A/N: fluffy; I really hope that you enjoy this as much as I do.

arigatou gozaimasu to my friend chibi neko-dono for editing! (w00t for editors!)

please review; I really, really, really want to know what you people think of this fiction.

note: oka-san means 'mother'; otou-san means 'father/daddy'

Fairy Tale

"…And they all lived happily ever after."

Winry finished reading the bedtime story. It had the traditional plot course. Damsel in Distress who is kidnapped by the Wicked King is held hostage and eventually rescued by her Prince Charming. She had never really enjoyed them when she was a child, but her own daughter loved them and refused to sleep without hearing one, at least. She must have inherited the love of fantasy from Alphonse, because she certainly had not from Winry or her father. Lack of attention span and sarcastic demeanor from them, maybe, but certainly not a love of fairy tales.

"Oka-san, what does 'happily ever after' mean?" asked the little girl, face guileless and eyes wide with wonder and curiosity as she peered up from her warm mattress.

"Well.." Winry paused for a moment, wondering how best to explain, "it means different things to different people. For some, it can mean being with the person you love for the rest of your life. For others, it could mean being free from their past. Your father used to think that it meant a world without automail."

"Uhh??!" the child gasped in shock and offense. She had a fondness for machines, like Winry—a fact that Winry boasted about constantly to any audience who would hear her (A/N: took a leaf out of Hughes' book, hey?). The girl was unusually similar to her mother; her violent temper (one could argue both her parents shared this trait), machine obsession, blue eyes, and adoration of Edward all were traits she had inherited from Winry.

"But….otou-san doesn't have any automail," the girl continued.

"You're quite right. He doesn't." It had been years since the two Elric brothers had returned to Resembool, completely restored, and the thought that Edward did not have to suffer the pain of automail being broken and reattached ever again still warmed Winry.

The child yawned. A sure sign that she was about to fall into untroubled sleep. Winry held her daughter's hand as the child drifted into the deep realms of slumber. While sitting on the side of the bed, Winry reflected over the events that had occurred since the Elrics returned home.

Seeing Edward climbing the hill had been a welcome—if slightly disconcerting—sight for sore eyes. The teenager never came home to Resembool unless it was for repairs. Still, the fact that he was walking meant that he wasn't mortally wounded, trashed however his automail may be. But when Winry didn't see the familiar suit of armor trudging behind his nii-san, Winry became terrified. Ed…without Al??? Impossible! He never comes home and leaves his younger brother behind. Never. What if Al can't come? Or worse—what if he'll never come home again?!!? Winry burst out the front door and ran down the path as fast as her legs could carry her. Tears began to fog her vision as the true impact of what it would mean if something had happened to Al hit her. If she was never again able to see her childhood friend. And Ed…Her horrified thoughts distracted her enough to affect her depth-perception. She didn't see Edward until she was on top on him—literally. In her anxiety, she hadn't seen the blonde boy until, too late, she had run into him full force and was now sitting on top of his torso. The teen looked stunned for a moment, until he had gathered his thoughts, and then he declared, "Hey, Winry, been a while, eh?" with a smile across his features.

Ignoring this obvious sign that everything was okay, Winry practically screamed, "Ed, where's Al?!"

Slightly dismayed at her reaction, Ed simply clapped his hands together. Wondering if he was about to transmute something, Winry curiously looked in the direction of Ed's gaze. Suddenly, over the crest of the hill, appeared the head and shoulders of a young, brunette-haired boy sauntering about the landscape and looking around with such an expression of joy, one would have thought that he had the world on a string. His smile was so wide when he saw Winry, it looked as if he had a coat-hanger lodged in his mouth.

Winry's eyes widened in shock. She looked down at Ed (who she was still sitting on) and peered intently at his right arm between where the glove material and the shirt material overlapped, hoping that her gaze would burn a hole in it so she could see if the arm underneath was real or mechanical.

Edward, noticing her attention was back on him (and slightly glad for the excuse to shift as he couldn't really breathe), slowly pulled his coat sleeve back to reveal—skin!!!!

"Sorry, Win, but I'm afraid I broke your masterpiece…for good, this time."

All her previous thoughts of foreboding had long since vanished; her tears, however, suddenly returned, this time in a flood. These were not tears of fear, anguish, or anger; the tears she was now shedding were of utter rapture. They had done it!!! Edward had restored Al to his human body and regained his arm and leg!

Ed was glad she was reacting so well. Secretly, he had half-feared that she would hear the word 'broken' and start beating him with a wrench. He didn't understand why she had run out from the house so quickly, or why there had been tears in her eyes when she crashed into him, but he did know that the cascade of water falling openly from her eyes was not one spawned of grief, but rather one of pure joy. He was unable to stop the grin that now stretched from ear to ear. He had somehow managed to keep his promise. This time she was weeping tears of joy.

But suddenly, his smile slipped out of place. It was replaced by a look of surprise.

Winry had not thought about what she was doing. All she knew was that one minute, she was sitting on top of Ed, crying her eyes out, and then the next, she had flown down from her perch and thrown her self into his arms. It wasn't quite the traditional sense of the term, as it involved no jumping or being caught or anything, but it had involved the very rapid movement implied in the usage.

Ed was shocked. Stunned. Astounded. Speechless. Winry was—was—hugging him. He froze. What do I do?? Cautiously, he wrapped his arms around her in a mutual gesture, and then, time stopped. Was it years, months, days, hours, or seconds as they embraced? Neither Winry nor Edward could tell. But Winry continued howling and Edward continued holding her. Alphonse merely watched, clearly pleased with the way things had transpired.

Winry finally regained control of her emotions. Her sobs weakened, then finally stopped. Nonetheless, she didn't release her hold of Ed. She had a firm grip on him and was not about to let go until finally Ed said,

"Win, I can't breathe."

Still reluctant to release him, Winry slowly sat up and rose to her feet, as a blush crept across her tear-streaked face. Ed was looking up at her with a strange light in his eyes. Winry couldn't put a name on it; so (more to bridge the awkward moment) she offered him a hand, which he accepted gratefully. She was overjoyed that the grasp in his hand was not one of mechanical engineering, but one of pliable flesh. He had barely gotten to his feet and begun straightening his clothes when Winry launched herself, yet again, into his arms. Not as surprised this time, Ed caught on quickly (realizing that she wouldn't release him for a while), picked her up and carried her up the hill back to the house, Al following close behind, chuckling to himself.

A shadow on the wall snapped Winry out of her reveries of the past. She looked up and saw a familiar silhouette. Slowly, as to not disturb her now sleeping angel, she rose and tiptoed to the doorway where she beheld the love of her life. Smiling, he extended an arm and wrapped it around her shoulder. She leaned into his semi-embrace and snuggled against his shoulder. The two beamed as they beheld their daughter, quietly snoring with a slight trickle of drool on one corner of her mouth. Winry silently extended her hand and closed the door. "Goodnight, Trisha Elric," Win murmured.

The years had flown since Ed and Al had come back. After that first encounter, it had not taken long for the elder Elric to realize his feelings for Ms. Rockbell and confess; the same vice versa. Neither of them held in high esteem wordiness nor avoiding the subject which is perhaps a reason why they didn't date very long before they were engaged. There had been a time when Winry had questioned whether Edward would leave her again. Moments of despair when she feared that the only reason he returned at all during their journey was for the automail repairs she supplied him with. But that thought held no place in her mind anymore. He had proved his love when he had walked the path up that hill, no longer needing her help. He had proved it when he had returned her embrace and carried her home. He had proved it when he said he was content to stay in Resembool.

She extended her hand to grip his and leaned against his shoulder as they walked down the hallway.

"My hero," she said.

----A/N: so cute!!!!! you've got to love Al; he always seems to know what's happennig.

please r criticism welcomed with open arms; no flames, please.