Disclaimer- I don't own Fullmetal Alchemist.

The first thing Edward Elric was going to do when he got his and Al's bodies' back to normal was hug Winry.

Now, of course, this might seem strange to people. Hugging, especially for close friends is not particularly different.

But if there was one thing that Ed had never done, ever, was touch Winry, unless it was an extremely emotional moment. Winry could touch him, certainly, but he would never, ever touch her.

If the temperamental mechanic ever noticed this, she certainly never said anything. True, it factored into her increasing sense of separation from the boys, but not once had she ever asked Ed why he seemed unwilling to touch her.

However, Ed knew. Ed knew very well that he never touched Winry. His hormones were acting up in his advancement into puberty, and of course, he noticed the developing figure of his childhood friend, as well as his own affection for her.

And he also knew that he was cutting her off from his life.

More so, he was doing it on purpose.

That day that Barry the Butcher kidnapped Winry... it scared him deeply. He was useless, unable to use alchemy and unable to keep Winry from harm. When it all ended, he realized that his life would be just like that as he continued his search for the most powerful item in the world.

And what about next time? What if anyone with a grudge against the State, against Alchemists, or even the Elric brothers themselves went after Winry?

He would never forgive himself if someone else got hurt because of his goals.

So he isolated her from every horror, every battle. And so that whenever he returned to her, he could remember that she was still innocent, still protected.

And that he was a boy who had tried to defy God, tried to rebel against that which is infallible, and in doing so, nearly killed his brother.

Ed was a sinner, plain and simple.

His automail was his proof, the symbol that he was still beyond absolution, beyond redemption.

And he didn't deserve to touch Winry, sweet, caring Winry who never had to see the twisted uses of Alchemy, or the life threatening battles he found himself in constantly.

He valued the metal armed gifted to him by her, but it was still a reminder that there was family blood and sins on his soul, and that he could not, would not rest, would not even think of even holding the girl until he could do so with two arms and two legs.

Winry could hold him, could laugh with him and smile with him, but he could never allow himself to feel what he had begun to feel in his heart. Not yet. Not while the road was still long and treacherous, while he was still damaged and incomplete.

But that was another reason to find the Philospher's Stone. So that maybe, just maybe, one day, he would walk up to her house, smile at her and hold out his whole arms, and that she would run into his embrace.

And all would be right with the world.

Author's Notes

I just noticed that Ed never seems to touch Winry. And so, in the hours of four in the morning, this was born. This meandered a bit, but overall, I liked how it went.