stupid thing."

Havoc surrendered the star and the other soldiers moved out of the way as the two brothers approached the tree. Alphonse was incapable of smiling, but he certainly seemed to be emitting a strong feeling of delight as he moved to stand by it and clasped his hands for his brother to stand on. "Up you go."

Ed clambered easily up the armour and stood on his brother's shoulders as Al straightened. "Don't drop me," he said almost absently as he leaned forward, ornament in hand.

Al's fingers tightened briefly around his ankles, and the light in his eyesockets flared once, brightly.

"Don't worry," the tinny voice said quietly. "I won't let go."

"I'd never, ever let you go, brother."

Really the end



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