By Yellow Mask

Spoilers: Chapter 73, when Winry gives Ed her earrings.

Disclaimer: I do not own FMA.

The earrings are cold and hard, and Ed's fist is clenched around them tightly – so tightly he's certain he's leaving small indents in the skin of his left palm. He knows that when he slips the earrings into his pocket, there will be an impression of their shape left behind in his flesh.

Rather like the woman who gave him the earrings in the first place.

Winry is good at making an impression – sometimes Ed thinks that's what she's best at, even taking into account her mastery of automail. Riza remembered her practically on sight, years after a meeting that would have lasted ten minutes at best. She seized Paninya's wrist in Rush Valley and had a new friend within the hour. Ling proposed marriage only minutes after meeting her. She was working at Garfiel's shop for barely a month before her customers refused to be seen to by anyone else. She was at the base for perhaps a few hours, and when she departed with he and Al it seemed half the men had fallen in love with her. Even Kimblee mentioned that she was 'his type', but Ed doesn't let himself think about that – the idea of a psychopath being attracted to Winry sends a sliver of ice down his spine.

Even Scar – who always seemed moved by nothing and no one – appeared near-awed by her when she had set aside her resentment and grief to treat his injury. And when he swore moments later to protect her, Ed felt he really meant it.

It doesn't make Ed feel any better about letting Winry waltz through enemy territory with him, though.

In the brief moments before he faces Kimblee, he uncurls his fist and stares at the silver scepters of the two studs and the smooth crescents of the four sleepers, the shining finish reflecting the light like a small constellation cupped in his hand. He thinks about the impression they're leaving in his palm, and the impression their owner has left on him.

Winry has always been a part of his life. There is no memory of introduction or first meeting – she simply rises from the mists of his memory, a well-known playmate even in his dimmest, most distant recollection. It is as though Winry sprang fully-formed into his life, like Athena from Zeus' head.

But if she appeared fully-formed, that form has changed over the years. Winry has been the girl he shared his secrets with, the girl he lived with, the girl who made his automail...and gradually, so gradually he hardly realised it, she became the girl he fell in love with.

Some part of him wonders if he's seen her for the last time. But he doesn't allow himself to dwell on that – if he goes down that dark, murky road, he knows he'll go as crazy as Kimblee, and that's saying something.

He finds himself hoping she knows he loves her. He knows it's a ridiculous hope – it's not like he was ever particularly demonstrative or anything. But now, as they part in the face of danger – danger that's engulfed her, as well – he finds himself hoping she knows something of the impression she's left on his heart, as her earrings are now leaving impressions on his palm.

Ed snorts at his own thoughts – who knew he was such a poet?

He doesn't allow himself to look back, afraid that if he does – if he catches one more glimpse of those soulful blue eyes – he won't be able to bear letting her out of his sight, won't be able to bear letting her go with the man who murdered her parents.

He scoffs slightly – who's he kidding? Eye contact aside, he's not sure he can stomach it anyway.

But he has to. It's the only way to extricate her from Kimblee's iron fist.

Ed slips the earrings into his pocket, but just before he steps out into the snow, he allows himself to peel back the wrist of his glove and glance at his hand.

The earrings have left impressions on his palm, as he knew they would. Two tear-drops mark the studs, four half-moons show where the sleepers lay. And for some reason he can't identify, Ed feels strangely comforted by those marks, and even though he knows they'll vanish in a few moments, he doesn't really mind.

The impression Winry's earrings left will fade.

The impression Winry herself left won't.

AN: As usual, a huge thank-you to my beta, LaughingAstarael.