By Yellow Mask

Spoilers: Episode 44 – 'Hohenheim of Light'.

Disclaimer: I don't own Fullmetal Alchemist, and am making no profit off the use of it's characters.

AN: This follows the anime, with minor spoilers for the above episode. Nothing major, just some interaction between the characters.

Ed and Winry always fought. It was inevitable – whenever they saw each other, there'd be some kind of confrontation. Both hurled insults, both threw dirty looks…but it was only Winry who made their fights physical, never Ed.

It used to be different. If Winry had gone too far (at least in Ed's opinion) then he wouldn't hesitate to launch himself at her and instigate a miniature wrestling match, leaving both of them exhausted and battered at the end.

Ed probably would have been quite happy to continue wrestling with Winry, if he had never got the automail.

A few days after it was attached, when he was just getting used to it, he and Winry had a fight. He couldn't remember what it was about – maybe he'd refused to drink his milk again – but he could remember the outcome.

They'd been screaming fit to shake the foundations of the house, and then they'd gotten to wrestling on the floor. Ed had managed to hold his own, even with unfamiliar mechanical limbs, until Pinako had screeched at them to break it up.

The next day, Winry had been peppered with bruises.

Ed had sported the odd one or two, where she'd poked him or whacked him a little harder than usual, but Winry had been covered in them. He hadn't thought to adjust for the strength of his automail hand, and it had left bruises wherever it had touched her skin.

He could still remember the surge of guilt he'd felt when he'd come down for breakfast and spotted Winry's mottled skin. He gaped for several minutes before finally managing to stammer out an apology. Winry had laughed it off, saying that he hadn't adjusted to the new limbs yet, and that she bruised easily.

Ed had known she was lying. A lifetime of working with heavy machinery and roughhousing with him and Al had made Winry about as easy to bruise as a tin can. Even today, he still grimaced as he contemplated how tightly he had to have gripped her to mark her like that.

Even though Winry appeared not to have given it a second thought, Ed couldn't forget it. He never got involved in a physical fight with Winry after that, remembering the bruises, remembering that he could hurt her without even realising it.

So while Winry shrieked like a banshee and threw wrenches, Ed never raised a hand to her. He was even wary of doing something as innocuous as holding her hand.

His touch had bruised her once, and could do so again.


Ed held out his hand to stop her on the way to her room. It wasn't that he didn't want her to go to sleep – after what had happened today, he thought everyone deserved some rest – it was the dark splotch he had glimpsed on her arm. It might be nothing, but for an instant he could have sworn…

Winry turned to him, slightly puzzled, then flinched as he gave a sudden cry.

Ed's eyes were fixed on the row of bruises along her upper arm.

He closed his eyes and swallowed, remembering how, after learning of Hughes' death, he'd grabbed her tightly by the arms and asked – no, yelled – if she'd known. But apparently, he'd not only been brusque, he'd been violent.

The bruises on her right arm were light – faint, bluish imprints of his flesh-and-blood fingers. But those on her left had been dealt by his metal digits, and were a ghastly black with dark purple fringes. Evidence. Evidence of his failure.

He had bruised her again.

As Ed's eyes traced down Winry's arm, he was startled by the red lines around her wrists. He took her hands gently, bringing them up to his face for a closer look. She didn't resist him, didn't even speak as he scrutinised the abrasions.

At first, Ed didn't know how they had happened. Then he remembered. Winry and Sciezka captured, their wrists bound in front of them. Hawkeye might have tried to be gentle, but rope burn was inevitable when rough fibres scraped bare skin.

He let out a soft, shuddering sigh. "I'm sorry, Winry."

Ed let his thumb brush regretfully over the marks. He briefly remembered the terror he had felt when he had seen Winry, dragged behind Hawkeye on the rope. He'd been scared that they might have hurt her, but the main reason for his fear was a selfish one. What of they had threatened her? While he didn't think it was the Colonel's style, but if he'd held a gun to Winry's head and demanded surrender, Ed would have given in.

"I was scared," Winry whispered.

Ed's head jerked upwards, the sudden break in the silence surprising him.

"I wasn't scared for myself," she continued, avoiding his eyes by looking down at her wrists – his fingers still whispering across the angry abrasions. "We'd gone out to try and help you, help you avoid the military…and then we were caught, and I realised they might use me to try and get you to go back with them. I'd tried to help, but I'd probably just made capturing you that much easier…and I was scared."

"Me too." Ed admitted. He knew he should probably stop talking, stop before he revealed everything, but his mouth seemed to be running away with him. "When I saw they had you. We had to get away so badly, I thought I wouldn't surrender for anything."

He shook his head. "And then in the space of a second, I realised I was wrong. When I saw you, I knew that – desperate as I was to escape – if they threatened you, I'd do whatever they wanted…"

He paused. She might just slap him for what he was about to do, but he couldn't stop himself. Like watching a car crash – you know the vehicles are going to collide, but you can't seem to make yourself do anything to stop it. Ed raised Winry's welted wrists to his lips and, very gently, kissed the crimson skin. He felt the tendons and muscles beneath his mouth tense in shock. Not giving her a chance to recover and hit him, he moved swiftly to kiss the darkest bruise on her arms – the thumbprint of his automail hand.

I'm sorry, Winry," he repeated, "These days, it seems all I do is get you hurt."

He took a deep breath, rested his bowed head against her collarbone, and waited for the blow.

It never came.

Instead, cool fingers slid underneath his chin, urging his face upwards, so his eyes met hers.

"Edward Elric," Winry said calmly, though a blush stained her cheeks, "If you think this is hurting me, you're off your rocker."

And she kissed him.

It was just a light brushing of lips, barely heavier than the touch of a moth's wing. But it single-handedly managed to halt every rational thought in his brain so swiftly he could have sworn he heard brakes screech.

He'd only just begun to respond before she pulled away, darting into her room with cherry-red cheeks. Just before the door closed, she graced him with a tentative smile and soft-spoken words.

"Besides, you never mean to do it…that's why I'll always forgive you."

For several moments after she left, Ed stood in the hallway, stunned by what had just happened. Then he grinned.

He might bruise her, he might hurt her, but Winry always forgiven him. She had understood something he'd consistently failed to grasp. It was never intentional, he never wanted to hurt her, he tried to prevent it as much as possible. While he wasn't precisely sure that was an excuse, if it was good enough for her, maybe it could be good enough for him.

Ed went back to his room. And dreamed of soft blonde hair, kind blue eyes…and pale, unmarked skin.