Ripples

New Life

Many months came and went since Tima's kidnapping. That morning, Atem woke up and rubbed his eyes, trying to get the dream out of his head. Since the abduction, he had been worried that Bakura and Yima would come back and kidnap Tima or their child but knew that his dreams were the worries of a new father, especially since the thieves had disappeared and since security had gotten tighter. Thinking of the birth, he looked at Tima, who was still sleeping on her side. Smiling, he reached over and rubbed her shoulder, waking her up. Looking up, she smiled. "Morning."

Atem smiled and kissed her gently. "Good morning, my love. How did you sleep?"

Tima smiled more and slowly sat up, revealing her swollen stomach. Sighing, she rubbed her stomach. "Really well. The baby didn't move around too much during the night."

Atem nodded and touched her stomach. Feeling the baby move, the Queen giggled. "Any day now…"

Atem nodded and laid his head on her stomach to listen. Tima smiled and stroked her husband's head. She could tell that he was looking forward to meeting their child but sensed that there was a part of the birth that he was not thrilled about so she decided to bring it up: "How do you feel about being outside the room when I give birth?"

Atem paused mid caress to think about it. Deep down, he was not okay with it because he believed that his mother died in childbirth and no one ever told him otherwise because he never voiced his guilt. Had he known the truth, he would not be worrying as much. He wanted to say that he was all right but he could tell by Tima's face that his own had given away his feelings. Taking a deep breath, he sat up and explained, "I know that men are not allowed in the birthing room but…I do not like it. You see…my mother…died giving birth to me…I don't want to lose you that way."

Tima was shocked that he lost his mother that way. But she smiled and kissed him deeply. "Don't worry…I'm not going anywhere."

Atem smiled, feeling a little better. He then remembered what was happening today and got up. "On a lighter note, this will be a big day for you: you'll actually get to help out with one of our meetings." He then chuckled. "Remember how you thought you wouldn't fit in with the politics? Well, you can't say that now."

Tima chuckled, knowing that the only reason they had her was because the meeting was an open meeting where townspeople could come to the Pharaoh and Royal Court with problems; such meetings included a couple of Hebrews and the Royal Court needed her to translate. Still, she was happy to help out. "True. Looks like being born a Hebrew peasant has its perks after all."

Atem smiled as the servants came in to dress them. As Tima was being taken care of, she winced, catching Atem's attention. "Are you all right?"

Tima took a deep breath and touched her stomach. "Yes…yes, I am fine." Seeing that Atem was still suspicious, she smiled and shook her head. "I am fine. It was probably just a cramp. I've had them since last night."

Atem was still suspicious but he stayed quiet, knowing that Tima knew her body better than anyone else. As she was getting dressed, Tima noticed that someone was not there: "Where is Tikali?"

The servant explained, "She said that she would be a little late; she wasn’t feeling completely right just yet."

Tima nodded, remembering that Tikali had felt a little odd for some time. "Well, I hope she's all right."

---

At that moment, Tikali was in her nightgown looking at herself in the mirror. For the past month, something had been bothering her. Seth and Itami could tell from her attitude but she refused to explain, too worried about Seth's reaction. Sighing, she said to herself, "I don't get it…as a servant, I run around all the time, especially with tending to the Queen's food cravings, and I've been eating right. So why am I gaining weight?"

Having flown in at the right time, Itami heard what Tikali said and flew to her shoulder. Is that what's been bothering you? A little weight gain?

Blushing at being caught, Tikali lowered her head and lifted her nightgown to reveal her hips, where all the weight gain went. While it was not a lot, it was still noticeable. Itami went down to the desk and started to nuzzle her stomach, a habit she had been doing for months. Tikali, you know Seth isn't shallow like that.

Sighing again, Tikali reached down and started to scratch the dark phoenix's head. "I know…but he's the high priest. It's expected that he'd be with someone beautiful…not a small girl with big hips. What if…he looks at me in disgust?"

Itami ruffled her feathers in disagreement and was about to voice her disagreement when they heard Seth from behind, "Do you really think of me as that petty?"

Jumping, Tikali pulled down her nightgown and turned around to look at her husband, who had just gotten out of his bath wearing a towel wrapped around his waist. Tikali blushed at the sight but the blush deepened when Seth stepped forward and lifted her nightgown to look at her hips. "This is what has been bothering you?"

Tikali lowered her head, feeling embarrassed that she got caught. "Well…"

Seth did not give her a chance to explain: he cut her off with a deep kiss before telling her, "If you're worrying about your image, have no fear: you are still beautiful in my eyes. Besides…" he added with a little lilt in his voice, "…they say women with fuller hips have more experience."

Tikali blushed deeply with a little squeak as Itami gave a laughing chirp. Since they got married, Tikali quickly learned that Seth had a hidden naughty side. Seeing that she did not seem depressed anymore, he told her, "Stop worrying yourself. Nothing you do will make me look at you with disgust."

Tikali smiled as the two started to dress, though she had trouble with her hips and the dress. She still managed to get the dress on, then noticing Seth's chuckles. "What?" she squeaked.

Seth hugged her close. "Sometimes you are too cute for words." He wanted to keep holding her but she pulled away with a small whimper, making him worry. "Are you all right?"

Tikali nodded. "Yeah…sorry, my breasts have just been tender lately; I think they're growing." Then, seeing the look on his face, she giggled and told him with a wink, "Later, darling."

Seth smirked, which disappeared when Itami teased, Who would have thought that, under that gruff exterior, you were a big lover?

Seth growled, "If you tell anyone…"

Itami stopped the bickering with, Everyone in the palace already knows. Seth could do nothing but glare, making Tikali giggle.

---

The open meeting went on for about an hour. Most of the people who came to see the Royal Court were Khment natives who were there to discuss irrigation projects, farming problems and quotas for the annual harvest, and foreign policies with foreign merchants. To Tima's disappointment, she was not used as much as she wanted; while she translated for a Hebrew merchant and farmer, she mostly sat next to Atem and listened to him and the Royal Court discuss the subjects. What made the meeting almost unbearable was that she constantly had cramps that seemed to get closer together. She started to suspect what was happening, especially since she remembered that they started last night, but she was waiting something to happen first before she did anything. Atem noticed her discomfort many times and asked if Tima needed to leave to rest; Tima kept turning him down, not wanting to seem rude to those who were there. Finally, as the people were starting to leave, Atem looked at Tima and noticed that she was wincing again. "Tima, you should get some rest. Forgive me but it looks like you're in a lot of pain."

The Royal Court looked at Tima with concern as she blushed with a smile. "All right, Atem. Since the meeting is over, I think I'll just go and rest for the rest of the day."

Though worried since he knew she was very close to delivering, Atem kept a calm look on his face and kissed her cheek. "Very well. But don't hesitate to have a servant find me if the pain worsens."

Tima nodded, believing that rest was all she needed. But as she started to stand, she winced again and had to sit down. Isis went to her and asked, "My Queen, are you all right?"

Tima was about to answer when she froze, her eyes widening. Sensing what was going on, Tarra and Itami squawked. Everyone wanted to know what was wrong when Tima looked up and said, "I think my water just broke."

At that moment, Tikali and Kiko with Nayru came into the room to deliver drinks to the Royal Court. But, the second they heard that Tima's water had broken, they dropped the cups and went to Tima, helping her up. Kiko immediately took charge since Tima was in pain from her contractions and Atem was close to panicking because of his fear of losing her to childbirth. "Come on, Tima. We need to get you to the birthing room."

Appearing calm, Seth suggested, "Tikali, help the Queen to the birthing room; she needs all the help she can get with walking."

Everyone nodded as Tima was hit with another contraction. Tikali and Kiko helped the Queen out of the throne room with Atem close behind, ignoring the Royal Court's suggestion that he stay and work. Thankfully, the birthing room was not too far. Once there, the midwives took Tima and led her inside. Pushing past his friends, Atem tried to go in but the head midwife blocked the door. "Forgive me, my Pharaoh, but only women are allowed in the birthing room."

Atem wanted to order her to step aside and let him in but he felt a hand on his shoulder. Looking back, he saw that it was Mahad with Seth. Mahad calmly said, "With all due respect, my Pharaoh, it is best that you listen to the midwife."

Atem looked into the room and saw Tima was being prepared with a scared look on her face. He was scared as well but knew he had to put on a brave face for her so he told her, "I shall be with you in spirit, Tima! I know you can do this!"

Whimpering from a contraction, Tima could only nod as the head midwife shut the door. Feeling his fear come back, Atem told Seth and Mahad, "I am staying here until she gives birth."

Everyone was surprised to hear that. Taking a small step forward, Kiko gingerly said, "My Pharaoh, if I may, it is common knowledge that first births always take a long time."

Atem turned and was about to argue when Seth crossed his arms. "If I may, my Pharaoh, there is nothing you can do for her while she is giving birth and there is still work to be done."

Deep down, Atem knew Seth was right but his fear was whispering in his ear that, if he left, he would never see Tima again. Wanting to get his mind back in order, he took off for his bedroom. Tikali and Kiko wanted to stop him but Seth stepped forward. "Mahad and I will talk to him." Tikali nodded as the two men and two women went on their way.

---

Arriving at the royal bedroom, Mahad knocked on the door. "My Pharaoh? Permission to enter."

From within, they heard permission was granted. Seth and Mahad entered to find Atem sitting on the bed, his head hanging. Mahad wanted to rush forward to check on him but Seth held the priest back. "My Pharaoh, do not hold back; we are here to help you."

Atem stood up and walked to a pillar. He leaned his arm against it and stayed quiet for a moment before speaking: "I wish I could be there."

Mahad took a step forward. "My Pharaoh…if I may, you know it is taboo for a man to be in the birthing room…"

Hearing that, Atem snapped, "I know it's taboo! But…damn it!"

He punched the pillar with his other arm and slowly slid down to one knee. Seth and Mahad could not believe it: they had never seen Atem like this before. The magical priest went to Atem, wanting to help as a friend. "My Pharaoh…"

Atem lowered his head and finally let out his feelings: "I don't want…to lose Tima…the way Father…lost Mother…"

Both knowing the truth about the last Queen's death, Seth and Mahad looked at each other in surprise. Seth took a step forward and asked, "My Pharaoh, what do you mean?"

His feelings taking over him, Atem glared at the Priests. "My mother died giving birth to me…"

Now understanding, Mahad looked at Atem. "My Pharaoh…the Queen did not die giving birth to you." Seeing that he had Atem's attention, Mahad explained, "She died of plague around the time you were learning to walk, my Pharaoh."

Atem was surprised to hear the truth. He could feel the guilt wash away but he was still worried because death during childbirth was common in Khment. Sensing that Atem was about to bring that up, Seth smirked and pointed out, "Besides, you won't lose the Queen and I know why." Atem and Mahad looked back at Seth, curious about why he said that, as the High Priest explained, "She is not the same woman who was given to you by that wretched Greek…or have you already forgotten about the day she saved us, saved you, from death's grip?"

Mahad smiled softly while Atem's eyes widened with realization: Seth was right. Tima was no longer the timid woman he met. The day she took her stand as Queen and faced Roxanna and her evil Ka was the day she became strong. It took a lot of courage for her to face evil; that was showing true strength and childbirth was nothing compared to facing evil. Mahad looked back at Atem with a smile. "You see, my Pharaoh? The Queen will be fine."

Atem took a few deep breaths to let that thought settle in. Once he was calm, he stood up and looked at his priests. "Very well, let us go back." As he started to leave, he added, "And I would appreciate it if you two would keep quiet about this little episode." Seth and Mahad agreed.

---

For the rest of the day, Atem stayed busy. While he was worried about Tima, he had faith that the gods would give her enough strength to survive birth; still, he wanted to be outside the door when Tima actually gave birth so he had Jouno stay outside the door to let him know. Finally, when the sun was starting to set, Atem was finishing a meeting when Jouno came. Seeing him, the Pharaoh stood up a little. "Is she…?"

Jouno nodded. "I overheard the midwife starting the birthing spell."

The Royal Court all looked up in anticipation: the heir to the throne was coming. Atem did not hesitate: he got up and headed to the birthing room. When he got there, however, he froze as he heard Tima moaning and screaming in pain. While it was common knowledge that birth was a painful experience, actually hearing it scared Atem. To keep calm, he remembered that Tima was a strong woman; still, he prayed to Taweret, the goddess of pregnant women, that she would help Tima through this birth. The birth took about twenty minutes, enough time for the rest of the Royal Court, Jouno, and Kiko to come and wait to meet the new heir. Since Atem was focused on what Tima was going through, he did not notice that Aknadin was not there; the rest of the Court noticed, however, but decided to not bring it up, not wanting to give Atem more stress. Finally, there was a loud scream from the birthing room followed by the cries of a newborn. Atem looked up and went to open the door but it was still locked. He hoped that it was locked simply to keep men out and not because of something bad. A few minutes later, the door opened and the head midwife poked her head out with a smile. "My Pharaoh…"

Atem was nervous but entered, the Royal Court staying behind to give Atem a chance to meet his firstborn. The room was simple with a mattress and headrest, a mat and cushion, and a birthing stool. Tima was sitting on the birthing stool, wrapped in a blanket and holding a bundle against her chest. She looked exhausted with sweat on her face and her hair all messed up. Gently approaching her, Atem whispered, "Tima…" Tima looked up at him and smiled tiredly, making Atem smile. "You did it…"

Tima just nodded, too tired to speak. Proud of her and happy that she survived, Atem kissed her forehead and looked down at the bundle. Smiling more, Tima pulled back the blanket a little and whispered, "Meet your son…"

Atem looked down and his heart melted. In the bundled blankets was a baby boy. What was interesting was that the infant had black hair with red tips and little blond, lightning shaped bangs; he looked like an innocent version of his father. Seeing Atem's reaction, Tima kissed her son's forehead, making him coo softly. "We need to think of a name."

Atem went closer, keeping his eye on the newborn. "Hmm…what name shall suit you, my son?"

Tima started to think. "It should be very unique…yet fit him."

The couple thought of a few minutes. Tima was about to suggest a Hebrew name when Atem whispered, "Heba…" Seeing Tima's look, he explained, "It means 'game' in my tongue."

Tima thought about it and smiled, looking down at their son. "Prince Heba of Khment…I love it."

Atem smiled as Heba started to open his eyes. To his parents' delight, his eyes were purple, like Atem's, but appeared bigger, truly showing his innocence. Atem chuckled. "He's so cute."

Tima nodded, still exhausted from giving birth. "Can you hold him for a while? I'm really tired."

Atem nodded and took the newborn. The baby fussed a little at being moved but settled down as soon as Atem held him. The Pharaoh smiled lovingly, enjoying the feeling of being a father, as Tima laid down on the mattress. She enjoyed watching Atem hold their son. As she stretched her neck, she noticed the Royal Court outside. Turning to her husband, she asked, "Should we introduce them to Heba?"

Atem nodded and looked up to grant them entrance. As everyone entered, Atem stood up and adjusted the blanket so Heba could be seen. It was then that he noticed that Aknadin was not there. While disappointed, he waved it off and smiled at the rest of the court. "My friends…I present you my son, Prince Heba."

Everyone looked towards the new heir to the throne. Seeing him for the first time and noticing how much he looked like his father, they smiled and bowed their heads to the newborn, making his parents smile. With the phoenixes, Jouno and Kiko came in and looked at Heba. The phoenixes chirped happily at the sight of the newborn. Jouno grinned and patted Atem on the shoulder. "He looks just like you, Atem."

Kiko squealed quietly, not wanting to upset the baby. "He's perfect. I can't wait to spoil him."

Seeing everyone, Heba started to fuss since he was not used to this many people. Hearing him, Tima sat up. "Let me take him."

Atem nodded and sat next to Tima before passing the infant to her, making Heba settle down. Looking up, she noticed, "Where is Tikali?"

Itami explained, She has a bad headache so she retired for the night. But she sends her blessings.

Tima nodded as the head midwife approached her. "Forgive me, my Queen, but the birthing room is not a place to spend the night, especially with a newborn."

Tima nodded and, with Atem's help, stood up from the mattress with Heba. She was a little wobbly but determined to walk back to the bedroom. Passing the baby to Kiko to hold real quick, Tima turned around to tighten the blanket around her body and smiled at Atem. "Get ready for a lot of sleepless nights."

Atem smiled, knowing that it would be worth it, as Tima took Heba and started to head to the bedroom with Atem, passing the Royal Court who bowed to silently thank her for giving them an heir. As soon as the royal couple arrived at the room, Heba started to fuss so Tima sat on the bed and tried to nurse her son. To her happiness, Heba latched on and started to feed, making Atem smile. "He's a fast learner."

Tima nodded and stroked her son's head with her free hand. "Were you a fast learner when you were little?"

Atem just nodded, too focused on watching Tima feed Heba. It was an amazing and beautiful sight. "The people will love him."

Tima looked up, remembering that the people needed to know that the heir had been born. "When will they see him?"

Atem started to get in his night clothes. "In a few days, he will be presented to the town, the same way you were presented." Looking at her, he noticed that she looked a little nervous about him being presented. "I can understand if you want to delay it."

Tima smiled and shook her head, "No…our people have the right to see our son."

Now in his night clothes, he sat next to her. "Are you sure?"

Tima nodded and looked down at Heba, who seemed to be getting tired from feeding. She smiled and commented, "He is perfect…" Atem nodded with a smile.

---

A couple of days later, Tima was wrapping Heba in a blanket to prepare him to be presented. She was tired because her son woke her up a lot with his needs and wants but she was happy even so. Finally having him swaddled, she picked him up. "You ready for today?"

Heba gave her an innocent look, unaware of what was going on. Smiling at him, she looked up when Atem asked, "Is he ready?"

Tima looked up to see Atem waiting by the door with Tarra. Nodding, she joined them and they headed to the balcony where they met the Royal Court and Shimon. Tima noticed that Aknadin was there but he was taking great care to not look at her and Heba. She was about to tell him off when Shimon asked merrily, "How is the little one today?"

Atem smiled and stroked Heba's head. "He's fine. I just pray that the people will love Heba."

Shimon chuckled. "My Pharaoh, they will love the little Prince. Why, this reminds me of when your father presented you…and here you are with your lovely Queen, presenting your own son."

Atem smiled, remembering his father. He was sad that Aknamkanon was not alive to meet his grandson but took happiness in the fact that Aknamkanon was watching over them. Smiling at Shimon, Tima asked, "So how does this work?"

Atem explained, "Well, as Pharaoh, I will be presenting the heir with you by my side."

Tima nodded and smiled down at Heba, hoping he would not cry. Seeing his family calm, Atem touched Tima's shoulder and led her to the balcony. Once they were in view, the townspeople cheered for them and with excited anticipation to see the new Prince. Hearing this, Tima smiled and looked down at Heba. "Our people came to see you, Heba. You are a very special person to everyone."

Heba cooed, not understanding, as Atem began to address the people. "Citizens! After many moons of waiting, our beloved Queen has given birth. On this day, I, as your Pharaoh, am honored to present to you the new heir of the Kingdom of Khment!"

With that, he took Heba in his arms. He was about to present him when he remembered something his father told him he did when Atem was presented: he tickled Heba's nose a little, making the baby smile. Tima smiled brightly, especially when Atem held up Heba, making the people cheer. The Queen kept her ears open, ready to take her son at the slightest whimper. But, to her delight, she heard him coo and saw that he was smiling, which made the natives cheer even more. After a minute, Atem brought Heba down into his arms. "They love you, Heba."

Heba cooed in response, making Tima smile. "I prayed that everything would go smoothly. I'm surprised that he was smiling."

Atem nodded. "He's a brave boy."

Tima nodded and took Heba in her arms, knowing that Atem had meetings to go to. Kissing Tima gently, he passed Tarra to her shoulder. "Tarra, do me a favor: keep my wife and son company while I'm working."

Tarra nodded as Tima took her and Heba back to the bedroom. Along the way, Tarra looked down at Heba. Hello, little one. Aren't you the cutest thing?

Tima smiled, especially as Heba whined a little at the sight of the phoenix; even though he had seen Tarra a few times, he was not used to hearing her voice in his head. "It's all right, Heba."

Heba looked at Tima as they arrived at the bedroom where Tima laid Heba down on the bed and she laid next to him with Tarra on the other side of the baby. He is so cute! I want to nuzzle him!

Before Tima could stop her, Tarra started to nuzzle Heba, only to make him fuss. The phoenix pulled away and, to make him feel better, started to sing a beautiful Phoenix Song. Heba stared up at Tarra with innocent eyes, making Tima smile, especially as Heba started to fall asleep from the song. By the time Tarra was done, Heba was sound asleep so Tima turned to Tarra. "Thank you, Tarra; that was beautiful." Looking down at her son, she smiled and kissed his forehead. "He's our little angel…a new chapter in our live has begun."

Tarra nodded, neither of them aware that Tikali was watching from the door. As happy as she was for Tima, she was also jealous because she and Seth had tried for so long to have a child and it just did not seem to be happening. The idea of not giving Seth a child depressed her. She hoped that she would have a child soon. Little did she know what faith had in store for her…

---

A month later, Tikali and Itami were keeping Tima and Heba company in the gardens. While she was still jealous, Tikali was more happy since she could see how happy Tima was. Looking at Heba, she giggled. "He is so cute. Look at those curious eyes of his."

Tima nodded and kissed her son's head. "Yes. He does love the garden."

Tikali nodded and picked a rose for Heba to smell. When the infant smelled the rose, he sneezed and then blinked in surprise. The two women could not help but laugh at how adorable he was. As Tikali set the rose aside, she thought of something: "Has Aknadin presented himself to Heba yet?"

Letting Itami nuzzle Heba, who had by now gotten used to phoenix nuzzles, Tima sighed and shook her head. She was disappointed that the priest was holding onto his prejudices towards her and taking it out on her son. "I don't understand him…how could he be this way towards my son?"

Itami gave a scoffing chirp. That old man just can't move away from traditions.

Tikali sighed. "Yeah…he's the same way with me. At least we have the rest of the Royal Court to look after us."

Tima nodded and was about to add something else when she felt Heba wiggle a little. Giggling, she looked down at him and wondered, "I hope Atem is all right." Seeing Tikali's confused look, the Queen explained, "This little one kept waking us up. You, mister, should know that your father needs his sleep when he had important meetings the next day."

Tikali giggled, imagining Atem trying not to fall asleep during the meetings. She was about to say something about the image when she winced, watching Tima's attention. "Are you all right?"

Tikali took a deep breath and nodded. "Yeah…I'm probably about to start."

Tima accepted that and stood up with Heba. "Well, how about we move into the bedroom? That way, you can rest."

Tikali nodded and stood up, only to go back down to the knees with a look of pain on her face and her arms covering her stomach. Itami went down and started to nuzzle her. Tikali, are you all right?!

Tikali yelped in pain and managed to get out, "Get Seth…"

Tima nodded but was stuck since Heba started to cry from Tikali's yelp startling him. Unable to do both, she told Itami, "Stay with Tikali and I'll get some servants to help."

Itami nodded, knowing that only Tima could calm down the infant. As Tima quickly set out to find servants, Tikali curled up in the fetal position, her pain now increasing. She was scared, especially since the pain felt like there was something trying to get out of her. "What's…happening…to me?"

Itami sensed what was happening and decided to explain. Tikali…I've been keeping something from you…

Tikali looked up but did not get a chance to ask as her pain continued and Kiko and a couple of other servants arrived. Seeing how much pain she was in, they helped her up to her feet, which was a hard task because the small Hebrew kept bending in half in pain. Itami watched and felt a little guilty but she knew that guilt would have to wait: she needed to alert Seth so she flew to the throne room and immediately took Seth's hat, making him growl, "What was that for?"

Itami started to fly around Seth. You need to come! Tikali is in a lot of pain!

Hearing that, Seth paled and started to leave, only to pause when Aknadin demanded, "Where are you going? There is still work to be done."

Giving back the hat, Itami hissed at the old priest as Seth glared and put his hat back on. "My wife is in trouble and you should know by now that she is more important."

Aknadin was about to argue when Atem let Seth go, declaring that they would continue once Seth knew that Tikali was okay. Hearing that, Seth and Itami wasted little time to go to the healing room but the door was locked. Seth grew very worried, especially since he could hear Tikali screaming inside. These were not normal screams: they were the screams of someone who was in immense pain. Seth pounded on the door but no one answered, agitating him. "Damn it, what is going on in there?!"

Perched on a nearby pot, Itami decided to come clean. Seth…Tikali is in labor.

Seth froze and slowly looked up at Itami in shock. "What…did you say?"

Itami looked at Seth. The reason why I keep nuzzling her stomach…being on her case about eating right and exercising…helping her when she was stressed…is because she's been pregnant for the past nine moons.

Still in shock, Seth started to head to Itami. "What the hell do you mean she's been pregnant? She did not look like she was expecting."

Understanding that Seth was upset, Itami flew up to his eye level. This is a mysterious pregnancy. And, before you get all over my case about not telling you…

Furious about being kept in the dark, Seth grabbed Itami by the neck. "How the hell could you not tell us?! She could die because you did not tell us!"

Itami struggled to break free, wanting to explain that she chose not to explain because it was the lesser of two evils (better to have Seth a little broken if he did not know about the pregnancy and Tikali did not make it versus him being completely broken if he knew that she died from childbirth). She tried to tell him but his mind was too distracted by Tikali's screams; in fact, the phoenix was only set free when the screams stopped. Tossing Itami away, Seth went to the door, only to find that it still locked. He started to panic, thinking that something was very wrong as he pounded on the door and demanded to be let in. After a few long minutes, the medicine woman opened the door with her head down. Thinking the worse, he rushed in and paused at the sight: Tikali was laying on a bloody mattress with her eyes closed. The High Priest suddenly found that he could not breathe. "No…please…"

The medicine woman just said, "I am so sorry…the pain was too much to handle…"

Seth's heart sunk as he went to her and tried to shake her awake. When that did not work, he tried yelling at her with tears forming. The medicine woman stayed in a far corner to give him privacy as Seth felt his heart breaking: first it was Kisara sacrificing herself to save him and now it was Tikali with a hidden pregnancy. Itami flew in and landed on Seth's shoulder, only to be pushed off. "Leave me…" Itami tried to apologize again when Seth yelled, "Leave me!!"

Feeling guilty that she told him and reduced him to a broken man, Itami stayed next to the mattress as Seth lowered himself onto Tikali, clutching her dress and burying his head into her shoulder. "Please…Tikali…you can't leave me…"

Itami started to coo sadly when she noticed something and chirped to get Seth's attention. Seth was too depressed to notice until he felt someone tugging on his cape. Looking up, he gasped as his eyes widened: Tikali was alive! "S-Seth?"

Tears falling, Seth sat up and hugged Tikali tightly. "Tikali! Oh, Tikali! Thank the gods!"

Tikali hugged him back, glad that she was back. For those few moments, she was in the grey area between life and death and, when she did not wake up, she heard Celestia tell her that it was not her time yet. Pulling back, she kissed Seth deeply. "Seth…I'm sorry I scared you…"

Seth shook his head and smiled as the tears continued to fall. "It's okay…you're still alive…just don't ever scare me like that again…"

Tikali chuckled a little and nodded. That's when apprentice came forward with a bundle in her arms. Looking up, Tikali shook her head in disbelief. "How is this possible?"

The apprentice shook her head. "I do not know…I have never seen anything like this."

Seth looked at Itami. "You have some explaining to do."

Tikali pulled away from Seth. "Later…I want to meet our child."

The apprentice smiled and passed the bundle to Tikali, who gasped with delight. In the bundle was a tiny baby boy with black hair. Seth looked down at the newborn and could not help but smile. They had prayed for so long for a child and their prayers were answered, albeit in a mysterious way. Looking at the hair, she smiled as tears started to form. "Black hair…my father had black hair…"

Seth looked down at the baby, glad that there was a good reason they had a child with black hair. He then smiled and stroked the infant's head. "He's perfect."

Tikali smiled and looked at Seth. "You want to hold him?"

Seth froze a little but nodded so Tikali gently passed the boy to him. The newborn fussed a little but settled down once he was in his father's arms. Looking down at their son, Seth could not help but admire the little one: this was his son that he and Tikali made. He was about to discuss the baby's name with Tikali when he noticed that Itami was still there. Stiffening, he demanded, "Care to explain yourself?"

Tikali looked at Itami, who nodded. Seth, you must understand: I wanted to tell the two of you. But I was worried about what would happen if Tikali did not survive since this is a very unusual pregnancy. The last thing I wanted to see was you broken like you were when Kisara died. So I chose the lesser of two evils.

Tikali started to understand. "Better to be a little broken at my sudden death than completely broken if Seth knew that I was carrying his child."

Itami nodded and looked at Seth. While the High Priest was still upset, he did understood why now; not only that but he could feel the guilt that resided in her mind. So, unable to with the baby in his arms, he said to Tikali, "Can you scratch her head for me?"

Tikali giggled and did that. She then asked, "What shall we call him?"

Wanting his son to have the perfect name, Seth thought for a moment before coming up with a good answer: "Mesu. It means son."

Tiki smiled and nodded, agreeing that their son should be called Mesu. Sitting next to Tikali, Seth continued to hold and admire Mesu until there was a knock at the door. Suddenly remembering that he rushed out of a meeting, Seth gave the newborn back to Tikali. "I'll be right back: I have to tell everyone that you're all right."

Tikali nodded as Seth went to the door and opened it, meeting Atem and the Royal Court. Concerned, Atem asked, "Is everything all right?"

After making note that Aknadin was not there, Seth nodded. "Yes…better than all right, in fact. Tikali…had a baby."

Everyone was shocked to hear that. Shada asked, "How is that possible?"

Shaking his head, Seth said, "We don't know. But we're grateful for the results."

Mahad smiled and touched Seth's shoulder in congratulations as Isis asked, "Can we see your new child?"

Seth politely shook his head. "I think Tikali and our son Mesu need to rest."

Everyone nodded and started to disperse. Atem hung out for a few more seconds to say, "I'm going to tell Tima that your wife is all right. After all, Tikali gave her a scare."

Seth nodded and stayed outside to think about how much different his life was compared to this morning: he was now a father. While it pained him that he would have to teach his son how to be a man when his own father died before he could do that, Seth was up to the challenge and was determined to make sure that his son grew up to be a strong and noble man. As he turned around to go back into the room, he heard, "So I hear she lived…"

Seth looked to his left to see Aknadin standing there. Glaring a little, he said a little tersely, "Yes, thank you for joining the rest of the Royal Court in checking on my wife."

Aknadin said nothing to that, making Seth scoff and reach for the door. That was when Aknadin asked, "I must ask: why the sudden change?"

Seth looked up at Aknadin in confusion. "What do you mean?"

Aknadin crossed his arms. "You were never like this: running out of a meeting to check on someone."

Seth's eyes narrowed. "That someone is my wife! If you had a wife, you would be do the same thing!"

While Aknadin knew that was true, there was one difference and he pointed it out: "I would never worry about someone beneath us. In fact, it is because of today that I wonder about your judgment…it appears that your judgment is becoming poorer by the day."

Seth growled and fully looked at Aknadin. "My judgment is as sound as it has ever been!"

Aknadin looked at the door, keeping his arms crossed. "Really? Ever since those women came to the palace, you and the Pharaoh have been different." He then shook his head. "They're not even women…more like parasites infecting the right way and poisoning the true bloodline."

That was crossing the line with Seth: he was about to lose it when the two men heard a very loud voice say, "That is enough!" The two men looked behind Seth and saw that Atem was standing there with Tima and Heba; Tima had asked to check on Tikali and the royal couple overheard what Aknadin said. Furious, Atem kept Aknadin from talking so that he could speak. "What you have said is unforgivable. Let this day be known, priest Aknadin: you WILL accept Queen Tima as your Queen, our son Prince Heba as the heir to the throne, and Tikali as Seth's wife."

Seth smirked, knowing that Atem's words were cutting to the old man. Looking at Aknadin and his dark glance, Heba started to cry in fear so Tima started to soothe him. Seeing Aknadin turn away, Seth smirked some more and crossed his arms. "So be it, Priest Aknadin: until you have full accepted this, you will be reminded of your status and who you serve under."

Atem nodded in agreement, glad that he and Seth were on the wavelength. He could also tell that Aknadin was not thrilled with being reminded that, of the three men, he was the lowest in ranking. Unable to argue and knowing that he had to at least pretend to accept it, Aknadin bowed his head and left. Sighing, Tima nuzzled Heba. "I would have thought he would have accepted this by now."

Seth shook his head and was about to insult Aknadin but Atem cut him off with, "At least he will not insult you ladies anymore. Speaking of, Tima and I want to meet your son."

Seth smirked with pride. "Give me a minute to make sure she is comfortable." The royal couple nodded as Seth went back into the healing room. Once there, he saw that Tikali and Mesu had moved to a cleaner bed and Tikali was laying on her side, feeding Mesu while he lay next to her with her hand on him to keep him steady. Smiling, he went forward and sat in front of her. "Do you have any idea how beautiful you are?"

Tikali smiled with a small blush. "Oh, Seth…you always know the right words to say to me."

Seth reached over and touched Tikali's shoulder. "That's because you deserve every word."

Tikali smiled and looked down at Mesu. Thinking of how tired Tima constantly was, she looked back at Seth. "You know, it's going to be tough. Are you sure you're ready for the sleepless nights that await us?"

As Itami perched herself on Seth's shoulder, Seth smirked and teased, "Did I not already have sleepless nights with satisfying my love?"

Tikali blushed deeply as Itami gave a chirping laugh. Looking down at their son, she said, "I'm glad that you're okay, Seth."

Seth looked up in surprise. "Me? Tikali, you're the one who almost died."

"I know…but…you were pretty broken when I woke up."

Seth reached over and stroked Tikali's hair. "You scared me when you would not wake. The very idea of living without you…I must admit, it frightens me. I love you…so much."

Tikali looked up and smiled. "And I cannot live without you either. I love you with all my heart."

Leaning forward, Seth touched his forehead to hers, making her smile. "Then let's promise to stay with one another…for eternity."

Tikali smiled and kissed him gently. "Forever and a day."

Seth smiled and pulled back to see that Mesu was done feeding. Once he was done, Tikali burped him and got help from the medicine woman with swaddling Mesu; once he was swaddled, the two let the royal couple in to meet Mesu. Tima and Atem thought that Mesu was adorable and were happy for their friends. With Heba and now Mesu born, things were looking up for the two families as they knew that their lives were going to be filled with nothing but blessings from here on.
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