Disclaimer: FullMetal Alchemist is the property of Hiromu Arakawa.

A/N: I'm BAAAAAAAAAAAAACK~ *laughs manaically*

"A ball?" Winry exclaimed as her mother rushed in with the news that she had just heard from town. "Are you sure that you have heard correctly, mother?"

"A masquerade ball, actually. And of course I have," her mother defended. "I could not keep this to myself if I had wanted. Every girl who is fit to marry is allowed to go. What do you think? It would be wonderful if you could see inside the palace, even if it is for just one night."

"Well, I don't know…" the girl stammered. Yes, this would be the perfect opportunity to stay with Edward, but she was unsure of whether or not it was the right thing to do. After all, she knew nothing of being a Queen, but of course, she would not say a word of that to her mother. She didn't know what would happen if she found out about her daughter's secret meeting with the Prince of all people! She had to come up with a plausible excuse. "I don't have a dress that is worthy of a royal ball."

It seemed, however, that whoever it was who controlled fate, thought differently, as someone knocked at the door.

Winry went over to open it and saw a mail-carrier holding a rather large box.

"Are you Winry Rockbell?" he asked. The blonde girl nodded. "This is for you." He handed her the box.

Winry, who was not expecting anything from anyone, asked him, "Who is it from?"

The man shrugged, turned and left.

Winry looked at her mother and then back at the parcel. Surely it couldn't be… No, that would be silly.

Still, she opened the parcel quickly, just to find out what it was. Sure enough, her suspicions were confirmed. Inside the box was the most magnificent ball gown that she had ever seen along with an ornate harlequin mask.

"Winry, it's beautiful," her mother exclaimed. "Do you have any idea who could have sent this?"

Winry actually had a very good idea as to the person who sent it, but she didn't say anything. She had a feeling that her mother didn't really want an answer, anyway.

Her mother helped her try on the dress, and, as if it was tailor-made for her (which, she thought, was actually quite likely, considering the circumstances), it fit perfectly. In the back of her mind, she had to wonder how Edward had figured out her measurements, but she decided that she really didn't want to know, after all. She wouldn't nitpick over this gift.

Her mother, upon seeing her young daughter in a beautiful ball gown, looked like she was about to cry. She mumbled something about her little girl being all grown up.

"Well, Winry," she said, "if this doesn't steal the Prince's heart away, then I don't think anything will."

Winry smiled inwardly at her mother's comment. She knew that the older woman had no idea of the truth of her words (and she knew that, were her mother to learn them, the woman would have a heart attack!)

A few days later, her mother had gone to the market for the day, and Winry had elected to stay home. It was only two days until the ball, and she was stressing about it. A couple times, she had considered not going, but then she pictured Edward. She knew that he would have to pick his future bride at this ball, and if she wasn't there, it put her out of the running. As much anxiety as she had for knowing that she wouldn't be able to rule a country, she couldn't bear to think that he could end up with some other woman.

It was during all these thoughts that she did not hear someone enter the small house. If it wasn't for her inattentiveness, she probably would have heard the man sneak up behind her.

As it was, she wasn't paying any attention to her surroundings at all. Because of this, she was taken completely by surprise as a large, burly man seized her from behind and refused to let her go.

"Let me go!" she yelled. She was kicking at him as hard as she could but he was as unaffected as if she was hitting a brick wall.

It was at this point where a dark skinned girl (undoubtedly, she was from the East) with an air of superiority around her entered the room followed by the man Winry recognized as Lieutenant Yoki.

The Eastern girl looked past Winry to her captor. "Please, Mr. Buccaneer," she said in a falsely sweet voice, "shut that thing up. The noise is offending my ears."

"Right away, Princess Rose," said the voice from behind, and suddenly, a cloth was being used as a gag. Winry fell silent.

This time, the girl known as Princess Rose looked directly at Winry. She made a small noise of disgust. "This has somehow stolen the Prince's heart? I cannot believe it. No, it is a pest that must be removed." She addressed Winry directly, now. "I do not understand how you could have bewitched Prince Edward," she said, her voice sounding like poison, "but let me tell you that you will not be the one to have him. The fact that the ball is a masquerade is going to be his overly-romanticized downfall. All I have to do is simply don this dress and mask that it seems he sent you, and I will be set. He will choose me as his bride, thinking that I am you. I am told that the choice made that night is final and binding, according to his father. By the time he realizes that I am not you, it will be set. I will become Queen, and your precious Prince will be mine as well. Perhaps, if you are lucky, I will let you be one of my servants." Rose let a vicious smile adorn her lips. She turned again to the man holding Winry. "Take her away," she ordered.

She watched her one obstacle get dragged away before turning to the Lieutenant. "Stifle any and all news of a missing girl. Give the parents some story about the girl not wanting to be found. No one else will pay them any mind after that."