A/N: Done for SJ Smith's October 3rd prompt: "The brothers need better memories for 3 October, and Winry's determined to make that happen."
The first October after Winry had seen Ed's watch, she had just started her apprenticeship in Rush Valley. She saw the calendar on her way into the workshop, and the date lodged like a pain in her throat. Ed and Al were in Dublith, or were supposed to be. She wondered what they were doing today.
By the second October, Ed and Al were home again in Resembool, and had been for months. She barely saw Ed the entire day. She didn't know what he was thinking, running off by himself. But if he wanted space, he could have it.
She and Al walked up to the old house together. Al ran his hands over the charred bark of the tire-tree. "We still own the land, don't we?" he said. "Maybe- maybe we could rebuild someday." But not today, he didn't have to say. He was still too weak.
She found Ed sitting by the lake on the third October. "What are you thinking about, Ed?" she asked, poking him. "I brought you sandwiches, by the way."
He perked up at the sandwiches, but he still had that wistful, faraway look in his gold eyes. "Just remembering my mistakes," he said, almost too quiet to hear. "I can't ever forget them."
On the fourth October, Ed was out West somewhere, and she was back in Rush Valley. She wrote him a letter that evening. It didn't say much, just talked about her customers and little Lucas LeCoulte and Garfiel and Paninya. Her pen lingered over the page when she wrote the date. She wrote a letter to Al, too, and there she could write more of what she wished she could say to Ed- I was thinking of you today. And I miss you.
Winry was pregnant by the fifth October. Al was in Xing, but Ed paid to send a letter by boat. "I'm gonna be a dad," he kept saying, with a grin on his face. "I'm gonna be the best dad. And I'm always gonna be there for you, you know that right?"
"I know," Winry said, again and again. "Jeez, Ed, I know." But she couldn't stop smiling, either.
She barely noticed the sixth October. It was a blur of no sleep and crying and a baby who wanted to nurse all night long. On the one hand, she thanked her lucky stars that she had Ed around to help. On the other hand, she wanted to kick him out of the goddamned house, as Granny would say. He was talking about trying to go to school, and she thought that was a good idea.
She caught him looking up the hill towards their old place. "Al talked to me about rebuilding up there, someday," she offered.
"Huh," he said. "Someday."
Ed was in Central for the seventh October. She packed little Al up and took the train in to surprise him. She found him in the library, of course. When she walked in, he was staring out the window instead of at his book. She recognized that faraway look.
"Ed!" she called, smiling and waving.
His eyes lit up as she made her way across the reading room.
On the eighth October, Winry left little Al with Granny and took the train to Central. She showed up at Ed's dorm in a red dress and kidnapped him for a night on the town alone, hotel room included. Hotel room definitely included. She wasn't itching to move away from Granny and her business and her home in Resembool, but that didn't mean she didn't miss Ed when he was here at the University.
"Women aren't allowed in the dorm," Ed pointed out, grinning at her.
"Oh, am I going to ruin your reputation?" she asked, feigning innocence.
"You're about eleven years too late for that," he said, lightly. But there was a current of old pain underneath it.
"Come on, Ed," she said, grabbing his hand. "I've already picked out the club where you're taking me dancing."
The ninth October was hard. Sara was barely two months old, and Winry was still recovering from the birth. She had lost a lot of blood during the hemorrhage, and it took a long time to feel right again after that sort of thing. Granny helped, of course, but that didn't stop Ed worrying about her. She could see the ghost of what-could-have-happened in his eyes. She knew that if he'd lost her, he'd never have forgiven himself.
"Ed," she said, that night. "Look."
"What?" he asked, wrapping his arm around her waist.
"Sara," she whispered, pointing down into the bassinet. "Isn't she beautiful?"
"She looks like you," Ed said, softly, and buried his face against her hair.
They spent the tenth October apart. Ed was in Central for his thesis defense. She had the kids, and they didn't let outsiders sit in on the defenses anyway, so neither of them could see the point in her coming out. He called that night, though.
"The old bastard thought he had me with this question about the Pickerington supply lines. I turned it back on him, though- I mean, if he thinks that the supply lines were compromised, then he has to admit that someonewas passing intel, and that supports my whole thesis! You should have seen his face, Win. I think he grew new wrinkles just thinking about it." He stopped, suddenly, the flow of words trickling away. "I wish you could have been there," he said.
"You can tell me more about it once you're home," she promised. "The kids miss you."
"Just the kids?" he teased.
On the fifteenth October, Winry found herself climbing the hill the old Elric house. Except it was the new Elric house, and Al and Mei were waving to her from the porch.
That evening, she and Ed sat on the porch and watched the kids play in the yard while Mei and Al put little Trisha to bed. Ed looked thoughtful, and Winry couldn't help remembering an inscription, and a tiny gold-haired boy who'd refused to give up until he'd made everything right.
"Do you still think about it?" she asked, tapping his elbow to get his attention. "The third of October?"
He froze. "Sometimes," he admitted, not looking at her. "Sometimes I forget it, though, these days."
She smiled. "Good," she said.