Ed has always had trouble expressing himself to Winry.
It’s Equivalent Exchange! I’ll give you half of my life, so give me half of yours!
For months, he’d played that scene back in his head, as well as her return offer of all her life—and the subsequent sputtered amendment of 85%.
Just what the hell had he been thinking, why couldn’t he have just said what was really on his mind?
Would you wait for me? Will you still be here, will you keep yourself for me until I return?
Of course she had been flustered; why wouldn’t she be, considering his proposal (No, not a proposal! Just confirmation of exclusivity!) sounded as if his affections were conditional upon her returning his feelings equally.
Ed had never been much with words. His actions had always done the speaking for him before, but how to tell Winry he owed her so much more than just another promise to come back to her? She had saved his life so many times, even if indirectly; if not for her automail he would never have walked again, would never have been able to survive the countless skirmishes he tended to find himself in, and would never been able to seek and discover a way to bring Alphonse back from the other side of the Gate. He vowed that when he returned home from his long journey, he would make things right with her.
After all, hadn’t she waited for him long enough?
Months later, when he was finally reunited with the beautiful young automail mechanic, she was still waiting for him, just as promised, greeting him with open arms and a brilliant smile. It was then they started their tenuous courtship, with Ed making his first awkward efforts at being a suitor rather than a brother figure, and Winry tolerating his clumsy attempts at expressing himself with good grace and amusement. Yet their relationship seemed to build at a snail’s pace, never quite going beyond the invisible line that would take them into the frightening territory of true commitment. So, after weeks of almost platonic infatuation, Ed managed to work up the courage to give her the first real, yet non-verbal expression of his true feelings; he kissed her. A simple press of his lips to hers leaving her mildly surprised and wide-eyed, but it was the hint of tears that told him his message had been received loud and clear.
The next stage of their relationship didn’t come until nearly a year—and one more trip abroad—later, and Ed found it difficult to ask ‘The Question’ for real, his courage fleeing every time he tried to say it. His strengthening bond with her drove him to desire something more significant than a ‘wait for me’ relationship, but he still couldn’t get the ever so important words out of his mouth. Ed settled for simply holding the velveteen box out to her with trembling hands one summer evening while they lounged on the front porch after supper. Again, Winry didn’t seem to mind his lack of words or lack of romantic finesse and tearfully accepted his proposal by slipping the ring onto the ring finger of her left hand.
Even at their wedding, Ed couldn’t come up with words that expressed his unwavering devotion and love for his bride and had settled for the traditional vows for the ceremony, parroting the minister’s passages word for word. It had been a calm, beautiful, autumn day, with friends and family looking on as they took their first steps into their new life together. He wished he could say more, do more to let Winry know just how he felt, but Ed wasn’t good with words, and he hoped his actions would clearly express just how he felt about her.
It was when Ed finally stood before her the first time as a lover, naked, stripped of his ego and pride that he began to understand just how he could tell her without words just what she meant to him. In time, as their lovemaking became more experienced and expressive, Ed was able to tell Winry exactly how he felt through heated touch and kisses and their physical union:
She was his one.
She was his all.
She was his everything.
That he was, in fact, offering her all of himself, his entire life to her, because she was worth it.
Actions always did speak louder than words.