Cold Hands, Warm Heart
Author- D M Evans
Disclaimer – all rights belong to Ms. Arakawa, no profit made
Rating – FRT
Series/Timeline – Post series but no real spoilers
Summary – He wanted to show her that he could, in fact, be romantic
Prompt – Numb fingers/toes
Word Count - 4337
Warnings - none
Author's Note – this was written for fireandice2009 on lj. A lot of this was based on ice and snow festivals I went to while living in the frozen north and ones I would like to go to in China and Norway, where things like the 'ice lounge' exist.
* * *
Edward, where are we going?" Winry tried to set her feet firmly but that was easier said than done on the snowy ground.
"Where do you think?" He grinned, his reddened cheeks crinkling. "To the Ice Festival for the whole afternoon and beyond. So far on this trip, it's been nothing but spending time with Al and the bastard and all his men. We haven't had time to be alone and I know I haven't made it a priority to even try. I've been distracted but no more. Today is all about us."
Winry started walking again, unable to keep herself from smiling. It was what she had wanted Ed to say for days but, if he thought he was off the hook for his recent behavior, he might decide that it was it was all right for him to act like a boor. "I like the sound of that."
"So what do you want to do first?" Ed asked as they neared the festival center inside Central Park.
It was already past noon and the festival grounds were packed. Winry didn't want to start with anything mundane like hot tea or the silly games where Ed tried to win her something only to have him cheat at the rigged outcomes. She knew he would, after all. "How about we watch that?" Winry pointed to where people were lining up for some spectacle. She and Ed took their places along the wide pathway for the human 'dog' sled. "I could always enter you."
Ed shot her the fish eye. "You're insane."
Winry smiled sweetly. "You don't want to see how you stack up against either Mr. Armstrong or Mr. Breda?"
Ed huffed, pushing a path for them to get close to the ropes keeping people off the track. "Not particularly."
"You get to pull a cute girl in a sled." Winry ticked a finger off his braid where it peeked out from his hood. It swung lazily.
"The only girl I'd want to pull around is you."
She pecked his cheek. "That is a very sweet way of saying you have to take four steps to match one of Mr. Armstrong's."
Ed pouted, managing to get his lower lip to quiver just a bit. "I'm ignoring that. I can't believe people are actually competing against Armstrong." Ed pulled Winry closer to him as they waited for the silly competition to start.
"There are regular sled rides, too, you know. We could do that," Winry said.
Ed shook his head, his hood flopping back to reveal the tousle cap she made him wear after several minutes of debate. "If I fell off, I could break you with this automail."
Winry scowled. She knew it was true and he was smart to worry about it but she missed doing things like that with him. It would have been fun to cuddle up with him and toboggan down hills. "I suppose." She sighed. "And I don't really want to ice skate. I spend more time on my butt than anything else."
Ed's arm tightened a little more around her. "We can watch this and weigh our options. I do have an idea for something we can do," he said as a burly man he didn't know leapt off the line, pulling his sled.
Ed pointed to the ice sculpture field. A few dozen ice creations ringed around Central Lake. "They're doing horse-drawn sleigh rides so we can see the art."
Winry's eyes widened. Had Ed finally started listening to Mr. Mustang and Al? Had the seed of romance finally budded? "That's a beautiful idea. I still want to see the races though. Do you think Mr. Armstrong will do this dog sled thing shirtless?"
Ed's nose wrinkled. "I don't want to know why you want to know but it's Armstrong. Of course, he'll do it shirtless."
"Just because it's silly." Winry hip bumped him. "Besides, what woman wouldn't want to look at all those rippling muscles?"
"I'm going to go on the sleigh ride with a girl who appreciates me." He sniffed, struggling not to grin.
Winry tapped his red nose. "Going alone?"
"Wouldn't you be surprised?" Ed's ability to look arrogant never failed to amaze her even when she knew he was just joking.
"Hush or I'll have you strapped up to one of those dog sleds."
"Wouldn't that count as automail abuse? You know, the thing you keep yelling at me about." The gold light in his eyes danced.
Winry hip bumped him again. "Brat."
"Your brat," he countered.
Winry took his gloved hand in hers, squeezing. "Lucky me." She watched a few more races then asked, "Do you think Mr. Mustang will try this?"
"The bastard won't leave the ice lounge, trust me. A bar made of ice? His ass is frozen to a stool there. I'm more worried about Al trying this," Ed replied. "He thinks his body is ready for anything."
"I'd be more worried Al's at the ice lounge." Winry laughed.
"That, too. Al's becoming a hedonist. Granny is so proud of him." Ed made a face then pointed to the starting line. "Here comes Armstrong. He's going to bury whoever that is running against him."
Winry's eyes swept over the immense man, wondering where he got a leather and lamb's wool coat so big. "And he actually has on a jacket."
Armstrong had no trouble pulling the dogsled along. He moved so fast, he set up a swell of snow, billowing up off the sled. Winry ducked but Ed got swamped. When she looked over, snow was dripping off his face. Winry clenched her jaw trying not to laugh. Ed sucked in a deep breath and she lost her battle.
"DIDN'T YOU SEE ME?" Ed stomped his feet. "IT'S NOT ALL RIGHT TO BURY SPECTATORS!"
"Maybe it means you're almost tall enough to be an obstacle." Winry gasped, holding her sides.
"Winry," he whined in a pained tone.
She dusted the snow off of him and kissed his reddened, wet cheek. "Major Armstrong won." Winry nodded to the finish line. Armstrong flexed and showed off for the crowd, balancing the slender girl who rode the sled on his arm.
"Gonna go bury him in snow," Ed grumbled, moving off. Winry grabbed Ed by the wrist, getting dragged over the snow for a few feet.
"You promised to be good today," she reminded him, once she managed to stop him.
Ed's lips twitched then he sighed. "You're right. So, would you like some tea or go for that sleigh ride? I think there are lumberjack contests but I'm not sure how exciting that could possibly be?"
"I'd like to see the sculptures. The light will gone soon enough. After that, we'll be good and cold and we can warm up with tea afterwards."
"I plan on keeping you warm," Ed said softly.
"Now that is a very good idea."
* * *
Winry snuggled with Ed under the slightly damp blanket the sleigh driver had tucked around their waists before taking off. She was glad she wasn't a sleigh driver. Surely the man had to be tired of carting around people while freezing in the driver's seat. The horses both had a crusty coat of white clinging to their hair. True to his word, Ed held her close to him, but it was hard to feel any of his body heat through two layers of coats not to mention clothing and long johns. The intent was there, though, and that's what mattered.
"Wow, look at that one." She pointed to an ice sculpture of the Fuhrer's mansion. "How do they do that?"
Obediently, Ed sized up the sculpture. "Alchemy."
"That's cheating, Edward." Winry nudged him. "But seriously, how do they take a block of ice and carve things? Look at that swan. It's beautiful and it's just going to melt away."
"Beauty is fleeting. Isn't that what Granny used to say?" Ed nodded. "I like that city street. That took some work."
Winry bobbed her head, pulling the lap blanket up from where it had slid. "Take it from someone who works with her hands, this is art." She snuggled tighter against him. "I'm glad you wanted to do this, Ed."
He smiled at her then leaned in to kiss her. His lips were cold, almost blue, as they pressed against hers. His tongue swept along the inside of her mouth. Ed tasted vaguely of the peppermint twist he had bought for them earlier in the day. If it came on a stick, Ed would dangle it from his mouth. Winry was quite sure if milk came in stick form, Ed wouldn't hate it. And, of course, festivals and fairs had an endless supply of things on a stick. So far she had kept him from most of it. When they were done with the sleigh ride, she'd let him get some meat skewers, she thought before that ability eluded her, driven away by the kiss.
Ed sat back. "Your lips aren't blue any more."
"I was afraid my tongue was going to stick to yours for a moment there." She giggled. "Like the time Al dared you to touch yours to the mail box."
"Winry!" His cold-reddened cheeks went a shade darker. "Don't tell anyone about that."
"I suppose you could think of ways to keep me quiet," Winry wet her lips, hoping he'd take the invitation before they froze.
Ed kissed her again, pulling her against his body. Her awareness filled with nothing but the sensations of Edward's mouth against hers, the way his body moved as they kissed and the cold air that just refused to be ignored. Ed broke the kiss again, this time moving away just a little.
Winry's brow knitted. Had she done something wrong or had he already reached this weird stopping point that he seemed to afraid to move past. "Ed, is there something wrong?"
"Uh, no," he replied, his voice husky but the shiftiness of his eyes said he was lying.
"Yes, there…oh," Winry said, her eyes flicking down toward their blanket covered laps and Ed bunched the plaid wool up around him, looking away, his face redder than his coat.
"I couldn't help it," he muttered as she caught his chin and made him look at her.
"Save it for tonight," she said and his eyes widened. "And yes, I mean it."
Ed's blush deepened but he beamed broadly before turning the conversation back to something appropriate with a driver only a few feet away. "Check out that sculpture. Is that Armstrong in ice?"
"I think it's the president with several state alchemists around here. Oh, look at that tiny one off to the side. That has to be you, Ed." Winry slapped a hand against his chest.
"I LOOK LIKE A NUB!"
"Feel honored and I think our ride around the lake is about to come to an end," Winry said, thinking Central Lake was more of a pond than anything.
"Yeah. Hey, driver, stop for a second," Ed called, leaning forward.
The man looked over his shoulder. "Sorry, sir, we're not allowed to."
Ed shrugged, folded the blanket back and bailed over the side of the sleigh.
"Edward!" Winry cried as the driver pulled the horses up short, muttering something.
Ed ran over to the last sculpture, stopping just a few feet short, clapped and pressed his hands into the snow. He stood up, bobbing his head as if in appreciation for the ferocious dragon he had sculpted from the snow. He raced back over to the sleigh and hoisted himself in. "Okay, I'm done."
"Edward, that's hideous! Did you sign your name to it?" Winry looked back at the thing.
"Hideous?" Ed's expression crumbled and she felt bad that she hurt his feelings. "It's cool."
"There is a snowman making contest, you know," Winry said as the driver sighed and started the sleigh again.
"Yeah, but I'd have to do it by hand. This is way cooler."
Winry rolled her eyes. "I can't take you anywhere."
Ed settled back with a pout but he helped her down once the sleigh stopped. Winry cast about the area of the festival they found themselves in, spotting both the ice lounge and a tea house.
"That was beautiful but I'm frozen. My fingers are totally numb. I want to wrap them around a tea cup," she said but Ed had already sidled over to a skewer stand. "After you eat is fine."
Ed turned to her, skewer in his mouth. "'Kay. Wanone?" he slurred around the skewer.
She looked at the hunks of meat and shook her head. "I'll get a pastry inside the tea house." Winry sighed. Now if only she could get Ed to use his oral fixation on her, she'd be set for life. She took his hand, letting him ravage the skewers in peace. Winry almost chivvied him to the tea house when Ed broke away, gesturing excitedly.
"Winry! Look!" He pointed to a wall of ice and snow that had been erected in the park. She wondered idly if alchemy had been involved. "It's a climbing contest."
She gazed up the sheer wall of snow and ice, feeling daunted by the challenge. "Ed, I don't mind climbing a hill to sled ride but I'll break my neck trying to get up there."
Ed tossed the empty skewers in a near by trash can. "I don't want you to. I'm going to climb and win you something."
Winry crossed her arms. "A free trip to the emergency room?"
"Where's your sense of adventure?" Ed captured her wrist, hauling her along.
"Ed, that phrase probably preceded every time you busted your automail." Winry let herself be led along. Ed was going to tackle that wall one way or the other. There was no sense in not letting him enjoy himself. He would be so very pleased with himself if he made it to the top.
"No, that would be 'oh shit'." He smirked and Winry snorted at him.
The wall, up close, was much more imposing than Winry first thought. It made Ed's eyes gleam even more wickedly. "Do you really want to climb that?"
"Hell, yes. Watch me," he said in a tone of someone so self-assured in his abilities that he thought the world should bear witness.
"Naturally." Dent the automail and I'm burying you under the ice wall.
Ed paid his money and went to stand in line, leaving her to watch with the others behind the roped off area. Winry blew on her hands and stomped her feet, trying to get feeling back into them. Her toes were numb.
"Are you having a good time?"
At the question, Winry turned to see Riza. "I am, though apparently Ed wants to see if he can break his neck." She nodded to the wall, wondering what Riza was doing over here. "Mr. Mustang isn't trying to scale that, is he?"
The older woman laughed. "No, Roy is pursuing more sedentary activities today." Riza cast her gaze over toward the ice lounge. "I'm just out for a walk, looking at what the vendors have."
"Some very lovely jewelry cases inside the civic building. I was about to go poke the General to go look." Riza grinned then nodded. "There goes Edward."
Winry turned back to the ice wall, her next stop after the tea house already in mind. Safety ropes around his waist, Ed sprung up the first part of the wall deftly before slowing a bit. The wind had picked up. At least, he was too heavy to sail half way across town.
"He's a spry little monkey, isn't he?" Riza asked wryly.
Winry laughed. "Yes, he is. I didn't think he'd make it that far. That automail isn't light." Wide-eyed, she watched Ed scamper ever higher. "Look at him go."
Riza nodded. "He'll have to move faster to beat President Armstrong or Miles' records but Edward is doing very well and of course, those two have an unfair advantage."
Ed made it to the top with what looked like relative ease from her vantage point but Winry had no doubt he was winded and sweating hard, clinging to the top of the wall. Suddenly, adjacent to Edward, the snow changed under his hand to a monstrous fanged and horned head.
Winry covered her eyes. "Oh, Edward. Miss Hawkeye, you're marrying a crazy alchemist. Explain to me why we fall for these men!"
Riza laughed. "If they weren't crazy, we'd be bored with them. Look, I think Edward is changing it."
"I certainly hope so. People are going to think he needs put away for their safety." Winry looked back up at the ice wall. The demon face was gone and a huge bell inside a boulder had taken its place.
Riza shielded her eyes against the dying sun. "What is that?"
"My maker's mark," Winry said, a lump making the words squeak out of her throat.
"That's very sweet. See, the crazy ones can surprise you." Riza grinned, patting the girl's arm.
Ed repelled back down off the wall and made his way back over to Winry. He held a stuffed bear in his hand. "Isn't it cool?" He jerked the bear back toward the wall.
Winry hugged him so tightly she nearly knocked him down. "That is very sweet."
"Won you this." He shoved the bear at her. "It was the least silly girly thing he had. Did you see my climb, too, Captain Hawkeye?" Even through his jacket, it was easy to see his chest puffing up.
"Yes, I did. You did very well. I better go find Roy," Riza excused herself.
Winry looked at the bear. It looked like someone had made an honest attempt to make it look like a real bear. It was vaguely menacing. "Thank you, Ed. Did you have fun?"
If he started bouncing like a little kid, Winry wouldn't be surprised. Ed was so excited and that made her smile. "That was great. Should have added 'Mustang's an ass' somewhere on that wall," Ed chuckled and Winry elbowed him.
"That isn't in the realm of behaving." She tapped his cheek.
He grunted at her. "Is taking you for tea considered behaving?"
"That definitely counts and I know what I want to do after we get tea."
Edward linked arms with her. "I'm all ears."
* * *
The sun was long gone and the full moon high in the sky by the time dinner was over and Ed escorted her toward the ice lounge. Winry glanced at her boyfriend curiously. "Why are we going here?"
"I want to see it. I heard they arranged it so there were icicles overhead that you can just snap off and use in your drink. Bet you Mustang's ass is frozen to a seat in here."
"No bet. All his friends are in town for the engagement party, they're all in there," Winry said as they went through an archway of ice. Ed had told her that the ice lounge had been shaped by both craftsmen and alchemists out of blocks of ice and it would melt away soon enough. The way they had it light with hurricane oil lamps made it glimmer like a crystal palace. Too bad it would probably not photograph well. "This is beautiful."
"Yeah, it is. Hey, what is this crap?" Ed pointed to a large 'booth' made of ice blocks and heavy woolen blankets. Al sat with Mustang, Riza, Gracia, Olivia and Alex Louis Armstrong. Al looked almost as glassy-eyed as Mustang. Ed stomped up to the booth. "Are you giving my brother alcohol?"
"The president said it was all right." Al jerked a thumb at Olivia. "Sit, brother. Have some. I have to tell you what I signed you up for."
Ed sighed and let Winry scoot into the tight booth first.
"I see you found the vendors." Riza reach out and ran a finger over the new necklace peeking out of Winry's coat. The older woman circled a finger over the black celluloid bead shaped like a bouquet of daisies. The three beads were separated by white enameled metal, two lilies facing each other. "It's very pretty."
"Thank you. I just wanted some fun costume jewelry that I didn't borrow from Mr. Garfiel." Winry held out her arm and pulled down her glove exposing a bracelet with two delicate chains of sterling silver separating five oval jelly opal cabochons that changed from red to purple to gold as she moved her arm. "Ed got me this. They're art glass made with molten gold fused in."
"Dragon's breath," Ed said. "How could I pass on a name like that?"
Mustang snorted, reaching to the wires running overhead and snapped off an icicle. He sloshed it through his drink. "You're finally doing the right thing for the wrong reasons."
"Is there something wrong with dragons, Mustang?" Olivia arched her thin pale eyebrows.
"I'm part Xingese; we love dragons," he replied, sipping at his drink. "That wasn't my point."
"You bought Riza a dragon bracelet today," Gracia pointed out, reaching over to hike up Riza's jacket sleeve.
"I'm allowed. I'm not a total romantic failure." Mustang waved her off.
"And my brother is."
"Hey!" Ed kicked Al's ankle.
Al tried to dodge, slipped off his stool and landed across Mustang's lap, cackling loudly. Mustang heaved the young man back onto his stool and Al almost tottered off the other side before catching hold of the table. Ed huffed at his drunken sibling.
"Can barely hold on. The cold's made my fingers numb," Al said, struggling back into a sitting position.
"I think the alcohol is to blame," Ed grumbled.
"And you're all wrong. Ed's not a total failure," Winry protested. "He's been very good today."
"Yes, I saw his tribute on the top of the ice wall." Mustang said, knocking back his drink.
"You mean you staggered out of here at some point?" Ed said and Mustang curled his lip at him.
"He has occasionally rousted himself. And my brother and I need to get moving ourselves," Olivia said, shoving her brother out of the booth.
"Good night all," Alex Louis said.
"Thanks and I saw you win the race earlier today sir." Winry looked up at him. "Nice run."
"You buried me in snow," Ed grumbled.
Alex Louis laughed, patting Ed's shoulder. "Thank you, Miss. Rockbell."
Still muttering under his breath, Ed pointed at Mustang. "I want a drink, too, and Al what did you sign me up for? Don't go around volunteering me."
"It's for charity, Edward. You can spare a moment for that," Al said as Mustang motioned over a waitress.
Ed's shoulders slumped. "Fine, tell me."
"You and I are going to do the ice plunge into Central Lake tomorrow. They're opening up a hole and all you have to do is get a few people to sponsor your jump into the water. All the money is going to an orphanage," Al said, his hands flying as he explained it.
Winry tried not to laugh at the expression on Ed's face.
"You're going to be jumping for me, Al. I am not jumping into a frozen lake," Ed hunched as if feeling the water already.
"But Ed, it's for the orphans," Al protested, making puppy eyes at his brother.
"I'll drown. My automail weighs me down."
"It's only going to be waist deep, Edward," Al replied.
"That means it'll be over Shortmetal's head," Mustang snickered.
"You shut the hell up, Mustang, before I drag you into that hole with me." Ed slapped a hand on the ice table.
"He's already going in. President Armstrong is sponsoring him," Riza said, nudging her fiancée.
Mustang's glazed eyes flew open and he nearly dropped his drink. "What?"
"The president was quite insistent when she heard Alphonse talking about it," Gracia put in.
Mustang made a disgusted sound. "Hope you didn't want any children any time soon, Riza."
"Winry, tell them I can't do this with automail." Ed pleaded.
She grinned. "If it's just a quick wade in and out, there won't be time for the cold to transmit that badly up your limbs."
Ed's lips thinned. "Says you! No way in hell, Al. Not doing it."
"What's the worst thing that could happen?" Al persisted.
"My parts head inside for warmth never to be seen again," Ed replied without hesitation and everyone laughed.
Winry let him bicker it out with his brother while she talked to Riza and Gracia. By the time they all decided to call it a night and Gracia had to be back because the babysitter had to leave, they were all well warmed by drink and walking a little less than steadily over the snowy field where die-hard kids still played in the silvery light of the moon, frozen parents watching from clusters around tables set out for festival goers.
Mustang stumbled or so Winry thought until he came up with a snowball and hit Ed square in the back. Squalling, Ed scooped up his own snow but caught a snowball right in the face before he had a chance to launch his own.
Mustang laughed. "Watch yourself, Edward. My woman is a marksman." He barely got the words out before Winry hit him on the forehead with a well aimed snowball of her own.
"So is mine!" Ed shouted joyously.
With that declaration of war, snowballs flew in earnest. By the time they had tired themselves, everyone was coated with snow, ice balls forming in their hair. Winry was laughing so hard as Mustang hailed two cabs for all of them she needed Ed to help keep her upright.
He tugged her gently away from the others, putting his arms around her. Ed kissed her softly. "Did you have fun today?"
Winry rested her head on his shoulder. "This was one of the best days ever, Edward."
He hugged her tight. "It's the first of many more, Winry, I promise."
Winry kissed him softly.
If there was one thing Winry knew, Ed kept his promises.