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Working in Rush Valley was one of the best decisions Winry ever made. And even though she had originally asked Mr. Dominic to be her teacher, she couldn’t ask for a better one than Mr. Garfiel. He’s taught her so much already, she feels like she’s made leaps and bounds in her improvement. Not only that, but he can also be very understanding. When Winry got homesick he didn’t get roll his eyes and tell her to get over it. Nor did he complain when she had to leave for central and got stuck there longer than expected. Or even when the Elric brothers came to town, causing a ruckus and destroying everything, he welcomed them all with open arms.

Even her customers here had been great. She charges cheap since she’s still an apprentice, so she gets a lot of young or older clients who can’t afford high end automail. She’s made many friends and connections here in Rush Valley, she isn’t sure how she’ll ever be able to leave.

This morning Winry opens up shop for Mr. Garfiel like usual. He typically slept in a little longer, allowing her free reign on the shop until he got downstairs. Checking her list Winry makes sure she has all the equipment and tools for her first client of the day.

Mr. Bannon was scheduled first this morning. He was an older veteran from the Ishval war and had lost his left arm. He hadn’t gotten much service done before Winry because he couldn’t afford all the upkeep, so his first visit had been an overhaul. After, Winry and he made a deal that he if comes in every month for a visit, she wouldn’t charge him as long as the automail was in good shape and didn’t have to do any major work done. It gave her plenty of practice and him incentive to maintain his arm.

Stretching her arms up, she works out all the kinks in her neck and shoulders. Working hunched over for too long was starting to hurt her back, she had to remind herself to take more breaks in between her all-nighters.

“Hello, Ms. Winry, I’m here for my appointment.” Mr. Bannon knocks on the garage door. “I really don’t see the point though, everything feels fine to me.”

“That’s what you think Mr. Bannon, but there are hundreds of things that could go wrong without the proper maintenance.” Winry wags her finger at him, “Here, take a seat.” And gestures to the work table.

She worked in silence, occasionally asking him to move his arm this way and that. Winry had to tell him to keep still multiple times because his leg had a nervous tick of bouncing up and down. He probably was scared she was going to charge him for his shoddy keep up.

“Everything looks good so far, Mr. Bannon. Good job on taking care of your arm.” She gives him a smile to help him relax.

“Oh, um, thanks.” He looked off, over Winry’s head as if he was thinking deeply about something.

“Alright, so the exterior checks out, let’s look inside.” Winry gently maneuvers him to lay back on the table. Mr. Bannon jerks his arm and the next thing she knows she’s on the floor, the side of her face throbbing with pain. Winry holds a palm to her cheek, completely shocked. Mr. Bannon is standing up straight and he has a fearsome look in his eyes. She’s never seen eyes with so much wrath in them before and she suddenly feels trapped. Clutching her wrench in her hand, Winry intends to use it if she needs to.

Still shocked, Winry silently watches him above her, waiting for his next move. His expression bleeds out and he transforms back into Mr. Bannon. At least the Mr. Bannon she knows. He looks aghast, like he has no idea what just happened.

“Ms. Winry, I- I—"

He reaches for her, but she scrambles back against the floor out of his reach. Taken aback, Mr. Bannon looks around the shop for help. There’s no one there but them. He turns and races out of the building, Winry watching his retreating back with dread. What just happened? Why did he hit her? She didn’t do anything wrong!

She sat on the floor totally unsure of what to do. Her face hurt like crazy. She was probably going to get a bruise. She opened and closed her jaw to see if it was severely hurt and all the muscles in her face screamed in pain at the movement. She grimaces and that causes her even more pain. Her hands wouldn’t stop shaking.

Alright, calm down. Calm down, you’re alright. She goes into the bathroom to check out the damage in the mirror. He must have hit her with his automail fist because there’s already a fantastic bruise on her temple. It’s mostly red now but she knows it will be all kinds of colors in a few hours.

Tears start to form in her eyes, but she holds them back, remembering her and Ed’s promise to each other. Tears of joy. These wouldn’t be tears of joy. They’d be of anger, or sadness, or shame. No. She wouldn’t break her promise over this, over some stupid bruise. Sure, it hurt, but she’d live.

Now that she’s had some time to process what’s happened and calmed down a bit, Winry feels kind of stupid for her over reaction. Something must have triggered Mr. Bannon to make him snap like that. Maybe it was something she did that set him off, but that didn’t really matter, she saw the regret in his eyes after he did it.

Winry can hear Mr. Garfiel in the shop. He was humming a song probably preparing for the day. Steeling herself Winry walks out of the bathroom to face her teacher.

“Good morning Winry, didn’t you have an appointment this morning? Are you done already?” Garfiel turns to face her and gasps. “What happened?”

“It’s nothing. Really! It’s worse than it looks!” That wasn’t true, it hurt like hell, but she wasn’t going to tell him that. “There was an accident.”

Her teacher ushers her upstairs to his tiny kitchen and hands her ice wrapped with a washcloth. She gingerly presses it against her tender face, wincing at the contact.
“Tell me everything.” He says, more serious than she’s ever seen him.

After her retelling, Mr. Garfiel’s eyes narrow, something he did when he was thinking really hard about something.

“Winry, dear, you know what happened, it wasn’t your fault.” He tells her carefully, “And it wasn’t Mr. Bannon’s fault either, really.”

Not wanting to interrupt, Winry waits for him to continue. “People like Mr. Bannon, soldiers and such, they have a hard time coping with the things they’ve seen. The things they’ve been through.” He fixes her with a hard stare, making sure she understands. “Living through a war is hard, coming back home can be even harder.”

He goes into great detail, explaining why certain customers didn’t like their automail to be worked on while it was still attached to them or why others sometimes needed a service animal by their side to help them relax during maintenance. Winry understands. Granny had explained it to her before. Right after the Ishval war they had an influx of soldiers coming through their doors and sometimes their odd behavior would scare Winry. Granny told her not to mind it, they sometimes couldn’t help it. The best thing they could do is make them feel comfortable and not make a big deal about it.

“Thank you, Mr. Garfiel.” Winry stands to get up, knowing that by now she’s probably very behind in her day. She has to get everything done and then she has to find an address. She owes Mr. Bannon a visit.
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Sneaking around behind her grandmother and his brothers back had been kind of fun actually. They weren’t stupid, they both knew that the other members of the household had at least an inkling of what was going on, but they didn’t want it out in the open just yet. They wanted to keep it between themselves for just a little bit longer.

So, after everyone’s gone up to their own rooms and the Elric brothers are done talking about whatever topic they were on that night, everyone was off to bed. Well, maybe not everyone. Ed knew exactly how much time it took for Al to fall asleep. He’d watched him do it about a thousand times since he got his body back, it was no wonder he could time it so well. After straining his ears for Granny’s snoring down the hall, Edward knew it was time. Sneaking around with an automail foot wasn’t easy, he definitely was no LanFan, but he tried.

Winry could hear the tell-tale creaks of the floorboard as Ed approached her room. They’d done this so many times already, but the anticipation was killing her. Winry had waited all day for their secret rendezvous. She watches her bedroom door, it’s always left open just a crack, so he can come in without making noise. It was an old house, so unfortunately everything made noise.

Peering his face in to make sure she was still awake, she’s been known to fall asleep waiting for him, Edward enters her room, a big grin on his face. A flood of butterflies flutter in her tummy at the sight of him.

“Hey.”

Winry can’t keep the smile off her face either. “Hey.”

Her face was glowing in the moonlight, a flush on her cheeks. God, she’s so pretty. She’s wearing one of her cute little pajama sets with the matching tank top and shorts. The sliver of skin that peeks out underneath the short top makes Ed’s mouth turn dry. He walks over to her and traces his hands on the bare skin of her lower back, his heart thumping loudly.

Winry has to tip-toe to meet his lips now, something he hasn’t let go unnoticed, their bodies pressing up against each other. It feels like electricity is running through them, connecting them. It’s different than the current of alchemy that used to run through his veins. This was more like the crack of a lightning strike, scary and thrilling and beautiful.

He threads his fingers through her long hair and tilts her head back, so he can deepen the kiss. He traces her mouth with his tongue, savoring the taste of her. Winry pulls him closer, grabbing him by the hips. She swore he could probably feel the heat radiating from her, it was burning. Edward was a dangerous man. The way he made her feel was dangerous, it was hard to control herself. She loves him so much it hurt, she just can’t get enough of him.

He can feel her breasts pressing up against him and he has to pull out of the kiss for air. Leaning his forehead against hers he breathes in. Looking down at her face he has to kiss her again, the force of it making her stumble backwards. They fall on the bed together, lost in each other.

Afterwards, Edward knows he should probably get up and go back to his bedroom. He knows he should, but Winry is so warm nestled in his arms, and her hair smells so good, and her skin is so soft he can’t help but give in to his heavy eyes. The problem was that he never knew when the nightmares would come.

They usually came unannounced and unprovoked. The dream starts innocent enough. Him, Al, and Winry are laying out in the grass in Resembool, enjoying the sun on their faces, just lazing around. His brother sits up and says something to him, but Edward doesn’t catch it. He seems upset and somehow Al switches between human and armor. He’s angry, accusing Ed of abandoning him, of discarding him, of leaving him for dead. Horrified, Edward doesn’t know how to answer his brother. There’s an immense guilt in his chest, and he can’t breathe. He turns to Winry but she’s not there, that monster, the one they brought to life by accident is laying on the floor, snapping its mouth at him. Now they’re in their old basement. Alphonse and he are little boys again, though he doesn’t feel like a child. He feels ancient. Al runs to the creature and one of its disfigured hands snatches him, pulling him into the middle of the transmutation circle. Edward tries to pull him out, but he can’t save his brother. He’s crying and crying for help, begging his brother to save him so Edward claws and scratches at the being to save his brother but it only chomps at him with its large snapping jaws and then he’s devoured.

Snapping awake, Edward doesn’t hear anything but the ringing in his ears. He’s shivering and feels like he’ll never get warm. He gets tangled in the sheets and sharply twists to free himself. Feeling a hand press on his shoulder he jerks his arm back and elbows them off.

“Edward!”

Breaking out of his haze, he realizes he’s in Winry’s bed. Blinking to adjust to the darkness he turns to see her on the floor, pressing against her bleeding lip and holding back tears. Her eyes are wide, staring back at him.

“Winry wah—” He wants to ask what’s going on. Why is she on the floor, and why is she crying, and why is she bleeding? But he doesn’t have to ask, he knows why. It was because of him, all of it.

Hitching his breath, he has to force himself to inhale. He fights back the tremors from the aftershock running through him, but his body keeps shuddering. He fists his hands in the sheets, hating himself more than he ever thought he could.

“Ed?” Winry’s kneeling over the side of the bed, softly placing her hand on top of his. “Are you ok?”

He flinches out of her touch and doesn’t look her in the eyes when he says through clenched teeth, “I hit you.”

“It was an accident, Edward, I’m fine.” She tentatively reaches out to rub his arm. “I’m more worried about you.”

Scoffing he turns to face her, “How can you be worried about me? I just hit you, you’re bleeding because of me!” He says angrily.

“It wasn’t your fault though, you were having a nightmare!”

“That doesn’t matter! I shouldn’t have hit you, you should be pissed at me! You should be maiming me with your wrench!”

“But I’m not, Ed.” She says so calmly he’s caught off guard. Winry lightly sits down on her bed and rubs his back. “Like I said, it wasn’t your fault, I don’t blame you.”
Looking up at her through his bangs, he reminds her of a scared little boy, “Why?”

“Because, I know that sometimes it’s hard to control all that pain that you went through, it’s only natural for some of it to lash out. You don’t have to carry it by yourself you know.”

Not really knowing how to respond he just says, “I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be.” She smiles, despite the way it pulls at her bottom lip. His hand comes up to rests on top of her head as his forehead presses against her shoulder.
She continues rubbing his back until he stops shivering. Her lip was throbbing but that wasn’t important. She couldn’t let Ed blame himself for this, she wouldn’t.

“Do you want to talk about it?” She asks after a few minutes of silence.

“Not now... not yet.” He lifts his head to look at her. “Listen Winry,” He’s got a fierce look in his eyes as he gently grabs her face, making sure she understands. “You know,” He has to pause for a second, looking for the words. “You know I’d never hurt you, ever, right?”

“Of course, Edward. I know.”

“And that, I, you know, love you, and stuff.” He blushes.

“I love you too.”

Laughing, he tries to make light of the fact that he accidentally elbowed his girlfriend in the face. “Hmm, we should probably get some ice on that lip before it swells up.” Standing up, he takes her hand, “Though I gotta admit, you’ll look pretty badass with a busted lip.” He lightly traces her bottom lip with his thumb, winking at her. They tip toe downstairs to the kitchen, debating what story they should make up to explain her split lip.

After patching her up and fixing her bed, Winry gets back under the covers. She pats the side next to her, inviting Ed. He stands next to the bed, unsure.
“Maybe I should go back to my room, before I rough you up any more.”

“No! Come lay with me. Just for a little, please.” She looks up at him with those big, blue eyes and he can’t really say no to her.

“Alright, but if I have another nightmare, just toss me on the floor, that way I’ll only hurt myself.”

“Shut up and get in bed already.”

Shuffling in the bed he cuddles up next to her rubbing a hand over her hair. She smiles, but not too wide in case she reopens her wound and leans her face close to his. He lightly kisses her lips, silently apologizing again.

“Don’t worry. I’ll make sure you sleep soundly tonight.” Winry kisses him again and snuggles under his chin.

Edward really was a lucky guy. Sure, he and Winry argue a lot, and she can get pretty mad at him sometimes, and he maybe occasionally lets his voice get too loud with her. But that’s only because they care for each other. Really, really loudly.

But, there are moments when Ed sees the real her. The Winry that’s soft, and gentle, and loving. She’s the most loving person he knows. Honestly. And he would spend every day of his life giving her back all that love and more.