A/N: I was going to include this in "missed memories" but I figured it's more of a sequel, and will be a few chapters long... not just a moment!
Backstory note- in my mind, Ling returns home to give the philosopher's stone to the Emperor, only to discover he's either died in his absence, or that quest it was merely a test. It might be a little lame, but I don't want anyone to use the stone :S. Either way, Ling becomes emperor in those first 2 years.
Also, I'm not sure how old May is. I'm not sure it's ever mentioned. I'm going to say 13... back in the travelling days, anyway. Which makes her about fifteen now.
Princess of Xing
It had been two years since Alphonse Elric had seen any of his Xingese friends. They had a hurried farewell mere moments after he'd got his body back, and that was the last he'd seen of them. He remembered May in particular, being carried away under Ling's arm, waving goodbye and saying, "We'll see each other again some day!" not knowing if they would or not.
They'd written, many times over the years when they could, but a letter could only contain so much. Al smiled at his thoughts; that was one of the reasons Ed had hardly ever written to Winry on their travels, he couldn't find the right things to say.
It wasn't quite like that with him and May, but their letters were often quite formal, for reasons that neither could quite fathom. He guessed because they'd been so busy trying to save the world, they'd never really been able to have a casual conversion, a normal relationship of any kind- not yet anyway.
He had to admit, he was looking forward to seeing her again.
The carriage came to a slow stop and a footman hurried out to open the door. Al stepped out onto a red carpet in front of magnificent, towering palace, unlike anything he'd ever seen before in any of his travels. Al was still standing dumbfounded, gazing at the rich colours and the gleaming gold towers, when a masked figure dressed in black materialised by his side.
"A pleasant journey had, Master Alphonse?"
"W-whoa!" Al spun around in a daze. "Wait- Lan Fan? Is that you?"
A metal hand moved to pull away the mask away and revealed a smiling face. "It is good to see you, Alphonse."
"It's good to see you too. How have you been?"
"Actually, not that busy," Al rubbed the back of his neck uncomfortably. He mostly spent the past two years getting used to being human again, re-learning how to fight and sitting around the house wondering what he was going to do next.
"I daresay a rest was reserved."
"I didn't expect you to come and meet me."
"His majesty's orders. You're his guest of honour, you know."
Alphonse grinned, trying not to laugh at the idea of Ling being a Emperor. By all reports, he was a very good monarch, but it was still strange to think of that greedy layabout ruling a country.
"I'll take you to him. Somebody else will bring your bags up."
Al nodded, and followed her lead as she led him up the steps of the palace. Everywhere they went, armed guards and ceremonial officials bowed and stood to attention.
"I never knew bodyguards were so respected."
"They're not doing this for me, Master Alphonse," smiled Lan Fan. "This is all for you."
"F-for me? B-but why? I haven't done anything-"
"The feats of the Elric brothers are legendary in this parts. People can't get enough of the stories."
"Of the things you did during your travels."
"But how do they know-"
"Oh, his majesty does enjoy telling a good tale. He wanted everyone to know how he won the throne. May might have helped embellished the stories somewhat."
"She did, did she?" Alphonse felt himself blushing. After two years, it still wasn't a feeling he'd quite grown used to- but he loved it all the same. "And how is she?"
"Well, so I hear. She's with her clan at the moment."
"Oh." Al tried not too sound disappointed.
"She'll be back soon, though. She wanted to be back for your arrival but ran into some delays... Come along, his majesty's waiting."
Two huge gold doors swung open in front of them and Al found himself in a vast, open hall, adorned with rich carpets, tapestries and various statues. At the top of the room was a massive throne, on top of which sat a very bored-looking Ling in exquisite silk robes. He straightened up the second the doors opened, but Al managed to detect a slight relaxation of the shoulders, a hidden smile, the second he realised who he was.
"Welcome to Xing, Master Alphonse," he said dramatically, rising from his throne. He gestured towards the guards. "You may leave us now."
Al looked around uncomfortably as they filed away, not sure of what to do. "Um, the pleasure is mine, your-"
With unrestrained childish glee, Ling leapt off his throne and threw himself at his old friend, suddenly no more a king than Alphonse was. "It's so good to see you again! All fleshy and human-looking! Winry feed you up? I'm sure she did!"
"It's good to see you again too, Ling."
"Oh, you've no idea how boring being Emperor is! All the ceremonies and the bowing and the advising and nodding... how many times a day must I just sit, nodding at everyone!"
"A fair few, your majesty."
"Lan! Oh Lan-Fan-Lany! We're among friends now! Enough with the 'your majesties'!"
"Oh, yes... Ling." The word hung uncertainly on her lips.
Ling put his arms around the two of them and marched towards one the doors to the side of the room. "Come! Let's show Alphonse his room and catch up on old times!"
As Al grew used to life in the palace, the same restlessness that had plagued him back home began to settle in. He got up, had breakfast, spent his mornings in the library, took lunch, went for a walk, met various officials, had dinner with Ling, and then retired to his chamber for the rest of the evening. There were very few variables in his day and there was only so much he could learn from books without a proper teacher.
Things had begun to feel so normal, that it came as a great shock to him to wake one morning to the sound of loud voices in the hallway.
"Please Princess, you must be announced! Master Alphonse may not yet be-"
"Then go in and find out-!"
"Surely you wish to er, compose yourself first?"
"W-what's wrong with how I look? Is my dress not-"
By this time, Al had recognised the voices. One belonged to Rin, one of the oldest royal maids. The other- well, the other was like music to his ears. He got out of bed, pulled on a robe, and went to throw open the door.
The girl standing across the threshold was not the child he remembered, she stood instead on the brink of womanhood, a lovely young girl in a pink silk dress with unbound jet black hair. Shorter than him by about a head, she was nevertheless still quite small, but she had grown a lot in the past two years, developing slight curves and womanly figure. Her face was different, thinner somehow, as if she'd grown into her features. Alphonse wondered why he hadn't seen it before; May had always seemed cute to him, adorable even, but there was no doubt about it now- May was beautiful.
She stared back at him with the same wide, disbelieving eyes, as if she genuinely didn't recognise him. It seemed to be a long while before she finally spoke.
"A-Al?" her brows knitted together in confusion, then melted away. Her hands dropped from her mouth and she flew at him forcefully, her arms flying around his neck gleefully. "Alphonse!"
He remembered her hugging him just after he'd got his body back. He'd been a brittle, skeletal thing then. It was different now, now that he had strong arms to hold her with, now that he could hold her back. A rush of new sensations filled him; she smelt of strawberries and vanilla, and her skin was soft against his cheek. Al couldn't remember hugging a girl other than Winry, or Pinako or his mother- women that he was related to in one way or another.
He liked it more this way.
Eventually, he lowered the her back onto her feet. Rin had long since hurried away, muttering something about the rashness of youth under her breath.
"It's... it's good to see you again May. You look... um, grown-up!"
OK, that was lame. And you think brother can't talk to girls...
"You too!" May smiled. "I mean... um... since the last time I saw you, you were, um.. not so muscled..." May suddenly realised that her hands were still resting, very firmly, on Alphonse's chest, which was deceptively tight beneath the fabric of his robe. She hurriedly pulled them away, placed them down at her sides.
"Oh! Um! Yeah, so-"
"Um, yeah." Al's cheeks were reddening as he rubbed the back of his neck uncomfortably. "Do you want to... have breakfast? I haven't eaten yet."
"Oh! Yes! Breakfast! Breakfast would be good!"
A/N: I like this couple! I like this couple A LOT... what's weird is I like them more writing about them. They were cute in the anime/manga, but it could be seen as just a one-sided crush on May's front... but it really isn't. Sure, one could argue that May just projects a crush onto Al based on what she thinks he looks like, but that doesn't stop the fact that she genuinely cares for him despite his appearance. She's the first person ever to hug him in his armoured body! That has to mean something. Not to mention the fact that he risks his life to save her, and she is the first person to hug him once he gets his body back, and really doesn't care how he looks then either. It's true love, my friends, true love.
It's short, but please review! More will come sooner...