For the Love of Sekhet

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Sekhet I

Sekhet watched as the teenage boy who had been watching her performance so intently disappeared into the crowd to go and grab her something to eat. She didn’t need him to get her food since she was more than capable of doing it herself. But, if he was that insistent on being her servant then who was she to deny him the chance to wait on her?

A little boy in the front of the group giggled. “I think Meri likes you.” The boy said.

Sekhet chuckled, “Oh? And what makes you say that?” Sekhet asked as she leaned back slightly resting her hands on the ground behind her.

The boy giggled again, “Meri doesn’t offer to go and get things for just anyone. He would only be doing that if he really liked you.” The boy replied.

Sekhet rolled her eyes, “How can Meri like me if Meri doesn’t even know me? Hmm?” Sekhet asked. And it was a more than fair question. Her question however did seem to make the boy stop giggling as his face was scrunched up in concentration, like she had posed him with a particularly challenging puzzle and he was trying to work out the solution.

“Maybe he just thinks your really pretty?” The boy said after several moments of thought.

Sekhet chuckled, “Well, I guess you can tell Meri, if that is the case, that I thank him for the compliment.” Sekhet replied as she glanced out over the crowd looking for Meri. She hadn’t been kidding she was quite hungry.

Her eyes stopped briefly on what appeared to be a priest from one of the temples or Ra making his way over towards their group and it looked like he’d brought a guard or two with him. Sekhet felt her stomach drop. She had a strong feeling that whatever that priest wanted it was not going to be anything good.

Please turn away. Please turn away. Please don’t come over here. Sekhet mentally pleaded as she continued to watch the pair advance.

However, the priest did not turn away and soon he and the guards were edging their way through the crowd of gathered children. The priest stopped level with the first row of children, right beside the giggling boy. “That’s her. She’s the blasphemer.” The priest declared.

Sekhet’s heart felt like it had come screeching to a halt as her palms sweated and her muscles tenses. Blasphemer! I’m not a blasphmer! I didn’t do anything wrong. Sekhet mentally whined, although she knew better to say the words aloud. She was no one. Nothing. Her words were meaningless when compared against the words of a priest of Ra.

Her first instinct was to flee. To run into the crowd and hope that she was able to lose her pursuers in the throngs of celebrants. But deep down she knew that was only end with her getting caught and then she would also have the charge of fleeing from the guards added to the already capital crime of blasphemy.

The giggling boy from before rose to his feet. “Sekhet isn’t a blasphemer! She didn’t do anything wrong. Leave her alone.” The boy declared. It almost sounded like he was trying to make it sound like an order, which was ridiculous. What guard or priest would listen to a child?

“Be silent child! Unless you want to be arrested as well.” The priest declared as the guard reached down and roughly grabbed a hold of Sekhet’s upper arm, dragging her to her feet. She winced at the strength in his grip. No doubt that would leave a bruise.

Sekhet snorted. Of course, now was the time to be worrying about bruises and she was going to end up facing execution.

The boy frowned, “Let her go!” The boy ordered.

“Be silent you insolent boy!” The priest growled, striking out and hitting the brave boy in the side of the face, knocking him to the ground. A few of the children began to cry although several others took this as their cue to leave, lest they end up being arrested as well.

“What in the name of the gods is going on over here?”

Sekhet glanced up to see that Meri had returned, carrying her cooked onion and sweet bread. His eyes were narrowed as he surveyed the scene, frowning as he took in both her in the hand of the guard and the young boy on the ground, although he was getting back to his feet.

“Meri! Meri, you’ve got to do something. They’re trying to arrest Sekhet.” The boy asked.

Meri’s frown deepened, “And on what charge could you possibly be trying to arrest her for?” Meri asked, his voice deep and his tone coming out almost menacing.

“The charge of blasphemy.” The priest replied briskly, his chin jutted up slightly into the air no doubt in a pointless display of superiority. The guard in turn subtly tightened his grip on Sekhet’s arm making her whimper.

“And I am going to order you, as the son of Pharaoh Amenhotep to release her at once. She has committed no crime.” Meri growled.

The priest paled whereas the guard quickly released his grip on Sekhet’s arm, as if he had been burned. He released Sekhet so suddenly that she fell to the ground.

“You tell him Meri!” The boy declared his own brown eyes so like...Prince Merneptah’s Sekhet realized. Prince Merneptah was the ‘Meri’ that the boy had been talking about.

“Quiet Sobeki.” Merneptah hissed.

The guard bowed before Merneptah as did the Priest. “My Prince, if I might I myself saw this girl, this heretic, insulting the gods. She did commit the crime of blasphemy. A crime for which she needs to be punished. The gods do not forgive blasphemers.” The priest replied.

Merneptah was quiet for a moment, “Were you in fact talking about the performance she gave for the children a short while ago? Depicting Ra’s battle against Apophis?” Merneptah asked.

The priest nodded his eyes once more seeming to glow with his perceived triumph, “Exactly my Prince. That was the blasphemous act.” The priest said before he turned back to the guard, “What are you waiting for? Seize her.” The priest growled.

“Don’t. I happened to have actually watched that entire performance myself, from beginning to end. Not once in the entire performance did Sekhet insult the gods in any way. She merely used her magic to convey the battle for the children. I thought it was a most masterful display and see no problem with it. If you continue to press this issue I would inform my father of the same opinion. That she is innocent.” Merneptah growled.

His eyes did briefly flick over to Sobeki and he frowned, “Although, Priest. I find myself most interested in finding out how exactly my brother ended up with that red mark on his cheek.” Merneptah asked. His tone might have been casual but when Sekhet looked into his eyes they were cold. Cold and unyielding.

The priest’s eyes immediately lost their triumphant look as the guard rose to his feet, this time roughly grabbing a hold of the priest and dragging him up as well.

“My prince, now I can explain. I did not mean to cause your brother any harm. I...” The priest rambled, his complexion coming more and more ashen the longer he spoke.

Merneptah however was not budging an inch, “You were so adamant to arrest someone on the charge of blasphemy you had to go and commit the crime yourself. Get him out of my sight.” Merneptah growled.

The guard inclined his head briefly before he dragged the still spluttering and struggling priest back through the crowd. Merneptah’s eyes did not leave the priest until he had disappeared from view. As soon as he was gone Sekhet could clearly see as the tension seemed to drain from his frame as his entire body relaxed. His gaze once more flicked over her before they rested on Sobeki. “Are you alright?” Merneptah asked.

Sobeki nodded, “I’m fine Meri. Nefer hits harder than he did.” Sobeki replied.

Merneptah chuckled, “If you say so Sobeki.” Mernptah replied before he turned his attention back onto Sekhet. “And what about you? Are you alright?” Merneptah asked.

Sekhet nodded, resisting the urge to rub her arm which still was sore from the guard’s grip. “I’m alright, thanks to you.” Sekhet said.

Merneptah just shrugged, which in her opinion was probably the least princely thing he could have done. Weren’t the royals supposed to be prim and proper at all time? The picture of decorum? And yet standing before her was a giggling boy and a most casual prince. The whole thing was absolutely mind boggling.

“I couldn’t just let them arrest you for no reason. I meant what I said, you had done nothing wrong. And if they had continued to press the matter I would have told my father exactly that. That priest is going to get exactly what he deserves.” Merneptah replied. He was quiet for a few moments before he awkwardly held out his hands, which still were holding the food he’d gone and grabbed for her.

Sekhet gave him a shy smile as she reached out and took the food. The sweet bread looked a little bit crushed, no doubt Merneptah had clenched his fist when he’d been dealing with the priest. Her onion was also a bit crushed, although thankfully it hadn’t been completely destroyed. “Thank you my Prince.” Sekhet replied.

Merneptah snorted, his hand coming up and swiping across his bald head, “Ah, it was no problem. And please...call me Merneptah. Or Meri if you prefer.” Merneptah asked.

Sekhet felt her cheeks coloring. “Alright, if you’re sure...Meri.” Sekhet muttered before she took a large bite of her sweet bread, if for no other reason than to have a distraction.

Sobeki grinned up at her, “See, I told you that Meri liked you.” Sobeki teased.

Sekhet awkwardly swallowed her mouthful of sweet bread before she choked on it, no doubt her face was bright red now. “Y-you can’t say things like that. Especially when the aren’t true Prince Sobeki.” Sekhet spluttered.

Merneptah lightly cuffed Sobeki on the back of his head, “Enough out of you, you little imp.” Merneptah lightly scolded. Although, Sekhet couldn’t help but notice a slight reddening in Merneptah’s cheeks. Prince Sobeki, couldn’t be right? Could he? Sekhet mused before she forced the thought from her mind. That was sheer foolishness. Merneptah didn’t know her. Therefore it was impossible for him to like it. He was probably just embarrassed that his younger brother was teasing him in front of a practical stranger.

“Meri! Sobeki! There you two are.”

The two princes turned at once to see another man approaching them, although given that Sekhet now knew who Merneptah and Sobeki actually were she was able to guess who the approaching pair were. Crown Prince Amunher and Princess Nefertari.

Sekhet dropped low in a bow of respect. She was not taking any chances with upsetting royalty today. She was not confident in her luck to survive a second criminal charge in one day. She heard a hushed whispering going on but their voices were quiet enough that she could not make out the words over the noise of the crowd. For some reason that made her nervous, although she knew that was ridiculous.

She was surprised when several moment later Merneptah’s hand reached down and lightly tugged her back to her feet. His siblings gone.

“Sobeki has gone to play with Amunher and Nefertari.” Merneptah replied.

Sekhet sighed, “So, I take it you’re going to be leaving as well.” Sekhet said. She knew she shouldn’t be but for some reason she felt disappointed that Merneptah was going to be leaving.

Merneptah gave her another grin, this one was clearly a playful one. “Actually, no. I was thinking that I could spend some more time with you. Maybe we could dance some. Or just wander around together.” Merneptah suggested.

Sekhet blushed once more. “Sure, I’d like that a lot..,Meri.” Sekhet said softly. Her cheeks flaming further as she whispered the Prince’s nickname.

Merneptah’s grin if possible brightened before he reached down and grabbed a hold of Sekhet’s hand tugging her into the crowd, “Well, come on. Let’s go and have some fun.” Merneptah declared.

Merneptah led her through the crowd for quite awhile before they came across a sizeable group of dancers dancing in time to the shaking sistrums and beating drums. Merneptah spun her around without warning so that she was now facing him, his right hand resting comfortably on her hip while he began to lead her through a dance.

After she had gotten over her shock that she really was dancing with an Khemetan Prince she decided to stop acting like a demure little girl and boldly rested her hand on his powerful shoulder, her fingers lightly tracing along his cheek.

“You’re a talented dancer Meri.” Sekhet purred. She was playing around and deep down she knew it, but how many times does a girl get a chance to dance with a Prince of Khemet? Practically none so she might as well make the most of this surprising turn of events and have some fun.

Merneptah grinned, leaning his face closer to hers. For a few seconds she actually thought the Prince was going to steal a kiss. However, he didn’t. Instead he purred right back, “It does help when you have a talented partner.”

Sekhet chuckled and she felt the tension that had begun to build within her fade. They were just two practical strangers having fun together celebrating the New Year. No need for her to overcomplicate things by worrying about who his father happened to be.

The two danced for what seemed like hours, which meant that as the music continued to play Sekhet found herself leaning more and more against Meri’s powerful form. Her feet were beginning to ache.

Merneptah did pick up on her not so subtle hint and with one final spin he swooped down scooping a shocked Sekhet up into his arms.

“What are you doing?” Sekhet hissed as her face once more turned beat red.

Merneptah chuckled, “You were tired. So, I was just doing the proper thing and giving your feet a chance to rest.” Merneptah replied.

Sekhet rolled her eyes, “My feet were beginning to ache a bit. That’s all. Are you saying you aren’t the least bit tired yourself?” Sekhet asked her tone light and teasing while she willed the color to fade from her cheeks as the Prince carried her through the crowds of celebrants like he would a new bride.

Sekhet point blank refused to allow her mind even a second to process that particular thought.

Merneptah snorted, “You will find my dear that I happen to have excellent stamina.” Merneptah replied and once more Sekhet flushed at the clear innuendo implied by his words.

Sekhet just shook her head as she glanced around at their surroundings while she tried to think of something to say that would not make their conversation any more awkward than it already was. “Where are we going?” She asked as it appeared the Prince was carrying her away from the celebrants and not towards another part of the celebration.

Merneptah shrugged, “I figured that we could just go somewhere quiet. Maybe talk some.” Merneptah replied.

Sekhet snorted, “And we weren’t talking before?” She teased back.

Merneptah shrugged once more, “I guess we were. But that doesn’t matter. You’re my prisoner now because I’m not putting you down until we’ve reached out destination.” Merneptah said firmly before he started jogging through the practically empty city of Thebes.

Sekhet just shook her head in amusement as the Prince darted down one street, then another before turning into an alleyway. He ducked around another corner and then she saw it and Sekhet felt like her heart sank.

There, right in front of them was the palace. Pharaoh’s great house.

“You know, you can put me down. Really.” Sekhet said as her eyes refused to leave the massive building they were steadily approaching. Other than probably the barest minimum number of guards the palace was no doubt probably abandoned.

The adventurous part of Sekhet almost was gleeful at the idea of being able to explore every nook and cranny of this massive mysterious structure. However, she forced the thought down. The palace was destined to always remain a mystery because quiet honestly she had no reason to ever venture past the massive stone gates.

Merneptah turned abruptly at the last second, heading away from the palace and Sekhet felt herself beginning to relax a tiny bit. So, they weren’t heading to the palace after all.

“I’m going to have to ask you to forgive me.” Merneptah said suddenly.

Sekhet frowned, “Whatever for?” Sekhet asked.

The prince chuckled, “This I’m afraid.” He replied and in one sweeping motion he had managed to twist his cloak around Sekhet’s face so that she could see nothing. She attempted to pull the cloak away from her face but no matter how much she tugged she wasn’t able to get the cloak to budge.

However, before Sekhet had even had a chance to contemplate using magical means to free herself the Prince came to a stop and unraveled the cloak. Sekhet completely forgot herself for a moment and punched the Prince in the shoulder.

“What the hell was that for you...you jerk!” Sekhet growled.

Merneptah lightly reached up and rubbed the spot where Sekhet had struck him and it was that moment when reality came crashing back down around her.

I am such an utter and complete idiot.Sekhet thought to herself.

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