Sekhet’s eyes anxiously flitted around the banquet hall as her and Merneptah strode forward. At the head on of the room seated on two grand thrones were the Pharaoh and the Queen. And beside them in two smaller, less lavish thrones were seated who Sekhet guessed were crown prince Amunher and his own wife, Inanna, if she remembered the name Princess Nefertari had kept muttering about.
Merneptah came to a stop a matter of feet in front of his father’s throne before he bowed at the waist. Sekhet bowed with him, “Pharaoh. Life. Protection. Health.” Merenptah said as was the traditional greeting for the Pharaoh in a formal setting.
The Pharaoh merely inclined his head before Merneptah straightened and turned towards the second set of thrones. He gave his brother a wolfish grin before bowing towards him a well. Crown prince Amunher chuckled, “Go and enjoy the party Meri.” Amunher said with a wave of his hand.
Merneptah gave his brother another impish grin before he stepped off to the side his hand arm slipping out from Sekhet’s before resettling around her waist. “See, nothing to worry about.” Merneptah declared.
Sekhet chuckled, “If memory serves me you were the one who was worried. Not me.” Sekhet pointed.
Merneptah snorted, “No, you just had resigned yourself to the fact that my father was going to force us apart.” Merneptah pointed out.
“And there is still no proof that that will not still happen.” Sekhet pointed out.
Merneptah rolled his eyes as he twirled her around. “And I say that you are counting your geese before they hatch. The night is still quite young.” Merneptah replied.
Merneptah and Sekhet both glanced up to see a girl right around there age standing there in an attraction cream colored dress. Merneptah subtly tightened his hold around Sekhet, “Yes, can I help you with something Maya?” Merneptah asked briskly.
Maya shot his a seductive grin, “I was hoping that you would like to dance with me my prince.” Maya said.
Merneptah rolled his eyes before he twirled Sekhet once more, “No, actually I would not. I intend to spend the evening with Sekhet in my arms. Go find some one else to harass.” Merneptah growled.
Maya shot Sekhet a dirty look before she did walk away. Sekhet lightly poked Merneptah in the side, “That was rude of you Meri.” Sekhet hissed.
Merneptah shrugged, “That is one of the harlots that wants to marry me. And I intend to have nothing to do with her. My dancing with her would have just bolstered her father’s claim in their eyes. So, no it wasn’t rude of me. The only girl I intend to dance with tonight is you Sekhet.” Merneptah declared.
Sekhet sighed but knew not to push the matter further. She may have only known Merneptah for a little less than two months but she knew that tone. That was his ‘there is no budging me on this matter’ tone. As the banquet hall steadily continued to fill the band began to play which was Merneptah’s cue to begin expertly leading Sekhet around the dance floor the two moving in perfect unison.
Sekhet allowed the craziness of the banquet hall around her to just fall away as she focused entirely on Merneptah. A month ago she had vowed to herself that when the time came to let him go she would be able to easily do that. She had been confident that she wasn’t going to get attached to him because there was no point. There was no future for her and Merneptah together.
And yet here she was being twirled around a room full of nobles and royals dressed in high quality silks as part of a ploy to earn Pharaoh’s approval. And despite her knowing Pharaoh was never going to grant it she find herself hoping, praying even, that he would. Because without her wanting to she had slowly began to fall in love with Merneptah.
There was just something about the way he smiled. That look he got in his eye that just made her heart flutter. She may have pretended to be annoyed when he showed up day after day often times interrupting her from carving more amulets, but she really wasn’t. She enjoyed his presence. She enjoyed talking with him. She enjoyed the feel of his arms wrapped around her. The feel of his lips pressed against her body.
Gods above she was so thankful that she needed to go and see the princess this morning because otherwise she didn’t know if she would have been able to find the will to keep things from progressing even further. When she’d felt his arousal pressing against her through his shendyt as he’d toyed with her breast a part of her wondered what it would be like to truly have been one with him? What it would have been like to have him pressed intimately inside her. What it would have been like to feel him filling her with his seed?
Deep down she knew she would never find out what it would be like but that didn’t stop a part of her from wanting to know. And don’t get her started at how much her heart raced as she heard Merneptah groaning out her name while he pleasured himself in the bathing chambers.
Yes, she knew she had it bad. She just hoped that someone managed to get a hold of this chariot that was careening out of control before someone ended up getting hurt. She had every confidence thought that if anyone could take control of this chariot it would be Pharaoh. He’d put a stop to whatever this had become before it got too far out of hand.
She was drawn from her musings when without warning she was ripped from Merneptah’s arms. She glanced up in confusion before locking eyes with those of the crown prince. “I don’t believe we’ve had the pleasure of being officially introduce. I am Amunher. Meri’s brother.” Amunher said.
Sekhet nodded, “Yes, I know who you are my Prince. Meri speaks most fondly of you.” Sekhet whispered.
Amunher sighed as he expertly led her around the banquet hall. “I don’t doubt that however, I wanted to speak with you and this was the only way that I could think of to do so. So, I am going to cut right to the heart of the matter. What are you intentions with my brother?” Amunher asked.
Sekhet frowned, “My intentions?” Sekhet asked frowning.
Amuher nodded, “Yes, what do you intend to come from this relationship you have with Meri? I know what Meri wants to come of it but I have no idea where you foresee this going. You crushed him when you fled at the end of the New Year and then more than a week later he is happy as can be because he tracked you down again and convinced you to give him a second chance. Every instinct I have is telling me that you have nothing but bad intentions for Meri and as his older brother it is my job to protect him. Even if he’s too stubborn to see it that way.” Amunher said.
Sekhet smiled at Amunher’s admission. “That’s, actually really sweet of you to look out for your brother like that. Other than Meri, I haven’t had someone looking out for me for a long time. He’s lucky to have you.” She paused briefly as she thought about how best to answer Amunher’s question, “As far as my intentions with Meri, I guess I would have to say I don’t know. He has been the one who has pursued me from the start and I guess a part of me is just waiting for the other foot to drop. Things are going so fast that I don’t know what’s going to happen next. If there even is a something that happens next. From what Meri’s told me, that is up to your father to decide. However, if you are asking if I’m planning on hurting Meri then the answer to that is absolutely not.” Sekhet said.
Amunher sighed, “What I was actually asking is what are you wanting to get out of a relationship with my brother? Surely you’ve thought about the future.” Amunher said.
Sekhet shook her head, “No, I haven’t. Not really at least. This thing with your brother is new enough that there wasn’t really a future to think about. However, I can tell you about our present. Your brother is amazing and I love spending time with him. Could I see myself, if I allowed my mind to drift down that path, spending the rest of my life with him? I don’t know. Maybe. A part of me wants to but at the same time, a part of me is afraid of what that would mean.” Sekhet whispered.
Amunher was quiet for several moments as he continued to expertly guide Sekhet around the dance floor, “Sorry Merneptah was looking for an opportunity to steal you back and I’m not quite done talking to you.” Amunher said.
Sekhet nodded, “Then feel free to ask away.” Sekhet said.
“Do you love my brother?” Amunher asked.
This time it was Sekhet who was quiet. Did she love Meri? That was a tricky question to answer. Her and Meri had never used the word love yet with each other however she didn’t think Amunher would want to hear that excuse. Sekhet sighed, “I will admit that I find myself falling in love with him. Not that he and I have discussed being in love.” Sekhet said.
Amunher sighed his eyes drifting up over her head briefly before he began to lead her to the far side of the ballroom. “Then I guess that will have to be good enough for me. I will thank you for your honesty.” Amunher said, and just like that someone else cut in and began to lead her around the banquet hall.
Sekhet’s eyes widened in surprise before they drifted back down to the floor as Pharaoh Amenhotep led her through the dance. She had a feeling that Amunher’s questions were merely a warm up. Pharaoh would have far more pressing questions to ask.
“Amunher tells me that your name is Sekhet and I will not lie I find myself most curious about what it is that draws my son’s attention to you so strongly.” Pharaoh Amenhotep commented. It wasn’t a question merely a statement of fact. Sekhet bit her tongue lightly as she tried to figure out if she was expected to reply to his statement or not?
Amenhotep allowed her a few moments before saying, “Well, are you dumb, girl?” Amenhotep asked briskly.
Sekhet quickly shook her head, “No, my Pharaoh. I am not. I’m sorry. I wasn’t sure if that was a question you wanted me to answer. As for what is it about me that your son is so interested in. You are as clueless as I am. I don’t know what it is precisely that Prince Merneptah sees in me.” Sekhet said.
The Pharaoh nodded once his eyes thankfully were fixated at a spot over her head. He was taller than Merneptah, by at least a few inches, but it seemed like more. She figured that was the divinity in him. “I am told that you met at the opening of the year. Tell me what transpired.”
Sekhet swallowed thickly around the lump that had lodged in her throat, “Your sons Prince Merneptah and Prince Sobeki came upon a small show I was putting on for some children. I am blessed by the goddess Isis and I was using those gifts too...”
And just like that Pharaoh’s cold dark brown eyes snapped down to lock onto Sekhet’s nervous blue ones, “Blessed by the Goddess Isis you say? Then how would you say that you came to be this far from the temple?” Pharaoh Amenhotep demanded.
“I-I-I...” Sekhet stuttered as she struggled to get the words out. It was so much easier explaining to Merneptah her origins but to tell Pharaoh was quite another thing entirely. “I ran away from the temple. A-a-approximately eight months ago.” Sekhet admitted.
Pharaoh’s face, which she could say almost was like it had been chiseled in stone finally made the first expression since their dance had begun and to Sekhet’s horror it was a frown. A part of her wanted to explain. Explain how unhappy she’d been at the temple. How she’d felt smothered there. How she had wanted more than anything to be free to live her life and explore the world as she saw fit. But, she knew that Pharaoh was not interested in her explanations. If he wanted to know why’d she’d run he know doubt demand it of her but so far he had not.
“How long ago were you sold to the temple?” Pharaoh demanded.
Sekhet bit her lip as she gazed down at her feet, “My father sent me away with a high priest of Isis when I was six. So, about ten years ago.” Sekhet said.
“And do you plan on returning to the temple to continue serving the goddess who blessed you.” Pharaoh said.
Sekhet slowly shook her head as she fought to keep tearing from falling. Deep down she should have known this was coming. Pharaoh was never going to approve of her.
“No Pharaoh, no I do not intend to return to the temple of Isis.” Sekhet said softly.
Pharaoh made a clicking sound with his tongue but said nothing for several moments, “Continue with your tale.” Pharaoh commanded.
Sekhet slowly released a breath as she forced herself to continue. “I was creating shapes and creatures out of light which I manipulated for the entertainment of children. That was the show that your sons came across. The final part of the show I had done was I recreated the God Ra’s nightly battle against Apophis while telling the children the story. After the show had finished your son Prince Merneptah had offered to go and get me something from one of the food stands. And while he was gone a priest had accused me of committed blasphemy with the performance I had done and he demanded that I be arrested. Your son Prince Sobeki tried to stand up for me however...”
“Merneptah intervened after the priest had struck Sobeki. The priest was in fact the one who was arrested. Yes, this part of the tale I am familiar with. Sobeki told me about what had happened and I have tried the Priest. He told me all about your light show.” Pharaoh interjected, “Now, following that what happened?”
“After that Prince Sobeki went with Crown Prince Amunher and Princess Nefertari. Prince Merneptah stayed with me and we enjoyed the festival together. We talked. We laughed. We danced. Before Prince Merneptah brought me back to the palace and showed me the gardens where we watched the lotus blossoms bloom.” Sekhet said.
“And you went to bed with my son that night. And then you and he spent the next two weeks in each others company before you turned my son away.” Pharaoh said briskly. “Which makes me curious why you changed your mind more than a week later or if making my son chase after you, neglecting his own responsibilities in the process, was your plan all along.”
Sekhet sighed, “I honestly did not plan on seeing your son again after I fled from him that night. I was as surprised as you were that he came and found me in the market. After he had found me we returned to my home where he asked to court me once again. And this time, this time I had said yes.” Sekhet said.
“And you encouraged him to shirk his duties in order to come and see you? Because you think yourself more important than this kingdom.” Pharaoh said.
Sekhet shook her head frowning, “No, my Pharaoh. You could not be more wrong. I told Prince Merneptah many times that he needed to see to his own responsibilities. Just as I need to see to mine. I told him to only come and see me if he had time after he had done everything that he needed to. I had truly believed that was what he had been doing, until Princess Nefertari told me otherwise.” Sekhet said.
Pharaoh nodded but said nothing further. They completed on more lap around the banquet hall before she found herself briskly thrust back into Merneptah’s arms and the Pharaoh turned and made his way back to the throne.
“Is everything alright Sekhet? You’re shaking.” Merneptah asked softly as he drew her in close. And now that he mentioned in she was shaking.
Sekhet took a slow steadying breath, “Both the Pharaoh and crown prince Amunher had questions they wished to ask me. Questions that I answered as honestly as I could, although I do not know if they heard what they wanted to.” Sekhet said.
Merneptah sighed as he glance around no doubt looking for his brother or his father however his father had already returned to his throne and it appeared that Prince Amunher had as well and the two’s heads were bowed together in conversation. Sekhet had a bad feeling she knew precisely what it was that they were discussing.
“No doubt we will know soon enough what it is they have decided.” Merneptah said after a few moments of contemplation.
Sekhet nodded as she allowed herself to relax into Merneptah’s arms for what it was looking like to her might have very well been the final time.